Pornography. Murder. James Franco.

Pornography. Murder. James Franco.

Joel Boland

Pornography. Greed. Murder. Arson. Those are the ingredients, in order, of a Sacramento State professor’s riveting true crime book that is being turned into a film produced by and starring the sexually enigmatic James Franco.

Andrew Stoner, a professor of communication studies at Sac State, co-authored the book with Peter Conway in 2012: “Cobra Killer: Gay Porn, Murder and the Manhunt to Bring the Killers to Justice.”

The film, “King Cobra,” will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and has an impressive cast, including ‘80s heartthrobs Christian Slater, playing the murder victim, and Molly Ringwald. A wider theatrical release is yet to be determined.

The book chronicles the criminal fumblings of two Virginia Beach male escorts/adult film actors/would-be producers and their tale of greed, brutality and stupidity.

Joseph Kerekes (to be played by James Franco) and Harlow Cuadra had dreams of branching out and making it big in the gay porn industry with their production company, Boy Batter. They were only missing one thing: a star. Enter Sean Paul Lockhart, better known by his stage name, Brent Corrigan.

Lockhart the star, however, was unable to get out of his contract with Cobra Video, owned by the soon-to-be-grisly-murder-victim Bryan Kocis. After a prolonged legal battle, Lockhart was denied the right to use his wellknown stage name of “Corrigan,” his bread and batter. Sorry, butter. (Again, no puns).

Kerekes and Cuadra, the blundering criminals, came up with one quick fix for the messy legal battle: murder. They entered Kocis’ house under the pretense of auditioning, stabbed him 28 times, slit his throat — nearly decapitating him — and then set the house ablaze.

Then came a four month game of cat-and-mouse that culminated in Lockhart, the porn prodigy, cooperating with police to tape a conversation with the bragging killers on a nude beach. As for the logistics of hiding a wiretap on a nude beach—well, you’ll just have to read the book.

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Lockhart (left) and Cuadra relax on the nude beach where a sting operation would later be held to record the killers confessing. 

Kerekes and Cuadra are now serving life sentences without parole.

Once the trial was over, Conway said he looked at all the information he had amassed and thought it was perfect for a book.

“And lo and behold, about the same time was when Andrew Stoner contacted me and asked if I was gonna write a book,” Conway said. “I said, ‘Well, I think maybe it’d be best if we wrote one together.’”

For the collaboration, Stoner used his true crime writing experience to sculpt a narrative out of all the facts, and Conway worked at collecting them.

“I had most of the contacts as far as with media and people who worked at the courthouse,” Conway said. “It was easy to get pretty much any of the documents we needed.”

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Joseph Kerekes is escorted by police after his trial. Kerekes will be played by James Franco in the film adaptation. 

Stoner gave some context as to Lockhart’s fame and why people would be willing to commit murder just to get their hands on him. I mean the rights to his name. (Last pun, I promise).

“He’s kind of the, you know, the Zac Efron of gay porn,” Stoner said. The description is eerily fitting considering the part of Lockhart/Everett in the upcoming “King Cobra” film will be played by Garrett Clayton, star of the Disney Channel’s “Teen Beach Movie” and its sequel, “Teen Beach 2.”

In a spooky Hollywood coincidence, Lockhart had a small role in the 2008 film “Milk,” in which Franco played the boyfriend of San Francisco gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk (Sean Penn).

Franco has toyed with ideas of sexuality, gender and identity for a long time, Stoner said. Earlier this year, Franco released a book of poetry titled “Straight James / Gay James.” In Four Two Nine Magazine last year, in which Franco interviewed himself, Franco posed the question, “Are you f***ing gay or what?” To which Franco replied, “Well, I like to think that I’m gay in my art and straight in my life … If it means whom you have sex with, I guess I’m straight.”

“I think he likes the question, keeping that conversation going,” Stoner said. “I think he likes playing that line.”

Stoner said he received some criticism for choosing to write about this murder, saying it would make all gay men look like “killers and porn freaks.”

“It does expose a part of gay culture that people would rather not see exposed, but pornography is not exclusive to the gay community,” Stoner said. “It exists in all communities. Homicide is the same.”

Stoner offered a final pearl of wisdom to take away from the gruesome true crime story, pondering what could lead a human to consider murder as a solution to any situation.

“I actually think it’s impossible to get away with murder. I think it’s a fool’s crime,” Stoner said. “The techniques available to law enforcement today are so elaborate, and so sophisticated, that people thinking they can do that—it’s really ridiculous.”