Why We Need To Save Gay Vintage Porn
We just got back the high def (4K) restoration of the Other Side of Aspen, and it’s jaw dropping. For anyone who thinks saving vintage porn isn’t worth saving, it’s because anyone who came of age with VHS or after HASN’T. ACTUALLY. SEEN. VINTAGE. PORN.
This is the way I’ve always felt about Falcon’s original Other Side of Aspen. The stills were always gorgeous, but the movie itself? Besides the low resolution, the colors were washed out at best and muddy. I love both Al Parker and Dick Fisk to no end, but it wasn’t — how do I say this politely — jerk-offable. So, with the final edit of our documentary on Falcon founder and philanthropist Chuck Holmes only a few months away, I called up Joe Rubin at Vinegar Syndrome, a company that specializes in restoring X-rated films. Joe had helped years ago when I was first researching the project, and, once I was able to get Falcon to part temporarily with the original print, sent it over to him to restore. The results are pretty spectacular.
Not only does it look great, the new version also features and extended (and legendary) fisting scene (above) that was truncated in later versions. (Falcon was brought up on obscenity charges in the 1990s for selling a movie that contained a fisting, so before the internet, most distributors shied away.) For the first time in 35 years, we’re seeing classic gay films in the way that they were seen.
Thankfully, Falcon is now considering redoing much more of their early catalog (as a filmmaker, I only have limited resources). It’s not only going to open these films to a new generation of fans, it’s also a project that’s tremendously important to gay history. These early films were some of the first times that gay men were able to see themselves represented in a positive way in the media. Unabashed. Proud. Sexual. These vintage porn films, distributed across the country by mail order, were the original It Gets Better videos of their day, letting people in closets all over the country know that there were other possibilities. Unfortunately, few archives will take them — and the few that are willing to take them, won’t spend money restoring them because it would cause too much controversy.
And these films aren’t going to stay this way for long. If you think this type of restoration is important, let us know in the comments. Hopefully, Falcon won’t be the only company to restore these classics before the film itself degrades.