Monday, May 19, 2014

Kris Gilpin Interviews: Mr. X, Confessions of a Porno Cinematographer

TOG's interpretation of Mr. X in his rumpus room

Confessions Of A Porno Cinematographer
By Kris Gilpin

Here's a Disclaimer that Goat Scrote provided:
We specialize in the objectionable, but sometimes something comes along that is so spectacularly offensive that it’s worth a little extra preparation. Lubing things up, if you will, to avoid unnecessary discomfort. This interview occurred in 1988, which may or may not seem like a very long time ago. There had never been a gay kiss on U.S. network television. Same-sex marriage wasn't even under discussion yet, the idea was so unthinkably radical that the possibility had never even occurred to most people. This was before you could type the word “transsexual” into a search engine and see dozens of examples of surgically-crafted genitals alongside personal diaries about the transition experience. There wasn’t even a “Jerry Springer Show” yet, to bring secret cross-dressers and diaper-wearing food-fetishists out of their closets and into the living rooms of America. In any case, some of the things Mr. X has to say could be construed as being not very fucking nice, so just try to remember that this article represents a snapshot of the experiences, attitudes, and judgements of one person at a particular moment in time, and nothing more than that, mmmmkay? But seriously, if you think you might be offended, this is your last chance to fuck off and read about something a little less raunchy.

While working as the apprentice film editor on MGM's In The Heat Of The Night
(for television), I met an assistant editor in an adjacent cutting room (he was working on an action series for an independent network). My new friend, who did not wish to be identified in this interview (let's just call him Mr. X, shall we?), is a very funny fellow, and I found we had many interests in common, such as British comedy (The Goon Show, Derek & Clive) and CD-only record shops. 
   The convo somehow got around to porno, as I discovered he had shot a 16mm, silent John Holmes epic in the late 60's (I had written four porno books in early 1980 in New York City--where else?--but that, as Gonad the Barbarian might grunt, is another story). So in the interest of our wanting to subject you, gentle reader, to the depths of human degradation and depravity, it was in that spirit this interview was conducted.
   Also of note is that this talk took place on the evening of March 10th, 1988--two days before Holmes died of complications from AIDS.

R.I.P. Johnny Wadd

Kris Gilpin: So how'd you get the job?

Mr. X: I knew the director's sister (he did not wish to name him); I got involved in shooting a natural birth; she had introduced me to this couple who wanted to have a natural birth photographed, which I did for them. This sister's brother saw the film, loved my photography and asked me if I'd do this (porno film) for him. I was out of money at the time, I had no job and it meant working Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday. And I got a nice price for it. Then he asked me to cut the film, which I refused to do, so he did it then he asked me to come in once and a whaler to look at some of his cutting. Then I was no longer involved with it; in fact, I never saw the finished print of the film. Then that was the last I ever hear of him; he never called me again, and I don't know whatever happened to him.

KG: So you shot this porno flick called Enjoy, in two days and one night. How much did they pay you?

Mr. X: $400.

KG: What was the director like to work with?

Mr. X: He was O.K. He was a nice guy; he didn't push me around, or anybody else.

KG: What was John Holmes like?

Mr. X: A snob, not very nice and arrogant.

KG: A "big prick", so to speak.

Mr. X: Yeah, there you go (chuckles); I didn't really care too much for his personality. There were certain scenes in which the director would ask him, "Could we do this and do that?" And he'd answer. No, that's it; that's good enough." Like a couple of blow-job scenes the director wanted done a certain way, or done over. Holmes hadn't cum yet, but he said "No no, that's good enough; you got it. Let's go". In fact, I was on a (camera) crane, and he'd just walk under me saying, "No, I gotta go." But yet, he got his money.

KG: What's you reaction to the news he's dying of AIDS?

Mr. X: Well, I really could care less about him, because I really don't approve at what he made his living at; from what I was told, he's been doing this ever since he was 16, and that's all he did. He started out posing for stills, gradually went into films, then started producing and directing some of his own. So I have no sympathy for him at all; he's gone AC/DC, you know.

Once you AC there's no comin back to DC

KG: Any other "big" names in the cast?

Mr. X: No, but there was a lot of other people, and there was a married couple of performers who'd been in other pornos and had done a lot of still work. There were five to eight women--I can't remember that far back--the same with the men. One young man was 18, and the women were up to their late 30s. We even had some transsexuals; we just photographed them; we didn't show them having sex. There were two men who had breasts and small penises and testicles; one man had already had his operation, so he had breasts, and had his penis and testicles removed.

KG: He already had a vagina?

Mr. X: Yes, and it was.   .   . very ugly. We shot the transsexuals on a bed, playing with themselves; most of them were alone. Some of the women had very large clitorises and we showed how they protruded out of their vaginas [dear reader, does it make you feel dirty reading this? Because it makes me feel unclean just to type it!-KG]. And of course we had them just showing different sizes and shapes (of vaginas), which they'd open and close, and I'd have to zoom into them. The transsexuals were mainly just standing and posing, just to show you what they looked like. That was the whole premise of Enjoy: no matter what you look like or how you're shaped, you can still enjoy sex. And then we had guys just standing, showing the different sizes of erections; the camera was not on when a woman, who was hired just for this purpose, would suck them to an erection. Then she'd get out of camera range, so you saw them before and after (erections).

KG: But this was hard-core right?

Mr. X: Oh yes, we had a few couples fucking. The main thing was showing Holmes off. And we had a girl who was made to look like a teenager; she had braids I'll never forget. I panned from Holmes's face down to his dick, she was sucking him off. Then there was this 18-year-old kid who had a small penis to begin with, but then they put ice cubes behind his balls to make it even smaller. It was to show a comparison, because this 18-year-old kid and John Holmes standing next to each other was just a sight to be seen. And backtracking now, the man who was made into a woman was really a strange-looking human because he had breasts that looked like a fat mans--maybe a little bit bigger--and he had woman's hair. Then when I had to photograph his--or her--vagina it was just not normal looking, because it want straight and clean; it was almost jagged and you could almost see the scar tissue. And yet he,she, was married to a man who didn't know she'd had an operation; in fact, when we photographed this person, we had to put a pillowcase over his head--her head--its head.

KG: This sounds like one of those "old" 16mm silent loops.

Mr. X: Yes, with a music transfer, and I'd estimate it was between 45 minutes and one hour long. It was really underground. It was shot in a large loft somewhere on Las Palmas Blvd. near Hollywood Blvd. It was above a store and it was very, very large. In the beginning of the film we just showed you different forms--different sizes and shapes--of human beings; we got a lot of college people in. Then it ends with a whole big number with a man and a woman who really went through the whole number of foreplay and having sex. While he was screwing her we had a black backdrop, a black cloth, behind their white bodies. Then he came too soon, so we had to stop and he had to replenish himself by eating raw eggs. Then we went back and they continued again and, before he came, we had to stop everything, take the black backdrop away and put up a white one. And then, from the same camera position, he came, and that was supposed to be the "climax".

Raw eggs are also perfect for winning pie eating contests

KG: Did it feel awkward for you to shoot people fucking?

Mr. X: Yeah, at first it was because I'd never done anything like that before, and it was alittle embarrassing. There were the stagehands around of course, and there were about five elderly men sitting at card-table chairs, watching, because they put up the money. Then we did a crane shot, straight down to the couple, then gradually craned down and around to their side view, got close-ups between their legs and of their hands and her breasts, then I zoomed in for the cum shot. The first day I walked into the room, and off to the right there was this smaller room in which people were undressing and walking around nude. And one woman, who was fully dressed, was trimming pubic hairs on the men and the women so it'd look nice; then they had make-up put on their bodies. There was this young couple, boyfriend and girlfriend, from UCLA; we showed him standing there in the nude, then he went and sat down while this girl blew him, with his girlfriend sitting right next to them. Then he said to the director, "I had an accident"--he'd cum in her mouth--and he didn't know how he could get another hard-on. So his girlfriend volunteered to do it, but they wanted to do it in privacy, so they went into the bathroom and she gave him head.And the girl who was hired to give blowjobs was stripped to the waist; she had very large breasts, so while the guys were being sucked off, they could play with her tits at the same time.

KG: Did you see anything else that shocked or disgusted you?

Mr. X: The guy who''d already had his operation grossed me out; that was really unpleasant to look at, yet I had to get between the legs and photograph it as the vagina was being opened, and zoom into it. I had to make sure the light was getting in there to show what it looked like--it was not a pretty picture!

KG: Was there any other prima donna bullshit from the other "actors"?

Mr. X: The young couple was actually married, and we'd take breaks every once in awhile where we'd get into this little room and sit around to talk. The young wife had already had a baby--I think he was around three years old--and she said that when the boy got old enough, she was gonna teach him all about sex, and that she was gonna have sex with him.

KG: Sick shit; she wanted to have sex with her son?!

Mr. X: Not wanted to, but as sort of an educational thing; she'd be his first piece, to show the boy what it was all about. And the father agreed it was the best way, and that if they had a daughter, he'd do the same thing. Everybody sat around and mainly talked about their sexual attitudes and experiences; everyone there thought sex was a must and, no matter how you did it, it was OK.

KG: Any other stories? They ask you to make any more films?

Mr. X: The guy who rented the facilities to us came over and asked me, during one of the breaks, if I'd like to, and I said OK because I needed the money and I thought I could do it again. So I went to see him but then I got a little scared because, sitting all around the walls, were men only--young men. That came as a bit of a jolt, because I've never wanted anything to do with homosexuals; I thought for sure it was gonna be men and women. And when I got there and it was only men, and some of them were teenagers, I said noway am I gonna get involved with this! The guy was kind of sorry, because he'd already seen some of my footage and he'd liked what I show, and the way I shot it. But I said, "I'm not gonna do this," and I left, never to be seen or heard from again. And the director had liked what I'd done. I think he had the performers sign some sort of release saying it was O.K. with them to be photographed having sex. One of the women who applied the make-up was older but very well-preserved, and she giggled at the sex on a few occasions; it being without any sound, it was O.K. No one cared; they liked her reaction. You could see she was getting warmed up by it all; she was cute; it was fun to watch her. And to get the 18 years old, the director and one of the gaffers went out on Hollywood Blvd. and found a kid, paid him and brought him in. And while he was holding the ice cubes behind his balls, the kid kept saying, "You know, I may have a small cock but I do well with the women; they like me because I'm good looking."

KG: What name did you use in the credits?

Mr. X: I didn't have a credit; there was no credit to who photographed the film.

KG: What was the one thing you walked away from the experience with?

Mr. X: It made me feel as though I were in Hades, that it was something you might see going on in Hades, with everyone walking around naked and having sex, and doing every little crazy thing there is to do with sex. It was a weird feeling because I'd never been involved with anything like that in my entire career, coming from shooting educational films, using teenagers and college students.

KG: Did it scare you, like you were going against God or something?

Mr. X: Oh, yeah; I feel like I was doing something wrong but I thought, I cant help it; I need the money. In fact, months later when it was all over, I though, Well, I can never do that again, and I hope that I'm never so down and out that I have to stoop that low again.

KG: If someone offered you some good bucks, would you do it again?

Mr. X: Well, I would have to give it a lot more thought. Maybe, you know, because it seems we're sort of lax these days about that. It's really hard for me to figure out, unless it really happened. I don't know.

KG: What did you shoot after that?

Mr. X: I went back into shooting more educational films for schools. Then I went to work for  .  .  .a large company (laughs; he means a movie studio he doesn't wish to name). I got back into the union as a cameraman, and all of a sudden I wound up getting in as a film editor, so there I stayed.

KG: Any last thoughts or words on that sordid weekend?

Mr. X: I just look at it as an experience. It was weird, strange, and its history; I did it. Not that I'm proud of it, but it's an experience that I did. And it's over with.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thanks for this. I read this before I went to work yesterday. Fascinating, entertaining and informative! Interesting reading about Wadd. From documentaries I have seen about him big JH comes across as a bit of a twat. Probably because of all the coke. In all respects a tragedy though- after all it is not a drug that is especially famed for promoting modesty and the better sides of human nature.

  3. I feel very lucky that Kris Gilpin decided to send me all his rare interviews and reviews, he's the best! More stuff is on the way. Thanks for your comments Nigel, love your work.

  4. thank YOU, Cranky! & Nigel, thanks for writing! dunno if it was drugs or a big-dick superiority complex or whatever but yeah, I heard Holmes was a not-very-nice human, too. & if he hadn't gone into porn it's hard to imagine what he would've done for a living, too (a dealer?!)...


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