Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s

By Will Seagers

 

As I have pointed out in prior blogs, gay life was really unbelievable in the 1970s. This was particularly so in the cities of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and many others.

Bath houses and bars with their notorious "back rooms" were all the rage across the country. A sexual society had developed over that decade. I know for myself as a steward for a major airline, any "port of call" would have a Club Baths there and that would be pretty much a guaranteed good time. That chain was spread out all across the country... much to my pleasure. I will never forget an escapade I had in Miami. Towel-clad as usual, I was wandering the mostly outdoor and tropical grounds when I heard a voice softly call out my name. I turned around to find a childhood bestie that I had not seen in decades. He and his mother had moved from N.J. where we met and were pre-teen play pals. I had always had my suspicions about this "buddy" even though nothing had ever happened back then or that night.

 

Men in a bath house from Drive (1974)

Men in a bath house from Drive (1974)

 

Fast forward to the later part of the 70s when I moved to San Francisco. Besides the legendary baths like The Barracks, The Brothel and many many more, the Club Baths of S.F. was just two blocks from my South of Market apartment! My partner and I had a very open sexual relationship. We both loved to go "down the block" as we called it! For most of our years together we both had night time jobs. Most of the people that worked the bars and clubs that closed at 2AM would head down to 8th and Howard (the location for Club Baths S.F.) to "unwind" after work. There was sort of a social scene that had developed over the years. The big event, however, was on Tuesday nights when they had very discounted rates. There were literally lines around the block to get in. Once you got in, you quickly realized it was worth the wait! It was like being on a porn set. Being familiar with that... it sure felt like home to me! Lol.

Similarly, NYC had its bath house smorgasbord, too! Two of my favorite were the St. Mark's and the Continental Baths. The St. Mark's was one of the older facilities in town and well attended in the hours after the bars and clubs around town had shut for the night.

 

St. Mark's Baths interior St. Mark's Baths interior

Continental interior sign and men dancing from Jack (1973)

Continental interior sign and men dancing from Jack (1973)

 

For me, I would sometimes make a whole night of it there and skip the clubs and bars! Oink!

 

Cartoon pig

 

All of this came to an abrupt end. A scourge had hit the gay communities around the country. It was both frightening and sad to be losing friends and family to a disease that no one understood at the time. Almost immediately, openly sexual venues were forced to close. It sent a shockwave through the community. Being undaunted, a lot of the community went to "monitored" sex clubs. While visiting a friend in NYC, we went to one of these venues. I was surprised at how packed it was... given that people remained mostly clothed. There were actual monitors that wandered through the crowd admonishing and extracting individuals that went beyond the basic (hand-job) tolerated behaviors. "Lips above the Hips" was the chant that could be heard from these monitors as they walked the floor. For some people this might have worked. But, for me it was like the fast-food version of sex! It left me hungry.

It was at this time I noticed that porn was really taking off again. The industry literally exploded. After all, what could be safer than being a voyeur in the comfort of your own home? And, that was true again when COVID reared its ugly head just recently. Not only condoms but masks were featured in porn - ostensibly to set a good example. The almighty sexual drive of my fellow man was not to be daunted!

So, at nearly 72, I have seen the "Lavender Wave" rise from seemingly nowhere during the years of the sexual revolution. I have participated in it myself with great memories of the freedom I felt. The great cosmic pendulum swung back. I am now seeing the adjustments. But, Men being Men - there will always be a feast ahead.

 

 

Bio of Will Seagers:

Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted career and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model and film performer. He made iconic appearances in releases from Falcon, Hand in Hand, Joe Gage, Target (Bullet), J. Brian, Steve Scott, and more, including in lead roles in major classics like Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (1979) and Scott's Wanted (1980). He brought strong screen presence and exceptional acting to his roles and was scene partners with many fellow legends of classic porn.

 

Will Seagers, present day image

 


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me
Becoming Invisible
The Reverse Story of Dorian Gray
Pin Money
One Organ Leads to Another! Part 1
The Wheels of Steel

 

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How Straight Are You, Really?

By Josh Eliot

 

Early on in my career with Catalina Video, we had a pretty regular list of repeat actors we used in the movies we were shooting. As I mentioned before, a number of those actors were gay for pay or bisexual. I was 25 when I started with Catalina and before actually meeting these models, which included Johnny Davenport, Eric Manchester, Mike Gregory, Derek Jensen and Chad Knight, my friends and I would always scoff at the fact when someone said they were bisexual. It’s was just how the world reacted to the word bisexual at the time. We would roll our eyes on the set when the models had to watch straight porn to get hard in between shots. We thought that they were doing it for appearances' sake but they were really getting hard looking at the guys. You know, the way silly ass 20 somethings thought back then. In our minds it was always “cut and dry” - you were straight or you were gay, there was no in between. They were performing a gay sex scene so of course they were gay, right? Luckily life experience has shown us all to have a different perspective on things. Bisexuality is alive and well in the world.

 

Kurt Bauer and Mike Gregory

Kurt Bauer & Mike Gregory

 

I became aware of a director named Paul Norman, a pioneer in the industry who some would call “The King of Bi-Sexual Movies.” He made The Big Switch and Passion By Fire in 1986, turning the industry on its head, and Bi and Beyond in 1987. I worked with Kurt Bauer from my first day on the set and many times afterwards in the movies Top Man, My Best Buddy, and The Big One, and he even did a non-sexual walk on in my directorial debut Runaways. Kurt also so happened to grace the cover of Bi and Beyond, which Catalina was distributing at the time, and it happened to be in our pile of tapes for models to watch while jerking their dicks to get hard. I borrowed it from the studio one day and took it home to watch. This was my first time watching a bisexual feature. The movie also featured Mike Gregory who I had literally just finished shooting for a movie called The Young Cadets. Watching Kurt and Mike performing with girls added another layer of understanding for me, opening my cynical mind to the fact that the world was not so black and white as one might think.

 

Some of Paul Norman's bisexual movies

Some of Paul Norman's bisexual movies

 

Unfortunately, an open mind was not something the straight porn industry was experiencing when it came to the idea of bisexual features. I felt like any connection to the gay world was just not something the industry would embrace, on any level, at that time in history. I think Paul Norman brought a sense of legitimacy to them, but they were not having any of it. At the yearly adult video conventions in Las Vegas, the gay and bisexual companies were literally in a completely different room or building! It was hard to get straight porn actors to even consider performing in a straight scene for a bi movie for fear they would be shunned. Paul and his fiancé Tori Wells became the toast of the town after she became a mega-star in the 1989 movie from director Andrew Blake called Night Trips. Blake shot it entirely on 35mm film, while most others were shooting on video. If you’ve never seen it and appreciate straight porno, it’s a “must.” Winner of the AVN Award for Best Film, Cinematography and Editing, it is truly the most stylish adult film I have ever seen. Tori Wells led a star studded cast including: Porsche Lynn, Victoria Paris, Randy Spears and Peter North. Did her mega stardom help move forward the acceptance of Bi movies, directed by her fiancé, within the industry? I’m not sure, but I feel like it opened the door.

 

Night Trips and Paul Norman and Tori Wells

Night Trips and Paul Norman & Tori Wells

 

Two actors that were able to go from gay movies to decades-long careers in straight movies under the radar without any push back from the industry were Jamie Gillis and Jack Wrangler. Back then, things weren’t streamed or online so it was easy to sweep the fact they performed in gay movies under the carpet. One of Jamie Gillis’ best roles was in Boynapped, re-released by Bijou - a Hand in Hand classic directed by Spencer Logan. Jack Wrangler (Gemini, Hot House, Heavy Equipment), well we all know his success story, and Bijou has tons of content featuring his hot-ass-self! Gay for pay? Or bisexual? I’m truly stumped. Another star that comes to mind is Matt Ramsey, made iconic from the desktop scene in The Bigger the Better with Rick Donovan, who went from gay movies to straight movies under the name Peter North. Luckily, by the time I met Peter North, the industry had come to its senses about bisexual movies and Peter was on my set shooting a straight scene with Leanna Foxxx for my Bi-Dolls series. I asked if I could credit him as Matt Ramsey instead of Peter North, but he respectfully declined, we came a long way getting him to act in the movie, but that might have been pushing it.

Then there is Paul Barresi (alleged lover of John Travolta and porn icon). Now, that hot number is in a league all onto himself! YOWZA! I saw him in person once, wearing super tight black slacks, at a movie cinema in West Hollywood some hot chick. I was with Catalina editor Chet Thomas and he pointed him out to me while we were in line... Gay for pay or bisexual? Who the hell cares!!! All Chet and I could focus on was that hot hairy chest and tight ass on him! I’m sure there are dozens more examples I could give of guys who were or could have been gay for pay or bisexual, but quite honestly I can’t stop thinking about Paul Barresi right now, I think I need to go stream Men of the Midway.

 

Paul Barresi in Men of the Midway and more

Paul Barresi in Men of the Midway and more

 

Correction: Bi-Coastal, previously cited as a Paul Norman movie, was a 1985 movie by director Tom DeSimone. We at Bijou apologize for the mix-up. We do make mistakes and are happy when they are pointed out so we can correct them so that we can make sure that the history is properly recorded.

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

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Becoming Invisible

By Will Seagers

 

In other blogs I have mentioned the transition "into" the porn industry. This happened as my looks started to develop in a positive way and men became interested is seeing me... all of me! And, this includes the porn industry, too.

 

Will Seagers modeling portrait trio

 

This was a bit of a shock when all of this first started because I always thought that in my adolescence I was sort of awkward looking, to say the least. During high school, I thought the occasional trick was a charity fuck. Not too much self esteem there, eh?

Well, well, well! It was just after high school and into my first year at engineering school that my good old hormones (and looks) kicked in and things were in for a change... for the better. I started to lift weights, take vitamins and pay attention to how I squeezed myself into those lovely and popular "bell-bottoms" of the time. The family jewels were well displayed in those jeans as well as the good old 501s.

OK. So I had established a formula for getting myself laid as well as getting some pretty good jobs along the way. Of course, while hunting for jobs, the family jewels thing was toned down and replaced by a new desire to be "fashionable." Ha. I remembered getting myself all gussied up in a great Pierre Cardin tweed suit and parading my tush over to NYC to the Eastern Airlines building to apply as a Steward. I got the job. It was funny - I asked to hold the interview in French and that went over quite well! Bien sûr!

This pattern of looking good and saying the right thing (in the right language) went on for years as the formula for getting the jobs and men! Once firmly in the porn biz, I had a very good fifteen year run. BTW, I usually held down a decent selling job at the same time while keeping my screen persona on the Q.T.!

 

Will Seagers modeling nudes

 

Things really didn't change much on the attraction meter until my 60s. Yes. I said my 60s. I know, it even seemed uncanny to me that during my late 40s and all throughout my 50s the magic was still there. I have described in prior blogs about "The Beach" and luring many men. I just left out that I was almost old enough to be their father! Ha!

 

Two snapshots of Will Seagers

 

Then POW! The 60s hit. I know, I guess I shouldn't complain - I had a great run! But, it was as if I wasn't even there any more... no more turned heads, unwanted stares and the like.

Boy! When age caught up with me - it didn't fool around. It was like someone flipped a switch! First prostate cancer at age 60, then countless bouts of skin cancer... like the one from which I am currently recovering. Ouch! But, all that aside, I thought there was some niche for a noble looking older guy like myself. Towards the end of my 60s I came to the realization that les jeux sont faits - the game was up.

 

Will Seagers contemporary photo

 

I love writing these blogs. They give me the chance to relive my memories and an extraordinary live - for which I have no regrets - except becoming invisible.

 

Thank you to Will Seagers for use of his photos.

 

 

Bio of Will Seagers:

Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted career and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model and film performer. He made iconic appearances in releases from Falcon, Hand in Hand, Joe Gage, Target (Bullet), J. Brian, Steve Scott, and more, including in lead roles in major classics like Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (1979) and Scott's Wanted (1980). He brought strong screen presence and exceptional acting to his roles and was scene partners with many fellow legends of classic porn.

 

Will Seagers, present day image

 


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me

 

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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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