St. John, Phil. “Diary of a Puerto Rican Porno”, CreateSpace, 2018.
I rarely return to a book or a film that I have already reviewed but for some reason, I was not happy with the review I posted of Phil St. John’s “Diary of a Puerto Rican Porno” so I decided to reread the short novella and redo my review.
I enjoy gay porn as much as the next guy so when I received this book, the name Phil St. John was not new to me. I knew it was an alias and I knew some of the back-story—- Phil St. John, acted in gay adult movies while at film school in San Francisco. Later, in Manhattan’s East Village, he read scripts for United Artists by day while making porn loops for the Mob’s Times Square peep shows at night. His first porn blockbuster, “Getting It”, was distributed by Falcon Films. It had the largest cast of the day. St. John, aka Phil Tarley, is a member of the American Film Institute, and of the Photographic Arts Council, Los Angeles. He writes about contemporary art, pop culture, and photography and curates art shows in LA where he founded the biennial Round Hole Square Peg, an international survey of LGBTQ photography shown at Photo LA and The LA Art Show. His own personal political and ethnographic queer video is housed in The New York Public Library’s permanent collection and has been screened in film festivals and museums, including the American Film Institute and the Guggenheim Museum. In 2009, St. John was inducted into the Gay Porn Hall of Fame for his 25-year producing and directing career.
Tarley’s writing and photography have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, The WOW Report, the Advocate, Adult Video News, Spunk and American Photo Magazine. His second book, Crazy for Cuba: Notes from An Underground Traveler, is due to be published this fall 2018.
“Diary of a Puerto Rican Porno” is an action-adventure, sexually outrageous fiction filmmaking odyssey. However, let me clarify the word fiction here. Undoubtedly some of what you read here actually happened. Phil St. John takes his boyfriend and a porn star bottom to the land of the “big tops” to make two new tropical penis movies. They are to be shot back-to-back in the jungles near San Juan, Puerto Rico. Of course, this does not happen without any trouble and here is where the fun begins. We have knife fights, sexual intrigue, nervous breakdowns, tropical depressions, secret marijuana smuggling, and true love.
There is an authenticity to St. John’s prose and I believe that this is why he is so much fun to read.
“That magical triangulation, he’s got it; face, body and dick. He joins me for a drink, all smiles. A book about Franz Kafka sticks out of his jacket pocket.” And yes this is smutty but it is also intelligent.
The characters are a delight and before you know it you are either in love or in lust with them even though their flaws are obvious.
We see what happens on a porn shoot when the camera is both rolling and not rolling and the creativity it takes to make a porn film (Challenge me on that one). It might surprise you to learn that not all porn models are nice guys or cooperative while making a film. Yes, they have egos and each has a unique personality. You might be even more surprised to learn that many require not only reassurance but also drugs, alcohol, bribes, and lots of on the spot psychotherapy as well as creativity. St. John lets us into a world that others will not. This is a fun read that also raises the temperature.