Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 13 / 29 March 2018
 

Raw! Uncut! Video!

Leather

Palm Drive documentary kickstarts at Mr. S


Nick Romanov in Palm Drive Video's Russian Bear (1987). Romanov is representative of the naturally masculine men that appeared in Palm Drive Video's catalog. Photo: Palm Drive Video
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A new feature-length documentary titled Raw! Uncut! Video! is in the works on the famed adult video company, Palm Drive Video, a boutique gay porn studio created by well-known leatherman, Jack Fritscher, and his husband, Mark Hemry, that produced more than 150 films between 1985 and 1997.

Palm Drive Video was an edgy porn studio that promoted kink as an integral form of safe sex at a time in our history when the AIDS epidemic was decimating the gay men's community. Fritscher and Hemry felt that this gave gay men an outlet for their sexuality at a time when such alternatives were needed.

This homegrown mail-order porn company produced fetish videos that focused on a wide range of men and scenes, from bears and cowboys to BDSM and assorted kink. The cast of the films were unique because the producers often hand-picked them from small town bars, rodeos, county fairgrounds, bodybuilding contests, construction sites, and back alleys.

The films stand on their own not just as safe sex vehicles, but as a celebration of the kinkiest aspects of the naturally masculine men the studio gravitated toward. I've watched many of these films and consider them works of true erotic performance art as well as some of the sexiest kinky films I've seen.

The directors of the documentary, Ryan White and Alex Clausen, want to use their access to the vast Fritscher-Hemry archive, intimate observational footage of Fritscher and Hemry, and interviews with experts on gay fetish to reconstruct an erotic underground of hot men and wild sex that contributed to greater sex-positivity. Producing this project are White and Clausen along with fellow Producers Todd Verow, Charles Lum, and Paul Lee.

I attended the project's kickoff and fundraising event held at Mr. S Leather on Friday, March 23, along with a large crowd in attendance. The film's trailer debuted, and they played a short clip from one of the studio's more popular fetish films, Hazing in the Hay.

Afterward, there was a question and answer session during which the documentary's directors, and audience members, asked questions of Fritscher and Hemry.

Some fascinating details came out during the Q&A about the founders' creative process. They liked using natural guys and tended to shy away from the more polished porn actors some other studios embraced. They didn't add music to their films, which was an artistic choice. Instead, they encouraged the action onscreen to stand alone as an experience between the viewer and the film, allowing the viewer to add their own optional separate soundtrack.

Another aspect of Palm Drive Video films was that often the actors spoke directly to the viewer. Since many of the films were solo or extremely intimate performances, speaking directly to the viewer was a directorial device to better engage the viewer with the actor and create a heightened level of erotic, one-on-one connection.

(Left to right) Raw! Uncut! Video! documentary co-directors Alex Clausen and Ryan White, and the founders of Palm Drive Video, Jack Fritscher and Mark Hemry. photo: Race Bannon

Fritscher mentioned that a few of the actors in some films were straight. They could perform solo in the films, thereby giving them a platform to play out their exhibitionist proclivities in a fun, comfortable way for a gay male audience.

During the fundraiser there were some hot interactive performances by Baloney performers, live fetish performances, and great musical ambiance was provided by John Fucking Cartwright (Lyddle Jean). Also, on sale were exclusive new t-shirts by the butchdick collection. It all made for an informative and enjoyable evening.

I asked Co-Director White why he wanted to make this film.

"Alex and I are very interested in the ways that Palm Drive Video promoted fetish as a way for queer folks to safely explore their sexuality during the height of the AIDS crisis," said White. "On top of completely devastating gay communities, AIDS brought on so much fear and sex-negativity in the '80s and '90s, and many LGBTQ people were driven back into the 'closet'. The government was primarily promoting abstinence to combat the epidemic, but sexuality is such an important part of people's lives that that was never going to be a valid solution. I think it's amazing that the kink community stepped forward and said: 'Hey, here are some other options that may be outside your box, but are really fun and sexy, and safe.' It allowed folks to continue exploring themselves erotically at a really critical time, and ultimately I feel that it was a really important step in combating the disease."

Ryan White (right) recently filming Donnie Russo (left) in New York City. Russo appeared in many Palm Drive Video films. photo: Alex Clausen

Personal side note: during the fundraiser at Mr. S Leather a sexy, grungy, blue collar stud was walking around the event encouraging everyone to piss in the metal bucket he was carrying. At the end of the evening, the event producers auctioned off the opportunity to the highest bidder to pour the contents of the bucket on to the sexy stud. As it turns out, I won the auction and emptied the bucket on the hot man with a crowd watching and applauding. I love my life.

On that note, check out the project's website. This documentary will capture and celebrate an era in kinky gay male porn that needs to be seen and preserved.

This is an interesting project in terms of funding. Most traditional documentary grant-givers or funding sources hear the phrase "gay fetish porn" and say, "Uh, I don't think this is the right project for us." So, the producers are looking towards community support to help finish the film. They've launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise critical post-production funds that they need to finish the project. The project has some great sponsors and each of the fundraising levels comes with perks to incentivize people to help make this film happen.

If you'd like to donate toward the documentary's completion, you can donate at www.indiegogo.com/projects/raw-uncut-video-gay. Also visit www.rawuncutvideo.com

 

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. You can reach him on his website, www.bannon.com.

 

 

Leather Events, March 29 – April 15, 2018

There's always a lot going on in the San Francisco Bay Area for leather and other kinksters.

Thu 29

Movie Night with the SF girls of Leather @ CounterPulse

Join the SF girls of Leather for their quarterly social watching a move or two. Open to all. You are welcome to bring snacks and drinks. No heels or hard shoes on the floor though. They'll be watching "But I'm a Cheerleader" and perhaps "Blood Sisters" too. 80 Turk St., 7-10:30pm. www.sfgol.org

Fri 30

Bears & Booze @ The Edge

This weekly happy hour event is for bearded guys and the beard fetishists who like them. 4149 18th St., 5pm. www.edgesf.com

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountryclub.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Sat 31

Golden Gate Guards Beer Bust @ The Lone Star Saloon

Enjoy all the beer and soda you want and some tasty food. They'll be raffling off fuzzy bunny gift prize baskets. $15, 1354 Harrison St., 4-8pm. www.ggguards.org

Frisky Pups @ SF Catalyst

A men's party for naughty pups and bad boys. Fully equipped play space with BDSM equipment, beds, slings, puppy mats, and much more that will help you unleash your primal instincts. Proceeds benefit SF Catalyst. $15 in advance, $20 at door. 1060 Folsom St., 8pm-1am. www.sfcatalyst.org

Mon 2

Ride Mondays @ Eros

A motorcycle rider and leathermen night at Eros, bring your helmet, AMA card, MC club card or club colors and get $3 off entry or massage. 2051 Market St. www.erossf.com

Fri 6

Bears & Booze @ The Edge

This weekly happy hour event is for bearded guys and the beard fetishists who like them. 4149 18th St., 5pm. www.edgesf.com

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountryclub.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Mon 9

Ride Mondays @ Eros

A motorcycle rider and leathermen night at Eros, bring your helmet, AMA card, MC club card or club colors and get $3 off entry or massage. 2051 Market St. www.erossf.com

Wed 11

Golden Shower and Naked Buddies @ Blow Buddies

A men's water sports and naked night. $15 with membership, 933 Harrison St., 8pm. www.blowbuddies.com

Fri 13

Bears & Booze @ The Edge

This weekly happy hour event is for bearded guys and the beard fetishists who like them. 4149 18th St., 5pm. www.edgesf.com

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountryclub.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Sat 14

Fetish Flea Market @ SF Citadel

Come see the best in new and tested kinky toys, clothing, jewelry, accessories, art and more! Dozens of booths selling hand crafted and upcycled kink gear. Bootblacks on hand. Free STI testing. $5, 181 Eddy St., 11am-5pm. www.sfcitadel.org

Golden Dildeaux Awards @ SF Eagle

These humorous awards are intended to poke fun at various sexual activities while at the same time provide a unique charity fundraising opportunity for Positive Resource Center. Enjoy all the beer and soda you want and some tasty food. They'll be raffling off fuzzy bunny gift prize baskets. 398 12th St., 7-9pm. www.ggguards.org

Sat 15

Biker Tax Day Beer Bust @ SF Eagle

Celebrating Satyrs MC 64 years in existence. There will be Badger Flat 57 early bird rate sign-ups available. $15, 398 12th St., 3-6pm. www.satyrsmc.org






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