WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—Sal Sodano, a 40-year veteran of the adult industry, died today of complications from lung cancer and emphysema at the age of 72. Sodano was, at various times, a cinematographer, sound editor and self-taught web programmer, who worked for such companies as Sunshine Films and Gotham Gold well into his late 60s, often without credit, on both adult and mainstream projects.
"He worked more on X-rated; a few forays into mainstream, but more of it was in the world of porn," said Tory LaBarbera of midnightvideos.com. "When I was at the show with him in Vegas, all the old-timers knew him."
Perhaps Sodano's best-received adult film was 1992's Lingerie Busters, directed by F.J. Lincoln for Factory Home Video (now Sunshine Films), which scored an Editor's Choice rating. It is believed that Sodano was one of the cameramen on the shoot, and he worked for Factory/Sunshine is several capacities during the 1990s, as the videographer (and perhaps director) of their Older Women's Sperm Bank series, and as one of the designers of the company's website.
"We launched in 2008," recalled MidnightVideos.com's LaBarbera. "He would know computer stuff that some of our younger IT people have no clue about. He was completely self-taught, but he was very much into those sort of gadgets and stuff like that. It always boggled my mind, because I'm 40 and I don't know half of the stuff he knew, and I feel like I'm an old guy, but here was a 70-year-old man who would blow us all away. He set our servers up; he knew where to put everything. The stories are legion of stuff that he helped develop and just basically sold because he was not a good businessman. Billboards, web streams, he had something to do with that. He had his hand in so much that he didn't get any credit for, because he would just sell the technology. People would pay him to develop it and then he would develop and not put any patent on it; just say, 'Okay, here you go. A hundred grand? Fine, sounds good to me.' And he'd go off to Venezuela for a year and live with the hot girls. I mean, the man lived a life. He had fun."
But living the good life eventually caught up with Sodano.
"He worked constantly up to about a year and a half ago," stated Barry "Suitcase" Kalfin, owner of BDSM video company Gotham Gold. "Then I told him it's time to relax, and that's what he did. But about six months ago, he really started having trouble with his health, so I moved him down to this condo I own in West Palm Beach so he could take it easy, go fishing, whatever he wanted. But about a week ago, he really took a turn for the worse, and we knew the end was coming."
Sodano's best-known Hollywood movie connection was The Vineyard (1989), a softcore zombie thriller starring Sodano's good friend James Hong as a winemaker whose "magic potion" has kept him young for centuries, but as its effectiveness seems to be wearing off, he invites a number of young starlets to his island, hoping that their youth will help invigorate his own. Sodano was a sound editor on the film.
But finding Sodano's credits isn't easy. For example, he shot the adult cult classic The Taming of Rebecca under the name "Pierre Nablique," and was the uncredited cinematographer on 1982's Angels In Distress, starring Marlene Willoughby.
"He used so many aliases, it's hard to pin him down," LaBarbera noted.
"Sodano was an innovator in the industry and saw the digital revolution coming long before many others," LaBarbera summarized. "He along with his son Sal Jr. founded the VOD site MidnightVideos.com."
Sodano is survived by his sons—Sal Jr., Leonard, Tony and Daniel—and a daughter, Jamie.
A memorial service will be planned. Those interested in attending should contact LaBarbera at (718) 858-8864 for information.