- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
A Star Is Porn
Sleaze! Hustling! Porn! (As opposed to Love! Valor! Compassion!) You can practically hear the carnival barker calling out the selling points of Boy in the Sand, the new bio of one of the gay porn icons of the 1970s — but is this a bad thing? Not at all, as the gentleman was a tramp, albeit one with style and legs, in every sense. The gentleman in question, the "boy in the sand," is Casey Donovan, the stage name of Cal Culver, a nice boy from the country who grew up to make dirty movies like "Boys in the Sand" and "L.A. Tool & Die." Stories of famous hustlers are always a hungry read since the idea of a happy hustler is a gay male fantasy — the notion that a guy selling his body for sex is going to make out like a bandit: cash and hot sex! What can go wrong?
Well, lots, apparently, as this bio by Roger Edmonson successfully reveals. Edmonson manages to balance the gay male fantasy of sex-for-fun and fun-for-all with the reality of a young man who had aspirations of performing in legitimate theater, following his own demons into the gay porn industry at a time when pornos evolved from short loops to full-length features. Much of the book consists of pseudonymous confessions of encounters with the Robert Redfordish-All-American sex hound, Casey Donovan — all of which are enticing and raunchy, but ultimately less interesting than the stories told by Donovan's intimates who actually appear to care what happened to him.
Little Cal Culver was raised in the boonies by a farm family that eventually went into the vacationtrailer-parkbusiness. According to one source quoted in the book, Cal was already preparing himself for future film roles by getting down and dirty with vacationers in the group showers, all the while cleaning toilets and helping out with chores around the homestead. One of the first male cheerleaders in corn-fed macho country, Cal went on to college and later taught school outside New York. He longed for the stage, though, and pursued it with passion, eventually landing small roles in good shows. But, according to this bio, young Cal's sex drive was as insatiable as his drive to become a star. Combining these two passions, Cal became Casey Donovan and made some little skin flicks — and then, in 1971, it all came together (so to speak) when he landed a part in Wakefield Poole's porn classic, "Boys in the Sand," something of an experiment in artsy all-male porn for the masses. And the masses loved it — the movie premiered at a time when gay was becoming chic in post-Stonewall Manhattan, when the hippest of the straight world seemed to be coming out of their own closets, and when anything was okay as long as it felt good. Suddenly in demand for more than just his acting talent, Cal found himself morphing into Casey, leaving much of Cal and his more innocent ambitions behind.
Most fascinating is Casey's on-again, off-again romance with actor and bestselling novelist Tom Tryon, who wrote one of the blockbusters of horror fiction (The Other) back about the time Casey was showing his assets in "Boys in the Sand." Tom had a strong career as a B-movie actor, but his true calling emerged in writing fiction. He and Casey had what might best be called an unfortunate magnetism, but Tom was one of Casey's few long-term loves.
As Cal/Casey descended more and more into hustling in order to pay his mortgage, his world slid downward into the twilight of a porn star. But what a hot slide it was!
Edmonson has not written the definitive story of a porn star, but for Casey Donovan fans, and for anyone who wants to learn about the '70s underground of gay sex and movies, Boy in the Sand is a readable guilty pleasure, trashy in bits, compulsively interesting in others. Put this on the shelf next to Gavin Dillard's autobiography, Joey Stefano bio, and next to what I predict will undoubtedly be the next big gay male porn bio — the Jeff Stryker story.
— Douglas Clegg, barnesandnoble.com