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Casey Donovan and the Casa Donovan: A Fascinating Tidbit

Casey Donovan and the Casa Donovan: A Fascinating Tidbit

 

If you want to know anything, simply anything about gay sexuality or gay history, spend some time digging through our extensive collection of magazines and files. Today, I was looking at some issues of After Dark and Mandate magazine (now, if you really want to show you are of a certain generation (and proud to be that age, of course), drop a line and let us know if you remember those magazines), and found an interesting tidbit about porn legend Casey Donovan. 
 

Casey Donovan

It's not anything sexually scandalous (according to the April 1992 issue of Manshots magazine,  Casey pretty much covered that area thoroughly in his personal life at the baths and tearooms). It's actually kind of a savvy idea, but like many porn stars of that era, many endeavors they tried outside the filmmaking pretty much fizzled. 

Cal Culver (Casey's real name) opened up the Casa Donovan Guest House in Key West in April 1979 and then, in conjunction with that entity, launched Moonbow Tour. The Tour operated during the time of the full moon. Casey personally guided the tours, which included “three special dinners at unique spots, a conch train tour, a variety of sightseeing, a one-half day reef trip, and a rented bicycle.” According to Casey, at Casa Donovan, the nine-room house with a pool, “Everyone's a star.” 

 

Casa Casey article

What I would like to know is how long this enterprise lasted (it started before his last film appearance in Christopher Rage's Fucked Up in 1986) and if it folded before his death in 1987 of AIDS-related complications. According to the issue of Manshots cited above, he did get a job as a gay tour guide with Hanns Ebenston Travel Agency in about 1985, having struggled to keep his establishment running for some time. 

Right now as I am writing this, I am imagining a gloriously bare-chested Casey rising from his pool like a young sea god, drying himself off, and then going out to greet his guests clad only in a tight speedo. I do have a feeling the majority of the guests weren't other porn stars he appeared with like Pat Allen, Steve Anthony, or Al Parker. They may have been the slightly heavyset older “queens” of the period (I do not mean any insult) wearing flowered shirts, Bermuda shorts, and lumpy sandals. Still, if he treated everyone like a star as he claimed, I hope the legendary gave them something to remember, even cherish, by getting to know him as the real but still amazingly hot “boy next door” he always tried to be in his movies. 

 

Casey Donovan Moonlighting article

 

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Retrostuds of the Past: Focus on Lee Ryder

Retrostuds of the Past: Focus on Lee Ryder

 

We at Bijou carry back issues of Manshots magazine, which was, I think, in its heyday (the late eighties and early nineties), offered a sophisticated approach to gay porn; its video reviews were generally cogent and intelligent, even scholarly. It treated gay porn in all its variety of genres like something that deserved thoughtful analysis, especially the movies now legendary directors like Steve Scott, Toby Ross, and Tom DeSimone made (movies Bijou carries, by the way). 


And Manshots also offered some telling biographies of and interviews with most of the great gay porn stars of the past; again, treating their lives (and of course their activities on screen) as something as interesting and entertaining as any feature on a celebrity in a mainstream magazine likePeople

And if there was a gay porn star, or “retrostud” who deserved celebrity treatment, it was Lee Ryder. But like many of the gay porn stars of that period, as noted in the all­too­common “Fade Out” feature at the back of so many back issues of Manshots, he died of AIDS-­related complications (in 1991). 

 

Lee Ryder Fade Out feature in Manshots magazine

Lee Ryder was born in 1959 as Darras Robert Pyron. He was California born and bred, raised in Laguna, and he graduated from Esperanza High School in Anaheim. 

After Mark Reynolds discovered him and featured him in All American Boys, he literally made a splash in Falcon Studio's Huge in 1982. 

He starred in thirteen features between 1982 and 1986, including Bijou titles ScreenplayA Few Good MenGiants 1, and 2 X 10

Now, of course, if one views these films, it's clear that Lee Ryder's cock is pretty much legendary. According to one Jeff Starkey, who reviewed the movie Screenplay in tandem with Ryder's appearances at the Bijou Theater to greet fans and sign autographs back in 1984: 

"Ryder's cock is long, thick, and shapely and is criss­crossed by just the right number of lovely veins. Beneath it hang a perfectly balanced pair of what appear to be 5­pound balls. When his cock appears in public, it is usually hard as a baseball bat, with its swollen head looking purple and petulant." 

Purple and petulant? Wow. Perhaps those adjectives could apply to the cock, but not the person. 

In an interview with Stallion magazine, known for his sexually aggressive but also unforced, natural screen presence, seems rather low­key, both veering between a quiet confidence in himself, but also showing a somewhat self­deprecating attitude. Definitely not the “divo” attitude of so many celebrities: “Everyone wants to look at me, I am the Adonis with the giant cock and all should worship me. 

 

Lee Ryder on Stallion magazine cover


In fact, in the interview, he actually seems rather pragmatic: he does it for the money, and for his business (he actually was a successful floral designer), but ... he actually doesn't see himself as a sex symbol. He just enjoys being himself, and letting a chink of vulnerability come out, being wanted. 

(We also find out in the interview he had a relationship with an older guy from ages 15 to 18, who tragically committed suicide soon after they broke up.) 

To add to the complexity of his character, despite his appearance at the Bijou and other venues as a gay porn celebrity, he actually admits he would rather not be recognized (he even goes to Europe to escape the attention)... and he notices, even when he does, the guys stay away, or “they stare – I guess I do show a big crotch – or they look at my eyes.” 

To be honest, at least for me, the eyes can be just as erotic as, especially in Ryder's case, a dick of death. And Ryder he admits in the interview that he loves his eyes. And rightly so! 

 

Lee Ryder

His eyes make love to the camera, like those of that famous movie star Joan Crawford (completely the opposite in her approach to celebrity). The eyes themselves create a unique effect in the viewer; they seem to draw you in with a promise of something intense; you think he is looking directly at you via the camera, which could satisfy your desire, but you at the same time feel like you will always want more. Perhaps it's their narrow shape but also richly colored pupils. I don't know, but I can't stop looking at his picture on the cover on Stallion magazine as I write this piece. 

And I promise you, you won't be able to take your eyes off of Lee Ryder in our remastering of Huge (now Huge 1) as he beats his meat while perched on the toilet ­ ­ making it bigger, hotter and harder. He, Rick Jensen and Matt Stoker roll around on the cold concrete floor, licking each other's hairy armpits and sitting on each other's faces. 

 

Lee Ryder jerking off on a toilet in Huge 1
 
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