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.

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A Secret Sex Life a Couple of Blocks Away

Samuel Steward aka Phil Andros

When I was younger and discovering gay sexuality through paperback books, I came up the work of Phil Andros. In the early 1990s, soon after I came out, I acquired (used) some of his leather/fetish-oriented fiction, which was published by an outfit called Perineum Press (what a name!). The book was called Different Strokes. It's been a while since I've read it (in fact, I just found it on my LGBTQ bookcase at home), but it contains descriptions of rough sex, verbal abuse, boots, leather … a world that, as I just found out, was occurring in real life very, very close to where I currently live in the Uptown area. A long time ago. Before Stonewall, gay liberation, rainbow flags, and prosperous/hipsterish couples pushing strollers.
 

Cover of Different Strokes by Phil Andros

Phil Andros, as I recently found out, was a pen name (and also the name of the prodigiously sexual hustler character in his books) for Samuel Steward. Born in the early part of the last century, he lived a double life as Dr. Steward, an English professor at two Catholic universities in Chicago, erotic artist/author, tattoo artist Phil Sparrow (including, at one point, for the Hell's Angels!), and, ultimately and consistently, sexual rebel. He was as openly gay as one could be in the days before Stonewall; he even decorated his first apartment in homoerotic murals that showed dick.
 

 

Samuel Steward tattooing as Phil Sparrow

 

Yet he expressed his sexuality not in trying to find a lover and live quietly and monogamously in the closet; no, his sexual world consisted of sailors on leave; married guys who, because they were on the receiving end of Sammy's amazing blowjobs, did not consider themselves gay; rough trade, especially with African-American guys from the South Side; and eventually, participation in the early days of openly gay leather BDSM begun by the equally maverick Chuck Renslow.
 

Sailors at 1940s great lakes naval base

Overall, he gloried in mansex, but given his background in literature and art, found ways to distill its essence in poems, fiction, and visual art. And his legacy was kept hidden until his elder years, post-Stonewall, when gay sexuality literally exploded.

There's so much more (and I will share more tidbits in future blogs, including his connection to 1970s gay porn), but what really floored me is where his sex life, which for many seems like a masturbatory fantasy or porn movie, occurred. A couple blocks from where I dwell. In a nondescript courtyard apartment building (I haven't found out the exact apartment number). I did check out the building on Zillow, and the apartments don't look that rehabbed. Maybe there's the original floor where Sam knelt before the boots of some greaser type in the 1950s.
 

Phil Andros' apartment building

As I said above, I will share some more tidbits, but in the meantime, you can check out a book on him, and you can also check out our early 1970s porn (including this J. Brian film based on one of his novels) to savor visually some of the amazing sexual energy that happened in that humble apartment in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago.

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Retrostuds of the Past: Focus on Leo Ford

Retrostuds of the Past: Focus on Leo Ford

 

The appeal of blonds. Flaxen hair, the color of wheat. Usually with blue eyes. 

Blonde bombshells. Dumb blondes. Ditzy blondes. Marilyn Monroe! 

Blond beach beefcake. Vikings. Nordic supermen.  Tab Hunter! 

But they are also portrayed quite often in the movies especially as villains

I am thinking of that bunny boiler Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction, and more recently, Two­Face in The Dark Knight

So many stereotypes about blonds and blondes. What's the fascination? Some people really glorify that hair color, even while making fun of those who are born with it and making them evil. Perhaps some envy going on there? You know, I love and hate you because I'll never be naturally blond like you. 

The gay blond pornstar kind of fits more in with the clean cut blond beefcake image that harks back to the muscle beach culture of the 1950s and 60s. Later, the muscles became less prominent and the skinnier youngman became the ideal. 

The first gay porn studies like Falcon picked up on both images, and as the seventies progressed, the hair grew longer and the image became less clean cut. Think of the white trash blond Robert Prion type, still the boy next door, but a real sex pig. 

One blond porn star, who, as his obituary in Manshots claims, exemplified the more clean cut blond image that resurfaced in the “GQ-yuppie” eighties, was Leo Hilgeford, who shortened his name to Leo Ford when he began to make adult films. 

Leo Ford


Leo was pretty much a phenomenon, cranking out one legendary porn classic after another. 
 

Jamie Wingo and Leo Ford in Flashbacks

His career began when he and this then-lover, Jamie Wingo, appeared in J. Brian's classic 1981 Flashbacks. He also appeared in Blonds Do It BestSailor in the Wild, and Games.

 

In Games, Leo Ford portrays a swimmer participating in the first San Francisco Gay Games.

 

His sex scenes are phenomenal, totally unforced and natural, and he even gets one with the legendary Al Parker, who plays a photographer. 

 

Leo also inherited some slides from J. Brian. When he died, he was planning to make them into a video.

 

Bijouworld now owns these slides, and we have scanned them into our digital archives. 


Leo died of head injuries sustained in a traffic accident in 1991. He and his lover, Craig Markle, were riding on their motorcycle when another vehicle sideswiped them. 

 

Check out our website for Games and Flashbacks, and for other titles (Leo is also featured  2015 Retrostuds Calendar as the February coverboy) that show those sometimes sexily evil blonds do it best and have more fun. 

 

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