Cumming Attractions!

By Will Seagers

 

Hi folks! Will here.

We're taking a little bit of a break after the two year run of my blog with Bijou.

To celebrate the two years of fun that I've had, here is a gala video for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

 

Will Seagers in L.A. Tool & Die, stylized image
Will Seagers in L.A. Tool & Die, stylized image

 

Bio of Will Seagers:


Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted careers and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model, film performer, and DJ, just to name a few. He made iconic appearances in releases from Falcon, Hand in Hand, Joe Gage, Target (Bullet), J. Brian, Steve Scott, and more, including in lead roles in major classics like Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (1979) and Scott's Wanted (1980). He brought strong screen presence and exceptional acting to his roles and was scene partners with many fellow legends of classic porn.
 

Will Seagers, present day image

 


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me
Becoming Invisible
The Reverse Story of Dorian Gray
Pin Money
One Organ Leads to Another! Part 1
The Wheels of Steel
Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s
An Alphabet Soup of Powders and Pills
Merry Christmas (and Getting Re-Organized)
Now and Then
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Badlands
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: Moby Dick Bar
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: "Just Another Stroll Down the Castro!"
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Hamburger Mary's
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Long Live the Stud!
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Club Life..."Hit me with your Rhythm Stick!”
A "Split Ticket" - SoMa/Folsom and The Haight!
Back to Basics: "Staying Vanilla in a Flavorful Culture!"
A Little Secret
"I love a Parade!" Recollections of the 1977 S.F. Gay Pride Parade
Pics, Pics & More Pics... Life's a Beach
Flora & Fauna - the Flora part anyway!
Once Is Just Not Enough!
A Love of Cultures – A Knack for Languages!
"For the Birds": My Lifetime With Feathered Friends!
"It's About Time!" My Love Affair With Clocks & Fine Watches
The Perfect Storm
Hello Chicago/Adieu Fire Island Pines!
Sex in the Woods!
My Life at the Gym: An Unexpected Surrender to a Life Sentence!
The Last Picture Show

Rate this blog entry:
166 Hits
0 Comments

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??!

 
Rate this blog entry:
823 Hits
0 Comments

There’s a Gloryhole WHERE??!

By Josh Eliot

 

I’ve written previously about my best friend and co-worker at Catalina Video, Chet Thomas. His real name was Tommy, but from time to time we referred to each other as Sal & Sal. We both liked the nickname so much when we heard it from a “loose” character in the movie Scandal, with Joanne Whalley-Kilmer and Bridget Fonda, that neither one of us would let the other use it exclusively. When we were out and about, on the hunt “not for cunt,” we each took on the character and nickname of “Sal.” You see, just by that last sentence I’ve changed back into Sal before your very eyes; I guess “Sal” is the true author of this particular blog. Everything we said and did as “Sal” was for shock value and to move us toward our goal of the evening, having faceless sex with strangers. You might have read about some of our adventures in my previous blog, “SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel .”

 

Chet Thomas/Tommy/Sal in his Valley of the Bi-Dolls cameo

Chet Thomas/Tommy/Sal in his Valley of the Bi-Dolls cameo

 

The very first time I went to Palm Springs was to shoot the movie Head of the Class 2 that Scott Masters was producing and directing. We shot at a beautiful home in Rancho Mirage with models Adam Grant, Les Stine, Beau Beaumont, Brian Hart, Chris Ladd and others. While shooting the movie, the cast and crew stayed not too far away on Warm Sands Drive in a clothing optional resort called The Vista Grande. Scott Masters always cracked the whip, and to make sure there was no funny business with the models “off camera,” they stayed in the owner's two-bedroom suite with him, basically holding them captive. The crew, on the other hand, was free to roam the property at night, spending time in the 16-man jacuzzi filled with horny resort guests and locals who either had a key or figured out a way to get into the private resort. It was a playground for sure, even featuring a glory hole right next to the Coca-Cola and ice machines. Quench your thirst?! Peter and Larry were the owners and they developed a friendship with Scott Masters, which would allow us to start shooting on their resort property for future movies. Catalina ended up shooting at the Vista Grande for years to come.

 

Head of the Class 2 box cover and The Vista Grande Resort

Head of the Class 2 box cover and The Vista Grande Resort

 

Our next trip to the desert was for the movie Palm Springs 92264 and Chet Thomas was along as director with me as his cameraman. Scott Masters stayed home in L.A., but you can bet your ass he called to check up on us at the most inopportune times. I filled Tommy/Chet/Sal in on the goings on at the resort from my first stay there and we were determined to conquer the place while off the clock from shooting the movie. Across the street from the resort was their sister property called The Atrium, which had only five two-bedroom units. Tommy and I stayed there, as did the models and crew, because it was a bit quieter than The Vista Grande. After the shoots, we would go out with the models and crew to dinner at the Red Pepper, a gay-owned Mexican restaurant, and then we all hit CC Construction Company, the local gay disco. The models, for the most part, were on the honor system and, I think because we treated them like friends instead of “hired talent,” they kept their dicks in their pants in anticipation of filming the next morning. Once their scenes were complete, we let them play as much as they wanted around the resort or go on their escort gigs that they or their agent booked for them while in the desert. Tommy and I were very happy about how smoothly things went and were so grateful not to have our producer Scott Masters breathing down our necks.

After the movie wrapped, the cast flew home and the crew drove back to L.A. The owners of The Vista Grande invited Tommy and myself to stay the weekend. They were sold out with some sort of event and the place was filled with German guys. Scheibe! This was a clothing optional resort and let me tell you, there were some big-ass German Sausages swinging about all around the pool. It made it very easy for “Sal” & “Sal” to decide on who to pursue and who not to pursue. Neither Sal was famous for playing nice and when we both wanted the same “piece,” uhh hmm, I mean “guy,” we would battle it out. May the most creative seducer win!

Bob and Larry showed us to the “Maid’s Quarters,” the best kept secret at The Vista Grande. It was a tiny 12’ x 12’ room, with a shower stall and just barely enough space to fit a bed, TV and night stand. It was free and gave us a place to crash, so who were we to complain? Neither one of us was going to get much sleep anyway and if we did, it would probably be in room 10, 15 or 23. In true “Sal” fashion, there was trickery to be had. Like when I was in the shower, Tommy/Sal got dressed and ran out the door to get a head start on the guy we both wanted to catch. That little bitch! If I remember correctly, Sal threw himself at him and scored his first point. That pissed me off a bit, but I don’t throw myself at guys - oh wait a minute, I’m Sal right now so that’s exactly what I do.

 

Palm Springs 92264 box cover; maid's quarters; hot German guys

Palm Springs 92264 box cover; maid's quarters; hot German guys

 

The Sal domination of Warm Sands Drive didn’t just stay contained inside the walls of the resort. Outside on Warm Sands Drive was the most infamous cruise spot in all of Palm Springs. The streets don’t have street lights in the desert and there were shadowy figures in abundance. In cars, on walls, behind bushes. It’s impossible to see if they are cute, ugly, young or geriatric, and you can bet I ran into Sal a few times in different hiding spots with his mouth full. That was his thing - sorry babe, luv ya! Miss ya! But what do you expect, Sal, you did steal my hung German tourist, you twat! Sal and I made many return trips to the Vista Grande. We could call them any given Friday afternoon and if the “Maid’s Quarters” was empty, the owners would give it to us for the weekend for, get this, $25 per night! They treated us so well and, like I said, we would return year after year with the crew to film dozens of movies.

You know, I’m kind of embracing my alter-ego “Sal” as a writer. I think I’ll have him do a guest blog every now and then moving forward.

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

 
Rate this blog entry:
1122 Hits
0 Comments

Out of Print

By Josh Eliot

 

As I grow older, I get more nostalgic about experiences from my past. It’s natural to feel this way when we see things that bring back great memories and helped form who we are. Sometimes it’s seeing a movie. When I was 15 years old, in 1977, I talked my parents into taking me to see Diane Keaton in Looking For Mr. Goodbar. A decision I’m sure my parents regretted once the subject of the movie became crystal clear. I’m sure they thought that since Tuesday Weld was also in the movie, it would be pretty tame. Not! The film started with a haunting song montage including “Don’t Ask to Stay Until Tomorrow” by Marlena Shaw and it really set the tone. The movie was a tough and gritty expose on the bar fly, one night stand dating scene in New York. I’m sure mostly anyone who is reading this blog has seen this movie at some point in their life and came away from it moved or shaken. For decades, I and hundreds of others, tried to access this movie on DVD. It was originally released on VHS and LaserDisc, but evidently by the time negotiations came around for a DVD release it was dead in the water. Various chat rooms over the last decades point to the legal issues and costly fees involving the music rights. It seems to have simply vanished. It went “out of print.”

When I saw this movie at 15, I was thrilled to see the male hustler character played perfectly by Richard Gere. The moment he danced around in his jockstrap while holding a glow in the dark knife both tantalized and terrified me. I think this might have been the first “male nudity” I ever saw in a film, unfortunately for my mother sitting right next to me. The movie’s soundtrack was filled with great tunes like “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Thelma Houston, “Prelude To Love,” “Try Me, I Know We Can Make It” and “Could It Be Magic” by Donna Summer and “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross. The music worked so brilliantly with the raw, realistic story, making the whole experience feel 100% real. Diane Keaton, famously known to be shy about her body and always dressing in long sleeves and a buttoned collar, had several nude scenes in the movie. She won the Academy Award the very same year for Annie Hall and you can bet your ass this role in Goodbar helped seal that win. What a film, but yeah, unfortunately I could not watch it and relive all those great memories and feelings because it was simply out of print.

 

Looking for Mr. Goodbar lobby cards

Looking for Mr. Goodbar lobby cards

 

The feeling of never seeing a movie again that you loved watching or loved working on must have been how the cast and crew felt back in the early days of porn. Before VHS, DVD and Blu-ray, the movies would show in an adult cinema then pretty much disappear. Maybe they would come back again to play as a second feature for a new release. But with the explosion of VHS on the X-rated market, suddenly all the new adult productions had a life beyond the new release stage. They would be widely available for purchase and viewings forever. That was exactly what we assumed when we were making the gay and bi porn movies back in the 1980s. There are a lot of collectors who have vast libraries both VHS and DVD. I have those collector tendencies too. I just added a new “instant favorite” autographed photo of Will Seagers to my collection. He signed a black-and-white shot from LA Tool & Die. I gave it a place of honor on my office wall just under the signed photo of Bette Davis.

 

Some of Josh's signed photos: Will Seagers, Bette Davis, Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla), Rob Cryston

Some of Josh's signed photos: Will Seagers, Bette Davis, Haruo Nakajima (Godzilla), Rob Cryston

 

I like to post trailers, clips and teasers from my library of movies for Catalina Video on YouTube and Instagram. It’s like a virtual collection, and I like the idea of letting them have some sort of permanent place in history on those channels. It seems that a new generation of worldwide gay and straight viewers really responds positively and has an appreciation for nostalgic porn clips. I thought it might be cool to post a newly cut trailer of the first movie I ever made, called Runaways, back in 1989. I used to have the VHS, which showed a young, sad-eyed twink looking through a dusty, cracked nine pane window on the box cover. Then on the DVD cover, they swapped the twink for a much hotter shot of Jake Corbin. Somewhere along the way, I loaned out that DVD and never got it back so I started searching for it online. I found the movie available on several websites with a fabulous new cover but, much to my dismay, the DVD version said “out of print” - leaving only the digital version available for download or single scene viewing. I thought, this must be a one-off. Maybe the owners of the Catalina Library sold out and will re-release it down the line? I purchased the download, cut my trailer and posted it on my Instagram and YouTube. Then it happened again with another title I was looking for and I started wondering what was going on. Why aren’t these titles available? Suddenly, I received a mailing for a major sale on most if not all of the William Higgins classics like Pizza Boy, Hot Rods, The Young and the Hung, Preppy Summer to name a few, with the title of the sale saying: “Get Them Now Before They Are OUT OF PRINT Forever.” There were also Dirk Yates and Catalina Video sections as well.

 

Runaways box covers over the years

Runaways box covers over the years

 

A little piece of my heart broke at that moment. What we always thought would be around and available on some sort of tape or disc or “newly invented format” was not to be. It became very clear to me that there would be no future restoration of these movies, there would be no re-release of these movies, there would be no “tangible,” hold-it-in-your-hand version of these movies any longer. I would have been content leaving this earth thinking that some “physical form” - complete with original movie artwork of the Catalina Library featuring John Travis, Scott Masters, Chet Thomas, Chi Chi LaRue, myself and others - would always be available. But evidently that is not to be. I get the digital thing, but it doesn’t mean I have to embrace it. I already had huge respect for the way BijouWorld treasures their films, directors and customers. The restoration costs they absorb to make their library of films the best they can be for future generations to enjoy and collect in a physical and digital form speaks volumes about their integrity. Even though the Catalina library of movies we made will not get the same “white glove” polished treatment Bijou offers to its library, I am more than content to know that the movies I looked up to and shaped me as an adult video director are being preserved.

I feel the need to have a “Happy Ending.” Everyone loves a happy ending don’t they? On October 23, 2020, the DVD version of Looking For Mr. Goodbar was finally released through LA Entertainment, an Australia-based company. Something nobody saw coming, and which a lot of collectors are anxious to own.

 

 

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

 
Rate this blog entry:
703 Hits
0 Comments

Mad Scenes

By Madam Bubby

 

Usually a “mad scene” specifically refers to a particular scene from an opera written by bel canto composers of the early 19th century, such as Donizetti and Bellini. A soprano, usually suffering from a romantic love crisis, goes insane, and expresses her insanity, paradoxically, in difficult, complicated coloratura passages that require great vocal control.

The most famous occurs in the opera Lucia di Lammermoor. Lucia, in love with the family enemy Edgardo, is forced to marry someone her brother chooses, Arturo. Lucia kills Arturo on her wedding night. I grew up hearing the gay icon Maria Callas singing this scene on record, and I was mesmerized that she was able to invest the scene with such drama and a dark, complex timbre. Here was no Snow White singing tra la la to the birds. But, interestingly enough, the opera does not end with the mad scene. Lucia dies offstage, and her lover, Edgardo, kills himself. He actually gets a kind of tenor mad scene. But it’s generally the ladies who go mad, which reflects quite blatantly the misogynistic Victorian view that women, the "weaker sex," were more prone to mental disturbance: potential hysterics.

 

Callas as Lucia

Callas as Lucia

 

The mad scene by the middle of the last century started moving to the end of movies, crystallizing to some extent in the grand dame guignol movies of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The end of Sunset Boulevard, the famous “I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille,” scene of Norma Desmond, deconstructs the mad scenes of operas, because she thinks she is playing the necrophiliac Salome. One even hears a bit of music from the Strauss opera as she descends the staircase (that prop usually occurs in Lucia mad scenes). In fact, by the time Strauss wrote his opera Salome, one could even say the female protagonists of many operas written by that time were mad for the entire opera (or most of the time).

 

Noma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard

Norma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard

 

Thus, Baby Jane Hudson in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? dancing on the beach with ice cream cones and others of her ilk come out of a rich tradition. The director Robert Aldrich really seemed to build his grande dame guignol films toward a final mad scene for the female protagonist, though in his underrated Autumn Leaves shows a male, played by Cliff Robertson, going mad, and he gets several scenes, but the most terrifying one occurs at about midpoint.

But it is also a scene of horrifying domestic violence (he throws a typewriter at his wife, played by Joan Crawford, after slapping her around). Like Edgardo in Lucia, he accuses her of treachery, but she is innocent. In reality, his father slept with his now former wife (she a willing accomplice), and discovering them together precipitated his descent into what, based on the movie, is paranoid schizophrenia.

 

Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson in Autumn Leaves

Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson in Autumn Leaves

 

Aldrich created another mad scene in The Killing of Sister George, a groundbreaking LGBTQ movie on so many levels, not only for its filming a scene in an actual lesbian bar, but, for the fact that the protagonist, June Buckridge played by Beryl Reid (known as George because of the character she plays in a soap opera, Sister George, a jovial country nurse in an English village) is out and proud as a lesbian. Many critics today tend to place this move in the “self-hating” LGBTQ subgrenre. Yes, George is certainly not the most stable person. She yells a lot, drinks a lot, and certainly, which one could argue isn’t really a character flaw in some of the situations she encounters, shows no compunction about telling some persons off in not the most dainty language.

Her relationship with Alice does not strike one as being the healthiest by today’s standards. I remember watching the scene where George, always jealous, punishes Alice for a supposed flirting (with a man) by making her kneel before her and eat her cigar. For the mid 1960s, this scene was risqué, and I perceived that perhaps there was some element of BDSM play involved, but it also seems to be moving into the realm of emotional abuse. And it’s not Alice as the victim of the “bull dyke” George. Alice is blatantly egging her on, and by pretending to enjoy eating the cigar; yes, she does take back control of the dynamic, knowing she is hurting George by, as George both yells and cries, “ruining” it.

Thus, one can see the characters aren’t camp caricatures. The character George plays gets killed off in the series (hence the title), and the fate of her career and relationship gets wound up in the machinations of the cliched reptilian predatory lesbian, played by Coral Browne.

Spoiler alert: she loses her job and her lover; the Coral Browne character in a scene of underhanded viciousness at George’s farewell party at the television studio suggests she get a job playing the voice of a cow in an animated puppets series for children. A gut-wrenching scene occurs when Alice leaves her. Reid masterfully plays it as both horribly hurt and horribly angry together, the emotion much like that of another spurned operatic character, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana (from the time of whole “mad operas”). Shortly thereafter, George enters the empty studio, smashes the camera equipment, and beings mooing like a cow. She is wordless. No romantic words, no ecstatic high notes like Lucia sings, no cameras for a Norma Desmond close-up.

 

Beryl Reid as George in The Killing of Sister George

Beryl Reid as George in The Killing of Sister George

 

But, is she really mad? Does she really enter another reality like Lucia and Norma Desmond and Baby Jane? She’s not fantasizing about a marriage that never took place, and she’s not retreating into memories of a forever lost stardom. It seems she’s justifiably enraged, but also, given her indomitable character, understanding that she will do that job. She knows she has lost. She knows it’s degrading.

And like many LGBTQ persons, she knows who she is, and because she knows, she can choose, or at least to try and choose, what happens in her life. What’s sad is that she feels like she can only choose her losses. I just wonder if she’s really at the same level of victimization and its sister, in those cases, madness as the Romantic heroines of opera or the characters like Baby Jane who are both torturer and victim in grande dame guignol cinema.

Similarly, the complex dynamic where the madness, or appearance of madness, exists perhaps to crystallize at the highest level of tension the torturer/victim binary appears in a classic gay porn movie, Drive, directed by Jack Deveau (which Bijou carries on DVD and Streaming). The mad lead character/anti-hero Arachne plots to kidnap a scientist and eliminate everyone’s sex drive.

 

Christopher Rage as Arachne in Drive

Christopher Rage as Arachne in Hand in Hand Films' Drive (1974)

 

Arachne (played by legendary director Christopher Rage, here billed as Mary Jim Sstunning, in a script written by Rage) certainly camps it up as she attempts to set her diabolical plot in motion. But the movie unveils at the end how the one who desires to castrate is actually ferociously repressing her own sexuality. She is last seen in a dungeon with the men she had imprisoned. Secret agent Clark liberates the prisoners, and Arachne is left alone. But this whole mad porn opera contains a moment of somber lucidity. Arachne holds a glass bottle with a severed penis. She knows she is forever trapped in a cycle of endless desire like a spider in a web, consuming its mates but never satiated:

I hunted at night until it wasn’t enough to hunt only at night, and then I hunted during the day too. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. My thoughts were only of hard bodies, rigid with the desire for me — beautiful men swollen with the need for me. They were all around me and I chose the ones who looked most eager.

“Until I saw a man who was so perfect, with a hunger in his eyes that reflected my own hunger — and I knew he was the one. I knew we could feed from each other, claw at each other with a need we didn’t care to understand.

“Drugged with desire for each other’s hot naked skin, tense muscles pushing — and then filling me with his need, white and hot. Crushing me with his strong arms, pressing down on me and into me, until I closed my eyes with the ecstasy and perfection of him, and I screamed for him — and I screamed for me. 

“And I opened my eyes and I was alone.

“And I vowed then that I would bring an end to it all. Man would have to search no more: Arachne would be the answer.”


She knows. She knows who she is, ultimately more frightening than the mad scene at the end, which usually ends in the liberation of death.

Rate this blog entry:
509 Hits
0 Comments

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

Go to top