Cantara Christopher in Sadie (Bob Chinn director, Mitam Productions, 1980) as Indexed in the Database of the British Film Institute; and “Pictures of Lily” by Pete Townshend

This isn’t the picture of me at the BFI Database. It was sent to me by “John Fairfax”, who saw my posting on Twitter about my last feature film and my irritated comment about how I thought the British Film Institute had mixed me up with another (probably Asian) actress. And the dear chap actually went through the grueling task (in the name of research, of course) to find proof positive that the girl in the sarong in the other screenshot is not me, mostly because of the arms, hair, and height. And he sent it to me! So here I am in Sadie, a softcore version of Maugham’s story “Rain”, entertaining two men on the island, presumably Borneo. The bloke in the cap is my husband Doc, the only one on the island allowed to touch my goodies.

Sadie, 1981Above: The Who and Pete Townshend’s love song to sex workers everywhere, “Pictures of Lily”.

This was not only my last feature, but the last film of any length (including loops, shorts etc) I did during my screen days in San Francisco, before I got pregnant and eloped with the father of my child to New York’s East Village.

For years I’ve talked about my porn career like it was a lark—a daredevil stunt I pulled and lived to tell the tale. I certainly was never more physically beautiful than when I was in my early 20s, and really, I’ve got to tell you, it is a kick in the first flowering of old age to know that somewhere, somehow, even now yet still, someone is probably doing the stroke dance with one of your pictures. Because as long as a buck can be made from it, porn will never disappear.

Now here comes the freakin’ British Film Institute to spoil my fun. Now I have to consider myself a lousy but legitimate actress rather than a pretty good porn one? Do you Brits have to put a damper on everything?



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Cantara Christopher as Simona Wing in the Porn Classic, Beyond Your Wildest Dreams (1981, Gerard Damiano director), Just for the Man I Love, BBC Conductor John Wilson

From 2020. Yesterday, Thanksgiving, a fan (thanks, Brian!) sent me a screenshot from one of my later movies, Beyond Your Wildest Dreams.

I’m looking at you, John Wilson.

wildest-dreamsAbove Dream Girl #1: Carlos Santana’s hit “Oye como va” which I danced topless to in the 70s. I have no idea who painted that fakey arm on my left, or why. 
Lead in this feature was a fascinating woman named Juliet Anderson (here’s her interview in The Rialto Report), a classroom teacher who, in early middle age (39), started in porn and quickly became a star due to her talent in enthusiastic penilingism, plus she photographed well doing it. I was a little more delicate going about it but I think no less effective as an Oriental love doll. Fan Brian likens this pose to the one in “Cantara, 1973” except in 1973 I was 18 and this flick was shot 8 years later on a proper set.
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A Great American Songbook Song for My Beloved John Wilson, Conductor: Rodgers+Hammerstein’s “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific, Sung by Jane Olivor

I like to post short little items like this when I’m in the middle of big writing, which is where you find me now. This tune was tremendously popular in the jukeboxes of the Castro, circa late 1970s, before and after AIDS first hit. So ubiquitous was Jane Olivor’s rendition novelist Armistead Maupin couldn’t ignore it—this was the song that brought Michael “The Mouse” Tolliver to tears in the first volume of Tales of the City. Put this on and there isn’t a dry eye in the room, whether you’re thinking of a dead lover or a living one. I think of both.

Jane Olivor First NightAbove: “Some Enchanted Evening” written for the 1947 stage musical South Pacific, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. A song has lyrics, John my love. This is how I speak to you.

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For the Fourth: “What could be more American than Santana closing the live lesbian love act at the Screening Room in San Francisco, circa 1979?” ~Simona Wing

Just like—oh, say—my beloved John Wilson conducting “Knightsbridge” in Salford being the most English thing in the world…

Screening Room, SF 1979Above my old workplace, “Evil Ways” from the album Santana, 1969. Find Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va?” played by Santana (from the album Abraxas, 1971) in my posting “Cantara Christopher as Simona Wing in the Porn Classic, Beyond Your Wildest Dreams (1981, Gerard Damiano director), Just for the Man I Love, BBC Conductor John Wilson” here.


Here’re my two connections to musician-composer Carlos Santana and his music. One, The Kid attended Santana’s alma mater, Mission High, in our neighborhood the Mission across from gorgeous Dolores Park, where he used to cut classes and take his girlfriend of the moment, wouldn’t you? And two, Santana’s “Evil Ways” was the last number in the live lesbian love act I used to do years earlier with the other girls employed by Katherine (wife of “History of the Blue Movie” Alex) de Renzy, bless her rapacious little heart. Eight shows a day. Tickets ten dollars, and this was 1979. We got visitors from everywhere, sailors and Japanese businessmen and tourists from the hotels. Katherine pushed the Screening Room as a classy joint, classier even than the better-known O’Farrell Theatre up the street, but apples and oranges. I guess naked pillow fights are better suited to some tastes.


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On Conductor John Wilson’s Full Dress and The First Porn Movie I Ever Did, 1

For those of you who know that, as well as being a retired porn actress, I also write porn for a living (actually “women’s erotica” but you know and I know it’s porn, lady porn, but PORN), Full Dress being a riff on my old boss Rouben Mamoulian’s classic The Song of Songs—you know, the one where Marlene Dietrich has a rich would-be composer for a husband and a young, sensitive, bespectacled conductor for a lover, inspiring them both to artistic heights through her Mighty Marlene Power. Oh, baby. This is the movie that inspired me to emulate you in my youth.

But just so you don’t go on thinking this is some kind of fanblog (really, I’m not a fan*, just crazy in love with the bloke below) I thought I’d spend a posting to tell you all how I got my first gig in pictures.

John ExposedAbove John’s arousingly exposed suspender: Marlene Dietrich, who my old boss in Hollywood Rouben Mamoulian cast in his 1933 film The Song of Songs, sings a love song to mi amor.


This happened in San Francisco—in the 70s a paradise for the sexually adventurous—and coming after the time I worked as classic film director Rouben Mamoulian’s amanuensis, which was after the time I posed nude for a blind sculptor in St-Paul-de-Vence, which was after the time I danced topless in a mob-run bar in Red Hook, which was after the time I was the night solfeggist at ASCAP

So anyway. One lovely summer evening about six weeks after I hit the city I went with a (legit) actress friend to a house party up on Potrero Hill, mostly because she enticed me with the information that the party would be featuring a hot tub. (Am such a pushover for hot tubs.) Well, at the party there was this cute but obvious older guy from London (trimmed ginger beard, open shirt, bead bracelet—no one goes California like the English) named Paul, who owned the house and who invited me seulement for a session of coke+quaaludes and a nice soak later, after all the other guests have left. Then he gave me his card. (This was only the second time a man ever gave me his business card before we had sex, and it wouldn’t be the last)…

Part 2 “Zombie Love Slave” here.
Part 3 “Sausalito Hot Tub” here.
Part 4 “Lovelace” here.

*No, really, I’m in love with John but he plows through Gershwin like a bull moose and treats Bernstein like Bernstein’s Saruman and he’s Frodo. How could any red-blooded American woman countenance such effrontery to our national treasures?**

**He does, however, conduct Elgar and Vaughan Williams like an angel.


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Carol Doda’s Condor Club on Broadway and Columbus, San Francisco, Circa 1979

Carol Doda’s Condor Club on Broadway and Columbus. I used to work the live hetero sex act at Adam and Eve’s (upstairs from Spec’s on Broadway) on this street in the late 70s, around when this picture was taken. Yes, Carol’s tits lit up at night.

Carol Doda's.jpgAbove: Donna Summer sings “Hot Stuff”. Would you download it if I told you I danced naked to it?


In November 1983, I heard, bouncer Jimmy Ferrozzo and his girlfriend, exotic dancer Theresa Hill, decided after hours to do the deed atop the famous white piano upon which, after being lowered from the ceiling by cables, Carol would make her nightly entrance. They accidentally hit the On switch, and the piano rapidly rose to the ceiling, trapping the couple. Ferrozzo was asphyxiated. Hill survived, only because she was thinner than Ferrozo.


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“Autumn” by Robert Chesley (1943-1990), Chosen by John Corigliano and Played by Members of the NY Philharmonic

I knew Chesley in San Francisco when I was working (when not working in a porn movie) as second electrics at the old Eureka Theatre (the good one, the one that produced David Rabe, Trevor Griffiths, Caryl Churchill etc) and he was a stage critic, composer and nascent playwright. He had been a fan of a show Mister Grumble and I were lighting at the time called The Rosy Black Life, and eventually we ended up following him to New York and lighting some of his own shows there at venues like the Three Dollar Bill Theatre in Chelsea. He was The Kid’s godfather.

Chesley.jpg
Portrait by Rick Gerharter.

In tonight’s (1 June 2019) music series called Nightcap curated by composer John Corigliano members of the New York Philharmonic will perform Bob Chesley’s art song, “Autumn”, in their program Music of Conscience, which focuses on young composers who died of AIDS.


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The Mighty Wurlitzer at the Castro Theatre, San Francisco

San Francisco, open your Golden Gate
You’ll let no stranger wait outside your door
San Francisco, here is your wanderin’ one
Saying I’ll wander no more

The Castro Theatre was our neighborhood picture palace back in San Francisco. Went to dozens of movies there, sometimes with Mister Grumble (when he still had his sight), sometimes with the The Kid, sometimes with both: King Kong, Casablanca, The Garden of Allah, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, that movie Steve’s son was in called Brokeback Mountain, etc etc etc. But the organ was always the best part.

David Hegarty at the Might Wurlitzer

Here’s David Hagerty between evening shows giving the best of The Mighty Wurlitzer and ending (starting at 8:17), as he always does at every performance, with an inspiring rendition of the official anthem of my spiritual birthplace, “San Francisco” (Bronislaw Kaper and Walter Jurmann, lyrics by Gus Kahn, 1936).


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Frank Sinatra Sings “It Can’t Be Wrong” from Now, Voyager (1942) and Sends His Moose to Love Up Herb Caen

But before Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager, the real Sinatra made a big hit of this tune.

Frank Sinatra, 1945
Could you say no to this boy? Above Frankie, his hit: “It Can’t Be Wrong” by Max Steiner (after Now, Voyager), lyrics by Kim Gannon.

From legendary San Francisco journalist Herb Caens column, 1995:

Fast forward through World War II to Al Williams’ Papagayo Room in the Fairmont Hotel. It’s 2 a.m. Al’s place is the hangout on the late shift. Mexican food in the middle of the night? We were young and indestructible. Frank was on his own now and headlining at (again) the Golden Gate. The critics weren’t impressed with “Frankie,” as they called him, to his disgust, but the schoolgirls were cutting classes to catch his shows and I was giving him sincere plugs. At the Papagayo Room on his closing night, a burly broken-nosed guy in a polo coat came to my table and said, “You Caen?” When I nodded warily, he slipped me a small package, said, “Frank says t’anks” and disappeared. The package contained a solid gold Dunhill lighter. It was the first but not the last time I would be reminded of Sinatra’s penchant for extravagant gifts…


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My 2012 Memoir, A Poet from Hollywood: Love, Insanity, Stephen Gyllenhaal, and the Creative Process

Reprint, originally published 2012. Available free, permanently, for download here from PINY Press; and for online reading at Academia, Issuu, or Scribd.

A Poet from Hollywood small