Sunday, October 2, 2016

SEED MONEY: Michael Stabile's doc about gay porn king Chuck Holmes hits DVD and VOD

Quite a trip down memory lane -- well, for those of us, anyway, who remember gay pornography that goes back as far as the 1950s, 60s and 70s and then, via VHS tapes and finally DVDs, into the 1980s and 90s -- SEED MONEY, the new documentary from Michael Stabile, tracks the career of one man, Chuck Holmes, and the company, Falcon Studios, that he and some very young and hunky porn actors created. Written and directed by Mr. Stabile, shown below, the movie is informative, fun, sexy and rather honest in its assessment of Holmes and the industry he helped take from home movie loops into the digital age -- making millions of dollars in the process.

We get a history of gay porn from the 1950s onwards, and of Mr. Holmes, as well, along with his rise from mere pornographer to porn king, a man who had a very good eye for what the market wanted (and could bear). He also knew how to provide all this via the kind hot young guys who proved more and more available for this sort of work, as the repressive 1950s changed to the open and exploratory 60s and finally to the all-out, anything-goes 70s. Holmes also had an eye for how tastes and fashions in male, gay sex objects were changing and evolving, and he kept up with all this so well that he was able to pretty much corner the market.

If we don't learn all that much that's very personal about Holmes (that's he, above, during his businessman/philanthropist days, and at bottom, relaxing with one his boys), we do get clues into his personality and desires via some of the men (and a couple of women) who knew and worked with/for him. And we see how his empire rose and rose by keeping up with the wants and needs of the ever expanding gay marketplace.

We also see and hear from a few ex-porn stars (like Jeff Stryker) who talk about what life was like on set and off, inter-cut with beaucoup scenes from various Falcon Studio films. For most of its length the film skips merrily and quickly along the surface of things: It's all enjoyable but not particularly revealing.

Then come the 1980s -- and AIDS. And, as one Falconer notes,"When we found out all our actors were dying, that pretty much changed things a lot." Uh, yes: One would imagine something like that. Mr. Holmes evidently had grievous objections to his actors using condoms during this time -- not the man's finest hour, to be sure -- but finally, after so many deaths, those actors simply insisted on sheathing the member.

At some point along the way -- someone suggests that this was Holmes' attempt to keep his memory alive -- the man became a noted philanthropist, hobnobbing with movie stars and the cultural and political elite of the day. Yet mainstream attitudes toward sex (particularly the gay variety) and pornography, money and respectability appears to have made Holmes feel, probably with good reason, that he was never quite "in the loop."

All of this becomes part of the Chuck Holmes story told here which is, overall, a pretty sad one, even given the enormous success of Falcon Studios. Yet it's a tale that this movie never quite penetrates very deeply -- despite all the amply proportioned cocks on display. Still, it's certainly an interesting and relatively enjoyable ride. And San Francisco's attractive GLBT Center, one of Holmes' biggest gifts, stands today as a large and costly memorial to the man.

From Breaking Glass Pictures and running a swift, wont-wear-out-its-welcome 71 minutes, Seed Money (a nicely double entendre title, that!) hits DVD and VOD this Tuesday, October 4 -- for purchase and/or rental.

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