“BOYS IN THE SAND”— One of the Most Successful Gay Films of All Time

boys in the sand

“Wakefield Poole’s Boys In The Sand”

One of the Most Successful Gay Films of All Time

Amos Lassen

“Boys in the Sand” became one of the most successful gay films of all time almost as soon as it opened at the 55th Street Playhouse in New York City in 1971. Kt was written, directed, shot, edited and self-distributed by Wakefield Poole who dared to go where few others went. Now it is getting a new life because of “I Always Said Yes”,  the wonderful documentary by Jim Tushinski.

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The plot of “Boys” is simple—the story of newcomer to porn, Casey Donovan (John Calvin Culver, 1943-1987) and his sexual escapades with three men. There is no dialogue and all is seen while hearing a beautiful music score in the background and when I saw all is seen, believe me. The three men we see are representative of four types— the blond surfer, the muscle man, the sensitive thinker, the sensuous black. The film is composed of three segments set in the gay resort beach area of Fire Island.

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“Bayside” is the first segment. Peter Fisk, a hunky dark haired man walks along paths in the woods to reach the beach and when he does he takes off his clothes and sunbathes. Suddenly naked Donovan comes out of the water and runs toward him. The two have oral sex and then they go into the woods where the sex continues. Donovan takes a studded leather strap from Fisk’s wrist and attaches it around Fisk’s penis. They continue the scene, with each performing oral sex on the other and Donovan penetrating Fisk. Following Donovan’s climax he returns to servicing Fisk orally and, as Fisk is climaxing, momentary flashes of previous scenes are intercut. The scene ends with Fisk taking the strap from his genitals and attaching it around Donovan’s wrist. Fisk runs into the ocean and vanishes, mirroring Donovan’s entrance. Donovan dons Fisk’s abandoned clothes and heads off down the beach.

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“Poolside,” the second segment, opens with Donovan holding a newspaper on a pier. He returns to his house, strips by the pool and begins reading. Intrigued by an ad in the back of the paper, Donovan writes a letter in response. After a number of days pass, he gets a reply in the form of a package. Inside is a tablet, which he throws into the pool. The water starts to churn and a dark-haired man, played by Danny Di Cioccio, emerges to Donovan’s delight. The two have oral sex and Donovan penetrating Di Cioccio in a variety of positions. Di Cioccio turns the tables and tops Donovan until Donovan climaxes. The scene closes with the two engaged in horseplay in the pool and then walking off together down a boardwalk.

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The third segment, “Inside,” is the most controversial of the three and was even more so when the film came out. After the opening shots of Donovan showering, toweling off and wandering around his room idly intercut with shots of Tommy Moore, an African-American telephone repairman who is checking various poles and lines outside. The two men spot each other and the rest of the segment consists of Donovan’s fantasized sexual encounters with Moore throughout the house intercut with shots of Donovan sniffing poppers and penetrating himself with a large black dildo. It ends following Donovan’s climax with the dildo, with the real Moore coming inside the house and closing the door behind them.

Poole began experimenting with Super 8 and 16mm film the year prior to releasing Boys in the Sand and this DVD presents four surviving short films: Andy – Poole’s dizzying look at an Andy Warhol retrospective, “A Gift”, a Fire Island-shot precursor to “Boys in the Sand”, “Head Film”,  an experimental and humorous rainy day romp and “Vittorio”, a stop-motion cutout animated film. Both Boys in the Sand and Andy have been newly re-scanned and restored from the best available elements. The other short films are presented here restored for the first time on DVD.

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“Boys in the Sand” was the first triple-X film of any orientation to bill its director and actors (thereby launching the career of Donovan, gay porn’s original superstar); it remains the only adult flick ever reviewed in The New York Times. 

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