LUNCH HOUR: When the Big Boys Eat

By Josh Eliot

 

I wrote previously about my relationship and rocky road with producer Scott Masters (Nova Video) in the blog: “We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot: Is That a World Record?” I mentioned in that blog how he was in a relationship with Catalina exclusive model Matt Powers and how he starred him in his remake of the Nova movie Main Attraction. Matt was great in the movie, but to debut as a dancer in lots of spandex didn’t do his career any great favor. Scott Masters kept stalling on making his next movie and our GM Mike was getting a little bit upset that he was footing this exclusive’s bills for a non-working model who was basically Scott Master’s sex toy. When I wanted to do a movie called Lunch Hour about workers in a steel factory fighting back against management, I pitched the idea to Mike over drinks at the Gold Coast Bar in West Hollywood. The next day, he gave it the green light and personally made the calls to get me the perfect factory setting in Burbank for our shooting location. It took a lot of my budget to rent the place, so Mike agreed to throw in a little more money and then shocked me with his next decision. Mike felt the macho role of the factory worker would be a great next step for Matt Powers. He was looking to “butch him up” by getting him in a masculine role. Scott Masters was a bit shell-shocked and put up quite a stink because in his mind, even though Catalina was footing the bill, he felt he should be the only one to direct Matt’s movies. I agreed with him and didn’t want to take on the responsibility, but eventually he gave his blessing to the idea and I accepted the task. Secretly, I was happy because now having an exclusive as a star meant they would advertise the movie aggressively.

 

Josh Eliot's Lunch Hour

Josh Eliot's Lunch Hour

 

I think Matt Powers liked the idea of working with me as his director because he knew I would encourage his input and recommendations in regards to his role. There’s a great scene in the movie just before the workers overpower the management to teach them a lesson. Matt wanted to smash one of their computers with a giant wrench to show his anger and frustration with them. I had an old computer on the set as a prop and thought… brilliant! It worked out beautifully and added to his macho persona. Once he smashed the computer, he turned to his co-workers and uttered, “Get 'em,” at which time the workers overpowered the managers, ripped off their clothes and well, you know the rest. It was a lot of pressure, but I knew I could make Matt Powers look incredible; he had all the goods but hadn’t been given the chance to show his full potential until then.

Because the factory cost a fortune, I only had two days to shoot Lunch Hour: one day to shoot all the factory scenes and one day in Scott Master’s house (because it was free) to shoot a love scene between Matt Powers and Josh Taylor, showing Matt’s softer side as contrast. Although he really didn’t want to, we made sure Scott Masters left for the day. The factory scenes included all the dialogue, a threeway with Powers and a 6-way orgy (simultaneously happening in another part of the factory), then we brought both groups together for a 9-way finale. Because shooting all this was impossible in one day, Mike told me that he was going to have Chi Chi LaRue co-direct. I directed all the dialogue and the threeway while Chi Chi directed the 6-way, then I directed the end when they all got together for the 9-way.

It was in this movie that I discovered the immensely satisfying act of “Revenge Casting.” My “open-relationship” boyfriend at the time, Randy, a co-owner of a clothing store on Melrose Avenue, always liked to torment me by letting “slip out” names of guys he slept with. This time, he was boasting about having gone home with adult porn actor, Steve Kennedy (aka Luke Bender), after meeting him at a club. I insisted that Scott Masters track down Steve Kennedy and cast him for the orgy. My first thought was to have him gang fucked, but realized he was only topping at that time in his career. I was a fan of Steve Kennedy, which made my jealousy even more atrocious, so I quickly moved on to “Revenge Casting Plan B.” Once he was confirmed as a cast member, I reached out to Charlie Warner and offered him a role. What, you never heard of Charlie Warner? No one had. He was the best friend of my “sleep around boyfriend” Randy and was persistently asking me to cast him in a movie. I never had before, but this time I did with the idea that Steve Kennedy would be giving him a relentless, long, hard and fast fucking. A pounding I was sure would rattle dear Randy when the movie came out on VHS. As soon as it released, I was on the phone with Charlie Warner so he could plan a screening at his house with all his friends.

 

Steve Kennedy aka Luke Bender (L & R) & Charlie Warner going down on Steve and the steel workers (center)

Steve Kennedy aka Luke Bender (L & R) & Charlie Warner going down on Steve and the steel workers (center)

 

The expression on Randy’s face was priceless, and he looked at me knowing exactly that what I had done by casting Charlie and Steve together. It was sweet revenge. His special one night stand with Steve Kennedy wasn’t so special anymore. Charlie actually did a really good job and I used him again in The Secret Boys Club, shot at a roller rink in the San Fernando Valley. Randy and I had a good run, but in the end he broke my heart. I was supposed to go to a party with him and had to cancel because, once again, Scott Masters needed me, last minute, to nail sequins on block letters to spell out Matt Powers' name for a dance tour he was going on to promote his movies. That very night, Randy met a young plaything at the party who basically replaced me. He broke up with me a couple days later and I was fucking distraught. I was immediately on the phone with Chet Thomas, Catalina editor, cursing Scott Masters' name for making me stay home the night of the party when Randy met the new guy. Being a great friend, Chet rushed over with a big bottle of Jack Daniels and we drank the whole thing.

Lunch Hour came out in 1989, and when Scott Masters watched it he ran up to me and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. He was happy that I made Matt Powers look macho and sexy in the movie. I think he thought to himself that he’d better troubleshoot the situation so that the manager, Mike, didn’t give Matt away to any other director, so in 1990 we shot and released Scott Masters' Lifeguard On Duty. We shot it up in Pismo Beach and Scott Masters had Matt play the lead role, which was well written and included a very well shot, if I do say so myself, fight scene with an armed assailant on the beach at night. That was Matt’s third and final movie for Catalina, because their relationship started deteriorating right before our eyes during filming. In 1991, after one of many arguments with Scott Masters, Matt took off, ending their relationship, shot a movie for Fox Studios called Muscle Force and then returned home to Massachusetts and enrolled in college.

 

Matt Powers on Jock Magazine (L) & on the cover of Lifeguard on Duty (R)

Matt Powers on the cover of Jock Magazine (L) & in Lifeguard on Duty (R)

 

Bio of 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
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(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?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR
The BOOM BOOM Room
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone
Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD
SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Castro Theatre
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Midnight Sun
RSVP: 2 Weeks Working on a Gay Cruise Ship
VOYAGER of the Damned
I'M NOT A LESBIAN DIRECTOR
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: THE FOLSOM STREET FAIR
Diving into SoMa/Folsom: A TALE OF TWO STUDS
BALL BROTH
My 1992 “Porn Set” Diary
Out of Print
There’s a Gloryhole WHERE??!

 
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My 1992 “Porn Set” Diary

By Josh Eliot
 

In the December 1992 issue of Manshots magazine, I was asked to write an “on-set” diary chronicling the making of a road movie I was shooting from March 3rd - 22nd, 1992. I thought it might be fun to present that 31 year old article here to show “how things worked.” I was 29 years old at the time. It’s worth mentioning that featured in the same issue of that magazine was an interview with Richard Locke, conducted by Jerry Douglas. Also included was their “Fade-Out” column which featured a tribute to Al Parker, who passed away August 17th of that year.

 

December 1992 Manshots cover and articles on Richard Locke and Al Parker

Cover of the December 1992 issue of Manshots and articles on Richard Locke and Al Parker

 

In order to keep this blog at a “readable length,” we will start in progress. We drove to our San Francisco guest house rental. My lead, Hank Sterling, had a scheduling conflict so Randy White replaced him, leaving Hank in a supporting role. I met Randy White for the first time when he arrived at the guest house that evening. Stressed from the cast changes, Jeff Burton (Catalina photographer) and I snuck out to the Castro, got bombed and stayed out until the wee hours of the morning! We shot a major scene with Randy White and Bill Marlowe over the next two days, and despite Marlowe throwing his back out, the Doan’s pills kicked in and we got some great fucking. In a “big bike race scene,” one of the two bikes malfunctioned, forcing us to shoot the guys racing each other using the same bike. Annoying. Having wrapped in San Francisco, we join the diary “in progress “ on Monday March 9th as we arrived in Guerneville, CA, home of the Russian River. Here’s the remainder of the diary:

MONDAY, MARCH 9, 1992
Well, here we sit, four to a cabin in the Russian River. I think we’ll all kill each other by Friday. The resort Fifes is for sale, so it is empty except for us. Unfortunately, I told Chi Chi LaRue that the Russian River was just like Palm Springs, and it is, in the summer, but it’s March and this place is (how can I put it?) a ghost town! Chi Chi is driving up tomorrow with Wes Daniels, Adam Archer and Tom Farrell. I hope he didn’t pack too much drag. I guess he could always do a private show, just for us, on one of the picnic tables.

TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 1992
The Bill Marlowe/Dean Johnson scene is completed. It’s kind of a bitch shooting sex in a four man tent. Chi Chi arrived around 8pm and evidently the drive up was just hellish, because the Chi monster is breathing fire. He and Tom Farrell may just kill each other. We calmed Chi Chi down by having him do a face mask, along with me and the crew. There we sat, all of us with green mud on our faces, watching the NC-17 version of Ken Russell’s Whore. Around 10:30pm we walked into town to the Rainbow Cattle Company for cocktails - emphasis on cock. It was your typical run of the mill evening: Chi Chi broke several glasses, started quoting Barbra Streisand, and then broke out into song. The locals at the bar thought that we were from another planet - but aren’t we? My ex-boyfriend, a respected San Francisco call boy, is working on the crew as my video tech. We are also sharing a bed, and he told me I was talking in my sleep last night He told me I said: “All right, kissing looks good, now I want a wide shot.” Oh well, no sleep for the wicked.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 1992
Tom Farrell’s scene with Adam Archer (the redneck and the trespassing biker) couldn’t have gone better - there was some major chemistry between those guys. The fucking on the bunkbeds will certainly be one of the highlights of the film. Tonight, as we were getting ready to go out, Tom Farrell graciously locked the other models out of their cabin and we had to wait about an hour for the owner to find another pass key. He ended up going in through a window. I was over it, big time. We finally made it to Molly Brown's, another gay bar. Chi Chi and I played darts, that’s what you do in these hick bars, while the others were dispersed throughout the place. Adam Archer played a lot of pool and Tom Farrell was hanging out with a couple of lesbians. We caught him kissing one and Chi Chi almost threw a dart at them. Then the group photos started, and it was time for us to leave. A few of us ended up at the Rainbow Cattle Company. I started talking to this juicy guy at the bar. He was one of the Cattle Company’s off duty bartenders. We were talking and, out of the blue, he mentioned that the town folk were saying that there was a rumor that Catalina Video was in town shooting a movie. (I guess we do stick out like a sore thumb.) Of course, I was slightly sloppy at this point and confessed everything to him. Well, who knew that it would work in my favor for a change! I thought that by telling him, he would say we could shoot some footage in the bar for the movie. But it turned out the only shots he wanted to shoot were on my face. I had no problem with that! We ditched the others and went back to the “Bunkhouse” at Fifes, where we shot the Farrell-Archer scene, because I still had the keys to it. Finally, after a week’s wait, I got laid. Big deal, right? Well, it was a very, very big deal, but I don’t kiss and tell (all the time).

THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 1992
The threeway oral scene was to be shot today with Wes Daniels, Alvin “The Whopper” Eros and Jean Paul Cocteau. Cocteau, obviously from Paris, France, was the biggest bug up my ass, but it wasn’t his fault. He was really nice and all, but the language barrier nearly sent me over the edge, as I’m sure the scene will reflect! At least it’s the middle scene in a five scene movie. Tonight we are all going to the Rusty Nail to celebrate wrapping in the Russian River.

SATURDAY, March 14, 1992
It’s 9:00am. The crew and I are at the Beck’s Motor Lodge in the San Francisco Castro district. We arrived yesterday morning and relaxed until it was time to meet Chi Chi and the models at the End Up for drinks. Chi Chi was in full drag, looking fabulous, when all of a sudden another drag queen came in looking exactly like Chi Chi’s mother! Same wig, same type of dress, but with a grey streak in her hair. We joked about how fun it would be to see the two of them in a cat fight, but they became best girlfriends. Cocteau from France never came back to the motel tonight. We never thought he would get laid with that bandana wrapped around his neck like he had it.

SATURDAY, MARCH 21, 1992
Today in Los Angeles we shot the first half of the Randy White/Hank Sterling scene, inside the limousine. What a royal pain in the ass! It’s over now so I won’t bitch. I’ve got some great shots of White jacking off while we drove around town - pretty cool stuff!

SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 1992
The anal half of the White/Sterling scene was shot today. Unfortunately Sterling started to bleed, so I immediately stopped the scene, as I always do in that event. I told him to stick two cotton balls up his ass and we’ll shoot another day, which we did.

FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 1992
I just finished editing the movie today. I have been working on it diligently since I got back to LA. I still can’t think of a title - can you believe it? I must say, It’s definitely, in my opinion, the best work I’ve done in quite a while. For that. I thank my incredible cast of actors and my irreplaceable, hardworking crew.

TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 1992
We named it! Easy Riders. Gotta go. I’m busy working on the script for Lunch Hour 2.

You can tell towards the end of the diary I was over writing it! I just thought it would be cool to give you a little glimpse of what things were like back then. There was a really hot and heavy thing that happened while in the Russian River that, at the time (1992), there was no way in hell I would mention for the Manshots publication. But you can read about it here in my previous blog, (Un)Easy Riders.

 

Bio of 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
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(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?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR
The BOOM BOOM Room
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone
Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD
SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Castro Theatre
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Midnight Sun
RSVP: 2 Weeks Working on a Gay Cruise Ship
VOYAGER of the Damned
I'M NOT A LESBIAN DIRECTOR
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: THE FOLSOM STREET FAIR
Diving into SoMa/Folsom: A TALE OF TWO STUDS
BALL BROTH

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RSVP: 2 Weeks Working on a Gay Cruise Ship

By Josh Eliot

 

Working on the Catalina Video crew for 22 years from age 25 to age 47 was probably what some would think is the epitome of a dream job. To an extent the first 15 or so years were just that, but towards the end of my days with the company I was exhausted, burned out, idea-less and for the most part just ready to retire. For the majority of the years, especially once Scott Masters and John Travis left to start their own company Studio 2000, I became producer and was expected to “pump-out” two movies or more a month. All of the movies had a maximum of $13,500.00 budget except for our big budget “movie of the year,” which was allowed $25,000.00. The big budget movies had the luxury of having twice the amount of shooting days, so on day one we shot the oral and cum shots then on day two the anal and cum shots. Having each model cum twice in a scene really added some polish and made them appear more “stud-like.” Because the crew's salaries themselves were not part of the budget, we were able to stretch the dollar pretty far to add all the bells and whistles of a major production. All of the Catalina Crew were paid separately according to how many shoot days they worked per week.

Even though my youth helped me get through this vigorous schedule, it did take its toll over the years. Not much of a dream job, right? Well, from time to time the management did surprise and delight us with out of the ordinary adventures. William Higgins' main man in the states, while he lived in Prague, was David Weiss. David ran a distribution center called House One, which was literally in a special wing of his Burbank home. I would say David was the “boss” of Catalina’s general manager and facilitated all of Higgins' wishes. For some reason David really took a liking to me and had my best interests in mind. He was always offering to take me to Prague with him whenever he was going over to see Higgins but it never worked out for me to go because of that damned two movies a month schedule! He did however show up one day to tell me he had met with the owners of RSVP Cruises and arranged for Richard (an editor for House One) and myself to work a two week stint on an upcoming Mexican gay cruise leaving from San Diego in a couple of weeks. I was blown away, especially because our GM agreed to postpone production to allow me to go!

 

Richard, Josh & two RSVP Cruise employees

Richard, Josh & two RSVP Cruise employees

 

Richard and I arrived at the port mid-afternoon, as the ship would depart at 5pm sharp for Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas. We went aboard immediately as part of the RSVP staff. The first person we met was Danny Williams, a San Francisco comedian, who I remember seeing at the Castro Street Fair every year. In 1989, Danny began what was to become a 22 year career working as master of ceremonies and cruise director for RSVP Cruises. He introduced us to all the other staff, who were a wonderful group to work with. Richard and I went up to his editing suite, which was also the green room for the performers of the nighttime shows. Once there, I inspected my video camera equipment for my job on board. I was to shoot every event, cocktail-underwear party and land excursion, always bringing the footage back to Richard each night so he could edit it into a VHS tape each passenger would get as they disembarked the ship at the conclusion of the trip. I checked out my quarters and it was a private room! That’s like striking gold, because I was very single at the time! I think I had sex almost every day - I guess our ship uniforms helped with that!

 

Tea dance, underwear parties & nightly entertainment
Tea dance, underwear parties & nightly entertainment

Danny Williams, comedian

Danny Williams, comedian

 

I started shooting footage of all the passengers as they came aboard the ship on the main deck. I noticed two familiar faces amongst the crowd: Bob and Larry, the owners of The Vista Grande and Atrium in Palm Springs. We shot at their men-only clothing optional resort a lot over the years for movies like Big Guns 2 and Palm Springs Weekend. I just loved those guys and we were all thrilled to see each other. The warmth and excitement of seeing them suddenly dropped to “icy-cold” when a strange woman with a long wrap over her head approached me. I said hello and tried to start a pleasant conversation when she cut me off and asked if my camera was turned on. I started to explain what I was shooting but, without missing a beat, she stepped right up to my face, pulled her wrap from her head and said: “If you point that thing at me, it’s going over the side of the ship,” then she promptly walked off before I could even respond.

It turns out the woman was singer Jane Olivor and her reputation (that I later learned of) did not disappoint. Evidently when she walked into Richard’s editing room, also her green room, she demanded that everyone leave immediately. How very Gloria Swanson. Jane Olivor has a huge almost cult-like gay following and I have to say when I shot her performance I found her voice to be amazing! I even bought tickets, years later, to see her one summer in Provincetown. Betty Buckley was also aboard, and I’ll tell you she was fabulous and even let us watch her rehearsal! The work of shooting the passengers was pretty “full-on” because the cameras back then weighed a ton and required a separate video deck on a strap over my shoulder. I remember literally almost passing out from heat exhaustion, when I discovered a sanctuary in Puerto Vallarta called “The Blue Chairs.” The Blue Chairs is a beachfront gay resort with a bar along the beach offering 2 for 1 margaritas and, after 3pm, 3 for 1 margaritas. The place was packed with almost everyone I knew from the cruise ship. I plopped myself down and spent the afternoon there, every once in a while picking up the camera to shoot the passengers at play!

 

Cabo San Lucas beach party and The Blue Chairs in Puerto Vallarta

Cabo San Lucas beach party and The Blue Chairs in Puerto Vallarta

 

After seven days in Mexico and at sea, we returned to the San Diego Port. The passengers disembarked, then a few hours later a whole new set of guests boarded and we took off to do it all over again! Now this was the “real deal” dream job, with a whole new selection of hot guys coming aboard! Years later I was sent by Catalina Video along with my crew to board another cruise ship for an event called the Pillage & Plunder Gay Cruise - this time not to videotape the passengers, even though it was impossible to keep them out of my frame, but to film our big budget movie of the year, Voyager. Caesar and Steve Rambo were the leads, along with about nineteen others. In my next blog I will talk about how what started off as another dream cruise ended up being more like a nightmare!

 

Caesar in Voyager

Caesar in Voyager

 

Bio of 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
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(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?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR
The BOOM BOOM Room
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone
Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD
SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Castro Theatre
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Midnight Sun

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(Un)Easy Riders

By Josh Eliot

 

Who doesn’t like a good road trip? Our very first one for the Catalina Crew was when we drove from L.A. to San Francisco in 1992 to shoot a movie called Easy Riders. Randy White and Bill Marlowe headed the cast, and we shot their scene in the downtown flat my producer Scott Masters (Nova Video) rented for us. I lived in San Francisco from 1980 to 1989 until Catalina closed their studio and moved me, with them, back to Los Angeles. Since my producer did not join us on this trip, I took advantage of leaving his watchful eye back in L.A. and cast a bunch of my San Francisco friends as extras in the movie. I would typically turn in a very generic script for Masters to approve and then on shoot days I would bring my real script to set. Nothing malicious, he was just from a different generation and had a hard time seeing my vision on things. The version I showed him did not have the sequence I was shooting with my friends and Randy White. We found an amazing spot with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background and shot the “movie within a movie” scene. A ranger came by and asked us if we had a permit, but when I told him we were students from the Art Institute working on a class project, he said to have a good time and let us continue. My San Francisco friends, the crew and I drank quite a bit the night before on Castro Street and we were all pretty hung over. We were all still in our 20s, and when the producer's away, the kids will play.

 

Josh Eliot and friends with Randy White

Josh Eliot and friends with Randy White

 

From San Francisco, we went to the Russian River in Guerneville (Sonoma County). We checked into the Fifes Resort and the gracious owners told us to do whatever we wanted to as far as filming. We had free roam to film fuck scenes anywhere, any place, any time. Midweek, Chi Chi LaRue drove into town from L.A. with more models for the additional scenes we needed to shoot. Chi Chi worked in the marketing department for Catalina at the time and was not directing yet. I recall she came to get familiar with how we shoot the scenes. The first night, we all ended up at the Rainbow Cattle Company in the middle of Main Street and again we “Tied One On.” The River is very rural and “hillbilly-ish,” but a gay mecca at the same time. A very interesting combination. While walking down Main Street to the restaurant for dinner, Chi Chi was in full drag and acting out. It was like that scene from John Waters' Pink Flamingos where Divine is walking through downtown Baltimore to the song “The Girl Can’t Help It.”

 

Rainbow Cattle and Fifes Russian River

 

Rainbow Cattle and Fifes Russian River

 

The next couple of days, the filming went great, but we were definitely hung over (again!) so it was “slight” torture. I got the idea to write an additional scene featuring Chi Chi as the town drunk wandering through the forest. It was taboo in my producer’s eyes to include a scene like this featuring a drag queen, and trust me, I never stopped hearing about it once he saw it in the final cut. I don’t mean to rag on Scott Masters, as I have such great memories of our time working together and I learned so much from him in the process. I will dedicate an article to him soon. It’s just that he wasn’t exactly flexible and I was still in my rebellious stage, wanting to see how far I could push things.

 

Easy Riders poster and Chi Chi LaRue with Josh Eliot on set

Easy Riders poster and Chi Chi LaRue with Josh Eliot on set

 

Later that night, the cast and crew ended up at the Rusty Nail Bar just outside of town. Chi Chi was ruling the place, as always, and we were all two sheets to the wind. There was this hot guy in a brown pick up truck I spotted when we arrived who was staring me down from across the bar. I had my liquid courage, so I started talking to him. Before I knew it, I was tossing the van keys to Orlando Bello (my 2nd Videographer) so he could drive everyone back to the resort. Suddenly, I was zooming down a dirt road in the passenger seat of that brown pick-up truck. That dirt road turned into something that no longer looked like a road, but still we kept driving. It felt like we were going straight up a mountain and I was being tossed around like a ragdoll. This is where my nerves kicked in. I was very uneasy and thought, oh shit, this guy’s a serial killer and I’ve made a huge mistake. I tried not to freak out, but inside I was tripping. The drive lasted forever when we finally got to level ground. I could tell the elevation was high even through everything outside was pitch black. We passed what looked like a shanty shed, then drove another 500 or so feet, when we came to a stop. It was another shanty looking building. We got out and went inside. It was definitely a homemade shack but it had generator power, some bits of furniture and a TV/VCR with porn tapes lying around. How appropriate! I’m not going to get graphic, but the sex was amazing. This guy was hot and handsome with abs to die for. Well, hopefully not. I realized he was just a hot corn-fed hick with a killer piece, but it wasn’t made of metal, it was between his legs.

In the morning, we woke up, did it again, then he offered me a shower before taking me back to the Fifes Resort. The shower was a bit of walk outside and up a hill, consisting of a cinderblock base and a garden hose that spewed out freezing cold mountain stream water. As I was shivering through my shower, I looked off in the distance and now everything made sense. A field of dreams, if you will. Marijuana growing as far as you could see. I was smack dab In the middle of a pot farm. When I got back to the resort, Orlando was a bit pissed at me because I ditched them all, leaving him to buy the drinks. I told him I would pay him back from the budget. He was happy and said, “So how was it?” I replied, “You tell me,” as I pulled a gallon sized Ziplock bag stuffed with weed out of a brown paper bag. A gift given to me before I left the “farm.” He was thrilled, all was forgiven and we lit up before going to shoot our final scene in the bunkhouse with Tom Farrell and Adam Archer. (The best scene in the movie, I might add.)

The point of all this? Easy Riders went on to win Best Picture at the Grabby Awards in 1993, so I guess being stoned, hung over or tipsy when shooting a porn movie didn’t turn out so bad.

 

Josh Eliot, Jeff, Randy White, Bill Marlowe and Orland on the Easy Riders set

Josh Eliot, Jeff, Randy White, Bill Marlowe and Orlando on the Easy Riders set

 

Thank you to Josh Eliot for use of the photos.

 


Bio of 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
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment

That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor

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A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck

By Josh Eliot

 

Videotaping the International Mr. Leather Contest each year in the late '90s was especially fun for the Catalina crew. There were so many highlights over the years, and each time we traveled to Chicago we became more familiar with the city. We always stayed at the host hotel, the Ramada Congress, which had two towers facing each other. It was Hitchcock’s Rear Window (or John Travis’ Undercover - same premise) on overload. Open your curtains and there was always a live show going on.

 

IML contestants on stage

IML contestants on stage

 

On one day in particular, Brad Austin, my lead videographer, spotted a huge dildo in one of the windows with a half-dressed man walking around the room. The guy was hot with dark hair, a mustache and a hairy chest. We were all obsessed with Steve Kelso, who was the hot model of the time, and this guy looked just like him. Brad Austin was determined to get his attention and asked Jeff Burton (our photographer) to use his camera to repeatedly flash out the window. When the flashing got the guy's attention, Brad held up a sign with our room number on it. Within minutes, the man called our room and Brad told him who we were. They chatted about porn and then Brad went over to the guy's room while we watched from our window. Brad came back a little while later and said the guy was definitely interested in doing porn. We met the man for drinks in the lobby bar and this was where I made a handshake agreement to hire Catalina Exclusive Ray Harley to a contract, starting with a future shoot in L.A. He became one of our personal favorites and one of our most popular Catalina Exclusive models.

 

The night Ray Harley was discovered at the Congress

The night Ray Harley was discovered at the Congress

 

Ah yes, great times, until it wasn’t. The following year, we booked in the Dunes Resort in Saugatuck Michigan, which we planned on traveling to after we shot the IML contest.

 

Dunes Resort in Saugatuck, MI

Dunes Resort in Saugatuck, MI

 

We departed Chicago in a couple of rental vehicles and headed to Michigan to film my big budget movie of that year called Thrill Me! Steve Rambo, Ray Harley and Donnie Russo were headlining the extra-large cast. The movie was a cross between April Fool’s Day and I Know What You Did Last Summer, but with an all-male cast – and XXX Rated, of course.

 

Thrill Me promo
Thrill me promo 2

Thrill Me promo images

 

Donnie Russo received much acclaim for his role in Bijou Video’s Beat Cop, and we’d had the pleasure of working together many times in the past. He was a bright light on the set, always holding court, and was fun to be with outside of work, as well.

 

Donnie Russo in Beat Cop

Donnie Russo in Bijou's Beat Cop (on DVD and Streaming)

 

One time, Catalina’s general manager flew all of the staff to New York for a trip to see the AIDS Quilt as it was paraded throughout the city. Donnie joined our crew for a night of club hopping and we all had a blast. One time on the way to Palm Springs for a shoot, I was driving the van with Donnie riding shotgun. Donnie suddenly started jacking off on the I-10 Freeway, raising his hips up in the air to show the passing big rig drivers his hard on, which had us all in stitches. He even let us call him “MaDonnie Russo” on that shoot. We had tons of great memories before and after our trip to Saugatuck where he and Rambo started behaving… How do I put this?… TWAT-ish.

Somehow he and Rambo got into a screaming match over the fact that one of them let a bumblebee in the house rental, and it escalated from there. I’d never seen the two of them act like this, and what is worse is they had a sex scene scheduled together (for a different movie) the next day. The stress was killing me and, as predicted, it was a disaster. They got through it, but psychologically the crew felt scarred by their bad behavior. I think things took a turn when Donnie was fucking Steve Rambo – sorry, I shouldn’t say “fucking,” I should have said “pounding.” This seemed to help Donnie get over his fury and Rambo acted like it was uncomfortable, but secretly Rambo lives for a good pounding, so actually he was enjoying it. Reverse psychology, I suppose. They actually were laughing with each other by the end of the scene.

It was a miracle, I thought; we could shoot the rest of the movie stress free. Well, not really. The next day they were at it again and I was over it. We were shooting a dialogue only scene for Thrill Me where Rambo’s character accidentally runs over Russo’s character with the SUV. I wasn’t about to have Rambo behind the wheel of that car, so I shot each person individually. When Rambo finished his lines, we sent him to his motel room and got Donnie on set, and so on. They have a number of scenes together in the finished movie, but were nowhere near each other. Ray Harley, always the peacemaker, worked hard at playing mediator between the two of them, and by the time we all got to Chicago O’Hare Airport to fly home… you guessed it… they were still mad at each other.


Bio of 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
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment

That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place

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