F.M Bradley died last month just a few weeks shy of his 70th birthday.
I can’t say I was surprised – Bradley had been in a nursing home ever since I found him in 2021 after years of looking. He was bedridden, and we had a few false starts before we finally settled down for our interview due to his ill health. But even though he was unable to walk, whenever we’d video chat it was easy to see the handsome, strapping man who’d made hundreds of films and loops back in the 80s.
After our interview, we kept in touch. I’d occasionally send him the Chips Ahoy chunky chocolate chip cookies he loved. He wore an expression on his face more like that of a young man at the beginning of life versus a patient on the precipice of his end. Bradley talked about making an adult film come back when he got out of the care facility, convinced he would in fact get out and get back. He had someone he called his lady friend who visited him regularly even as his Russian roommate blared his TV 24/7. Bradley had his down days, but mostly he was a man of hope – just as he’d been all his life.
I often start a Rialto Report excited to hear how someone felt and what they thought when they got into the adult business, but soon become even more interested in their life now – how they’ve carried their choices and experiences and make sense of them today.
It was no different with F.M. Bradley. We titled his interview ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ because while nobody seemed to know where he was, Bradley certainly wasn’t trying to hide. In fact he occasionally attended adult events, trying to launch his comeback.
We may not be able to see Bradley now, but we can always remember him. So let’s do that.
The episode running time is 90 minutes.
Let’s admit something: as much as the so-called golden age of adult film was a glamorous era, where sex movies competed with Hollywood blockbusters in theaters across the country, it wasn’t the most racially diverse workplace for a male performer.
There was Johnnie Keyes, the African American star of Behind the Green Door in the early 1970s. There was Billy Dee, an accomplished mixed-race actor, who became a well-known face in the late 1970s.
And then… that’s about it. Which is striking for a new industry that employed hundreds of people and made millions of dollars.
In the 1980s, this trend continued. Which made someone like Field Marshal Bradley stand out.
The Field Marshal, who went by the name F.M., was a towering presence. He looked like a black superman. A striking figure of strength. He displayed a muscular, cut body that always seemed shiny. He was the number one star of color, when that should have meant a lot more.
Over the years, I’d heard stories about F.M. Bradley. He was the eternal bad boy, living out a wild life. He’d occasionally turned up at conventions saying he was about to make a comeback in the business. He didn’t seem to have a permanent address, and no one had his contact details. Many doubted he was still alive.
And then I heard he’d been spotted – in a convalescent home in Vegas. Struggling with ill-health. He wasn’t even well enough do an interview. But we kept talking over several years, and eventually recorded an interview.
Now this particular convalescent home wasn’t well-equipped for interviews with stars of the X-rated film industry, and so our conversation took place with the TV in the background, and people coming and going. We’d get interrupted constantly – such as when it was time to for F.M. to give his dinner order.
I wanted to know what it had been like to be one of the few male performers of color in the 1980s. Where had he come from, and what was he doing now? And why was this one-time Superman now in a home?
This is April Hall – and this is The Rialto Report. It’s not every day I get to interview a Field Marshal.