Vivid-Alt's Vin Vericose transforms from Minnesota boy to porn star

Chad Fjerstad and his pornstar girlfriend move to L.A. to make it in the skin trade

Sitting on his dad's bed in a small, smoke-filled studio apartment in South St. Paul, Chad Fjerstad reached for his backpack and pulled out a DVD. He leaned over to his dad, Darren, who was resting in his worn recliner, and handed him the flick.

His dad scanned the front cover: "Pussy a Go Go." With the prominent display of breasts, it was clearly a porn movie.

"Notice anything?" Chad asked, turning it over.

Pictures of an orgy, a lesbian scene.

Then Darren's eyes locked on an image in the middle of the case. There was Chad, with his shoulder-length, dirty-blond hair and half-sleeve tattoos. He was towering over a woman on all fours taking it from behind.

"You've got to be kidding me. Is that you?" Darren asked as his eyes widened.

"That's why I'm going to L.A., to be in porn," Chad said.

His father had a lit cigarette in hand, but paused before taking another puff, coughing through a half-laugh as he leaned forward in his seat. He glanced over at his dresser, where Chad's framed high school photo stared back with a cheesy grin.

"To be honest, I am a little envious."

   

FJERSTAD IS NOW A REGULAR MALE TALENT FOR Vivid-Alt, an imprint of Vivid Entertainment that features dark-haired punk girls with tattoos and piercings rather than surgically sculpted breasts and dyed blond hair.

He's entering the industry at one of the worst times for adult entertainment, when even the most prominent stars are seeing a dent in their paychecks and a deficit of work.

Industry experts estimate that sales and rentals of pornographic DVDs have fallen as much as 50 percent since 2006, when proceeds reached a high of $3.62 billion.

"The entire porn industry is in trouble," says Lux Alptraum, editor of the sex-oriented blog Fleshbot. "Adult entertainment used to be a business that was considered recession-proof, but it's hurting like everything else."

The influx of amateur porn and widespread pirating on the internet sent profits plummeting as consumers realized they could get porn for free.

"It's not a good time for anybody to be getting into this business, especially if you're a guy," says Peter Warren, Adult Video News associate editor.

Eon McKai founded Vivid-Alt in 2006, an imprint meant to produce a more "indie" product. McKai says he wanted to shatter the image of what porn should look like.

"Performers were hitting an unattainable ideal through the overuse of plastic surgery," he says. "It was just getting unreal. Alt-porn doesn't mean we use unattractive people necessarily, but we are definitely more about everyone's real style."

McKai wanted to hit a market of people who might not be porn fanatics, but can easily connect to his work because of their relationship to the alternative scene. Seeing actors they find attractive and hearing music they enjoy could make the feature more accessible.

McKai met Fjerstad in 2008 and quickly saw his potential to fit Vivid-Alt's image.

"He's really sweet and kind of naive in this way that you can respect," McKai says. "He's really attractive, but nerdy. He's real and has a look and vibe that women respond to."

The women still get all the attention and the cash; they make $700 to $1,800 for a sex scene, while men make $250 to $900. But McKai says not to underestimate the importance of guys like Fjerstad.

"If you don't have an erection, you're not shooting a hardcore movie," he says. "It takes a special talent to both physically and mentally make that happen."

   

CHAD REMEMBERS THE FIRST TIME HE SAW PORN. He was seven and he was spending yet another day stuck at home with his five-year-old sister, Nicole. Dad was passed out on the couch, clutching a bottle of vodka. Digging around in a closet in their Inver Grove Heights home, Chad and Nicole discovered a box of their dad's dirty videos.

"I think we knew what they were, but we asked if we could watch them anyway," Nicole recalls.

Their dad, still half asleep, gave them the thumbs-up.

They watched about 30 seconds of the film before they realized what they were doing was wrong. Horrified and disgusted, they turned the TV off and stuffed the porn collection back in the closet where it belonged.

Starting junior high in a new suburb, Chad wanted to quickly make a name for himself with his new classmates.

"His mission was to be weird, but cool," says one of his best friends, Dan Pederson. "He was a crusty Agro-rock nerd who had an intense desire to be liked."

Sporting a bowl cut, braces, baggy JNCO jeans, and an ill-fitting Limp Bizkit T-shirt, he nicknamed himself Choad and started a rumor that he was stalking the hottest girl in class. The scheme worked. Girls recognized him as "the stalker" and would approach to ask if the rumor was true. He'd deny it and charm them with his quirky humor.

At home, Chad was just like any awkward teen boy, bursting into puberty and spending too much time perfecting the art of masturbation. Before discovering scrambled porn, Spice Girls music videos did the trick. He became obsessed with Ginger Spice in the "Say You'll be There" video, where she sports a barely-there leather outfit and red thigh-high stockings.

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