Veronica Vera (far left in the photo) is a legend among New York City porn aficionados. Though she appeared in few adult productions, she was integral to the '80s New York porn scene, as her remembrance below reveals. She is now the "Mistress" of Miss Vera's Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls , which was recently written up in London's Financial Times here .
How fortunate I was that my very first appearance in hardcore films was directed by Gerard Damiano. It made all the difference. I met Gerry at the Sprinkle Salon, the name we gave to Annie's apartment. Annie and I had become bosom buddies, making sexy magazines, organizing erotic events. One day she suggested I stay for tea. "Gerry Damiano will be here soon to talk about an idea I have for a movie." It was 1981, the tail-end of "porno chic" and the start of the video generation. Budgets of $100,000 were still standard, but Annie wanted to keep it simple: "We'll go back to the weekend wonder. Get lots of sexy people together and film whatever happens," she said. I'd made a couple of kinky videotapes, but had yet to perform hardcore sex in a movie.
Damiano arrived. He wore a caramel-colored velour warm-up suit that complemented his Florida tan, and several pieces of gold jewelry including a neck chain. When he smiled, which was often, his brilliant teeth shot off stars. His hair was wavy and almost snow white. Damiano, the creator of Deep Throat, was credited with starting the era of "porno chic," single-handedly, so to speak. The many busts and trials he endured brought him and the movie a lot of public recognition.
Like almost all of the people I met in this business, Damiano belied the image of the fast-talking, cigar chomping, sleazy pornographer. He was soft-spoken and charming and looked more like the grandfather than the godfather. His new wife was a vegetarian. Like every great filmmaker, Gerry was an artist pursuing his dream. Gerry's dream just happened to be blow jobs.
The film we made was Consenting Adults [Video-X-Pix]. I wasn't supposed to perform sex in the movie, just conduct some on-camera interviews with the other participants which included transsexual Jill Monroe and her slave/dog; the gorgeous mud wrestling swingers; the first on-screen vulva piercing; Ron Jeremy self-fellating ... the usual stuff, plus plenty of fucking and sucking. But the atmosphere Gerry created was so exciting, fun and non-threatening that I just jumped into one of the sex scenes and popped my porn cherry once and for all.
I've always been grateful that I started at the top with the great Gerard Damiano. It was an experience that inspired me to continue exploring sex as a lifelong career. That's what I told Gerry when I saw him recently at the 80th birthday celebration organized for him by his son Gerard, Jr. and daughter Christar. Meeting them, along with their mother, Gerry's former wife Barbara, really put things into perspective. What a loving family, a family of artists, a family with strong family values. Annie in her recent letter referred to Gerry as a king. I think of him as a saint. He practiced the virtues of saints: Poverty, chastity and obedience, but in his own way. Gerry was never into hardcore for the money, but rather the art and the joys of sex, and he influenced others around the world. He certainly did not practice chastity in the form of abstinence, as it is commonly thought of — just the opposite. Chastity also means integrity and purity, and Gerry was pure in his intentions regarding sex. He believed sex was something to celebrate and enjoy, whether alone and especially with others. And he was obedient to his muse, true to himself. My favorite memory from the evening of his 80th birthday occurred just after Gerry walked into the restaurant where the crowd of well-wishers screamed "Surprise!" and nearly blew him away. He was still reeling with shock when Georgina Spelvin greeted him and said, "Gerry, you look terrific ... what are you eating?" Without missing a beat, he responded, "She's not here tonight."
As Gerry is honored in the press, he brings honor to adult entertainment. As he did in life, so he will continue in death. We won't see the likes of Gerard Damiano again, but we're all better because he was here. Bless you, St. Gerard!