Foreplay Column: The Two Faces of Jamie

Last month, I paid tribute to the late Juliet Anderson. And though I don’t intend this column to become a glorified obit section, I have to say a few words this month about the late and definitely great Jamie Gillis.

Jamie was that rarest of rarities in adult, a reliable cocksman and a tremendous actor. He could take the most abhorrently banal dialogue and deliver the words as if they really mattered. Later in my career, when I was serving as Michael Ninn’s writer, executive producer and part-time muse, I spent a little time with Jamie while he was working on one of Michael’s epics, and it was on that occasion that I finally had the opportunity to ask him about what I considered to be perhaps the greatest (if not oddest) porn scene I had ever witnessed.

It was in an obscure feature called Too Many Pieces, a delightfully dark and dreary shot-on-film quickie about a New York City art council faced with the dilemma of choosing which risqué art pieces they should display in an upcoming exhibit based on sex. Or something like that (we’re talking 25 years ago, folks). Sandwiched between the mental masturbation about art theory were interludes wherein council members stole away to engage in, er, artful sex. There was nothing remarkable at first about Jamie’s scene. The girl, obviously a novice, seemed slightly inebriated, and Jamie went through the motions with her, finally doing her from behind, both of them standing, her hands planted on the deep windowsill. And then it happened. Without the slightest warning, the woman loudly ralphed all four bottles of whatever cheap wine she’d guzzled to quell her nerves, covering the sill with a watery but slightly chunky patina of bile and booze. Without so much as even blinking, Jamie looked over her shoulder at the mess she had made and calmly said, “Now look at what you’ve done. You’ve thrown up on museum property. And you know what the penalty for that is?”

“N-no” she said sheepishly, her voiced tinged with equal parts embarrassment and fear.

And so he showed her, picking her up, turning her around, and plunking her ass in the middle of her own steaming vomitus. And without hesitation, he resumed what he’d been doing, liquid dripping off the sill. “I should have made you eat it,” he said, and for the first time since the scene began, she actually looked slightly relieved.

I got the VHS copy when Caballero, my first employer in this business, considered buying a package of these films, and for some reason they wanted me, the lowly copywriter, to give my opinion. I advised Caballero to buy, but the deal never went through. I kept the screening cassette for my trouble, and over the next decade I played the scene repeatedly to anyone I could trick into watching it. Where the tape is now is anyone’s guess, but for me it was and is a National Treasure.

When I finally had the chance to ask Jamie about that scene—I had a million questions—it came back to him in a flood of memories. Until that moment, he had forgotten about it completely. And once we had finished discussing it, he smiled as only Jamie could smile and said, “Thanks for reminding me about that, man.”

The pleasure, of course, was all mine.

A few years ago I emailed Jamie and asked him where I could find his On the Prowl series on DVD. He said no one had ever bothered to put it out on disc, even though that series was the progenitor of gonzo, amateur, bang buses, and everything in between.

A week or so later, a package arrived in the mail. It was On the Prowl, burned just for me, with the inscription “This one’s for you.”

What impressed me more than anything about his series was not the sex, but one scene in particular where he talked to a newcomer with the concern of a parent (or a good shrink) and helped her decide that this was not the life for her. Instead of ushering her into a short-lived porn career, he bought her a hot meal and sent her on her way.

Those were the Jamie Gillises I knew. And there will never be anything like him roaming this planet again.

—Tony Lovett, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

This article originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of AVN.