With OnlyFans “stars” seeming to be a dime a dozen in today’s world, there is something to be said for a classic. Frankie Valenti (formerly known as Johnny Hazzard) is, as he puts it, “the last unicorn” in the gay adult industry. While we spoke extensively about that impactful part of his life, he has now done what many have had to do, and pivoted careers totally. As he embraces a new business based on ‘repurposing & natural craftsmanship’ Try Being F.R.A.N.K. is serving as a creative outlet and an ability for Valenti to breathe beauty into already existing items, as well as craft some of his own unique products. I sat down for an exclusive chat with Valenti, and whether we chatted extensively about his past in front of the camera or the future in front of him, Valenti is doing it all with a massive amount of gratitude.
Michael Cook: So let’s start at the beginning; where were you born & what was your childhood like?
Frankie Valenti: My childhood was very normal. I came from a blue-collar family in Cleveland, Ohio. There can always be a case for having something more or something less. As you get older, you look at your parents as more like people instead of these obligatory parental figures; viewing them as people who did the best they could with what they had at the time.
MC: What was the path to adult entertainment? What was that era like for you to be the toast of that industry and to be a celebrity in the community of sorts?
FV: The path was very much one of chance. I never set out to do it; it fell into my lap, every pun intended. I was very fortunate to have been in that time. Soon after the rise of Johnny Hazzard the whole platform changed and the Internet began to dominate the adult entertainment industry; I was the last unicorn. Being so young and being thrust into an atmosphere that exploded overnight, I was taken by surprise. In retrospect, and as I’ve gotten older, I am incredibly grateful for that time. I owe my entire current situation both professionally and personally to that time and the luck I had in that industry.
MC: What is something about the adult industry that the community doesn’t know that would surprise us?
FV: It is not hot. It is not sexy. It is scripted and I rarely ever had a fun time doing it. The only reason that I stayed in it was because of the money and the travel.
MC: The adult industry is unforgiving; why and how do you think you made it out? Any chance for a comeback?
I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post a while back. You might want to look at that to get a better idea as to the answer to this question. The short of it, goals and a solid sense of self. As far as a comeback, absolutely not. (Valenti told The Huffington Post “Porn, for me, was a good experience. I wish it were as good for everybody, but it clearly is not.”)
MC: You have done some acting; how did that develop into a passion? Any favorite gigs or wish list gigs?
FV: A couple of years ago I co-produced co-wrote and starred in a movie. Unfortunately, COVID has really put it on the back burner. We are hoping that after all of this is settled we can release it to the film festival circuit and see if it has any legs.
Acting was never really a passion. Again, like the porn move, it just sort of fell into my lap because of who I was. I never really loved it enough to pursue it. That is not to say that I wouldn’t do it if someone proposed a really profitable and interesting project.
MC: Tell me about your creativity with Try Being F.R.A.N.K. The products seems super unique and one of a kind.
I have always been a creative person. When Johnny Hazzard was at his height, I realized the marketability and the room for profit. All of my products are unique because that is the only way I can keep it fresh and exciting for me. To make it in the retail industry you must produce a massive amount of something and to me, that is just boring.
MC: What launched your passion for your own business? Where would you like to take the business?
FV: I was positioned in a perfect time. COVID was really good to me creatively and professionally. I started making face coverings and it sort of parlayed into what I am doing now. I had always sold product and art online so I just offered my captive audience a product that they needed and wanted and the rest is history.
MC: What is it like pivoting in your career in such a stark way? Have you found that your notoriety has helped or been a detriment?
FV: Everything I have done and all the momentum I have gotten in every field of my creativity I owe in a big part to being Johnny Hazzard. I am so grateful for that time and everything it has given me.
MC: Where do you want to be personally and professionally in five years? What is on your vision board?
FV: Professionally I want to be able to keep doing what I’m doing and have it be sustainable. I will never become rich on it, but I do want it to be one of several things that I have going on. If I have learned anything through Covid it has been the reminder to always have your hands in a lot of pots, to adapt and to evolve. Financially I would also like to be ahead of the game. I have been able to invest quite a bit of my money into the world of finance. I have a five-year plan hoping to increase my financial portfolio.
MC: How have you stayed inspired and creatively fueled during this time?
My creativity was fueled by necessity and the importance of making an in-demand product. As I started to make more and more masks, I had to figure out ways to be ahead of the game by making them better and more functional, anticipating and listening to the needs of the public. Functionality has always been a goal of my art. After all it is the first letter of F.R.A.N.K
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