Nearly seven years ago, Jessy Ares planted a seed in Hans Berlin—in his head, that is. While talking behind the scenes, Berlin got an idea that began to grow. In two weeks, it will reach fruition with the debut of Shooting Star – A Revealing New Musical.

“When I started, one of the first guys I shot with was Jessy Ares. He’s half German, so he speaks the language fluently. He told me that he used a lot of his money to produce his own songs and music, and that he would perform in a jock strap and sneakers—and sometimes even show his dick and have a hardon. He sang songs like ‘Pornstar’ and ‘Callboy Ahoy,’” recalls Berlin, who was paired with his fellow legend three times, starting with Cocksure Men and continuing in the film On Tap for Titan and Gentlemen 6: Wear Me Out for Lucas Entertainment.

Hans Berlin, Jessy Ares

“I love musical theater obviously, and we were joking around to do a musical porn scene…and Jessy put that singing porn star/porn musical idea into my brain. So, I toyed around with that idea and I wrote down a treatment of the story, and it’s based on my story—although yes, it’s pretty clear that I wanted to make my protagonist younger,” Berlin laughs.

Hans Berlin, Jessy Ares

“One of the things that I’ve always loved in this country compared to my home country is that if you have a crazy idea, you always find people who say, ‘Do it! Even if it never happens, at least you tried it.’ The German way a lot of times is, ‘Don’t do it because you might lose a lot of money and fail.’ So I love the American spirit with that: Do it! Even if you fail, at least you tried.”

And with just two weeks to go before the debut of Shooting Star at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Hollywood, Berlin is struggling to find time to sleep. As the curtain prepares to rise, he’s still busy with rehearsals; putting finishing touches on lines, lyrics, music and choreography; securing sponsorships; and promoting his beautiful behind off like he never has before (including an interview this week with GayLifeLA).

As The Sword has previously reported, Shooting Star starts it’s six-week run with two special previews on May 23 and 24 before the official opening on May 25, and a crowdsourcing effort on Indiegogo offers fans the opportunity to be an even bigger part of the effort. The musical love story set in the world of gay porn features the lead character Taylor “TNT” Trent—who is based in part on Berlin

“Taylor is from the Midwest. My ex-boyfriend who was from Germany was an exchange student in Ferdinand, Indiana—and when we did a road trip through the United States a few years ago, we went to Ferdinand and visited his old high school. That was the only American high school that I’ve ever seen from the inside, so Taylor is from Ferdinand now—and the story opens with him leaving for Hollywood,” shares Berlin.

Hans Berlin

“I wanted to give him a healthy family background, and not what some other people suggested—which was to give him an unhealthy family, like a broken home. I remember the first few times I got feedback, and I was devastated. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, how can you say that?!’ And you really start doubting yourself.”

But Berlin has gotten much better with constructive criticism over the years.

“The thing is, as a fellow writer once said, opinions are like assholes—everybody has one. So at some point when some people say, ‘You can do this and you can do that…,’ I’m like, ‘Hey, that’s a great idea, but that’s a completely different story than I want to tell.’ Because of course, once again, some think that Taylor should start doing porn because his family threw him out and he’s an unloved LGBT child populating the L.A. streets. And that’s not him.”

Which is not to say that many other changes haven’t been implemented over the years—something the executive producer knew he was in for. Berlin recalls seeing the show Shuffle Along, which featured his friend Billy Porter.

“I saw it like three times during the previews, and it changed every time—you see the audience maybe doesn’t respond the way you want it to respond, so you move your songs, you cut or add dialogue. So the next few weeks are going to be interesting because I’m also the writer and the creator of the show; I have to be at rehearsals and help change lines and things like that.”

Hans Berlin

In an odd twist, Berlin says that as a child, he hated when people sang in musicals.

“I always felt it was boring. But then with Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, I think that was my first dip into musical theater. The Little Mermaid is written like a classic Broadway musical; I think that was the first Broadway show that I saw on Broadway.”

But it was another Broadway blockbuster that made an even bigger mark.

“An inspiration for Shooting Star is definitely Rent, because it’s also about a group of people that the average person can identify with—not because they’re homeless drug addicts or people suffering from AIDS, but because they’re dealing with basic human needs like finding love, finding acceptance and finding themselves. That’s was a big inspiration with Shooting Star. That’s why I’m super happy that my friend [Angela Wendt] who did the original costumes for Rent is also doing our costumes now. And of course, A Chorus Line is another inspiration because it goes behind the scenes of the Broadway world, and my show shows the behind-the-scenes of the adult film world.”

Hans Berlin

Berlin is hopeful that the next step would be to bring it back to New York, but he knows that’s a tall task.

“I think everyone involved in the show knows that a general audience is maybe not ready yet for a musical that takes place in the porn world—and in the gay porn world. But as I said, this is a gay love story. We’re not aiming for Broadway—it’s not going to be a $12 million-dollar Broadway show. But hopefully in the mid-size theaters and the Off-Broadway theaters. Our budget is also smaller, which means it’s quicker to re-coup the money," Berlin shares.

"The next steps would be licensing the show, and then you send it around the world. It really depends on the audiences now. Like in every entertainment field, it’s the audience that’s going to decide how successful our show is going to be—and the future of Shooting Star. It took Hedwig and the Angry Inch 20 years to go to Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris, and they actually had a successful run on Broadway, so who knows?”

Tickets are now on sale, and the crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo is still offering special perks for contributors (including pictures, memorabilia, underwear from sponsor Marco Marco and a few experiences with Berlin, including a "night on the town" and an opening-night date). If you are interested in partnership and investment opportunities, email ShootingStarTheMusical@gmail.com.