Jerry Douglas: The Gay Porn Blog Interview, Pt. 1
There are precious few in gay porn of comparable stature to Jerry Douglas. There are personalities that are bigger, directors flashier and power brokers that are more intimidating. But Jerry Douglas — who got his start in 1972 writing and directing the groundbreaking Back Row with Casey Donovan — has always been a maverick who’s loved more than feared. And that’s a real rarity in this industry. Jerry was in town finishing post-production on the upcoming Buckshot release Beyond Perfect and took some time to answer the questions of a few neophyte screenwriters (er, us) to talk about the nature of the erotic, the business of showing-it-all and his “x-rated Rashomon.“Gay Porn Blog: Is porn screenwriter an oxymoron?
Jerry Douglas: Not for me. Never has been. Iâ€™ve always believed that sex is hotter if the viewer gets to know the characters as human beings first and then is even more anxious to see their sexual side. Itâ€™s sort of a prick-teasing process. Iâ€™ve never been interested in renting a motel room, throwing two guys on a bed, and saying â€œGo to it.â€ A very good friend of mine once explained it this way: â€œSex in context is more interesting then sex in limboâ€ â€“ and I agree with that 100 percent.
GPB: What are the major obstacles in creating a story in the adult genre?
JD: The problem of course is to make the webbing between sex scenes as interesting â€“ and as sexual â€“ as the explicit action. A good porn script is like the libretto of a good musical â€“ you find your set pieces and web them together with a libretto. The best screenplays for adult films should be as much of a turn-on as the old in-out. And like a good musical comedy, the sex scenes (which serve the same function as the musical numbers) should advance the story, reveal character, and enrich the theme. They should have as much dramatic impact as erotic impact. We have sex for a lot of different reasons — to pleasure ourselves, to pleasure our partners, to hurt our partners, to show off, to exercise control, to yield control â€“ and ideally, in any film, we should know why two people are fucking at any given moment in time. I always make this very clear to my actors before we begin an explicit scene: Why are you here? Why are you having sex with this man at this moment? What do you want to achieve? It certainly keeps all the sex scenes from looking and feeling alike.
JD: I suppose if I were writing a masterâ€™s thesis on the subject, I would have to say that a majority of my films deal with â€œcoming to termsâ€ — not necessarily â€œcoming outâ€ (although that is often a large part of it). Trade Off, Dream Team and Honorable Discharge are about coming to terms with oneâ€™s homosexuality, Fratrimony, Flesh and Blood, and Family Values are both about coming to terms with incestuous impulses, More of a Man is about coming to terms with oneâ€™s Catholicism, Buckleroos and the new one, Beyond Perfect, are about coming to terms with the demands of maintaining an ongoing relationship.
GPB: You often bring use love in your scripts, rather than just lust. Does romance have a place in porn?
JD: If romance has a place in your life, then it has a place in your porn. If it doesnâ€™t, then robots having heated, energetic sex is enough. But I suspect, whether they admit it or not, most people are looking for romance (in one form or another), and though lust is enticing and inviting, it is all too often like a Chinese meal â€“ youâ€™re hungry again twenty minutes later. Loving is much more nourishing (and for me, at least) more interesting to put onscreen.
GPB: What advice would you give to aspiring porn screenwriters?
JD: Get to know the industry and the practicalities that are essential to make your script financially feasible. And donâ€™t expect to have someone buy your script â€“ most directors write their own scripts.
GPB: How do you write dialogue for non-actors?
JD: The same way I write for professional actors. I write a character and look for someone who can inhabit it. I donâ€™t hire â€œnon-actorsâ€ for my films â€“ I hear men who have shown me in the interview and audition process that they are capable (with a bit of directorial help) to handle dialogue and to create a character. I spent many of my early adult years directing â€œamateursâ€ in community theatre productions, and they require a completely different approach from so-called â€œprofessional actors.â€ So do adult film performers.
GPB:Can you make a living writing porn?
JD: Of course not. Iâ€™ve never known anyone who could.
GPB: What is your writing process? Where do the stories come from? How do the projects manifest themselves?
JD: For me, the project always begins with a germ of an idea â€“ something that has happened to me, something I have observed among my friends, a newspaper clipping of something that has happened in another corner of the country. For example, over the years Iâ€™ve known several people who have been arrested in tearooms, and I decided I wanted to make a film about entrapment â€“ that turned about to be Kiss Off. Iâ€™ve known a few closeted celebrities in my time, and I knew I wanted to explore the problems of being a closeted celebrity — that turned out to be Diamond Stud. Iâ€™ve seen so many relationships go sour during the third year â€“ I suspect the seven year itch comes early for gay men â€“ and I thought that would be an interesting dynamic to dive into. It became my latest film, Beyond Perfect, which stars Brad Patton and Jason Kingsley as a pair of lovers who are beginning to cheat on each other just after their third anniversary. Right now Iâ€™m a little bit pregnant with the germ of an idea about the stalking of a porn star. Who knows if it will grow to fruition? So many of the ideas donâ€™t…
Part two of our conversation with Jerry Douglas next week…