Private Dick & The Young Cadets

By Josh Eliot


Catalina releases The Young Cadets (1987) and Private Dick (1990) both stand out to me as milestone movies for many reasons. Dan Allman worked on many of William Higgins movies and all of John Travis and Scott Masters' Catalina movies until 1989 as art director and videographer. He also directed under the name Cameron Leight. I previously thought that Cameron Leight’s movie Bad Boys Club, starring Johnny Davenport, was the only movie he directed. I was wrong. Once I tracked down DVD copies of Private Dick and The Young Cadets, I started getting back a flood of memories. The Young Cadets starred Chris Williams, included a supporting cast featuring Derek Jensen, Mike Gregory and Tony Marino and marked the screen debut of Sparky O’Toole. Sadly, Chris Williams passed away in 1991 and Sparky in 1999, and just now discovering this is absolutely shocking to me. This was one of the very first features (after Bulge) that I worked on as a new employee. Once I re-watched the “paddling scene,” I was taken back to 1987. I was pretty much the “fill light guy,” basically being attached to the hip of Dan as he compiled shots of the assorted sex scenes. I would follow him with the additional 400W light to kill any shadows if he was underneath, overhead or panning across the bodies. It gave me my first insights into how to get good angles. This was also the feature where Dan let me shoot the second cum shot angle on camera 2 for the first time. I think I fucked one up by not rolling on it quick enough. I could tell Dan was pissed that I missed it, but of course acted like it was “okay.” I never did that again!


Bad Boys Club DVD cover and sex scene images

Cameron Leight's debut, Bad Boys Club

The Young Cadets DVD cover and cast

The Young Cadets box cover & cast


Regarding Private Dick, when I re-watched this little masterpiece for the first time in 33 years, I started remembering shooting it like it was yesterday. First, let me say that I am so happy that Cameron Leight got to make this movie. Bad Boys Club, though extremely popular upon its release, was a bit of a mish-mash. The Young Cadets was polished and had great sex, but was a pretty simplistic story. Private Dick, on the other hand, was well thought out, written and executed. Dan and I built some really fun, fabulous sets for it, like the private investigator’s office and a photographer’s multilevel studio. All the lighting and costumes and story were very Film Noir. It was a passion project for him, and watching it back, I really got a glimpse of how awesome a director he would have become. Unfortunately ,shortly after making this movie Dan, out of the blue, left the company. This was a huge loss for Catalina, as he was one of the pioneers along with Higgins. We discovered he was ill and it wasn’t long before we got word that he had passed away.

Dan was always very positive, despite the pressure of running the San Francisco studio and being at Scott Masters beck and call. I learned later just how draining that could be! Scott Masters, being great at the job of producing, found a hot new face to star in Private Dick. His name was Bill Marlowe. He had several movies under his belt prior to being cast as the lead. Bill Marlowe appeared in Lust Boys and Sex, Lies and Videotape both for Sierra Pacific, as well as Heat in the Night for Huge Video. He was handsome, with leading man good looks, had the perfect persona for the undercover investigator and lived locally in San Francisco. In the story, Victoria Hunt enters the investigator’s office asking him to track her husband, as she is convinced that he is having an affair. When Dan asked me if I had any friends who could play the role of Victoria, I knew right away that I wanted my friend Sandy. Sandy was from Minnesota and to me was a dead ringer for a young Meryl Streep. She starred in my video school class project as the 1920’s Coca-Cola girl, running around San Francisco with a bottle in her hand being pursued by her male lover. I ended up using that footage years later in the opening credits of my movie Score. Sandy was gorgeous, but not in the porn industry; luckily, it was San Francisco in the 80’s and everyone and everything was free and easy. She said yes to working on the XXX movie, we gave her the stage name Rita Davis (Rita Hayworth / Bette Davis gene mixture) and before we knew it she was on the set opposite Bill Marlowe shooting their scenes together. She shows up to the office dressed very “Alexis Carrington Colby,” fabulous hat and all, and then again at the end of the movie with her golden locks styled in the latest 80’s hairstyle. Dan was thrilled that her performance elevated his movie.

The cast was a virtual who’s who of the time including Lou Cass, Keith Panther, Tony Lanza, Brad Carlton and Vic “We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot” Summers. One other addition to the cast was Chris Dano. In 1989, Chris Dano’s debut into the porn world occurred in Hard Men 2: No Strings Attached, a Chippendales-type video where the models stripped and danced with hard-ons. He then performed his first hardcore scene in the Scott Masters movie Head of the Class 2. The next year, Chris also appeared in John Travis’ Foxhole and Cameron Leight’s Private Dick. Chris Dano was literally the only model I continued to work with on and off throughout my entire 20+ years of making movies with Catalina Video. I literally watched him grow up throughout the years. When I researched him for this blog, I found that Chris, also known as Ekzavir Falcon Wray, continued making a ton of movies all the way up until 2010. He is currently 57 years old and still looks amazing! He is one powerhouse performer who always got that giant uncut dick hard and came on cue always with a smile on his face and a great attitude.


Private Dick DVD cover and Chris Dano

Private Dick box cover & Chris Dano


Bill Marlowe, the lead for Private Dick, continued making movies - not as long as Dano, but for a significant amount of time, including a movie called Gorgeous in 1993 for Bijou Video. Unique to most performers of the time, Marlowe as a leading man both topped and bottomed in his roles. Born in 1967, he is currently 56. After running into him in the Castro while on a trip to San Francisco in 1992, I ended up casting him as a co-lead in the movie Easy Riders when we returned to San Francisco to shoot it. Always a great guy on and off the set, Bill Marlowe had a long and successful career with an array of studios.

I can remember it like it was yesterday when I met Dan Allman and his boyfriend John in their Twin Peaks neighborhood apartment a few days after interviewing with John Travis and Scott Masters in that Tenderloin fleabag motel. Dan and John made me feel comfortable and welcomed, giving me their blessing on becoming a new member of the crew, literally on my 25th birthday. Dan took me under his wing and showed me all the nuts and bolts of building sets and managing the studio. Living in San Francisco, I didn’t own a car, so Dan would pick me up each day in the company's Chevy van when we went to the studio, eventually letting me use the Nissan when it wasn’t needed for the directors and models. We searched for and found an apartment to house the directors and models and furnished and decorated it together. He taught me how to build flats for sets, introduced me to Duvateen Fabric (jet black cloth for a nighttime look) and trained me on the initial protocols with the video cameras. Having only taken “wood shop” in high school, my building skills were at a minimum, but he really got me to a good place with carpentry. I wish I had more time working with Dan and had inherited his job under very different circumstances. I would draw upon my interactions with him regularly throughout my career with Catalina Video, asking myself, “How would Dan handle this?” I wish the gay porn world could have experienced more movies directed by Cameron Leight, because this small trio of movies really tells us just how good he was at the craft. He was poised to become Catalina’s newest top ranking director had his opportunity not been cut short. Drawing upon his vast experience working with Higgins, Travis and Masters, I am convinced that his contribution to the industry would have been significant.

Here is a trailer for Cameron Leight’s Private Dick.


Bio Josh Eliot:

At the age of 25 in 1987, Josh Eliot was hired by Catalina Video by John Travis (Brentwood Video) and Scott Masters (Nova Video). Travis trained Eliot on his style of videography and mentored him on the art of directing. Josh directed his first movie, Runaways, in 1987. By 2009 when Josh parted ways with Catalina Video, he'd produced and directed hundreds of features and won numerous awards for Best Screenplay, Videography, Editing, and Directing. He was entered into the GayVN Hall of fame in 2002. 


You can read Josh Eliot's previous blogs for Bijou here:

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
(Un)Easy Riders
7 Years with Colt Model MARK RUTTER
Super NOVA
Whatever Happened to NEELY O’HARA?
Is That AL PARKER In Your Photo?
DOWN BY LAW: My $1,000,000 Mistake
We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot... Is That a World Record?
Don't Wear "Short Shorts" on the #38 Geary to LANDS END
How Straight Are You Really?
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone
Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD
SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel
RSVP: 2 Weeks Working on a Gay Cruise Ship
VOYAGER of the Damned
Diving into SoMa/Folsom: A TALE OF TWO STUDS
My 1992 “Porn Set” Diary
Out of Print
There’s a Gloryhole WHERE??!
LUNCH HOUR: When the Big Boys Eat
IN and OUT and All ABOUT
UNDER the COVERs with Tom Steele
8 Is Enough on Sunsex Blvd
Steve Rambo & Will Seagers For Breakfast
The Many Facesof Adult Film Star SHARON KANE
The ALL-MAN Magazine Interview: The Man Behind Catalina Video
Captain Psychopath
The Making of CatalinaVille (PART 1)
The Making of CatalinaVille (PART 2)

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