Paul Thomas: The 10 Provocations of PT, Part 1 – Podcast 88

Paul Thomas: The 10 Provocations of PT, Part 1 – Podcast 88

Paul Thomas, or PT as he’s typically known, is one of the iconic names of the adult film industry.

He was born Philip Toubus, and started out as a porn performer for the Mitchell Brothers in mid-1970s San Francisco. Until the last few years, was still in the business as a director.

During the past four decades, PT won every kind of adult award – from Best Actor to Best Director, and was inducted into every Hall of Fame the sex film industry has ever invented.

But there are two aspects to PT’s background that make his presence and success in adult film even more interesting.

First he came from a wealthy family – one that owned household-name businesses like Sara Lee and Jim Beam – and he was brought up in relative luxury.

And secondly, by the time PT started his career in sex films in his mid 20s, he’d already achieved considerable success and fame on stage in musical theater. He’d starred on Broadway in Hair and played the role of Peter in the 1973 film version of Jesus Christ Superstar. In fact, he was being groomed by the William Morris Agency in Hollywood for a big career in mainstream television and movies.

So with all the money and success, what motivated PT to move into the newly formed adult industry – a business frowned upon by much of mainstream society, not to mention full of legal and reputational risks for its participants?

It all comes down to a series of questions: Why? Why did he do it, when he had so many alternatives? Why did he stay in the business for so long? And what effect has it had on him? These questions have stayed with PT to this day.

I’ve known PT for years, and we’ve talked about doing an interview for almost as long as I’ve known him. We actually started once, but after over five hours of conversation, we realized that we hadn’t even reached the time he’d started school, so we scrapped the idea.

Recently though we decided totry again, and this time I got PT to agree to a strict format. I would pick ten areas of his life that have shaped him. Ten provocations – in keeping with the biblical theme of his most famous role in Jesus Christ Superstar. I would ask him whatever I liked about these subjects – and nothing would be off the table. We’d cover adult films, both as an actor and as a director, his troubled relationships, his experiences with drugs, his multiple times in jail, and much, much more.

And we’d finally see if we could get closer to answering the question that has plagued PT for so long: why the hell did he go into, and stay in, the adult film industry?

This is the first time PT has told his story. These are the ten provocations of PT.

The above picture is Paul Thomas photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe.

This first episode of two is 86 minutes long.

The musical playlist for this episode can be found on Spotify.


Paul Thomas

Paul ThomasPaul Thomas in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)


Paul ThomasPaul Thomas in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)


Paul Thomas



  • Posted On: 17th February 2019
  • By: Ashley West
  • Under: Podcasts


  1. David Ferman · February 17, 2019 Reply

    One word…. YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!

  2. Annette Heinz · February 17, 2019 Reply

    We made 7 movies. That’s right, movies! Paul was fabulous with dialogue, accents, and characters. He made a fabulous villain in, “Piggy’s” and “Public Affairs?” Henri Pachard called the latter’s cast, “The A-Team.” Love him as an actor.

  3. Gina Valentino Fan · February 17, 2019 Reply

    I love the scene with Paul Thomas and Gina Valentino in The Heartbreak Girl, it finally came out on DVD. In the final orgy scene Paul is paired up with Gina, after he cums on her ass he takes her yellow tank top off the floor and ever the gentlemen, thinking he is doing her a favor he wipes the cum off of her ass. Just before the camera cuts to other actors Gina shoots him a look like “what the fuck, really?” I guess that was the only shirt she wore to the set that day and wasn’t happy about driving home with Paul’s load on her tank top? Ah.. the memories. Thank you for all the great performances Mr. Thomas, you are an actors actor.

  4. Geoff Ellen · February 17, 2019 Reply

    This interview is priceless. Hilarious, insightful, and thought-provoking. And nicely politically incorrect too.

  5. Frank K. · February 17, 2019 Reply

    My favorite PT story actually has nothing to do with PT. A few years ago, a home made video appeared online posted by a fan who had just bought the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack album. The video just consisted of this fan breathlessly drooling over the record as if it was the Dead Sea Scrolls. I passed this video around to friends over the years and it never grows old… hilarious. A priceless example of the hilarious idiocy of blind fandom

    Anyway – not to detract from this stunning interview. Well done Rialto Report. AGAIN!

  6. Richard Pérez Seves · February 17, 2019 Reply

    Another excellent job, April. Looking forward to Part 2.

  7. Howie Gordon aka the ghost of Richard Pacheco · February 17, 2019 Reply

    I have had the privilege of already listening to both parts of this interview with Paul Thomas. I think, given the depth and scope of the interview and the extraordinary complexity of a man such as . . . Phillip . . . it is the best interview that The Rialto Report has ever done!

    Brava to April for her probing, her patience, and her willingness to draw him out . . . and Bravo to Phillip for his courage and conscientiousness to explore the fantastic range of the universe he calls home. Epic stuff. The good and the bad. The artist. The person. The genius and the foolishness. And the relentlessness of the devils and the angels reaching for harmony in his incredible song of self. My word!

    I especially was humbled and grateful for Phillip’s glowing words in tribute to John Leslie. I shared a unique perspective with Phillip and some others of our industry to be able to know that man. Phillip seemed to capture John’s artistic essence in words that few others have been able to give voice. I thank Phillip and respect him for that all the more.

    In all, a superb effort, right down to the musical selections. Ashley, April, your archives rise above the trivia and the trivial and breathe real life into our understanding of some of the remarkable people who dared . . . who just plain, fucking, dared. I thank you. And PT, you nailed it!

    • Rick · February 18, 2019 Reply

      You’re no slouch yourself, Mr. Gordon. Your interview was pretty damn riveting. Mostly hilarious, but sometimes tragic; I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to forget your account of how an AIDS education class you attended had to end when both of the lecturers died.

      By the way, I love a good pun. So I tip my hat to your son for creating a stage monologue called “Debbie Does My Dad.”

    • 70s Rialto Fan · February 18, 2019 Reply

      Well said Howie! The Rialto Report has surpassed itself……. AGAIN!

      Now here’s a suggestion: a few years ago, there was a gathering of (mostly female) golden age stars who fielded questions from the audience. I think it would be great to see the grand old mean of the industry – Silvera, Pacheco, Herschell, and PT – tour with a stage show in a similar format. Maybe some stand-up by Herschell, singing by PT, etc. as well.

      How about it???

    • April Hall · February 18, 2019 Reply

      Thank you so much for the kind, thoughtful words Howie. And we totally agree that PT nailed it!

    • Steel town girl on a Saturday Night · February 18, 2019 Reply

      John Leslie was so good in 1983’s FLESHDANCE with the simply stunning Shanna Evans, that I honestly could have seen John playing the same role in the actual movie Flashdance with Beals, his acting was that good. Shanna Evans could have been the greatest black porn star of all time, with Desiree West type of status today if she didn’t retire so fast.
      And if John Leslie passed on FLESHDANCE you know who else could have killed it in that role? You guessed it Richard Pacheco. Anyone know whatever happened to Shanna Evans?

  8. J. Walter Puppybreath · February 17, 2019 Reply

    Anyone who’s been with both Christy Canyon and Laura Gemser is a God in my book!

  9. J Nass · February 18, 2019 Reply

    Why not 12 hours?

  10. Riz · February 18, 2019 Reply

    Amazing interview. I listened to it twice and can’t wait for the second part.

    Thomas is a living legend – perhaps the last one alive from that era now that Gillis, Leslie, Holmes have passed – and this is a priceless document of his talent.

    Of particular note is the intelligence and sensitivity of the questioning…….. a quantum leap above the fan/academic standard.

    And if you’re reading this, PT – you’re the best!

  11. Bryan · February 18, 2019 Reply

    An excellant episode of the finest most consistent adult film maker in my book. Regarding the moving comments about the late Kristine Heller (one of PT’s girlfriends) PT of course chronicled her (or a similar) experience when he made ‘The Awakening’ (1998) . A story of a porn star who becomes conflicted about her on screen life and the pull to a new age spirituality- well worth watching and moving too.

  12. Craig · February 18, 2019 Reply

    Great interview. I always wondered what P.T. would have to say about the industry and his fellow performers. Any chance that Annette Haven might be interviewed?

  13. walt kovacs · February 18, 2019 Reply

    i just came upon your site after watching the second season of the deuce. excellent site
    i was a bit disturbed to hear pt describe his being groomed and then molested by his dentist as just a normal sexual experience and his subsequent acting out by exposing himself to younger children as simply an expression of his sexuality. i was also disturbed to hear the interviewer chuckle while pt described being molested.
    there is a difference between consensual sex and molestation and consensual sex and exposing oneself. and its not funny.
    im sorry that pt seems to still be in denial regarding his early experiences, and im sorry that he was punished for his acting out behavior and was living in an age where people very rarely got real help (most psychiatrists at the time were still working under the freudian model that saw most stories of molestation as fantasies created by the patient)

    • J. Walter Puppybreath · February 21, 2019 Reply

      I agree – hugely disturbing.

    • April Hall · February 23, 2019 Reply

      Thank you for your feedback Walt. What you heard on my part was nervous laughter. I agree that child abuse is extremely serious. I also believe that PT has the right to interpret what happened to him as he chooses.

      I greatly appreciate your comments!

  14. Dan · February 19, 2019 Reply

    As far as I’m concerned PT was the greatest. His films were well made, intelligent, erotic…., and he was prolific! Perhaps for this reason he doesn’t get the credit he still deserves, and boy – how the industry needs him now.

    In this age of porn parodies and overblown star vehicles, whatever happened to an intelligent adult movie for adults?

    Thanks PT

  15. Kel Goff · February 19, 2019 Reply

    Exceptional insight into the mind of one of the most unique and fascinating minds of the industry.

    Paul Thomas is one of the main examples we mourn the passing of the golden age – and LOVE thee Rialto Report.

    I agree with the comment above about the need for a chat show with Mr Thomas and his cohorts. Smart self aware performers who’d be entertaining in a stage setting. C’mon let’s do it!

  16. Deanna · February 19, 2019 Reply

    Please bring in Part 2!!! (And parts 3, 4, 5 and more!!!)

    Loving it.

  17. dave · February 19, 2019 Reply

    how can you leave us hanging like that?

    great job – when’s part 2 coming?

  18. E King · February 19, 2019 Reply

    Thanks for posting this great story and I look forward to part 2. I met PT once while we were both waiting in line for food at the AVN Expo mid 2000’s. He was very polite and humble. Too bad that there are not more people like him in the biz.

  19. John · February 23, 2019 Reply

    I was never a fan during his performing days, but this was a fascinating interview, definitely amongst your best. Great job, April! I can’t wait for Part 2.

  20. Martin Johnson · February 24, 2019 Reply

    What a superb interview!

    Amid the debris of thousands of shattered lives and dashed hopes from all aspects of showbiz, it is really great to hear that PT is someone who has survived to tell his tale in such a clear-sighted and honest manner with his faculties and fortune seemingly intact.

    Congratulations April and Ashley for the thoughtful construction of the podcast and careful questioning to deliver this gem.

    How great too to reveal glimpses of such classics as ‘Babyface’ from PT. Most of all PT spoke beautifully with clear diction and an economy of words that fully reveals this articulate free-spirit.

    What a life!!! I’m very much anticipating Part 2.

    Thank you RR

  21. Eric Edwards · February 24, 2019 Reply

    What a great interview– so open and honest– I found myself totally amazed at the similarities that I share with PT, yet never really knew him. From the days of “pounding the boards” through both of us having the same agent back in those early days (William Morris Agency), and even his sexual upbringing and experiences, we were so similar. And then, later on, our having shared so many sets together, I just wish I had gotten to know him better. But, in a strange way, through this interview, I feel that I have gotten to know him better. Perhaps, the next time we meet, we can have a chuckle over old times. Thanks, April– job well done!

  22. Tim · March 7, 2019 Reply

    Top picture looks like an outtake of Eric Idle from The Holy Grail.

  23. Julian · January 14, 2021 Reply

    I worked with PT in the 80’s, mainly via Pachard and Art Ben. Always a nice guy. He had told me that his stage career fell apart when touring with JC Superstar and did LSD before one performance (in Florida?) and forgot his lines. He may have been fired at that point.

    I do regret not having gotten to know any of the ‘family’ well enough that we could talk about more personal topics, but with ADHD my mind was all over the place, was dealing with school, etc. I did socialize with Sharon Kane a couple of times but that was about it, besides a couple of crew people.

  24. Atay · October 26, 2023 Reply

    Does anyone know the name of the film in which he played a husband who was told that he had married his sister so that he brought her who screw her and one of them was the driver, he was spy on his wife through a photo on the wall?

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