Updated January 10, 2:30 p.m. (PST) with industry tributes; more will be added as they are received.
NEW YORK — Director, playwright, journalist, historian and author Jerry Douglas, 84, passed Saturday afternoon in New York City. Douglas‘ acclaimed career as a filmmaker stretched back to the early ’70s with „The Back Row“ and Radley Metzger’s „Score,“ for which he wrote the script; both films starred legendary icon Casey Donovan.
After just two films in the 1970s, Douglas switched careers and spent several decades as a journalist and author, notably as the editor-in-chief of Manshots, which famously published long, thoughtful interviews with gay adult filmmakers and performers and served as a scholarly chronicle of the industry; several collections of Douglas‘ classic Manshots interviews have recently been published in book form.
In the late ’80s, Douglas returned to filmmaking for All Worlds Video and for the next two decades embarked on an influential, awards-laden stretch. Such titles as „More of a Man,“ „Fratrimony,“ „Kiss-Off“ and „Honorable Discharge“ were known for lyrical plotlines and Douglas‘ ability to coax empathic, emotional performances from his leading men.
Douglas won numerous adult industry awards for his writing and directing; his later films for COLT Studio, including „BuckleRoos 1-2“ and what would be his final film, 2007’s „Brotherhood,“ were intricately plotted examples of the Golden Age era of adult filmmaking.
His career as a playwright includes a number of Broadway and off-Broadway productions, including „Tubstrip,“ which opened off-Broadway in 1973, toured nationally and eventually landed on Broadway in 1974.
The play was published for the first time in 2019 with a foreward by Jordan Schildcrout titled, „‚Tubstrip‘ and the Erotic Theatre of Gay Liberation.“
„The sexual exuberance and romantic longing that inform ‚Tubstrip‘ are evident in many of Douglas‘ films, which have maintained their popularity… Plays like ‚Tubstrip‘ are significant for their role in opening the theatre as a venue for the expression of gay romantic and sexual desire,“ Schildcrout wrote.
In 2010 and 2013, Douglas returned to the stage to direct the New York and Los Angeles productions of „The Deep Throat Sex Scandal,“ which followed the life and career of Harry Reems and the infamous „Deep Throat“ obscenity trial.
Douglas would go on to publish several new novels, but the successful Los Angeles production of „Deep Throat Sex Scandal,“ laden with weekly guest stars drawn from adult’s A-list, would be his final turn with blue movies.
Gay Porn as an Art Form
Director and author Lucas Kazan posted a fond remembrance on his official blog.
„Yes, there was a time when every new movie directed by Jerry would be nominated for just about every porn award,“ wrote Kazan. „And yes, many of these movies have left their mark. Above all, ‚Fratrimony‘ and ‚More of a Man.‘ But… (f)rom 1988 to 2001, Manshots, the monthly magazine he edited, published in-depth reviews and invaluable interviews with directors, producers, performers. More than anybody else, Jerry and his Manshots contributed to the culture and the history of gay porn, delving into it like into any other film genre.“
„When Manshots folded in 2001, followed by many other print publications, the history and criticism of gay porn went out the window, replaced by affiliate links,“ Kazan said. „Manshots‘ interviews with the pioneers remain — to this day — the only serious efforts at documenting [gay] porn’s rich and diverse history. From Scott Masters to Toby Ross, from Cadinot to DeSimone and Coletti. With Jerry, we lost a peerless director. And with him the memory of porn as an art form. As a Weltanshauung. Farewell.“
„Jerry was my friend, mentor and fellow director who I have the utmost respect for,“ Chi Chi LaRue told XBIZ. „We would laugh so hard about how much I hated his cigarettes! I loved him so much.“
Veteran performer, producer and director Jamie Hendrix spoke to XBIZ about Douglas‘ influence.
„Another icon gone. I had many dealings with the famous Jerry Douglas. As I began my career in the gay XXX biz in 1988, I remember interviews and lots of layouts and magazine covers. Jerry was was always there in the background somewhere,“ recalled Hendrix. „I had the pleasure of meeting him in New York for an interview in a Chinese restaurant; those were the days. Jerry, you will be missed. Rest in peace.“
Longtime writer-director Mike Donner described Douglas as „everyone’s cheerleader.“
„He was my ‚godfather‘ and he called me his ‚godson,'“ Donner recalled to XBIZ. „Both of us liked story-driven scripts and he always gave me constructive advice and support each and every time I had a new script. He was the reason I got the job in San Diego [with All Worlds Video]. He put in a good plug for me and I will always be grateful for everything he did for my career. He will be sorely missed.“
Jerry Douglas — equally as notable for the ever-present cigarette between his fingers as for his art — served as a mentor to dozens of performers, filmmakers, authors and others throughout his career, including this writer. His influence on the industry was, and remains, indelible. He is survived by his partner of more than 40 years, whom he married in 2011.