RSVP: 2 Weeks Working on a Gay Cruise Ship

By Josh Eliot

 

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

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

 

Richard, Josh & two RSVP Cruise employees

Richard, Josh & two RSVP Cruise employees

 

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

 

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

Danny Williams, comedian

Danny Williams, comedian

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Caesar in Voyager

Caesar in Voyager

 

Bio of Josh Eliot:

At the age of 25 in 1987, Josh Eliot was hired by Catalina Video by John Travis (Brentwood Video) and Scott Masters (Nova Video). Travis trained Eliot on his style of videography and mentored him on the art of directing. Josh directed his first movie, Runaways, in 1987. By 2009 when Josh parted ways with Catalina Video, he'd produced and directed hundreds of features and won numerous awards for Best Screenplay, Videography, Editing, and Directing. He was entered into the GayVN Hall of fame in 2002. 

 

You can read Josh Eliot's previous blogs for Bijou here:

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(Un)Easy Riders
7 Years with Colt Model MARK RUTTER
Super NOVA
Whatever Happened to NEELY O’HARA?
Is That AL PARKER In Your Photo?
DOWN BY LAW: My $1,000,000 Mistake
We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot... Is That a World Record?
Don't Wear "Short Shorts" on the #38 Geary to LANDS END
How Straight Are You Really?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR
The BOOM BOOM Room
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone
Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD
SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Castro Theatre
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Midnight Sun

Rate this blog entry:
673 Hits
0 Comments

SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel

By Josh Eliot

 

When Catalina Video moved me to Los Angeles in 1989, I developed a great friendship with the post production supervisor Chet Thomas. Chet was a 5'8” fair skinned blond California boy. We were in our late 20s and enjoyed the same interests. Our bonding happened the night we went to a premiere screening of the movie Scandal with Bridget Fonda and Joanne Whaley Kilmer. The movie was about two loose girls and some politicians whose actions created a scandal in England. We both took on their quirky free-spirited attributes and made a running joke of it by calling each other “Sal” - the name they used for the “loose” one in the movie. Chet was the Kilmer (wild child) character and I was the Bridget Fonda (along for the ride) character.

Our hang out spot at the time was the Spike in West Hollywood. It was just a block and a half away from my apartment and within walking distance to Chet’s as well. We would turn on the “Sal” mode whenever we partied there and Chet, being a “loose goose,” was rubbing off on me. It was like a competition of who could score first. Chet always won; it was quantity not quality with him and he was more open to things like running out into the parking lot for a quickie.

 

Scandal poster, the Spike bar

Scandal poster, the Spike bar

 

I did beat him at least once, with a hot muscleman named Moses. Yes Moses, and I have to say he was heavenly. I don’t think Moses ever left his house with a shirt on, or if he did it was always unbuttoned and wide open. At least every time we saw him at the bar he was that way. He was one of those guys that you thought was completely unapproachable, but as things turned out he approached me one night. Chet was pissed the next day, when we caught up with each other, because he was trying to close that deal forever!

Chet knew every hot spot in Los Angeles and would introduce me to all of them, good and bad. One night after drinking he took me to a place called the Coral Sands Motel. Not necessarily a “good” one. This place was a bathhouse disguised as a motel. It was quite a large and in a dingy part of the city between Hollywood and Silver Lake. He didn’t explain a thing to me, just took me there one night after drinking shots at the Spike. The place had two levels with exterior doors in a rectangle, facing each other and a courtyard with pool and sauna in the center. I guess the protocol was that you go to your room (leaving your door open of course for passersby to look in), strip down, wrap yourself in a towel and walk the grounds. How was this possible? Large apartment buildings on each side could look right down into the courtyard! I just followed Chet’s lead and did what he did. Sal and Sal were in full swing, hoping from room to room, talking with the occupants. If we liked them then we would stay for a while, if not we were back to walking the grounds. We ended up in two guys' room that we thought were hot, but once inside it felt like they were straight out of The Sopranos, and maybe on the run??? After smoking some weed with them we made up some story and left the room, continuing our pursuit of happiness on the grounds. This night was probably the wildest I’d ever been I my life. It’s a little embarrassing for me to share but I can write about it now because it was quite a unique experience.

 

Coral Sands Motel

Coral Sands Motel

 

Chet and I had a very close friendship and for about two years we were literally attached at the hip, but it all came to a screeching halt when he met a guy named John. He was smitten and instantly turned from the Happy Hooker to Dolly Madison overnight. It was shortly after this point that I met Mark Rutter, who I discussed in my previous blog “7 Years with Colt Model Mark Rutter.” We were both now pretty much “married up” and slowly started only seeing each other at work. Chet was editing my movies and as our friendship became distant so did our working relationship. In my movies, I started noticing constant “choppy” cuts where I knew there was the ability to make the edits look smooth. We were still friends but if Chet got a hair up his ass about something, you’d better watch out. More and more as time went on, I felt like he was sabotaging some of my movies by including funky sound or choppy edits, etc. Chi Chi noticed it on her movies too. It got so bad that on a movie that was super important to me, Single White Male, he actually reversed the order of two scenes, making the storyline a little messed up. That year I won Best Screenplay and Rob Cryston won Best Actor for Single White Male, but I was still pissed about the out of order scenes which I didn’t catch until it was released on VHS. I walked a fine line between respecting our friendship or totally calling him out on what he was doing. Luckily, things were resolved when I asked the general manager to let me edit my own movies, which he agreed to and purchased a separate editing bay for me to use. Chet and I remained friends, but the “Sal” days were over forever.

 

Single White Male

Single White Male

 

On New Year's Day this year, I was finally able to put the mixed up scenes from Single White Male back into the proper order. It’s not that way in the XXX version, but it is in the PG version I put on my YouTube Channel, which you can take a look at if you like. Rob Cryston slays in that role! Chet Thomas and I first met when he came to San Francisco to shoot The Big One, where we bonded over creating special effects for the earthquake scene in his movie. Upon moving to L.A. we became like brothers, and with brothers there are always some bumpy roads. In this blog I have an obligation to tell the truth, good or bad. The truth is I look at my friendship with Chet, including the bumps, as one of my fondest relationships from the past. Chet, in addition to editing for Scott Master at Nova and Catalina, directed some amazing movies for Catalina including: Sex Crimes, The Getaway, NightForce, Cruise Control and Too Damn Big. He, like many other talents in our community, was taken from us way too early...

 

Some of Chet Thomas' movies

Some of Chet Thomas' movies

 

 

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

Rate this blog entry:
914 Hits
0 Comments

7 Years with Colt Model MARK RUTTER

By Josh Eliot

 

I popped into work to see how editing was going on my movie Easy Riders. Chet Thomas was the post-production supervisor and a good friend. I mentioned to him that I was asked out on a date by a bartender from the Gold Coast, a bar in West Hollywood. He asked me which one and I described him. “Oh my God, you know who that is don’t you?” And I was like, “What?” He jumped up and started rummaging through a large plastic bin, throwing magazines left and right. He stopped when he found Pit Stop magazine from Surge Studios. On the cover was Al Parker and Mark Rutter and inside was a full layout of hardcore shots. “Is that him?” Chet asked while I did a double take, “Yes!” Chet went on to tell me the history of my mystery date. After shooting the layout for Al Parker’s magazine, Mark Rutter was introduced to Jim French and was signed as an exclusive film model with Colt Studios.

 

Pit Stop magazine: Al Parker and Mark Rutter

Pit Stop magazine: Al Parker & Mark Rutter

 

His scenes are in:
Genuine Leather - scene 1 with Joe Falco
Best of Colt Films 1 & 2 - scene 9 with Rocco Rizzoli (aka Giorgio Canali)
Best of Colt Films - 1 & 2 scene 7 with Ed Wiley
Best of Colt Films - 3 & 4 scene 6 with Clint Lockner
Best of Colt Films - 5 & 6 scene 6 with Hank Ditmar
Vault Classics - scene 6 with Bill Eld, Dick Trask and Long John

 

Colt models Clint Lockner and Mark Rutter

Colt models Clint Lockner & Mark Rutter

 

I was nervous as hell for this date because in the magazines he definitely looked like a bad ass, even though when I met him a few days earlier at a house party held by the Gold Coast manager, Karl Etheridge (Melissa Etheridge’s uncle), he was really nice and easy to talk to. It turns out he was nervous too, so he invited his friend Valerie (ex-mayor of West Hollywood) and her girlfriend to join us. We met at a bar called Rafters in WeHo and all got along great. We had lots of fun and drinks, and of course I wasn’t about to not go home with him on the first date - that would just be foolish. He seemed to know everybody, no matter where we went, and even managed to get himself a walk-on scene with Donald Sutherland and Leslie Ann Warren in The Great Train Robbery. Early on, he surprised me with a camping trip, but when we got there I discovered it was a huge group site with the Satyrs Gay Motorcycle Club. He would always shock me with things like that. The weekend was bizarre and quite intimidating!

 

Mark Rutter on the Great Train Robbery set and Mark and Josh camping with Satyrs Motorcycle Club

Mark on the Great Train Robbery set (top); camping with Satyrs Motorcycle Club (bottom)

 

Within two months, we moved in together. I was 29 and he was 41, but that never made me question our relationship. Mark had never lived with a boyfriend or partner, so this was huge for him. It took a ton of persuading because he had always been very independent, doing exactly what he wanted to do with no one to answer to. Let’s just say he moved in kicking and screaming, but shortly afterwards admitted it was the best decision. His cat Boba Leni got along with my cats Elvira and Little Ricky, and we lived as one big happy family for years. He continued his job as bartender, which was perfect for him because he was very social, and he never had anything negative to say about my work with Catalina Video (but he did refuse to do any kind of cameo in my movies). We took great vacations to Puerto Rico, Canada and San Francisco to visit his family. His mom is super sweet and only spoke French, so Mark translated. He was the best uncle to his twin nephews, and won over my mom and dad too.

The majority of our relationship was smooth sailing, always progressing and moving forward. Until 1994, when Mark and I attended the Gay Erotic Video Awards. It was going to be a pretty big night, as the movie Revenge of the Bi Dolls was up for numerous awards. Things were going well until former Catalina star Kevin Williams (Hot Rods: The Young and the Hung II) came over to our table. He started talking to Mark, who became uncomfortable and got up from his seat, walking Kevin over to the side. I was like, what the fuck is this? I had never met Kevin Williams, and as far as I knew neither had Mark. I went to the bar and caught up with Chi Chi LaRue, where we did kamikazes. When Mark returned to the table, I joined him and started quizzing, which I wish I hadn’t. After much push and pull, he told me that Kevin was at the Gold Coast the other night where he cornered him in the bathroom…. so he let him suck his dick. What!!! I was really kind of shocked and pissed. Sure, he sucked your dick, that’s all that happened? Right! The rest of the night turned to shit, I had many more shots and when they called my movie as winner for Best Bi-Sexual Picture, I went up on stage and made a complete ass of myself. It was like that scene from Gaga’s A Star Is Born, but at least I didn’t piss myself. I rambled on and on and on, the depravity haunted me for weeks. Some comedian co-host named “Ant” basically whisked Sharon, Chi Chi and myself offstage because, yes, I verbally graveled to them in the audience until they came up on stage! Yuk! Sally Field had nothing on me. Mark felt badly for hurting me and really worked hard to win back my trust.

 

Josh and Mark at the awards show and the following Thanksgiving

Josh & Mark at the awards show (top); the following Thanksgiving (bottom)

 

Around 1998, Mark started having medical issues and his body started breaking down. When he was diagnosed with CMV and dementia, he lost his job at the Gold Coast, which sent him into a great depression. Catalina allowed me to set up an editing suite so I could work from home and look after him as things regressed. Early morning on January 13, 1999, I was awakened by a beeping noise from his bedside monitor. CMV caused him to lose his sight a couple days prior and he was on morphine. I turned the light on and leaned over to see if he was okay, and saw his eyes wide open. I jumped on top of him and started shaking him, begging him to wake up, to come back, but after a moment I realized he was gone. I jumped off the bed, let out a blood curdling scream and fell to the floor, unable to do anything but wail for the longest time. The worst moment in my life. I am thankful that I was lying by his side when he passed at age 48.

We held his ashes until summer and buried him over his father’s grave in a beautiful seaside cemetery in Maine. Mark Rutter was an amazing man, adored by his friends and family, and I wanted to honor him with this record of our time together.

 

Mark Rutter on the cover of Colt Men

Mark Rutter on the cover of Colt Men

 

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
(Un)Easy Riders

Rate this blog entry:
2656 Hits
0 Comments

The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor

By Josh Eliot

 

FLASHBACK, 1987: I was 25 years old when I started working with Catalina Video in San Francisco. Dan Allman was in charge of the new studio, which he ran with his new boyfriend, John, who he met on the set of a movie he recently directed called Bad Boys Club. Catalina Video moved their productions from Los Angeles/Ontario to San Francisco after the video crew got busted in a Ralphs Supermarket parking lot while shooting the movie Bulge. That’s really the extent of the information I was given at the time. All of the camera cases and equipment still had remnants of the “evidence” tape from the police department. The story I was told is that it was no longer viable to shoot in the L.A. County limits until a pandering case was resolved in the courts. So they set up shop in San Francisco. The Catalina Producer/Director was Scott Masters (Nova Video) and the VIP Director of the company was John Travis (Brentwood Video). William Higgins had recently moved to Europe.

 

Catalina equpiment with evidence tape

Catalina equpiment with evidence tape

 

John Travis started off in the industry shooting 8mm loops including the two infamous John Holmes gay porno scenes. He also shot the ever enduring Brentwood Video library of films, which are best sellers to this day. He was hired by Chuck Holmes and started a decade-long tenure with Falcon Studios. His work as cinematographer in The Other Side of Aspen 2, A Matter of Size, Big Guns and The Young and the Hung elevated those movies' statuses. He became lovers with and was credited for discovering Jeff Stryker. Travis’ Powertool starring Stryker became the most successful and best selling movie of its time. Travis won Best Director/Best Picture for Powertool in 1987 at the Adult Video News Awards. (The same year, I started working with him and he never mentioned it for months! That’s how unpretentious he was.) He also won an AVN Award for Best Director/Best Picture for Undercover in 1989.

 

John Travis and Jeff Stryker

John Travis and Jeff Stryer

 

Most of my days at the studio consisted of “woodwork”: building sets, then dressing and lighting them for upcoming shoots according to the specifications we got from Scott Masters in Los Angeles. The night prior to filming a scene, the director and models would fly in from Los Angeles and Dan would pick them up and take them to an apartment Catalina rented and furnished. It was always a nail biter when we would show up for the shoot in the morning. If it was a set for a Scott Masters movie, you can bet your ass that there would be major changes that would delay the beginning of the shoot. Scott would always have outrageous requests that drove us nuts. Things like, “I don’t like that end table, it’s too small to fuck on. Can we run out and buy another one?” - instead of just modifying his plans for the scene and fucking on the roomy couch instead. But when John Travis came to direct, he always had positive things to say about the sets. If anything, it was the lighting that needed modifications, which always made the set look better. His experience showed. He would always find creative ways to modify things on the fly and avoid situations that could make a shoot day come to a dead halt.

John Travis ALWAYS showed up to the set with two brand new packs of Benson and Hedges 100’s menthol cigarettes. He would smoke almost every one down to (and into) the filter. In the early days John was always directing from behind the camera as he had done for years and cigarette smoke was always creeping up into the shots! After the first couple of movies, we built him a beautiful deck and monitor station on wheels so he could direct from behind the monitors while Dan and I performed all the camera work. I think, for the first time in his career, he was able to get out from behind the camera and direct from the station at a distance, and he LOVED it! One would think that his movies would have a different look if he wasn’t working the camera himself, but he was very specific on the framing 100% of the time. “Pull out wider…No... too much... zoom in… but just a cunt hair.” That was one of his favorite lines and I kept using it when directing my own movies for the next 20 years. It was one of many classic lines John put out into the world. I credit him for my first award in 1992 for Cinematography on a movie called Sterling Ranch at the Gay Erotic Video Awards. He was in the audience and when I thanked him personally, my voice cracked and I nearly lost it, but after all, he did put me up there.

 

Josh Eliot at the Gay Video Guide Awards

Josh Eliot at the Gay Video Guide Awards

 

The crew was always enamored with him and we always laughed our asses off. This man was so relatable and sincere, he would give you the shirt off his back. This guy directed Powertool, for God’s sake, and had zero attitude about it. He shared all his experience, shooting secrets, and directing techniques without even giving it a second thought. I truly was the luckiest guy in the industry to have such an icon take me under his wing and mold me.

On a movie called Powerline with Tom Steele, we built a rooftop set, which he thought looked too clean and sterile, so at one point he walked on the set and tossed his full ashtray of cigarettes onto it. “There you are… it’s called seasoning… I’m seasoning the set... It’s too fucking clean.” We roared! That is John Travis in a nutshell. Truly inspirational, down to earth, generous, one of a kind, and an old soul who made the industry a much better place.

 

Magazine featuring rooftop images from Powerline

Magazine featuring rooftop images from Powerline

 

John sadly passed away in January of 2017 but his work will stimulate and entertain forever.
 


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!

Rate this blog entry:
1358 Hits
0 Comments

A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck

By Josh Eliot

 

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

 

IML contestants on stage

IML contestants on stage

 

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

 

The night Ray Harley was discovered at the Congress

The night Ray Harley was discovered at the Congress

 

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

 

Dunes Resort in Saugatuck, MI

Dunes Resort in Saugatuck, MI

 

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

 

Thrill Me promo
Thrill me promo 2

Thrill Me promo images

 

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

 

Donnie Russo in Beat Cop

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

 

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

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

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


Bio of Josh Eliot:

At the age of 25 in 1987, Josh Eliot was hired by Catalina Video by John Travis (Brentwood Video) and Scott Masters (Nova Video). Travis trained Eliot on his style of videography and mentored him on the art of directing. Josh directed his first movie, Runaways, in 1987. By 2009 when Josh parted ways with Catalina Video, he'd produced and directed hundreds of features and won numerous awards for Best Screenplay, Videography, Editing, and Directing. He was entered into the GayVN Hall of fame in 2002.  

 

You can read Josh Eliot's previous blogs for Bijou here:

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment

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

Rate this blog entry:
1537 Hits
0 Comments

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

Go to top