Shooting DEVIATIONS Part 2: A Sexual Circus

No movie–porno or otherwise–gets made without some fancy behind-the-scenes work of agents who deal with whining stars, demanding directors, pompous producers, and–rarely–nice guys like me.

flyers and book cover 004That’s why I always made sure to thank Joe Elliot for being like the oil in the engine of Bay Area porn.  And no flick required more lubrication (both figuratively and literally) than Deviations.

Consider Elliot’s feats:

  • Lining up a nightclub whose owners didn’t mind their quarters hosting the mess of a massive orgy.
  • Finding a lecherous audience through The Berkeley Party Hotline who accepting $1 each to sign releases allowing use of their images.
  • Hiring professional musicians to record the songs he’d written for Deviations, playing his synthesizer and soothing the inevitable clashes of creative musical egos.
  • Casting, including the debut of one of my all-time favorites, future porn Hall-of-Famer Shanna McCullough.
  • And, finally, offering his photographic talents and the stud skills of his own scrawny self. (My girlfriend observed, “He’s big in only one place.”)

Joe Elliot gave something more to the making of Deviations: his heart and soul.  The movie provided a platform for exercising his passions for music, photography and sex with pretty girls.

The ingredients:  Funky nightclub on the uneasy border between Berkeley and Oakland; rowdy crowd of leering voyeurs; enough video, lighting and sound equipment to turn the place into a snake pit of foot-snagging cables. And, of course, the “Deviations” themselves: four young ladies ready to screw their butts off in the name of erotic art.

What could possibly go wrong?

For obvious reasons, I allowed no alcohol.  But the skunky aroma of pot smoke soon filled the club.  Some things you just can’t control. Especially things that come from “Berserkely.”

When I asked Joe Elliot who our security team would be, he replied, “Rudy.”

“Rudy?  Just one guy?”

“Rudy will be enough.”

I doubted that.  Until I met Rudy, an African-American mountain of muscle. His massive presence assured good manners like a deity from Smash-face Hell .

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The Deviations: (Left to Right) Adrienne Bellaire, Connie Lindstrom, Shanna McCullough, Robyn Everett

The music went well.  The ladies had practiced enough with the recorded soundtrack to actually appear to be hitting the right frets, drumbeats and synthesizer keys.  As noted in the previous post, Shanna McCullough’s flawless lip-synching fooled the audience into thinking that the group was actually performing the songs.

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The dancing was as wild as I’d hoped.  A bare-bottomed girl ripped the shirt off a gentleman whose grin indicated he didn’t mind  sacrificing the garment.  Women thrust themselves before a distortion mirror, making boobs and butts burst forth like 3-D explosions.  Willem Lowen danced with a boa constrictor curled around his torso. (He managed one of America’s largest vivariums, the source of both his boa and Shanna McCullough’s.)

One lady, transfixed by the snake, was about to touch its probing tongue with her own, until the watchful Joe Elliot rushed up to tell her to back off.  He was lawsuit phobic after being sued by a stoned woman who, during one of his many parties, had crashed through his patio glass door.

Passionately involved with every detail of Deviations, Elliot–a natural worrier–was more hyper-vigilant than usual.  I, on the other hand, slipped into my detached, director mindset that protected me from Oh-My-God anxiety.  A patina of calm is necessary for both battlefield commanders and over-reaching pornographers.

Keeping a cool head helps you think better.  Like when a couple of porn-hero wannabes complained to me that all Connie Lindstrom wanted to do was fellatio. They wanted more.

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Connie Lindstrom (bottom)

( From SKINFLICKS) The fiance of blonde Scandinavian beauty Connie Lindstrom gave her genital herpes just before her debut in Deviations. She was embarrassed about revealing to her screen partners the reason she was limited to fellatio, so I told them, “In the script,Connie’s character only gives blow jobs.” In gratitude for my explanation, she gave me virtuoso performances.

There are problems a director can’t experience.  Like when a lanky (in all anatomical parts) Charles Manson look-alike called Animal leaped onto the stage to tryst with Adrienne Bellaire and Robyn Everett.

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Adrienne Bellaire in DEVIATIONS

He had hitch-hiked from a commune in Oregon just to perform in the movie.  As Adrienne later told me, “He probably didn’t have time to bathe.”  Both Adrienne and Robyn manged to hide their repugnance.  Real troupers, those girls.

Deviations became one of the top five best-selling adult videos of 1983.

Next Post:  How three movies I made in 1985 became officially child pornography.



Shooting RUNNING WILD: Does Porn Go Better with Pot?

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Main photo: Valerie LaVeau & Adrienne Bellaire. Small photos (left to right): Dorothea Redd (top), Corrinne (bottom), Sarah O’Hara, Cindy Carver, Willem Lowen

Since Running Wild was shot on a pot farm, the logical question is ‘How does cannabis affect porn performance?’

( Passages From SKINFLICKS are in italics.)

With all the problems of porn production, few directors  sanction the use of drugs on a shoot. During the making of  Prisoner of Paradise, John Holmes was allegedly wired on cocaine when he slugged director Gail Palmer. Seka and her husband also brawled with Holmes at the pig farm location where the aroma made all present a bit cranky. Many ladies “prepare” for screen sex by snorting coke, sometimes causing impotence in men whose penis glans have been numbed by the drug in their partners’ saliva.

OK, so cocaine is NG, but what’s wrong with a little weed?

I regretted the only time I allowed dope to be used during a sex scene. A French couple playing marijuana buyers in Running Wild swore their scene would go better if they smoked real pot instead of tobacco. They were wrong; the man’s penetrations and come shot had to be cut in from my “insert library.” A model whose brain is buzzing with drugs can’t concentrate on both his screen partner and the words of the director.

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Preparing for climactic orgy. Left to right: Willem Lowen (in Lotus pose), Billy Dee, Cindy Carver, Joe Elliot

For the big “dope orgy” in Running Wild the pipes being passed contained pure, unadulterated Bull Durham.

You want your cast and crew sober enough to deal with things such as…

More painful intruders than cops invaded Superior’s scenic Running Wild locations on a remote Sonoma County pot farm. A hoard of yellow jackets threatened to turn our sex scenes into bug-bangs, until chunks of hamburger placed well away from the cast and crew diverted the insects.

Production problems too offbeat to prepare for require impromptu solutions. On the rustic Running Wild shoot, a hundred miles from repair facilities, a generator that ran a table full of video gear turned balky. A mechanically-inclined grip earned the shoot’s Most Valuable Player award by dribbling gasoline into a finicky carburetor float, maintaining the precise level required for smooth running during two straight 12-hour work days.

Needless to say, that Most Valuable Player was not stoned, but with his tedious, exacting task he probably wished he was.

Next: Shooting DEVIATIONS: Big-budget Rock-and-Roll Epic.  Debut of Future Legend Shanna McCullough.





Superior Video Shoots Its Wad: Part 1: NIGHT MOVES

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Peeping Nixon, Willem Lowen, Cindy Carver

The “redeeming social value” in Night Moves was the political statement made by having a peeping-Tom pervert wear a Nixon mask.  But, to my girlfriend, Night Moves had a whole different importance: The SCENE.

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Large Photo: Lilly Marlene and Shanna McCullough. Small Photos: (left to right) Cindy Carver, Robyn Everett, Carrie Bergman, Courtney

It starred the ever-reliable Mike Horner and two hot ladies: that sexual predator Lilly Marlene and the intense Robyn Everett.


 It was a typical night game at Candlestick Park, the stadium from Hell Frozen Over. The infamous icy winds had once blown pitcher Stu Miller off the mound in the midst of his windup. They were now turning hotdog wrappers, napkins, Giants caps and anything else not clutched in numb fingers into crazed satellites, making the rounds of our seating section.

Wrapped in a blanket, Shelly and I sat huddled together, arms around each other. It was so cold that Shelly’s favorite San Francisco Giant, Chili Davis, ignored his standard post-strikeout ritual of breaking his bat over his knee; he ran back to the dugout. The Giants were behind by five runs.

We were more excited from shivering, hugging and rubbing together under the blanket than from the events on the diamond. Shelly said, “I’m getting horny as an old cat. Let’s go home, turn on The Scene and trounce around.”

The Scene, in Night Moves, was Shelly’s favorite video stimulant. It came at 3067 on the digit counter of the Panasonic VCR in the bedroom. We always shuttled the tape back to that point after we were finished.

What really made that section of videotape come alive was the chemistry between Mike, Lilly and Robyn.

When taping the scene, there was no need for the “hurry up and use the erection before it goes away” approach. I let Horner and the two blonde actresses take their time.

There was lots of caressing, kissing, tonguing and fondling, more like real life than structured screen sex. The intensity built to a frenzy, and when Mike pulled out of Robyn–to be taken in Lilly’s waiting hand–he produced such volume that she exclaimed, “So much come!”

He had plenty left. We were disassembling the gear when Mike and Robyn started up again. I grabbed a camera and taped her fast, cowgirl position bouncing and Mike’s second orgasm. Then Mike and Robyn took a shower together–and had sex yet again.

During the long drive from Candlestick Park to San Rafael, the anticipation was an aphrodisiac. Shelly and I were still “trouncing around” long after the tape had ended.

Then we caught the late news: “The Giants’ six-run ninth inning rally was capped by Chili Davis’s three-run homer in a dramatic come-from-behind victory…”

“Oh no!” Shelly exclaimed. “Look what we missed!  It’s all my fault!”

I gave her a kiss. “We didn’t miss a thing.”


During 1983-84, Joe Farmer and I felt that we had the formula for shooting hot sex on videotape all to ourselves. (That would soon change as every sex-shooter and his bastard brother began cranking out crap videos–as described in Chapter 11: The Smut Glut.)

For that brief, glorious period, Superior Video went for the gold.

Next: Superior Video Shoots Its Wad: Part 2: Running Wild. Does Porn Go Better with Pot?




Getting It Up the Hard Way: Odd tricks for “getting wood”

A pornographer’s worst nightmare is the actor who can’t get erect.  The moviemaker must then  either shoot  the scene “sim (simulated)” and cut in hardcore close-ups from previous shoots or pay the flaccid actor a “kill fee (a small goodbye payment)” and hire a replacement.  At least the pornographer has options.  But the poor guy who can’t perform suffers a worse fate: no more work.  Men have suffered nervous breakdowns over penis limpus and at least one (Randy Potes—AKA Cal Jammer) has committed suicide.  To continue in a lucrative career, porn studs develop unique ways to get aroused.

(Note: Passages from SKINFLICKS are in italics)

Having a beautiful woman available may not work.  She was every surfer boy’s fantasy: blonde and petite, with breasts that stood out from her tan like scoops of ice cream fallen on smooth sand.  But Gayle Monica’s patient fellatio didn’t “fluff up” her porn-partner husband.  He wasn’t looking at her. (Too familiar?)  Instead he stared at Boobs ‘n Buns magazine. It didn’t help. Then, male star Mike Ranger strolled into the room, sat on the bed and began fondling Gayle.  Her startled husband suddenly became hard.  Lesson: The unexpected can work wonders.

On the same shoot was a guy whom Ranger derisively dubbed “Right Sider.” He had to lie on his right side and masturbate in order to function.  When ready, he’d scramble to get in a few pumps with his female co-star before he lost it, then he’d revert to his right side.

Willem Lowen, Cindy Carver, voyeur in Nixon Mask, from NIGHT MOVES

With big bucks dependent on male performance, the “reliables” hogged all the stud work. (My favorites: Jamie Gillis, Billy Dee, Willem Lowen, Joe Elliot.)  One of the best, the late John Leslie, insisted that his craft was a form of method acting—drawing upon emotions and memories to play a scene.  In one of the first loops I ever shot (in 1977), Leslie demonstrated his “method.”  Ignoring his female co-star, he’d close his eyes and stroke himself up.

A man whose performance depends upon the charms of his partner won’t have a long porn career.  The best men rely on fantasy imagery, ironically doing exactly as the fans who envy their access to porn queens: they’re masturbating.

Billy Dee and Juliet Anderson. PHYSICAL


Richard Pacheco learned this lesson during his porn debut, in Candy Stripers.  In an Erotic Film Guide article, he described going limp after seeing Nancy Hoffman grimace from 45 minutes of kneeling on concrete: “People were lying around sleeping, snoring, just plain waiting for me to get it up…Nancy even fell asleep on my thigh…I sat there masturbating myself and praying for the Russians to launch a surprise attack.”  Finally, Pacheco had an inspiration: “I closed my eyes and started all over…I was back on the couch of some rec room with the first girl who ever let me finger her.  I could hear the Kingston Trio on the record player.  There was life in that old memory yet.”  When Pacheco reached his climax, he “heard the cheering of millions.”

The late director Henri Pachard claimed that the best way to treat stud failure was through ridicule. “Point a finger at him and go, ‘Ha ha ha! Look at this wimp! Look at that shriveled little putz!  Guy thinks he’s a stud; he couldn’t get wood in a lumberyard.’
“You get the guy mad, get his blood pumping. Next thing you know it’s ‘wood city.’ Works every time.”

The Pachard theory reportedly worked when Matt Daniels failed during Anthony Spinelli’s The Party.  His screen partner—and real-life girlfriend, Heather Lere—cussed him out and according to witnesses, the agitated actor slapped her butt and proceeded to—in Lere’s term—“spring board.”

The most unusual hard-on aid I’ve ever witnessed was moi !  That’s right: yours truly.  I was working “boom.”  The job is physically taxing. You stand there with arms raised, holding one end of a boom, which is a long pole (“fishpole”) that has a microphone on the other end.  The mike is suspended over the scene, above the camera frame but still close enough to capture crisp dialogue. Holding the pole in position is damn tiring.  I was standing on a chair, near the ceiling, the hottest part of the room.  I was sweating, muscles straining. I had a weird feeling of being watched.  I glanced down and into the eyes of an actor (a known bi-sexual) who was furiously stroking himself. And staring hard at me!  I turned my gaze to the microphone, and froze in position, like a statue. (Literally a “statue of David,” but thankfully with pants.)  The actor was able to perform with his designated actress.

Glad I could help.