NEW YORK — AVN has confirmed that adult industry legend Jamie Gillis succumbed today to a battle with cancer in his hometown of New York City. He was 66.
Gillis will be cremated at a private ceremony. He requested that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the NYC Police Athletic League, an organization that assisted him as a boy and continues to aid New York City children. Donations can be made at www.palnyc.org/800-PAL-4KIDS/donate.aspx
Vetern adult director Cass Paley (aka Wesley Emerson) said the following in an email to AVN Friday evening regarding Gillis’ death:
“It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Jamie Gillis. A wonderful and charismatic man and most treasured friend, he will be greatly missed by his partner Zarela, his family, his many friends, and countless fans around the world.
“Despite the immense grief we feel for the loss of our friend, we are comforted by a quotation from Albert Camus that Jamie often quoted to us: ‘Happniess, too, is inevitable.’”
Jamie’s IAFD page, which contains a list of the films he has appeared in can be found here.
The blog PENETRATING INSIGHTS recently posted a great retrospect of Jamie Gillis and his life, most of which I will re-post here:
Born in New York City, on April 20th 1943, Gillis trained as a professional actor and graduated from Columbia University in 1970. In the early 70s, while performing in off-Broadway shows and driving a NYC cab part-time, he answered a Village Voice ad for nude modelling, and this quickly lead to work in live sex shows and porn loops. During these live sex shows, Gillis would reportedly ensure socially redeeming content, and thereby avoid arrest, by reciting poetry or reading Shakespeare (ay, there’s the rub?).
Of the early days of shooting porn, he has said:
It was a fly-by-night thing happening in a counterculture. So on top of the sex, you had this attitude: “This is our generation doing something different than anybody else would do.” Even though it wasn’t explicitly political, in the sense that some of the rock and roll was — it was of the time, like smoking pot or dropping acid. It had that vibe: “We hang together because we have some kind of consciousness, and we’re also making some bucks and getting our rocks off.” But then you had this complete change in technology in the business, and now there’s nothing countercultural about the scene — nothing “outlaw” about it.
Though it wasn’t unusual to appear in roughies or rape porn in the Swinging Seventies, Gillis stood out by virtue of his genuine enthusiasm, his gift for verbal abuse, and his willingness to go that extra mile (even requesting an interview with the real-life Enema Bandit before shooting the notorious Waterpower). For much of the 70s, Gillis was also one-half of the most notorious couple in the adult industry with porn legend Serena (also known as the S&M couple for their usual off-camera proclivities).
Many recognize Jamie Gillis as a familiar face from classic 70s and 80s porn. He could be funny or intense, smouldering or maniacal, but he was always interesting to watch.
Others may know him as the Godfather of Gonzo, whose 1989 On The Prowl series broke the barrier between porn fantasy and everyday reality (and notoriously inspired that scene in Boogie Nights).
Or they may know him from his Walking Toilet Bowl series of scat films. Or his work with John Stagliano on the Buttman series. Or with Ed Powers on the Dirty Debutantes series. Or even as Devious Old Gillis.
Often cited as the greatest actor in porn, frequently reviled as being too extreme or too hardcore, Gillis embodies many of the more emotive aspects of male sexuality: charm and seduction, humour and intelligence, fearlessness and lust, disgust and rage. His range is elastic, his performances are visceral. He effortlessly conveys gravitas and ease onscreen.
In reading through all this material, the picture that emerges is honestly one of a smart guy who was free of inhibition and, simply put, extremely interested in sex (or as Vanessa Del Rio put it, “he was wild and very horny”).
Director Shaun Costello:
“He was the most sexually uninhibited person I’ve ever known, but in all other parts of his life, he was possibly the most inhibited guy on the planet. He didn’t drink. He didn’t do drugs. His vices were Gitane cigarettes, and gambling. Other that his personal sexual depravity, he was really quite straight. He was certainly not the usual one dimensional type that you find in the porno business…(he) had a bit more animal appeal. Women loved Jamie, and he had his way with them.”
Former lover/porn star Serena:
“I lived with Jamie Gillis for two years. It was very hot. We were in lust. We’d go by train across country because he wouldn’t fly. We were very in demand as a couple, so we’d be going back and forth all the time. We’d rent a car with a bed, then we’d go stalking pretty girls in coach and drag them back to our bedroom. And we’d be doing that for three and a half days. It’s pretty hard to say no to Jamie. He’s very much into S&M and he could go either way. So he’d either give them spankings and then he’d beg them to let him cum on their high heels. He’d always do something strange. But he was interesting. I learned a lot about the dark side with him. I was this white angel and he was the dark devil, but I loved him.”
“Q: You have the reputation among the actresses as being one of the best lovers, one of the guys they really enjoy working with.
A: That’s because I usually care about whether or not the scene is working. The sexual scene or the scene of the film, so…I want it to work, so usually that means that you want the girl to get off or be into it. And usually I am into it. I’m very sexual, I guess, so it’s not that hard. I like to fuck.”
Part of my motivation for doing a post on Jamie Gillis came from the discovery that some materials were available online now that I hadn’t been aware of before. Gillis has been more forthcoming about his past than had previously been the case, and indeed has a new credit this year, appearing in a documentary about Jack Wrangler, the iconic 1970s gay pornstar (who also appeared in straight porn).