Why We Need To Save Gay Vintage Porn

Posted February 28, 2014 11:36 AM by with 17 comments


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.


The version currently available on DVD (left) and the newly restored version (right). Who knew it was a sunny day?



As one person pointed out, is it really that wonderful to see the famous furniture patterns for Aspen in their full color glory? YES YES YES I say!


The legendary Al Parker fisting scene, which was truncated in earlier versions.

The legendary Al Parker fisting scene, which was truncated in earlier versions. Notice how muddy the colors are on the right.



Casey Donovan in the climactic final scene. One the left, the muddied older version. To the right, the color corrected transfer from the original 16mm print.


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.



Hipster or Vintage Gay Porn Star?

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17 responses to Why We Need To Save Gay Vintage Porn

  1. tangelo February 28th, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    THIS LOOKS AMAZEBALLS. Is this on the Faclon Video site now?


  2. chriss February 28th, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    yes, more please. you couldn’t have said it better these are our history and they need to be preserve. and that its hot does’t hurt for sure!


    • hotfuzz February 28th, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      the veins, the veins! al parker is a true god.

      I read the article on the hipster redoing these in the New York Times the other day. It’s a good effort, but I’m not sure there’s much of market for it on the straight side, i dunno. But if you need me to chip in a few bucks, you might get me to part with it, out of the desire for preservation of course 9hehe. I might want to show this to my gay grandkid one day.


  3. PansyCore February 28th, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Calm down girls. Its just pornography. And it doesnt even have Dick Fisk.


    • Mike February 28th, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      If you’re saying that Aspen doesn’t have Dick Fisk, you’re wrong. If you’re saying that you want to see Dick Fisk in his full Ektachrome beauty, I’ll work on it.


  4. Sethlord February 28th, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    What are you talking about? Dick Fisk is the star of Aspen. It’s one of my all time favorite of the falcon oevre (sp?). Can’t wait to see it in its fully glory!!!!!!


  5. MikeB February 28th, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    I agree with film restoration as part of our heritage. Maybe we need one of those crowdfunding things to test the waters. Even with source material of 16mm, this looks better than my student films ever did with top transfers from fine grain originals.


  6. Michael February 28th, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    Great to see the side-by-side comparisons. No question there is a need to protect this part of history before it’s lost forever. Now that there are more openly prominent gay men, some with lots of money, too bad they wouldn’t fund such restorations even anonymously. Like MikeB, I knew my students films were bad to begin with but this makes me shudder. Four years of film school and what do I have to show for it. I had thought about the possibility of doing porn, but imagined I was going to be a big-time movie director. Porn probably would have been more lucrative than my current retail job. Sigh.


  7. Hikey March 1st, 2014 at 1:32 AM

    I like this project. I like some of those early looks, the lack of condoms and the energy but hate the low resolution. If they are on the Falcon website for download I might even pay for them.


    • Paul March 1st, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      Agree with you. The energy to these shoots are really different than today (with the occassional exception). Strangely I don’t think it has to do with condoms or any of that though it probably didn’t hurt. They were capturing the sensuality.I think I speak for many of us when I say I lived through those times in the 1970’s but wasn’t brave enough to take part in it. Good on you for getting these soe attention. Look forward to the film by the way.


  8. T March 1st, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    I love film restoration and I do agree, these are some of the earliest images of gay life in media. I love the job they did with the above film. I hope they continue doing it. I know porn always causes controversy because it’s not “family friendly” but it is part of our history and if more research and funding goes int oit coudl open up a lot of conversation about our community’s roots.


  9. kyle March 3rd, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    It looks AMAZING!!


  10. Colin March 3rd, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    I second that erection.


  11. Jett Blakk March 4th, 2014 at 6:14 AM

    RESTORE! RESTORE, I SAY! Porn is part of film history and needs to be saved…and savored.



    • emma March 11th, 2014 at 6:52 PM

      Not only is it part of film history, It is also a rather large part of Gay history…and it does need to be saved.


  12. Max March 6th, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    Would love to see the early William Higgins videos (before he went off to Europe) get the same treatment, early Catalina and Jack Wrangler vids as well.


  13. Ravenix March 11th, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Remember the old Quicktime viewer that let you pause without the controls getting in the way of your screenshot? Not enough decent alternatives on the market.


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