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Rolling Out the Red Carpet
New York City, 1971
I spent one of those nights you spend waiting for the alarm to go off, half worrying about not sleeping, half wanting the night to end. The wait was finally over. Peter removed his arm from under my head, touched the alarm button, and gently slipped out of bed. We'd been lovers since the summer of '69 and were comfortable with each other. We'd also been through a lot to get that way, and although we didn't know it, the fun was just beginning, especially since my first movie was opening in New York City that day.
I had publicly come out of the closet the week before. It started with a Variety preview of my movie Boys in the Sand on December 22, 1971--the publication's first-ever preview of a hard-core all-male film--and was topped off in a Sunday edition of The New York Times with a sixth of a page advertisement for the film's opening, the first gay display ad ever accepted by the Times. To this day, I don't know how we got such good placement. The ad looked classy, so maybe they just didn't read the copy. Or perhaps someone had let it slip by. I'd like to think some gay man in the advertising department had pulled some strings. If that is what happened, I'm forever grateful.
The provocative and stylish ad, a drawing by Ed Parente, depicted an attractive, mustached man in a Speedo, from his thighs up. His nipples were prominent, and a lightning bolt ran across his crotch at an angle to the top of his bathing suit. He wore a banner of shells over one shoulder, leather thongs tied around his wrists, and held a beach ball against his right hip. An art deco border framed the ad, making it quite eye-catching.
The ad appeared on the first page of the movie ads between, and of equal size to, X, Y and Zee, starring Elizabeth Taylor, and the John Cassavetes film Minnie and Moskowitz. Nicholas and Alexandra took up the top half of the page. My name appeared above the title, out there for all to see. I was proud of the film and never considered not putting my name on it. People who knew me would be intrigued and, I'd hoped, curious to see what I'd done. What good is a movie if no one sees it?
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