Siedelmann, Marco, “Good Hot Stuff: The Life and Times of Gay Film Pioneer Jack Deveau’, Editions Moustache, 2019.
A Filmmaker With a Vision
During the Golden Age of Porn (1969-1984), Jack Deveau and his production company Hand In Hand were lauded by audience and critics as the perfect coming together of legit feature films, underground avant-garde and explicit all-male adult movies. Hand In Hand was an essential and acclaimed part of the New York art circles and its Independent film scene. Deveau’s death in 1982 and the AIDS epidemic along with the revolution brought on with video changed the porn film industry forever. All this happened almost together but the legacy of Deveau and Hand In Hand heritage is an important chapter of the upcoming queer film movement although today it has been almost forgotten. “Good Hot Stuff” brings personal interviews with most of the remaining people who worked as cast and crew members on Hand In Hand films and with those who were close to Jack Deveau to give us the story of a studio that changed the way we look at porn. The story is told in fragments and from many different perspectives and memories. Deveau’s story is a story about a filmmaker who had a vision way ahead of his time. He had the freedom to develop an individual auteur style within the limitations of the early gay adult film industry. Aside from the actual conversations, we read and learn about the production process and the history of the films. The book is filled with hundreds of images, most of which were never publicly published including original artworks, company ephemera, behind the scenes footage, private snapshots, and numerous magazine articles.
Deveau’s first film was “Lefthanded” (1972) and was followed quickly by several others, all of which explored the everyday life of gay men in post-Stonewall New York. Stonewall legitimated the promise of sex in all of its forms and without repression and harassment. While Deveau made porn films, they were also films depicting free and wonderful sex and explored the impact of sex availability as it had never been before as well as the difficulties and problems of a new sexual subculture in which the possibility of romance and relationships were indeed possible.
It is important to note the sex in these movies always occurred in context and the focus while on the sex we see is also on the way it is presented or framed. Granted many gay porn films are filled with gratuitous sex and here is where Deveau’s films differ. This is not to say that they sex scenes are not hot… they are but the focus is different and we see that the physical context, the lighting and the characters are what make the sex as hot as it is. What we see is real everyday sex making it all the more exciting.
Today we have difficult time looking at such sex as seen in early porn without realizing that it very well led to the AIDS epidemic that was to change our lives so drastically. Deveau’s treatment of casual sex and promiscuity was as a problem that complicated the daily lives of gay men. He saw the conflict between casual sex and emotions as partly a comic problem but this was at a time before anyone knew about the epidemic that was to come.
I cannot even begin to share how much information there is here in this book. There are over 500 pages of essays, memories and photographs and it is very easy to lose yourself in all that is here. I took a week off to spend with this book and I feel I have only touched the surface but then that is the beauty of having this book— it is always there when you are ready for it. Marco Siedelmann has produced a treasure and one that he can be very proud of. It also makes me proud to have had the opportunity to review it.