Director Cass Paley Passes Away

Director Cass Paley Passes Away

OS ANGELES — Acclaimed adult director Cass Paley, who helmed a vast number of 1990s titles under the artistic name Wesley Emerson, passed away today, friends and associates confirm.

The 73-year-old Paley had been on life support for the past few days, as industry friends said their farewells.

Besides a remarkable career directing adult films in the Golden Age of video production, Paley gained mainstream attention as the producer and director of “Wadd: The Life & Times of John C. Holmes,” an acclaimed 1998 documentary about porn’s first male superstar.

Paley’s “Wesley Emerson” IAFD page shows almost 200 titles made during an era in which big productions and not individual scenes were the measure of an adult filmography.

Born in New York City in 1948, Paley amassed the bulk of his credits between 1992 and 2007, overseeing productions for top companies of the era like VCA, Video Team, Odyssey, Adam & Eve, Jill Kelly Productions, Wicked and Sinsation Pictures.

From 1982 until 2001, Paley also produced documentary and music video material for artists such as Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Fleetwood Mac, Madonna, Lou Reed, The Replacements, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. His archive is now part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame collection.

In 2016, Paley co-produced the well-received “X-Rated 2: The Greatest Adult Stars of All Time!” documentary.

Industry Reactions

Kylie Ireland told XBIZ she had done over a dozen movies with Paley during her time as a contract performer with VCA, and later promoted his films as the company’s publicist.

“Cass was always very hands-on,” Ireland recalled. “Every movie was his pet project. He wanted to work with the dialogue so it would work the best for you. He’d get very excited about all his movies! He would put personal pieces of your own self in the characters and the dialogue.”

She especially noted Paley’s skill in working with performers. “He knew how to draw acting from you, even how to make you cry if the scene needed,” she recalled. “Cass had such a passion for making movies. And it’s rare now. We’re losing that in the business. But personally, I’m crushed. It’s hard to lose all these people. They’re family.”

Ireland said that she will always remember, with a smile, “how mischievous he could be and how his eyes sparkled when he teased you.”

Fellow VCA contract star Chloe Nicole described Paley as "one of the good ones," saying that he "will be sorely missed."

"My heart and prayers are with you all through this difficult time," Nicole added. I hope he will finally find some peace, away from any pain or suffering now."

Veteran director-producer and Paley collaborator Eli Cross told XBIZ that “Cass was one of the rare, great gentlemen of the home video era. He was kind, warm, funny and always ran a low-pressure set. Everyone loved working for Cass Paley. He'll be missed.”

“We lost another legendary member of our industry this week,” wrote Alana Evans today on her Twitter account. “Cass was one of the sweetest men. He was so warm and kind, funny and talented. Rest in paradise, Cass.”

"My teddy bear, Cass Paley," Alexandra Silk posted on Facebook during the director's final hospitalization. "Thank you for all your hugs and love and good times. I love you, Cass!"

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