In recent years, we’ve been lucky to have seen the publication of several biographies of ‘golden age’ adult film stars, such as John Holmes, Seka, Richard Pacheco, Serena, as well as the compilation volume, ‘Golden Goddesses’.
But what happened to the long-rumored autobiography of Jamie Gillis?
Jamie worked on his memoirs, entitled ‘Naked In Public’, for a number of years before finishing it shortly before his passing in 2010.
The result is much more than just a biography of an adult film star; his film career plays a significant part in his story, but Jamie was never defined by porn films.
It’s a unique and compelling blend of biography, random memories, diaries, existential musings, quotations, letters, and remembrance of times passed.
It’s moving, erudite, beautiful, crude, intelligent, disturbing, touching, obscene, wistful, soul-searching, and revelatory.
It’s also one of the best books we’ve ever read.
The Rialto Report is working with Jamie’s estate to publish the book. In the meantime we’re proud to present a selection of short extracts from the manuscript of ‘Naked In Public’.
For an audio interview with Jamie, please listen to our podcast here.
All excerpts from ‘Naked in Public’ are the property of the estate of Jamie Gillis and should not be reproduced without prior consent.
Jamie Gillis: ‘Naked in Public’
I get invited to a number of events where I, a former sweaty toiler in the fields of porn, might otherwise be unwelcome. So there I was one evening at a soiree or whatever the fuck they are called, comfortable, but horrifically under-dressed in my favorite wreck of a denim shirt with its seriously frayed collar. (I did wear a tie, hoping to pass as being, at minimum, civilized). I slipped into a conversation that a tall smiling, geeky old guy was having with another fellow when I overheard him complain that, while his name was James, he really loved the idea of being called Jimmy but that it was too late in his life for that. I encouraged him to pursue his dream.
An attractive woman, who introduced herself as the wife of the gawky geek, explained to me that I had been speaking to Nobel Prize winner James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA structure. “And you,” asked Mrs. Watson, “who are you? From the looks of you, I would say you were an artist, a writer, or a brain.”
I just laughed at the preposterousness of having to discuss my X-rated history in such rarefied company but, seeing she was not about to let me simply wriggle away, I wrote my name on a piece of paper and told her that when she got home she could Google me, and if she still wanted to know me after that, I would be pleased to continue our conversation.
The gossip columnist, Cindy Adams, was at the party and the next day she wrote in her New York Post column:
“In one corner James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix. And who’s he chatting up? Porn star Jamie Gillis. Only in New York, kids, only in New York.”
Over the next few years I became better acquainted with the Watsons and enjoyed their company on several occasions.
I write this memoir in much the same spirit as I offered my e-mail address to Liz Watson; for anyone who thinks they might like to get to know me better, here I am.
I was a dirty boy from the time of my very first memory at age three when I was in the hospital with contagious thrush. A glass enclosed room separated the screaming children from their visitors. Mom just sat there complacently as I jumped up and down in my crib-like bed and wailed in her direction. Actually that was her general demeanor at all times – very unaffectionate, no touching, no holding, and no kisses. I don’t think she was being cold or cruel. She was just generally exhausted by life, having had six children and very little money.
We lived on welfare for awhile, in a mouse-infested railroad flat that swarmed with roaches and bed bugs – the bathtub (no shower) was in the kitchen and covered by a metal top when it was not in use.
She was a quiet woman who could not bring herself to talk about sex and was never able to answer my insistent question: “Why does a woman need a man to have a baby?”. She finally asked my dear brother in-law, Dickie, to explain the facts of life to me and he did a good job, letting me know that the man’s “tinkler” went inside the woman.
I was a boy who liked when it rained because then I would not be expected to go out and play. When I did go out I was often alone. We lived near the 103rd St lake in Central Park and I loved searching the area for frogs and tadpoles; I brought tadpoles home occasionally but they always mysteriously disappeared by morning. I was told that they must have jumped out of the bowl they were placed in – but I came to realize, though I never accused her, that they were being flushed away by dear old mom.
One day while walking in the park I picked up twigs and branches that I liked the look of and was approached by a few bullies who grabbed them away because thought they might be something of value. When they saw how ordinary they were they handed them back to me and left me alone. They could not grasp the fact that I thought the wood was just interesting looking, and they treated me kindly as if I was demented.
My heroes were typical boy heroes, cowboys and supermen and a comic book character called Captain Blackhawk who would do stuff like parachute into communist countries and carry out top secret operations with his private army. There was another side too though: The part of me that liked to occasionally curl up with a comic book aimed at girls. I don’t really recall much about them but a small percentage of my comic reading time was spent on them.
Dad got himself a girlfriend with a beautiful 17 year old bitch of a daughter named Joy who became my girlfriend for a short time. Mom was fat, fierce and was very proud of her white plastic covered couch which was reserved exclusively for company to sit on. Along with the family, I was not considered “company” and was forbidden to sit on the couch.
Joy, being her mother’s daughter, had similar rules. It was the era of frozen hair, all sprayed and lacquered (or whatever it was they did) and every hair perfectly in place. I was allowed to fuck her but NOT allowed to get my filthy hands anywhere near her hair. She would get herself into positions where no strand would come undone. One of her favorites was to lie flat on her belly and watch TV while I sat up behind her with my cock pounding away. She never showed any sign that she was being fucked. At the time the whole thing didn’t seem very erotic but later on in life I developed a fetish for women who ignored me, or, perhaps more accurately, pretended to ignore me while we had sex. I liked it when they watched TV or read the paper. One woman actually did a crossword puzzle as she leaned over a counter while I quietly slid in and out so as not to disturb her thought process as she groped for the correct word.
Joy was a perfect little brunette but she wanted to be even more perfect and was planning on getting all her perfect teeth capped. She also solemnly swore that after she was married she would be getting up an hour before her husband to put her makeup on. He should never see her before she was prepared.
She always made me feel like a filthy beast for wanting to have any kind of sex and that was a turn on. Revulsion for anything physical seemed to run in the family. We horrified her aunt one day when we more or less innocently asked her how many “positions” there were: “There is only ONE position!” she boomed.
I saw Marcel Marceau at the age of nineteen and was instantly captivated. I actually went backstage and mumbled “bless you” to him. This was in 1961 or ’62, long before mimes were subjects for mockery and derision. I felt in fact that I had entered a kind of monastery of the theater. Purity in those days was important to me. I had thought for a while that I would concentrate on having a career as a Shakespearean actor and, in that way, forever avoid selling out to the commercial world. Marceau’s performance changed that: I was a mime now. My body, I thought with all the arrogance and tenderness of my nineteen years, was to be used as an expressive living temple that would communicate profound and subtle thoughts.
I spoke to Marceau several times about the possibility of studying with him but he was always touring and unreachable as a teacher in those years. He seemed to be jealously guarding his talent but always held out the hope to the small band of mimes in the world that he would someday have a company and impart his great secrets to us.
“Seek not what you want to happen,
Seek to want what happens.”
I got good enough grades at Rhodes to be accepted to the Columbia School of General Studies. 1968 was an insane year to be at Columbia. It was the year students were occupying buildings and police were going in to bash their heads in and drag them out. On one particularly memorable afternoon the entire school was surrounded by mounted police. I didn’t know what the fuck was going on. I had never expected to be in that school. I was raised nearby in poverty and Columbia was where the rich and privileged went. As much as I sympathized with the students I also felt that they were a bunch of stupid brats. What was the point of shitting in your own crib? Why do blacks burn their own neighborhoods? You want to go torch a recruiting station to protest the Vietnam War, ok, for that kind of action I would have a lot of sympathy.
I had always hated the idea of war even as a small boy and I even recall thinking that I was lucky because by the time I grew up people would surely realize how stupid it was and it would somehow be abolished by common agreement. I used to feel, and to some extent still do, that war was a reaction to repressed sexuality, or perhaps an expression of a need for a greater kind of sex. Mankind has been on the hunt for a bigger bang from the very beginning. The bigger the bang the bigger the release somehow. It’s all really all about fucking in the long run.
One day while passing a newsstand near Columbia in 1968, I saw the first issue of Al Goldstein’s Screw newspaper and that did greatly impress me as being a sign that society really was changing. For the better.
“I’m not a politician, I’m an artist. Depravity is part of the job description.”
– author Sebastian Horsley after being refused entry to the US because of a drug conviction
It would never have occurred to me to actually seek the kind of job I found under part time job listings: the ad read something like:
“Nude models – Cash”
What the hell, I thought. Sounds easy – let me give it a shot. I called the number in the ad and was told to come by for an interview. The studio was a basement on West 14th St, right next to a funeral parlor.
It was early in 1971, no one had yet heard of Linda Lovelace but she got her start fucking a dog in that same basement. The place was a grimy hole with an old dirty mattress which had a spring that often broke through and popped out. This was essentially the place that porn was born. There was a little of it going on in Los Angeles where it was illegal. This was New York. Good old filthy New York.
Bob Wolfe answered the door. He was a pudgy, hippy looking type in a pony tail and overalls who somehow got the job of churning out the 8mm loops for the jerk offs in the 25 cent Times Square peep show machines run and owned by Marty Hodas.
He asked me to pose for a Polaroid that he would put in his file and he’d let me know if there was any work. He called soon after and to my delight when I arrived there was a very pretty Brazilian girl already sitting on the mattress and ready to go. I had no problem at all performing for the camera because I wasn’t performing for the camera. I was just having a good time with a pretty girl. I got thirty bucks for the job and thought I was the luckiest guy in own. That was roughly the same amount I cleared driving a cab at the time and it was sooo much easier and a lot more fun
I badgered Bob after that for other work which he gave me on a regular basis, although he occasionally complained that I was getting overexposed.
These were silent 8mm films about ten minutes long. Sometimes they were done in costume. I was Superman, Dracula, and others, but mostly they were just two people fucking.
Bob’s wife eventually absconded with their young son and twenty grand he’d hidden in a shoebox. They were a little kinky. On several occasions Bob asked me if I would like to fuck her. She really wanted me, he said. I finally said “Ok sure”. While I was doing her he was at the door peeking in the room holding their infant boy. I found out later from other ‘studs’ that they were also politely asked if they would like to fuck her too.
Bob split for San Francisco one day because he got scared when he learned that his business partner was killed because he pissed off one of those guys you don’t want to piss off. He did stay in the business for awhile out there but finally left it, telling me one day that he just got tired of telling people what to do with their genitals. He has pretty much been lying low for over twenty years and, because of his current ‘clean’ lifestyle does not want to talk about his not so glamorous past.
Marc Stevens was an early porn star who was bright and amusing; a lot of fun to be around. He was very concerned about his looks though, in the way only a gay man can be. (Marc could work with women and did, but his reference was men).
On the set one day a hot light fell on him and it burned him and left a bruise. Marc instantly froze as if he was in shock. He just stared coldly ahead and stayed perfectly still and mute when anyone confronted him to see what could be done. We were all freaked out by his reaction.
Finally I went over to him, knelt down and said as sympathetically and gently as I could, “Marc, listen it could have been worse.” He remained frozen and then I added: “It could have been me”.
He was still in pain but he collapsed with laughter, and then we all did, and the show went on.
“If my work is accepted, I must move on to the point where it is not.”
I was awakened one morning about 6 am by detectives pounding on my door. Just before I left New York I had worked on a film called ‘All in the Sex Family’. At first I turned down the job because I was acting with Jean Erdman‘s company in an evening of Yeats‘ plays. Jean was the wife of the renowned author/teacher Joseph Campbell, but he was just Joe to us when he’d pick up his wife after a rehearsal. We’d already done the plays in Montreal where the cast was put up in a nunnery.
Jack Bravman, producer / director of ‘All in the Sex Family’ begged me to work for him swearing he’d get me out in time for that evening’s performance and I relented.
At one point while I was fucking my co-worker doggy style, I said to Jack:”I gotta go”. He said: “You’re gonna come?” meaning he wanted to know if he should concentrate the camera on my ejaculation. I said:”No, I can’t come, I gotta go, I gotta get to the theater.” So I came and he let me go and I went.
We were shooting the film in very conservative Suffolk County, and the shoot included exteriors of the town, including the homes of some prominent politicos. The film was then later shown at the local porn theater. The community was outraged, not so much that it was a porn film but that we had the audacity to shoot it in their town and then let it be shown in their own porn theatre.
Everyone connected to the film was arrested on obscenity and conspiracy charges. The detectives who came for me searched through my pants for a weapon before they allowed me to put them on. “Hey”, I said, “this is about sex. I’m a lover not a killer”. The cops didn’t smile. Cops never seem to smile, at least not when they’re working.
I was living in Los Angeles at the time so I was technically a fugitive from justice – and I was put on high bail. My buddy, porn star Marc Stevens, later confessed to me that he gave the police my address. I never really had any hard feelings about it—I know that detectives can exert a lot of pressure. Generally speaking Marc was a funny lovable character and I usually smile when I think of him.
After my arrest (my first and only), I was ushered into a large holding area housing about fifty guys. I can still hear the heavy clang of the steel door closing behind me. Toilets were out in the open and lined up along a wall and the arrested men were a pretty scary crew.
The only inmate who seemed educated and sensitive enough to actually have a conversation with was an ex-Nazi who was in for credit card fraud. I’m not sure if I mentioned to him that I was Jewish but I don’t think he’d have minded. War is war and duty is duty and all that.
Most of our time was spent playing chess with a set of pieces we crafted out of cast off aluminum papers from cigarette packs. I spent the weekend in jail and was released on my own recognizance after I agreed to get myself back to New York to face the charges. I explained in a phone call to the Suffolk county D.A. that I didn’t have the fare and he barked: “Walk!” I ended up taking the bus. I didn’t really mind. The bus left from a Hollywood stop just steps from where I lived and brought me to the midtown bus terminal in Manhattan – practically door to door.
“The dirtiest book in all the world is the expurgated book.”
Walking behind two obvious gays in Greenwich Village I heard one of them say, in what I took to be flowery fag language, “His buns are noble”. I was curious, and I looked around to see if I could spot the Adonis he was pointing out to his companion.
I then noticed that they had arrived at their destination, and what he had said was: “Here’s Barnes and Noble.”
I first encountered New York magazine restaurant critic Gael Greene at a book fair being held on 5th Ave where she was proudly displaying her best seller ‘Blue Skies, No Candy’. We knew each other by reputation and talked for a little while. Gael had seen ‘Misty Beethoven’ or, more accurately, ‘The Opening of Misty Beethoven’, as producer /director Radley Metzger always wanted it to be known.
Radley used the name ‘Henry Paris’ for his X-rated features because, he said, he didn’t want his mother to know he was making porn movies. I think he was serious, after all he was a nice Jewish boy, but you never quite knew with Radley. He had a wonderful, ironic sense of humor. A few examples:
1) We once ran into someone Radley had worked with for years and Radley brushed him off. The guy was hurt and said: “You know, when you were struggling you were much friendlier. Now that you’re successful, you walk around like you’re superior to everyone else”. Radley stopped, looked at the guy and admonished him: “I resent that. I was ALWAYS superior.”
2) I was scheduled to fly to Europe with Radley to shoot ‘Misty’. Not only was I always afraid to fly but a fan had recently done me the ‘favor’ of doing my astrological chart, and told me I should NEVER get on an airplane. I called the prick up and said, “Listen, I have to go to Europe. I know I should never get on a plane but I need to know more information about my chart.” He called back with the warning that above all I must not travel on November 18th. The 18th was right about the time we were going and I was afraid Radley would be angry and possibly replace me. (I was not even his first choice for the role; he fired that guy before the first day of shooting because he said he didn’t like his attitude). With some trepidation I explained the problem and Radley’s reply was: “Well, one thing I can tell you for sure Jamie. You’re not flying with ME on the 18th.”
3) When we got to Paris, Radley put me up in a room next to his in a hotel on the right bank. I told him I preferred the left bank and was sentimental about a hotel I stayed in when I first went to Paris in 1963. He said, “Jamie, you’re staying here where I can keep an eye on you and be sure everything is ok. I can’t have you running around getting lost in Paris”. I relented and said, “Ok Radley but ya know that other hotel is about ten times cheaper”. He then insisted I move immediately.
The term ‘porno chic’ was being used a lot in the in the late seventies. All of a sudden, for a little while, we was klassy—imagine dat! It had become acceptable to be seen going into an X-rated theater. Talented people like Radley made that possible. The screening for ‘Misty’ was even held at the fashionable and renowned Four Seasons restaurant in New York.
At the book event Gael fluttered like a schoolgirl as she talked about having seen me in ‘Misty’. I was amused but not really interested in her. It was a time in my life when this young lion was being tossed hunks of prime meat on a regular basis and I was kept quite busy satisfying my lust with more or less perfect young women.
Gael asked for my number and told me she would perhaps invite me to a reviewing dinner. I just gave her my service number and never bothered to reply.
Fortunately I ran into Gael again at a wine tasting which I attended with my lifelong good buddy Jeff who was selling wine for a living. I say fortunately because I sensed that if I could get past the fact that middle aged Gael had a less than a perfect teenage body, I might be in for some fascinating good times. I thought this almost as soon as she approached me; full of confidence and fresh wit even though I had never even bothered to return her call. I saw that nothing would stop Gael. The world was hers to create. She invited me to a dinner party at Le Cirque that she was giving with Danny Kaye’s daughter Dena who taught me the Charleston that night.
I found her boldness delightful. Her enormous appetite for life was a beautiful thing to behold. I decided that I would absolutely attend the party and had no qualms about going home with her afterwards. At her Upper West Side apartment, I let her have her way with me. Why not? She was a very special woman and she deserved it. Of course once she got a taste she was insatiable and constantly called to ask me out to this or that restaurant either with a small group or just the two of us.
I recently got a card from an old flame along with two packets of herbs that said:
Just a few scents from my garden.
Turned on the TV the other night and there you were, looking so, so
Delicious, and I remembered
The softness of your skin (among other things)
How happy I am to
Have run into you
It hit me like a wave
When I saw you, and
Your voice, oh la la!!
Running out of space, so
I’ll stop this sentimental
Note. I will always
Love you, Anna”
I first eyed Serena when she was posing for Sam Menning in his Los Angeles studio in 1973 or ‘74. She was writhing around naked while Sam snapped away and I was immediately smitten. He told me she was living with some guy in a remote area of northern California. I gave him a “too bad” shrug and left but I never forgot her.
A few years later she showed up single in New York City as the featured dancer/stripper at the Show World Center on Eighth Avenue and 42nd St. The place was going strong as a multi-level Times Square sex emporium and as I lived in the area, it was my neighborhood ‘playground’. A couple of floors featured 25 cent peep show girls. What a great relief it was to be able to go look at a naked girl for almost nothing and either stay to masturbate to her or simply bask in the wonder of it all…
An upper floor was dedicated to live sex shows and then there was the star stage reserved for that week’s headliner. Among the legendary acts that appeared there were Honeysuckle Divine who shot ping pong balls into the audience from her cunt, and Monica Kennedy, (perhaps one of THE Kennedys?), who some think outdid her by ejecting frankfurters from her butt. Their respective talents were regarded with awe by the cognoscenti.
Serena’s act was much more demure. She danced around the stage with very easy, fluid motions, waving her arms overhead as if she were a young sapling bending with the breeze. You weren’t so much aroused by her performance as moved by it. You just wanted to hold her and love her—anyway, that was my reaction. Maybe I was just pleased that this angelic, blond vision with the great ass and snub nose (standard Jew boy dream material) had come to a place and time where she was within my reach.
All I really had to do was go backstage to say hello and she was mine. I was Jamie Gillis, and in Serena’s world at that time that meant a lot. She knew me by reputation and was very pleased and excited to meet me. We laughed and joked backstage with other visitors from the porn crowd as Serena sat on the lap of her loving new daddy.
There is a newspaper clipping taped to the top of my computer:
A very old woman was asked what she liked most about her life:
“That I’m alive, I guess. That’s the big thing. That I’m alive.”
If I wasn’t Jewish I think my next choice would be to be black. At the risk of insulting anyone with embarrassing clichés, I have to say I admire their warmth, humor, general physical looseness and their ability to strike a little fear just by walking by you on a dark street.
I saw ‘The Great White Hope’, starring James Earl Jones, on Broadway in 1968. Muhammad Ali was in the audience, seated alongside a typical, pasty faced overweight, middle aged theater crowd and he shone and glistened among them like a black jewel. I had never, as an adult, asked anyone for an autograph and I didn’t really want Ali’s. I just needed an excuse to get close to him and see what his fists looked like. Surprisingly, I don’t recall that any other members of the audience approached him. Some cultural icons just seem to be too impressive to bother. A few years later I saw Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward walking on Broadway. Not only did no one approach them, people actually backed away from them as if they were afraid of being burned by the great light that radiated from their glorious young selves.
About 30 years after his Broadway success I ran into James Earl Jones in San Francisco. I had been impressed by his Othello that I’d seen in an off Broadway theater several years before he did ‘The Great White Hope’, and as he was lately becoming known for somewhat sillier projects I thought I’d let him know that I was aware of his great talent as a classical actor.
Jones thanked me, winked at me, and said “I like your work too” – and bringing a clenched fist near to his face, added in that beautiful booming voice: “You’ve got LOTS OF FIRE.”
It’s amazing what a great equalizer sex is; I never imagined he would have any idea who I was. I’ll never be able to look at Jones again without realizing he’s only human.
Fragment of a letter from Liela (a Dutch girlfriend), June 6th 1994:
“Just a little letter to let you know, you stole my hart once and forever, whatever you did do, will do, simply because you enjoy without depending on other men’s opinion. Which is the only pleasant lifestyle.”
I met Mark Arnold Krinsky aka Ed Powers on a set in LA. He had a small X-Rated film distribution company that was handed to him by legendary porn mogul Reuben Sturman. Ruthless Reuben was something of a mentor to Ed (“he fixed my teeth,” Ed had once told me). I would have paid scant attention to him but, to impress me, he told me the story of how he had taken home two hookers who tied him up and robbed him. That was nothing special but when he added that after he managed to get free he went out looking for them again because he was so excited by the ordeal, I was intrigued. Here was a guy nuttier than I was about sex and had the balls to do anything for a cheap thrill. The clincher came when he said if you don’t believe me I’ll call them right now. Sure enough, after exchanging pleasantries with her, he puts me on the phone with a hot sounding bitch who tells me she is so happy because she just got a new gun which was even bigger and deadlier than the one she used to terrify Ed.
After that first meeting I often stayed with him at his house when I was in LA. He had enormous energy, was generous and usually fun to be with.
One day outside a supermarket I gave some change to a panhandler.
Ed then said to him “Here’s a dollar.”
I responded “Big shot, huh? Here’s two dollars”.
“Ok, fuck you, Jamie, then I’m going to give him five dollars.”
The old beaten down panhandler stood stupefied and totally still, his head bent over his cup in wonder, as we continued the escalation until his cup was literally overflowing. Finally he put a stop to our madness by quietly saying: “I guess I can go home now”.
Ed was one of the few guys I ever met who was more sex-driven than I was. We would, on many occasions, pick up a whore and then as soon as he was done with her he would want to run out and cruise for another. One day he bored a tiny hole in the wall that separated our rooms in case I wanted to peek in on his latest thing. The hole was barely big enough to make anything out and one day while I was zeroing in on what I imagined was his new girl in a hot pair of panties I was mildly disgusted to realize that I had been staring at Ed in his underwear all along.
I was dividing my time between Los Angeles and San Francisco, venturing up to San Francisco and staying in hotels whenever work called me. One afternoon I was working on a film being produced by Allan Shustak. He was sitting next to me on the set when I became overwhelmed by the tedium of doing another stupid, scripted porn film in which the actors were clearly thinking “Who do I have to fuck and how quickly can we get it over with so I can go home.”
I said to Allan “This is ridiculous, why don’t we just throw a girl in a car and take her outside and find someone who really wants to have sex with her and film that?” I’m not even sure if I was serious but Allan casually replied “Ok, let’s do it, but let’s use a limo to give it a little class.”
We had no real idea what we were doing or what it would be called – we just rented a limo, got a hot girl with a lot of personality (Renee Morgan) and took off into the San Francisco night. Just for the hell of it I asked a woman I had recently met if she wanted to come along for the ride. She did, but she felt that the experience might be a little too much for her, and so left early.
I was having a ball sitting in back of the limo as Allan filmed the proceedings that evening. It was so refreshing to be going out to record real sex with real guys who weren’t being paid but who just wanted to get some pussy. I felt liberated and relieved – no more dumb scripts – we were out in the real world.
“It’s never too late to become what you might have been.”
April 23rd 2009:
I find it difficult to write the words because the acknowledgment will make it even more terribly real, but I was told this week that I have a very serious, rare cancer that will kill me in the near future.
So, that’s it, maybe I’ll write some more, but tomorrow I go to see my cancer specialist at Sloan Kettering for the first time and he’s gonna take a look up my ass and figure out how long I have to live. I’ve been told that my biopsy says I have a melanoma of the anal mucosa if you want to look it up.
It’s Shakespeare’s birthday. By my calculations, I’ve so far survived about 13 years longer than he did. So, I might well ask, who the fuck am I to survive Shakespeare?
I’m supposed to take TWO enemas this morning before my doctor’s appointment. Funny thing, but I don’t ever recall taking an enema either for fun or medical reasons. Sure enough I was told to buy the Fleet enema which is the same one used on porn sets before anal sex scenes. I have this tumor that squeezes out of my anus with every bowel movement and I have to push it back in after I wipe. It is a little like getting fucked.
When the actor David Janssen died, a girlfriend of his was quoted in the paper as saying “time to him was like a holiday”. I loved that thought; it seemed to express my philosophy of life perfectly, that we are all on a brief holiday from eternity, that our time in ‘time’ itself is a holiday from death and should be treated as such.
“…everything I look out upon fills me with tenderness, nostalgia for life.”
– letter to Jack Kerouac from Neal Cassady, 2/13/51:
November 23rd 2009:
My tumor was removed in May but growths in my rectum have returned. I went for a cat scan yesterday and depending on results the next course of action will be determined. From what I understand there is very little, if anything, that can be done. My partner Zarela is quite upset of course, but I begged her not to tell anyone yet because I hate to spend whatever remaining time I have having everyone treat me like some pathetic dying thing. There will be time for that when things get really bad. Maybe everyone should be indoctrinated from a very early age with the idea that we are all ‘some pathetic dying thing’. It might help people to stop worrying over little things.
Death is really boring, common, and banal. What is rare is that a living individual arrives once (as far as we know) during eternity. That unique life is a miracle. Reminds me of a Whitman line I always loved: “A mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.” So I guess my message for the day, kids, is don’t make yourself crazy over anything and enjoy the miracle while it lasts.
These days I’m reminded of a joke:
A man goes to a doctor and is told he has serious heart disease and has at most three weeks to live.
When he relays this to his wife, she says, “So at least thank God it’s not cancer.”
November 30th 2009:
Saw my doctor today and the CAT scan result ain’t good—the cancer has spread. One of my doctors said that the way it was advancing was “impressive”, which I thought was a funny way to refer to it, but he wasn’t smiling.
Tomorrow I’m off to Cleveland to sign autographs at a convention called Cinema Wasteland. I decided to do it partly because it really does look like I’m on my way outta here and I thought it would be nice to give the fans who really want to see me an opportunity to do that before I’m gone. I also thought it would be a bittersweet experience for me—sort of a waving goodbye to those “wonderful people out there in the dark” (Gloria Swanson in ‘Sunset Boulevard’) who think I’m a cool guy.
I came across the following online shortly after I decided to go:
“I know there are members here at AV Maniacs who are J. Gillis fans. Here is your chance. Do you want to risk missing another Wasteland guest who unexpectedly dies months later?”
I guess it’s as good a time as any to end this book. I don’t really think there’s any need to drag it out and include the miserable details of my illness as I decline.
I am planning to donate my entire body to medical research. I can, therefore, expect to be naked in public for at least a couple of more years even after I’m gone. I won’t, of course, be paid for it but there is always the possibility that some pretty doctor will be looking on with interest.
So long. Don’t pity or mourn for me. I wouldn’t have traded places with anyone. Hope you will be able to say the same.
This is really really awesome news, and these extracts have just wet my appetite for the full book. Any idea when it may be available?
I agree with the previous comments – I cannot wait to get my hands on this book especially after reading the samples.
Jamie is one of the few truly fascinating people to come out of the x industry, and his book belongs on every film fans shelf.
This moved me close to tears. Jamie was a strange and beautiful presence – thank God he left a book that does him justice.
And thanks to Ashley West and the Rialto for this bittersweet and impressive taste.
My God, he was extraordinary! So grateful to have crossed paths with him on this ride. He was the bull goose moose, for sure! – Howie Gordon . . . aka the ghost of Richard Pacheco
Brought tears to my eyes. It’s strange that Jamie’s, who could always make me smile, last act would be to bring me to tears. I miss him.
His words are extraordinarily casually written; just s he spoke.
Jamie, an extraordinary man among us.
WOW, what a story….what a ride.
it’s a rare quality to be able to write with fluidity and give a sense of ease to it — turns out Jamie Gillis had that quality. he mentioned he was writing his autobiography in a phone conversation one time, but suggested he wasn’t working too hard at it. I’d say this manuscript is very worthy of publication and I look forward to reading it.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – thank Christ for this Rialto place. There is nothing like it for an enlightening, intelligent and fun guide to the REAL history of early adult films. You guys sure raise the bar from the clowns who masquerade as ‘adult film historians’.
I always wondered if he knew he was dying when Rob Hauschild and myself interviewed him for an uncompleted documentary on 42nd St Theaters just around the same time Rob took him to Wasteland. He showed no signs of being ill, was in excellent nature. Rob felt he should have told us he was dying, I felt the opposite, I actually admired the fact that he didn’t need to share that, it represented personal strength to me. Very interesting stuff.
Thanks for posting these excerpts. Really looking forward to the book.
This book looks like a TREASURE and must be published asap. Full credit to RR for giving is a sneak preview, but my excitement now is feverish!
For a Shakespearean actor seduced by the glory of sleaze, pedantic quotes seem out of context. But Gillis reveled in X as a badge of honor to please raincoaters, not effetes. And the thing about Jamie is that there were no airs about him and he never took himself seriously in life or death. His memoirs reveal a side of him that genuflects to porn posterity.
Absolutely the find of the decade….Like only the best
appetizer for a fabulous meal could be. May be the
definitive POV memoir about the industry’s defining
years,and written(not ghosted?) by that era’s reluctant
standard bearer. May be your(RR’s) most important
contribution to the genre to date,and that is,indeed,
saying something. THANK YOU.
In the 1970’s, numerous “one hit wonders” we’re made in 8mm loops never to be seen again. Jamie is one extreme, how fascinating would it be to hear the stories of this niche. While they may want to remain confudential, their POV would be a great read.
I once saw Jamie “Naked in Public”, in a sense, when I glimpsed him crossing the uneven pavement of Mulberry Street and tripping. He caught himself but there was a look of loss of dignity as he met my gaze from a few yards away…A very human moment, and am I thus not surprised at how moving and human his memoir seems to be. Thank you for the excerpt, and I look forward to the book.
I was one of the guys who wanted to get Jamie to Cinema Wasteland. We had been running films at The Pioneer Two Boots Theater . We had decided to bring porn to the big screen in NYC after 25 years. Some one got in touch with Jamie and invited him. He just sat in the crowd while I did a trivia game with the audience. When his name was the answer to one of the questions, I brought him up on stage. He did a Q&A that was unexpected for about an hour. I called Ken Kish , who runs Cinema Wasteland, and he asked me to put him in touch with Jamie. Jamie agreed to do the show. We all met at the hotel in Strongsville Thursday night. We had a great time drinking and shooting the shit. At no time did Jamie ever give the impression he was sick. We had a great panel ,where Jamie’s openness blew a few minds and got quite a few laughs. He seemed to be really enjoying himself. We had a great show, Jamie seemed happy to be there. Like I said, we never knew how seriously ill he was. Another promoter contacted me about coming to a show in Missouri as Seka was appearing there and he thought we would be a good match. I told him that I was in contact with Jamie and he said great, tell him I want to bring him in. The message I got back was this: ” I had a great time hanging out with you guys and I really enjoyed Wasteland, but I think my convention days are over.” two weeks later I got the news that he had passed. I respect his descision to keep it to himself. I’m just glad that I had a part in getting him to Cinema Wasteland so he could see how loved and appreciated he really was. I was shocked at his passing, but I’m glad I got to hang out with him, no matter how brief it was. looking forward to the book.
Great excerpts. I hope you are able to get this published. Perhaps with some exclusive photos from his personal collection. Maybe Serena or even Ed Powers could write the foreward.
I’d love to know who was originally cast in Misty Beethoven. I can’t imagine another actor in that role. Anyone know?
Hi NYCrex – we have an interview with the the actor who was originally cast as Seymour Love coming up soon…
Thanks Ashley, I’ll “stay tuned!”
“The Darkest Knight” He is the only person that I’ve ever idolized in “The Family of XXX” I really, Really, REALLY didn’t want to read this as I knew that it would be a shattering experience . But now that I have, I want more, More, MORE. I think that in many more ways (and lays) than one, we were linked by Love, Lust and Lost Souls.
Top rate excerpts and as with the others, I cannot wait to read this book! I think he approached the end of days with great dignity and though it saddened me when he died the fact that he carried on with a smile and playfulness makes me happy.
Thanks Realto Report…Jammie will always be my favorite dark sider.
Gillis complete perv, loved him for that. my favourite scene of his, new wave hookers with Karistara and in Cookies and cream with Traci Lords
Knew Jamie first from his work, then as a fan, finally as a friend in SF. Miss him. Am so glad he wrote a biography. He used to tease me about being his biographer , but although he told me a few entertaining anecdotes, there was nothing so moving as these, his own voice. Hope you can publish soon. He was a special man.
Nice to hear it from the man himself. Really good!
Is this book still in the works? Any updates? I cannot wait to read it… Thank you!
Thank you so much for giving us a taste of what Jamie wrote in his memoir. He was truly an extraordinary person and I can’t wait to read the rest. Any news on if/when the memoir will be published?