RetroStuds of the Past: Focus on Dick Fisk

posted by Madame Bubby

Dick Fisk

On October 31, 1983, Falcon Studios model Dick Fisk was killed in a car accident with his lover, Joe Howard and the driver of another vehicle in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. He was only 28 years old.

Dick's real name was Frank Ricky Fitts, and at the time of his death, he was employed in Atlanta gay clubs.

Dick was very much one of the famous faces of gay erotica during this period when the unabashed gay macho culture of the 1970s was still in full swing. Yet ominously, the mysterious “gay cancer,” (still not called AIDS) was beginning to claim victims in the urban gay ghettos of the period.

From the research I did, his porn career was not prolific, but he appeared in two of the main gay rags of the period, Mandate and Torso. His most famous image has become almost iconic: he appears as one of a trinity of porn gods of the time: Al Parker and Casey Donovan in Falcon's classic movie, The Other Side of Aspen.
 

Dick Fisk, Al Parker and Casey Donovan on the cover for The Other Side of Aspen

In the Bijou Classics repertoire, he makes an appearance in the star-studded Cruisin' the Castro, but admittedly, he does not appear in one of the more distinctive points of the movie (Richard Locke reigns supreme here).

He really ascended to the pantheon of gay gods in the famous eight-page spread in the February 1978 issue of Mandate magazine, called “A Man to Size Up.”
 

A Man to Size Up Dick Fisk spread in Mandate

Yes, he's got that overall macho look, and it's not just the mustache. It's the combination of a supremely confident (one might say arrogant) facial expression on a face that is both mature and youthful, the perfectly muscled chest, arms, and abs (muscled, but not overly bulked up), and the towering thick cock that rises like an obelisk between amazing legs that I could easily dub the Pillars of Hercules. And just enough hair, sexy growths in the most lickable places (I am thinking of the armpits).
 

Dick Fisk image from Mandate

I think he will always be an iconic image of a masculine ideal that so many gay men aspired to during that turbulent period in LGBTQ history. He died before the horrible plague, and perhaps the attraction, at least for me, is that he remains untouched by it. Of the trinity of porn gods I mentioned above, he did not suffer in body and spirit.

He is pure image, an Adonis killed tragically and suddenly as in the mortal beauty loved by the goddess Venus in Greek mythology (he was gored by a boar). But he does not (and nor does his lover) come back to life.

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1970s & 1980s Porn Directors on Porn Filmmaking

 

posted by guest blogger Miriam Webster

 

Jack Deveau:
[Credits include Left-Handed, Drive, Ballet Down the Highway, Good Hot Stuff, Wanted: Billy the Kid, A Night at the Adonis, Rough Trades, Sex Magic, Fire Island Fever, Dune Buddies, Times Square Strip]

 

"We were looking for a while to describe the porno movie because it doesn't really relate to anything else. it is only starting to find its milieu, or genre, whatever you want to call it. It's a musical comedy, but now instead of singing, they fuck. Now that I've been able to make that generalization I think, well, are they going to sing a happy song now or a sad one? What condition is this character in? And then we try to structure the sex in those terms... Good or bad, gay or straight, this is becoming a literature that you can't ignore. Now there are 40 films in our library and there are a number of other organizations or companies who have the same thing. There are magazines in Europe who are devoting whole issues every other month to critiques of the erotic cinema. Eventually this will have to become a literature." -- Soho Weekly News, 1975
 

Jack Deveau
Jack Deveau on the sets of Ballet Down the Highway and Sex Magic
Jack Deveau shooting Ballet Down the Highway & Sex Magic


Peter de Rome:
[Credits include The Erotic Films of Peter de Rome, Adam and Yves, The Destroying Angel]

"I think that we've barely scratched the surface of pornography in filmmaking, and that it has become a sort of mandatory thing in sex films to show a positive view of sex and all of the sex is supposed to be the ultimate, the pinnacle of excitement and life simply isn't like that. It seems to me that sometime we've got to get honest about sex and admit to ourselves that very few sexual encounters do work out agreeably or are compltetely successful. I think we can learn from our failures as from our successes. I have a very simple if not simplistic attitude toward sex films, and that is that sex is just as much a part of life as living, eating, breathing, sleeping. It's just another function of life and I don't see why it can't be depicted dramatically just as those other functions are and as honestly, too. And I think we have to show every aspect of sex in films before we can really say we are making sex films."
 

Peter de Rome
Peter de Rome directing the stars of The Destroying Angel

Peter de Rome directing the stars of The Destroying Angel



Michael Goodwin:
[Credits include The Goodjac Chronicles, Goodjac Too]

"Filmmakers have prettied-up and candy-coated male sex so much that most people who do get off on it don't think that they're worthy of being photographed or seen. That's a real putdown of the community. I don't think it was planned that way, but everybody just got on the bandwagon. Good-looking sex and tantric moments are going on with people who have pot bellies, have hair in the wrong places, or don't have hair in the right places. I believe people want to see that kind of good sex... I'm stepping into this the way those people stepped into those rockets: they believed in what they were doing, they believed it was for a good cause, they believed it would do some good for people, and they just stepped in and did it." -- Mandate, 1986

Goodjac series logo
Michael Goodwin shooting The Goodjac Chronicles
Michael Goodwin shooting The Goodjac Chronicles


Al Parker:
[Credits include Dangerous, Therapy, Head Trips, One in a Billion, Rangers, Oversize Load, Strange Places Strange Things, High Tech]

"Surge is a small company - very small. People are amazed when they find out that Surge was basically two people, my lover, Steven [Steve Taylor], and me. When you think of a studio, you think of M-G-M or Warners, but all of our sets were built in our living room in the house at Hermosa Beach, which was a 1500 square foot house that had a wonderful cathedral ceiling. But if you pulled up my carpets, my floors were ruined. I mean, there were nail holes everywhere. We trashed that house - but that house was our studio. And all of our successful films from One in a Billion to High Tech were done in that house." -- Manshots, 1990
 

Al Parker on the set of Strange Places Strange Things
Al Parker on the set of Strange Places Strange Things


Steve Scott:
[Credits include Track Meet, Rough Cut, Twelve at Noon, Gemini, Inches, Wanted, Games, Turned On!, A Few Good Men, Screenplay, Non-Stop]

"We're trying to create an erection. Now, to me, that's a feat in itself. It's a harder job than legit films. A lot of people may talk down porno, but I'll stand up to David Lean, to all of 'em, because what we do, in the limited time we do it in... Why, we're now doing 70 to 75 minutes on Inches for maybe ten, twelve thousand dollars. That's unheard of! That's lunch! So, it's an undertaking, and what we've done to date we're proud of, and hopefully we'll go on making milestones. And we don't like to cheat the audience. At least when they come out of the theatre from watching one of our films they're satisfied, they're entertained, and they don't feel like they're ripped off... and they may come back to see the next one." -- Skin, 1980
 

Steve Scott filming Twelve at Noon
Steve Scott filming Twelve at Noon
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No More Porn on Tumblr! Why?

I wonder if the announcement that Tumblr was banning pornographic content was perhaps inevitable, but not for the official and unofficial reasons currently being disseminated by the media.

The surface reasons seems to be tied into the confluence between technology and profits. The IOS App Store would no longer allow the Tumblr App because of an isolated child pornography incident. Since most Smartphone users rely on Apps, not allowing it would seriously lessen Tumblr’s overall use and scope. But why target Tumblr? Was it simply the, according to some sources, the 20 percent porn content?

It may seem that Tumblr was directly put between the proverbial rock and hard place, even though the microblog is a free service. An article in The Verge succinctly paraphrases the new policy:

“Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity. The new guidelines exclude text, so erotica remains permitted. Illustrations and art that feature nudity are still okay — so long as sex acts aren’t depicted — and so are breastfeeding and after-birth photos.” The wording of Tumblr’s announcement seems to both evoke and invoke arguments about obscenity that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s.

LGBTQ sexual pioneer Chuck Renslow started out as a physique photographer, and he definitely was pushing social boundaries during the 1950s with his homoerotic (as close to nude was possible, and one could often see that the posing straps were painted on) photos. He, like many other in this line of work, were “coding” their visuals, because it was one of the few ways gay men could experience their erotic desires and fantasies safely and privately. Many outfits mailed nude photos and films in plain envelopes, but these were often confiscated by the Post Office and the perpetrators, both the senders and receivers, punished.

Some of these incidents ended up in the court system. Renslow’s case ended in victory, as the judge made the ruling that if one deemed these photos obscene, so would certain masterpieces of art, especially from the Graeco-Roman period.

The Manual vs. Day case, which went to the United States Supreme Court, held that magazines consisting of semi-nude or nude males are not obscene and the Post Office cannot interfere with their dissemination through the mail. The case is notable for its ruling that photographs of nude men are not obscene, an implication which opened the U.S. mail to nude male pornography, especially those whose audience was gay men.

Tumblr of course is certainly not contained physically in brown, unmarked envelopes, but what is interesting is that Tumblr seems to be agreeing with that 1950s judge. Agreeing to some extent, yes, but also opening up once more some of the time-worn arguments about the complex relationship between sexuality, artistic expression, violence, and how this relationship builds and shapes an audience.

Going back to my initial statement, it seems inevitable that something of this nature would happen, because it’s obvious our means of communication have changed drastically since the days of postage stamps and nudie photographs and envelopes, and later, moving images of sexual acts in theaters that charged admission only to adults: physical mediums that exist in a controlled spatial situation.

What Tumblr and those who support restricting what they deem porn (for them, porn equals genitals which equals sexual acts) fail to recognize is not of course the nanosecond dissemination of mostly amateur depictions of sex which could result in more potentially dangerous situations: no, they fail to recognize the aesthetics (which tie into social contexts, of course) of a wide variety of LGBTQ pornography from the 1970s and 1980s, especially.

For example, Al Parker responded to the AIDS crisis by combining sexual acts and documentary in his film High Tech. Jack Deveau offers what one could claim is a documentary of gay life during the "hippie" era in Left-Handed. So many others of that period usually offer narrative structures: the sex acts aren’t just sex acts per se, but components in forms that explore the larger social issues of the time. And even some of the J. Brian films, which were not made to specifically address any social or moral issues, could be seen as living documents of gay sexual history.
 

Three cast members in High Tech
Three men using vacuum pumps in High Tech

Stars of Left-Handed
Stars Ray Frank & Robert Rikas in Left-Handed

The question remains as to how one could apply any standard of evaluation to any medium which communicates the erotic universally, but it seems a rather generalized case could be made that the older the porn, the more chances it could be determined to be aesthetically or historically significant. But the burden of proof would fall on the user, and in today’s lightning-paced communication environment, time is an enemy, rather than, as before, space.

Yet at this juncture, it seems like the only possible solution here is diversification. Perhaps Tumblr’s free-for-all ethos caused this implosion. Given the fluid nature of social media, those who used Tumblr, especially LGBTQ persons who still exist in various states of marginalization, will have to regroup, and unfortunately, some might claim, not return to closets or ghettos, but establish in their own tech-savvy ways other spaces for erotic expression.

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RetroStuds of the Past: Focus on Dave Connors

Dave Connors

Connoisseurs of retro gay porn are perhaps familiar with Dave Connors because of his starring role in One in a Billion, enjoying his big balls and big dick. (In fact, I can't think of another stud's privates who one could so aptly call “meat.”) In the movie, big businessman Dave can magically hear what others are thinking, which add some flavor to a day of kinky adventures. All seem to want to taste what is really magic, his meat.
 

Dave Connors in a buisiness suit

Dave Connors' huge cock

Art can reflect reality, and in an interview for Stallion magazine, Dave jokingly admits there are disadvantages to being “super hung:”

Connors: People have used any ploy and every ploy to get me into bed.
Stallion: How did they find out about what you were packing?
Connors (laughing): People talk! It's not something I can keep secret.
 

Dave Connors interview in Stallion magazine

According to the interview, Dave was born in Florida, and he was inhibited as a child. He came out at the ripe old age of twenty-one:

“I finally came out at twenty-one in the Marine Corps. I had a lot of friends – and I could never understand why now, I know, at least I know what I missed – although I did have some very nice encounters in the service.”

But the path to pornhood was not smooth for Dave, as he claims he lost that Marine-induced “self-discipline” to drugs, and then gained it back in prison. Yes, prison.

By the age of 39, Dave had already made several porn movies, but he claims his experience in One in a Billion was enlightening, as it was his first experience with sync sound. And Dave did not have to lie on the casting couch to obtain his meaty part in that movie; he asked Al Parker, Parker had an idea, and voila!

Now, for a country boy from the sticks of Florida who looks like naturally strong, like he could wrestle a couple of alligators, he certainly fills out a business suit well. His career climaxed in the yuppie eighties, and in some ways he embodies that look: clean-cut, chiseled jaw, a “dirty blond” with just a hint of bad frat boy now grown up to dominate board rooms.
 

Dave Connors at 35

Some of the more famous films he made include The Biggest One I Ever Saw by Giant Films and Dirt Bikes for Falcon.

Tragically, at the time he was shooting what was to be his last film, Wakefield Poole's One, Two, Three, Dave succumbed to AIDS.

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RetroStuds of the Past: Focus on Johnny Dawes

 

Johnny Dawes portrait

Johnny Dawes, famous face in 1980s pre-condom gay porn, was born in Akron, Ohio, on March 22, 1955. His birth name was Brian Lee.

His career in gay porn started in the late seventies, was in a loop called “Toilet Training,: part of Falcon Video Pac #23. Acccording to Gay Erotic Video Index, in 1978, he made a film for Falcon Studios, Dirt Bikes, aka F Truck.

Thus began a prodigious career for many studios, pretty much the major ones of the late 1970s and 1980s, such as HIS Video, LeSalon, Mustang, and Marathon, and and other less known ones such as Ari Productions and Stardust.

Johnny has starred with a number of actors which include Jose Garcia, Magdalena Montezuma Montez as well as Sharon Kane.

Paired together eight times, Chris Burns has had the privilege of being seen most frequently with Johnny Dawes, in flicks such as Pleasure Beach (HIS Video).

The collection of movies in which they have appeared together also includes The Private Pleasures of John Holmes (Stardust), School Of Hard Cocks (HIS Video), and Revenge of the Nighthawk in Leather (HIS Video).

Dawes retired in 1986, but came out of retirement in 1989, to make several films. In fact, a vintage gay porn magazine of that period, Thrust, celebrates his return, “the return of a bluemovie sensation,” in Who's Dat Boy.
 

Johnny Dawes in Thrust Magazine
Johnny Dawes in Thrust Magazine in never before seen photos

Bijou Video shows him at this versatile best in Knockout, originally released by Pan Pacific Productions. Touted as the “only homoerotic boxing film,” Knockout reveals the intense world of boxing, where a sport of knocking out merges into knockout sex. Johnny Dawes plays the previous boxing champion, and he joins Eric Stryker, playing the new lightweight boxing champion David West, and David's trainer, Mark, played by Andrew Ryan, in a three-way jack off. Johnny returns to fuck Eric on a bed; the ex-champion thus shows his real dominance by deftly topping the new champion in this scene.
 

Johnny Dawes wearing boxing gloves

Jack Deveau filming
Johnny Dawes and Eric Stryker in Knockout

Other Bijou Video classics he appears in are Games, where he plays a swimmer who fools around with Mike Davis in a locker room, and Bad Bad Boys aka Bad Boys, directed by Tom DeSimone (Mustang), where he plays a runaway who seeks solace in the company of a street gang called The Red Devils, undergoing an intense sexual initiation as well as rebelling against the gang's evil boss (and Dawes shows his acting chops here).
 

Mike Davis and Johnny Dawes in Games

Johnny Dawes rimming Mike Davis in Games
Mike Davis and Johnny Dawes in Games

Poster for Bad Bad Boys

And speaking of acting chops, according to the January 1990 edition of Manshots, he acted in the Los Angeles production of Night Sweat; he was a documentary filmmaker (A Dance with Death) and, most interestingly, an opera historian. He wrote an article on the Jewish-American soprano Alma Gluck, who sang at the beginning of the last century, for Opera Digest.
 

Jack Deveau filming

Wow! An embarrassment of riches; so much talent in that lithe yet sculpted body (not to mention his aesthetically pleasing cock, a shiny pole of power). Overall, in his performances, he manages to combine vulnerability with an easy, confident masculinity.
 

Johnny Dawes nude

Brian Lee aka Johnny Dawes died of AIDS-related complications on July 25, 1989.

He performed this finely crafted poem in the AIDS play Night Sweat, four years before his untimely death from that disease:
 

Robert Chesley book Hard Plays Stiff Parts featuring Night Sweat

Oh, let night speak of me for day
Knows not how breaks with woe my heart,
Knows not how I mournful stray,
Weeping for thee, so dear thou art.
The sad night weeps with me, and lays
His tear wet cheek against my own;
Although I walk in sunlit ways,
Still doth my heart in darkness moan.
The night shall speak of me and say
All things to thee I dare not show,
And to thy dreams my love display,
Till thou art melted by my woe.

 

Johnny Dawes black and white photo
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