NEW YORK — The New York Times published this weekend an obituary of the late Wakefield Poole, a pioneering director of gay cinema whose 1971 classic „Boys in the Sand“ revolutionized the adult feature genre.
„Boys in the Sand,“ starring Casey Donovan, was a smash success and achieved mainstream recognition, including A-list celebrity approbation, a review in Variety and advertisements in the Times itself, a full-blitz publicity campaign that predated even „Deep Throat“ by a year.
The obit by Alex Vadukul arrives one month after Poole passed at the age of 85 in Jacksonville, Florida. Prior to his revolutionary career in adult entertainment, Poole had become a notable Broadway figure and multimedia artist; he certainly holds an important role in the arts history of New York City (profits from „Boys in the Sand“ and follow-up feature „Bijou“ were used to finance an early workshop production of „A Chorus Line“) and its preeminent newspaper.
However, the respectful memorial is certainly unusual, given the paper’s recent approach of covering adult content and sex workers‘ rights through a distinctively negative and condemnatory lens.
The obit describes those original Times ads as having been „sneakily“ purchased, but there is no evidence of outright subterfuge; Poole himself speculated, as the obit notes, „the paper’s advertising department may not have looked at it too closely.“
(In his autobiography, Poole recalled, „To this day, I don’t know how we got such good placement. The ad looked classy, so maybe they just didn’t read the copy. Or perhaps someone had let it slip by. I’d like to think some gay man in the advertising department had pulled some strings. If that is what happened, I’m forever grateful.“)