The Prince Of Porn

the films of Gerard Damiano Sr – Restored

Tag: Gerard Damiano Jr.

Jody Maxwell November 20, 1945 - February 12, 2017

Jody Maxwell November 20, 1945 – February 12, 2017

It is with great sadness that I share news of the death of Jody Marie Hogsett Maxwell Mcginnis, who died on February 12th 2017 after a long battle with cancer.  Her family chose to use all of her names in her obituary because she was many different things to many different people. To those who knew her best she was a caregiver, an avid bowler, and a rabid Kansas City Royals fan. To generations of children in Northern California, she was a school teacher. But most knew her as Jody Maxwell, the “singing stick licker” from Kansas City,  porn  star and legend of the “Golden Age of Erotica.”

My father, Gerard Damiano Sr., first met her in 1974 at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He was speaking to a sell out crowd at a symposium on morality. She was an undergrad majoring in theater who had been tasked with interviewing him for the school paper. On the very night that they met she described her “singing and sucking” technique, to which he replied “I’ll put you in pictures and make you a star”. It sounded like the classic Hollywood pick-up line, but he made good on his promise. Upon her graduation he called her father (a criminal prosecutor) to get his blessing, then flew her and a chaperone to New York for a screen test. He was so inspired by her performance that he built an entire film around her. She would portray a women afflicted with multiple personality disorder, playing 3 distinctly different characters. Jody appeared in every single scene, her sexual energy matched by her acting ability.

Jody Maxwell in Portrait

Jody Maxwell in a scene from “Portrait” 1975

Portrait Original 1 sheet poster

“Portrait” Original One Sheet  Poster

“Portrait” was released in 1975 to critical acclaim and launched her short career in adult film. She returned to New York in 1979 to reunite with my father for a role in “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue”. It was then that I first met her while painting sets and making props for the film. At 15 years old I developed my own crush on her. She went on to have a career in phone sex which is detailed in her book “My Private Calls”, and later moved out to the West Coast to begin a new life as a school teacher.

In the fall of 2015 after a long search, I was blessed to finally track her down near her home in Northern California. I interviewed her at length about her relationship with my father and learned the truth behind a story that I thought I knew.

Gerard Damiano Jr. & Jody Maxwell 2015

Gerard Damiano Jr. with Jody Maxwell in 2015 photo by Larry Revene

Jody is survived by her husband of 33 years and was laid to rest yesterday in her beloved Kansas City, Missouri. In lieu of flowers her family has requested that donations be made to the American Cancer Society.

Restoring the films of Gerard Damiano Sr. – The Journey Continues

Gerard Damiano Sr. - photo by Jack Hardman

Gerard Damiano Sr.

My sister Christar and I decided the best way to honor our father, acclaimed adult film director Gerard Damiano, would be to restore his best films and complete his biography. On Father’s Day 2015, I began this blog to document the journey. Now a full year has passed, and although the blog had fallen silent for a time, the journey continues. We felt that the best way to tell his story would be using his own words and the words of those that worked together with him. I teamed up with Larry Revene, one of the most highly regarded cinematographers of the genre. He had shot a number of my father’s films in the late 70s and early 80s.

Larry and I had met on the set of “Throat: 12 Years After” more than 30 years before. Together we formed the “Crew of 2” and set out on the road to track down the surviving “Legends of The Golden Age of Porn” and film interviews with them. We left New York City with all of our gear packed into the 2006 Toyota Corolla that my father and I had bought together before he died.

Our first stop was Newport, Kentucky to meet up with legendary burlesque dancer turned porn star, Annette Heinz. Then it was on to Hollywood to meet the “Goddess of the Golden Age” Georgina Spelvin, star of “The Devil in Miss Jones”. We travelled through California, filming porn stars in sleazy motel rooms (a cliché in itself).  At first, I was writing blog posts about each encounter, but as we continued, the adventures came so hard and fast that I couldn’t keep up. Larry did most of the driving while I navigated, worked the phone, and planned the next move. As we drove from one destination to the next trying to track people down along the way, often not knowing where we were going to be the next day, or where we were going to sleep that night.

The Crew of 2 Nationwide. Larry Revene and Gerard Damiano Jr. somewhere in Missouri

The Crew of 2 Nationwide. Larry Revene and Gerard Damiano Jr. somewhere in Missouri.

We sometimes shot two interviews in a day and I found myself preparing questions in the car and literally watching films as we drove. It was all we could do to be in the moment, while planning for the next. After about a dozen posts I quickly fell behind. I don’t understand how some of these bloggers do it.

How do you live your life and write about it at the same time?

By the time we got back to New York we had driven nearly 10,000 miles across 17 states and filmed more than 20 interviews with some of the most important figures of the era. With all the new information that we discovered, I found that the story was much bigger, and the project much broader in scope than I had initially thought. Our adventures on the road were a story in itself. The new material that we shot was enough to produce a short subject on each film. Between the research for the book, the restoration of 10 films, and all the new media that was generated, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the project. Having fallen more than a dozen posts behind, even the blog added to the weight. It would be easy to lose myself in all this material. Plus, I still had a day job. Real-world obligations and the necessity to raise funds to continue became a priority.

The Crew of 2 Coast to Coast Larry Revene at the Pacific Ocean Photo by Gerard Damiano Jr.

The Crew of 2 Coast to Coast. Larry Revene at the Pacific Ocean. Photo by Gerard Damiano Jr.

I saw the importance of finishing the book. The over-arching story of my father’s life could provide the framework which gives context to the films and other related projects. I brought in some research assistants to help me digest the vast archive of personal writings, press, and film memorabilia that my father had left. But it is a long and painstaking process. Nearly 8 years have passed since my father’s death, and I am anxious to get his films out there to be seen as he had intended. My sister and I have decided to cut to the chase and focus on releasing what our father considered to be his best film. “The Story of Joanna”.

Poster for Gerard Damiano's "The Story of Joanna" (1975)

Poster for “The Story of Joanna” (1975)

“The Story of Joanna” was his dark S/M opus, produced in 1975 at the height of “Porno Chic”. It starred Terry Hall as Joanna, and Jamie Gillis in a role that was tailor made for him. Critics called it “Damiano’s Masterpiece”. The film has not been seen in its original form since the 1970s. It came up often during our interviews across America. When we spoke with Joáo Fernandes, the cinematographer for the film — who had previously shot “Deep Throat”, “The Devil in Miss Jones” and “Memories within Miss Aggie”— he agreed that it was the best work that he had done for my father, perhaps the best work of his adult film career. Annie Sprinkle was NOT in “The Story of Joanna”, but she confessed to me that as my father’s mistress, she was on set and had a lot of behind-the-scenes stories about the film. One of the last interviews that Larry and I shot together was of Juliet Graham, the last surviving cast member, who had some surprising revelations, not least of all about Jamie Gillis.

As the development of the book continues, I will attempt to finish some of the missing posts about the galaxy of stars that Larry and I encountered during our odyssey across America. Their stories were always surprising and often revealing. Our father may always be remembered for “Deep Throat”, but he would have preferred to be known for “The Story of Joanna”. Christar and I hope to screen the restored version of the film in New York City by year’s end.

Gerard Damiano Jr.
Queens, New York,  Father’s Day, 2016

To be continued…

Note: This blog has migrated from theprinceofporn.wordpress.com to www.theprinceofporn.com.

The Crew of 2 revisits Porn Star Phd. Sharon Mitchell in Santa Cruz

Miss Sharon Mitchell Santa Cruz 2015 Photo by Larry Revene

Miss Sharon Mitchell 2015 photo by Larry Revene

When last we saw her earlier this summer, Dr. Mitch was still suffering from injuries sustained when a deer darted out in front of her motorcycle. Now having fully recovered she looked remarkably well, and took time out from an International HIV lawsuit in which she was testifying as an expert witness, to speak further about her experiences working together with my father, Gerard Damiano Sr. Having appeared in 7 of his films made during the “Golden Age” we had a lot to talk about, which necessitated this second visit.

I was curious to hear about “Odyssey The Ultimate Trip”, the first film that she ever did with him. Released in 1977, the film was later renamed “Odyssex” by a distributor who thought that working the word “SEX” into the title would boost box office sales and perhaps avoid confusion with the classic by Homer.

Sharon Mitchell and Tony Mansfield in “Odyssey” (1977)

Sharon Mitchell and Tony Mansfield in “Odyssey The Ultimate Trip” (1977)

In it, Sharon has a rather unusual “Double Drag” Scene together with Tony Mansfield  dressed as a woman, while she is dressed as a man. We spoke about the scene in New York City at the time and about Tony, who I hope to meet up with before my own odyssey is complete.

Sharon Mitchell and George Payne in “Throat:12 Years After” 1984 © 2015 Class X, LLC

Sharon Mitchell and George Payne in “Throat:12 Years After” (1984)

We also talked about her work with George Payne, who she appeared with in both “Throat: 12 Years After” and “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue”. In “Alpha Blue”, my father hired her for a “non-sex role”, which is a testimony, not to her well known talent as a performer, but to her talent an actor.

To be continued…

Miss Sharon Mitchell interviewed by Gerard Damiano Jr. Photographed by Larry Revene

Miss Sharon Mitchell interviewed by Gerard Damiano Jr. photographed by Larry Revene

In San Francisco with 70s Sex Siren Serena

Serena in the 1970s photo by Joel Sussman

Serena in the 1970s  photo by Joel Sussman

We met up with porn legend Serena in San Francisco at The Center for Sex and Culture. Her sweet and gentle demeanor was consistent with her reputation of being the “Hippie Porn Star”. She told us:

“I was making X-Rated Movies
before I ever saw an X-Rated Movie”

We spoke about the two films that she worked on with my father in the late 70s and early 80s, “Gerard Damiano’s People” and “Never So Deep”. Together we watched a scene that she performed with her then real life partner, Jamie Gillis. Her on screen/off screen relationship with “Porn’s Prince of Darkness” was legendary. She shared intimate details of their time together and revealed that she too had a dark side, that was able to match Jamie in intensity (no small feat).

Serena today photo by Larry Revene

Serena today  photo by Larry Revene

You can learn more about Serena in her book  Bright Lights Lonely Nights (The Memories of Serena Porn Star pioneer of the 1970s).
Friend her of Facebook at Facebook.com/70sStarSerena

Next stop Santa Cruz to follow up with Sharon Mitchell
To be continued…

The Crew of 2 are back out on the road in search of the Sex Stars of the Seventies…

The Crew of 2 on the American Road Photo by Gerard Damiano Jr.

The Crew of 2 on the American Road Photo by Gerard Damiano Jr.

This past summer Larry Revene and I set out to interview the “Legends of the Golden Age of Porn” and hear about their experiences working with my father, the acclaimed adult film director Gerard Damiano Sr. Our Journey took us from New York City to Hollywood and beyond. Along the way we met up with some of the biggest names of the era, including Georgina Spelvin, Ron Jeremy, and Sharon Mitchell. Their stories were always interesting, often surprising, and I constantly caught myself saying…

“You can’t make this shit up!”

RedwoodResort

The 2006 Toyota Corolla that my father and I bought together, amidst the Redwoods of Northern California.

Once we completed all the interviews that we had set out to do, we realized that our work was hardly finished. It had only just begun. Some of the interviews posed more questions than they answered. We met a lot of people, who introduced us to still more people, and discovered more cast and crew members who might be willing to talk to us. And although we still have not seen the elusive Jody Maxwell, we got a solid lead.

PackedTight

An entire studio’s worth of equipment, tightly packed into the trunk of a toyota.

Once back in New York, Larry and I, recovered, recharged, refueled, and vowed to continue the journey.
Now we are back out on the American Road.
First stop San Francisco.

To be continued…

Acclaimed cinematographer João Fernandes talks for the first time about being “Harry Flecks”

João Fernandes is the biggest name in adult film cinematography, that you’ve never heard of. He is responsible for shooting many of the finest examples of “Golden Age” porn, including “Take Off”, and “Through the Looking Glass”. He has worked with directors such as Doris Wishman, Armand Weston, Anthony Spinelli, Jonas Middleton, and even blaxploitation star Fred Williamson. Born in Brasil, he studied film at NYU under Haig P. Manoogian, who also taught Scorsese, and cites Fellini as his greatest influence. His collaboration with Gerard Damiano Sr. began in 1972, on the film “Deep Throat.”

 João Fernandes & Jerry Damiano of the Set of

João Fernandes & Jerry Damiano of the Set of “The Story of Joanna” 1975

João shot all of my father’s most acclaimed films, including “The Devil in Miss Jones”, “Memories Within Miss Aggie”, and his masterpiece, “The Story of Joanna.” The two shared a dream of someday working on big-budget Hollywood films. For this reason João used the “nom de porn” Harry Flecks, (taken from the Arriflex camera that he preferred), at a time when his resumé might have prevented him from getting “legitimate” work.

Following “Joanna,” at the peak of the “porno chic” era, João and Gerry went to California together, to shoot the ill-fated “Once Upon a Time…Tomorrow,” a straight film that was never released. While on the West Coast, João made the necessary connections, then returned to New York to pack his bags. He made the move to California and before long had realized his dream. During his career as a Hollywood cinematographer, he shot “Children of the Corn,” “Red Scorpion” and “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.” In 1984 he shot “Missing in Action” which starred Chuck Norris, and began a working relationship with the kung-fu superstar that lasted for many years. He went on to shoot eight more films with Norris, as well as his TV series, “Walker, Texas Ranger,” even directing a number of the episodes himself. If you combine his film and television work, with his work in adult film, João has been credited as Director of Photography in no less than 93 productions.

Georgina Spelvin and Gerard Damiano Sr. in a scene from

Georgina Spelvin and Gerard Damiano Sr., in a scene from “The Devil in Miss Jones”, shot by João Fernandes

As a kid growing up, I knew João as a close family friend. I remember that he was usually the most handsome guy on the set. All the women were hot for him. Even my little sister had a crush on him. Still today, when Larry Revene and I met with the actresses of the “Golden Age”, they all asked about him, with a glimmer in their eyes. The last time that I saw João was more than 40 years ago, during the production of “Once Upon a Time”, in California. I was all of nine years old. For all these years he has retained his anonymity. Now retired, he was finally willing to speak candidly about his career in porn.

João Fernandes with The Crew of 2

João Fernandes with The Crew of 2, Ashland Oregon, July 2015
Photo by Gerard Damiano Jr.

Today, João lives in beautiful Ashland Oregon, with his wife of more than 30 years, an actress whom he met on set, she in front of the camera, and he behind it. We spoke at length, and he told me, “I learned an enormous amount of my own craft working with your father.” We watched “The Devil in Miss Jones” and “Memories Within Miss Aggie” together, and it was evident how far he had come since filming “Deep Throat” just two years before. He felt that “The Story of Joanna” was his best work with my father, perhaps the best work of his adult film career. Larry had worked together with João on “Take Off” and had great respect for him. I enjoyed listening to the two old DPs compare notes about films, cameras, and the people they both knew. João showed us his reel, which contained shots from a number of his films that showcased his most elaborate camera moves, most dramatic lighting, and highest production values. My father would have been proud to know that a shot of Terry Hall descending a staircase from “Joanna” made the cut.

Annie Sprinkle… Porn Star, Art Star, Author, Ecosexual Activist, Goddess

Annie Sprinkle Ecosexual Goddess Photo © Julian Cash

Annie Sprinkle Ecosexual Goddess
Photo © Julian Cash

Dr. Annie Sprinkle earned her place as a legend of the ”Golden Age of Porn”, but did not let that alone define her. Her career is not easy to summarize. She has been rightly described as a sex educator, feminist stripper, prostitute, performance artist, post-porn modernist, photographer, and film maker, and her resumé continues. She has the distinction of being the first porn star to earn a Ph.D., and is the author of 5 books. Early in her career she became an advocate for Sex Workers rights, and when the AIDS epidemic broke out, she used her talent and celebrity to spread awareness about Safe Sex. She survived cancer, and turned the experience into art.

When Annie first met my father in an Arizona courthouse in 1973, while “Deep Throat” was being prosecuted. They were both called in as witnesses, (he for writing and directing the film, and she, for merely selling tickets at the Tucson movie theater, where it was showing). They were instantly attracted to one another, and began a relationship which lasted for years. This brought Annie to New York City, where she would live for the next 22 years.

Today she is married to artist and UCSC professor Beth Stephens. Their wedding itself was a work of art, getting married more than 14 times, during their seven-year project, Love Art Laboratory. Identifying as “ecosexuals”, they use their creativity AND sexuality, to raise awareness about critical environmental issues. Their latest collaboration, which is currently in production, “Water Makes Us Wet” draws attention to Water, the lack of which, is a crisis in their home state of California, at this very moment.

Annie Sprinkle in “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue”

Annie Sprinkle in “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue”
© 2015 Class X, LLC

We visited Annie and Beth, at their country cottage, in Boulder Creek, California, literally surrounded by Redwood Trees, where they spend time away from their home in San Francisco. Annie spoke to me candidly about her relationship with my father. I learned that she actually worked behind the scenes in more of his films, than she appeared in. We spoke about her cameo in “Throat: 12 Years After”, and her controversial scene with then boyfriend Mal O’Ree, in “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue”, which is still as hot and edgy today, as it was when it was shot in 1983. My father directed Annie in “Consenting Adults”, a film that she conceived of, in which she documented her friends and their real life sexual escapades, in a kind of hardcore “reality show”. She never pretended to be an actress, but rather let her genuine sexual nature, be captured on film.

#TheCrewof2 with Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens at SOMArts Cultural Center

#TheCrewof2 with Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens at SOMArts Cultural Center during the opening of “Making a Scene: 50 Years of Bay Area Alternative Spaces”. Photo by Gerard Damiano Jr.

After our interview, Larry Revene and I followed Beth and Annie to San Francisco, to document their performance at SOMArts Cultural Center. The time-lapse video below, shows them performing water rituals, inside and outside of their “Pollination Pod”, a sort of mobile ecosexual laboratory. Currently Annie and Beth are on tour in California.
To learn more about about their project, visit: www.theEcosexuals.org

Visit Annie’s website at: www.anniesprinkle.org
Follow her on Twitter at: @AnnieSprinkle
Follow her on Facebook at: facebook.com/pages/Annie-Sprinkle
L
earn more about the Sexology at: sexecology.org
S
ee Annie and Beth’s latest film “Goodbye Gauley Mountain-An Ecosexual Love Story


Annie Sprinkle
and Beth Stephens perform Water Rituals, both inside and out, of their Pollination Pod at SOMArts Cultural Center
“Shaw ’Nuff” performed by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie

A divine appointment with Miss Sharon Mitchell on the streets of Scotts Valley, CA

Dr. Mitch

Dr. Mitch

Sharon Mitchell (known by her peers as “Mitch”), acted Off-Broadway, and toured with the Martha Graham Dance Company, before starring in her first adult film, “That Lady from Rio”, in 1976. During her career, she has appeared in more than 600 films, and directed 18. By the 1980s Sharon’s lifestyle had taken it’s toll on her. She became a heroin addict, and suffered from a number of STDs. in 1996, following a brutal assault, by a crazed stalker which nearly killed her, she quit drugs and went back to school. She earned both an MA and Phd, and in 1998, she founded the nonprofit Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM), which provided testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and drug and psychological counseling for porn actors. In 2011, an information leak led to a lawsuit, and the clinic’s closure.

Sharon Mitchell in “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue” (1980)

Sharon Mitchell in “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue” (1980)

Sharon had a powerful screen presence. She was one of my father’s favorite performers, and he used her in at least 6 of his films, including a non-sex role in “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue”. When I first met Sharon Mitchell during the production of “Throat: 12 Years After”, I was only 19 years old, but well aware of who she was. She was not like any of the other porn stars of the day. I could relate to the street smart, Italian looking, Jersey girl, who was small in size, big on attitude, and totally HOT. In the film, she played a scene within a scene, in which she recounts one of her earliest sexual experiences, a kind of school yard fantasy. The performer playing opposite her, had never been in a porn film before, and was hired for his youthful appearance. He was not much older than me. His role required him to put his erect member through a chain link fence, while Sharon, on the other side (in a cheerleader outfit no less), gave him head. Later that night, after we had wrapped for the day, I joked with my father, telling him that whatever that kid was getting paid for the scene, I would have done it for half.

I had a very hard time tracking Sharon Mitchell down. Word in New York was that she had begun using again, and was living on the street. Knowing her checkered past, we feared the worst, and had all but given up on finding her. Once in Hollywood, I was given a cell number, from a mutual friend, but was cautioned that no one had seen or heard from her in weeks. When we finally connected by phone, Sharon sounded surprisingly well, and we made plans to meet outside of Santa Cruz. Days later, as we exited off Highway 17 to Scotts Valley, the phone rang. It was Sharon, who had called to say that she was out walking her dog, and wondered when we would be arriving. We were stopped at the first traffic light off the highway, and as I listened, I noticed a woman talking on the phone and walking a dog past our car. I rolled down the window and yelled out “Mitch?!”. The dashboard cam caught a glimpse of our divine appointment with Sharon, in the time-lapse video, shown below.

We were happy to find her in good health, perhaps a little worse for wear from a motorcycle accident she had recently suffered, when a deer darted out in front of her. Despite the knee brace, she appeared to be in remarkable physical shape. After catching up a bit, and confirming plans to film in the morning, we offered to drive her, and her dog, back home. After driving for miles, up and over a mountain, on a very steep, twisting road, I was amazed to think that she made this walk, down and back, at least once a day, everyday. Larry and I were tired out just from the drive. Once in front of the camera, we spoke about her experiences working with my father on films which include “Odyssey“, “Skin Flicks”, “Consenting Adults” and “Night Hunger”.

Today, “Dr. Mitch” works as an expert witness in H.I.V./A.I.D.S. criminal law. She is earning her certification as an EMT, so that she will be qualified to do disaster relief work.

with Miss Sharon Mitchell

The Crew of 2 with Miss Sharon Mitchell, Scotts Valley, Californian July 2015

In the San Emigdio Mountains with Nice Guy Porn Star Eric Edwards

Eric Edwards' headshot

Eric Edwards’ headshot from the 1970s

Known for his youthful charm and good looks, Eric Edwards was often cast as the “boy next door”, in a film career which has spanned 5 decades. His roles run the full spectrum, having appeared in high profile television commercials, as well as some of the most notorious XXX loops ever filmed.  While studying acting at Baylor College, he received a full scholarship to The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and moved to New York City. Upon graduation he signed with the William Morris agency, and for the next 8 years appeared in Regional Theater and Summer Stock, as well as national TV spots for Gillette, and Close-Up Toothpaste, among others. In the late 1960s he answered an ad in Screw Magazine, which led him to Bob Wolf’s infamous 14th St. studio, where he first met Larry Revene. Larry filmed Eric’s very first loops, and his career in adult film began. He went on to appear in more than 500 films. By 1985 he made the move from in front of the camera, to behind it, directing 50 films. He has worked in all aspects of film production, writing, producing, shooting, editing and everything in between.

Eric Edwards in

“This is my curse… and I will revel in it”  Eric Edwards as Lucien Blair in “Night Hunger” (1983)

Larry and I travelled north from LA, into the San Emigdio Mountains, where we found Eric, living in a small town, together with his 2 sons. He is truly one of the kindest, gentlest spirits, in the adult industry. Eric had first worked with my father on the 1974 classic, “Memories within Miss Aggie”, which is as much a psychological thriller as it is a sex film. We watched “Memories” together, and also spoke at length about his role in “Night Hunger” (1983), where he was cast against type, as the insatiable satyr, Lucien Blair. In this film, he performs a sex scene with no less than 5 women, and relies heavily on his acting ability to portray the dark and brooding character. The first time that I met Eric, was on the set of “Throat: 12 Years After”, a film which both Larry and I worked on, more than 30 years ago. He also worked for my father in “Who’s Fantasy is it Anyway?”(1983), and “Slightly Used” (1987).

Although plagued by tragedy in his personal life, and some health issues in recent years, Eric is now happily retired, and content to be a celebrity at his local duck pond, where his daily appearances draw crowds of waterfowl, who recognize the sound of his approaching vehicle, and literally flock to him. You won’t find Eric on Facebook or other social media. However, there is a 30 year old Eric Edwards on Facebook, who is probably wondering why so many “Porn Stars of the Golden Age” want to be his friend.

Next we head to Northern California in search of the elusive Sharon Mitchell…


1970s Close Up Toothpaste Commercial featuring Eric Edwards

Herschel Savage …a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, who made it BIG in Porn

Herschel SavageWhen Herschel Savage arrived on the scene in the early 1970s, he brought more than just impossibly good looks, but considerable acting chops, having studied under Uta Hagen, as well as renowned acting teacher Stella Adler. Though reports online vary greatly, Herschel, by his own account, has appeared in more than 1,500 films, over his 40 year career. You may have seen him in the Golden Era Classic “Debbie Does Dallas” (under the name Bill Barry).

Larry Revene remembers shooting loops with him in Bob Wolf’s 14th St. studio as early as 1973. We met up with Herschel in L.A., where I had the opportunity to talk with him about working with my father on “Odyssey: The Ultimate Trip” (aka “Odyssex”), “People”, “Skin-Flicks”, “For Richer for Poorer”, “Beyond Your Wildest Dreams”, and “Forbidden Bodies”.

Herschel Savage in “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue” 1980

Herschel Savage in “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue” 1980

I was most interested in speaking about the Sci-Fi Sex Pic “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue”. I worked on this film in 1980. Still too young to work during the actual filming, I painted sets and created some of the props, earning a credit for “prop design”. Hershel plays opposite R. Bolla (another nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, with formidable acting skills), as the two debate “Love vs. Sex”, against the backdrop of a future in decay. Herschel chose his stage name while joking around with Jamie Gillis, trying to combine a “porn name”, with one that was distinctly Jewish. This draws attention to a trend in actors of the “Golden Age”, as nearly every major male star was a Jew born in New York City. The list includes Harry Reems, Ron Jeremy, Jerry Butler, R.Bolla, Bobby Astyr, and Jamie Gillis himself. Honorable mention goes to Marc Stevens (b. Delaware), and Carter Stevens (b. Newark, NJ).

Today Herschel is still active, preferring to appear on the stage rather than on the screen, has actually portrayed my father, a role that he is quite proud of. He hosts a weekly comedy show on xxxpornstarradio.com every Thursday night, from 6:15-8:15 PM (Pacific Time). You can call in at 1.484.352.2598. Follow Herschel on Twitter at: @pornicon, and friend him on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/herschel52

Herschel Savage and R.Bolla on location in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, NY. Site of the 1964 World’s Fair.

Herschel Savage and R.Bolla on location in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, NY
(Site of the 1964 World’s Fair), while filming “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue”

In Hollywood with the most recognizable porn star in the world… Ron Jeremy

Ron Jeremy

Ron Jeremy

Ron Jeremy is not only a “Legend of the Golden Age of Porn”, he is, literally, the most recognizable porn star in the world. More popular today, than he was while at the peak of his adult film career, which spans 4 decades, Ron has starred in more than 1,400 films, directing 182 of them. He is known for his quick wit, and the rare ability to perform autofellatio on his 10-inch member. AVN (Adult Video News) has ranked him No.1, on its list of the Top 50 Porn Stars of All Time. Ron has found new generations of fans as a reality star, appearing in “The Surreal Life”, and he has appeared in dozens of mainstream films, including “Ronin” with Robert DeNiro, and the cult classic “Boondock Saints.” He can also be seen in music videos by Guns N’ Roses, Sublime, LMFAO and many, many, more.

I first met Ron in 1983, on the set of “Who’s Fantasy Is It Anyway?”, which was Gerard Damiano Sr.’s first shot on video feature. He appeared in 4 films for my father, including “Consenting Adults” and “Inside Everybody”.  In 1985, he starred in “Flesh and Fantasy”, and was given top billing, which was very unusual for a male porn actor at the time. My father shot this comedic retelling of his “Devil in Miss Jones” at Adventure Studios in Queens, and on location in upstate New York. It featured Ronnie as “Mister Jones”, whose bargain with the devil goes awry. Larry Revene and I both worked on this film.

Ron de Jeremy

Ron de Jeremy
“The Adult Rum”

We caught up with Ron in a seedy motel in Hollywood, which served as our soundstage. He regaled us with stories of his career, which he delivered with impeccable comedic timing, in a pure “stream of consciousness” flow, punctuated by licks on his harmonica. He ran down all of our batteries, filled up all of our memory cards, and kept us biting our lips to keep from laughing out loud and ruining the take. One thing that I was surprised to learn about Ronnie, is that he, too, was born and raised in Queens, New York.

Ron was the subject of the documentary film “Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy”, and has told his own story in the New York Times best-selling autobiography “Ron Jeremy: The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz.” Recently he has lent his name to a brand of rum called Ron de Jeremy.

You can find Ron online at ronjeremy.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealRonJeremy, and like his fan page at facebook.com/TheRealRonJeremy

with Ron Jeremy, Hollywood California, July 2015

with Ron Jeremy, Hollywood California, July 2015

In Hollywood with “The Goddess of The Golden Age of Porn”, Georgina Spelvin

Georgina Spelvin  in

Georgina Spelvin in “The Devil in Miss Jones”

When she  met my father in 1973, Georgina Spelvin already had an impressive resumé. A classically trained dancer, she had appeared in “The Pajama Game” on Broadway, dancing for Bob Fosse. Her love of filmmaking led her and a group of fellow artists to found “The Pickle Factory” in Greenwich Village, New York, in the late 1960’s, where they made protest films against the Vietnam War.

Georgina's Broadway Headshot

Georgina’s Headshot from her Broadway Days

An accomplished film editor, with experience in all aspects of production, she applied for the job as caterer for “The Devil in Miss Jones”. When she showed up at the office for an interview, Jerry was auditioning John Clemens for the role of “Abaca” (The Devil’s Advocate), and asked her to run lines with him. When she left that day she had gotten both the catering job, AND the starring role in the film. “The Devil in Miss Jones” made headlines (as “Deep Throat” before it), but this time it was due to critical acclaim, rather than scandal. And Georgina was (in her own words), “skyrocketed from oblivion to oblivion”.

We found Georgina living in the lovely Hollywoodland section of Los Angeles, just beneath the iconic sign, together with her partner of more than 30 years. She regaled us with tales of working on “Devil”, as well other films, which she later made for my father, such as “For Richer For Poorer” and “Fantasy”. Now well into her 70’s, her formidable intelligence and quick wit, have only improved over time. She has recounted her extraordinary story in a memoir entitled “The Devil Made Me Do it”, which is available on Amazon.com. Read her blog at: http://georginaspelvin.blogspot.com/

The Crew of 2 with Georgina

The Crew of 2 with Georgina Spelvin and her partner John, Hollywood, July 2015

In search of Jody Maxwell…

Jody Maxwell courtesy of Jody's Facebook page

Jody Maxwell
courtesy of Jody’s Facebook page

Known as “The Singing Cocksucker from Missouri”, Jody Maxwell made her very first film “Portrait”, with my father in 1974. She then established herself as an adult film star of Porn’s “Golden Age”. 7 years later, she appeared in “The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue“. I have not seen Jody since I was 15 years old, while working on the set of that film during pre-production.

When we arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, none of our leads panned out, and we were forced to get back on the road, without finding the elusive “Singing Cocksucker”. I will continue the search for her, as she was one of my father’s favorite performers, and I would love to hear what she has to say about her experiences with him.

Next stop, Hollywood California, to see the Queen of them all, Ms. Georgina Spelvin.

(To be continued)

In Northern Kentucky, on the trail of Annette Heinz

Annette Heinz (circa1984)

Annette Heinz (circa 1984)

Our first stop is in Northern Kentucky to find legendary burlesque dancer Annette Heinz. Annette found fame working as a go-go dancer in Larry Flynt’s Hustler Clubs in Ohio in 1970. She later moved to New York City and was a feature dancer at The Melody Burlesque on Broadway. It was there that she met my father, who put Annette in her first film. “Gerard Damiano’s Consenting Adults” was a documentary about sex and sexuality in America, shot by Larry Revene. Annette then made “Throat: 12 Years After“, and “Return to Alpha Blue”, with my father. She went on to have a career in Adult films, making more than 22 movies. Today she is a Certified Chef and Culinary Artist, living back in her hometown of Newport, Kentucky.

Annette Heinz is a sassy southern belle, still as lovely as ever. We filmed her back in our motel room, which had been converted to a sound stage (a porn tradition). Her remembrances of my father and her experiences in the industry were very touching. She moved me to tears, then had me laughing out loud. She is beginning work on her own book, and invites her fans to friend her on Facebook.

Next stop Kansas City in search of Jody Maxwell.
(to be continued)

Annette Heinz filmed in Northern Kentucky by Gerard Damiano Jr. and Larry Revene. June 2015

Annette Heinz filmed in Northern Kentucky by Gerard Damiano Jr. and Larry Revene. June 2015

The Crew of Two

To tell the story of my father, in the most accurate way, I feel that it is important to speak with all the surviving cast and crew members who had worked with him. I decided to set out on the road, to film the “Legends of the Golden Age of Porn”, and hear their stories, while they are still able to tell them. In order to prepare for this, I consulted with Larry Revene, to decide on which would be the best camera and lighting package to bring along. Larry had an impressive resume of shooting film and television, long before he became one of the he most highly acclaimed cinematographers from the “Golden Age”, He was responsible for such films as “Roommates”, “Wanda Whips Wall Street”, and “Raw Talent”. He definitely has stories to tell. So much so, in fact, that his memoir is in 2 volumes (“Wham Bam $$ Ba Da Boom!” and “Life in a Film Can” ), with a third one on the way.

Larry Revene photographed on location in Guyana 2006, for the film

Larry Revene photographed on location in Guyana 2006, for the film “Rainbow Raani”.

I first met Larry back in 1984, on the set of “Throat: 12 Years After”. As a kid I had worked behind the scenes on many of my father’s films, painting sets, making props and doing pre-production work. For “12 Years After”, my father felt that I was finally old enough to join him on the set. I was hired as a Production Assistant (PA), the lowest position on any set. What my dad like to call a “Gopher”, as in “Go for coffee, Go for cigarettes”. On that day, my education in film production began in earnest. The Director on a film set is like the voice of God, when he speaks, everyone stops and listens. But the one person that the Director listens to, is the Director of Photography. I remember many times throughout the shoot, the two of them conferring on the best shot to convey the action in a scene, and specifically, where to place the camera. I have had a lot of respect for Larry ever since.

When I told Larry what I was trying to do, he was so enthusiastic, that I asked him on the spot, if he wanted to come along to shoot it. I explained that there was very little money involved, but that I would provide camera and sound, and cover all of the travel expenses. He would bring the necessary lighting and grip equipment. This would not be the first “no-budget” adventure Larry had ever been on, and he figured that at the very least, he might get to see some old friends along the way. He agreed, and the “Crew of Two” was formed.

To gear up for the trip, we headed to Woodstock, New York, where Larry stores all the equipment he has accumulated over the years. The Mole-Richardson lights, that we picked up, had actually come from the infamous Adventure Studios in Queens, and were the very same lights used on “Throat: 12 Years After” more than 30 years before. The tripod that we got, was used to shoot the documentary “Gerard Damiano’s Consenting Adults”. We packed everything into the 2006 Toyota Corolla, that my dad and I had bought together before he died, and set off on the American Road…

(to be continued)

Why The Book?

Back in 1999, when I first approached my father about writing his autobiography, his answer was “NO”. “I don’t want to end up in the trunk of a car” he said. It was more than 25 years after the release of “Deep Throat”, and still he feared for his life. He felt that if he “named names”, there would be repercussions.

By 1971, he had had some minor success, with a few independent “Sexploitation” films, when he met Linda Traynor, who he would later christen “Linda Lovelace”. She was his muse, in a very real sense. When he first witnessed her unique talent for oral sex, he was inspired to write the script for “Deep Throat”. Shooting a full-length feature film in 35mm Color, was an expensive proposition, even then. He was looking for financing, when a friend introduced him to Lou “Butchie” Pirano, who unbeknownst to him at the time, was connected to the Colombo crime family. “When I found somebody willing to give me 25 grand to make a dirty movie, I didn’t ask any questions”.

When “Throat” achieved a level of unprecedented success (it is still arguably the most profitable film of all time), he quickly learned who he was dealing with. They “made him an offer he couldn’t refuse”. They kept the film, and he was lucky to get out alive. Back then, other kids would often ask me, “Is it true that your dad held a gun to Linda’s head to get her to make “Deep Throat”? I always believed that it was my father, who had a gun held to his head.

Although he appreciated the success that “Deep Throat” afforded him, he would be the first to tell you that it is not a very good film. “We were learning, and we did the best that we could”. He went on to make much better films, some of which are still considered to be the finest adult films of all time. He was more proud of coining the phrase “Deep Throat”. “I made it into the Dictionary!” he liked to say. When Woodward and Bernstein’s informant used it as an alias, the word became a noun, as well as a verb.

In 2003 he was approached for a documentary that was in the works, about the cultural impact of his movie. He had no interest in even talking to them. Now in his seventies, he was bitter about the film. “People are still making money off of it, and now they want to want to make another movie, and make even more money off of it, while I get nothing”! This is where I stepped in. I met with the directors of “Inside Deep Throat” to find out what their intentions were. They convinced me that they had great respect for my father, and his films. He would be the “hero” of their story. I called my dad and told him “They’re going to make this movie with or without you, but if you participate, you will have a chance to tell your side of the story, if you don’t, it will be everyone else’s version, and THAT will become the truth”. In the end, he agreed to appear in the film on one condition, under no circumstances would he talk about the mob.

“Inside Deep Throat” opened at Sundance, played around the world, finishing up on HBO and then Netflix. The film not only “named names”, but showed pictures of the Pirainos and their associates. By this time, most of the story had already run in the New York Post, as brother killed brother over “Throat”. The word on the street was, that everyone who had been involved, was either dead or in prison. I assured my father that the coast was clear to write his autobiography. However, he didn’t want to put in all the work, and then go knocking on doors to try and peddle it. He wanted a book deal first. Get the big advance, then write. This was back in the day when big book deals were still common, before self-publishing, and the Internet, changed that forever. His story had everything. Fame, Fortune, Intrigue, Celebrities, Mobsters, Love, Death, Revolution and SEX SEX SEX! And it was all true. “Deep Throat” was just one chapter in a story which encompasses nearly 50 movies, from the birth of the “Golden Age of Porn” to the advent of video. If anyone deserved a book deal, it was him.

Since I had worked out the deal for “Inside Deep Throat”, he asked me to be his agent. When I told him that I knew nothing about being an agent, he reminded me that I had gotten him paid more money for talking about “Deep Throat”, than he got for making it. He asked me “Where were you in 1972 when I needed you”? I reminded him that I was only 7 years old at the time. So, I spent the next 3 years meeting with literary agents, publishers, and potential co-authors. Since my father didn’t trust any of these people, there were countless “collaboration agreement” drafts, and many rounds of negotiations. We finally had a contract, which I had to pay a lawyer $500 just to look at. And then, my father died. The publisher pulled out, citing that the deal was for an autobiography, not just a biography. And we had nothing.

As kids, my sister Christar and I had always thought of our father as an artist, and a filmmaker (although for years we were never old enough to actually see his films). After his death, we felt that the best tribute that we could make to him, would be to restore his best films, so that they could be seen the way that he had intended. This was not an easy proposition. Although my father owned a major percentage of all his early films, he had a habit of aligning himself with unscrupulous business partners, who would inevitably make off with his share of the profits. Not one to look back, his solution was to find new partners, form a new company and make another movie. And the cycle would repeat. Having a different Production Company for every film resulted in a mountain of paperwork and film elements scattered across the country.

Today the majority of his films (including some of the most famous), are unavailable in their original form. What exists for the most part are bootlegs from disreputable sources, that have been transferred and converted with little regard for their content. Scenes have been cut out. Reels assembled out of sequence. In some case the master was made from a video tape. Yet for years people have continued to make money from them.

Meanwhile we watched our father, and his films, continue to be exploited in a seemingly endless parade of “entertainment-based vehicles”. The idea being, that if you can work the words “Deep Throat” into anything, whether it’s a TV series, or an energy drink, it’s going to sell. I have seen my father portrayed on the stage as a gay hairdresser who accidentally blundered into success, then cowered before both the mob and the feds. I have seen him portrayed in a major motion picture, played as if he was a mafia gumbah himself. These stories hide behind the phrase “based on true events”, which is another way of saying “fiction”. There may be a grain of truth, but there is a whole beach of bullshit. Now more than ever, we felt that his own story needs to be told. When we lost our book deal, I didn’t give up on the idea, but put it on hold, until we had an ending. The final chapter couldn’t be written, because as far as we are concerned, it hasn’t yet occurred. The ending that we want to see to this story is the one where we collect up all of his best films, restore them to the way he intended them to be seen, and show them. So that’s exactly what we are doing.

When he died in 2008, our father passed all of his intellectual property on to Christar and I. We set about tracking down all the elements of his films that had been lost. Although there are still a few pieces missing, we have recovered most of his work, including his masterpiece “The Story of Joanna”. We have also assembled an excellent team of lawyers to help untangle the paperwork. We hope to reacquaint his old fans with the films they loved, while introducing them to a new audience. That is the best tribute that we could make for our father.

When I think of all the time I wasted trying to find the publisher, the agent, the writer and the book deal, I wish that I had spent the same time and effort, just writing the book myself. It would be all but finished by now. Although I am not a writer, I feel that if I simply tell the truth about my father, I can help to set the record straight. And the truth would make for a very good read. His legacy is like a shadow that has hung over me for my entire life, and it is time to shine some light on it. So as both the film restorations and the book evolve, this blog will serve to document the journey.

Gerard Damiano Jr.
Queens, New York,  Father’s Day, 2015

Gerard Damiano Sr., Christar Damiano and Gerard Damiano Jr. Ft. Myers, FL June 6, 2008 Photo by Carol Orr Hartman

Gerard Damiano Sr., Christar Damiano and Gerard Damiano Jr. Fort Myers, FL, June 6, 2008
Photo by Carol Orr Hartman