Playing Poole

  • by John F. Karr
  • Wednesday August 3, 2016
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Wakefield Poole, the maker of classic erotic films The Boys in the Sand, and Bijou, gets to tell his own story, in the documentary feature, I Always Said Yes. Director and producer Jim Tushinski's handsomely crafted film, which has just become available for rental or download ownership at, finds Poole, now in his 80s, alive and well in his Florida hometown, and as self-aware, candid, and not infrequently sassy, as we remember him from his autobiography, Dirty Poole, upon which the documentary is based.

With clever split-screen technique that lets Poole commune with his long-gone collaborators, Tushinski illustrates Poole's reminisces with an array of imposing talking heads (I'm honored to be included briefly among them), and some priceless vintage footage. I flipped for the clips of Poole on stage and in rehearsal at his Broadway shows.

Poole narrates a story of surprising reversals of fortune. Childhood stardom led him to New York's ballet world, and thence onto Broadway.

He was building what looked to be a successful career in musicals (directing the London production of No Strings , and teaching tap to the stars of Follies ), when he was hit with a double whammy. A controversial lawsuit concerning his choreographic work on Do I Hear a Waltz? led to his being unjustly blacklisted (boy, his revelations about that show will singe your ears).

Filling an employment void, and being handy with a camera, it seemed to make sense that when he saw one of the era's typically awful bits of porn (okay, it was Highway Hustler), he thought, Hey, why don't I do that?

'That' turned out to be Boys in the Sand, an erotic and cultural landmark for its quality filmmaking, and a sociological landmark of no small importance in the march of gay liberation and sexual identity. The movie was such a success that the entire Broadway community turned out to see it. And then the entire Broadway community turned against Poole because he was a pornographer.

He wanted to make artistic films, to take the shame out of the sexual act, so people could see them and say, 'That was a beautiful movie.' Perhaps with some naivety, he saw himself as an experimental filmmaker. But the world saw him as a pornographer. There's no escaping that box. What could he do but continue?

There were some quality films, some glory days in San Francisco. Then came drugs, a long slide to bottoming out, and a resurrection in a brand new career, as a chef. Tushinski lets Poole exult where he should, and is nearly too generous with time for some later stories, although these do culminate in the public's renewed knowledge of Poole's accomplishments.

Director Jim Tushinski's I Always Said Yes.

Here's why Poole is important. It's not just the quality of his films. Boys in the Sand appeared two years after Stonewall, and is, let's declare it, the Stonewall of gay sexuality's representation. Poole's pioneering validation made it matter to its audience.

And now I'd like to give some validation to Jim Tushinski. Gay and lesbian documentarians are frequently lauded. Their films may even show up on television.

But those who document erotica can't expect any TV broadcast at all. After all, a glimpse of penis may fry viewers. And you'd be surprised how many gay film festivals are likewise wary of genitals. At the same time, very little of our history is taught in schools.

So, to me, Jim Tushinski is as much a culture hero as Wakefield Poole. If we are beneficiaries in Poole's legacy, we must salute the legacy of Jim Tushinski, whose handful of films about erotic performers and sexographers has brought a neglected and sometimes scorned history to us with dedication and skill.

Lively and receptive Skippy Baxter, riding Austin Wolf, in Hot as Fuck. photo: Falcon Studios

Yippy for Skippy

While praising some newcomers last month, I ran out of room to enthuse about a mate from Down Under who's mighty arousing when down under some top stars.

He's the delightful, domineering Skippy Baxter. The name may sound twinky, but he isn't. He's a sparkling though manly 23-year-old power bottom. An Aussie, he was first seen in a handful of Bentley Race scenes in 2013, and is now being spread around the various RagingHotFalcon brands as their Exclusive.

Skippy is just plumb entertaining, usually while happily enduring some deep depth charges, but also while dishing 'em out. Whether top or bottom, he doesn't let his partners off easily. He's got a manly face (it's those laugh lines), bulging biceps, and a succulently bulging cock head. (Incidental: His boyfriend is Rogan Richards, with whom he shares a penchant for cockrings).

Raging Stallion's Hard Friction line had him first, in Hot as Fuck, which was directed with typical heat by Steve Cruz. He gave Skippy a two-scene debut, first with the mighty brawn of Austin Wolf, and then with the massive everything of Rocco Steele.

Newly out is the exciting Falcon Edge brand title, Ultra Sex, in which he wrangles the block-long cock of lean J.J. Knight, and gets a hefty oral cum squirt as reward (the movie's other irresistible come-on delivers Sebastian Kross topping muscular bottom Derek Bolt).