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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(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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