Jill Monro appeared in several New York adult films in the late 1970s and early 1980s – such as Gerard Damiano’s ‘Skin Flicks’ (1978) and ‘Consenting Adults’ (1982), Joe Sarno’s ‘Tigresses’ (1979), and Richard Milner’s ‘Centerfold Fever’ (1981).
She famously got “married” to fellow porn actor Marc Stevens, and was ubiquitous on the New York adult film party scene – all of which was documented extensively in magazines like High Society and Cheri, in which she wrote a monthly column.
But Jill was also the first transsexual adult film star – having been born male.
In 1982, she died of a drug overdose.
But who was the real Jill Monro, and what happened to her?
What was story behind her life, her gender reassignment surgery, and her premature death?
Did you know Jill Monro? Please get in touch with us; we’d love to hear your memories.
The Jill Monro story:
How did you first meet Jill Monro?
I met Jill in March 1976. I had a regular day job, but I’d just come out of a bad breakup. I started driving for a car service company in Brooklyn for the extra money and to keep my mind off of it. I thought it would be a great way to meet girls.
I’m sitting in this car service office, and these two girls walk in. They need a ride, which is about 10 miles away. It turned out it was Jill and her girlfriend, Sandy. They were both beautiful women. No one could tell they were transsexuals; I couldn’t tell. Nobody gave them a second look, other than to see that they were good-looking women.
Extract from “Jill Monro’s Surgeon Tells: How To Become A Woman”, by Hazel Gravy, Cheri magazine, May 1978:
“Between the ages of 12 and 18, Jill had had a nose job, electrolysis, hormones, silicon, and her chin reshaped. She first came to this doctor when she was 20, to have her tits re-done and a vagina constructed. This doctor also worked on her eyes and filled out her cheekbones with silicon. By the time Jill took the initiative to see this plastic surgeon, she had been living with both tits and cock for eight years. She was ready for the final step”.
Was Sandy a transsexual as well?
Yes. At that stage they were pretty much completely finished except for the bottom equipment. They didn’t look like drag queens. They didn’t even look like cross dressers; they looked like hot women. It was my turn to go out and do a job, so the two of them got in my car. I was using my own car, which was a nice, really fancy sport car at the time; it was a brand new 1974 Toyota Celica.
Was Jill her real name?
Terri got into the front seat, sat with me, and Sandy got in the back seat. I had a great hi-fi… as close to custom hi-fi unit as I could possibly get at the time. I put in Led Zeppelin. She wasn’t into rock – she was into disco music – so to her, that was something new, and she was digging it, and jumping and dancing in the car.
We dropped her friend off, and then I brought her to her place. We exchanged numbers. She was in a relationship with this really creepy guy.
What area did she live in?
Around Ocean Avenue and Church Avenue in Brooklyn.
If she was in a relationship already, how did things progress with you?
Maybe she saw me as a way out. Maybe she was tired of her relationship. We got together a couple of times after that. We didn’t have sex until maybe about the third or fourth time.
We were at her friend’s house, and we were in the bathroom making out. I started feeling her up, and she wouldn’t let me between her legs. We were like wrestling. I finally got my hand down there, and lo and behold, there was this little lump. I jumped away; I was fucking shocked. Up to then I thought she was just some crazy girl, and that maybe she didn’t want to give it up just yet.
What was your reaction?
OK, it wasn’t about my own heterosexuality. It was about, “Uh-oh, I like this girl. What the fuck do I do now?” We got involved. We started dating. Eventually, she broke up with her boyfriend, and we got an apartment together. It was in Brooklyn. In less than a year, I took out a bank loan and we got her a boob job. She went from small A cups to a D cup.
She’d already had some surgery done at this stage?
Yes. She had a lot of facial surgery done. She looked like all woman. She was all woman. Her hair was long and straight and one length, down to her ass. Thick, thick black hair.
Within a year after getting that boob job, I took out another loan because I wanted her to complete surgery. I said to her, “Look, I can’t be with you like this. I’m really not interested in that.” She always said she wanted the surgery. I said, “If you really want it, I’ll go to the bank and we’ll take out a loan.” So that happened.
You paid for the surgery?
I paid for all of that.
Extract from “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Tits: The Story of Jill Monro”, by Dan Zele (David Rice), Cheri magazine, July 1978:
“We drive into Manhattan to see the doctor again. Another check-up and another hormone shot. After this is done, we sit down for a consultation concerning the final step. The operation runs about $4,000. An initial deposit of about 50% is required to start the wheels turning. Later that day, we go to the bank, apply for a loan, and, one week later it is approved. The doctor gets his bucks, and Jill is scheduled for surgery on July 7th, 1977. That night, we come home and open up the champagne and celebrate Jill’s future as a woman”.
Her original first name was Theodore, but she went by Teddy when she was young. Then she went from Teddy to Terri.
Can you remember what her second name was?
I don’t think I should be giving that out. We’ll just leave it at that.
What was her ethnicity?
She was an Italian girl. Born and bred in Brooklyn.
Do you remember what year she was born? I just want to get an idea of her age.
I think she was born in ’51. I think she was two years older than me. Something tells me July, but I could be wrong.
Nothing much. She’d been a licensed cosmetologist but when I met her she was being supported by this creepy guy. She was still cutting hair and doing trims and cosmetology and dying hair on the side.
Did you get to know her family?
Yes, I did. I knew her mother very well. She was very close with her mother. We went to her mother’s house a lot and she was always at our house too. We vacationed with her mother and spent time in her mother’s business. Her mother would give her money all the time. Terri always did her mother’s hair, once a week. Every other Sunday, we went out to eat at her favorite Italian restaurant. Her mother was loaded. Her father died years ago. Her mother remarried, a real estate guy, and we hung out with them quite a lot.
What was her relationship like with her mother?
I think her mother played a lot into what Terri became. From what Terri told me, all through the pregnancy, she was praying and talking about wanting to have a little girl. Once she was born, her mother practically raised her as a little girl. She taught her how to cook. She always bought her frilly clothes, and girly clothes, and bought her dolls; no GI Joes. Her mother definitely played a big part in this.
Did Jill have any brothers or sisters?
No, she was an only child.
What was Jill like as a person?
On the outside she presented a good case. She was sweet, nice, warm, friendly, approachable, loving. Very normal, very bubbly. A very happy person.
But on the inside she was an unhappy person. She was tortured. She was emotionally crippled by a lot of stuff. Maybe it was her upbringing. Maybe it was part of her transsexuality. Maybe it was part of how people treated her. She was abused all through high school. In high school, she was a boy. When I saw her pictures, that boy looked just like a girl.
Extract from “Jill Monro’s Surgeon tells: How To Become A Woman”, by Hazel Gravy, Cheri magazine, May 1978.
“I enjoy her – in fact, I admire her. She is strong and frail at the same time. She comes on like gangbusters, flashing her tits in the local bar, draping herself across the laps of strangers, like the parody of the femme fatale that she is”.
What kind of thing did she like to do?
Her mother taught her how to cook Italian, and she cooked very well. Had she been “a normal person”, she probably had what it took to be a successful chef in a restaurant. She was that good, very talented,
How did you both become involved in the adult business?
One day after the surgery she came home found me sitting in the living room. I was reading a copy of Cheri magazine. I was looking at this page, and the woman was really fucking homely. Terri totally flipped out; not because I was looking at a porn magazine with women in it, but because it was an ugly woman. She said, “Wait a minute. If that ugly bitch can do that, I can do that. I want to be in that magazine.”
So we took a couple of Polaroids. I mailed them to Peter Wolff at Cheri magazine, and I got a call from Cheri’s front office secretary; a woman by the name of Petunia Camero. Kim Pope had been the secretary before Petunia but by this time Kim was working as the receptionist. Anyway, Petunia told us that the editor wanted to meet us so we went to the Cheri magazine building which at the time was on 42nd Street, between 2nd and 3rd.
We met Peter and Andrea Ambers who was an editor there. She seemed envious of Jill’s attention.
They took us downstairs to what they referred to as the “Cheri restaurant”; it was a restaurant called The Scoop, which was on the other side of the building, on the 43rd Street side. It was a real nice Italian restaurant, they had a bar there. The Cheri people had a huge credit account there. Everybody from Cheri, as well as a lot of other people from the business, went right down to The Scoop to hang out after work. That’s where we met people like Fanne Foxe for the first time.
Jill Monro, Dian Hanson
Did you both enjoy the attention?
We had a lot of fun. For us, everything was fascinating. It was a whole new world. Everything just kind of exploded from there. They arranged a shoot. We went to Peter Hurd, their staff photographer. He had a studio on 3rd Avenue, between 21st and 22nd Street. It was also home to a lot of Cheri parties and all that other stuff.
When did the first shoot take place?
The shoot was arranged for a couple of weeks later. I dropped her off there, and then I went uptown to the Cheri offices. They sat me down in an office, gave me an electric typewriter, and said, “OK, you’re going to be doing a monthly column, so start typing your first one now.”
You ghost-wrote Jill’s columns that appeared in Cheri?
I wrote all the columns. It was Terri’s column, but she never wrote a single one.
Jill Monro first appeared in Cheri in the March 1978 issue in an eight page article called “The Gal With The Man Made Muff – The Incredible Saga of Jill Monro”. It featured color photographs and an article by ‘Dave Zele’ (David Rice’s pseudonym) telling the story of their relationship in titillating and salacious fashion.
Extract from “The Gal With The Man Made Muff – The Incredible Saga of Jill Monro”, by Dave Zele, Cheri magazine, March 1978:
“I am, believe it or not, a fairly straight kind of dude – I mean, I’m not, and never have been, gay. But then, I don’t think Jill was ever a man – she was just born with the wrong kind of equipment. I fell in love with her and together we sailed through the series of operations that would make us a “legitimate” couple. We did it – the impossible. Jill no longer has to wear three sets of underwear to conceal that poor little dick that was never meant to be. Her pussy is as real and functional as any others you see in this magazine, even if it is a ‘Man-Made Muff’. Jill has dreamed all her life of appearing in a magazine like Cheri, and already our lives are changing, taking shape and direction. We are happier that we’ve ever been”
What kind of deal did you have with Cheri?
We became staffers there. We had a kind of a contract with them. I was also a staff photographer. She did a series of layouts and traveled and represented the magazine.
What was her feeling about doing the photo shoots at the beginning? Was she shy, or was she very open about that kind of thing?
No, she was totally open. She completely loved it. She loved the attention. She just loved being validated as a woman. To her, it was great. She had no problems whatsoever.
How did Jill choose her name?
The original name she wanted to use… we were up at Cheri the first day after her shoot. They said, “You’ve got to pick a name. What name do you want to use?” She said, “I’m going to be Rusty Martin.” Rusty Martin was the character played by Ann-Margret in the film ‘Viva Las Vegas’. She was an Ann-Margret fan, big time. Ann-Margret, she would die for.
They told her, “No, you can’t use the name Rusty. One of our models here, that’s her real name. If we start calling you Rusty, it’s going to get confusing, so pick another name.” Jill Monroe was Farrah Fawcett-Majors’ character in “Charlie’s Angels”.
Eventually, the first time she got her hair cut … when she cut her long hair off… her girlfriend, the other transsexual Billie, was also a hairstylist and Terri said, “Give me the Farrah look,” from “Charlie’s Angels”. Billie cut all her hair off, and Terri got the same haircut as Farrah Fawcett-Majors.
What was the public reaction to Jill’s photo spread in Cheri?
First of all, most people didn’t believe that she was born male. Everybody thought that Cheri magazine was just doing a huge publicity stunt for the numbers, for circulation, for money… whatever you want to call it.
From there, once the magazine came out, which was about three months later, all fucking hell broke loose.
How did you both get to meet Marc Stevens?
Marc was also a lot more gay than he was straight. Marc liked the boys; that was Marc’s thing. He had this relationship going with a stripper and porn actress called Helen Madigan at the time, but I’m pretty sure that was just a front.
Do you remember Helen Madigan?
I remember her very well. The first time I met her was in Marc’s apartment in the Village, on University Place. She was fast asleep when we went over there. She wouldn’t wake up, and Marc, me and Jill had a threesome.
How did Jill get involved in the party scene with Marc?
There was a dance troupe that was started that threw monthly theme parties at different clubs in Manhattan; it was called Le Clique.
She was invited to be in the cast of that, and Marc Stevens became her partner. Basically, Marc Stevens and Terri were the actual stars. Most people were coming to see them. The guy that was running it, this guy Stuart, didn’t want to pay them their worth. Terri and Marc left and formed their own troupe, called Images. They started doing the exact same thing Stuart was doing, only it was all different people, with a different name.
What were these parties like?
The parties were great. I would take photographs and they would get published in Cheri.
There would be famous people too – like the presenter of that TV show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, Robin Leach. He was always there. He used to salivate after Jill. He would offer her all kinds of money. She wouldn’t go; she didn’t like him. She thought he was skeevy.
Did you take many pictures of Jill?
Did you keep many?
I’ve got a bunch here and there, yeah.
Extract from “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Tits: The Story of Jill Monro”, by Dan Zele, Cheri magazine, July 1978:
“We got a call from an agent who I’ll call S.F. (Ashley West: this was Sandi Foxx). She heard about us from a guy I met at a party (Ashley West: this was Marc Stevens), who had done a lot of films through her. We made arrangements to meet at her place, and immediately she handed us a list of names and numbers of people to call. Through that we wound up in a film by Zebedy Colt – a really great guy to work with – called ‘White Fire’. When we met the producers, they told Jill that they wished they had met her a week earlier. Had they done so, they would have changed half the script for her! Anyway they fit her into the script as the lunatic’s alter ego”.
What do you remember about White Fire?
“White Fire” was one of the first, I think. That was Zebedy Colt. The only thing Jill and I were in there was in the orgy scene. I don’t remember too much about it other than, our scene was shot up in some loft up on 47th Street, off 6th Avenue. We went up there; there were naked people everywhere fucking. We fucked, we got filmed and we left, and that was the end of that. The only thing I remember about Zebedy was that he was a friendly and a funny guy.
In 1978, Jill Monro was also approached by Gerard Damiano who was casting for ‘Skin Flicks’.
Extract from “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Tits: The Story of Jill Monro”, by Dan Zele, Cheri magazine, July 1978.
“Cheri magazine gave me the number of an agent (whom I’ll call D.P) (Ashley West: this was Dorothy Palmer) who was sending out people to see the producers of a new film being done by Gerry Damiano – who’d done Deep Throat, Devil in Miss Jones, and so on. So before you knew it, I was on the phone with D.P. and she asked to see us as soon as possible.
We were up there that very night. Upon seeing us, she signed us up straight away. She gave us the producer’s address and we were on our way. The producers were casting up in a loft on Third Avenue and when we got there, there were about ten people ahead of us – so we figured on being there the rest of the night.
Wrong. The two co-producers called her in straight away. They didn’t even ask Jill to read a line. They took one look at her and told her that she got the part.
I forgot to mention that right after they gave her the part, we sprang it on them that Jill is a transsexual. THEY LOVED IT!”
You also shot a few loops for Damiano; how did they come about?
Those little 20-minute, 8 mm films? Just by referral; someone would call me and say, “Hey, someone is doing loops this weekend. Want to make 100 bucks?” Back then, it paid like $50, $75 or $100 per loop.
From time to time, I’d get a call saying “Hey, Damiano’s doing a BDSM… or some loops in his studio in Queens. They’re spending the whole day out there shooting. You want to do one or two?” “Sure, why not?” Some I did with Terri, some I didn’t. Sometimes I didn’t even work in front of the camera; sometimes I shot fills. There were a lot of people back then doing loop. Tons.
I must have done about a dozen loops.
After the first two monthly columns in Cheri in March and April 1978, the May 1978 issue featured an interview with the doctor that had performed the surgery on Jill. It was conducted by Cheri staff writer, Hazel Gravy.
Extract from “Jill Monro’s Surgeon tells: How To Become A Woman”, by Hazel Gravy, Cheri magazine, May 1978:
“Dr Feelgood”: I used an implant, which is called a ‘floater’. It’s a thin envelope made of solid silicon – the kind of silicon that surgeons use to make heart valves – and we fill this bag with sterilized salt water. The salt water is soft and feels natural; it’s better that anything that’s available at this time. Previous implants were made out of a think jelly, and they felt like rocks. The implant is inserted right under the nipple.
Cheri: What do you see in the future for Transsexuals?
“Dr Feelgood”: There’ll probably be improvements in hormones – more powerful, producing more of a feminizing effect. I think we’ll learn more about breast implants and how to make them softer, more natural-feeling.
I imagine they were these delicate surgeries would be quite painful. Was that difficult for Jill?
You know, I don’t know. I don’t know. After the surgery, she was given a lot of Percodan; a lot more downers to go to sleep. She seemed to get through the surgery just fine. We were having sex like, I don’t know, maybe two months later.
I know she had plenty of pain killers, and she loved her drugs. She… Terri did have a very big drug problem.
What sort of drugs? Was it mainly cocaine?
Cocaine. And before I met her, it was mostly pills. I guess back then they were called downers; Tuinal and Seconal. They made her a very… she became a very mean person. She had a very bad attitude when she took them. The drugs brought out the Satan in her. Terri was also… it took me a little while to figure it all out. She was an emotional wreck.
What kind of lifestyle did you have together?
We spent a lot of time at the original Plato’s Retreat. She was the star of that place. We also wound up as swingers as well. The only thing is, she always, always needed lubricant. From what I hear, with the way they do things today, they don’t even need lubricant anymore. She always needed lubricant. Other than that, I never heard anybody complain about anything with her. She was a dirty girl, and she loved it, and her clothes would come off at the drop of a hat.
In the August 1978 issue of Cheri, Jill appeared as a judge in the Third Annual $1,000 Cheri Blowjob Contest, and she was also offered as the prize to a reader who would appear in a published photo layout with her.
For the remainder of 1978 and most of 1979, Jill appeared frequently in the pages of Cheri – in photo features and in articles about her sex life.
Where were you living at this time?
We had an apartment on 184 Thompson Street in Manhattan. Marc lived right downstairs, as a matter of fact. He’s the reason we moved in. He had found that building. It was still under construction. There were maybe half a dozen apartments available. He moved into the place while it was still under construction. We moved in, I don’t know, about six months later.
It was a gorgeous apartment. It was a three-room apartment, but it was weird. It was a triplex. It was … actually it was a quadruplex. It was four different levels. When you walked in, you walked down a long hallway, and then you had your kitchen. At the end of the hallway, there were six steps going down to another floor, to a sunken living room.
In the middle of the wall in the living room, you walked up six more steps and you had a bathroom. If you came out of the bathroom, you could walk up four more steps into a bedroom. Every room was on a different level.
It was a great place. It was party central – tons of sex, and tons of drugs.
I came across a newspaper article saying that Jill and a friend had been busted while they were taking some photographs at a beach. Do you remember that?
Yes, they were at Rockaway Beach, at the nude beach, and she got arrested for public lewdness.
Extract from “Beach Blanket Bust-O”, Cheri magazine, February 1979, by Jill Monro and Jane Compton
“The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the air was warm and hazy, and it was time to go to the beach. What else do you do on the July 4th weekend, anyway. Besides my doctor had recommended that my plastic surgery be exposed to the sun “to soften things up”. I figured a nude beach would be best for his works of art – so my boyfriend, Dan, and I piled in the car and headed for Riis Park. A perfectly harmless, natural way to spend a summer afternoon – right?
I had some sand on my body and my girlfriend, Faye, leaned over and brushed it off my stomach and – a fatal error – my pubic hair. It was at that exact moment that the cops moved in”
Jill and her girlfriend were charged with disorderly conduct and public lewdness. At the trial the prosecution accused Jill as ‘making a living inserting your finger in your vagina – posing nude for men’s magazines’.
What happened to the charges?
They hired this lawyer called Michael Griffith, who had done some work for Le Clique nightclub and he represented her, and he got her off, I believe, scot-free.
She would also travel for Cheri as well, right?
Yeah, she spent a week in California for example. Cheri did a tour there for a week. There were pictures of her in front of Paramount Studios, climbing on the big fence, and pictures of her putting her hands in Marilyn Monroe’s cement at Grauman’s Chinese. I didn’t go on the California tour. I had other things that I had to do.
Were you still driving the car service at that time?
No. Once this took off, I became a photographer. I also did a lot of rock and roll photography tours. I worked for groups like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Deep Purple. I toured with them for a while.
How did you get into that?
I had some friends working in the business and it simply happened by word of mouth.
But then I had to dedicate full time to taking care of Terri. Terri was not good on her own.
You became like a manager to her?
Yeah, absolutely. Terri was not good in managing anything. She couldn’t work… she didn’t know how to work out her deals. She didn’t know how to talk business to people; that was all me. Yes, I took care of her. I guided her whole porn career.
You acted in the adult films and did some camera work as well?
Yes – someone called and said, “Hey, do you and Terri want to do something as Jack and Jill?” “Sure, why not?” I was in “Tigresses”. I’m the guy who held up the smoked salmon. I didn’t do a lot of film work. That wasn’t my thing. I did it if I was there, and it was offered to me. I did it for the few bucks that it put in my pocket.
But I enjoyed my work behind the camera. I shot parts of “Consenting Adults”. I shot two or three others; I did maybe four or five major movies.
Was there ever any resistance from people to working with Terri in the adult industry?
There was. Terri wasn’t completely, 100% accepted as a woman. A lot of people were a little skittish about it. There are a lot of films that she didn’t get to do because of that. Historically she was definitely the first one of her kind to be accepted as much as she did in the business. But even Terri didn’t have a big film career.
She did maybe a dozen loops and a dozen films, tops.
Who were your closest friends in the industry?
Leslie Bovee was a very good friend of ours. Leslie was very close to Jill. So was Arcadia Lake; her real name was Michelle Carpenter, and she was Eric Edwards’ girlfriend. She was a wonderful girl, absolutely. They spent a bunch of time at our place. We went and hung out a lot.
As a matter of fact, at one point Terri became very upset and depressed about something and she tried to kill herself. They put her in the hospital for a couple of days. The day we brought her home, Rob and Michelle were the first ones at our apartment, to come and visit her.
The day she came home, Eric, Michelle, Leslie Bovee and her boyfriend at the time, a guy by the name of Stuart Allen, the four of them were at our apartment on 184 Thompson Street, to sit down and hang out with her.
She also met Annie Sprinkle through Marc. They weren’t close friends – more peers, associates, but Jill used to do Annie Sprinkle’s hair all the time.
But her closest friends were two transsexuals from Brooklyn.
One of them was Billie. She was a Spanish girl. Another one was Michelle. Michelle is the one who came home one day, and found her boyfriend in bed with a guy, after just having gotten the surgery. As a result she drank some liquid Drano; tried to kill herself, but she didn’t succeed. The only thing she succeeded in doing was ruining her voice, because she could only talk in a whisper. She killed her voice box. She was a good friend; she was very wealthy.
Those were her two main friends, and they were always at the Le Clique parties every month. Billie, we never had sex with. Michelle, we had sex with all the time.
In 1978, Jill had a “marriage ceremony” with Marc Stevens at Infinity, a Greenwich Village disco. The event, and the subsequent honeymoon, was covered in an eight page layout in the April 1979 issue of Cheri magazine.
Extract from “The Wedding Of The Decade”, Cheri magazine, April 1979:
“More than 1,000 guests and well-wishers, draped in their most dramatic disco-drags, came to witness the marriage event of the decade – the highly publicized union of Mr. Marc Stevens to Ms. Jill Monro. Amid fire dancers, mime acts, and a bridal procession of famed NYC celebs and disco-lites, Mr. and Ms. shocked their guests as they took their vows and promised to love, honor and disobey for the rest of their naturals lives”.
What was the truth behind Jill’s wedding to Marc Stevens?
That was just one of the parties they had. It was called “A Wedding.” I’m trying to think where the club was. It was on Broadway, just off Houston; the place burned down once. It wasn’t New York, New York… I forgot the name, but it was one of those discos back then. They came on stage about halfway through the night; Marc was in a tuxedo, and Jill was in a wedding gown.
The photos were sold to Cheri; I think I shot that.
So it was just a show? It was a publicity stunt?
Yeah, it was a party at a club with a theme. Most people didn’t realize it was just a theme. A lot of people thought it was real.
The “wedding” was a complete fake, a PR stunt. It was nothing more than a theme for a party. So there was no divorce – other than the “divorce party” that we had a few months later at the Copacabana. So yes, it was a complete fake from the start.
Extract from “On The Rocks”, High Society magazine, July 1979:
“A few months ago, our own la Gloria Leonard gave the blushing Jill Monro away at the latter’s lavish disco wedding to Marc (10 ½”) Stevens. The marriage obviously didn’t go too well, because Mr. “10 ½” and Ms. “21st Century Woman” recently said it’s splitsville. But true to the let’s-part-as-friends spirit, the ex-couple-to-be held their divorce party in the Copacabana disco on Sunday, April 1st (Happy April Fool’s Day), and the party turned out to be a gas. More than 2,000 divorce celebrants crowded the Copa and were treated to, among other things: Tiny Tim (remember him?) doing a few tunes, a Vidal Sassoon fashion show, and the Marc Stevens players, who showed so much bare flesh even the porn industry blushed”.
Marc was attached to her though. Did they have a good relationship?
No, neither one of us really liked Marc. Marc claimed to love her and all that, but Marc was very, very good at using people for his own ends and his own needs. She eventually found that out. She didn’t like his ego. He was extremely egotistical. He had a huge, gigantic ego. He was a nice enough guy, but he still had a huge ego.
Terri didn’t. She didn’t play with the ego thing. Terri, in her own little way… as glamorous as she was, was pretty down to earth.
I noticed Marc had a tattoo that said “Jill” on his shoulder.
Yes, he did. He liked her.
Did you ever consider getting married to Jill?
In the last year of her life, we went to Vegas, as guests of Ann Margret. While staying at Caesar’s Palace we did get married by an Elvis impersonator. It was in a wedding chapel but no ID or proof was asked for or required, so I question the validity.
She never married anyone else.
In the August 1979 issue of Cheri, an eight page pictorial visited Jill after her “divorce” from Marc Stevens after “a tempestuous four months”. The feature had photos of Jill in her new “candybox, penthouse apartment situated on Manhattan’s ritzy Upper East Side”. The truth however was not as rosy. Jill’s drug use and increasing unreliability had meant that work had become less frequent and lucrative.
How did your relationship with Cheri magazine come to an end?
Cheri had a huge shake-up. Peter Wolff was ceremoniously kicked out. Another guy took over (Ashley West: This was C.B.Lucci), and he started changing how things were done. We didn’t leave right way; it was about a year later. During that last year Cheri still treated us very well, and even increased our financial rewards, but things went south after that. Eventually we left as well because we had a problem with what they were doing.
We went over to Gloria Leonard at “High Society”. By this time, Terri was already starting with her heroin. They knew it, they saw it, and instead of “High Society” putting big money into Jill the way “Cheri” did, High Society just didn’t give her as much as Cheri did in terms of money and assignments.
We walked about six months after Gloria left, when a woman named Pat Reshen took over. She was not very friendly, and there was no real type of family environment there, whereas at Cheri it was really family oriented.
How did Jill start on heroin?
One night, she went out. I think she was either at Studio 54 or a club called Xenon. She was doing a lot of cocaine and she ran out of it, and no one else had any. She was starting to crash. She met this guy, and he gave her a little bag. He said, “Here, snort this. It’ll take the edge right off.” It turned out to be heroin.
Do you know who it was who gave her the heroin?
He actually became a friend of ours and hung out with us. He was deeply connected to the New York Yankees. He was also a photographer, and he had a business in New York.
How much did you know about the heroin at first?
I didn’t know about the heroin. I didn’t know about the needles. There was nothing around the house. I thought she was just sleeping, or she was stoned, like she usually was.
But in less than 30 days, she was already mainlining… putting it right into her veins. The trouble was she had difficulty injecting herself.
She was squeamish about needles and stuff?
It’s not that she was squeamish… no, not at all. She was just physically incapable of injecting herself. She could never do it right… correctly. Someone had to do it for her. No, she wasn’t squeamish about the needle at all. She didn’t care about that. No, either I had to do it for her or someone else…
You mean you helped her take drugs sometimes?
Yeah, absolutely. I didn’t start helping her until she was already out of control. Even I didn’t know she was doing it at first. She hid it very well. Within like two months, she was already gone. She was already hooked.
In March 1982, Jill appeared in one of her last pictorials in the magazine Adult Cinema Review. This time she was a blonde, and looked less healthy than she had done in the past.
Extract from “Inside Jill Monro”, Adult Film Review, March 1982, by Clara Pater
“Other than appearing in occasional films and writing periodic columns for sex mags, Jill is a high class call girl. An ad in a popular magazine attracted over 150 phone calls, out of which she culled 10-12 regular customers, giving her a tidy weekly income of $500-$600 a week. Hooking gives Jill the freedom she wants to wait for that “perfect” vehicle to stardom, without the monetary problems usually attached to such dreams”.
What effect did her drug intake have on your relationship with Jill?
For a short while, when her heroine addition was reaching a peak, we split up for about 7 or 8 months. At that time she began turning tricks and posted ads in Screw and the Village Voice. From what I know, she was never a full blown dominatrix – it wasn’t her personality or sexuality type, but I know that she did in fact dominate a few clients.
We lived in separate residences, but we were still together. I was still handling her money, and whatever she was doing. There was less and less of her doing business, or people wanting to do business with her, because of the drugs. She would show up completely stoned and out of it. She wouldn’t show up at all. She’d show up two hours late.
By 1982… she was dead. Terri killed herself in a lot of different ways. She was extremely self-destructive.
Were you together with Jill, in her last months before her passing?
We were like semi-broken up. She was living with a friend in Brooklyn, and I had… a lot of stuff, because of the heroin, really came crashing down. Her career was very fast and very short-lived. The drugs pretty much ruined it. A lot of people just didn’t want to work with her anymore. She became more and more irresponsible and unreliable. I had absolutely no control whatsoever.
Who was she with at this point?
She started hanging out with a young college kid. Marc and Terri hired him to work as part of their dance troupe. He dressed up like the leather guy in The Village People. He even called himself Glen, just like him. Once he found out her weakness for drugs, he just kept feeding her heroin. He was able to get control of her.
What do you remember about her passing?
I wasn’t there the night she died. She was with this same young kid. This kid was injecting her; nobody else. That’s it. No one was ever charged. No one was ever investigated. I know Terri didn’t do it herself.
It was ruled an accidental overdose, but I know it wasn’t. Terri could never, ever successfully stick a needle into her vein. She couldn’t do it.
If I was with her the night she died, she wouldn’t have died.
Extract from “Jill Monro: 1977 – 1982”, Adult Cinema Review, December 1982, by Boz Crawford (Rialto Report: This is Peter Wolff)
“I was probably the first person in the porn business to meet the extraordinary performer called Jill Monro, since it was to me she came for her first job, modeling for another men’s magazine. In her short, lamentably brief life, Jill was probably the most beautiful and adventurous woman ever created by the surgeon’s knife. Jill was possessed of an amazing sense of style. Unfortunately, the pressure of being a sexual pioneer eventually “got” to my friend. Last August, she was found dead in her apartment, the apparent victim of a heroin overdose. We will miss her. We hope that her untimely death will make yet another statement in the portfolio of pleas for sexual understanding and sexual tolerance. If people would just let each other be, perhaps we might eventually overcome the tremendous tendency for self-destruction among those whose gender-identity takes different forms than the norm”.
She was about 31 when she passed away.
Yes, and it’s funny, she always talked about that she was going to die young, just like Marilyn Monroe. She knew it.
Were you a user as well?
It wasn’t until the very end that I started doing it. What happened, after she died, I started doing it a lot. I wound up with a problem, and about two years after she died, I checked into a rehab and got myself clean, and I haven’t gotten high since.
I checked into one of those in-patient rehabs. It was a two-year program, upstate New York. They didn’t have bars; you could leave when you wanted, or you could stay there for the two years, do the program, and graduate clean. I stayed. I did the whole nine yards, graduated clean, and I’ve been clean ever since. I don’t even smoke weed these days anymore. I’m just a very casual drinker. One or two drinks on a night out, and I’m done.
Her passing must have had a big effect on you, though. You had devoted your life to her.
It’s funny that you should mention that. It wasn’t necessarily just her passing. It was a multitude of passings, within a one-year period. Four female beings in my life, personally; in order of which was A, the first female in my life that died was my grandmother. The second one was Terri. The third one was my mother, and the fourth one was my dog. All in less than two years, they all died; my grandmother of old age, Terri of a drug overdose, my mother of cancer, and the dog got sick.
That must have been difficult; for some people, that’s pretty much the end.
My way of dealing with all that was the drugs. By ’83, maybe ’84 … I’m pretty sure it was ’84 … I checked into this residential rehab in upstate New York, and I stayed there for two years and got my shit together.
Jill’s last film, Consenting Adults, contained the dedication: ‘Respectfully to the memory of Jill Monro’.
The adult industry quickly moved on as it always does, focusing on the next crop of young things, forgetting about the fallen starlet of the past.
What happened after Jill died?
She wasn’t cremated, but buried next to her grandmother way out in Long Island.
How do remember these years?
I don’t know about me… Terri was really the interesting person. I was the one behind the camera, behind the scenes. I never really considered myself one of the interesting people. I was just… I just considered myself lucky to be there. I’ll be honest with you; at this point in my life, so long ago, she’s almost like a foggy memory.