Several New York adult film producers had their own film studios: Leonard Kirtman had a place in midtown Manhattan from the early 1970s, Gerry Damiano, Ron Sullivan and late-career Joe Sarno often shot at Vince Benedetti’s Adventure Studios in Corona, Queens in the 1980s, and Neville Chambers had the notorious ‘Fuck Factory’ in the 1990s.
In the 1980s, Chuck Vincent and his company Platinum Pictures set up a studio in Long Island City, and this weekend, The Rialto Report had a guided tour of his former facility where many of his 1980s adult films were made.
Chuck Vincent and his studio
I first met Chuck Vincent when he was living at 494 8th Ave in Manhattan at West 35th St. It was a great location, right by Penn Station, in midtown Manhattan. It was a reasonable size place and it doubled as a mini-studio. We shot a several scenes there in the early years.
Chuck lived with his boyfriend and frequent collaborator, Billy Slobodian, and his on-off boyfriend, Marco Nero, who also took the on-set still photographs. It was a squeeze because they used it as there shooting space, and office for meetings as well.
Chuck would hold court, and Billy Slobodian, Chris Covino, John and Lem Amero, and myself would hang out there. A lot of deals were made over drinks, gossip shared, and connections formed. Ron Sullivan might be there, Rick Marx, Bunny Atlas, a distributor, or Gene O’Grady , a producer, sometimes dropped in. Bob Sumner was a regular, and for two happy hours, it was everyone carrying on, telling stories.
I remember Chuck complaining that his Manhattan space was too small and too expensive, and that he wanted to find a better center for his company, Platinum Pictures. It was starting to bleed into his finances, and have an impact on the volume of his film activity.
Space versus dollar price per square foot, it became apparent to Chuck he was paying too much for his work and living space on 35th St. Chuck’s space was zoned commercial and under that type of lease, the landlord is not bound to the incremental increases observed with residential leases. When a commercial contract expires, the landlord can jack up the rent to any price the market will bear. You either pay the increase or you relocate. Chuck chose to relocate to Long Island City.
Long Island City (LIC) is the westernmost residential and commercial neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens, overlooking Manhattan and the East River.
Chuck found this building which had been used as a taxi storage depot. That whole area of LIC was full of taxicab storage and repair shops. Building after building of taxis parked.
It was a strange area – and after dark, it just got stranger.
During the day, the area was full of activity. There were mechanics everywhere fixing yellow New York taxi cabs.
But at night… it was completely different. Hookers on every street corner, drug dealers in the shadows, all manner of perversions…
The building was at 11-12 44th Ave, and it wasn’t easy to get to. It was a three block walk from the nearest subway. When the actors finished for the day, they faced a dicey trip out of the area.
Chuck’s new studio wasn’t far away from the Astoria Studio where icons such as Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith made films.
Chuck built out a second floor on top of the studio so that Billy and Marco could live with him.
Chuck had an editing suite installed on the upper level that overlooked the street on one side and the studio space on the inside, and he had a room for props and costumes as well. There was an office that you entered into from the street, and a garage door so that you could drive a car straight into the studio.
Chuck was fastidious, always well-organized, and clean and tidy – unlike the other main porno studio, Adventure Studios in Queens.
My brother Lem and I went out to Adventure Studios and it paled in comparison. Adventure smelled bad too – sweat, beer, cigaretters, come… you name it.
Chuck’s studio was a fun place to hang out at.
Not many had their own studio, but it was a struggle as Chuck complained that he needed to be more prolific to make it pay for itself.
Chuck was a hilarious guy and I spent hours talking with him in the apartment over his studio in Queens. He was also a great cook and he’d often make me gourmet meals in his kitchen there.
Working with Chuck was heaven. Knowing I was getting up at 4 am to get out to Long Island City for a 5 or 5:30 am makeup call, I was like a kid in a candy store. Whatever he wanted me to do, whatever I was given to wear, whatever characterizations and ideas he had, I was happy to do and looked at each day as the wonderful adventure that it truly was.
Chuck’s studio was one of the inspirations for what I wanted to achieve with my company, Femme. It was a good sized, and meant you didn’t have to rely on external locations. It was very professional.
I was there when he used the studio for films like Preppies (1984), Hollywood Hot Tubs (1984), Wimps (1986), Sex Appeal (1984), and Slammer Girls (1987).
Chuck had good art directors and set construction guys, and they were always hard at work for the next picture.
When he was building the sets for ‘Slammer Girls’, he called me up because he was excited about the realistic jail he’d built. I went over there, and was surprised to see that the bars on the jail cells were so far apart that the prisoners could have walked sideways through the bars and escaped. He wasn’t happy when I pointed that out.
He made more and more movies out of his studio, and moved into the mainstream – first with deals with Playboy, and then making teen comedies.
After Billy Slobodian died in 1988, Chuck’s heart seemed to go out of filmmaking.
Shortly after, he sold up, moved out, and retired to Key West. He lived at 814 Catherine St, in a house that was divided into two parts. His old friend Marco Nero lived in one part, and Chuck lived in the other.
Chuck Vincent died at age 51 from AIDS complications on September 23, 1991 in Key West, Florida.
His film studio returned to being a body-shop for taxicabs, but in the last few years has been used for a number of location shots for New York-based television dramas.
Chuck Vincent’s studio today
The front view of the studio, with the editing suite window on the upper left
The car entrance entrance to the studio
Inside the studio – looking at the car entrance
Inside the front office, looking through to the former studio – 1
Inside the front office, looking through to the former studio – 2
Inside the former studio, looking up at the small apartment on the upper level
Thanks for this one. The Chuck Vincent films were some of my favorites. The trio of Samantha Fox, Veronica Hart and Kelly Nichols were great in Roommates.
This just made my day. There are some great anecdotes and Judith Crist giving it up for ROOMMATES is pretty amazing. No mainstream critic would do that today.
Was a big Chuck Vincent fan starting with “Fascination.” What’s this, a porn comedy that’s actually funny?
And while not without flaws, both “Roommates” and “In Love” at least made a brave attempt to cross the bridge between porn and mainstream. I actually saw “Roommates” at the Quad in Manhattan. Stellar performances in both movies. Still waiting for that long-promised “Special Edition” for which interviews with Kelly Nichols and Veronica Hart were filmed and posted to YouTube eons ago…
I was working for a TV listings service when Vestron released the bulk of his R-rated product and while they got progressively awful (with the notable exception of “Cleo/Leo’), I was always fascinated by his work ethic and his merry band of players that showed up in almost every movie.
Another great revelation / feature from the authorities on adult film history.
Chuck’s latter period films are worthy of a re-evaluation, and rarely covered by historians.
Linda Williams covered his career in one of her anthology books, but this is another welcome addition to the history books.
Chuck’s work both in XXX rated porn and R rated Cable versions deserve a much deserved film retrospective either at the Quad or Anthology Film Archives here in NYC!
“Roommates” was part of an adult film retrospective called “In The Flesh” that Casey Scott curated at the Anthology Film Archives in 2014. It was a great evening…they actually showed the soft-core version and Veronica, Kelly, Larry Revene, Rick Marx, and Eddie Heath were part of a panel discussing the movie (five or so minutes are on YouTube)…and Chuck. Patricia Dale, Jennifer DeLora, Rick Savage, Steve Morowitz and Cathy Gigante-Brown were there and I didn’t realize until almost the end that the woman I had been sharing pleasant asides to all evening was makeup artist Lorraine Altamura.
Love this look at Chuck and his works. He was always super nice to me, granting me interviews, telling Marco to “give her whatever she needs” as far as chromes went. We even used a “Chuck shot” for the cover of Jerry Butler’s “Raw Talent.” Sad his masterworks have reverted back to a garage, though.
Favorite Chuck Vincent film is Blue Summer. I know it’s last on everyone else’s list but I love it. Wish I could get hold of Rob Everett (Eric Edwards) regarding location info and recollections of his late wife Kathy. She seemed like a great lady.
Love these articles on location information. Thanks so much. Will you be covering some of the golden era films shot out in LA or San Francisco one day??
We covered the ‘Pretty Peaches’ locations in Part 3 of our series.
Are there any in particular that you’d like to see?
Thanks Ashley. Yes I did see that one. Well the two big ones for me are Lips (1981) and Summer Camp Girls (1983). I believe I corresponded with you a few years back regarding SCG and you were very kind in asking Paul Thomas but unfortunately he couldn’t recall. I’m not sure but I’m guessing Lips could be San Francisco and SCG could be somewhere in the greater LA area. If you’ve found out any info in the last few years I’d love to find out. Thanks Ashley 🙂
Saw the poster of the movie “Room Mates” above and started to cry. Had an aunt I was very close with who has since passed. Way back in the day she went on a first date with a guy and he took her to see that film (aka:like De Niro in Taxi Driver). I remember her telling the story over dinner at the time. Thanks for the memory.
Always great to get some exclusive scoop from the Golden Age of Adult Cinema…loved reading infos about the R-rated work the late Chuck Vincent made along with his professional partner, a person I ´m honoured to call my friend, the über-talented Lighting Cameraman Larry Revene (I see Vincent and Mr. Revene as the Don Quixote and Sancho Panza of the X-rated world and I mean that with the utmost respect). Chuck´s ´teen-lust´ comedies like PREPPIES and HOLLYWOOD HOT TUBS-all very well-lit by Larry- were extremely popular in Brazil and a great source of ´pervy´ fun for us minors when the video rental clerks would not let us take out the more graphic movies.