Jerry Douglas passed yesterday, he was 84. Others have paid tribute to his legacy as a director/playwright (see the XBIZ obituary): yes, there was a time when every new movie directed by Jerry would be nominated for just about every porn awards and yes, many of these movies have left their mark. Above all, Fratrimony and More of a Man. But on this blog, I’d like to focus on his legacy as a film historian. From 1988 to 2001, “Manshots”, the monthly magazine he edited, published in-depth reviews and invaluable interviews with directors, producers, performers. More than anybody else, Jerry and his “Manshots” contributed to the culture and the history of gay porn, delving into it like into any other film genre. When “Manshots” folded in 2001, followed by many other print publications, the history and criticism of gay porn went out the window, replaced by affiliate links. Critics –the like of Jerry– were replaced by bloggers solely interested in monetizing the content of the day (instead of criticizing it, analyzing it, contextualizing it). But a genre that no longer knows its past, that doesn’t reflect on itself, on its purpose, on its language doesn’t have a future –it’s no surprise that today’s porn is either corporate, soul-less, gimmicky porn or amateur smut (the countless straight ‘influencers’ barely showing their cocks and ripping off their gay viewers on OnlyFans).
I met Jerry in 1998 at the Taft building on Hollywood and Vine. I was editing my 2nd movie with Adam Rom (DESIRE, JOURNEY TO ITALY 2), he was editing with his trusted editor, Andrew Rosen. But we had known each other for a few years before then: Jerry entrusted me with a number of interviews for “Manshots”. With Derek Cameron, Ryan Block, Eduardo, Sam Carson, Blue Blake, Steve O’Donnell, Hawk McAllistar, Eric Kovac, Chad Connors… An experience I’m grateful for and one that gave me a better understanding (and a deeper appreciation) of the talent before the camera.
“Manshots” interviews with the pioneers remain –to this day– the only serious efforts at documenting porn’s rich and diverse history. From Scott Masters to Toby Ross, from Cadinot to DeSimone and Coletti. With Jerry we lost today a peerless director. And with him the memory of porn as an art form. As a Weltanshauung. Farewell.
Dear Mr Kazan,
Your moving and insightful tribute to Jerry Douglas fills a void left by all his other obits: the spotlighting of MANSHOTS. I’m stunned to learn that Lucas Kazan, auteur of (truly) the most beautiful films in porn history, also used to serve as lead interviewer for Jerry’s journal.
Back in the early-middle ’90s, I too was fortunate enough to be chosen by Jerry to pen some MANSHOTS pieces: a pair of articles spread over a couple of issues each — one of ’em a history of Bill Sheffler’s old Nova studio. (Bill died last year, as perhaps you knew.) But, shamefully, I was heedless about deadlines; so workaholic Jerry quite rightly stopped asking me for new input.
I pray that, soon, some queer cyber-genius will make available on line the entire run of MANSHOTS (and, while he’s at it, that he’ll digitize all of the old Adam publications of Doug Oliver, too).
The films of Lucas Kazan stand as proof that new masters in any artform emerge from the study of old masters.
I salute you.
Randy Fischer firstname.lastname@example.org