Stars Comment On Gerard Damiano's Passing

PORN VALLEY - Word has shot across the industry of Gerard Damiano's death on Saturday from complications of a stoke, with veteran actress Gloria Leonard noting, "Yours is the fourth e-mail I've opened with this sad news."

"Gerry had a long and interesting life and was loved by so many, particularly his children," she continued. "And his 80th birthday party which a number of my friends attended in Florida recently, was sort of a living memorial in his honor. Although I only made one film with him, I always considered him a friend who was funny, smart and, yes, sexy. His legendary film projects left a significant high-water mark for others to try and live up to. May he rest in peace."

In a statement released by Damiano's son and daughter, Gerard Jr. and Christar, they wrote:

"Gerard Rocco Damiano Sr
"August 4th 1928 - October 25th 2008

"On Saturday, October 25, at 7:45 PM, Jerry's soul peacefully departed his body. He suffered from complications following a stroke. He will be remembered by all of those who knew him for his charm and wit. His films are a legacy of his talent and vision.

"On August 3rd, 2008, we celebrated his 80th birthday together with him. We feel that this was the ultimate celebration of his life; therefore we will not be holding a memorial service for him.

"We feel blessed to have shared our lives with such an amazing man. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in his name to the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM ).

"We would like to thank everyone who knew and loved him as we did, Gerard and Christar"

It's surprising how many current performers Damiano worked with over his 22 year career in hardcore, though he did several softcore movies before that. Among the more familiar names that still appear in XXX credits, though not necessarily in front of the camera, are Nina Hartley, Sharon Kane, Herschel Savage, Tom Byron, Mike Horner, Ron Jeremy, Joey Silvera, Peter North, Randy Spears, John Stagliano, Jonathan Morgan, Jace Rocker, Don Fernando and Randy West, as well as retirees Annie Sprinkle, Sharon Mitchell, Gloria Leonard, Ona Zee and Debi Diamond.

"I'm so sad to hear of his passing," Nina Hartley told AVN. "I've always said he's my favorite director. The two I remember most were Young Girls In Tight Jeans and Deep Trouble [later retitled], where I had sex with Peter North in a kitchen, but there was also one of my most popular movies ever, Splendor In The Ass. I still get letters saying, 'My favorite scene with you ever was with Peter North and you were wearing red and it was on a weight bench' - that was where I played a sassy hooker and Tom Byron was Peter North's dad, and he's afraid Peter's gay, so they hired me to come and show him something."

Byron also remembered Splendor In The Ass:

"The thing about Gerry was, even if he didn't have acting talent to work with, he could still pull a great performance out of just about anybody," Byron said. "Carla Ferrari, Stacy Lords, they didn't have any real acting experience, but he was able to pull a performance out of them that was interesting."

Randy Spears felt similarly about Damiano's ability as a director.

"I remember Gerard always laughing, always in a great mood, a good sense of humor, and he always treated me with such respect," Spears recalled. "He used to encourage me. He said, 'I know we don't have a deep talent pool here, but all the more chance for you to shine, Randy.' Always very pleasant to me, and an icon, of course."

"He was an actors' director," Byron continued. "You know, him, Anthony Spinelli, all those - they were more actors' directors because that's all you had to work with back then. You didn't have any green-screen or computer tricks that you could use to put a movie together. You had to rely on the strength of your talent on the screen. He was real good at that."

"I liked old Gerry. We worked together a few times. I just felt, every time I worked for him, I was working with an icon, a legend. The very first times I ever saw a penis going into a vagina was in Deep Throat and Devil In Miss Jones, and then I remember being on his set 10, 15 years later, just going 'Wow! It's funny how things have come full circle.' I remember one character I did for him in Dirty Movies; my character's name was Nosmo King, and I think Randy West was in the movie too, and he kept calling me Dr. No Smoking, and I'd go, 'No, it's Nosmo King.' He made like little vaudeville skits out of it. I remember doing a thing with Randy Spears, when we did Young Girls In Tight Jeans; I kind of felt like Lewis & Martin playing off of each other, that whole thing. He was an all-around nice guy, everyone liked him, and I consider myself lucky to have worked for a lot of these originators, especially him."

Richard Pacheco, who calls himself "The Ghost of Richard Pacheco" these days, also admired Damiano's directorial abilities, noting that Damiano's fellow director Anthony "Sam" Spinelli felt the same way.

"While many in that day oft referred to as 'the Golden Age of Porn' would praise Anthony Spinelli as the best director in the adult film business, Sam, who was far from being a modest man, would always, loudly and clearly, defer to Gerry Damiano as  the best," the "Ghost of Pacheco" said. "In many of those late-at-night heart-to-hearts that would happen at the hotel after a long, long, 'Spinelli' day on the set (often 12-20 hours), Sam would go on about how it was really Gerry Damiano who virtually created the X-rated industry all by himself with the triumphs of his early works.

"I worked for Gerry only once," he continued. "I thought of it as an honor. It was a frivolous little star vehicle for Loni Sanders called Never So Deep. Gerry's only direction to me while playing a couple of character roles in his film was, 'Be funny.' I was. He was grateful."

Nina also recalled some of her movies with him, such as Candy's Little Sister Sugar.

"Oh, my God!" she exclaimed, when reminded of the title. "I worked with Lauryl Canyon; it was one of her first movies. We shot that up in the Bay Area, and I thought Lauryl Canyon was one of the most amazing things since sliced bread at the time - what a figure! What oomph!"

Of Ruthless Women, Hartley said, "That was totally fun. Again, it was shot up in San Francisco, and it was, again, silly and funny. I think we were a bunch of scam artists and I remember doing Mike Horner in front of a fireplace. He played a bumbling, fumbling would-be investor, and I had to somehow get more money out of him. Now how would I do that?"

"He was wonderful, inventive; he was always relaxed on the set; he had a wonderful sense of humor; he never got upset, and what I really appreciated about him at the time was, he really liked making porn, so he didn't have any weird issues with women, like some of the ones today do," she summarized. "He was definitely in charge of the set without being a tyrant or in any way less than a really cool, fun guy. I'm sorry I didn't get to work with him earlier because he had such a  great vision and a great notion of porn. I loved how he combined humor with the scenes, the scripts. I just really liked working with him. If I only worked with him four times, that's 10 times too few because he was just the best, a great guy."

Speaking of scripts ...

"Nobody knows this: I actually commissioned two scripts from him in the early '90s, had him write two scripts, and I never did anything with them, and I still kick myself over that," Tom Byron said. "Of course, they got lost over the years in various moves but - I think one was called Undercover Lover, and then there was another one. But I paid for them and everything, had him write scripts, but they were never developed; I never put them together. Boy, I'd love to get a hold of them!"

Damiano had put in a surprise appearance, along with Gerry Jr., at the Los Angeles premiere of the documentary Inside Deep Throat in February, 2005, and expressed some of his memories of shooting that seminal porn film.

"Chuck [Traynor, Linda Lovelace's boyfriend] was a very jealous guy, and Linda had fallen in love with Harry [Reems, her co-star]," Damiano recalled, "so when it came time to do her big scene, I could see she was nervous about it, so we sent Chuck down to Miami to buy some more film stock, and once he was gone, Linda gave us a great scene."

"Linda just needed to be told what to do," Damiano continued. "When Chuck told her to act in this movie, she did it, and she enjoyed doing it - no question in my mind. And later, when people told her to talk about how horrible it must have been for her to be forced to perform in the movie, she did that too."

Damiano earned approximately $10,000 for that movie, which has allegedly gone on to gross an estimated $600 million.