Iconic Porn Director Wakefield Poole Talks to The Mirror

Wakefield Poole wanted to make “artistic, erotic—not dirty” films. And he did. He had blockbuster successes with “Boys in the Sand” and “Bijou” although not with his fascinating flop, “Bible!”

Poole looked back over his remarkable life and career in a recent interview

You were a dancer with the Ballet Russes. How did you come to have a career in cinema?

I found there was power in the camera because I could become a participant in the sex by what I chose to show — almost like a three-way, though my part was not physical, but totally mental. It was incredible feeling the power I had affecting the [actors’] action—zooming in, doing a close up, etc. Every film I felt I was participating, not just being a voyeur.

You took an experimental approach to making erotic films. Why do you think your work “Boys and the Sand” and “Bijou” connected with audiences when they were made?

I think the main reason people connected with my films is that they are real.

I matched people up emotionally, and physically. They expressed themselves as they were feeling. My stars all had a reason to be there and do what they wanted to do because they wanted to do it. The camera was hand wound, and I would have to stop constantly, and I didn’t have two cameras, so I had to develop my style around what I had. Hence cut aways, and trees and sunsets. I couldn’t match the action. They kept on going. It made me edit, and I had to be creative in editing. Nowadays, they don’t have to edit, and there are so many restrictions.

Did you feel a need to cultivate a particular audience?

I wanted to attract straight people. Because of my reputation, I was known in theater circles, and I knew they would all come to see the movie. I knew I was getting the carriage trade. A lot of women were interested in my work. I wanted to have people sit and watch a porno as a movie, not a place to get hot and go to the men’s and turn a trick.

What can you say about the lives and careers of Casey Donovan and Bill Harrison, the early gay male porn stars?

Casey I met through a friend, Joe Nelson, and he recommended him to replace an actor who wanted an outrageous amount of money. Cal [Culver, Casey Donovan’s real name] came up to my house and I showed him the scene I shot, and he loved it. I got to know him after I hired him. He was a schoolteacher and came to NYC and began modeling. Once I made “Boys in the Sand,” he became a superstar. He had done two films before “Boys in the Sand.” People came to see the movie to see him. He got glowing reviews, and was called an Adonis. Casey had done other small jobs, fate got him into modeling.

Bill was in San Francisco and wanted to be an actor, and got into ACT and studied there and did a couple of productions, and got notice and recognition. I didn’t know him. I met him the first day shooting “Bijou.” I hired him over the telephone. A friend of ours out there said I’m sending you a present, and sent Bill Harrison. They had it one night and Marvin called and said I think I found the star for “Bijou,” and he brought me a terrible photo and I almost didn’t hire him. He was charming on the phone More than charming. Like Cal, they knew who they were and they said what they wanted and didn’t want. After “Bijou,” Bill made his own films, for Falcon. Calvin put ads in the Advocate to make money and hustle. I wanted to know how do he could do it with anyone who wants to hire him--people who aren’t terribly attractive. He said there’s something good in everyone you meet. You have to concentrate on that and put everything else out of your head. He said he could get a hard on at the drop of a nickel.

You made a sequel to “Boys in the Sand.” How did that career choice come about?

I took things that were available to me. I made “Boys in the Sand 2” because I was involved with Male Express and they did porno stills and sell the whole shoot to a magazine. I tried to get back in the industry as I was dealing with my drug habit and taking care of my lover, so I literally had to become a pornographer. I still kept my integrity, even though I was making it on video. I tried to keep the same attitude even though the budget was smaller, and I had to audition people, whereas before people came to me. It became a business rather than fun, and it became a necessity because I had to eat and live. The [company] also had an escort service. I wanted nothing to do with that. They put me on a salary, and I had to turn out a video every six weeks. After I did three we decided to do “Boys in the Sand 2” and I found someone to take Casey’s place. There was a big lawsuit and it wasn’t released for 3 ½ years.

Do you care to discuss your addictions and other struggles you faced in life?

When I moved to San Francisco with [my lover] Peter, we’d been together 6-7 years. We broke up within 6 weeks. All my friends were in New York. I wanted to go to LA where the movie business was. Peter won out and we went to San Francisco. I wasn’t seeing him often, and he wouldn’t come home, and then I realized he met someone out there and decided he wanted to be with him. I was moved away from my friends and I was alone after 6 weeks. I had never done coke until then. I was destroyed and wallowed in self-pity. One of my neighbors brought down some coke and it made me feel better, and get through that awful period.

What do you think accounts for your longevity?  

I moved on. When I got what I thought I was going to get from things, I moved on. Sometimes I had no choice.


Like us on Facebook

  • Latest Comments

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS