Originally published in the April 2010 issue ofThe Advocate.
He?s taken many a gay man to heaven with the adult films he?s produced, including La Dolce Vita, Fire Island Cruising, and Men of Israel, but now Michael Lucas is entering the travel business -- and wants to take you to Israel. He?s scheduled a 12-day tour of the Promised Land, including stops in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Eilat. So we asked Steven Burns, whose QueerClick.com covers the comings and goings of Lucas?s day job, to get the scoop on the producer?s travel-related career turn.
Michael, I?ve got to ask the obvious: Why the shift into the tourism business?
It?s not so much a shift as it is something extra I?d like to do. This idea really came to me from so many people e-mailing me that they?d love to go Israel but didn?t know how to go about it. And since my first business in Russia was running a successful tourist agency, I do know what makes a great tour. So while I am organizing the trip here, I am also working with Israel?s biggest tourist [company].
Will you be offering trips to some of the other places featured in your films? Say a tour of Fire Island?
You don?t need me to show you Fire Island. You?ll find your way very quickly on your own there. But while Israel is one of the best places for a gay holiday vacation, it?s not yet a typical tourist spot for gay men. It offers an amazing combination of history, gorgeous architecture, restaurants [with cuisine] from all over the world, beautiful beaches, a wild nightlife, natural resorts, shopping. There are so many things to do and see -- all in one trip. I?m doing this because I enjoy introducing people to the country that I truly love.
Do people assume this is a porn- or sex-based trip?
It absolutely isn?t that type of trip. Once again, you don?t need me to find sex in Israel if that?s what you?re interested in. There are many gay clubs, two gay beaches, and Israeli guys are generally very friendly and curious. But no, this trip is about Israel, not about having sex.
So is the trip open only to men?
Everyone is welcome. The tour is aimed at people who are interested in exploring all of Israel. Gender, age, or body type don?t matter. People seem to be confused about this. I want to travel with a diverse crowd, and this trip is absolutely for anyone who wants to see Israel from a unique insider?s perspective.