Film and book (#15): Marco Siedelmann – Good Hot Stuff: The Life and Times of Gay Film Pioneer Jack Deveau (2019)

    Our films are live Disney movies, if we hold them out of circulation for 5 to 6 years, they’re PINOCCHIO all over again – playing to a brand-new audience. The number of people interested in porno is probably fixed in relation to the population. This is literature of a kind – I don’t know how it’s recognized today, but we’ve created a large body of it – maybe it’s the Mickey Mouse of the year 2000!

    (Jack Deveau)

Jack Deveau (1935 – 1982)

Jack Deveau, the great New York City based and shaped gay pornographer was perhaps one the most sublime chronists of human motion, in bed, but just as much outside of it. The gentle way hands discover bulges in pants, to be caressed necks, rugged beard stubble in a mirror that is actually the discovery of one’s homosexuality in „Left-Handed“ (1972), rotating TV-dinners running hot in the microwave while your partner’s natural radiation does the same for you („Drive“ [1974]) and time and time again: Dance, perhaps more of an expression of sex and desire than anywhere else. Deveau’s films possess what is generally called a flow, a remarkably strong one, for it carried them from one generation of gay men to next, as cult objects, as means of coming to terms with a – depending on the times – more or less socially accepted identity, long after their once praised maker had passed away and gradually slipped into obscurity. Never did they fully follow in his tracks and in contrast to the vast majority of homosexual Golden Age pornography they even made the leap to DVD (burned on demand but still). Gaining immortality strictly through your work, not your personality or private activities – few filmmakers embody this beloved notion more perfectly than Jack Deveau. But these days he has finally resurfaced again, courtesy of a new book by German publisher Marco Siedelmann, a mighty tome collecting almost 600 pages in close to A4 paper size, but more importantly one adhering to a conceptual torrent resembling Deveau’s own.

A vast selection of newly conducted or unpublished interviews with almost all surviving key collaborators involved with his legendary studio Hand in Hand Films, candid photographies from sets and beyond (a selection you’ll find included in this text), contemporary reviews lifted directly from old magazines and essays by Christopher Rage or Peter De Rome themselves, not just slapped together, but arranged in a coherent, gradually evolving fashion. From more restrospective thoughts rooted in the here and now to realm of memories concerning long departed people and social structures, while the press reviews more or less serving as chapter climaxes between a group of one to five tonally similar pieces are reprinted in chronological order, the captured thoughts overturn this structure, drifting closer and closer to the magical date 12/02/1982 – the Day the Dances Died – the further the page count progresses. By force of this clever layout tactic the missing mastermind’s spirit grows ever more prominent, the gap it left becomes vaguely measurable, until the final two sets of reviews shift the focus exclusively on Deveau. Discounting the to be expected and well researched film credits „Good Hot Stuff“ ends on a somber note, with Arthur Bell’s tender obituary the saga ends again just like it ended once before, close to 37 years ago.

Behind the scenes of Adam & Yves (Peter De Rome, 1974)

Jean-Étienne Siry – actor

This is no accident of course coming from international porn essayism’s bon vivant. Siedelmann’s work and this aptly titled volume in particular is first and foremost a vivid celebration, of sex, of a spirit irrevocably lost to the ages and a certain spirit involved in pornographic filmmaking that successively vanished with the advant of video and later internet pornography, one interested in a tad more than just the lowest common denominator between masturbator and supplier of wanking material. In consequence every aspect of film production is chronicled over the course of conversations, reading closely about the world of Hand in Hand Films alone can perhaps teach you more about pornography’s Golden Age, the attitudes and people involved, the processes behind the silver screen than many treatises on the subject. At times it even reads like an instruction on how to do pornographic film – accumulating a comparable in scope and ambition collection of valuable insights should prove to be quite a challenge.

Behind the scenes of A Night at the Adonis (Jack Deveau, 1978)

Jim Delegatti – make-up artist

All this is achieved by means of a mind-set somewhat lost in the Golden Age of genre film monographs: Just listening, digesting and delating. Be the interviewer Siedelmann himself, Eskalierende Träume’s very own Gary Vanisian or everyone’s favorite sparring partner with recluse directress Roberta Findlay, washingtonian film historian and researcher Casey Scott – especially the newer interviews impress with a sly humility on the interviewers part, are more open talk than firmly structured interrogation. They leave a lot of room for that special stream of consciousness you can’t lure out of people if just rushing from one keyword on your crib to the next. The interviewers grow secondary while the personality of their partner shines all the more brightly. „Good Hot Stuff“ is a labor and a declaration of love, its unwavering dedication to letting the remaining voices involved with Deveau speak their minds freely, unswayed by modern ideas on what should and what can be said, on what is relevant and what not is heartwarming, quite unique among journalistic reworkings of film history. Most notably it is utterly devoid of any sort of later-born theorizers, all essayistic pieces are reserved for people actually involved with the production of the films in question and thus the superordinate dialogue discernible amidst the various smaller discourses is also one between distinct generations of men. The ones who still remember the implications of ostracism, censorship and Stonewall – all themes alluded to time and time again, consciously and unconsciously, they stick around, there’s no denying that – and the ones for whom the phrase „coming out“ carries the vibes of personal freedom instead of risk. So, without ever sounding preachy or didactic and just through the natural flow selected remembrances, „Good Hot Stuff“ is also an overdue warning: Watch the films of marginalised – in life and in the arts – filmmakers with your eyes wide open, be receptive, treasure their insights on life, sex and art – for they won’t be around forever, some of them never were to begin with. For both groups this a monument. Just like the closing obituary it reads: „It was a wonderful party and a wonderful life.“

Behind the scenes of Fire Island Fever (Jack Deveau, 1979)

Jack Deveau with Lorenzo Mans (left) – writer – and Henk van Dijk (right) – actor

Robert Alvarez – actor, editor, sound man

Roger and Jack Wrangler in Sex Magic (Jack Deveau, 1977)

Behind the scenes of Drive (Jack Deveau, 1974)

Tom DeSimone (left) – assistant director, cinematographer, camera operator, editor – and Jaap Penraat (right) – actor, producer, assistant director, cinematographer, camera operator, art director

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Freitag, September 13th, 2019 in den Kategorien Ältere Texte, André Malberg, Blog, Blogautoren, English, Filmbücher, Filmschaffende, Midnight Confessions, other languages veröffentlicht. Sie können alle Kommentare zu diesem Beitrag über den RSS 2.0 Feed verfolgen. Sie können diesen Beitrag kommentieren, oder einen Trackback von ihrer eigenen Seite setzen.

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