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The adult film actor, Jamie Gillis, would have been 75 next month.
Eight years after his passing, he’s remembered for his three decade career as one of the better actors in the industry – and this was the golden age period when acting actually meant something.
I spent a lot of time with Jamie and interviewed him on several occasions before he passed in 2010 – in fact one of the interviews, about his early days in the sex film business, is another podcast on The Rialto Report website.
He was always open, friendly and generous with his time. No questions were off limits, and his answers were thoughtful, contemplative, and often philosophical.
And yet for someone who had bared every part of himself in hundreds of films and countless interviews over the years. there was also something enigmatic and unknowable about him as well.
I once asked him if he had a favorite interview that he’d done. One interview perhaps that stood out in his mind that caught him off guard in any way.
He thought about it, and next time I saw him he gave me a cassette of a conversation he’d had in 1976.
The interview was with a friend, Verna Gillis, who apart from sharing his last name, had known him for years – in fact, since his days at Columbia University back in the 1960s.
Now Verna wasn’t part of the adult film business in any way. She was an ethnomusicologist, specializing in producing music from various cultural backgrounds, and as a result her questions about Jamie’s choice of profession were often naïve and innocent – especially by today’s standards. But their conversation is also more personal and revealing than many other interviews I’ve heard with him.
At the time of this conversation, Jamie was at his zenith. He’d just made The Opening of Misty Beethoven and The Story of Joanna, and Through the Looking Glass was about to come out.
Verna’s line of enquiry has a different slant – yes, she’s interested in the mechanics of how Jamie got involved in the industry, but she’s also concerned about the effect that it may have had on him, his life, and his relationships.
She challenges him too in a way that was unusual at the time. In one exchange for example, she asks why Jamie refers to women as girls. And is Jamie’s choice of words revealing about his view of the opposite sex?
There’s also a recurring theme of what happens next. In 1976, the hardcore film industry was still relatively new. It was still in development, it was still being invented.
Jamie talks about starting to feel too old for the business, and about his fears of looking strange as he ages on film.
“No one knows what happens to old porn stars,” he says.
The musical playlist for this episode can be found on Spotify.
Jamie Gillis – From his scrapbooks
Once, during a double feature at the Hollywood Pussycat theater, Jamie walked down the aisle with a lovely lady on EACH arm. For whatever reason, they chose to sit in the very front row.
Had I been a little more courageous, I might have changed seats just to keep an eye on whatever it was they were going to get up to.
Strangely moving and affecting. A unique character, who is sadly missed.
The Rialto Report finds pathos and empathy in the most surprising and unexpected sources.
Please keep on doing what you’re doing. This is very satisfying work and deeply respected.
PS Any chance of an interview with Little Oral Annie?
Thank you so much for this.
I wonder if you have any update as to Jamie’s autobiography?
Yes Simon – it’s in the works with the publisher. No release date set yet but as soon as there is one we’ll definitely be sharing it. Thank you for asking!
Excellent interview, and as usual new light is shone on tired ground.
Thank you Pete!
Woooooah, wait. Jamie picked up a girl on a UJA cruise….?!?!
I just love this website .To get an interview with Little Oral Annie would be a absolute “milestone achievement” …would love to see that happen . Keep up the great work.
Thank you so much Rick!
“And all those moments … lost in time … like tears in the rain.”
But not if the Rialto Report has anything to say about it!
boy, was that ever interesting.
i didn’t think her questions were naive or innocent at all.
very penetrating and deep – no pun intended…
since discovering jamie g through these podcasts i’ve seen some of his stuff
on the internet and thought some of the things he was doing to women were
makes me wonder what the psychology behind that was.
great job as usual!
Agreed. Although he let this things be done to him frequently.
That was like listening in on a therapy session when the therapist wouldn’t let the patient off the hook. Great find!
The “Bogart” of porn actors , I met him once in of all places the Meadowlands racetrack in NJ, he was reading the tout sheets and said hello and was very gracious. I just spent a moment with him and later wished I would have asked him more questions about his career.
There was a story floating around that in the late 80s when he was dating Amber Lynn, he brought her to the Pussycat theatre in NYC. They were downstairs in the lounge area outside the Mens room where he encouraged her to put on a show for any guys lucky enough to be there .Again just a rumor.
He was very generous with his time responding to emails when he had the On the Prowl series. I sensed there were still some hard feelings from went down with Ed Powers and the Dirty Debs series. Jamie actually appeared in the very first scene of that series with Mia Powers, it looked like Jamie was going to be a big star in this new reality porn format of the early 90’s and instead it was Ed Powers who became the star and Jamie kind of dropped out of the scene
From what I recall Jamie saying about this was that he was not interested in keeping up with the pace of Ed Powers and churning out videos in the assembly line style so he chose to bow out of the series. He later sued Powers for some type of royalties on the series because he was credited as a producer with Powers, but I don’t believe he was successful in pursuing that.
Yes, I remember Jaime taking legal action over the Dirty Debs. Jamie and Ed Powers went from being The Nasty Bros to no longer speaking.
Jamie was such a better performer than Ed, that would have been great to see Jamie do scenes with such Dirty Deb alums like Kiki Morgan, Adriana Sage, Rikki Lee, KC Williams, Deborah Wells, Skylar Knight etc.
I’m in no way casting any aspersions on others in the industry, but the man was meant for something more than this chosen profession.
Thank you so much for providing another Jamie interview.
He is and will be the number one actor and performer of adult cinema for me.
i watched “Water Power” last night…
now that was a performance!
What about Nighthawks? There is Gillis with Billy Dee and Stallone
There is a Gillis interview on ebay for like 16 bucks, he talks about Marilyn Chambers, Georgina Spelvin and Melissa Melendez among others
Does anyone know if Gillis ever performed with Crystal Breeze?
An unusual interview between two compelling voices.
He’s a warm, intelligent man.
Interesting interview and nostalgia – but I found the interviewer to be extremely annoying 🙂
I got the same impression zenvagabond. At moments, she seemed to have a very subjective and accusatory approach, attempting to snare Jamie Gillis in inconsistencies. Thankfully, her subject was too prescient and well spoken to take the bait. Regardless, another superlative piece. Kudos Rialto Report. You keep knocking it out of the park!!!
that was good. ashley.. the gang… you did it. bravo.
Such a fascinating interview. How old is Verna Gillis at the time of this interview? She is very articulate and intelligent. A very critical thinker. Her tactical approach to questioning is sharp. She is driving some of these questions right into Jamie.
And Jamie is unjudgemental, unguarded, truthful, and clearly less than self-aware in some areas. At the same time he is truly captivating. I can identify with the lack of self awareness.
Thank you for sharing this. Fan for 4 years now, can’t wait to hear more from The Rialto Report
Awesome as usual from you guys!
I loved the way Jamie brought his particular kink to his scenes–never staged or contrived , just always seemed genuine and real–
Was thinking of this site the other night–saw a documentary on Larry Levenson and Platos retreat.
Anyone else see it? Brought back the era–
Called American Swing FYI–Thought of Jamie and my old favorite Barbara Dare
whateber happened to Tantala Ray