Wakefield Poole Interview: Pioneering 1970s Erotica

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Wakefield Poole is an American dancer, choreographer, theatrical director, and pioneering film director of lgbt erotica. Bet you didn't know he lives in Jacksonville! After the jump, a look at his life and career, in his own words.

Starring Wakefield Poole
A Metro Jacksonville/TVJax Production
Producer and Writer: Stephen Dare
Camera: Sam Farmer, Chad Hendricks
Editor: Chad Hendricks

Wakefield Poole describes his life and background across the various phases of his career with Stephen Dare.

Fascinating and gossipy, this is part one of the interview.  Check out a short excerpt about his connections to Marlene Dietrich here

Wakefield Poole, The Father of Gay Porn.  
Warning!!!  SOME VIDEOS ARE NSFW (Not Safe For Work)
strong language, brief nudity, (but not actual porn)

Wakefield Poole, widely considered the creator of modern gay porn as well as a longtime Ballet Russe performer is a very delightfully alive Jacksonville native.

He was also friends with George Ballanchine


Wakefield Poole is an American dancer and pioneering film director in the gay pornography industry from the 1970s and 1980s.

Born Walter Wakefield Poole in Jacksonville, Florida in 1936, Poole joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1957 and later became a dance captain on Broadway. Poole made his directorial debut with Boys in the Sand (1971). He made another very successful film the following year entitled Bijou with renowned gay actor Charlon Sing. He then made an unsuccessful heterosexual soft core film, Wakefield Poole's Bible, but is best known for his gay porn films. Many of his films starred Casey Donovan, one of the best known porn stars of his time. From 1964 to 1968, Poole was married to Nancy Van Rijn, a Broadway performer and choreographer.

Poole appears in the documentary Ballets Russes.

Performer and filmmaker Wakefield Poole spent most of his youth in dancing schools and public toilets. As a high school boy in the 1950s, he had turned so many tricks with married men that he assumed they all came to the can for an occasional same-sex romp--and that he had to be careful to avoid his own dad on the other side of a glory hole. He soon moved to New York to work in theater, becoming acquainted with many stars, from Andy Warhol to Debbie Reynolds. It was the height of the sexual revolution; Poole was dropping acid, having orgies, and saying yes to everything. One night at the Continental Baths, his conversation with new friends was interrupted by "some broad" doing her club act next to the pool: "Guys were sitting around, in their towels, on the floor, and in straight-back chairs, laughing, clapping, and having a blast."

It was Bette Midler's first appearance at the baths
, and the unlikely start of her amazing career. Poole's memoir is full of such anecdotes, small but evocative, which capture the excitement of the times, but the book is centered on his role in the well-made hardcore gay porn films that are his principal achievement. Director of Boys in the Sand and Bijou, among lesser efforts, Poole helped inaugurate a new industry and promote an ideal of unashamed sex play and loving experimentation. After a brief period of minor celebrity, though, he discovered cocaine and began to lose everything he had gained, becoming not an artist, as he had always seen himself, but a pornographer and an addict. Poole's book is not especially well written, but it's a clear and unsentimental slice of gay life in the hedonistic pre-AIDS, post-Stonewall period, a voice from an almost lost generation. --Regina Marler

Poole Overture. WARNING:  NSFW!!!!

From child prodigy to the most notorious director of gay adult films, Wakefield Poole wrote the rules for a living on the edge with no safety line and no apologies. How a former singer and ballet dancer went from the Broadway stage to behind the camera as the world's most beautiful men bared all for him is just part of a fascinating story that takes us on a whirlwind tour of the early days of the sexual revolution when "anything goes" was more than a phrase, it was a religion.

While rubbing shoulders with the elite of the day, including Andy Warhol, Bob Fosse, and Stephen Sondheim, Poole created Boys in the Sand, the gay porn film that would revolutionize the industry and serve as the ruler by which adult entertainment is measured to this day. Only in that time and that place would it have been possible, and Poole's memoir serves as a fascinating trip to an era when anything was possible and everything was celebrated as long as it had style.

Wakefield was good friends with Andy Warhol. To commemorate Andy's first retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Wakefield created this 10-minute film. As it was shot in the late '60's, it was made completely "in camera" - there are no special effects at all, only some editing tricks. Wakefield gave the film to Andy as a birthday present.

Wakefield is a wonderful and animated auteur, who is still quite active in theatre.  His latest production in Jacksonville was at Boomtown Theatre, as the director and consultant for Gretchen Van Aiken's "Called Girl".

He was the one who made gay porn chic in the 1970s, and who set many of its original conventions.

Article by Stephen Dare