Super NOVA

By Josh Eliot

 

Nova Studios logo

 

When I saw on the Bijou website that they are offering Nova Studios note cards (Set 1 and Set 2), I thought to myself, what a great collector’s item! I remember my older brother’s collection from 1966 of the Lost in Space “Topps” trading cards, especially the ones featuring my first crush at age 5, Don West. Card sets came in various sizes, small enough to include a flat piece of bubble gum and as large as Lobby Cards showcased in theaters. What an incredible taste of the 60’s and 70’s, and it’s no surprise to me that Nova Video’s founder Robert Walters (known to me as Scott Masters) included such items in his mail order business.

 

Lost in Space trading card and Nova note cards

Lost in Space trading card (left) and Nova note cards (right)

 

Walters started his business in 1967, producing male photo sets for bookstores, and then partnered with Reuben Sturman to shoot and print magazines. In 1970, magazines segued into loops (8mm short films designed for peep shows) and by 1976, Walters had directed more than 100 of them. The same year, he founded Nova Studios and shot their first production, Tub Tricks. The silent films were now 20 minutes in length and sold through direct mail as well as at adult bookstores.

 

Images from Nova's Tub Tricks

Images from Nova's Tub Tricks (DVD | Streaming)

 

Nova’s offices were right across the street from Pink's Hot Dogs, a Los Angeles landmark, where on any given day you can see A-List stars in line or in their limos waiting for Pinks’s Famous Chili Cheese Dogs. Several blocks away was another wiener stand called Oki-Dog, which was not as famous. Instead of Hollywood elite as their customers, the place was always crawling with street hustlers, making it a great location for Walters to pick up lunch and discover new talent for photographing.

 

Oki-Dog and Pink's

Oki-Dog (left) and Pink's (right)

 

The Robert Walters Nova era was prior to my meeting him in 1987, but my friend Chet Thomas worked for Walters at Nova from 1984 to 1986, when Nova stopped production and they both signed with Catalina Video. Once I moved to Los Angeles, Chet and I were attached at the hip and he would tell me stories about his times working for Robert Walters. William Higgins hired Walters as head of production, and he shot his first movie for Catalina called The Bigger They Come. Chet Thomas became the company editor. Walters, now known to everyone as Scott Masters, hired me in 1987 in San Francisco and then brought me to L.A. in 1989. He set me up in a fabulous condo on Sweetzer Street just a block from The Spike, a gay bar that Chet and I would hang out at.

Being new to Los Angeles, Scott Masters had me shadow him everywhere. Any day that we weren’t shooting sex, he had a list a mile long of “things” for me to do. At times I felt like an indentured servant, frequently getting him his favorite lunch (curry chicken sandwich from a Sunset Blvd deli) or organizing and inventorying his garage, which was filled floor to ceiling with wardrobe from his Nova and Catalina movies. Masters was a “costume queen” producer, always spending money from our budgets on them to satisfy his own fetish. Obsessed would be an appropriate word. When he wasn’t focusing on the latest Members Only jacket, he trained me on producing, budgeting, directing photo layouts, scouting locations, model scouting, and grooming. One day, we headed to San Diego to meet a potential new “exclusive” model, but stopped on the way to see a penthouse in Hollywood for a possible shooting location. The penthouse unit had the highest ceilings ever with a massive balcony overlooking the living room. It was beautifully furnished, very high end, until we got to one room in particular. Inside that room was a wall to wall wrestling mat, making it look like a sports facility.

The owner led us to an attached room where a couple of guys looking very “Street-Wise” were throwing back some beers. The owner of the penthouse was David Hurles, one of the first reality porn moguls famous for the Old Reliable video line. David would pick up ex-cons, street hustlers, straight dudes looking for bucks and pay them pretty well to smoke cigars, wrestle, flex their muscles, flip off the camera and jack off. His collection feels very authentic… because it is! The guys are exactly what they portray on the screen, hard edged and a little frightening in a very HOT way! It felt a bit tense being around them, for me. David invited us to stay to watch him film, which I thought would have been amazing, but Scott declined, as we were on our way to San Diego.

 

Old Reliable movies and audio recordings

Old Reliable movies (DVD | Streaming) and Old Reliable audio recordings

 

Once in San Diego’s Seaport Village, we waited at a table for the potential new model to meet us. Adam Grant came walking up with a huge smile, great personality, and very excited at the prospect of being an exclusive model for Catalina. We talked, then went back to his apartment where Scott Masters got some hard shots of him (fattest dick ever) while I waited in the other room with his female roommate - awkward! He was cast to star in Head of the Class 2, which we ended up shooting in Palm Springs instead of David Hurles’ penthouse. When grooming the new star, Scott Masters went all out, taking Adam Grant to stylist of the stars José Eber's salon. Adam looked great after the makeover, but introducing him to Eber kind of backfired. Once Head of the Class 2 finished shooting, Adam Grant and Eber started a decades long relationship and Grant was no longer interested in becoming a Catalina Exclusive Model or shooting any more movies.

Scott Masters produced all of my and John Travis’ features from 1987 to 1992. Catalina ownership changed hands and Masters and Travis could not come to terms with a new contract and left the company. It was a huge loss for Catalina Video, and the same year they both started Studio 2000. I was offered the role of producer with Catalina, which I worked at until 2007 when the company was sold yet again. I’ll write much more about Scott and John, as there are so many adventures that need to be told. In 2020, Scott Masters passed away at the age of 86 in Bloomington, Illinois. He was one of the very first in our field, paving the way for adult photographers and filmmakers to come. His star shines bright in the skies like a supernova.

 

Nova DVDs

The Nova film collection - available through Bijou on DVD and Streaming

 

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

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Some Famous Male Nudes

 

posted by Madame Bubby

Yes, nudes. Nudies. And not just Greek sculptures. (In fact, one might think Tumblr would not block these images. Hmm … )

And famous Greek sculptures, like the Eros of Praxiteles (see below) enabled Chuck Renslow, the pioneering gay erotic photographer and pretty much the founder of the contemporary gay leather/BDSM community, to stay in business. In other words, a full-frontal male nude can be aesthetically beautiful. It's not “dirty” and, in line with the Romantic sensibility that correlated truth with beauty, not morally offensive.
 

Praxiteles' Eros
Praxiteles' Eros

The famous sculpture of Eros by Praxiteles was so lifelike and seductive, that according to one source, a visitor to Thespiae named Allketas fell in love with it and jacked off against it. Pliny, the famous historian, claimed he left “traces of lust” on it. Cum stains? Scandalous. Nero also fell in love with it, but it perished in the great fire of 64 A.C.E. Of course, now someone would end up doing something that Allketas did and put it on Pornhub.

The seventeenth century Italian artist Caravaggio, one of the LGBTQ family, was always in trouble with his prudish Counter Reformation employers for using hot models for his mostly religious paintings, including street hustlers (who frequented the streets around the palaces of the Cardinals). In fact, one of his patrons, the creepy Cardinal Francesco del Monte, cultivated young men (some things never change). Caravaggio's painting “Victorious Love” or “Amor Vincit Omnia” shows Cupid as a naked youth “trouncing various symbols of human achievement and sophistication,” according to Leigh Rutledge. Ouch.

In the eighteenth century, a nude marble statute of an obscure local saint, Guignole, was supposedly able to cure infertility and frigidity. Keep in mind that many of the medieval saints were closely tied in person and function with pre-Christian religious practices, which usually focused on keeping life forces going, that is sex. According to Leigh Rutledge, women took scrapings from the statue's big cock, mixed them with water, and then drank the mixture. The monks - yes monks, supposedly chaste males - who tended the statue ended up having to keep repairing the mutilated penis. Thus, they drilled a hole through the statue's groin and inserted a long phallus made of wood down through it. As followers of the big-cocked saint scraped the penis down to size, a blow with a mallet from the rear would cause the dick to regain its original length. Oh my. So much is going on there.
 

Statue of Saint Guignole pierced with needles
Statue of Saint Guignole pierced with needles

Jumping to 1972, in the wake of the age of sexual liberation, Burt Reynolds appeared naked for Cosmopolitan magazine. Well, not completely, his dick was covered … but still, wow.
 

Burt Reynolds in Cosmopolitan
Burt Reynolds in Cosmopolitan

Yes, the audience was women, but this spread paved the way for Playgirl magazine, the publication for women and gay men. In fact, Playgirl's first centerfold was the hunky Lyle Waggoner of Carol Burnett fame. Even the incredibly talented Carol needed some eye candy hanging about for the benefit of the ladies and her gay fans.
 

Lyle Waggoner in Playgirl, June 1973
Lyle Waggoner in Playgirl, June 1973

Overall, one can see an objectification of the male body, but at the same time, a complex relationship of that body to the surrounding culture. The big dick here may be the god or God here in these scenarios, but it's not just the dick itself, but what it does and what you can do with it. Nature is just the inspiration point for the creative process of the human imagination.

Source: Leigh Rutledge, The Gay Book of Lists

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