Publicly admitting you read comics means you’re willing to put up with a perplexingly persistent notion of the medium as the exclusive domain of the super heroes. Even in the current realm of savvy pop art dabblers as likely to pray at the altar of independents like Image Comics as they are the Big Two there’s this lingering idea that in the beginning there was only the cape and spandex set and it’s just in the past three decades that we’ve really let in the serious Graphic Novelists and autobio peddlers. Sneering intellectual jokesters will spit at the funnybooks without recognizing the origins of that alternate name and basement dwelling dilettantes will tell you it was only when the bearded British men came to our shores that we got hip. But comics have always been weird. Comics have always contained multitudes.On a weekly basis at the start of the 20th century, Winsor McCay cranked out surrealist panel breaking masterpieces lushly detailed enough to inspire both Dali and Moebius decades down the line, with nary a cape in sight. Before Marvel was even an idea, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created romance comics, presaging the soap operas that would eventually inspire Chris Claremont’s convoluted narratives in that other misbegotten Kirby co-creation X-Men. And then there was Herbie. Continue reading…
Posted October 19, 2006
I’m a porn journalist, and I live in the Canadian city of Vancouver.
Ok, maybe I shouldn’t even call it a city… because in comparison to New York, it’s a small hick town, and I can say that with some degree of confidence after recently finally making my way to the Big Apple along side my wingman, a gawky fellow comic and movie nerd nicknamed the Dirty Bird. A friend who shares my same first name — Robin.
We came to Manhattan as younger generation classic porn fans, in search of the sleaze and depravity history has taught us about this place through word, verse, and cum-soaked porno house film stock. The Times Square and Deuce of yesteryear. We knew it was no longer, thanks to the crass, rancid Disneyfication of that section of the isle, but we came to hunt for even a lingering smell of jizz-coated ass…. just to say that we’d been there, and taken a loving whiff.
The hunt for freaky fun began in a strip club across from the Empire state building called Ricky’s. A classy little hole full of skanky little hoes, Ricky’s has an amazing three course lunch menu (where else can you get a steak, salad, side of mashed potatoes and ice cream all for $10??) but thanks to local laws, didn’t have any pussy on display. Even in modest Vancouver the peeler bars have cunt and anus waving around in your face. We were not all that impressed.
The bare titties that walked up and plopped themselves down on our shoulders belonged to some sassy black thang who wanted to know our names. Her terrible boob job gave her wonky nipples, one staring at the floor and the other pointed at the ceiling. When we both answered “Robin”, she demanded to see our ID’s to make sure we weren’t taking the piss outta her. Realising that we were on the level, she exclaimed:
“Well, shit. You two Robin’s can suck on both mah titties anyhow!”
A kind gesture, but I had the feeling the no-touch rules and serious looking bouncer glaring at us wouldn’t have agreed. I gave her a $5 tip for her phat butt gyrations, and we were descended upon by another money-hungry ebony sistah, this one looking a little more cracked out and scrawny. She confidently planted her boney assflesh on my round knee and proceeded to pressure mercilessly.
“You wanna private dance, honey?”
“No, I’m outta money now. Sorry.”
“That’s cool, baby. Lets go to the ATM and get some mo’.”
“C’mon now. Don’t you liiiike me? Don’t you got nothin’ in your bank account fo’ me?”
“No, nothing in there. I’m broke and my friend is gay.”
I may as well have announced that we both had the plague. Just like in the Tom Waits song, the girls scattered like crows, and we were free to leave once we finished our two drink minimum — although Dirty was pissed that I didn’t just tell her he was retarded. Who can say? Maybe a retard would at least get some pity-pussy from a good natured whore.
Rounding the corner of 42nd street and 8th ave to find that the famous hallowed ground of depravity known as the “Show World Center” was still in existence gave me huge smile and little bit of hope. I’ll admit it, my heart skipped about 5 beats as I scrambled in the front door, chasing a dream, baring down on those aforementioned ghosts. What I found couldn’t live up to legend. It was 3 floors of homogenised truncated fuck-suck. The XXX action was still on hand, but the sense of danger and delirious sexual energy was gone. I searched every inch of Show World looking for it.
Entering a peepshow booth in the basement (the same basement where pseudo-snuff rape peeps and savage bestiality clips were showing in 1980) found only a video screen declaring “God Bless America” before launching into some decidedly boring white-on-black cum guzzling. It was ok I guess, but nothing like what I’d read penned by porn journalists of yesteryear.
But ghosts have a funny way of contacting you from the dead. I was a fool to count New York out so early, because 5 feet from the entrance of Show World — as we walked north along 8th ave — Dirty’s cell phone rang. He answered it, looked confused, and handed me the phone.
“Hello?” I said into it.
“Hi, Robin…? It’s Jamie Gillis.”
(Despite emailing Gillis and attempting to set up this meeting, Robin is astounded and must pick his jaw off the sidewalk at this juncture)
“Holy shit! Hi Jamie! I just walked out of Show World! Man, I had no idea it was still there, and now you’re phoning me?! T-this is amazing!”
“Oh Show World… yeah. Ha ha! If only it was thirty years ago, I could have taken you in there and shown you things that would just blow your mind. There were naked girls in the basement. For $5 bucks you could do whatever you wanted. It was great.”
And those were the first words I shared in person with classic porn superstud, Jamie Gillis. For those of you coming in late, or who are too senile to remember him, Gillis is one of the most important performers in XXX history, either in front of the camera, or in the directors chair.
In ’71 Gillis was working with an off-Broadway repertory company, doing classical plays, and to support himself, was driving cab. He’d drive cab all day, then play Hamlet at night, all the while desperate for another job. One day, Gillis answered an ad for “Nude modelling” in The Village Voice thinking he was going to provide inspiration for a local NYC artisan, but as it turned out the modelling going on was in a dirty basement on 14th Street where some stinky guy shot fuck movies.
“I showed up there, worked for about an hour, had a good time, made as much money as I would driving cab, and that’s how I started.” Gillis once told XXX journalist Anthony Petkovitch. “Actually, a lot of people started there in that dirty basement — Linda Lovelace, Eric Edwards, me … But there were no stars in those days, no industry. It was all underground.”
His directorial debut ON THE PROWL back in ’89 was the first of its kind to take some average dude off the streets, put him in the back of a limousine, and let ‘em wildly fuck away at some sexed up young adult video starlet. It originated the “Gonzo” reality style of porn that currently has a stranglehold on the modern porn world, and was the obvious inspiration for the limo sex scene in P.T. Anderson’s BOOGIE NIGHTS (1994), with Burt Reynolds taking on the role of Gillis.
Also in the late ’80s, Gillis became known in underground porn circles for his outlandish scat and degradation-themed home movies that began to make the rounds amongst perverts in the know. These were totally amateur tapes featuring submissive friends and black streetwalkers that Jamie would shit on and racially degrade. Then the early ‘90s he kicked the Pro-Am craze into full gear by co-producing the influential and long running DIRTY DEBUTANTES series with Ed Powers, who then went on to take over (steal?) the series from Gillis and turn it into a massive video rental hit.
In my opinion Jamie is basically XXX royalty and deserves props for his various sleazy achievements in smut, but I’d quickly learn that the man is admirably modest about his various accomplishments when he met us late that evening at a fancy greasy spoon in the West Village.
We were flanked by our talented/pretty New York pal Wendy Chin, who, along with her husband/bandmate Jason, didn’t want to miss out on a meeting with such a legendary figure. When Gillis walked in and saw us, one of the first things out of his mouth was “Hey, I haven’t been in here in years. This is just around the corner from the shithole where Linda Lovelace screwed the dog in that old porno loop.”
I was like a dog myself as Gillis dropped little nuggets of porn trivia such as that all through the evening as we all got progressively drunker. Like a dog with its head hanging out of the window of a fast moving car, its tongue being whipped around by the wind. I was having a fucking blast.
Bizarre anecdotes about the originator of stump fucking: Long Jeanne Silver, a tale about shoving a cigar up his ass in order to woo a woman that was peeping in his window, funny stories about where certain porn stars from yesteryear had ended up… they flowed out of Jamie like a leaky faucet, and it became a torrent after we ended up at a lovely Mexican restaurant over on the west side, meeting up with drummer Chester Thompson. Not to name drop too obnoxiously, but this dude played drums for Genesis, Frank Zappa, Phil Collins, and Neil Diamond. Gillis effortlessly hooked us up with super-tasty free Margaritas and interesting drinking companions.
As exciting as Chester was to meet, Gillis was the real deal, and Dirty and Wendy were in full agreement with me. In fact, I think Wendy was a just a little disappointed that this dirty ol’ man molested her only once while copping a feel during our drunken goodnight hugs. Never let it be said that ultra pervs can’t be gentlemen when they wanna.
Within 24 hours, Dirty Bird and I were on our way outta New York, content that even if the city itself didn’t bring the sexy demented thrills we’d been fantasising about, at least its ambassador from the golden days of smut was still standing guard, ready to show us an awesome evening.
PS, This Just in:
Just read your New York story and loved it! I was the first true porn star to do a stage show at the Show World, (other than perhaps strippers who got into porn and stripped there)!
I then appeared there off and on, doing my bowl show — not a strip act — until I left porn. Many of the other stars and directors then would come to my show because of its uniqueness and humor. I made hot, sexy, and humor work well together. They used to run a clip of one of my movies in the outside wall of the building, on the street. I use to be amazed to step outside and see me sitting on Jamie Gillis, fucking, with my breasts bouncing up and down as I was “riding” him. You didn’t see the actual insertion, but you saw enough to know what you were seeing. You certainly saw my bare breasts and me going at it hard!!! I was always amazed that people walking down the street could see that, It also made me wear a hat and sunglasses outside a lot! LOL.
Anyway, I really enjoyed your piece!
Oh,yes, I also (like Jamie) could tell you tales of what I SAW (not did) in the Show World,as well!