UPDATED: Pioneering Director Wakefield Poole Passes

UPDATED: Pioneering Director Wakefield Poole Passes

LOS ANGELES — Wakefield Poole, a pioneering director of gay adult cinema whose 1971 classic "Boys in the Sand" revolutionized the genre, passed at the age of 85 on Wednesday in Jacksonville, Florida.

Poole was famously inspired to film "Boys in the Sand" after watching a poorly shot scene in an adult theatre. As he would later explain, Poole wanted to create beautiful, inspirational images that would inspire viewers to feel good about being gay. The image of a blond, Adonis-like Casey Donovan striding from the waters of the Atlantic and crossing the beach to kiss Dick Fisk cemented both men as icons of gay culture.

"Boys in the Sand" was a smash success; praised by Andy Warhol, reviewed in Variety and one of the first adult films in any genre to achieve mainstream recognition, preceding even "Deep Throat" by a year, thanks to an unprecedented full-blitz promotional campaign that included full-page ads in the New York Times.

Poole's other films, including "Bijou" (1972) and "Split Image" (1984), laid the groundwork for several generations of filmmakers and proved that gay erotic images and films held mainstream appeal.

He enjoyed a prolific career as an artist, author, dancer and choreographer and published an autobiography, "Dirty Poole: the Autobiography of a Gay Porn Pioneer" in 2000 (reissued in 2011).

A documentary about his life, career and enduring influence, "I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole" by Jim Tushinski, was released in 2013; film distribution outfit Vinegar Syndrome restored and released several of his titles in 2013 and '14.

A "True Great of the Industry"

"Everyone who produces gay porn owes a huge debt of gratitude to Wakefield Poole. He was groundbreaking, he pushed the envelope and was hugely instrumental in laying the foundation for producing high quality gay pornography," Falcon/NakedSword President Tim Valenti told XBIZ. "Not only was he one of the firsts to deliver this type of video, he presented gay erotica that we all should aspire to. He will be remembered always for blazing trails and unprecedented artistry, and we wish his friends and loved ones our deepest sympathies."

PinkLabel.tv released a statement to XBIZ, which reads as follows:

"We at PinkLabel.tv are very sorry to learn of the passing of Wakefield Poole, a dancer and choreographer with the famed Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and also a pivotal gay filmmaker of the 1970's Golden Age of 'porno chic.' We are grateful to have his adult films available for streaming on PinkLabel.tv thanks to LGBTQ film historian Jenni Olson's work with our Classics collections and distribution by Gorilla Productions. We invite viewers to appreciate his work, including his best-known films 'Boys in the Sand,' and 'Bijou' as well as 'Take One,' 'Moving' and 'Bible.' We also stream the incredible documentary, 'I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole,' which tells his story along with excerpts from his films and interviews with contemporaries like Gloria Spelvin and Linda Williams. It's a fantastic look at the life of a very talented man and often overlooked adult filmmaker."

PinkLabel.tv Marketing Director Jiz Lee told XBIZ a "silver lining of the sad news of his death, I hope, is that more people might discover the legacy he left."

"His work has been largely unrecognized. I myself learned of his films only a few years ago through PinkLabel.tv's acquisition of his films, thanks to Jenni Olson's help acquiring many incredible historic gay and lesbian adult titles," Lee added. "'Boys in the Sand' is beautiful and 'Bijou' is especially exciting to me showcasing surreal choreography within an adult film. His work sparks within me a desire for creativity and exploration within porn films as well as an appreciation for filmmaking of that cultural era and its archival preservation."

Lee cited Andy Warhol's famous statement about Poole, which can be found in Tushinski's documentary: "After Wakefield Poole's films, mine are unnecessary and a bit naive, don't you think?"

"I really love that quote," Lee said.

"The late, great Jerry Douglas introduced me to Wakefield Poole," Chi Chi LaRue told XBIZ. "I was always grateful to experience the true greats of the industry. I truly learned a lot from watching their amazing stuff."

Tushinski first met and interviewed Poole in 2004 for the film "That Man: Peter Berlin."

"We instantly connected — mainly because I’m a huge fan of the Golden Age of Broadway and had never met someone who had been involved with it," he told XBIZ. "Over the years, as we struggled to get 'I Always Said Yes' done and released, Wake became like a favorite uncle to me."

"We spoke as often as we could, though the last week or so of his life, it was almost impossible to get ahold of him for several reasons," Tushinski noted. "I’m just happy that the last time we spoke, we both ended with our usual 'I love you,' which is as perfect a way to conclude our final conversation as I can imagine," I’m missing him a great deal."


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