Who was Jose Duval, the mysterious French-accented charmer who appeared out of nowhere in adult films in New York in the 1980s?
In many ways, he seemed custom built for the adult film industry. Born in Brussels, he was sexually initiated at an early age, an experience that he believed instilled a seemingly insatiable desire for sex. As a young teen, Jose was a rebel and a wild child, repeatedly running away from home to enjoy the nightlife in the south of France, and at times, supporting himself through sex work.
He was an enthusiastic entrant into the 1970s swinging scene, enjoying popular clubs in Holland and the Caribbean before relying on Screw Magazine to track down the more elusive sex parties in New York. And while he came into the adult film scene relatively late – making his first film at the age of 42 – he was an enthusiastic and well-regarded participant.
But what makes Jose unique in the world of golden age sex films – and pretty special outside of it as well – is his 57-year relationship with his wife Danielle, who he considers the love of his life.
So how does someone make a relationship, any relationship, work successfully for so many years? Particularly someone who lived and breathed open relationships, swinging, and pornography?
In this Rialto Report, Jose Duval shares his story – and relationship tips – with input from his wife Danielle.
Jose Duval: Early Life
I was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1941, early on during World War II. I remember as a young child walking in the snow with my father and seeing a German soldier. I wanted to speak to the soldier but my father yanked me away saying, “No, you can’t talk to him.” And I remember the air raids. When we heard the siren we had to run into the woods and hide. I would just look around and think, “What on earth is going on?!”
My father worked for an American company called something like Royal Tires. He was a salesman. My mother was wealthy. Her family came from Russia with money. She and my father met at University, I think. They divorced in 1945 when I was four years old. I lived with my mother and she re-married soon after. My step-father was a nice man. They had a daughter a year after they married, so I had a sister born six years after me.
A young Jose and his mother in Brussels
We were comfortable materially – but the Germans took a lot from us… jewelry, furniture, anything of value. We never tried to get anything back from the German government. My step-father refused, saying, “No, that would be blood money. I want nothing to do with them”
I was introduced to sex very early. We had a maid, a good one, who was about 16 years old. She initiated me when I was just seven or eight years old. Her and her sister. I guess she was fooling around with American soldiers and was afraid to get pregnant. I think she looked at me and thought I was a safer option.
Our affair lasted a year or two, and I thought it was fun. When I told my mother a few years ago, she was shocked and said “Oh, that bitch!” The truth was I don’t consider myself sexually abused – though I was sexually used. A lot of kids are taken advantage of – but in my case, that didn’t mean it didn’t feel good. In fact, she made me a sex maniac.
I liked acting in school plays when I was growing up but I was always rebellious which made it difficult to focus on any one thing. My life took a turn for the worse when one of my cousins came to live with us, and so overnight I became the middle child. Suddenly I felt usurped.
As I approached my teenage years, I discovered rock n’ roll. It was the era when music belonged to teenagers for the first time. I liked to sing and quickly became a good dancer – both skills that were useful to pick up girls. On Sundays, instead of going to church, I sneaked into a little bar in a nearby village, and danced the day away.
I was born Jewish but in those days you had to have a baptism certificate so I was raised Catholic. I thought religion was a joke. When I was 14 or 15, I went to a cousin’s wedding, and I met two black guys from the Congo there. They fascinated me because in school the teachers often talked about missionaries going to the Congo, which always puzzled me: We were going over to Africa to tell the tribesmen, with their white makeup and feathers, that their culture was wrong? What did we have to offer as an alternative? We had a guy in a robe with a big book who was drinking wine! And we’re supposed to be right?! I thought it was all bullshit and from that moment I became an devout atheist.
I was an OK student, but loved studying history. After grade school, I spent two years in a school for hotel restaurant management. I only chose it because it seemed like fun and the school was close by, and I found the people there were much friendlier than those at my school. I learned to cook and serve food. After that, I became a chef and that served me well because I went on to work in restaurants all over the world.
My big ambition was to join the navy, mostly because I loved the idea of the traveling. But my mother was completely against the idea, saying, “No, no, no, you’re not going to sea.” By that time, I wasn’t getting along with my mother. I’ve always hated the word “why” and it seemed to have become my mother’s favorite. “Why did you do that?” “Why did you say that?” She’d ask “Why? Why? Why?” The truth was that I often didn’t have reasons for doing what I did. I just did the things I did. And no matter what I did, it was always wrong in her eyes. I wanted her to leave me alone, so when I turned 15 I ran away from home.
When I left I thought to myself, “If you have to be a bum, you should be a bum in the south of France.” In those days, the 1950s, it was a golden age of French film, and I was an avid fan. In fact I’d spent most of my time watching films: every time I was kicked out of class at school – which happened frequently – I would sneak off to the movies.
So I hitchhiked to the Cannes, headed straight for the beach and walked one end to the other, before going into restaurants and looking for work. I finally found a job. Actually, I found two. The first was in a restaurant washing dishes, and then I found work taking pictures. The first night I was in Cannes I slept aboard an old abandoned ship. After that I just found space to lie down in the back of the restaurant.
I loved the freedom but two months later a friend of my mother saw me. It was a ridiculous coincidence as she just happened to be there on vacation. She sent a telegram back to my parents, and then my mother, my sister, and a friend of the family drove down and found me.
When they arrived, I happened to be with a bunch of guys and we actually on the verge of a physical fight with some campers. My guys almost attacked my family when they saw them. I said, “Whoa, that’s my mother.”
I was actually happy to see my family. I had saved a bit of money so I took them back to the restaurant, and paid for them all – to prove that I could take care of myself. And my mother was happy to see me too, and she cried and became very emotional. We all spent a week together in Cannes and then we drove back to Belgium together.
I agreed to return home because I felt that I had made my point. But on the way back, I started to fear what my stepfather’s reaction would be. I was expecting him to beat the shit out of me, because he’d been physical with me once or twice before. But when I got home, he opened the door and just said, “Come on in. Come home, son.”
Nevertheless, something felt wrong, and I felt that something was missing. He was supposed to punish me, and when he didn’t, I guess I felt neglected in a strange way. So, what happened? Six months later, I ran away again.
I went back to Cannes, and this time I got work at a club. It went well, until one night a couple approached me and said “If you come with us, we’ll pay you.” It turned out that in Cannes and in Paris, sex work was becoming quite the scene. So I became a gigolo. There were a bunch of us doing the same.
I had been sexually active ever since my initiation by the family maid. I loved sex and I like to think I was a nice person… so I was good at being a gigolo. I was honest too; I didn’t rip people off. The money was good and it was an easy life. I was just living day by day out of a suitcase. I kept my stuff at the train station and stayed at different hotels. That was the life style of being a gigolo. I was happy: I just wanted to make enough money to get a room for the next night.
In addition to working as a gigolo, I developed another sideline: I began to break into houses in Paris. One of my friends was a blackmailer, so we’d break into people’s houses, steal something, and then sell it back to them. I thought it was pretty cool and that I’d become some sort of an outlaw, but then I got busted and spent two months in jail. Being locked up wasn’t the worst thing in the world – I could fight and take care of myself – so I survived that adventure.
After I got out of jail, I was deported back to Belgium, and when I arrived at the border, they told me I had to go into the Belgium army because I was 18. I had no choice so I went into the service. My stepfather gave me one piece of advice. He told me, “Be careful – never volunteer for anything.” So I did everything I could to avoid being given any responsibility. For example, when they gave me a rifle I purposely tried to shoot badly. I just wanted to be average at everything, never anything more than that.
My military service started in Belgium, then we were transferred to Germany, before spending 42 days in the Belgian Congo. That was the most frightening part. The Congo had just became independent, and we went over there to rescue a group of nuns. Apparently there were 12 nuns who’d been raped by the locals. It was terrible. When we arrived they were naked and terrified. We were scared, and got drunk for the whole time we were there.
I finished serving my year in the army and returned home thinking I’d earn some money so that I could head back to France. It was a relief to be out of the army, and I spent most of my spare time hanging out with friends at jazz clubs, and meeting visiting American stars who came over to Europe to do concerts. And when I finally had enough money, I headed straight back to Cannes.
It was in Cannes that I met Danielle. I was working with a guy and we were supposed to go out but his shirt was wrinkled. His friend Danielle offered to iron it for him so we went back to her apartment. She suggested some food and asked me what I would like to eat. I looked at her, and said “You”. She smiled and said yes, so I did. And I must have done well because after that I stopped living out of a suitcase and stayed with her.
Jose came to my apartment with a mutual friend of ours. We talked and got to know each other. Then it was lunchtime so I offered Jose something to eat or drink. He went into the kitchen and he made lunch for all of us. He cooked.
He wasn’t the type of guy I was typically attracted to at the time. I’m a brunette and I went for blondes. Jose was dark with dark hair, good skin. Completely the opposite of what I was used to, but he was very good looking.
And he was nice. Very sweet and sensitive. He had a big heart.
I had a big apartment that I paid for with money I made posing nude for a painter. He moved in. It happened naturally. Why should he pay for a hotel?
In those days I was breaking in a lot. Breaking into cars, apartments, everything. And I got busted. So I was back in jail for a year. Danielle asked me if I wanted to be in touch with her while I was locked up, and I said yes. I really liked her.
About four months after we moved in together Jose got arrested. I was mad that he’d got arrested. He was stupid. But I was already in love with him. I fell in love from the very beginning. I could tell this one was real. And the sex was good.
My time in jail wasn’t bad. I was in charge of the library. I liked to read. By the time I got out, Danielle had moved to in Paris where she was working as a horse rider for a film and TV production studio. She sent me a plane ticket, and I went to join her. I found a job in a bar but after a while I just couldn’t stand Paris anymore. Paris is fine… except for one thing – the Parisians.
So we decided to go to Belgium. I missed my family and wanted to be back near them. I guess that was ironic, given that I’d run away from them twice.
We got on the train to Belgium, but at the border I got stopped. The Belgian officials didn’t have any proof that I’d completed my military service, so they arrested me. I was taken away, and Danielle continued on the journey to meet my mother. The mistake was cleared up eventually, but it was difficult for Danielle because she had to meet my mother for the first time without me. Luckily they got along fine.
Jose’s mother was a beautiful person. When she met me she opened her arms and never let go. She became like a mother to me. I loved her. Jose is kind like his mother. And Jose’s stepfather was a fantastic man as well. Very bright, very nice. I couldn’t understand why he ever ran away when he was younger. He’d had such a good life there.
We stayed at my parents’ house in Brussels, but soon my mother was saying “You know, you two have been together for a long time, you should get married.” I finally said “OK. Pick a date and let me know so I can get the day off from work and we’ll get married.” Danielle and I weren’t that keen on getting married – we had nothing against marriage – but we wanted to please my mother. We had a civil ceremony, signed the papers, had a big dinner, and then went back to work. It was as simple as that.
We were happy together. I didn’t want to particularly get married but his mother kept asking us. In the end, I think we got a little fed up so we told them that if they arranged things for us, we’d get married. His mother made all the arrangements and we did it. For us, nothing changed. We were already happy together. Our relationship was very strong.
We were now husband and wife, but right from the beginning Danielle and I had had an open relationship. It was the 1960s and the era of the sexual revolution. We discussed it explicitly early on. I brought it up saying “Listen, I love you but if I see a nice ass over there I’m going to grab it.” And she said that was fine with her, but she’d do the same. And I said OK.
It was important for me to have an open relationship because I loved sex. And the arrangement worked. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it worked for us. If I met someone else, I would just call Danielle and say “Hey, I’ll be late home.'” We were always honest with each other.
I don’t remember whose idea it was to be in an open relationship. It was something we both wanted. It was nice, interesting and fun. Our friends were doing it. And we always came home together. I was never jealous. I don’t know what being jealous is. I never felt jealous with anybody. I had no reason to be jealous. I’d get mad once in a while if he got a traffic ticket or left our home a mess, but never about being in an open relationship. Jose and I always come home to each other. He was always with me in my bed.
Soon after we married, we got into the swinging scene with another couple in Holland. We’d go to a place called the Candy Club in Holland – which was a secret swingers club.
Back home, Danielle and I were working together at a restaurant. Then we opened a bar of our own. After we’d been married about four or five years, Danielle got pregnant and we had a son. And soon after, we had another son. We realized later in life that we could’ve gone without children and still been very happy, but we were happy at the time. Danielle had a daughter from a previous relationship too, but the child lived with Danielle’s parents in France.
My parents stepped in and took over the raising of our boys, but we were still in their lives. As for Danielle and I, we were really into our nightlife, the party scene and the drugs. It was mostly smoking pot and drinking, but admittedly it was a lot of drinking. Like a bottle of whiskey a day.
Part of the problem, was that we were working at our own bar, and so if people bought us drinks it was more money for us. So it wasn’t uncommon that I’d have ten drinks or more every day. And we were earning good money. The real issue was that we were spending more money than we were making. To make matters worse, I was gambling a lot and we eventually we lost the bar, and had to declare bankruptcy.
We sold everything that wasn’t nailed down, and with the money we made, we left town. We left our boys with my parents and we went back to Cannes. To be honest, my mother was thrilled because she had always wanted to be the kids’ mother even more than their grandmother. She was obsessed with youth and young people.
One day the kids asked my mother “Can we call you ‘Mother’?”, and my mom said “Yes”. This really upset me. Even though we’d left the kids behind, the plan was always to reunite with them. But when my mother treated them like her own, that really changed the situation. I wound up not speaking to her for 12 years after that. And consequently we didn’t see the kids either. We clung to the thought that we would get our kids back later, but that just never wound up happening.
Back in Cannes, I ended up working on the beach at a club. In the winter, I worked at a ski resort in Switzerland while Danielle stayed behind in France. In my absence, she started working with a guy who had businesses in the Caribbean and he asked Danielle if she wanted to work for him there. So when I returned to Cannes from Switzerland, we packed up and moved to St. Barts.
Conquering the Caribbean
When we got to the Caribbean in 1972, it was nothing like it is today. There was no mass tourism. We saw people like Greta Garbo and David Rockefeller, who’d built a huge house on the island, but otherwise it was just the locals.
Daniele got a job managing the Eden Rock hotel for St. Bart’s mayor Rémy de Haenen, and I was bar-tending. Then Rémy decided he wanted to open a night club, and he asked me to design and build it because I’d spent so much of my life in clubs. I started work but soon found that Rémy turned out not to be honest, so we left his employ and started managing another bar.
We stayed in St. Bart’s for almost a year, all the time sending money back to my parents for the boys. We were also saving money as much money as we could, with the idea of building a home to bring our extended family to the island, including our children. The idea fell through when my stepfather refused to move.
There was much political unrest on St. Barts, so we wound up moving to the Dutch side of St. Martin. We’d been going there regularly to shop and liked it. We settled down and got jobs working in a restaurant, but as usual ended up spending much of our money in different nightclubs. We decided to open a little disco of our own so that we’d have a place to go and could hopefully make some money rather than spend it all.
We were still into swinging and got into the scene in Saint Martin. Jealousy was never a problem for us. If I heard Danielle enjoying herself in the next room, I was just happy because I knew she was having a good time. It doesn’t work for everybody, but we continued to be honest with each other. Besides, Danielle and I were very much in love, and I knew we were going to stay together.
The disco was fun while it lasted, but when one of our partners, a French guy, started having problems, we decided to close it down and move to Haiti where there was a hotel opening and they were looking for new staff.
It proved to be a good move, because while we were in Cuba, we met the owner of Starrett Housing Corporation in the United States. He enjoyed our cooking and our company, and offered us jobs back home as his private chef and butler back home. The money he offered us was good – which was important to us as we wanted to save up and open a restaurant. So we said yes and moved to the Scarsdale, New York.
Coming to America
Our new boss moved us into a house in Scarsdale that was beautiful. It was big and had a swimming pool and chauffeur. He took food seriously, so when he was in remote locations – like developing property in Iran – he was also in the habit of bringing back amazing caviar and other delicacies for us to prepare for him
To be fair, Danielle was did most of the cooking and I focused on odd jobs around the house – whatever was needed. One day I was scanning the classifieds in the New York Times and realized they were paying us half of what other people were making in similar jobs. So I made an appointment with an agency to explore other options, and we ended up getting a new gig working for a wealthy family in Coral Gables, Florida. It was another beautiful house, but this time the pay was better. On the downside, the woman we worked for was absolutely crazy. In the three months prior to us arriving she’d gone through 16 people and they’d all quit. We stayed long enough so I could get my social security card and my Florida driver’s license. This was important because we liked the U.S. and wanted to stay.
After two months in Florida, we’d saved up enough money to buy a car and return to New York. This was the beginning of 1976. Getting back to new York was important to us for a number of reasons, one of which was that we’d gotten into the swinging scene there when we were in Scarsdale and we missed it.
We used to learn about swinging events from Screw Magazine. We’d look in the back of Screw to learn about parties, and found out about a place on Sixth Avenue called The Bodega Bay. It was a bar where on the weekends we swingers would meet, before somebody would say “Let’s go to my house and have a party”.
The swinging scene in New York was so much bigger than we’d ever experienced. It really was a huge scene. So many people. I kinda preferred when the scene was a bit smaller, but it was still fun.
The swinging scene was so big in the city that Jojo Hughes, owner of the underground leather store on Christopher Street, organized swingers weekends for about 120 couples twice a year at the Rocking Horse Ranch upstate. And way before Plato’s Retreat, Helen Wolf – owner of the Come Again sex shop – held invitation-only parties in a west side town house the she called The Wolf Den.
Back in the city, we went to an agency to find work and they connected us with a family in upstate New York who were looking for housekeeping help. We met the woman and she was very nice. Her name was Diana Lynn and she’d been a child prodigy actress before going on to star in a number of TV shows and films, including ‘Bedtime for Bonzo’ with Ronald Reagan in the early 1950s.
She explained what she needed, saying, “Listen, we’re in the middle of the country on 400 acres. We have six horses, three daughter, three dogs, and five cats.” It was a big undertaking but it worked well. We’d work ten days on, and then get three days off. We did that for four years and during that time, we also rented an apartment in the Bronx where we could throw swingers parties. They were popular – we served food and wine and just charged enough money to cover our expenses. People began to call the parties ‘The French Connection’.
Our extracurricular activity didn’t stop with the parties. We started to deal drugs. I was using coke and my dentist, who was big on the swinging scene, was initially my dealer. We started selling to friends and were very successful: Danielle and I were making so much money that we didn’t have to work regular jobs anymore. So we quit our positions with Diana Lynn’s family in the early 1980s and moved permanently to the city. I did a little work in restaurants, but for the most part we were earning all our money from selling drugs.
For fun, I also managed a local rock band called Horizon. I’d managed a few bands back in Belgium when I was younger, so I figured that I could help them.
One day at one of the swingers’ gatherings, I was talking to a guy that was into throwing parties. He organized some big events, and he was looking for entertainment for the parties. So I pitched Horizon to him for one of his parties. The guy’s name was Marc Stevens.
Getting into Porn
I really liked Marc. He was a nice guy. He’d been in the adult film business for years, and it was him who introduced me to the New York porn scene.
One day he just said to me, “You know they’re looking for somebody with a French accent for a movie.” I told him I was interested, so he said he’d introduce me to this big producer. I didn’t know anything about adult movies. I’d never seen one. The night before I was supposed to meet the producer, I went around the corner to the X-rated cinema to see what I was getting into. I talked to Danielle, and told I’d been offered this opportunity, and that I’d like to do it. She said yeah, sure, why not.
I can’t really remember when Jose came to me about the films, but I know it was alright with me. I think the only thing I asked him was how much it paid. You, know, how much money can we make with this? I was always the one worrying about money and the future. We were different in that respect: Jose always said you can’t take it with you, but I wanted to keep a little reserve on the side.
I met the producer, and he said he’d hire me for a sex scene in his film Silk Satin Sex (1983). The scene they wanted me for would be with an actress named Mai Lin. I asked the producer, “Can I meet Mai Lin first?” and he agreed. So the day before we were to shoot our scene, I took Mai Lin to a soccer game at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Just to get to know each other. She was beautiful and such a darling. And then we did the movie.
The producers didn’t tell me anything in advance to help prepare me. And they didn’t tell me that I had to do two scenes either… I found out on set that the first scene was in a fake jacuzzi, and then there’d be a second scene. It went fine. Great, in fact. After it was all done, they paid me $500 in cash. I told Marc how much I’d made, and he said, “That’s not enough. Next time you have to ask for more.”
I said, “Next time? Okay…” I thought, “Wait a minute, I can make a living here.”
I was 42 when I made my first adult film. They told me I needed a name to use in the film so I kept my first name and used the name of a street near where I grew up for my surname. That’s how I became Jose Duval.
After the first film, Chuck Vincent called me back to do another movie, which he was shooting at Adventure Studios. Adventure Studios used to be real estate agency or something. There was still an office in the front when you got there with an old man sitting there. From the outside, it didn’t look anything like a movie studio. I guess they were worried about a raid or something.
I met the actress Annette Heinz at Adventure Studios and she introduced me to Bernards, the Times Square bar where all the adult film actors hung out. It was there that I met Ron Sullivan who cast me as a judge of couples having sex at Plato’s Retreat in his 1984 film Sex Spa U.S.A.. Then I worked with Tania Lawson who was Ron Jeremy’s real-life girlfriend. I played a crazy doctor. It felt a real acting part. I had to take on a whole new character. It was acting – and I liked it.
In 1985 I won a best supporting actor award for my role in Ron Sullivan’s Taboo American Style. When I left the awards ceremony, I was drunk as a skunk. I was in the street clutching my prize saying “I won an award!” After that I won two other awards in California – best actor in a non-sex role, I won that twice. The awards really meant something to me. Danielle and I would go to the award ceremonies and I was really proud.
Jose was really happy about the acting. I read a few of the scripts and watched a few of his films. He looked great and he was a good actor. We never went to the theater to see them though – we’d prefer to get the tapes and watch the films together. And sometimes we would make love afterwards… not just because it excited me to see him on screen.
I loved my time in the adult business. I loved the acting, and being a porn star got me into all of these clubs for free. And of course I liked the sex. One of my best experiences was with Keisha. I was doing John Leslie’s movie ‘Nightshift Nurses’ in California. I’d met Keisha the night before filming and she looked at me and said “You have gray hair. I love a man with gray hair.” She made me feel great. The next day when we worked together, and it was a fantastic scene.
Jennie Pepper was fun too. She was nice to work with. We had a threesome scene on the beach. But perhaps the best sex I ever had on set was with Chelsea Blake. We worked together a few times, such as in Ron Sullivan’s 1984 film ‘Supergirls Do General Hospital’ and Toby Ross’ 1985 movie ‘Delusions of Grandeur’. That sex was great.
And I remember Sarah Bernard fondly too. We were going to do a sex scene together. We talked to the director before to see what he wanted from us, and he just said, “Do whatever you want to do… and we’ll just film it.” So I asked Sarah what kind of music she liked, and she said Pink Floyd. So I said, “Okay, let’s put Pink Floyd on and make love to the music of Pink Floyd.” We had a great scene.
None of the sex I had on set was more than just fun, but it came close with Sarah Bernard. She became my mid-life crisis. We met doing a movie and we were both doing a lot of drugs and we started up a relationship. I developed strong feelings for her. That were the only time I questioned my relationship with Danielle. But after some time the relationship lost its hold and I naturally made my way back to Danielle. And my wife was understanding enough to let it slide.
I was more mad with Sarah because I considered her a friend – and you don’t do that to a friend. She was putting our friendship at risk. I said to Jose you have to make a choice – you just need to choose. It was hard on me. And obviously Jose chose to stay with me. As soon as the affair was over it was over, that’s it. We never talked about it again. Today we’re all still friends, but it took some time.
Jewels of the Night was my best performance. It was a great scene and was totally improvised. Paul Thomas was supposed to have that part, but he couldn’t make it so they took me on last minute. The director just told me, “You’re the big boss of the company and your secretary is secretly in love with you and you have to mentally seduce her.” That was it. We did the rest.
Jose with David Christopher (right) and Herschel Savage (second from right)
Jose with Cheri Taylor
I also had a great performance in Lasse Braun’s film ‘Deep and Wet.’ I was playing a Soviet spy. To look real, I put pebbles in one of my shoes so I would limp.
And of course, I really enjoyed working on Raw Talent. We had actual rehearsals. And I had a great scene with Cassandra Leigh. Before we shot the scene, she told me, “I don’t go out, I don’t party, I don’t fool around, I am in love with my boyfriend. But when I do a scene, I don’t fake it. When I cum, I cum.” Needless to say, we had a good time.
As for my favorite director, I really had two. Ron Sullivan and Fred Lincoln. Fred was excellent. And I loved his wife Tiffany Clark. She says that I saved her life by helping her get away from drugs.
All-in-all I worked in adult film for about eight years. After that, the business was transitioning to video and it was moving out to the west coast. It just didn’t feel like the movies anymore, and there wasn’t any acting either. What I enjoyed was making real movies. They may have been pornographic, but they were real stories with real characters when I started out. And there was no way I was moving to California. I was a New Yorker now.
Another big factor that precipitated the end of my film career was the AIDS epidemic, which was growing fast. Danielle was particularly scared. We didn’t use condoms on the set at the time, and this was long before there was regular testing in the industry. She was worried about my health, our health, if I continued making films.
I was happy when Jose stopped making films. I was very worried about AIDS. It was such a huge problem. I really wanted him to get a different job. I made my feelings known.
But what tipped the scales was that I got busted. I’d been really overdoing it with cocaine. One day I went to pick up a stash from my supplier and the cops busted me. Lucky for me I was busted in the 46th precinct which at the time was one of the most corrupt precincts in New York. They took me to the station, and when I got there some of the cops knew me from the movies. They recognized me from my work with Vanessa del Rio in ‘Viva Vanessa‘. At that point, they all wanted to take photos with me.
When my lawyer arrived, the cops said you have less than two grams. That wasn’t true: I didn’t have under two grams, but the cops took the rest of the drugs for themselves. So when I got to court I made up a story about it being close to my birthday and I’d just had a little something for a party. I faced five years in jail. However, because of the small amount, and the fact that the cops hadn’t charged me for the full amount I’d be caught with, I was only given two years’ probation. After that, I had to stop doing drugs because I had to be regularly tested according to the terms of my probation.
I did one or two more movies after I got busted. In fact one was at Adventure Studios just a couple of days after I got busted. While I was on set, I saw myself on the monitor and I realized my addiction had changed my whole appearance. I was just skin and bones. I got scared. So I went home and threw everything away. Both Danielle and I stopped doing drugs that day. And it was also basically the end of my adult film career.
The drugs were a very bad period for us. We were both doing too much. It didn’t really impact our relationship but there were financial implications. We had problems with money. I quit doing the drugs first – I wanted to be clean. I quit smoking, I went on a diet, and got healthy. I wanted to go back to how I felt before the drugs.
Life after Porn
As part of my probation, I had to have regular employment so I became a security guard for a cable company. I’m a good worker and I began to climb the ladder, and before long, I was put in charge of a team of people. By the time I retired I was a supervisor.
Danielle was very happy with the stability the job brought us. And we bought an apartment in Co-op City in the Bronx, which we loved. We really put down roots there.
Eventually I reconnected with my mother. My family slowly came to visit and said, “Come on, send a ticket to your mother, tell her to come.” So my mother came alone to the States. As for my kids, that’s another story. Sadly they still didn’t want to see us. That hurt me but I pushed it aside. It’s something I cannot change. Once in a while, I get in touch with my younger son. He was a junkie for a while and a bum, but now he’s totally clean. He got a good job in construction, but recently had an accident at work and won’t be able to go back. My other son is a banker. He won’t talk to me at all – he’s been mad with Danielle and I since day one.
After the films, we stopped swinging as well. In part it was because Danielle didn’t feel as attractive anymore, and in part it was because of the adult movies. When I became a porn star, people wanted to sleep with me just for the sake of it, and I didn’t find that fun. Also we noticed that people had started to come to the parties to score drugs instead of to meet people and have sex. It was sad but true: People were just not that fun anymore.
We stopped going to the clubs. It wasn’t enjoyable. It had become boring and I didn’t miss it when we stopped. Deep down, maybe I was happy that period was over. The people on the scene were doing drugs, and we weren’t doing that anymore. We’d changed. And I didn’t really miss the sex either.
I didn’t miss the films or the parties, but sometimes I do miss the acting. And performing in general. Years ago when we were supporting the family in upstate New York, I would drive the youngest daughter of the family to ballet three times a week and wait for her. Once they were staging The Nutcracker and the dance teacher said “We need some people to play the parents.” She asked if I could dance, and I said yes. So she said “Well, you’re going to dance, and you’re going to be the father.” I took ballet classes for the show and I loved it. We did four shows in Poughkeepsie. There were costumes, dress rehearsals, everything. When it was over, I felt such a void. Perhaps I should have pursued acting, and tried to get an agent and go on auditions, and pursue it seriously. I think I could’ve made it.
Recently I had a small part on the HBO show The Deuce. They found me on Facebook. It’s just a passing scene where I’m getting a blow job in an old phone booth. I had so much fun. I had my own trailer. I was hoping they’d call me again, but so far they haven’t.
Jose on The Deuce (2017)
In my retirement, I’ve developed another pastime though: I discovered playing cards online. I play Spades and participate in tournaments. It isn’t for money – it’s just for fun. Danielle and I have been to Nashville seven times for live tournaments. I just went to another one last month.
Love Will Keep us Together
My wife and I have been married 57 years. The secret to our success has been our honesty. And also our appreciation for each other. Every morning I wake up and I touch her and say, “I love you,” and she says the same thing. You must just remember to never stop saying, “I love you.” And never go to sleep mad. Stay up fighting until five in the morning if you have to, but don’t go to sleep angry. And I make her laugh!
We’re still very much in love. It feels like the first day. Maybe it’s luck but he’s always made me laugh. There’s nothing I like more than waking up in the morning next to Jose. We cuddle, we touch each other. It’s not the sex – it’s just being close. Once I met him that was it. He was the one forever.
We have a beautiful apartment with two tomato plants on the terrace. Danielle loves shopping and managing our budget. I have a pension from the cable company and social security. Thank God the movies actually paid in social security for me. Chuck Vincent, all of them, paid in.
We’ve had some health issues lately. Danielle has gotten her knees replaced. I had lung cancer. We don’t have the energy we used to. But Danielle’s got her shopping and her games, I’ve got my cards. And we have each other.
I’m an optimist. And every day is my happiest day. I have my wife, I have my tomato plants, and we have a good, good life.