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RAW! UNCUT! VIDEO!

the story of Palm Drive Video

 

RAW! UNCUT! VIDEO! is a feature-length documentary about the gay fetish porn studio Palm Drive Video. Created by famed leathermen Jack Fritscher and Mark Hemry during the 1980s home video revolution, this homegrown mail-order company expanded the boundaries of sexual experimentation and promoted kink as an integral form of safe sex during the height of the AIDS epidemic.

As AIDS devastated queer communities, a pervasive fear of sexual activity overtook American culture – and drove many LGBTQ folks back into the 'closet'. Because fetish does not require an exchange of bodily fluids, Palm Drive Video was founded as a safe-sex service that offered viewers new sexual possibilities in an age of plague. Using rugged men hand-picked from small-town bars, rodeos, county fairgrounds, body-building contests, construction sites and back alleys, the studio focused on a diversity of all-male fetish scenarios – from extreme BDSM to mud worship, medical torture, and leather cowboys. With unlimited access to the Fritscher-Hemry archive, intimate observational footage of Jack and Mark today, and interviews with other legendary experts on gay fetish, RAW! UNCUT! VIDEO!reconstructs an erotic underground of hot men and wild sex that paved the way for sex-positive activism and a proliferation of LGBTQ community-building around niche sexualities.

In the 1970s, Jack Fritscher was more interested in street trade than disco clones and used ‘gonzo journalism’ to report on the latest sexual trends coming out of America’s bathhouses and cruising bars. As the founding San Francisco Editor-in-Chief of Drummer Magazine, he promoted some of the first high-profile imagery and writings on gay fetish, including giving photographer Robert Mapplethorpe his first magazine cover. When the AIDS epidemic swept through San Francisco in the early 1980s, Jack and his long-time partner Mark headed north of the Golden Gate Bridge to begin a new venture. Inspired by innovations in home video technologies that offered unlimited opportunities for producing low-budget erotica, and looking to combat the rise of AIDS motivated sex-negativity, Jack and Mark turned a rural ranch in Sonoma County into a thriving independent porn studio. Because fetish does not inherently require an exchange of bodily fluids, Palm Drive was founded as a safe-sex service that offered viewers new options for exploring fantasies and queer possibilities in an age of plague.

 

Directed by Ryan White & Alex Clausen

Produced by Todd Verow, Charles Lum and Paul Lee

 

All images © 1985-1995 Palm Drive Video - jackfritscher.com

 

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The Filmmakers

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Ryan White - Director/Producer

Born in Big Sur, California, Ryan White is a documentary filmmaker whose award-winning films have screened around the world. He spent four years in Hanoi, Vietnam working as Film Advisor for the World Wildlife Fund’s Greater Mekong Program, then relocated to Bangkok, Thailand, where he produced and directed two documentary features, Camp Unity (2010) and Mondo Banana (2013). His short film Cruising Elsewhere (2016) was recently awarded Best Short Film at the Tampa Bay Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and Best Documentary Short at CineKink NYC. Other documentary credits include co-directing Dirt McComber: Last of the Mohicans (2018), producing The Organic Life (2013) and associate producing Out Run (2016). Ryan also lectures in documentary and film/video production at California State University, East Bay.

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Alex Clausen - Director/Producer

Alex Clausen is an artist that lives and works in Guerneville, California. Clausen earned a bachelors’ degree in Art and Physics from University of California, Davis, and a graduate degree from the California College of the Arts. He was awarded a Graduate Fellowship at the Headlands Center for the Arts for the 2006-2007 year. Clausen has exhibited work at Rena Bransten Gallery, the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art, the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, Kala Art Institute, the Exploratorium and is part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco collection. He is currently an active collaborator and board member of Earthbound Moon, an arts non-profit based in Eugene, Oregon.

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Todd Verow - Producer

Todd Verow attended the Rhode Island School of Design and the AFI Conservatory. He made short experimental films and worked as a cinematographer before making his feature film debut with Frisk in 1996 (Sundance, Berlin & Toronto). Starting his own production company Bangor Films, Todd has directed over twenty-five features and numerous shorts, establishing himself as the most prolific auteur emeritus of the New Queer Cinema.

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Charles Lum - Producer

Charles Lum, aka clublum, received his MFA in Photography from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago in 2004, after 25 years scouting and managing locations for TV commercials and classic feature films like Wall Street, Fatal Attraction and Sid & Nancy. His short videos have screened internationally in museum, art and film venues.

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Paul Lee - Producer

Based in Toronto, Paul Lee has produced, co-produced, and associate-produced over 50 films - more than half of which have been award-winning LGBTQ films. LGBTQ productions include San Francisco filmmaker Jenni Olson’s Berlin-premiered Blue Diary and Sundance-premiered The Joy of Life, and the Berlin-premiered Below the Belt by Toronto filmmakers Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert. Since 1991, Paul has organized, programmed, and curated film festivals in 25 countries around the world. His own films, Thick Lips Thin Lips (1994), These Shoes Weren’t Made for Walking (1995), and The Offering (1999) have screened at hundreds of film festivals and won numerous international awards.

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