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João Fernandes was adult film’s first true cinematographer.
He started in New York in the 1960s shooting black and white soft-core sexploitation films.
Then he was the man looking down the camera when Deep Throat, Devil in Miss Jones, The Story of Joanna and other groundbreaking Gerard Damiano films were made.
He worked with Doris Wishman, Armand Weston, Jonas Middleton and many others. He was responsible for the visual flair of films like Through The Looking Glass and Take Off.
But his talent and success was a double-edged sword. How could he hope to turn his underground fame in a semi-legal industry into a mainstream career?
After years of struggling, he did find success in Hollywood, working as Director of Photography on Chuck Norris films, shooting movies starring people as diverse as Tony Randall, Tom Berenger and Christopher Lambert, and even directing episodes of the hit TV show Walker, Texas Ranger.
But all the time, he wondered: What would happen if Hollywood found out about his adult film past?
For years he denied his involvement in adult film – even when it eventually seemed to be an open secret. So when Ron Howard’s production company came knocking in 2005, looking for an interview for their documentary, Inside Deep Throat, he continued to resist, still determined to keep his decades old secret.
As a result the man himself has been a mystery. No one knew much about him. How did a Brazilian become porn film’s first visual artist, what does he remember about the notorious and fabled films he worked on, and does he have any regrets?
On this episode of The Rialto Report, the artist also known as Harry Flecks breaks a 50 year silence.
In a special extended interview, we speak to the man himself. Joao Fernandes.
This episode’s running time is 118 minutes.
Joao speaks…..??!?!?!!??!?! The holy grail of crew members – can’t wait to hear this one!
Joao’s work is/was one of the only (THE only?) examples of creative artistry in the adult film industry – ever.
The fact that he went on to make it in the big time in Hollywood – is despite his porn work, not because of it.
A rare example of a cross-over success on the creative side.
This interview looks special. Joao is a master at his craft.
Well done Rialto team.
Awesome… (I thought Joao was Portuguese…….!)
Jeff, I´m Brazilian and the first time I saw João´s name onscreen (in the credits for the fourth -and very popular-FRIDAY THE 13th movie I thought he was probably from Portugal or some Portuguese colony like Mozambique or Angola)…JOÃO is probably the most common name in Brazil and FERNANDES is also FAR from Unusual around here.
I’ve long admired your work, Mr. Fernandes, but your modesty and soft-spoken intelligence shone through in a wonderful way in this enlightening interview. Thanks for a life well-lived and for finally telling your life story in such a compelling way.
This is a true history of the last 40 years of film! So much more than just an adult film tale, this is recommended to all those interest in movies.
From HINDSIGHT by Howie Gordon (Richard Pacheco):
“There was a knock on my door, at least I thought it was my door. It was Veronica Hart. I’d seen her around. We’d said hello before. She was a New York actress who was coming on like gangbusters in the business.
There were at least three different film companies staying at the Howard Johnson’s in Mill Valley that night. I was with Anthony Spinelli. She was with somebody else. She was wearing a fur coat.
Turned out, she wasn’t knocking at my door at all. She was knock￼ing at the door next door. It was the door of Raul Lomas (Joao Fernandes), the suave cameraman from Brazil. All the pretty girls were knocking on the door of Raul Lomas, the suave cameraman from Brazil. Must have been when we were shooting THE DANCERS. Raul and I had adjoining rooms at the HOJO. She was knocking at his door.
‘Go away now, I’m busy,’ came Raul’s voice from inside. Veronica looked at me and I looked at her.
‘Want some company?’ she asked. I smiled and invited her in. She let her fur coat fall open. She wasn’t wearing anything underneath.”
Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!! Great anecdote Howie!!!!!!!!! I love it!
Joao was quite the ladies man by all accounts – and good for him!
And if there is anyone who hasn’t read ‘Hindsight’, what are you waiting for? It’s a terrific read and Howie is a terrific storyteller!
Thank – you!
Joao a ladies man? Ya think!?! I would LOVE to read that book!
Nice one Mr Pacheco. When’s the book reading tour?
I wish. The budget for promoting HINDSIGHT has been 2 cold cheeseburgers, 1 dead canary, and all the Facebook I could eat. That said, tell your friends and fans they can order autographed copies from me at http://www.hindsightbook.com Thanks for asking!
Joao is certainly one of the more interesting cats and one of my favorite interviews here on the Rialto Report.
Truely enlightening and fun.
Thank you again for keeping us in deep focus Ashley.
Great having Ashley interview and fill in the blanks with Joao. This is one for the ages. This is “source material”, and incredibly welcome. I’m not giving up on Desiree Cousteau…
Epic interview of a personal struggle, that results in an outcome few have managed to achieve.
Escape to Victory!
Enjoy your retirement Mr. Fernandes. You’ve earned it.
The individual stories that reside within the interview have a poignancy. Terri Hall, Ron Werheim, Armand Weston, Jerry Damiano – all shine here kind after their passing. Plus Joao should be speaking to colleges about his experience in the film industry. As the interviewer rightly points out, not many people have lived through so many different eras and genres. Thanks Joao!
Thanks for images Joao!
What a life.
He was the Director Of Photography for the horror cult classics Friday the 13th part 3 and Children Of The Corn. I grew up in the 80s and those movies were very popular back then. So were the Chuck Norris films Joao shot. Guess him and Chuck got along well since they worked a lot together throughout the decades. Awesome transition from classic adult movie making to mainstream success.
Awesome podcast! Joao’s story about the seagulls and the film short He worked on stirred an old memory. Way back in the seventies, I remember watching a film short, in B&W regarding a Soldier and a Seagull. The Soldier is dressed in WWII uniform, walking alone on a beach, barefoot, his boots slung over his shoulders. He comes upon a Seagull on the beach, offers it a piece of bread. The bird flies away, the Soldier reached out and upward with the piece of bread, then there is a gunshot. Quick fade to black. Next, the Soldier is dead on the beach, and the Seagull is next to him. End.
This very brief film has always stayed with me. I can’t recall the source: It might seen at High School, or on PBS here in New York. Your podcast brought that memory back – could this have been Joao’s film? I’ve looked through Youtube, made internet searched, can’t locate this film short. Ashley, did Joao give you the title of his short film? I’m sure it must be the same film, and I’m hoping there is a copy somewhere on the net. Thanks!
As expected…this magnificent entity has fallen victim to a terminal case of CUAQW (“Comments Unbecoming A Quality Website”) and has devolved into a sanctuary for the dim, the dumb and the deluded. The efforts of Ashley and April richly deserve a much better fate.
Your most epic podcast to date… Keep them coming…..
Interesting to hear this right after seeing the excellent documentary about Joe Sarno – A Life in Dirty Movies – which is currently on Netflix. Joao successfully made the transition to mainstream films because of his discontent with working in pornography. Joe Sarno, who started in an earlier era with sexploitation films, saw the field HE loved to work in collapse because of the advent of pornography. Both were driven by their artistic impulses – but Joao, after considerable struggle, was able to adapt. We hear a lot about “disrupters” these days – porn seems to have been, and continue to be, a great disrupter in the entertainment field.
Another great ‘cast. What’s the cool song that opens it?
Hi Kelly – the song is Alfomega by Caetano Veloso.
Thanks for your kind words!
Electric Boogaloo- amusing doc on the Canon era, Golan/Globus in the 1980’s. Didn’t think to look for Mr. Fernandes but willing to bet he’s in there. A lot of behind the scenes footage in the doc, especially involving Chuck Norris’ flicks of the period; which he lensed. Compelling podcast- leaves you wanting more: best kind!
Hi Joao! Nice reading about you. It’s been many decades since we worked together on THE PROJECTIONIST and THE COMEBACK TRAIL. Some stories about those shoots will appear in my memoirs (currently being written) and will probably bring back some fond memories. That plane crash was quite something. It disappeared over a hill, and didn’t come back up, and the next thing I remember was all of us running…
Incidentally, just for the sake of accuracy, THE COMEBACK TRAIL was filmed over 1970-1971. I can understand remembering it as ten years later, since it took forever to come out, and at that, only for a moment. It’s pretty much a lost film now.
Just fascinating. RR continues to lead AND own this field with THE most informed and knowledgeable
Interviews and reportage. These oral histories may soon be our ONLY window into the increasingly
befogged past of “Adult”. Not only can you NOT slow down, but acceleration is in order. I know it’s
real work, but it is truly appreciated. Bravo.
Thank you so much for the kind feedback K Marshall – we really appreciate it!