Gay porn and Israel advocacy don’t ordinarily go hand in hand. But Michael Lucas, a gay porn star-turned industry kingpin-turned-pro-Israel documentary filmmaker, is certainly not ordinary.

The 41-year-old New Yorker was in Israel this week to promote “Undressing Israel: Gay Men in the Promised Land,” his first-ever mainstream film at the 8th annual Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival. But after more than two decades making gay adult films, both as a leading man and as the CEO of Lucas Entertainment, one of the world’s biggest gay film companies, Lucas hasn’t strayed too far.

“Undressing Israel” may be tamer viewing, but its focus – the beautiful gay men of Israel, and the incredible freedoms they enjoy in this country – is nearly identical to “Men of Israel,” Lucas’s landmark pornographic film that made history by being the first-ever adult film shot on location in Israel. It was also most likely the only pornographic film to ever feature an all-Jewish cast. Made in 2009, the same year that Lucas obtained Israeli citizenship, that film also followed the cash-steeped style of “Michael Lucas’s La Dolce Vita,” which with its elaborate plotlines and celebrity cameos is the most expensive adult film ever made.

In person, Lucas is every inch the playboy. Of the dozen buttons on his baby-blue dress shirt, only one has met its buttonhole. He is all eyelashes, chest and cheekbones, his hair bushy and his body impossibly toned. He swears he neither drinks nor smokes, and he is adamant about avoiding the sun.

‘A lot of gay people in Israel are very much on the left, and that’s not a very sensible thing. They live in a bubble. They actually don’t know how much the world hates them’

But Lucas is no simple pretty boy. Born in Russia and raised in a Jewish home, his allegiance to Israel – “the only place in the world Jews know they can come,” he says – runs deep. He came to porn, he says, because he knew he had a better chance of making it in adult films than he did in mainstream Hollywood. And when he did make it, and then Lucas Entertainment rose straight to the top, he began capitalizing on his fame for the sake of his politics. And those politics, as far as Israel is concerned, lean steeply to the right. As for his opponents on the left – many of whom fill up his fan base – he doesn’t mince words.

“A lot of Israeli academics are horrible,” he says. “They teach students that Israel basically was born out of sin … And unfortunately a lot of gay people in Israel are very much on the left, and that’s not a very sensible thing. They live in a bubble. They actually don’t know how much the world hates them.”

“Undressing Israel” is designed to dispel many negative stereotypes about Israel, including that persistent concept that ours is a typical Middle Eastern nation filled only with sandstorms, camels and religious fanatics. To make the film, Lucas teamed up with Yariv Mozer, known for his 2012 documentary “Invisible Men” about gay Palestinians hiding out in Tel Aviv. With professional-caliber cinematography and production design, the film shows Israeli men from all corners of the spectrum, including a pair of gay fathers and an openly gay soldier. The message? Israel is a place with groundbreaking freedoms for gay men, a light upon the Middle East and a trailblazer when it comes to homosexual rights and open minds.

It’s by no means an objective film, but objectivity, Lucas says, is entirely beside the point. Asked by an audience member at the Tel Aviv screening why the film skims cleanly past the issue of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, it was clear that Lucas has little patience for such questions.

“He said to me that I can’t make a movie that doesn’t show the occupation and I said, ‘yes, yes I can!’ If I had made a movie about the occupation, would anyone ask me why I didn’t show gay life here? I don’t think so!” Lucas says.

Lucas was born Andrei Lvovich Trelvas. He left Russia at the age of 23, first settling in Europe and then making his way to New York City in 1997. He got his start in German straight pornography, later changing his name to Michael Lucas and transitioning over to gay films.

Lucas Entertainment was founded with his own seed money in 1998, one year after he arrived in New York. The company’s productions routinely rake in GayVN Awards as well as prizes from the Adult Erotic Gay Video Awards, known in the industry as Grabbys.

Michael Lucas, center, with a pair of gay fathers featured in his documentary.

Michael Lucas, center, with a pair of gay fathers featured in his documentary.

Despite his success, Lucas has not forgotten what it was like to be a Jew growing up in Russia. That experience, he says, is why he is so passionate in his support for Israel.

“I’m a Russian Jew and I’m an independent thinker,” he says. “The Holocaust showed us that at any point, Jews could need somewhere to go. I don’t think it’s a difficult conclusion to make.”

He obtained Israeli citizenship in order to show his allegiance to the country, despite having never lived here. And his views on Israel have only been strengthened by the response to his film, which has been warmly welcomed by Jewish film festivals around the globe, but mostly ignored by festivals specifically catering to gay-centric films. The film played the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood; the Out in the Desert fest in Tucson, Arizona; and fests in Poland and Germany. But in much of Europe, Lucas says, it was not just rejected. It was shunned.

“It’s a positive portrayal of something that has to do with Israel,” he says, shrugging his shoulders. “If you want your movie to be accepted,” he adds, referring to previous festival darlings from Israel such as “5 Broken Cameras” and “The Policeman,” “you have to make a movie that criticizes Israel.”

Later this summer, the film will be screened at festivals in Brooklyn and in Norway, and Lucas is hoping to get it into American movie theaters by August. He made the film with his own money, investing roughly $100,000 of his funds in its production, but is less concerned about making a profit than he is about combating anti-Israel sentiment.

“I think I contributed to Israeli tourism,” he says. “I think they should put a monument to me somewhere.”