Jonathan Agassi came to the world’s attention as one of the stars of Men of Israel – a landmark production from Lucas Entertainment. Men of Israel was released in 2009, and Agassi quickly became one of the hottest names in gay porn – winning awards, appearing at events, and appearing exclusively in the films of Michael Lucas.
It was around this time that documentary filmmakers – and brothers – Tomer and Barak Heymann began discussions with Agassi about creating a film chronicling his life and career.
Agassi told the Heymann brothers – who’ve won awards with previous projects Who’s Gonna Love Me Now, and Mr Gaga – that he would take part in the project if they could convince his mother that it was a good idea.
“He gave me his mother’s number and we met for a coffee…” explained Tomer Heymann in an interview with Screen Daily. “It took me time to convince her, but we built trust over weeks and months and eventually she told me she trusted me to do the film.”
The result is the documentary Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life. The film has been eight years in the making, and consists entirely of footage shot by Tomer Heymann – including a number of explicit scenes.
In the film, we meet Agassi at the height of his fame, but what follows eventually chronicles his fall, as his career crumbles in a haze of drugs and bad decisions.
Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life has been touring the film festivals around the world, but will soon be available to watch on general release.
For a bit of an insight into the story presented by the Heymann brothers, I caught up with Michael Lucas – the man who gave Agassi his break into the industry.
At the time that we spoke, Lucas hadn’t yet seen the film, but he had been interviewed by the Heymann brothers for the production.
Can you remember when you first met Jonathan?
I went to Israel when I was casting for the film Men of Israel. Jonathan came to casting – we’d talked before that over Skype. I liked him a lot. He was beautiful. This is a business based on looks, and he was a very beautiful guy. He was a nice guy – enthusiastic and very eager to be in this industry. He was also very competitive. Sexually, he was very open-minded – up for anything and everything.
What was it about Jonathan that made you realise that he had a lot of potential?
It’s not often that you have a model that is so dedicated. He was doing his homework. He would watch other performers, he would watch porn – not as a consumer, he was watching it as a model – he would take notes from the best performers. He was getting better and better with every production.
Was there ever any conflict between yourself and Jonathan?
We did butt heads a few times – that led to some tension between us. Jonathan was a little insecure – he felt like I was paying more attention to Matan Shalev. In reality, it was just that Matan needed a lot of guidance, whereas Jonathan didn’t.
In the documentary, it almost seems as if Jonathan was testing you, or pushing the boundaries?
That’s what models do – they test you, they push you. They’re nice in the beginning, but maybe they see me as some sort of father figure. I tried to give him the best advice I could – whether that was about not shaving his hair, or not getting tattoos, or not doing steroids. He was a fantastic performer, and very popular – I wanted him to look his best. He obviously didn’t listen to me.
Why did you stop working with Jonathan?
I don’t remember why we parted company – I don’t remember what happened. I think he got sucked into that troubled lifestyle.
In the film, Jonathan says something like that he’s realised that everything he thought was success he now sees that it wasn’t built on anything real. Does that make sense to you?
That’s what happens to most guys. They get an award and they think that they’re on top of the world. Their fan mail really fucks them up. We all receive a lot of fan mail and it always reads the same – you’re the most beautiful man in the world, I’m your number one fan – it means nothing, you can’t pay attention to it. A lot of models don’t understand that porn awards don’t mean anything – it’s a bubble, it’s absolutely irrelevant if they get the award or not. It means nothing if you’re Best Bottom of the Year. If you become dependent on that constant admiration, real life will quickly bring you down, leaving you with loneliness, rejection, and insecurity.
Do you think that’s what happened with Jonathan?
A lot of guys go into this industry to prove something to themselves and others. Often, they weren’t popular, they grew up without support, they were bullied or laughed out. They want to prove that they’re hot and sexy, to build their confidence. But your big muscles, your tattoos, your fan mail – that doesn’t make you more confident. It doesn’t matter how many people jack-off to you – that insecure little boy is still in there, still being hurt.
Have you spoken to Jonathan about the film?
We’d been in touch occasionally over the years. He asked me to be interviewed for the film, so I saw him when I was in Israel. He’s much calmer now, more grown up. He’s sober, he doesn’t do drugs. We spent some time together, and filmed some content for my JustFor.Fans channel. It was good to see him.