How Straight Are You, Really?

By Josh Eliot

 

Early on in my career with Catalina Video, we had a pretty regular list of repeat actors we used in the movies we were shooting. As I mentioned before, a number of those actors were gay for pay or bisexual. I was 25 when I started with Catalina and before actually meeting these models, which included Johnny Davenport, Eric Manchester, Mike Gregory, Derek Jensen and Chad Knight, my friends and I would always scoff at the fact when someone said they were bisexual. It’s was just how the world reacted to the word bisexual at the time. We would roll our eyes on the set when the models had to watch straight porn to get hard in between shots. We thought that they were doing it for appearances' sake but they were really getting hard looking at the guys. You know, the way silly ass 20 somethings thought back then. In our minds it was always “cut and dry” - you were straight or you were gay, there was no in between. They were performing a gay sex scene so of course they were gay, right? Luckily life experience has shown us all to have a different perspective on things. Bisexuality is alive and well in the world.

 

Kurt Bauer and Mike Gregory

Kurt Bauer & Mike Gregory

 

I became aware of a director named Paul Norman, a pioneer in the industry who some would call “The King of Bi-Sexual Movies.” He made The Big Switch and Passion By Fire in 1986, turning the industry on its head, and Bi and Beyond in 1987. I worked with Kurt Bauer from my first day on the set and many times afterwards in the movies Top Man, My Best Buddy, and The Big One, and he even did a non-sexual walk on in my directorial debut Runaways. Kurt also so happened to grace the cover of Bi and Beyond, which Catalina was distributing at the time, and it happened to be in our pile of tapes for models to watch while jerking their dicks to get hard. I borrowed it from the studio one day and took it home to watch. This was my first time watching a bisexual feature. The movie also featured Mike Gregory who I had literally just finished shooting for a movie called The Young Cadets. Watching Kurt and Mike performing with girls added another layer of understanding for me, opening my cynical mind to the fact that the world was not so black and white as one might think.

 

Some of Paul Norman's bisexual movies

Some of Paul Norman's bisexual movies

 

Unfortunately, an open mind was not something the straight porn industry was experiencing when it came to the idea of bisexual features. I felt like any connection to the gay world was just not something the industry would embrace, on any level, at that time in history. I think Paul Norman brought a sense of legitimacy to them, but they were not having any of it. At the yearly adult video conventions in Las Vegas, the gay and bisexual companies were literally in a completely different room or building! It was hard to get straight porn actors to even consider performing in a straight scene for a bi movie for fear they would be shunned. Paul and his fiancé Tori Wells became the toast of the town after she became a mega-star in the 1989 movie from director Andrew Blake called Night Trips. Blake shot it entirely on 35mm film, while most others were shooting on video. If you’ve never seen it and appreciate straight porno, it’s a “must.” Winner of the AVN Award for Best Film, Cinematography and Editing, it is truly the most stylish adult film I have ever seen. Tori Wells led a star studded cast including: Porsche Lynn, Victoria Paris, Randy Spears and Peter North. Did her mega stardom help move forward the acceptance of Bi movies, directed by her fiancé, within the industry? I’m not sure, but I feel like it opened the door.

 

Night Trips and Paul Norman and Tori Wells

Night Trips and Paul Norman & Tori Wells

 

Two actors that were able to go from gay movies to decades-long careers in straight movies under the radar without any push back from the industry were Jamie Gillis and Jack Wrangler. Back then, things weren’t streamed or online so it was easy to sweep the fact they performed in gay movies under the carpet. One of Jamie Gillis’ best roles was in Boynapped, re-released by Bijou - a Hand in Hand classic directed by Spencer Logan. Jack Wrangler (Gemini, Hot House, Heavy Equipment), well we all know his success story, and Bijou has tons of content featuring his hot-ass-self! Gay for pay? Or bisexual? I’m truly stumped. Another star that comes to mind is Matt Ramsey, made iconic from the desktop scene in The Bigger the Better with Rick Donovan, who went from gay movies to straight movies under the name Peter North. Luckily, by the time I met Peter North, the industry had come to its senses about bisexual movies and Peter was on my set shooting a straight scene with Leanna Foxxx for my Bi-Dolls series. I asked if I could credit him as Matt Ramsey instead of Peter North, but he respectfully declined, we came a long way getting him to act in the movie, but that might have been pushing it.

Then there is Paul Barresi (alleged lover of John Travolta and porn icon). Now, that hot number is in a league all onto himself! YOWZA! I saw him in person once, wearing super tight black slacks, at a movie cinema in West Hollywood some hot chick. I was with Catalina editor Chet Thomas and he pointed him out to me while we were in line... Gay for pay or bisexual? Who the hell cares!!! All Chet and I could focus on was that hot hairy chest and tight ass on him! I’m sure there are dozens more examples I could give of guys who were or could have been gay for pay or bisexual, but quite honestly I can’t stop thinking about Paul Barresi right now, I think I need to go stream Men of the Midway.

 

Paul Barresi in Men of the Midway and more

Paul Barresi in Men of the Midway and more

 

Correction: Bi-Coastal, previously cited as a Paul Norman movie, was a 1985 movie by director Tom DeSimone. We at Bijou apologize for the mix-up. We do make mistakes and are happy when they are pointed out so we can correct them so that we can make sure that the history is properly recorded.

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

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Lucy Ricardo on I Love Lucy: A Criminal!

Lucy Ricardo

I so hope I am not outing myself even more as an “eldergay” with the topic of the blog this week, but I do like to think Lucy, especially as Lucy Ricardo on I Love Lucy, will remain always funny, even as broadcasts of that show are now making their way into interstellar space.

Situation comedies, like most art forms that move in time, require suspension of disbelief, but after some inspiration from the inimitable datalounge website (which bills itself as “serving up this steaming pile of Gay celebrity gossip, politics and pointless bitchery since 1995 (were you even born in 1995?) Go ahead. You know you want to..."), this idea really hit me … if one pretty much voids the suspension of disbelief required for Lucy and (in most cases) her accomplice Ethel to get involved in so many zany madcap predicaments, plus interpreting their antics through a fear-ridden mindset characteristic of so many 21st century persons (especially helicopter parents) … Yikes!

Yes, Lucy Ricardo is pretty much a “serial criminal,” with Ethel (usually) as her accomplice. Now, Ricky and Fred were also involved in a some of the business, but Lucy was the mastermind.

Some examples, mostly from memory (oh, I hope, dear reader, you are impressed), which may make you recall some of your favorite episodes:

Lucy often, quite often, commits white collar crime; for example, she purposely wrote a postdated check to pay for the costumes and props for the operetta her women's club is putting on. She does get caught (the check bounces), but not by the cops, but by the company she wrote the check to, who hauls and rips away everything as the performers continue to try and save the show.
 

Lucy the Operetta

I do remember her doing the whole postdated check thing in another episode, and even more brazenly, she charges exorbitant amounts at a grocery store (including the neighbor's groceries), after Ricky, weary of her financial crimes, hires a business manager. Lucy thinks the business manager will take care of it at the end of the month when he goes over her monthly grocery allowance (well, not really, it does end well, but not in the way one expects it to).

More variations of white collar crime: And in Monte Carlo, when she is in Europe, she gets in trouble for passing counterfeit money. (And she also tries to get across the France-Italy border without a passport, but that's another category.)

And to get to Europe financially, she and Ethel concoct a raffle for a fake not for profit, Ladies Overseas Aid. The FBI and the cops are really on to her in this one …
 

Lucy and Ethel's fraudulent raffle

Lucy is guilty of assault and imprisonment: for example, in one episode, with the typical theme of Lucy trying to get in the show, after losing the required weight under much duress, she ties up the woman who was supposed to be in the chorus line at Ricky's club in a broom closet so she can be in that show.

Lucy is guilty of property damage: ah, so many instances, but I remember one specifically. After a falling out with Fred and Ethel, she and Ricky try and purposely break the lease so as not to have to pay it off. After purposely making noise and even making prank phone calls to Ethel (another crime), they decide to have Ricky's band rehearse in the apartment late at night; the noise and stomping causes the ceiling to collapse on Fred and Ethel.

Lucy is guilty of theft: ah yes, the infamous let's steal (with Ethel) John Wayne's footprints from the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame by Grauman's Chinese Theater. She is pretty much out of control in Hollywood trying to meet celebrities, and her crimes include much breaking and entering, including leaping over a fence to steal a grapefruit from Richard Widmark's yard. She also tried to sneak into Cornel Wilde's hotel room.
 

Lucy and Ethel attempting to steal John Wayne's footprints

Lucy is guilty of creating public a public disturbance: many others, but in this case, the act was a stunt to get some money (they landed a job advertising some movie called “Women of Mars”) because she and Ethel lied about the amount of money they could give to a hoity-toity acquaintance's charity, but they go to the top of the Empire State of Building, scream at people in gibberish, and point what looks like stun guns at them … oy veh!
 

Lucy and Ethel as Martians at the Empire State Building

Lucy is guilty of threats to safety on public transportation: On the train home from Hollywood, she keeps pulling the emergency brake, for various reasons, but it turns out that this criminal act is not as horrible as the jewel heist going on.
 

Lucy pulling emergency brake

Lucy is involved in the Mob (not really but … ): And, right before she and Ricky (and later Fred and Ethel) move to Connecticut, she, Ethel, and Fred disguise themselves as mobsters in order to keep the deal from closing (because Lucy and Ethel don't want to separate) and end up terrorizing the owners of the house to point where the husband gets out a shotgun. Yet it is implied by Lucy at one point earlier that Fred is “packing a rod.”
 

Ethel, Fred, and Lucy: 1950s Gangsters

And I am not recounting all, yes, all the episodes where her crimes occur.

Yes, I know it was a comedy show, a parallel universe, but I just wonder if someone in today's angst-ridden culture (I am not denigrating the valid concerns persons possess about gun control, terrorism, property rights, public safety, and white collar crime) watched some of these without knowledge of the show's context and genre, what they might think.

Lucy Ricardo, I do love you, but even in the 1950s, you might have gotten locked up (which did happen a couple times on the series … oh, I could go on and on).

But in that parallel universe where problems become miraculously resolved in half an hour with commercials, the deus ex machina (in Lucy's case, often her husband) descends to make everything kiss and make up/all right/and all manner of things shall be well.

Some of our retro studs in the world of Bijou Video weren't exactly perfect citizens (and not only because they were having gay sex, illegal in many United States jurisdictions when they appeared in their movies)… check out some of our flicks where they, at various levels, bend and break the law, including Drive, Boynapped, Star Trick, Greek Lightning, The American Adventures of Surelick Holmes, and Crime Does Pay.

(For more specific information on the I Love Lucy episodes, I highly recommend The I Love Lucy Book.)

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