David's Chicago Sexual Underground - 5/29/20

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Greetings P(r)icksters,

Still sitting here with an idle shot glass. Illinois just moved to Phase 3 on reopening which allows for some businesses to reopen, restaurants to serve outdoor seating. Phase 4 will permit fuller openings, indoor dining and bars to open with strict limits on the number of patrons we can have at one time. Here in Chicago, we will move to Phase 3 next week and hope, hope, hope Phase 4 by the end of June.

This down time has given us at Touche some time to tackle a few projects that would have been hard to do if we were open. The big job is refinishing the main bar. The bar in the front room has wooden cabinets and front with black counters and bar top. There is a nice wooden bar rail that runs the length of the bar but years of elbows and such have worn down the finish.

So we began a couple of weeks ago to remove the cabinet doors, sand them down, re-stain them and then polyurethane layers to keep them clean. This past week, we began the project of stripping off the old bar countertop and then sanding down the top and bar rail. Today we finish this process by cleaning up all the dust.

Next week it will be time to stain the wood rail, then the polyurethane and, last, install the new countertop. Trying to do this with the bar open would have been a nightmare. We would have had to do it in sections to be able to serve and add several more days to complete. Guess there is one good thing about being shut down.

Since this past Memorial Day weekend would have been IML weekend in Chicago, we hosted a Zoom leather party on Saturday. It was my first time doing something like this and it seemed to go fairly well. We had about 100 folks log in during the three hour event, with many hanging around all night. Being new to Zoom, I did not fully realize that folks could message each other or the whole group at the start and was concerned why folks were visible but not seeming engaged. It finally dawned on me that they were busy chatting with each other.

Lots of compliments, “glad you hosted this” and more let me know that it was a success. I’ll be planning more in the next few weeks while we wait to get the bar back open.

Right now, I am finalizing plans for when we do reopen. Guidelines for reopening will limit our capacity to 50 people at one time, so there goes any thoughts about big events. We will just focus our attention on safety procedures for when we have guests, keeping seats and counters sanitized, etc. But the big changes will be how we operate with limited crowds.

First of all, we will limit the space open for customers. Touche has the main bar in the front and our Club Room bar in the back. This area was originally a garage behind the building - an auto shop, so it is fairly large. Years ago before this space became Touche, the previous owner had connected the two buildings and built a bar in the old garage space.

When we reopen, we will not open this back bar, keeping the crowd to the main bar. That way the place won’t look deserted when the small crowd spreads out between the two bar spaces. Plus I can save on the A/C back there, now that summer is here. along with the coolers running to keep beer cold.

Another change will be the crowd itself. Before the shutdown, you could see that guys were already staying home as the virus spread, and our numbers were coming down. One question will be how many are ready to venture back out once we reopen. Less travel means less visitors, too. So we may be lucky to get 50 guests at one time.

A third change would operating at a 50 person limit. Much as I hate to admit it, some folks feel they can hang at a bar without spending a dime. Going back to our days with the Great Lakes Bears, we’d have a packed house and a line of guys waiting to get in to the wee hours. After the demise of the GLB and competing bars for the bear crowd, we no longer had lines outdoors but still did about the same bar ring. This told me we had guys taking up space inside that were not drinking, or “sucking ice” as we call it.

To make sure we can make enough sales to stay profitable, we may institute a drink minimum on weekends to ensure that if you are in the house, you are supporting the house. It’s a whole new world.

While I am figuring out when we open and what we will do for fun, go ahead and grab my P(r)ick this Week and make your own fun. It’s warming up so let’s enjoy the great outdoors this week. My first P(r)ick this week is Rangers from Surge Studio. Directed by Al Parker himself, this 1984 outdoor epic (shot in the Sierras) focuses on the exploits of the ever-vigilant, ever-patrolling park rangers (beefy, tattooed Chris West and lean Nick Rodgers) and the campers they come across.

Moving from the Sierras to northern California, my second P(r)ick this week is California Blue from 1983. The late, great cutie Scott O'Hara (the of the one time Biggest Dick in San Francisco) stars in and narrates this excellent little collection of sun-soaked scenes. This vintage gay porn movie is set in California, with beaches, redwood forests and the like, and it's definitely blue.

Enjoy a Bijou Classic to beat the stay-at-home blues (and beat something else).

David

To order from Bijou, visit bijouworld.com, call 800-932-7111, or email bijou.orders@gmail.com


Rangers images
Rangers (D00397) - On DVD and Streaming

California Blue images
California Blue (D01007) - On DVD and Streaming

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Porn Remastering Pt. 1: Simple Restorations

Posted by Guest Blogger Miriam Webster

 

I’ve been working on remastering many of the Bijou Video titles for the past 11 (nearly 12) years and I’ve yet to write a blog about the process! I’m currently working from home and therefore not on additional restorations during this bizarre point in time in which we’re living. (Hoping many of you are also able to stay at home as much as possible or are as safe as you can be if you’re someone who has to be out there caring for others). Taking this opportunity now to fill you all in on how we approach remastering these classic porn titles.

Often the movies that wind up looking the best in the end, when the customer watches them on DVD or on our streaming site
are much simpler to work on than the movies that wind up still rough around the edges. We try to find the best possible sources to use, but finding great copies of some movies can be tricky and there are many variables at play. Some of the movies were originally shot beautifully and we have well-preserved film prints or negatives available - or, if they were originally shot on video, well-preserved copies on VHS, Beta, or ¾” or 1” tape. This is the best-case scenario. Sometimes, however, there are not many options available as a source for a particular movie and the available ones have not held up well over time. Maybe we have a heavily projected film print that’s scratched and dusty. Maybe it’s a VHS tape with some tracking issues. Maybe it’s a video copy that’s missing chunks of the movie because it was released on video at a time when certain acts were heavily censored (like fisting) - and optimally, in that case we have another source from which to pull those missing sections.

Our goal is always to put out the best possible version of a movie, given the sources and resources available. We're often redoing restorations of the movies in our catalog when better sources turn up and will continue to do so.

One collection from which we have excellent copies of many movies is Hand in Hand Films (all of which you can find at both BijouWorld and BijouGayPorn), an important early gay porn studio and distributor. Bijou Video bought their collection in 1988 and many of our Hand in Hand releases (including The Idol, Drive, A Night at the Adonis, and Centurians of Rome) come from digitizations of well-preserved original film prints or negatives. We were recently able to remaster a beautiful, high quality scan of a well-preserved film print of one of their movies: Tom DeSimone’s Hot Truckin’ (1978), starring Gordon Grant and Nick Rodgers. (Available on DVD and
streaming.)

 

Hot Truckin' before/after images 1
Hot Truckin' Before/After color correction images

 

This film fit all of the ideal scenario categories: it was originally well-shot by DeSimone, whose movies were extremely professionally made; the print, while initially looking very red (which often happens to aging film prints), wound up still containing a lot of color information when I brought it into our editing software and began tinkering with it; and the digitization was a recent, well-done one and extremely high resolution.

 

Hot Truckin' before/after images 2
Hot Truckin' Before/After color correction images

 

Working with a film transfer usually yields better color results than a video transfer, as there is often more color information present (unless the print truly has deteriorated to a dramatic degree). Though this project was satisfying and relatively simple in that the source held up well and responded well to color adjustments, there were still a number of stages to go through in working with it.

 

Hot Truckin' before/after images 3
Hot Truckin' Before/After color correction images

 

I had to first sync the image to audio from our previously-released video source of the movie, because this print was image only. The transfer included a little bit of room beyond the frame, so I adjusted the scale to remove the excess edges, then cut every shot apart to prepare for color correction (and occasionally made cuts and transitions within shots where shots contained a shift in color or lighting with different adjustment needs). I went through every shot and adjusted the color to make it look as natural as possible. I removed splice lines (thick lines across the frame from where shots were edited together on film). The splices, in this copy, made the film jump in the gate momentarily, but since the transfer contained a little extra room beyond the frame, I was able to adjust the position of the image during these moments to reduce or eliminate the jumps. This print had minimal dust and scratches, but I removed the handful of large scratches that were present. This print did not yet have the opening credits laid onto the footage, but had them separately over black before the start of the film for someone to later superimpose. I was able to reference the previous video release for the correct placement and fades into/out of these credits and replicate these digitally.

 

Hot Truckin' still with credit Directed By Lancer Brooks
Credit for director Tom DeSimone's pseudonym, Lancer Brooks, in Hot Truckin'

 

A recent release from a video source, Joe Tiffenbach’s Tall Tales (1986), was also a relatively straight-forward restoration process, if a less glossy final product than Hot Truckin'. Tall Tales was made during the video era and shot on a cheaper format and all in a room full of yellow and green decor. Often, older video sources make skin tones overly yellow, so this initially appeared to be pretty far in that range, between the decor and image quality. However, the VHS copy we used had held up well, with well-preserved sound and image and not much video noise or tracking to worry about, and it was luckily pretty responsive to color adjustments. We digitize video sources in-house, so I transferred this tape. I ran it through a plug-in to reduce video noise, then cut apart every shot and adjusted the color to make skin tones look natural and to find more of a color range beyond the yellow/green scenario. I made sound adjustments to reduce audio noise and enhance clarity. Next, I watched through the full movie to fine-tune it, cutting out the handful of significant tracking glitches and further tweaking the audio (this movie had recorded the dialogue at very different levels, so I had to manually balance these). This was all a fairly quick process, as far as restorations go, without a lot of major troubleshooting. I was able to make improvements to it and wind up with a decent product, so it also fell into the camp of being satisfying to work on.

 

Tall Tales post-restoration images
Post-restoration images from Tall Tales, available on DVD and streaming

 

Read the second installment in this restoration series, discussing more challenging restoration processes, whether this is from source deterioration, needing to cobble together multiple sources, or other issues. And now the new Part 3!

 
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Christopher
I'm so happy to know that someone is doing remasters of vintage gay porn! It is my favorite kind of gay porn. I would rather watch... Read More
Sunday, 26 April 2020 15:09
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A Bicycle Built for Two... Or Not

posted by Madame Bubby

My first major experience riding a bicycle was finally being able to ride a two-wheeler, and the fashion then was a banana seat bicycle. The seat was shaped like a banana. Mine was purple. (How gay was that?) I got yelled at by my dad because I was coasting to a stop rather than using the breaks. At that time, kids rode their bikes all over the neighborhood, without helmets (gasp!), and often without adult supervision.
 

Ad for 1970s banana seat bikes

When one of the kids across the street was missing (a common occurrence in that chaotic household), I don't even remember the police being called. Kids on bicycles were sent out as search parties by the adults. At that age, it was liberating, to be able to travel long distances alone.

I grew dependent on bicycles through my college years, as I was not able to drive and afford a car. When the suburban bus company went on strike one summer, I wrote my bicycle nine miles each way to my job. I resented it. At that time, a car was a status symbol; it showed independence, being an adult. If you were still having to ride your bike everywhere, you were trapped in a sexless adolescence. You were a nerd. You couldn't take someone on a date, especially in the car-dependent suburbs.

Now, it seems, the bicycle is a status symbol in certain urban areas. Riding a bicycle means you are “green.” I see bicycle shops that sell expensive bicycles from Europe, where riding one has always been pretty much a norm, even among adults. One shop in Chicago, Heritage Bicycles, builds custom-made bicycles also sells expensive coffee. Cool hipster grad student types ride their bicycles everywhere (I see several getting off their bikes at the university where I work).
 

Heritage Bicycles

Bearded hipster guy on bicycle

The bicycle is almost like a symbol or even a stereotype of the urban “blue” culture that voted for Clinton, as opposed to the “red culture that voted for the vulgar boor (they drive gas-guzzling pick up trucks, or if they were white suburban soccer mom Republican types, gas-guzzling SUVs).

And, given that I thought of the bicycle as somehow for me representing sexlessness or even confinement, it's interesting that when bicycles became a more prominent mode of transportation in the late Victorian period, there were concerns that the riding position was unladylike. In order to do so, a lady had to abandon the heavy corsets and other confining garments. According to one article, some women were even harassed, pelted with stones, for wearing pantaloon or bloomer. The article claims that the bicycle actually helped liberate women, paving the way for a woman presidential candidate.
 

Victorian woman on bicycle, 1895

The rise of the bicycle also directly coincided with the birth of the New Woman, an early feminist idea that pushed against the limits of patriarchal oppression. New Women were free-spirited, educated, economically independent, and wholly uninterested in being hidden away in a drawing room under a mound of needlework.

In the world of gay sexuality, it's also interesting that the bicycle hasn't been much of a background for gay sex, especially in porn movies. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, yes, the bigger, the better, macho, manly ... but a bicycle? No, not masculine enough. Kind of corresponds to how I felt when I was stuck riding a bike rather than driving a car.

In our Bijou Classics repertoire, reflecting the above dynamic, there's paucity of sex scenes involving bicycles. In M.A.G.I.C., one of the fantasy game show contestants in a cute bicyclist who performs a blow job on the lead, Gene Lamar. A scene involving a bicycle occurs in Hot Truckin' is much more prominent. The humpy truckers (Gordon Grant and Nick Rodgers) entice a redheaded bicyclist, who eyes them while seductively licking a popsicle, into the back of their truck for a three-way. Woof!
 

Redhead licking popsicle in Hot Truckin'
Scene from Hot Truckin'

I tried riding a bicycle again in my late adulthood. I bought one used, and I got it refurbished. Someone stole it from a supposedly secure bike room.

Now I just fantasize about hot young bearded guys I see riding around wearing tight shorts.

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