CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone

By Josh Eliot

 

I remember my first Tom DeSimone movie: Reform School Girls. A large group of us were going on a Friday night and the film was a lot of fun, especially when Wendy O. Williams rode on top of a bus after barreling through the gates. In San Francisco, 1980s, when you had moments like that on film, the whole audience would scream and applaud in delight. My friends and I were constantly at the Castro or Market Street movie houses that would regularly show John Waters, Andy Warhol and other cult movies. When I saw actress Pat Ast was in Reform School Girls, I knew we were in for a good time. I remembered her from Andy Warhol’s movie Heat, shot mostly at the old Tropicana Motel in West Hollywood, where my friends and I stayed on previous visits to L.A. Tom made many popular mainstream movies including The Concrete Jungle, Hell Night, Prison Girls and the cult classic Chatterbox, to name a few.

 

Reform School Girls poster and stars Pat Ast and Wendy O. Williams
Reform School Girls poster and stars Pat Ast and Wendy O. Williams
 
Posters for The Concrete Jungle and Chatterbox

Posters for The Concrete Jungle and Chatterbox

 

Once I moved from San Francisco to West Hollywood and got settled into the Catalina offices, it was a fun surprise to find out that Catalina released and distributed gay adult movies made by Tom DeSimone, under the name Lancer Brooks. In my first blog: “Coming Out Of My Wet Shorts” I wrote about how much that movie poster influenced me. Wet Shorts, Flesh & Fantasy, The Dirty Picture Show, Skin Deep, NightCrawler and Bi Bi Love (with one of my favorite scenes ever in a bisexual movie, featuring Crystal Evans) were all sold by Catalina. I would say my VHS tapes of Tom’s movies were like a “video tutorial” on how to make a great adult movie. His movies had just the right combination of comedy, drama, and titillation, seamlessly edited to create these gems. In Wet Shorts it was the traveling salesman scene, Flesh & Fantasy the jacuzzi scene and Skin Deep’s minimalist yet multilayered story of a writer who befriends a sex worker spoke volumes about his internal thought process. It goes without saying that I was truly inspired. Where John Travis taught me the value of lighting and cinematography, Tom DeSimone’s movies inspired me to write and direct stories with a quirky flair to them. I know the adult movies of today don’t really embrace the “storyline” concept, but we did back then and I always tried to make the most of it.

 

Tom DeSimone DVDs from Catalina

Tom DeSimone DVDs from Catalina

 

After completing my final movie for Catalina Video called Hot Buttered Cop Porn in 2006, my partner Tony and I moved to Palm Desert and continued editing and remastering Catalina movies for release on DVD, until the company was sold to Channel 1. One random afternoon, I spoke to my friend Kurt about how I was remastering Skin Deep for DVD release and out of the blue he told me that he knew Tom DeSimone from The Desert Film Society, as Tom was a founding member and served on the board. I was shocked and elated when Kurt followed up to tell me that Tom said I could contact him. The order of things is a little fuzzy but meeting Tom was so exciting for me, and Chi Chi LaRue (who of course I told immediately when this all came about). I was working for Channel 1 Releasing at this point and Chi Chi was part owner. In addition to being a warm and wonderful guy, Tom was very generous in sharing his experiences within the adult and mainstream industry. Channel 1 gave me the go ahead to set up video interviews with Tom discussing the behind the scenes working of his movies released by Catalina. We shot four interviews, one for each movie - Wet Shorts, Flesh & Fantasy, The Dirty Picture Show and Skin Deep - which were added to the DVD releases of each movie as “Bonus Extras.” Chi Chi and Tom sat on my couch and we recorded them conversing with each other while watching NightCrawler, which then became a “Bonus Director’s Commentary” on that DVD. It was all very exciting to have our Idol (excuse the pun) spending time with us. Tom even invited us to a party at his house where he projected a classic old movie on the big screen in his backyard to a large group of partygoers. I have both the Skin Deep interview and full interview on my YouTube channel if you would like to view them.

 

Tom DeSimone's Skin Deep interview

Tom DeSimone's Skin Deep interview

 

Having access to Bijou Video's amazing streaming service, I recently watched the restored and remastered version of The Idol, and now I know what all the hype is about. This is one great, timeless classic which felt very much like a mainstream movie. Bijou’s streaming catalog also includes many other Tom DeSimone movies like: Dust unto Dust, Confessions of a Male Groupie, The Frenchman & The Lovers (formally titled: The Harder They Fall), Station to Station, and of course my personal favorite Hot Truckin', with Gordon Grant! The Bijou catalog’s vast number of movies never ceases to amaze me! So much content! I’ve heard through the grape-vine that Tom DeSimone’s Catching Up is a real crowd pleaser as well. That is the next one on my list to stream this weekend. Look at this, here I am retired from adult video making and yet I am still obsessed with watching more Tom DeSimone movies to see if I can still learn more from one of the best!

 

Catching Up poster and Tom DeSimone editing

Catching Up poster and Tom DeSimone editing

 

For more on Tom DeSimone's career, see also Bijou's 2019 interview with him: Part 1 and Part 2

 

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

Rate this blog entry:
933 Hits
0 Comments

Porn Remastering Pt. 3: Young Gladiators & New Technology

Posted by guest blogger Miriam Webster

 

I wrote a couple of blogs last spring (Part 1 and Part 2 can be read here) about my work process at Bijou on remastering vintage porn movies for re-release on DVD and streaming. We had a slower period during the first year of covid, when we weren't able to put out as many new releases as usual, though we still managed to do a handful of movies during that time. In the past several months, however, during which we've picked back up to our normal pace at the office, we've made some technology updates that should allow for us to put out many higher quality digitally remastered versions of movies. I'm excited about these upgrades, so I wanted to write a new blog on the subject.

Our most recent release, the first to fully make use of the tech updates, is the glossy John Summers-directed J/O video, Young Gladiators (1988), starring Steve Hammond, Tim Lowe, Matt Ramsey (aka straight porn megastar Peter North), and three other guys showing off and jacking off for the camera. This movie turned out to be an ideal candidate for high quality remastering, because it was well-lit and well-shot to begin with and our VHS copy held up well, so we got great results from the new program we have been using for upscaling video sources, Topaz Enhance AI.

 

Matt Ramsey on the cover of Young Gladiators

 

I've spent a million hours tinkering with this program recently, but it has so far provided very promising results (after a substantial amount of troubleshooting). I used to think there wasn't much hope for actually increasing quality when upscaling VHS or Beta sources; I thought it would mostly just be making the same low quality larger, but not better, and this seemed to prove true from older programs and plug-ins we tried out for upscaling. But Enhance AI has done amazing work on several of the movies we have processed through it, and seems to greatly increase the clarity and fine detail in many videos. It not only upscales them, but it helps to remove noise and other artifacts from low resolution video sources and adds crispness to the image.

This program seems to have amazing potential, though it is not without quirks, as it still seems to be in the process of being fine-tuned by its makers, and also because it was not designed specifically to work with and improve the quality of VHS, so the output from it sometimes is full of odd glitches, artifacts, or distortions. Restoring movies at Bijou, we often work with older video sources, and outmoded sources are increasingly unfamiliar to software designers, so determining if and how new pieces of software can actually function well with these older formats requires a lot of hands-on tests. The most persistent initial problem we had with it (an issue with jittery-looking playback from repeated frames) required a lot of testing and consulting forums and software support staff to work through. Processing a full movie in Enhance AI takes around 20 hours on our computer, typically, so the testing process was not a quick one.

In the midst of all this, we had to build a new computer for me to work on at the office, but my new one is very powerful and even better able to handle the heavy-duty processing required by this program. This computer upgrade seemed to eliminate the jittery playback issue, but the resulting files had a new problem; they were not correctly functioning in the program where we do the remainder of our remastering work (Adobe Premiere). After even more research and testing, I discovered that there was an issue with the frame rates of the video files created in Enhance, and I figured out a roundabout, multi-step process to correct for this, which finally produced a high quality file that could be successfully used for color and audio corrections, glitch/tracking/splice removal, and any other steps in my standard remastering process. So that's my new routine until we inevitably figure out new and better ways to continue to improve our procedure in the future, as always!

Even with the additional steps required to produce something usable, it is exciting to come into Premiere to color correct these files that are noticeably larger, crisper, and more clear than what we previously had to work with from video transfers. I've included several comparison images below that show the difference between the initial VHS version of Young Gladiators (left) and the remastered version (right). You can see how the initial VHS version was fuzzy and noisy, compared to the images on the right, which have more smoothness, crispness, and depth of detail. This video further illustrates the before/after results on this movie.

Before and after restoration images from Young Gladiators
Before and after restoration images from Young Gladiators
Before and after restoration images from Young Gladiators

Before (left) and after (right) restoration images from Young Gladiators

 

Prior to the new computer, but as our very first test subject for Enhance AI, I worked on the 1982 Mark Reynolds movie, Summer Fantasy. It was another movie that got a major quality increase from that program, which you can see in the before/after image examples below. This quality increase really benefited the film, as it is very visually lush and seductive.

Before and after restoration images from Summer Fantasy
Before and after restoration images from Summer Fantasy
Before and after restoration images from Summer Fantasy

Before (left) and after (right) restoration images from Summer Fantasy

 

A couple of the releases that we did put out during the fog of 2020/early 2021 were Steve Scott's Gold Rush Boys (1983) and Joe Gage's super-popular Heatstroke (1982). These were done before either of our tech upgrades, but both movies were able to be significantly improved through our old process of noise reduction, color and audio correction, and more.

Gold Rush Boys seemed to take very well to adjustments, and we were able to get richer color, cleaner image, more detail, and crisper quality out of it, as you can see in the images below and in this video comparing the pre- and post-restoration stages.

 

Before and after restoration images from Gold Rush Boys

Before (left) and after (right) restoration images from Gold Rush Boys

 

Heatstroke is an absolute classic that has been begging for a higher quality release for decades (existing ones were in poor shape), and it was a thrill to tackle it. Though hopefully some day there is a new transfer from the film print for the optimal quality release, in the meantime, we were able, with our new version, to put out one of the best copies of this movie yet to be made available on VHS, DVD, or VOD. Of the many video sources for it we looked at, we found one that had thankfully retained its quality fairly well, and we were able to reduce its noise and get good clarity and color from it. We've been happy to hear positive comments about this release from a few of those who have been eagerly awaiting a better version of this important porn film.

 

Images from Bijou's release of Heatstroke

Images from Bijou's release of Heatstroke, featuring Clay Russell, Richard Locke, and Roy Garrett

 

I realize much of this may sound very boring and technical, zoomed in on the minutia, but in the zoomed out perspective that veers into the comical, I'm spending the majority of my time at work very, very slowly going through footage of dicks and asses, squinting and examining them to see if they look slightly better with this effect or that, with a little less orange or more shadow, etc., like some kind of sexually explicit vision test. I've easily eaten the majority of the meals I've consumed during the past 13 years of my life while at this task. (Perhaps why I was inspired to put together our Food Sex compilation several years ago.)

It's always a pleasure to get to make long-unseen porn movies once again available, or available in better quality, and we always aim to continue that process, adding to and improving upon our existing catalog of classics and making use of technological advancements whenever possible. It's particularly satisfying on the occasions, like with the movies mentioned here, that we have a source that held up well to begin with and also proves to clean up so substantially that it comes out looking great. (And all these titles can be found through Bijou on DVD and VOD.)

Anyhow, all this is to say: we're looking forward to remastering many new releases at a higher quality level in 2022!

Rate this blog entry:
1424 Hits
0 Comments

David's Chicago Sexual Underground - 4/29/20

David's Chicago Sexual Underground header

Greetings P(r)icksters,

The whole stay at home thing has me kind of out of whack. I’m falling asleep by midnight, losing track of what day it is and just generally off track. I haven’t had to be at work or on time for much of anything. Gone are the days when I have a deadline for a special party or event at the bar. Not even sure when we will get back to work, so planning the next event is really up in the air. I wrote off April, now May. Even June and possibly July are looking iffy.

So I don’t have to get out an email blast to the bar patrons timely for this week’s parties since there aren’t any. I don’t have to work up an ad or poster to promote something down the road because there’s no road to follow yet. I also don’t have to order product to serve though I am trying to get rid of all the beer in the house before it goes out of date. Every time the crew comes by to get paid I load them up with a case.

And I kind of miss my Tuesday deadline to draft what should be my weekly P(r)ick of the Week message to you all. Trying to get back on track but have been distracted by “projects”.

Since the bar is closed (6 weeks and counting) some of my crew are also getting bored and are coming in to do some cleaning/remodeling. We’ve torn apart the cabinets behind the main bar to sand and refinish all the woodwork. Installing new hardware and such. Eventually we will sand and restain/refinish the bar itself.

Some of this work we have to schedule when weather permits. It’s still April in Chicago and one day can be warm and sunny followed by days of rain and cold air (like today). Yesterday was great, we lined up the cabinet doors and benches for sanding and staining in the alley. Otherwise all those fumes in the bar and no windows. So that’s how I spent this past Tuesday.

Today is another story, the rain has been coming down all day along with a wind off the 40 degree lake water. Which leads to me here with a cup of tea at my computer today doing some writing.

All this sorting and sifting are letting me find little gems or reminders. At the bar, I came across the plastic cover that held the first dollars Chuck earned when he took ownership on November 1, 1977. It also included a photo from Gay Chicago magazine of the previous owner Wally handing him the keys that day. I remember that hanging on the wall behind the bar when we were still on Lincoln Avenue.

Lots of pictures of friends and customers long gone and luckily many others still with us. I’ve got a couple of piles at the bar, one for the Leather Archives & Museum and the other for Gerber/Hart Library with stuff from old events, leather club history and more. Just like the stuff piled at my apartment, I’m waiting for these places to reopen so I can donate this history.

Being in a “historical” mood, I think after I send this off to you, I’m going to enjoy a bit of history from Bijou. So grab my P(r)ick this Week and join me for some home schooling on the history of porn.

My first “lesson” this week is Erotikus from Hand In Hand films, released in 1974. Nowadays you can just go online or on your phone to find porn. But there was a time before cell phones and internet and back then finding movies or just photos to satisfy your lust was a challenge. Directed by Tom DeSimone and narrated by Fred Halsted, this history of gay porn from physique magazines to full out hard fucking 8mm film movies is something you will enjoy. Erotikus presents many of the firsts in gay porn, fist kiss between two men, first cum shot and more. Every fan of Bijou films should have this in their collection. I enjoy watching and sharing it with friends whenever I can, they are amazed by this “history lesson” and appreciate what we all enjoy today.

My other P(r)ick for you this week is a similar lesson Good Hot Stuff also from Hand In Hand films. The history of this film is the coming together of Jack Deveau, Robert Alvarez and Jaap Penrat to create the studio that would produce many of the all time classics of gay porn in the 1970s. Not just the guys that appeared in the movies, but the creation of these films, the writing, music, sets and of course the sex. It was a novel concept at the time, create a movie studio for others to create movies that included men having sex with men.

This was at the time when most gay porn was limited to the 8mm film reel that could be purchased to watch in the privacy of your house on a movie projector. Those home projectors were for 8mm film and the rolls to fit them limited you to about 15 minutes or so of viewing time. Early 8mm films had to set up the premise of the scene locker-room, construction site, etc, introduce the characters, get to the sex and ultimate climax in that 15 minute limit. There was no sound and since many of these films were low budget, the quality, lighting, camera work was not always the best.

Hand In Hand films made it possible for directors with vision to create a more fleshed out story, film bigger more involved sex scenes and move characters though more encounters with better quality. Music, sets, costuming and more were possible and more time to edit and finish a film. It was because of these Hand In Hand films and then other studios that the Bijou Theater and theaters across the country were able to come about and flourish during the 70s and beyond.

Grab my P(r)ick of the Week and enjoy some history with me. It’s okay to pull on your dick while you “study” - it will make history more fun.


David

To order from Bijou, visit bijouworld.com, call 800-932-7111, or email bijou.orders@gmail.com


 

Erotikus images


Erotikus (D00586) - On DVD and Streaming

 


Good Hot Stuff images


Good Hot Stuff (D00131) - On DVD and Streaming

Rate this blog entry:
1142 Hits
0 Comments

Retrostuds of the Past: Focus on Cory Monroe

posted by Madame Bubby

Cory Monroe Playguy photo
Source: Playguy, December, 1986

This prolific “blond jock American bottom” appeared in more than 100 moves from about 1982-2001, also performing as Sandy Shaw, Rob Monroe, and Kurt Reikert.

According to Gay Hot Movies, “Cory is part of that pre-condom vintage era of porn that churned out countless stars and even more hot videos of bareback sex. His athletic physique, handsome face and piercing blue eyes made him a favorite among fans of gay porn, and garnered him endless job offers in the industry. Cory performed in more than 100 films over the course of his career, more often than not as a bottom.”

If he were active today, I get the vibe he would be an Instagram sensation. The photospreads he did for Playguy early in his career in December 1986 (he was 21) does reveal at one level the blond jock all-American type, but the confidence he exudes for the camera I think transcends convention. He's no perfect Ken Doll; he knows he can show off his rocket cock and firm, cute yet plowable ass, but the eyes and the facial expressions reveal a cocky arrogance. He commands the viewer to want to fuck him.
 

Cory Monroe Playguy nude
Source: Playguy, December, 1986

Three notable Bijou Classics he appears in, enticing descriptions courtesy of our website:

In Nova Studio's Oh Brother (1983), one of his earliest appearances, he appears as “supposed brother” of Eric Reikert, Kurt Reikert, in this loosely plotted tale of “brotherly lust.” According to Kevin Gender, "The climax of the film finds the two brothers alone, turning their natural love into lust as they powerfully fuck each other. If the old saying, 'Like father, like son' is true, these boys' mother must have been artificially inseminated," while Torso magazine proclaims, "Familiar face Kurt Reikert comes together with brother Eric, and their on-screen encounter is nothing but explosive... Nova has done better in the past, but it's still good hot viewing."
 

Images from Oh Brother
Images from Oh Brother

He also appears in the recently remastered Tall Tales (1986), directed by Joe Tiffenbach. Kenneth, played by Kenneth Weyerhaeuser, rings up his friend and tells about how, on a recent walk in the park, he met a young jogger who came home with him. In a flashback, Kenneth leads sexy blond Cory Monroe into his living room and offers him juice. While Kenneth is fetching it in the other room, Cory stretches and fondles his erection through his shorts. Kenneth returns and remarks about how well he fills out his shorts. Aroused, Kenneth magically transforms into nude, mustachioed Morgan Hunter and kneels before Cory, feeling and nibbling on his boner through his shorts and pulling it out to give him a blowjob. Morgan stands and Cory sucks his cock, then they move to the floor for some passionate kissing, fondling, nipple play, and sixty-nining. Morgan licks Cory's asshole, then fucks him on the floor.
 

Images from Tall Tales
Images from Tall Tales

In a dream sequence from the Bijou Video production Hey Tony, What's the Story (1993), Sam Houston, a tremendously sexy black man with a huge pole, seductively urges Tony Lattanzi, currently struggling to discover his sexual orientation, to join him a leather fantasy; another door opens on lean Cory Monroe slurping on redhead Kevin Taylor's long cock in a jail cell. Tony enters this one, biker shorts down, to be fondled by the duo before he scampers away from their grasping, lascivious hands. Another door shows buxom Hilde Hagen, Tony's former girlfriend, clad only in a leather bikini bottom, as she rubs her ample bosoms while looking in a mirror. They kiss, but Tony's heart really isn't in it, and when Sam and the caged duo reappear to taunt him, he wanders about confusedly. Kevin bangs Cory's exposed ass on a sawhorse before Cory and Kevin both vie for Sam's schlong. Director David Babbit is at his best here as these three perform unfettered by an inhibitions or misgivings; they romp like they want it! Tony finds himself on the horse with Cory and Kevin holding his legs to give him a righteous screwing.

All these and more Bijou Classics with Cory Monroe are available streaming now here!

Also, here's a link to a blog on another famous retrostud, Leo Ford, that gives some reflection on the erotic appeal of blonds.

To readers: I have not been able to locate much personal information about him; he seems to exist only in the movies and magazines he appeared in. Anyone know anything?

Rate this blog entry:
4980 Hits
0 Comments

Stigma

posted by Madame Bubby

‘Porn is not destroying the environment.” – recent tweet by Steven Toushin, owner BijouWorld.com


I’ve noticed on Twitter, that is, on my own account especially, a stigma, and this stigma is connected to a larger stigma.

The stigma isn’t homophobia specifically, nor is it what I term a type of classism or elitism, or that somehow only certain persons with certain academic credentials are worthy of a voice in discussing serious issues.

The stigma is what I call pornophobia. It manifests itself in this case, specifically, that because our blog is part of a website that sells gay porn, it is somehow cheapened, deemed unworthy of respect (not that anyone has directly criticized it), and perhaps for diplomatic reasons, persons ignore it as not worthy of artistic or intellectual study. If the blog was located on a not for profit site like an archives or a museum or a library, I think, the stigma would not be as prevalent.

Porn is an integral party of LGBTQ history, in fact, human history, and to just assume that it is a manifestation of “baser” instincts is wrongheaded and bigoted. Some of the earliest gay pornographic films were products of an artistic motivation to incorporate sexual experiences into narratives with story arcs, developing characters, and profound symbols.
 

Poster and images from The Idol
Vintage poster & images from Tom DeSimone's The Idol (1979)

VHS cover for Blue Angel
VHS front & back cover for Jurgen Bauer's The Blue Angel (1986)

They were liberators for the newly liberated. Watch The Idol and The Blue Angel, among other films we make it our mission to preserve and disseminate. They may be somewhat anomalous in their depth and scope, but there’s a range here, and even some of the early J. Brian titles, which feature unabashed sex and not much else, convey their own unique ambience of carpe diem, imply that the cultural composed connection between gay sex, in fact, any type of sex, and shame is as breakable as a bruised reed.
 

Stills from Seven in a Barn
Stills from J. Brian's Seven in a Barn (1971)

Too much literature and art has been created, I think, and this dynamic includes even LGBTQ persons themselves, that focuses on the relationship between many forms of harm and porn, ranging from the stereotypes of the gay porn movie as inextricably linked to an oppressed audience suffering from frustrated sexuality and exploitation, to even condemning all porn as fundamentally misogynistic.

I am not claiming that all porn is of artistic merit, nor am I making any claim that the porn industry (distinguishing between the industry and the product) has not been part of exploitative and oppressive structures.

But any action that involves bending or breaking taboos is indeed a risk. Taking that risk in expressing one’s sexuality means confronting and continually reimagining the primal center of human life, in fact, all life.

Rate this blog entry:
1195 Hits
0 Comments

Contact Us | 800-932-7111 | Join our email list

Go to top