This week we continue our series of profiles of lesser known New York adult film stars of the 1970s and 1980s, and feature an interview with Dave Ruby.
Dave was many things: a Jewish jock, wannabe cop, veteran swinger, male escort, star of a live Times Square S&M show… and an adult film star in over 100 movies and loops, such as ‘Inside Jennifer Welles’ (1977), ‘Babylon Pink’ (1979), ‘October Silk’ (1980), and ‘American Desire’ (1981). In fact the only thing he loved more than sex was a good buffet table.
And all the time, he held a respected job as one of the highest ranking court reporters in New York.
This is Dave Ruby’s story.
Dave Ruby: Beginnings and Baseball
Where were you actually brought up?
I was born in the Bronx, lived there until I was 6 and then I moved to Queens. I was brought up in Queens in Kew Garden Hills. I lived there until I was 34, and then I moved to Yonkers, NY.
It was a good upbringing?
Yeah, it was good. Very liberal. Kew Garden Hills is very Jewish neighborhood. In fact I got Bar Mitzvah’ed with a guy named Jerry Garfunkel, who was Art Garfunkel’s brother. We used to see Art and Paul Simon around our school yard all the time.
You were raised Jewish; how observant was your family?
Well, my father was a little more religious than my mother. My mother wasn’t religious at all, but my father’s father was a rabbi. My father came from Poland and my mother’s family came from Russia. That was basically my background.
What were you like as a kid?
I was pretty good, and I think one of the things that made it good was that I was a good athlete. So I was always out playing a lot of sports.
I was an average student. I wasn’t too much into school. When I got out of high school, I was only a 75% student, but I wasn’t that into it because I didn’t intend to go to college. It wasn’t for me. All I liked was sports.
So you were a jock?
Well, we didn’t have football at my school, and that was my best sport. I liked football. So I decided to transfer to Flushing High just to play football. My basketball coach came to me and said, “I hear you’re going to transfer next year.” I said, “Yeah I’m thinking of going to Flushing High.”
He says to me “I wouldn’t do that if I was you. You’re going to ruin your knees. Anyway you’re a basketball player. Look at your hands, look at your feet.”
I said, “Yeah what about them?” He says, “You’ve got huge hands and big feet. That means you’re gonna grow! By the time you’re a senior, you’ll have grown so much, you’ll be dunking backwards. You’re gonna be 6’4” easily.”
But it never happened. I never grew an inch after that! I stayed at 5ft 9¾ .
Fortunately I was good at baseball too. I was All Queens at baseball, the first guy to make All Queens. The second guy that ever made All Queens was this guy who went on to play for the Mets. I batted .572.
I won our first gold medal in track at an indoor meet 100 yard dash. My best time was a 9.9 seconds.
I tried out for the Mets and I did the fastest in the 60 yard dash they’d seen. I did 6.4 seconds in the 60 yards and that was when the world record was 6.0. That was wearing my Mets uniform too. I was good. I was very quick.
Didn’t you try out for the Mets?
Yes. I got invited down three times. We tried out at the Polo Grounds. I got to play in the final game once but they didn’t sign me. They only signed one guy that day.
What about girlfriends in high school?
None. It all happened very late actually, very late. It wasn’t until I got out of high school that I started dating.
When I was in high school, I never went out with anybody. I mean girls would invite me over once in a while but I’d find an excuse to not come. I was shy. Once I came out of my shell, then I started to make up for the lost times. But for a long time in those years, I had no contact with girls. It’s sort of funny how it is.
How about your first sexual experience?
Well, I lost my virginity when I was 15. My friend took me to some girl’s house and told me what to do. He said, “Look, this girl’s a nympho. All you’ve to do is put this rubber on, and just say hi, ‘I’m David’ and then introduce yourself. And then she’ll want to have sex”.
Is that what happened?
Yeah, that’s exactly what happened! I don’t even remember how old she was but she was young too.
Were you called up to fight in Vietnam?
I joined the National Guard when I was 20 so that I could get out of serving in Vietnam. In fact I got drafted the week I joined the National Guard. I told them they couldn’t draft me as I was already in the National Guard. They said, ”You got proof of that?” Luckily I’d just been sworn in.
I knew people that got drafted. Many got killed, and others came home all blown up. They looked terrible… so what can I say? I got out of it. I stayed in the National Guard for many years.
Cops and Courts
If you weren’t so good at school, what did you want to do as a career?
Like a lot of Jewish guys in New York, when I left school I got part time jobs in the Catskills in upstate New York. You’d go up there, and you’d be a waiter or a busboy, a carhop, and so on. There was a whole bunch of things up in the mountains so I’d go from place to place and work all over the place.
All the time though I’d decided I was going to join the police, so I applied when I was 21. I took all the exams. I got in the 90s on the written tests, and I got 100 on the physical. Then it came to the interview, and the guy looks at me and says, “I’ve never seen this before. You’ve had 21 jobs already! That’s far too many for a 21 year old. I can’t recommend you. Are you kidding me?!”
Couldn’t you have left some of the jobs out?
I heard that they looked into every job you’d had, and if you lie, you’re automatically out.
But I had a better idea. I figured I’d go out to Los Angeles. I was going to be a cop in L.A. because then I’d be a motorcycle cop. So I went there and I did the test. I did good again, and then it got to my interview.
The trouble was the night before I’d lost my wallet. I was at a disco or something and I got pick pocketed. So when they asked me for my driver’s license to show proof of identity, I had nothing. They marked me as ‘unprepared’ and so they failed me!
So you came up short on two occasions to be a cop… first in New York, then in California?!
Yes – so now I decide to go for the New Jersey State Police. The process starts with getting fingerprinted. But as soon as that’s over, they make an announcement asking if anyone’s ever had a speeding ticket. They say, “If you have, you might as well walk out right now because you’re wasting your time staying to take the test. We don’t hire people who’ve ever been given a speeding ticket”.
I was really frustrated because I’d just been ticketed. I said to myself, “Why did they fingerprint me before telling me that? Why didn’t they say that before?” Now I had three failed attempts.
So that was it?
Well, a few years later when I was 28, my friend talks me into coming down to Miami to get a job on the Miami Dade Police. So I go down to Miami and pass the tests, both the written and the physical. And then they say, “Have you ever applied for any law enforcement jobs in the past?” I said “Yeah, sure. I said I’ve been turned by the New York City Police and the Jersey State Police. And the L.A. Police turned me down because they said I was unprepared”.
So Miami automatically turned me down.
I asked the guy “Why did you turn me down?” He said, “We don’t like to take anybody’s turn down”.
And so that’s four attempts. After that… forget it!
At that stage you went to college?
During that time, I went to New York City Community College – for one term. I decided to go into hotel management for two reasons. Firstly I figured I’d meet girls, and secondly I thought it’d be an easy course. I mean, what could be difficult about hotel management?
The trouble was they made us study math and biology! I said, “Geez this science is hard, and the math is rough”, and I was on the basketball, track, and the wrestling teams. So by the time I got home at night, I was so tired I couldn’t even open my books.
Even worse, the girls were all… well, I like thin girls and they were all fat girls. All the hotel management girls were fat.
My fantasy of it was totally different than the reality of it, so I dropped out. I went to the guidance counselor, and she said, “If you quit this school, you’ll never amount to anything. What are you going to do in life?!”
So what career did you settle on?
I became a court reporter. I had a good friend of mine I knew from baseball, and he got me into it. I was driving for Canarsie Limousine Service in Brooklyn at the time, and I went over to his house after work one day and I see he’s taking down what I’m saying. Then he reads it back to me perfectly. I said, “That’s pretty neat, how do you do that?” He was training to be a court reporter.
What was he using to write down what you were saying?
A stenotype machine.
So you went to court reporter school?
Yeah. It was rough. It was very rough. It was a two-year course, and there was a 90% dropout rate. It’s a skill that’s hard to get good at it. You basically write a few words in one stroke by pressing a combination of fingers down on different buttons. It’s all with a series of strokes.
How well did it pay?
Well, the starting salary wasn’t great in my day, but I worked lots of overtime so I made great money. But over time the pay got a lot better, and today you can make very good money. In my last year working, I made $185,000, and the court judge I worked with made only $125,000! I was making $60,000 more than my judge! That was a great job to me as far as I’m concerned. I was employed by the New York State Office of Court Administration, so I get a great pension too.
What kind of hours were you working?
I worked for the criminal courts and I used to do arraignments. I liked to work nights. The night court ran from 5.00pm to 1.00am. In Manhattan they’d have what they call ‘a lobster ship’ four days a week which would run 24 hours a day because there were so many arrests that would happen. All petty stuff. Vandalism, drunkenness… even jaywalking.
And would someone else transcribe what you took down in court?
No, in those days I’d transcribe it myself. I’d type it up in a typewriter in my own time afterwards.
What makes a good court stenographer?
I was fast. At my peak, I was probably doing close to 300 words a minute. I was getting everything. And I was accurate too, so I was very good. I was in demand, and so I worked as a court reporter for the rest of my life.
Swingers and Spies
What was your social life like at this stage?
I got involved in the swinger’s scene in the early 1970s. I was a later starter so guess I was trying to catch up for lost time.
How did you get into that?
I remember I was living with my girlfriend and we went to a nudist camp called Goodland Country Club in New Jersey.
It was all based around which side of the pool you sat on. Most people would sit on one side but if you sat on the other side of the pool, that meant you wanted to swing. That’s where the swingers sat.
Dave, swinging with future adult film actress, Ultramax (left), (1973)
So we sat on the swinger’s side of the pool, and this couple came up to us and picked us up. This was 1970 – I was 25 at the time. My girlfriend was 18 and she looked great. After that we started to swing all the time, all over the place.
We got friends with this one couple in particular – a Czech couple called Karl and Hana Koecher. They lived near us in Queens for a time, and we used to hang out with them all the time. We were close.
They invited us to an orgy one year on New Year’s Eve. It was one of the best parties I ever went to. They had people there from Spain, Italy, England, all over the place. They were always well connected and we had a lot of fun with them.
A few years later, Karl got arrested for being a Czech spy. He’d been working for the CIA as a translator or something, but it turned out he’d infiltrated the agency and was sending top secret information back home. It was big news and was all over the front page of the New York Times.
Did most of the swinger’s parties take place at people’s homes?
A lot did. I used to go to Jack Lesko’s place. Jack was a big name in real estate in New York. He had a club called The Milk Bar which was like a more exclusive Studio 54. It was down in the Village and he would get famous movie stars there.
But every Saturday night he used to have a good swingers party; it lasted for years. He lived on around 58th and 7th Ave. We called him the ‘King of Swing’.
You had to have a good-looking girl with you or he’d turn you down at the doorway, but I knew him for years and so I’d always get in.
I’d see George Plimpton there, and Jack told me he even had Frank Sinatra one week because Jack was friendly with Frank’s pilot. I don’t think Frank had to bring a girl just to get in though…
Did you go any of the actual swinger’s clubs?
Yes. In fact I was hired by one place called The Midnight Interlude to front their cable TV advertisements. I used to be on TV with a couple of girls, saying “This place is great, come on down!”
The Midnight Interlude was a sex club on the Upper East Side. It wasn’t really a swingers’ club because they also had girls working there that were like hookers. These girls had to do a certain number of guys a night – so you had a bunch of single guys too, which you didn’t have at regular swingers clubs. It was run by this guy called Dan Landis and his wife. They had alcohol and all the food you wanted, and a pool too.
They didn’t pay me for the ads, but it was a good deal for me because I got into the club free any time I went. I’d stop in twice a week; I’d eat, drink and have sex with the girls so it was great for me. That was at a time when it cost about $100 for single men to get in.
They had good food there, more quality food than at Plato’s Retreat. Yeah, Plato would buy bulk or something and it wasn’t as fresh.
When we interview someone who mentions you, they invariably talk about how you’d love the buffet tables…
What can I say? Food, sex…
Porn and Pauline
How did you start in adult films?
I don’t remember the exact details, but a guy named Lenny Kirtman was advertising for actors. I responded and he got me a part in one of his movies.
Do you remember the name of your first film?
No – it might have been ‘Teenage Deviates’ because Annie Sprinkle was one of the first people I remember. I also remember Sharon Mitchell from an early Kirtman film too.
Do you remember how you felt on set that first day?
Yeah. I remember the cameras were on me and the lights were there and it was sort of exciting; doing something with a good-looking woman on set. I had a good time, and they paid me $50 for it.
It was very interesting, like a whole new world opening up to me. It was good.
Most of the male actors that Lenny hired couldn’t perform sexually so they weren’t invited back, but he asked me if I wanted to make other films. He said, “You did a good job, would you like to come back? I said, “Yeah, but do you think you could pay me a little more next time?”
What was Leonard Kirtman like?
The main thing I remember was just that he was very tight. Many of the crew were there to ‘gain experience’ and weren’t being paid anything, so he was really making films cheaply. He’d try and shoot several films over the course of one weekend.
I worked with him a few more times after that, but the trouble was that he wasn’t paying much. He was still just giving me $50 a film, and that’s a joke. So pretty quickly I lost interest and just dropped out.
What happened next?
I went away to the Sunny Rest Lodge, which was a swinger’s camp up in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. I was with my girlfriend, who was the runner up to Ms. Staten Island so she was nice looking.
We were just there for the weekend and I was about to leave and get dressed when this guy approached me and said, “Excuse me, I’ve been trying to hit on you two all weekend but I saw you were very busy and I didn’t want to bother you. I live in the Village, and my girlfriend and I want to invite you over for dinner one night. We’d like to hang out.”
I said, “Well, who’s your girlfriend?” He showed me this nice-looking girl called Pauline who was from Hong Kong. We had a good time with them.
About a month later, Pauline called me up and says, “Look I’m splitting up from my boyfriend. Do you think you could help me out and let me move in with you?” My girlfriend had moved out by that time, and so I said yes. Pauline was a nice woman. She was nice, nice lady.
It turned out that she’d been in a bunch of X-Rated films under the name ‘Peonies Jong’. She’d just starred in a movie called ‘Oriental Blue’ with Jamie Gillis.
Did Pauline get you back into the adult film business?
Yeah, she was getting out of the films, but she said “You’d be good at this. You should contact this agent, Dorothy Palmer – she does the casting for the films.”
I only intended doing one more film but I liked it and the work kept coming. Dorothy kept getting me lots of work – and it all paid better than Lenny Kirtman! I kept getting invited back – for films, loops, modeling… you name it.
How would you get work through Dorothy?
She’d call me up and say she was doing a casting call. I would go to her office with other actors and you’d do a reading or whatever. She was usually there with the director or producer. You’d be interviewed, and you’d take your résumé and your pictures.
I gave her the name ‘Dave Ruby’ instead of my real name, David Rubenstein, because she’d call me up in court – and there were 65 court reporters on the Workers Compensation Board. I wanted a name that was reasonably similar to my real name so that the message would easily find its way to me.
What was Dorothy like?
She was always uptight. She had a mainstream agency going on at the same time and she didn’t want to admit to anyone she was handling porn films too. But she clearly made a lot of money from the adult stuff.
Once I saw her at Studio 54 and I said, “Hey Dorothy, how are you?” and she didn’t even want to acknowledge me. “I said “Don’t you remember me? I’m Dave Ruby.” She said, “No, I don’t know you.”
I remember when Ron Jeremy was starting out, he was struggling to get work and he said to me, “Hey, do you know where I can get more film parts?” I said, “You should go see this woman Dorothy Palmer. She’s a little strange, but she’ll get you in films”.
From there his career just took off, so it was Dorothy who really gave Ron his start.
What was Ron like in those early days as a person?
He was a friendly guy. But he was really good at promoting himself. He was a real promoter of himself.
How did you manage to fit the films in around working in court?
When I started working in the movies, I was working for the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board. I liked working for them because there I was able to get a lot of time off.
I arranged my hours so that I could always be on set at the required time. I had a bunch of personal days that I could take, and sometimes I’d call in sick. I was always juggling everything carefully so I could be in court for my job, and get as much film work as possible.
Were you ever worried that somebody might recognize you as a porn actor when you were working in court?
The people I worked with knew about my work because they used to see me on cable all the time, Manhattan cable. I was on the Midnight Interlude commercials, and sometimes the movies would show on cable TV as well.
I remember my boss came in one day and said, “Hey, I saw you last night on TV”. I never denied anything. I did it. Once in a while someone would even ask for an autograph.
Other people weren’t so lucky. A fellow actor friend – a teacher who went by the porn name of Joey Santini – lost his job when his employers found out.
Did you like the acting side of things or was it really just about the sex?
I liked the acting side of things. I’d like to think I was acting pretty good. I always thought it was more enjoyable for a viewer to watch something if the acting was good, so I did my best.
But at the same time, I lost count of the times directors used to call me to fill in for a guy that had messed up. I’d come in and would do my cum shot in whatever position they needed me in – and then they’d cut my body into the scene to make it look like the other actor. I never had performance problems so I never really faced any of the problems that some of the other guys had.
What was your family’s reaction?
My father never said anything. But my mother would worry about I’d get in trouble legally.
How did they find out that you were making films?
My sister would go to drive-in movies with her husband, and they’d see me on screen and go back and tell my parents. The funny thing was, she wound up marrying a guy who owned a bunch of porno shops. That was great for me because her husband would get copies of my movies for me.
What do you remember about making loops?
They were quick, easy and fun work. I remember working for Bob Wolfe though I can barely remember anything about him.
I have much stronger memories of Bill Laux. Bill was working on a TV series but he was heavily involved in making loops, and he gave my girlfriend and me at the time a lot of work. Her stage name was Cynthia Rodriguez. She didn’t do films but she did all these loops. This was in about 1980.
My favorite to work for was Ted Snyder and his partner Jason Russell. I liked them both, especially Ted. They were good guys. I remember travelling up to Vermont to shoot a bunch of loops with them. We took Vanessa Del Rio, Merle Michaels, and Samantha Fox. Jesse Adams flew in from California to be in those loops too.
Photos from a loop shot by Ted Snyder and Jason Russell, with Dave, Vanessa Del Rio, Samantha Fox, and Jesse Adams
It was too bad that Ted was shot and killed after he moved to Los Angeles. The police thought it was a mob hit because he was in debt to them, but then they realized it was his wife who’d organized the hit! She’d hired some drug dealer to do it, but she was eventually acquitted.
How were things going with Pauline?
She’d dropped out of films, and I went into business with her, a jewelry business. I remember meeting her father, and they had a big jewelry thing down in the Park Avenue Armory so I figured she knew what she was doing.
I gave her a few thousand dollars to go to Hong Kong and bring back jewelry to sell. But when she came back, she says I’ve got too much to do, I don’t have time for it. I said, “Wait a second, you’re the one that’s supposed to know about this business”. I wound up taking that jewelry around Chinatown to sell it myself.
I never made money on it. I just broke even basically. That was it. It was a terrible business.
Pauline (aka Peonies Jong) in ‘Oriental Blue’ (1976), with C.J. Laing and Bobby Astyr
How did you split from Pauline?
I got mad at her once because she wouldn’t swing any more. I went to this swing party and there was just this young girl there I wanted so badly. But the owner of the place came to me and said, “Dave – you’ve got to leave, your girl won’t swing with anyone”. I was like a spoiled kid and it was silly. There was no reason for me to react that way but when you’re young, you don’t realize. So she moved out.
What happened to her then?
I don’t know. I’m sorry to say. She just vanished. I don’t know what happened to her.
You worked for Chuck Vincent on many of his films. What was he like?
I didn’t get to know him personally. He’d hire me a lot, and he’d run a good professional set. He was a good guy to work with.
Excerpt from one of Dave’s few remaining scrapbooks
What films stand out for you?
I remember ‘American Desire’ (1981). That was a good movie. Lasse Braun was a talented director. They kept calling me for the shoot but then I’d sit around all day while they filmed other scenes. They paid me $425 for each day I was there, and then they’d say, “Can you come back tomorrow? We’ll pay you the same again.” I wasn’t complaining.
I remember ‘Babylon Pink’ (1979) as well. That was the big movie that year. It made Vanessa Del Rio into a big name. I remember my scene was with Vanessa.
What was Vanessa like?
Well, I’m not into… she’s more of a heavy set girl. I’m into thin girls. But I kept on being paired with her. It’s not like I don’t like her. She’s very professional too. Very good to work with. And easy to do anals with, but I’m more into thin girls. That’s the thing, you know what I’m saying?
Dave on set of ‘Nasty Girls’ (1983) director, Ron Sullivan
Did you mix much with the female talent off set?
Not too much. I liked Arcadia Lake, and I remember taking her to Plato’s behind Eric Edwards’ back – who she was seeing at the time.
Herschel Savage was one of my close friends, and I remember him telling me about this new girl, Seka, who wasn’t yet a big star. Herschel called and said, “Look, this girl Seka has a husband, and they want to come and stay in New York. If you let her stay in your place, I’m she’ll do you.” I remember turning him down because I didn’t know her.
I came across this article in a men’s magazine from the late 1970s that says –
“Plato’s Retreat, Midnight Interlude and other clubs of New York won’t be seeing any more of Dave Ruby now. He has 98% given up swinging due to a serious Spanish girl named Wendy”.
So what happened here?
Yeah, that was my girlfriend at the time. She came from Puerto Rico to live with me. She wasn’t that straight, because she modeled for Playboy, but she was disappointed in me when she found out that I was a porn movie actor. So I gave up swinging because of her. For some reason, it seemed to be newsworthy!
We stayed together for a while, and then I went back to swinging.
I assume that most of your relationships with women were unaffected by the fact that you were making films?
Well, I wouldn’t tell them because a lot of girls would get turned off.
One time I met this girl in the Hamptons. She was very pretty and we were getting on great. At the end of the day she came over to me and says, “Do me a favor. Don’t call me, okay? This guy just told me that you’re a porn actor.” So things like that were tough.
Which people do you remember most from this time?
I knew Jamie Gillis. I’d hang out with him a little bit here and there. He was a nice guy. I liked him.
Marlene Willoughby was nice, but she was always just about Marlene and a little self-centered. She eventually left to go live in Alaska.
Dave, with Marlene Willoughby (right)
I remember Samantha Fox’s boyfriend’s name, Bobby Astyr. Great guy. I remember we were in ‘Sizzle’ (1980), a Chuck Vincent and Larry Revene movie where Bobby and me were playing detectives together. We had a lot of fun doing that.
Marc Stevens was always around. I used to go to his singles parties; he’d rent out space at nightclubs and hold these big events. He was with Jill Monroe, who was a transsexual, but I wasn’t into her. A lot of people were like… uh wow, but I couldn’t see anything special. I had a scene or two with her.
George Payne was a strange character. He would call and ask for money, but you knew you’d never see it again.
Lisa De Leeuw was great. I remember her well. Always funny and a very nice body. I remember in ‘October Silk’ (1980), they bandaged me up and I had to have sex with her all bandaged up.
I would say that overall the guys seemed to be more together than the women. A lot of the woman that I met in porn were either taking some drugs or were just looking to make some fast money. The guys seemed to be more realistic; a lot of them seemed to be doing some straight acting on the side and had a long-term view of trying to make it in the regular movie industry. They needed to make a living so they did the porn films just to supplement their income while trying to do some straight movies or something.
Excerpt from one of Dave’s few remaining scrapbooks
Escorts and Mr. Easton
Were you still swinging at this time?
Yes – I had a special deal at Plato’s Retreat: I paid $300 each year so I could go unlimited times. That was a good deal because it was about $60 for a couple just to go once at that time.
Was that deal available for everybody or just for you?
No, Larry (Levenson, Plato’s owner) offered me that deal because I was in movies. I’m sure Ron Jeremy got a better deal than me because he was a bigger name! But it was easily worth it. Plus you got all you could eat at the buffet for free.
You always looked good too.
I would always try and stay in shape. I wanted to look good on film so I would work out a little here and there.
You also studied martial arts for a time?
Yes – I was a First Degree black belt in Karate, and a second degree black belt in Judo. I won various medals and trophies in these two martial arts over a ten year span.
How did you get into escort work?
I got the idea from watching the film ‘Midnight Cowboy’ (1969), and I thought, “This sounds interesting, let me look that it up in the Yellow Pages”.
I found a place called ‘Old Star Escorts’ and I called them up. This guy called Mr. Easton answered the phone, and he said, “Why don’t you send me your picture and résumé, and then we’ll take it from there”.
I wasn’t expecting anything, but then Mr. Easton called me back and sent me on a job. After that he started using me like crazy.
Who was this Mr. Easton?
I have no idea – I never met him. He would literally call and start the conversation by saying, “Will you accept this mission?” He was like the Wizard of Oz. Or like Charlie on Charlie’s Angels.
Sometimes you had to pick up the money and other times he would mail you the money if the client had already paid. But I never saw the guy.
One day, I was an escort at a Christmas party at an abortion clinic. Who do I see there? Marlene Willoughby! I said “What are you doing here?!” She says “I’m doing escort work.” I said “So am I!”
She starts to point out all the other people who have been sent to the party by Mr. Easton. I said, “What does this Mr. Easton look like because I’ve never seen him? She says, “You want to know something… nobody has ever seen him.”
What sort of jobs did you do for Mr. Easton?
Sometimes the jobs were just sex, but they were rare. For example, you’d get a job to go up to the Kew Motor Inn, because there was this beautiful redhead there who wanted a bunch of guys.
Most of the time however, it wasn’t about sex; I had to play a role. Once I had to pretend to be this girl’s boyfriend and go and play golf with her boss and her. She’d got pregnant and wanted to make it seem that I was the father. She would have lost her job if her boss thought she was going to be a single mother. I had to meet her parents too and I used to call them Mom and Dad, and I told them I was engaged to her. I went out with her about a dozen times and she would pay me each time. Eventually I disappeared out of the scene.
So most jobs didn’t involve sex?
Only about 20%. Most of the time girls would hire me to be their new boyfriend.
I remember this one beautiful girl took me to a bar and said, “My friends are all going to be there, and also my boyfriend is in from New York. I want you to spend every penny I give you tonight and buy everybody drinks from the bar.” I said, okay.
She said, “Just tell everyone you’re a civil lawyer.” I said, “I know nothing about that. Can I be a worker’s comp lawyer instead? I know a lot about comp.” She gave me a whole chunk of money for the drinks.
At the end of the night she was depressed because her boyfriend went off with her girlfriend. She’d spent all this money on just trying to impress everyone… it was sad.
Did you ever show up for a job and have second thoughts – and say “I’m not doing this”?
No, I always took every job, and I followed through with it.
There were ever any dangerous situations?
I had one job with this woman and she said, “Look my husband is a little nutty. I want him to see us dining in a hotel restaurant, but I don’t know how he’s going to react.” She gave me my $125 fee, and told me what room number to charge the meal to. Eventually the boyfriend came in, and he sees her there eating with me and he grabs her and takes her away forcefully. I just got the check, signed it and that was it. I had no idea what was really going on.
Busted and Bondage
You moved to Yonkers in 1979 – into a pretty big house. When did you get the idea to use the house as a location for the adult films?
I knew producers were always looking for locations so I figured I could get paid twice – once for acting in the film, and once for renting out my house. Actually three times, as I had my day job in court! So I used the house for many films after that.
How did it work out?
It worked out well – except for one time when we were busted by the cops. I rented out my place to Chuck Vincent and then I headed off to work. I had a straight part in the film but I wasn’t needed until the next day.
After a few hours, my boss comes over to me in court and says, “Dave, there’s a police officer and a detective that want to take you back to Yonkers. They say they’ve got a search warrant for your place.” He said, “What are you involved in?” I told him we were just doing a movie at my house, and maybe it was related to that.
The cops drove me back to Yonkers and asked me about it. I told them we were filming a straight movie, and that it was the first movie I’d shot there. Fortunately when we got home, there was no sex going on. But they did a search of the house and found all my porn loops and magazine appearances. All of them had my picture.
The cops said, “Dave, can we speak to you for a minute?” I go into the kitchen there and they ask, ”Is that you in all these movies?” I said, “Yeah, it sure looks like me, I’d say it is”.
He says, “Well… you didn’t tell us that”. I said, “Well… you never asked! I’m a movie actor. I was renting my house out for a straight movie. And I’m playing a cop who raids a place!”
So they couldn’t arrest you?
No, they never charged any of us. They were thinking I was a producer or a distributor.
But they took my stuff. All my loops, my magazines, my photos… everything. There were 55 films in total. When I tried to get it back, the cops said the material all burnt in a fire at the DEA’s office. I got a lawyer to sue them, and I got paid some money for what I lost. But I never got the items back.
The strange thing is that Chuck Vincent never called me again. I think he thought that I was trying to rat him out or something, which I wasn’t. I stood up for him with the cops, but he never called me again. He never used me one time after that.
Excerpt from one of Dave’s few remaining scrapbooks
And did you continue to shoot films at the house?
Oh yes, it didn’t stop me. We shot the whole of ‘Anal Intruder’ (1986) at the house, except for one scene that was shot at a police precinct. We almost go into trouble there too. I played a detective and we filmed me and my partner walking into the precinct as if we worked there. As soon as we got through the door, we cut – and got out of there really fast!
How difficult was it shooting exteriors in general?
We never had permits – so we had to do it quickly and move on. I remember shooting a scene for the film ‘Joy’ (1977) where Al Levitsky and I played two sailors. We went to Newark Airport because the director heard that one area was being closed down. We were just about to start shooting our sex scene when all of a sudden some guy walks into shot to use the bathroom. So we just stood and waited and then picked up as soon as he’d finished.
Did you ever go to any of your movies in the cinemas?
Yeah, I used to be friendly with this guy named Glen. He was a projectionist in a 42nd St theater. He’d call me whenever I was in a movie and I’d go down there and watch it.
I knew a lot of people who worked on the Deuce. I had a friend named Shaun who did S&M shows on 42nd St. Shaun spent half his life in prison. He was a loan shark but a nice guy. When I saw him I got the idea to do a live show too.
Dave, in his role as executioner in his S&M show (1981)
What did it consist of?
It was at Club O, and it was organized by Roy Stuart. I’d have a mask on and my job was to beat and whip the girls, and then have sex with them – and that was pretty much it. It was a 25-minute show and I’d do it every Saturday night. There would be about 200 people in the audience. They paid me $75.
It was written up in Screw magazine, and Al Goldstein said it was the best S&M show he’d ever seen.
Was it done with humor, or was the emphasis on realism?
Oh – it was very realistic. The girls that were hired were heavily into S&M. They wanted to be beaten, they wanted to be tortured, and it was very realistic. That’s what they were into and my job was just to have sex with them afterwards and be the Master.
Were you into that, or did it ever make you feel strange?
I’ll tell you the truth, I was never into S&M but I did enjoy the rape scenes. I got hired for a lot of rape scenes in movies, and I always got into this scene. It was fun to play those crazy roles.
In the 1980s, there was a trend for more sexually violent films, and you were often hired to play roles in these. Do you remember this?
I remember being called up for a lot of scenes that were rape scenes at that time. And they hired me for a lot of anal scenes too, I seem to remember.
‘My Mistress Electra’ (1983) for example was on the S&M side as I recall. I think I was pretty good in those movies. I enjoyed making them and I found it very interesting to play those roles.
Dave (far right) in ‘My Mistress Electra’ (1983)
Was there any particular bizarre or strange sexual acts that made you feel uncomfortable?
Well, once I did a favor for Carter Stevens. Some guy didn’t show and Carter asked me to do a scene where I was a submissive type person playing a dog or something. I really wasn’t into it so I told him I wasn’t interested, but he said, “Dave, do me a favor. I gotta have this. People have paid me to have this done in the movie, and the guy didn’t turn up.” I agreed because Carter was a good guy, and had given me a lot of work in the past. So I had to play this dog in this S&M scene. I really wasn’t into it but I knew he really needed it.
Do you remember working for directors like Phil Prince or Joe Davian?
Not really – their names are vaguely familiar but nothing more.
You also did some modeling for gay magazines.
Yeah, I modeled for Gay Scene magazine. A number of us did that at one time or another. Guys like Herschel, George Payne. It wasn’t sex, it was just stills. I never did any gay sex scenes.
Sometimes I’d go to these muscle guy line-ups, like at the Big Top Cinema. But that was just for publicity and a bit of extra cash.
How tempted were you to move behind the camera?
I produced ‘Lustfire’ in 1985, and David Christopher directed it. I knew David from my days in Queens. I must have met him on a movie set back in the 1970s. We became friendly and eventually he moved in with me in Yonkers for a couple of years.
We raised $25,000 and shot it at my house. The problem was that after we finished it, David took his time distributing it and during that time the market turned to video. It was the worst timing.
Eventually we got an offer from L.A. Video for just $12,000. I told David that we’d better take it because we were not going to get another offer. That was terrible. We got killed on it. Everyone lost money – except for me because I charged a salary to act in two scenes. I felt bad.
To make matters worse, the girl in one of my scenes was underage, so we couldn’t distribute it until we took that scene out of the movie, which cost us more money. It was a disaster.
Dave Ruby: Exits and Endgames
How did you decide to stop making adult films?
I remember in the mid-1980s I wanted to work in the criminal courts. I was told, “Dave, we know you want the criminal court job and we know you passed the test and we know your background – but we can’t hire you if you’re going to keep doing your movies. It just doesn’t look good doing porn movies and working in criminal court.”
I said, “You don’t have to worry about it. I’m quitting the movies. The whole industry is going to L.A.”
Not only that but AIDS had started and it was just getting too dangerous.
That was it. That was the end of my porn career. That was about 1986, or something like that.
What do you remember about AIDS when you first started hearing about it?
It was real scary. It was scary to think you could have sex with somebody and then die.
People had to use condoms. In my days nobody used a condom. All the women took the pill, and nobody had condoms. It was considered a joke if you put on a condom.
All the old swinging places were closing. Plato’s, Midnight Interlude, and all the rest. It was the end of the party. People stopped having swinging parties. It became a different world.
When did you get married?
It was after I left the industry. I got married in 1994. And then again in 2012. I married the same girl twice. I was single for about a year. I was going to marry my girlfriend from the Dominican Republic but it didn’t work out.
How did you tell your wife about your adult film past?
I didn’t. She just found out herself after we got married the first time. She’s a Jehovah’s Witness. I lost most of my films when I was raided, but I’d collected a few things after that. I got home one day and she’s tearing up things in front of me. What can I say? That was it. I lost a lot of my stuff there.
She was very annoyed that I never mentioned to her, but it all took place so many years before that I figured, “Why mention something that was so far in the past?” I figured it shouldn’t make a difference to our relationship, but I guess it did when she found out. She said that if she had known I had been a porn actor, she would have never married me.
I guess she wasn’t as forgiving as Christians are supposed to be – you know, turn the other cheek and all that. She was always hitting on me for the adult films
Did she get over it?
Not really. She never really got over it, but we don’t talk about it too much.
Have you had children?
Yes – two sons, and a stepdaughter that I help to raise.
You eventually retired from your job as a court reporter.
When I retired in 2002, they told me I had the highest retired pension they’d ever seen for someone in the field. I had the most consecutive days any court reporter ever worked. I never took vacations because I wanted to build up my pension.
How do you look back at your life making porn films?
I was just trying to enjoy my life. It wasn’t the money I was into, it was just the whole atmosphere, the whole environment of doing all this that I enjoyed.
I was doing something unique and it was something that I wanted to do so I enjoyed doing it. I realized a lot of people can’t do this, and a lot of people wouldn’t do this. But to me it was fine. It was something I liked doing.
Do you have any contact with the old days?
I still see Herschel Savage. We sometimes go on vacation together. I’m not in touch with David Christopher but I should give him a call. And I need to stop by and see Carter Stevens too one of these days as well. But apart from that, it all seems like a long time ago.
If a friend stops by and shows an interest then I might put on one of the old films, but that’s about it.
What do you get up to nowadays?
Life is good. I still work out, I like ballroom dancing, and I travel a lot. I’ve traveled to sixty six countries and forty states. My ambition is to travel to as many countries as my age. Next year, I’m planning to travel to four new countries which will bring the total to seventy!
Next year I’m going to be 70. I’m already planning the party!
Dave Ruby was one of the ubiquitous and under-appreciated character actors of the golden age… always in the background, but adding great color to the tapestry we know and love.
The Rialto Report’s equal focus on the stars and the journeymen of adult film marks you out as being really pretty unique and special.
Dave – you’re remembered with affection!
Every porn old school thespian tale counts. Was wondering if there’s any background info on whatever happened to Alan Marlow, who found his way into many big films from the Golden Age.
We’re in touch with Alan Marlow, and are trying to tempt him into an interview. He’s a favorite here at the Rialto – so we keep our fingers crossed.
Thanks as always for your valued thoughts and sentiments.
We’ve had requests for a mix of written interviews and podcasts – so decided to run this feature with Dave Ruby as written piece. It allows us to add more illustrations and pictures, but rest assured that many more podcasts are on the way.
Thanks for your comments!
Always a Great Chapter in the Adult Film Industry, The Rialto Report always keep you in tune with current stars, and stars from the very beginning of Adult Films..Thank You Ashley for your superb coverage of days gone by and the actors that made this industry popular…Each episode of the Rialto Report is better than the previous.Cheers to you, and keep those reports coming. Regards, Mikey in Philly™ (Seka’ Mikey)
Good to hear from you – and thanks for your comments. Hope all is well with you! We miss you!
Good job as always! Any chance of an interview with my all time favorite Tracey Adams (Deborah Blaisdell)? Keep up the good work…
Awesome as usual. I wish the DVD reissuing companies included this type of love, intelligence and detail… You guys do it each and every week!
Excellent interview. I’d done PA work on a Rick Savage movie he enticed Dave to appear in. I knew about his gig as a court reporter but I didn’t know much else about him. Very enjoyable!
Hats off to Dave. What an earner. Super candid about it too. Great that he never had to hide the movies from his straight colleagues. One of the few performers that I ever have heard of that had such a successful straight career that was unaffected by their porn past. Sad that he lost all of his mementos from his time in the movies. He sure led an interesting life. Seems like he had a lot of fun.
Really good interview. They are all great Ashely. Being a huge porn buff, I really like the attention given to the old performers that I grew up with. So when do we get a posthumous piece on John Leslie or Marilyn Chambers? I would love to see something on Jessie St. James. What a great site! I’m burning my way through it since I recently discovered it. Keep up the good work.
Wonderful as usual! This is just a wonderful website.
Gay man here that grew up beating off ,Dave still hot ,hot ,hot. Thank You
great interview. goes to show that if one tries their best to succeed at all they attempt whether successful or not they will always hold their head up high and be happy.
Brilliant website for us (heading for 50) somethings who grew up on that late 70’s/early 80’s Golden age porn!
Dave looks fantastic for 70, and was much underated in his heyday
Keep up the great work
Haven’t seen too many NYC films (prefer the ’80’s Cali stuff), but recall one with Dave banging a women on a ping-pong table!
Interesting info on ‘Peonies Jong’. Wondered who she was after sitting through the madness that is ‘Kung-Fu Vixens’.
More, please . 🙂
Very interesting interview. I really like some of the “Golden Age” character actors.
I can remember an actor , went by the name “Eric Monti”..or “Monte. He was kinda nerdy and ‘bookish’ looking….& skinny.
He played a “Hillbilly” in a video with Dick Howard (another “part timer) Monti was funny as a country “hick” named Clem & had two funny scenes-one w Tajia Rae & another where he cums on Kristara Barrington’s face !
Whenever I saw him I’d think, “Man, if that guy can get laid, anyone can !” Yet, he always seemed to perform well, & had copious cum shots . I recall him in movies in the 1980s and 1990s.
You know, the “Everyman” ordinary guys could identify not just the “hunky” guy.
Fantastic interview. Great to hear the backstage story of the early porn industry. Dave is very articulate.
Funny Story: Sometime in the 1990’s I was at a Tango dance club. I danced with this guy who looked vaguely familiar to me. I asked him ” Do I know you from the movies?” He said no, I don’t think so. Later that night his friend came over and told me it was Dave Ruby.
Dancing with greatness! Thanks for your memories…!
Dave Rudy, has been my favorite porn star, I even owned some of the movie, he feathered in. No telling you that just seeing a picture of his face, can really turn me on. My ultimate fantasy man. Be well Dave.
Great article. The Rialto really is a treat.
He is one of my favourite men in porn
I’m actually gay, and I know he can be with men too
So, one of my dreams could be having some action with him, private action, obviously
Just saw this interview! In the 90’s I was an officer with the NYPD who helped run Night Court arraignments in Brooklyn Criminal Court. Dave use to work there as a Court Reporter too. We knew who he was of course but he was always a great guy to chat with. We’d chat about many things but occasionally he’d tell me behind the scenes stuff from adult flics I’d seen over the years. Cool
The ability to not only perform in front of a camera but not be ashamed by it. He was built for the business.
What crazy stories. What a life. What a unique character.