But it's not what you think. Dark, who has directed videos for LFO, Ice Cube, and the Counting Crows, was hired to tone DOWN Spears' image, not sex it up. ''They wanted to re-image her a bit [from the naughty schoolgirl of ''... Baby One More Time''],'' Dark tells EW Online. ''They wanted a much more story-oriented video without dance, one that was serious and emotional'' about its subject -- lost love. To do this, Dark coaxed the dramatic novice NOT to be herself: ''I'd joke with her so that she would loosen up and feel comfortable acting, as opposed to being Britney Spears at that moment.''
Mandy Moore offered Dark a different challenge. ''For me it's about how an artist can be accessible to their audience, which will help them sell records because if people can say to themselves, 'Gee I could hang out with Mandy Moore and she could be my friend,' they'll want to buy the album,'' he explains. The loosely plotted ''Walk Me Home'' consists largely of beauty poses, which didn't require much acting from the 15-year-old singer. ''I was able to do a series of shots that could be Vogue covers,'' Dark says. ''I was really fascinated to try something that was that graphically gorgeous.''
Some think the key to Dark's unlikely success with the ingenue set is exactly this ability to make young women look gorgeous. ''Let's face it,'' says Mark Kernes of Adult Video News, ''there are few people in the world who know better how to shoot a female than a porn director.'' Rapper Sole agrees. She says she hired Dark to direct her No. 1 hit ''4,5,6'' expressly because of his adult-film experience: ''I knew if he did pornos, he was probably good at the whole beauty thing.''
But despite the aesthetic advantages of Dark's background, few label reps are speaking publicly about it. Even the director is uncomfortable discussing his past: ''I don't deny that I did it, it's just that I also like people to know that I don't currently and haven't in a long time.'' Not to worry -- increased publicity won't likely derail his burgeoning video career. ''I don't think people who buy records are too concerned about the background of the video's director,'' says Billboard reporter Carla Hay. And Steven Gottlieb of the music video trade the CVC Report agrees that Dark's past certainly won't scare away rockers and hip-hoppers: ''A lot of those guys would be sort of excited by that.''