On the Set: <i>Operation Desert Stormy</i>

CHATSWORTH, Calif. - Operation Desert Stormy is a big costly craft that Wicked Pictures is flying straight into the eye of the major sales and awards season. And planted firmly at the controls is director-star Stormy Daniels. This is her movie—and not in name only.

Operation Desert Stormy is a blockbuster undertaking, with one of the highest budgets ever from a company known for its big-ticket projects. Wicked will release it in September as a three-DVD set.

The espionage-themed comedy stars Stormy and Steven St. Croix as married spies whose misadventures take them to the war-torn Middle East.

On a North Hollywood soundstage, the fourth day of shooting, the glamorous star sat by a HiDef video monitor. Cool and composed, she seemed to be aware of every detail in the scene being shot, quietly making adjustments when needed.

"I sit here and make decisions. That's what I do," she said. The yelling she leaves to her assistant directors, who have included the stellar likes of Randy Spears (who also co-stars) and Jonathan Morgan.

Jenna Haze, playing a scientist in a laboratory setting, had just fired off not only a pistol but a crossbow—turning out to be an excellent shot with both.

"You should have been here yesterday," Daniels said. "We did some serious gunfire, with semi-automatic AK47s."

After staging some movements for Haze and St. Croix in a post-coital dialogue exchange, she smiled. "I am the puppet master."

Daniels knows exactly what she wants, and that's no surprise. The movie's been playing in her head for a year. She wrote the script last spring, start to finish, in two days—two full days, without taking time off for sleep.

Wicked had already done takeoffs on science fiction (Space Nuts) and horror (Camp Cuddly Pines Power Tool Massacre), the latter co-written by Daniels. So she chose to goof on a genre they hadn' touched—the spy movie.

"Originally," she said, "I wrote this for myself to star in and for someone else to direct." But she was told that the big script, with its many characters and scene changes, was "impossible to shoot."

When other directors declined, Daniels picked up the reins herself. "Just tell me I can' do something," she said, "and I'm going to do it."

It was not that big a stretch. She has directed eight other Wicked features, all from her own scripts. The latest to be released, next week, is Predator, an edgy all-girl outing. But she knew ODS, for starters, would take a lot more pre-planning than her previous efforts. The biggest problem, she said, was "getting everybody together, logistically."

Daniels had to arrange things around her own busy feature-dance bookings, and for times when key talent, like actors Ron Jeremy and Florida-based Tony DeSergio, would be available. The shooting schedule was laid out well in advance, for the spring of the year, when the heat on desert locations would not be extreme. (The sands of Lake Elsinore stand in for those of Iraq.

Well before production began, Daniels held an open casting call, mostly for the female parts. Sixty girls showed up. She told them one of the roles was a sex partner for Jeremy. None of them, she said, had any problem with that.

"I had more girls say they wouldn' do girl-girl. And they all wanted to shoot guns and ride the camel." (Yes, the cast includes a camel.) Newcomer Lorena Sanchez won the job of balling The Hedgehog.

Aside from the XXX talent, the cast includes a large contingent of extras who appear as palace guards, Iraqi villagers and revelers in a ballroom scene.

She also recruited some mainstream talent for bit parts—including a dwarf actor who plays an Iraqi guard—from among her colleagues on Comedy Central's 'ind of Mencia' in which she has a running part.

Daniels estimates there are 35 people on the crew, including stunt men, firearms, demolition and other specialists. Stunts include blowing up a truck. The demolition team is using identical '4 Toyota Land Cruisers—the one to be exploded is without an engine.

"I didn' want to fake anything," Stormy said.

According to art director Mike Moz, who has set up among other things a harem and a Sandbucks Coffee Shop, the shooting is moving along right on schedule, even with weather problems and the inevitable delays that plague every production.

However, one unexpected problem occurred on the set when police mistook a staged scene of a terrorist attack for the real thing.

"It was pretty exciting, actually," Daniels said. "I guess when you're in the quiet, suburban area, and in the middle of the night Iraqi henchmen start pouring out of the nicest house in town firing automatic weapons, it tends to send the neighbors into a bit of a frenzy. And someone of course reported the gunfire, and since we were lit for night and had moved all the cars behind the building, from the road it didn' look like we were filming.

"I actually went down to the road and looked, and it really didn' look like we were filming," Daniels continued. "And of course, I have all my stunt guys jumping off the balconies and rolling down the stairs and firing automatic weapons while a big-tittied blonde runs down the steps. I think the police officers were trying to be heroes; about 15 showed up in full riot gear, with their weapons drawn, and held everyone at gunpoint until they checked our permits and licenses. But of course we were completely permitted and everything was fine. They said, 'arry on, sorry for the inconvenience,'but I think we scared the crap out of them."

Aside from the police drama, Daniels said the shoot was going well. "The work is excruciating, but I'm getting every shot that I needed and I wanted, and some that I thought I could only dream of getting," she said. "I' actually managing to pull them off. I can' believe how good my actors are doing — no one's blown one line; everybody wants to do such a good job. We would still be out on the first location, I think, if people didn' know their dialogue. It's amazing how good of a job they're doing; Steven St. Croix and Randy Spears, and Tony [DeSergio] and Marcus [London], they're just mind-blowing. Even the camel was good yesterday; it was the most well behaved animal I'e ever seen work on a set. 'ause working with animals is like working with babies … they don' comprehend what you're doing, and they have no desire to cooperate whatsoever."

In four days—half of the shooting schedule—six of ten sex scenes have been shot, including the two with Stormy (one with St. Croix, one with Spears) that bookend the action. (She may do an additional scene as a bonus for the DVD extras.)

The sex includes something for every taste: girl-girl, anal, group, lots of different positions, some of them funny. "It's like a sexual one-stop," Daniels said.

Wicked has already revved up its promotional campaign, with ODS t-shirts, military-style hats and other items. When the shoot wraps May 1, the footage goes right into editing, which Daniels will supervise.

"I am a control freak," she said.

AVN's Pete Warren also contributed to this report.