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Henri Pachard was one of the most successful adult film directors in America in the 1980s and 1990s – making award-winning films like ‘Babylon Pink’ (1979), ‘The Budding of Brie‘ (1980), and ‘October Silk’ (1980). He worked with the biggest names and won just about every award there was to win in the industry.
But back in the 1960s, Henri Pachard was just Ron Sullivan, and he was a young filmmaker in New York City trying to learn about filmmaking any way he could. He was part of a small group of pioneering and revolutionary filmmakers that helped create the modern day adult film industry. When he started out nudity was still forbidden, and sex was simulated.
The Rialto Report met and spoke with Ron on several occasions before he passed in 2008. He was always great company and happy to talk about the glory days when his 1980s hardcore movies were shot on film, shown in theaters, and scooped up awards.
The last time we interviewed him was just a few months before he died. He’d been fighting a battle with cancer – first jaw, then throat – and so at times, understandably, he found it difficult to talk. But as always he was excited to be looking back at his life.
In our last conversation though, rather than talk about his most successful period, all Ron wanted to do was to go back and remember his early days in New York back in the 1960s when he first discovered filmmaking, when he fell in love with the movie camera, and when he helped create an entire industry. He remembered those days with a mixture of excitement, innocence and even regret. In some ways, he said, they were the best days of his life.
On this Rialto Report, we hear that conversation with Ron Sullivan. But this time, it’s not an interview. This is just Ron Sullivan. In his own words.
Note: Due to the fact parts of the interview may sometimes be difficult to understand due to Ron’s illness, we’re also publishing a transcript of the podcast below. However we still urge you to listen to the podcast to hear the stories in Ron’s own voice.
This episodes run time is 38 minutes.
My attraction to movies… I had no idea why until I turned 40 years old, and went to get new glasses and they told me I needed bifocals, and the reason why was because I have no depth perception. I was born without depth perception. Hence my fascination for a single dimension movie!
My family background was I was brought up in a lower-middle class white neighborhood in Kansas City with and older sister and a younger sister and a younger brother and with loving parents. We never went hungry, we never had any resentments, we never had any fights, and we never had any issues with the opposite sex.
My upbringing was very, very typical. We played football in the streets, we had dogs off leashes, I went to the movies once a week, I watched television late at night. I watched movies on Channel 9 so I could learn about movies when I was 14 and 15. All through the summer, I watched movies. I loved them.
Move to New York
I got married in Kansas City and wanted to study some form of show business in either in New York or California. It was a coin toss, and the coin said New York.
We drove out there, my wife and I, and I went into acting and directing in 1962. I got a job in a theater, the Circle in the Square Theatre, in 1962, hanging props and cleaning out the theater, being a Janitor and an usher, and helping actors like George C. Scott. He was a great actor and he was doing a play for us then. And that’s how I got into the entertainment business!
I was hired as an actor in one play, I hated acting, but I wanted to continue with directing and production management. I wanted to get into film and a young composer knew an educational filmmaker. He said, “Would you like to work in movies?” I said “Absolutely.” He said, “This is not feature stories, this is like educational film.” I said, “I don’t care” and I started there in about 1963, working in educational films.
Birth of Adult Film
Over the years in this kind of business, I would run into my friends and colleagues who would talk about these adult movies. In those days, we’d called them ‘nudie cuties’.
The adult entertainment business in New York, the ‘nudie cutie’, began with European films. They were terrible movies that nobody wanted. The American rights would get purchased by somebody over here and there would be inserts shot: We’d take a body double and match the costume, match the hair, shoot the back of her head, have her take her clothes off from here to here or something like that, and have hands on their bodies, nothing very suggestive, in fact we kept the bras and the panties on most of the times back then… and so that’s how I got some of my work. We were shooting inserts.
We would be hired to shoot for a day. We’d have some young American girl, who was getting $50 for the day, and she had to do her hair: “I have to do my hair blonde?! Now what do you want me to do? Do you want me to use panties?” And she’d put the panties on, the bra on. “Now what!?”
And the Director would say, “Turn this way and turn this way, now throw your head back… now turn your head.” All because we could cut this in to the main star of this foreign film that was in another language – usually Sweden or something like that.
That’s how the exploitation film began. It all began with a bunch of outlaws and foreign films.
Eventually it became reasonable and feasible to create and shoot the movie right in New York. We could make ‘em in three days and they were all in black and white. These things were shot on minimal budgets and we would work on the crews.
I would be an assistant cameraman on one movie, a lighting guy on another movie, a production manager on another movie because I said I could do it, and we just sort of moved in that direction because it was quick employment.
We all wanted to be the next Marty Scorsese.
We weren’t paying the people very much money – certainly I didn’t make that much – and we started getting busier and busier and busier. It became an entire cottage industry.
We did it because we wanted to make movies and not do meetings. Meetings were easy to do, but I’d rather be one day on a set then five days in a meeting, anytime. And if I couldn’t direct the movie, then I would production manage the movie or I would be the gaffer. We covered each other and we kept working as much as we could – but we loved it, we loved it so.
There were theaters dedicated to playing these kind of movies every week and there were distributors that were springing up around Midtown.
The Distributors in those days were small companies. So there was like Harold Sugarman, I forget the name of his company. And there was Jerry Balsam of JER films but the interesting one, the one I enjoyed the most, was Sam Lake of Mature films.
The reason I liked Sam Lake the most was he was in the Film Center building, and they had little offices, they had one person helping, typing, and answering the phone, whatever, and they shipped their prints out. He liked to think himself as a pioneer in the Adult entertainment industry
I had done some work; I had made one movie, ‘Lust Weekend’, that helped launch my career. I’d worked at some movies off and on, various productions, and make some money to make a living, but you’re only as good as your last movie – and you shouldn’t wait too long between movies in New York or they’ll forget you in about a week.
The Bizarre Ones
So I went to see Sam Lake and he didn’t know me but I had heard of him and I told him I was a student at NYU film school. Martin Scorsese went there, and Brian De Palma, I understand went there. I told him I was doing some research for my paper on the new exploding sex exploitation film in the New York area.
I said “It’s becoming a new industry and I’m using this for my paper and I’d like to know if I could sit around and hang out with you, Mr. Lake, and ask you some questions?”
“Sure kid, whatever you want, come on by anytime.”
So I went there for about a day or two, and then I came in one day and I had something written out and I said, “Mr. Lake, I’ve written a little script here with a title and I want you to just check it out. I want you to make sure I’m on the right track here.”
He said, “Give me the script. ‘The Bizarre Ones’? Where did you get that title?”
I said, “I made it up.”
He said, “That’s a good title. You wanna shoot it?”
“Shoot it? Sure!”
I never went to film school, but if you’re going to con somebody, con their ego. I learned that because somebody emailed me a few years back about getting into my industry as a pornographer.
“What do I have to do, Mr. Henri Pachard, to get into the business?”
I said, “Do what I did kid… lie!” And I meant it, because essentially that’s what launched me. And I made it up but I made them in a way to fire up the man’s career, and to the day he died, he told people that he discovered me. I discovered him!
And from that, I shot three movies for him and started making them more and more and more.
We could care less about the sex at that time. We shot it… we had to, but pornography wasn’t our thing. I didn’t get interested in pornography until I became a big time director in porn – and then I started getting interested in porn, real porn. I was never really turned on. I mean that was not our motivation. We wanted to get to it, get it done, get to the next scene, and get to the next movie.
Our whole thing was that if we could move and shoot quickly – like hit and run, real fast – get the job done and shot, then we’d be in position for the next movie.
And the other thing it did for us it kept us networking. Half the time we’d be on the set, there’d be a crew of eight or nine people, and we’d be selling ourselves for the next movie. That’s why it took so long to shoot these things.
We kept expanding in the business. It invited more and more young moviemakers an opportunity to get in and learn the business while getting paid. Sometimes they’d work 18 hour days for $50 dollars to be a cameraman… but they learned. And we were always working with new people, always teaching new people what to do and the faster we learned, the better we could network.
My job was to get it done when I said I could get it done. We had 4 days… or 3 days… whatever we were allowed, and I would make sure we got it done in that amount of time and not get arrested and not get hurt.
We had an accident once with an actress named Mary Lamay. We were shooting a nude scene, and this was a horror movie with blood and sex. It was in color, like 1968, ’69, and we were in this bathroom sitting around. She was in this bathtub talking dialogue or whatever. In those days we had those big quartz lights, hot lights, 1000 watt lights, we put it on top of this glass ceiling on top of the shower. Not a good idea!
Somebody said, “Move that light around so the glass won’t crack and break” so they would move the light around. Well, we were shooting and shooting and shooting and we didn’t move the light around. The glass broke, and came tumbling down on Mary Lamay, and I scooped her up out of the tub. The light was coming down, whoa! So I grabbed her and picked her up. Her leg was bleeding like crazy.
So we got her all stitched up and packed up…
There were no set goals, not on my productions, but our goal was the next movie, the next movie. It would take us maybe a month to organize the picture, to find the locations, to make the phone calls, to have the meetings.
We had one concept because there were more people that didn’t want to do what we did. They wanted nothing to do with it – and it was because of nudity. They didn’t want anything with it that had S.E.X. – ‘mature’ films, for some reason. They thought it would be detrimental to their career. It may have been.
Whenever we started to make a movie, I don’t think we ever sat down and said, “What ingredients do we need to make a good film?” I don’t think we were ever that sophisticated. We knew whoever was putting the money up for the movie, whoever the company was that were distributing it, they already told us what they wanted and they wanted to make sure that this particular girl had a major role in the movie, even though she couldn’t walk and talk and chew gum at the same time… it didn’t matter because he was meeting her at the hotel after work. To us that was all part of the production and we worked with it. We always thought the stories were kind of stupid, whether we wrote ‘em or not, we always thought they were dumb.
But other than that, it went fast. In the black and white days we over-lit everything and did a lot of playing with the lighting and stuff because we had to prove ourselves as great lighting designers. We’d take forever to hang a light. Everybody had to talk about how to do it: “No, that’s how light it, that’s how you hang it.”
We were all new people. We were all trying to learn something and do our best. On the sets I was on, it would take us sometimes six or seven hours to shoot one sex scene. Why? Now we can do it in 25 minutes! First of all, there was, we were lighting with too much light, slow film, too big a crew, too much movie-making mentality, not enough pornography attitude… and too much pubic hair!
Once these kids learned how to shave themselves down, the girls would start shaving more and more of their pubic hair until now they clean it up completely. And it sure helps, it’s a good reflector; you can’t bounce much light off a lot of hair but you can bounce it off a belly pretty good and get it lit up better.
I did this work because it was my chance to pretend I was doing mainstream work. I remember we’d set up to shoot a script and there’d be one scene in there that was for me. That was my showcase, my reel, to show that I could direct and make a good scene. And I’d work that scene, probably overshoot it, but that was for me. We all did that. We all loved that part about ourselves.
I was always nervous as hell if I was the director because I was under pressure – but I was having the most fun. Nobody had more fun than me when we were shooting the movie. The idea was to be able to have the best jokes, and to laugh the best, and do the old corny lines. When the final shot was done, and we were getting close to wrapping for the day, we’d say, “The next shot after this is in my glass!” We’d run off to the bar, the crew and the cast, we’d just hoist ‘em up and drink ‘em down and have fun, laugh… because we got through the day. So it was always a celebration, even at the end of each day. At the end of the movie, we’d have a party to knock your socks off, and a week later we’d be shooting something again.
We were moviemakers. We had succeeded in our lives. We were shooting a movie.
Actresses and Nudity
One of the problems we had in our business, which we took care of real fast was finding talent to take their clothes off. Finding talent to perform in these movies was always a challenge for any of us.
They used to say, “Well if the script justifies it, I might consider doing a nude scene”. Ha! “If the script justifies it…!”
These women would work as strippers. In those days stripping was not like it is today and they got a lot of money but not near enough money as we could pay them to do a film. We might pay them $2000 to do five days of work, and they might have to do two sex scenes, or rather pretend to have sex, and this would draw in a lot of very nice looking women.
In the old days we’d hire and pay ‘em $50, $100 a day because they were body doubles. It didn’t matter too much what their face looked like, we never saw it. But as we expanded and started doing our own productions here in the United States in New York, we started having to go after women… models, models that were willing to show their bodies.
I remember the nudity and the sex scenes that we did back then, it was always, it was pretend sex, it wasn’t for real. So yet, there was a moral thing there, so “I don’t know if I want to do a sex scene. I’m willing to take my clothes off, I’m willing to fade to black.” Well, we can’t do that, we have to have 18 minutes of pretending to have sex! But it grew that way, and as we grew… the talent become to grow. They started coming to us in abundance. It got better and better and better, and that’s how Jennifer Welles came along.
I liked her, and I got to know Jennifer Welles…
When we shot these movies, we were the most advanced, we were ahead of the curve, ahead of the game, by shooting this kind of blatant sexual behavior, even though it was pretend sex, or softcore sex, or implied sex. Nobody else was doing it – not on television, not anything like it is today, not in the bigger movies. We showed them humping and grinding away, their bare butts, their pubic hair, whatever and the only thing we had to avoid was not showing the genitals, especially the guys because if it was erect, we had to cut that out. So staying off his dick was probably the biggest problem we had!
But was it ever going to go hardcore? Was going to go the way it is today? We had no idea it would. We had no idea.
I mean pornography on film has been around since the days of the silent movies. They’ve always been there, they’ve always been shot in hotel rooms or whatever, always with sleazy people with a camera and a girl and this and that. That’s been around for decades, for a century, a hundred years, almost a hundred years by now. Where we were different was that we were putting the stuff in theaters.
We had to appeal to a mass audience. We put something on the marquee with a sexy title and get customers to stop what their doing and pay $3 and go in at any time, not wait for the opening, and go in and see these girls pretending to have sex. And we were playing them in a standing target, we weren’t running from the law, selling these tapes underground. But they were not hardcore, they were softcore.
The first movie that I actually produced and financed was a movie called ‘Scare Their Pants Off’ and it was shot in black and white with women showing their breasts, things like that. Now what we didn’t have then was pubic hair. One of my shots called for an actor to lift up this fabric off this girl’s body who was laying there on a tomb like she was hypnotized, and as we pull the body off the camera panned with it so she wouldn’t reveal any pubic hair…. Except this girl had a mountain of pubic hair, and we came too slow – and he said, “Oh, we got to cut that out – there’s pubic hair!”
I said, “No we don’t. Leave it in. We’re not ready to sell, just leave it in.”
Sure enough I’m showing the movie to Lee Hessel of Cambist Films and he saw it and he said, “They’re experimenting with the beaver on the coast.”
That’s when I first heard it: “They’re experimenting with the beaver on the coast.”
And more often we would push the envelope, trying to get a little hotter, take more risks, they wanted a certain amount of beaver (pubic hair), or a certain amount of pickle (the penis).
The thing about the beaver and the pickle, how did we get words like that? It came from the distributors and their salesman. These guys once they started moving the picture around, it was done by phone, across the country: “Seymour, you got to hear this. The latest movie, I got a lot of beaver and some pickle.”
You couldn’t say you had pubic hair and penises cause you phones could be tapped, things like that, but beaver…
And even the movies the audience knew what that meant. I remember one theater in New York had ‘Beavers On Parade’… they knew what it meant, it was pubic hair! And an all-male movie called ‘The Pickle Factory’. The guys went in like they knew exactly what it meant and all because by selling this stuff over the phone, they were able to describe what was in it!
“What’s in the movie?”
“Well, this movie’s got a lot of beaver. Now you might have to take some of the beaver out.”
We would do that to get ‘em to want the movie. “You might want to check this movie out” – that was to tempt them to see it because we’d want them to play it, willing to take the risk. “You might want to take some of the beaver out with the pickle… but I’ll leave it up to you. So when do you want to print it?” You know? Boom!
As we shot these movies and became more and more aggressive. “I Am Curious Yellow”, the black and white dumb movie from Sweden, where the young lady, while talking to her lover laying down in the weeds, she just casually kissed his penis, while just talking to him, a soft penis. And it got through customs!
Yes, we were pushing the envelope more and more – but there was nowhere else to go. We were making plenty of these movies, but you can’t do the same thing every week. So we’d show a little more beaver. And then came ‘split beaver’. What does that mean? That means full front vagina. That’s not good enough. That was good for a while, there was ‘beaver’ and ‘split beaver’. Now came ‘pink’. What’s that mean? The labia spread open. I had to work these in the titles. ‘Pink beaver’… we all knew what that guy meant. The guy went in and they made it ‘big pickle’, ‘stiff pickle’. After the ‘I Am Curious Yellow’ thing, they were starting to shoot more and more oral sex, explicit oral sex.
We would get these girls who couldn’t get arrested, right? They couldn’t get hired on a movie, they couldn’t get hired as a dancer, they weren’t that pretty, but they were willing to go down and perform fellatio on just about anybody for not too much money, $50, $100, whatever.
“Honey, you wanna suck dick? I’ll give you $100?”
They’d be there, it was tough and they’d be in a hotel room. “Honey you just got to do 3 guys.”
Oral sex! And with that we started shooting movies and pushing the envelope and showing real oral sex. Not pretend, the real deal. Talk about nervous… the guy’s getting a blowjob; he’s going…the girl was…it was fun!
It was the competition for the dollar, to get the theaters filled up, because they had to keep pushing the envelope to get the customers to come back because they’re not going to come back and watch a pair of naked tits forever. They want to see the naked tits do something. They want to see the beaver do something. They just kept pushing the envelope to get the people to come back to the theater because they found out that those people who went to the theater, they came every week. If it was a good movie, they came every week. Now that’s a porno fix. That kind of guy that’s a steady, steady user, that’s a great customer. You want those guys, you don’t want the guy who says, “Honey, let’s go buy ourselves a porno movie for Valentine’s Day”. That’s once a year. I want to market to the guy that’s got to have porn every week. That’s a heavy user and so you got to satisfy those people.
So that’s why we started as outlaws and I never wanted to lose that quality because when it was illegal, when we were outlaws, there were less people in it, there were more risks being taken, there was more unwritten rules. If let’s say, a guy ripped you off several thousand dollars, or he beat you in some kind of a deal, you couldn’t go to the cops, you couldn’t take him to court. The best you could do is make him a partner. But we were outlaws.
We were outlaws, we were breaking the law and we knew it and we didn’t give a shit. We just did it.
But as it got harder and harder, and more and more explicit, the theaters become more of a target. There were more prosecutors in the area that could make a career for themselves by busting a pornographer. It’s no big deal to bust a small time pornographer, what’s the big deal? But to bust a big time pornographer, that’s a big deal. And we were getting some big time pornographers, some of these people were rolling in money, they were bringing it in. A guy that might have $10,000 one day, five years later he has $5,000,000. That’s the target.
The distributor and the exhibitor would get arrested, the movie would get pinched and you’d have to go to court, you could possibly go to jail and pay a lot of fines, so we had Lawyers to defend this stuff, they were a risk.
Wow we had trouble, we’ve changed a bit.
Making movies in those days… the idea was to get the money back for the distributor.
He’d put the money up, he wanted it back as fast as he could. He said “I want it in a theater on the 10th of two months later.” He’d have it booked, on the title, and that meant we’d have to shoot the movie and then edit the trailer and then get a trailer out to all the theaters saying “Coming Soon” – making sure we had the title, lock that down, and then edit the movie. It would take about a month to edit the movie, to make an 85-minute movie, it would take about a month, with the sound and everything, and get to an optimal track, and you get it mixed in and get release prints done. And in those days, we only make ten prints! We’d wear the sprockets off those things…
But all of that was great for us because it got us right back out shooting again. The whole idea of that, in that time frame, in that period… to be able to be on a movie set was everything. It was one more day of doing what we wanted to do and we were doing it with other people who were doing what we wanted to do and we knew it and oh, we loved it.
We’d go, “What do you mean you’ve been on a shoot?” “Where have you been, I haven’t seen you in a while?” ‘I’ve been shooting a film.” We’d love that. “I’ve been on a set all day?” “Where are you?” “I’m going on location.” We dropped those words. “We’re going to screen the dailies.” Any of those phrases that made us feel that we were part of a bigger world. We did it, we used it.
And a lot of our crews, they would work on our movie and say, “While I’m doing this, I’ve got a legit film coming up. Next week I’m on a legit movie”… meaning they were going to work on a bigger feature in New York, maybe shot in color, maybe a 38 day film, you know, working with a bigger Director, maybe a star, whatever, and a bigger crew… but they never had more fun than with us.
The way I would raise the money after doing a budget, I would make it just attractive enough to make the guy feel he was going to get a bargain. Anybody who made these movies, they had to make them cheap enough to think they’re getting a bargain, and make a lot of money: “I’m getting it cheap, I’m gonna make a lot of money”
That was the appeal. A lot of money overnight.
We would get this money from distributors and theater owners, or a distributor who had theaters like Distribpix. Artie Morowitz and Howard Farber, they were good targets, they were producing every week. Every one of us would go there, “Artie, hi – we’ve got a movie to make” and we just brought them to him.
Artie and Howie were the Mecca of adult movies. They started with one movie. One movie. They had to make the ad, they had to cut out the ad, glue it down themselves, a little newspaper ad. One movie, and they made so much money. Then they made another movie. They made so much money. They made two more movies, and that’s how they began. They made money hand over fist. They were the leading distributors in New York. He had the money and we wanted the work.
We wasn’t visualizing making tons of money; we wanted to make films. We weren’t looking at buying a theater, buying a home. We were looking at working and making films. That’s all we wanted, and we could do that on these small budgets.
I would bring in the project. “Here’s the title. Here’s the budget. Here’s what I need” and we’d go.
If they said, “Well, it’s too much money”… “How much money? What are you happy with? I’ll make it for $5,000”… “No problem $5,000.” We did what we had to do, and we kept going and everybody got paid. It was for love of the game, we loved it so.
Also they had an office so you could find them. They would go in the office every morning, if you had to find them, you could get them on the phone. You could do business with them. It might be tough business, but you could do business with them, they were always there.
A lot of the guys in the game back then, you couldn’t find them. They were in a hotel, they were in a car. You know, it’s hard to get money from a guy who’s on the road, or he’s on the run, but sometimes we had to work that way. I had clients that were living out in their cars. We had that, we had gangsters.
I didn’t go around asking them, “Are you in the mob, Louie?” We didn’t do that. We assumed certain things about certain people by their friends and by their lack of action… they would never really make a phone call or write a letter, they would nod their head and whisper in somebody’s ear and have somebody do something, or they would make arrangements. “We’re going to make arrangements for you to have your money Ron” not “I’m going to write you a check.”
So we had some of that, but it was never really big. Pornography in 8mm hardcore loops, that sort of stuff, that was very much organized. That was quite controlled in most of the big cities by most of the families in the big cities, they had that kind of action. Playing in the theaters was a new thing for them. They weren’t sure they wanted to go that route. Some did, some didn’t. They knew where the money was. They got into our business in the 70s for a while when it started going hardcore because it beginning to compete with their own stuff… the 8mm stuff they were selling under the counter.
So organized crime has always been part of our business as it has been a part of everybody’s business. It gets confusing because not everybody with an Italian name in our business is in organized crime. And then there are those who like to think they are, or like to drop the implication that they just might be, as a way of garnering a little bit more respect. “If they think I’m a mobster, I’ll get more respect…” – that kind of thing.
Everybody changes their name in porn, in the adult business. I wanted to keep my name as Ron Sullivan, which is my real name, and I finally made my first explicit movie called ‘Babylon Pink’ and it looked like its going to do some good business, I was very happy about it. Meanwhile my wife got us into a country club, a Jewish country club, up in White Plains. We were getting ready to take this film to market and she said “Ron, don’t use your real name, we’ll be embarrassed at the club”
I said “Okay”, so I changed my name to Henry Pachard, and then I had to use it over and over again because we did so well at the first movie ‘Babylon Pink’.
Meanwhile I join the Country Club, we got to play golf, and people asked me, “What do you do for a living Ron?”
“Well, I’m in the motion picture business.”
“Oh what kind of motion pictures?”
I said, “I do a lot of adult films”
“Oh well, that’s kind of interesting. Have you heard of this film called ‘Babylon Pink’?”
I said, “Yeah, I own it.”
So that secret didn’t last very long. I had to change my name for less than a month; everyone at the club knew what I did. So I was very popular.
My urge to make the big film, to write the big script, slowly faded away. They’d have to come to me and say, “Ron, you’ve got to do this with a $20 million budget!” I might not do it. It’s a lot of work to make that kind of movie. I can understand one should do it when you’re younger but when you’re younger, you don’t know anything. So my desire to keep up with Marty Scorsese or to keep up with Brian De Palma or any of these other peers… I wish them well. I don’t want to compete with them. I want to see their movies. I want to be entertained by their stuff.
And now at my age, I want to watch the other people flourish. I’ve won all the awards. I probably won more awards than anybody else except for Paul Thomas has by now. I go to Las Vegas for the Erotica Award show that AVN puts out…when I won my first award, there were less than 300 people at that first show. Now there’s over 5,000 in the place. There are more people today that don’t know me in this business, than know me. At one time, everybody knew me; today there are more people that don’t know me than do know me. It’s all the way it should be.
You can last forever in this business if you want to do it. Where you gonna go? You can’t escape it.
I have no regrets. I probably wish…well I probably…I hurt a lot of women. Probably when I was in my 40s I did a lot… when I was under the influence of cocaine, when I thought I was a big shot. My attitude was no greater than any other guy pornographer back 25 years ago. I’d say whatever I had to say to get her to shoot for me, or to have sex with me, same thing…
A couple of years ago at the awards show in Las Vegas I was inducted into Bill Margold’s Erotica Hall of Fame or something like that, and there were a lot of other women that I had directed. They were brought up on the stage that night; Nina Hartley, Porsche Lynn, Angel Kelly, a lot of them, and I knew all these women. I had directed them. I had known them. And some of them I had known very well. And it was my turn to speak at last, and they had got up and they sort of roasted me and teased me and stuff like that, and then it became my turn to talk. And the first thing I said is that… “I betrayed you, I lied to you, I misrepresented myself to exploit you, I took advantage of you, I ripped you off, I hustled you. But eventually I stopped being afraid of you. I learned to like you and finally love you and I thank you for that.”
We were movie makers. We were shooting a movie. We had succeeded in our lives.
It all changed. We all have changed.
But it got us through the day. It got us through our lives.
Ron Sullivan (aka Henri Pachard) interviewed on film by The Rialto Report
I always thought it was a shame that the rialto report couldn’t be around when some of the legends were still alive and then you come up with an interview with Henri Pachard….! is there no end to your archives?!
How about a podcast with John Holmes.. or Jimmy Hoffa?!
I met Ron Sullivan / Pachard once at a convention in the early 1990s. He was a special character….. and generous with his time. He will never be forgotten for his classic films, and thanks to interview like this his words will live on.
I’m part way through this and it is a joy. Thank you.
Hahahahaha! Beavers and pickles. I love Ron’s anecdote about this. This part is hysterical.
What a great Thanksgiving present; Ron Sullivan a true hero of mine.
Thanks again to the Rialto Report for your attention to the meaning of ‘deep focus.’
What ever happened to the We Are The World XXX project that was supposed to benefit Henri Pachard? I remember seeing photos of the film being made in AVN, it featured legends like Amber Lynn, Ron Jeremy, Georgina Spelvin, Ona Zee and even Napoleon the dwarf star from the early 90’s. AVN even had a sexy of Amber Lynn on their cover to promote this film. Then nothing, the project just shut down? What happened to all the footage that was shot?
I worked in film production in my early years (though not adult films), so I understand Ron’s fondness for the grind that is making movies.
Please release transcripts of all of your podcasts. I find it to be an excellent addition to this, or any archive. The written text serves as the preferable resource for those doing research on the subject of adult films.
Thank you for this amazing interview. It is not only a service to the research of this industry (which by the way, The Rialto Report has done MORE for than any other single source) but it is also a profoundly moving document.
I will return to this interview many times in the future.
I agree. This was unexpectedly poignant and very moving.
While not wanting to detract from his ” masterful memories moments”… I was hoping that someone would ask about the magnificent Amber Lynn’s extremely well-meaning but tragically ill-fated attempt to “honor” Ron Sullivan/Henri Pachard with what was going to be called WE ARE THE WORLD XXX. With everyone, including Larry Flynt, involved, “donating” their services to the project, a remarkable amount of tremendously inventive as well as exceptionally erotic footage was shot. BUT then the green monster of jealousy (aimed at Amber) reared its empty head ,and it all went for naught, as quite a number of mis-guided as well as mean-spirited souls banded together to prevent Lynn from fulfilling her heartfelt mission. If you would like to know, much, Much, MUCH more, you are certainly welcome to encourage The Rialto Report to do”a report” about what really, Really, REALLY happened. But, please be advised…it won’t be very pretty…and those with easily offended sensibilities would be advised to tread lightly…or to simply look away.
Frankly I couldn’t give two craps about Amber Lynn and the promise of a back-biting, petty piece about a long-gone squabble. The thing that makes the Rialto Report great is that it rises above such b.s.
The Rialto Report report has done more than ANYONE else to preserve and explain the history of the golden age. Please leave this sorry offer from dinosaur Papa Bear Bill M. well alone.
And that’s a ‘no’ from me too. Stick to what the Rialto does best: a better job.
We are The World XXX looked like a can’t miss project, yet it missed? I was so glad to see Georgina Spelvin involved even if it was just for a cameo, such a great woman. Even glad to see the comeback of Napolean, people forget that little guy got to perform with some amazing stars in his era (early 90’s) Ona Zee, Melanie Moore and KC Williams etc. Well maybe someday we will get to hear the story….
There’s 13 pages devoted to “We Are The World XXX” in the Amber Lynn chapter of Jill Nelson’s “Golden Goddesses” book.
Even though this podcast is largely devoted to his pre-porn work, as a devotee of golden age adult, I admired and liked some of his films, most notably “A Girl’s Best Friend.” Like Damiano, Vincent, Spinnelli, Weston and Paris, among others, he had an eye for casting and had real skill as a filmmaker.
Stellar work, as always, RR.
The Circle in the Square Theatre was located in Westbury, LI. It’s still very active as a concert venue. But back in the late 50’s early 60’s it was a venue for plays….
One of my favorite porn directors. That stuff seems like
a distant memory from my San Antonio or Creighton days and I
miss every moment of it, so does Trudie… Kudos to Rialto Report for another
innovative documentary on the jizz bizz.
I found this to be moving, and poetic. I wish all film genres could have archivists as sensitive and assiduous as those found on this site.
I am the actress in one of the pictures. I’d like to contact you to talk about my memories. You can contact me via the email provided. Thank you.
One of my favorites among Ron Sullivan’s ’80s regulars was Kristara Barrington. Have you ever been in touch with her? And while I’m here: I’d really like to thank you, Ashley and April, and express my admiration for your wonderful work and the kindness with which you conduct it. It not only gives insight into the people of adult cinema; it also has such emotional depth, it’s brilliant social history, and it offers a just appreciation of the human condition.
I was crew in my youth but was put in as a clothed extra on Matinee Idol and had the good fortune to be in a scene with Ron S. Great writing, Rialto Report!
Ron made some off-the-wall sexploitation films, Scare Their Pants Off (from Something Weird Video) is the best of them, in my opinion. This interview put a different spin on that movie. As a hardcore director, he had the rare talent of making complex films with sex in the 80s. Thinking man’s porn. Those moody numbers like The Widespread Scandals of Lydia Lace are a product of the past. Porn’s become jag-off videos with rudimentary hooks for the sex. The audience dictates the market. I used to talk to Ron every year at the AVN expo. Thanks for this final interview with a great filmmaker.
Don’t forget his trademark: A toilet scene.
His movie, She’s So Fine (shot in 84?) was the first movie I worked on. It may have been the last one shot on 35mm.
He was also associate producer/production manager of Downey Sr.’s film, Putney Swope. His son (known as Ralph Parfait in the biz), maybe five years old at the time appeared as a protester picketing Truth & Soul’s office building.
If I see one more photo of Ron Sullivan in the throes of cancer…
Delighted to see these very young photos of Ron.
I knew him very well in New York in the 80’s. He was one of a kind. If you didn’t know him, watch Ted Lasso.
That’s what his St. Louis accent sounded like. He was extremely positive like Ted Lasso, without being saccharine.
Fun, exciting, and mercurial af. I miss him.