Jerry Butler: Young, Wild and Wonderful
Podcast 37

Jerry Butler:  Young, Wild and Wonderful <br />Podcast 37

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of Jerry Butler’s autobiography, ‘Raw Talent’.

It was opinionated, frenetic, controversial, and entertaining. Just like Jerry Butler himself. Love it or hate it – and many loved it, and many hated it – ‘Raw Talent’ was a revelation. For the first time, a book by an insider blew the lid off the inner workings of the adult film industry and dished the dirt on its stars.

It was named after Jerry’s best-known film, which told the story of a talented but struggling actor who gets sucked into making porn films, winning the fame he craved, but losing himself along the way. It was almost like porn was imitating real life. Except, here’s the irony: Jerry Butler’s real life was more extraordinary and crazy than anything he played on the big screen.

So what happened to the boy from New York with the raw talent? What’s his place in the golden age of adult film? And how does he look back on that period?

On this episode of The Rialto Report, April Hall speaks to three people who know the Jerry Butler story intimately:

Bill Margold
Bill Margold – industry insider, director, actor, historian – remembers the Jerry Butler years well and, as always, provides his own unique insights.
Cathy Tavel

Cathy Tavel wrote ‘Raw Talent’ with Jerry Butler and Robert Rimmer. She remembers what Jerry was like, how she put his life on the page, and the fall-out from the book’s publication.

Jerry Butler
And finally, Jerry Butler himself – now working as a bus driver back in Brooklyn – looks back at the films, the madness, the people, and how he managed to survive the era.



Jerry Butler, April HallJerry Butler and April Hall, May 2014


Heather DrainAs an added bonus, writer Heather Drain from Mondo Heather has written an exclusive essay about Jerry Butler’s film ‘Raw Talent’ which we are proud to present here.




  1. Martin Jane · June 8, 2014

    Phew – I was worried there might not be a Rialto Report this Sunday… and then what would I do?!

    I’m listening to it now, and it is DEFINITIVE. Somehow the Rialto Report manages to be the last word on each subject it showcases. Big praise to you guys.

    And welcome to Heather D. too who provides a great primer on the first Raw Talent film!

  2. William Margold · June 8, 2014

    Shattering stuff.
    My computer is a blur because of the tears in my eyes.
    I was privileged to watch Butler pour his heart into a number of stunning performances.
    And now, thanks to The Rialto Report, I was honored to listen to him bare his soul.

  3. Heather Drain · June 8, 2014

    Martin, thank you so much! It’s a huge pleasure to get to contribute to one of the best film sites out there! Phenomenal work by April Hall and her stellar league of interview subjects, especially Jerry.

  4. Howie Gordon (Richard Pacheco) · June 8, 2014

    Jerry Butler was extraordinary then . . . and he’s extraordinary now!

    Great Rialto Report!

    Thank-you all!


  5. Hank Rose · June 8, 2014

    Behind the serious persona, Butler was meant to be a comic. Critics mistook his non stop sense of humor for emotional chaos. But he used this persona to break the ice in X to fit in. As a result, he was always on stage performing in or out of porn. On set, he was a porn combo Tony Curtis/Jerry Lewis who should have been given more roles that he played as a joker in real life.

  6. TM · June 8, 2014

    Another excellent podcast.

  7. Jill C. Nelson · June 8, 2014

    Wonderful podcast! Big thanks to Mr. Butler for his honesty and huge dose of reality. It was also great to hear from adult historian and friend Bill Margold, and biographer Cathy Tavel. Heather, my dear sister, your review of Raw Talent is absolutely superb. Thanks again April (and Ashley) for illuminating the lives and loves of these special folks.

  8. Cathy Gigante-Brown · June 8, 2014

    Thanks for another insightful interview and for giving Jerry a chance to finally set the record straight. You managed to capture the beautiful spark of the man who trusted me (and Robert Rimmer) to help him bring his story to light in “Raw Talent.” I laughed, I cried…I’m happy Mr. B sat down with you. (But from experience, I know he was probably pacing the floor most of the time as he spoke!) Thank you also for giving me a chance to tell what it was like working on the book with him and Bob. Kudos to April, who did a wonderful job keeping him on point. I also enjoyed Heather Drain’s take on both “Raw Talents.”

  9. Neil Cranston · June 8, 2014

    Fucking phenomenal.
    Fucking moving.

    Congratulations to all concerned.

  10. Just a fan · June 8, 2014

    The true documentarians of the NY golden age… If only everyone had curators as diligent, caring, and knowledgable as you guys.

    Give these guys an award for chrissakes!

    (And welcome Heather – a great piece by a great writer!)

  11. Robert Rosen · June 8, 2014

    Interview Joyce Snyder.

  12. Jerry Butler fan · June 8, 2014

    The interview I’ve been waiting for since I read Raw Talent all those years ago.

    Jerry is painfully honest, painfully truthful…. and I wish him well in whatever he does.

    Love you Paul.

    P.S. The song at the end was beautifully chosen. Who is singing?

    • Ashley West · June 8, 2014

      Thanks for your comments!

      The song is ‘Precious Love’ by…. Jerry Butler.

      (Not the subject of this show, but the great soul singer of the same name).

  13. raimundo · June 8, 2014

    Dear April
    You are doing a very interesting job about the golden age of porn, I think Jerry Butler is one of the most interesting male actor in the golden age industry, sensitive,very human in the interaction with female actresses, he was not about the ” macho men” he was about of comunication between male and female,

    I am very proud that one of my favorite painting are in the wall of his house

    Love you

  14. Tom Peak · June 9, 2014

    Jerry is one the best.. Great stuff.. I knew the owners of his first experience at the spa.. Renee and Betty.. I spent many a night hanging especially with Renee!!

  15. roy karch · June 9, 2014

    Great to hear Jerry Butler tell the tale of Jerry Butler.
    I always liked him; still do.
    Thanks April and R.R.
    Once again top shelf.

  16. Cathy Gigante-Brown · June 9, 2014

    As usual, your choice of music is impeccable. Perfect choice in a Jerry Butler song to close.

  17. Frank F · June 9, 2014

    Congratulations on another excellent podcast! From the excellent choice of opening music (“The Boy From New York City” to Singer Jerry Butler closing it out. Once in a great while you just connect with a particular public figure, an athlete, actor, or singer, and end up following that person throughout their career. That person becomes almost a surrogate to the particular entertainment. Jerry Butler was the adult film actor I locked into, when I first saw him in “Raw Talent” back in the eighties. Then all the Henri Pachard NY based films he made. I always considered him a fine actor who could also do sex scenes, not just a one dimensional porn stud. His candor and humor during this interview is much appreciated. Off topic, Jerry’s commentary on the DVD of “Little Darlin’s ” was a hoot!

    April, appreciate your work on the podcast (and keeping Jerry on point during the interview). I’d like to add that you have a wonderful, smoky voice. Noticed it during the Jeff Stryker interview. You would do well narrating audiobooks of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett stories.

    • April Hall · June 9, 2014

      Thank you so much Frank! I guess all those years of being mistaken for my father on the phone when I was kid paid off!!

  18. James Bickert · June 11, 2014

    Another great one. I also thought Jerry was top shelf. I read his book back in the 90s and the interview was an excellent follow-up. Even though it’s been 20+ years since I read it, I would love to know who was responsible for all the metaphors in RAW TALENT. It must of set a record for autobiographies!

    • Cathy Gigante-Brown · June 13, 2014

      Glad you enjoyed the book. The metaphors were all Jerry’s. They just seemed to flow out of him like lava from a volcano.

      • Rob · December 27, 2014

        I read you book when it first came out I loved it ands would have never guessed he played for the New Haven Nighthawks. Though I have to say he is manic as most hockey players I know.

  19. Kerry Jacobs · June 11, 2014

    Bloody brilliant interview. Words are superfluous.

  20. Siki · June 13, 2014

    Fantastic interview! This is such a good site and I’m going through all of the other podcasts as I drive to and from work, during my lunch hour, and at home at night. Such a joy and a treasure! I wish you all would interview yourselves because you seem like such interesting and knowledgeable people in regards to this time period . And I love April’s voice! Thanks again!

  21. Gayzer · June 16, 2014

    Jerry Butler sounds like an actor. He’s obviously a natural talent. He should probably be interviewed as well by Marc Maron for his “WTF” podcast. Jerrry/Paul has a voice and speaking style that sounds well-suited for the stage. His descriptions of his sexuality sound to me like what’s probably very typical of heterosexual men, even perhaps enhanced by cocaine, let alone porn. He also sounds like a terrifically kind person at heart- and he has a lot of heart.

    I don’t agree with him that this country “gave up morals, decency.” I think this country and its society has long had problems with morals and decency, but much more in the past was kept hidden because honestly expressing indecency and absolute selfishness had been unacceptable. This country did much that was immoral and indecent through its military and corporate might, and now that’s being expressed as well by crass celebrity and absolute capitalism that overrides anything else.

    So yes, we’re seeing a lot more acceptance of immorality and indecency, but it’s just a lot less hidden. That may be a good thing because what’s hidden away can hurt people in secret, but surely everyone can agree that there was much more of a sense of community in all kinds of communities in America’s past, including porn.

    I also learned two new words that he introduced in the interview: “pressure-rous” and “temp-tating.” He’s an energetic, expressive guy with a terrific voice and a lot of character, and it was a really good interview.

  22. Xavier · June 16, 2014


    If you have any early episodes that are not available on the site right now (Wakefield Poole? John Amero? etc.) please release them.
    Can’t WAIT for the next one!

  23. k marshall · June 17, 2014

    Thanks April….THE premiere cast re: film,period.
    You,Ashley and all contributors are way out ahead
    of the rest. No one in your rear views.Raw Talent piece
    second to none. Collection in print of podcasts must
    be soon. Time not on our side for these oral histories.
    Do not slow down;for historical purposes,there is NO
    ephemera in history of American porn. Every scrap
    of info matters.We understand the reluctance of those
    whose lives have progressed beyond that time.It is that
    very hesitation on their parts that points to how vital
    it is that these first person narratives be obtained NOW….
    The ever-shifting plates of “moral values” as pointed out
    by Jerry here,indicate the generational rejection/
    acceptance by The New Puritans of today. If history IS
    bunk,as someone said,it is also written by the “winners”.
    Your work at de-bunking is precious.Winners AND losers
    must be recorded.

  24. S. · June 27, 2014

    Jerry and April, you guys look great in the pic!
    Another very enjoyable podcast, a great roller coaster ride with April’s fascinating voice pacing JB, and as unfiltered and raw as it gets, and I particularly liked what Jerry pondered at the end about our day and age. What he said about distraction and temptation reminds me of the Chinese proverb/curse “may you live in interesting times”. Kudos.
    (That karate scene… kicks ass… What a fucking classic!) All the best to both of you. RR keep doing what you do.

  25. S. · June 27, 2014

    …and what Gayzer said too… almost to a t.

  26. Shlomo Glickstein · August 4, 2014

    Great podcast. The cool thing about Mr.Butler is he is always candid, and very honest for a porn star, he broke the mould and spoke clearly about the whole business, without glamorizing or demonising it.

    He is also really funny and was great in Brooklyn Rapper Necro’s ‘sexy sluts’ video!

    I can listen to his meshigarse all day!

  27. Rick Savage · August 26, 2014

    Love you, Brother. Thanks for staying real. And hey…the coffee’s on me, any time.

    The universe missed out on yet one more golden opportunity when it neglected to put you and Robin Williams in the same room at the same time.

  28. Annette Heinz · October 16, 2014

    Jerry and I made some good films together. Always polite.

    • Leonard Glow · December 23, 2014

      Hi Annette, I watched Firebox yesterday, I want to thank you for being so awesome in it, it’s obvious that you are someone who is naturally passionate, sexual and very comfortable with it but all the same, even someone with that gift would find it hard to match you in the sack.
      I would love to see a film with you and Jerry together! I’ll go and seek it now…

  29. Johnny Spade · December 15, 2014

    Born in 1975, my first exposure to the adult film world in my early teens was the early/mid ’80’s films and videos that Jerry Butler was very much a part of. I remember first seeing him in 1985’s “Xstasy” with Shanna McCullough and Nina Hartley, and from that first exposure I was a fan. He was usually most charismatic actor in the productions he was in and even myself being a dyed in the wool heterosexual, I could see he was an attractive dude; certainly better looking than some male adult stars. But his best trait was his acting and full devotion to whatever situation and character he was playing. He kept many amused and in “Raw Talent” amongst others, kept many enthralled by his serious acting chops. I read his book shortly after it was published and I still go back to it every few years. It is a timeless story of big ambition and trial and error in the age of the post sexual revolution confusion that many men found themselves in. Great interview and the podcast has become required listening for me each new episode…thank you!

  30. Annette Heinz · February 7, 2015

    I’ve recently spoken to Jerry. His word play is still gungho. We laughed about our catch up/catsup as my name is Heinz. He seems quite happy. :-)

  31. DeAnne Holliday · March 7, 2015

    Trying to reach Jerry Butler to send him invite to book opening party for Dennis Hof’s autobiography. Please send me an email