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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Lost Boys: Vintage Images Of Paul Barresi

Lost Boys: 
Vintage Images Of Paul Barresi

It's time to take on the big boys. No, these aren't men who are more well-endowed  than other porn stars (although, come to think of it, some are); these are the men who are very well-known or there is plenty of information out there about them already. 

Such is the case with Paul Barresi. 

Time and again, articles written about him attach the word controversial when mentioning his name. Really? What's controversial about speaking your truth? When did the truth become controversial? 


When it's hard to separate fact from fiction and when it's hard to determine the exact truth of a situation. This becomes ever-so complicated when one states one thing, retracts it, and then attempts to retract the retraction. All that back pedalling? It muddies the waters. Then it becomes a matter of credibility. 

How credible is Paul Barresi? 

Well, one thing's for certain - the man is an icon of the porn industry. Active since 1975, one can't do a Google search pertaining to classic gay porn without his image popping up. 

So? Who's the man behind the image? Let's see what we can find out.

Paul Barresi
AKA: James Alan, Jason Thorpe, Joe Hammer, Michael Franco, Paul Baressi, Paul Barressi, Paul Barrezi, Paul Barssi, Paul Benson, Derek

Birthdate: January 12, 1948
Birthplace: Lynn, MA

Hair: Black/Dark Brown
Eyes: Brown
Height: 5'10"

Years Active: 1975-2006
Films (Gay):  17
Studios (Gay): HIS, LeSalon, Bijou, Vivid, Falcon, All Worlds, Jet Set  

Born on January 12, 1948, in Lynn, Massachusetts (an industrial city north of Boston), Barresi was the second of four brothers. His father was a high-ranking civilian employee with the U.S.Navy and, when Barresi was 12, his family moved to Annapolis, Maryland for his father's job at the United States Naval Academy. Educated in Catholic schools, Barresi has said he did his utmost to prove to his family that he was a good boy - the best little boy in the world.

Post high school, Barresi was offered a wrestling scholarship to the University of Maryland. However, he opted to enlist in the United States Air Force. It was the height of the Vietnam War and Barresi served on bases in the United States and the Philippines, rising to the rank of sergeant. Honorably discharged in 1971 after completing a tour at March Air Force Base he returned to civilian life, relocating to California in 1972 to pursue his dream of being an actor.
Barresi got his big break by hanging around the film set of The Wild Party. Initially hired as a gofer, he managed to land a small role as a bartender in the film, which was directed by James Ivory and starred Raquel Welch and James Coco. But when no future roles seemed forthcoming, the young actor began to look for other streams of revenue.

He soon began working as a fitness trainer at a gym in nearby Riverside, CA; a career choice that would serve him well, on and off, throughout his life. Thanks to his muscular physique and the contacts he made in various gyms, by March of 1975, Barresi found himself featured in Playgirl magazine, appearing beside Cassandra Peterson (better known these days as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) in a photo spread titled A Playgirl's Fantasy by photographer David Meyer. Three years later, in December of 1978, he would also be the first man featured on the cover of Hustler magazine. 

PLAYGIRL March 1975 
MANDATE November 1975
MANDATE April 1977
HUSTLER December 1978
MANDATE October 1979
HONCHO December 1979
MANDATE February 1981
MANSHOTS February 1994
UNZIPPED June 23, 1998P
MANSHOTS March 2001
MANSHOTS June-Aug 2001
UNZIPPED January 2007
PLAYGIRL September/October 2008
BEAR #23 
PLAYGUY v05 n05, v06 n09
YES, SIR! v04 n04
HIM #011

His appearance in Playgirl created a wave of interest throughout the porn industry. At first it merely led to being chosen to model male loungewear for magazine ads. But quite quickly, he found himself being a featured model in the magazines themselves. 

Soon after, the gay porn world came knocking... and Baressi? Answered the door. He became a calendar model for COLT, where he modelled under the name Derek. Later that same year he was selected by Rip Colt as an early Colt model and featured on the cover of the November 1975 issue of Mandate.

All this attention and Barresi's ease in front of the camera led to film work. His naturally muscled build and unique persona on film would make him one the highest paid and most sought after adult film icons of the 1970's, appearing in both straight and gay porn.

An outspoken bi-sexual, Barresi has said of this time, "I have no hang-ups about straight, gay, bi, or anything else. When I was young and wild, just like a lot of other straight boys, I would just about fuck anything."

All titles listed below are performance related and gay-oriented. After 1997, he would continue to appear in (and direct) gay films, but only in non-sexual roles.


L.A. Tool and Die

Men of the Midway

Falconhead 2: The Maneaters

Popular Mechanics
What Big Boys Eat

G.I. Mac

Good Cop, Bad Cop
Cops, Jocks And Military Feet 
Foot Loose 
Razor Close 
Water Sports

Spare The Rod 2: Military Issued 

Barracks Glory Hole 3

Hairy Hole Hounds

However, Barresi never gave up his hopes of mainstream success. In 1980, he toured in a summer stock production of scenes from Neil Simon plays, headlined by Paul Lynde. He and Lynde became fast friends. In fact, it was Barresi who discovered Lynde's lifeless body the morning after Lynde failed to show up for a birthday party. 

On January 11, 1982 when a concerned Barresi, along with another friend, actor Dean Ditman, could not get an answer on the phone or from knocking on Lynde's door, Barresi broke into the side entrance to Lynde’s home in Beverly Hills and found Lynde dead in his bed. 

Rumors suggesting Lynde had a visitor at the time of his death who fled the scene circulated, but have never been substantiated. The comedian regularly activated his house alarm before retiring for the evening and when Barresi broke in, the alarm blared, indicating Lynde was alone at the time of his death. The coroner ruled Lynde's death a heart attack, though rumors of foul play or an undisclosed illness continue to this day. He was only 55 years old.

This would not be the only Hollywood scandal to touch Barresi's life. 

In 1985, Barresi landed a small role in the John Travolta/Jamie Lee Curtis film Perfect. Barresi has claimed in his bio and in court records that he met John Travolta in the shower room of a Beverly Hills gym and that they became "lovers."

For two years Baressi kept it all on the downlow, although, one could hardly term him discrete. Allegedly, one evening, Graham Berry (a lawyer who has made a career of taking on Scientology in court), Garry Scarff (a discredited writer and former gay porn industry participant) and a large crowd of diners at Mark's Restaurant in West Hollywood were witness to Barresi boldly standing up from his chair and yelling "I fucked John Travolta in the ass and he loved it."

Five years later, Barresi made national headlines when he sold a story to National Enquirer magazine for $100,000 about his longtime intimate affair with Travolta. Following the story, Travolta's career took a nosedive, while Barresi's life became a living hell. 

In a 1998 interview given to gay magazine The Guide, Barresi said that photocopies of the National Enquirer article were sent anonymously to the owners of his building, every one of his neighbors, every one of his fitness clients, his parents, and his brothers. He believed at the time this was done by unknown agents acting on orders from the Church of Scientology, the cult Travolta, to this day, still belongs to. Based on the secrets former member Lisa Remini has exposed about the inner workings of the cult, that could very likely have been the case, as it sounds very much like their handiwork.

"It just about wrecked my life. My whole world fell apart. My family disowned me. I lost all but two of my fitness clients. I was barred from almost every gym in town, and it cost me jobs."

Barresi felt under attack; threatened by the Church of Scientology, its attorneys and private detectives. 

Court records show sworn testimony by Barresi where he claimed he was being harassed and threatened by Scientology's attorneys and their chief security officer (and former disgraced LAPD officer) Eugene Ingram.

In the end, Travolta's attorney convinced Baressi to issue a retraction and an apology... in exchange for $25,000. "I was having a nervous breakdown," Barresi said. "I just wanted it to be over." Barresi told The Guide that "when the dust settled, I regretted the retraction a lot more than I regretted the initial call to the Enquirer."

In a March 2000 interview with Fab!, a bi-monthly gay news magazine published in Los Angeles, Barresi explained to arts editor Jake Enclan, his motivation for outing Travolta: 

"It was not out of jealousy and it was not out of revenge," explains Barresi at first, but after a few seconds he recants. "Well maybe, there was some kind of a vendetta. Let me give it to you straight. In late 1983 when I was working with John Travolta on the film Perfect, he promised me that I would be his new personal fitness trainer once his present trainer, Dan Isaacson, leaves. So, in 1990, I went to see John in Bel Air. He was staying in a hotel and he introduced me to a gentleman that was in his suite and said, 'This is my new trainer.' I said, 'Really? Nice to meet you,' but that pissed me off."

"I was willing, however, to let it go because some years passed and maybe he'd forgotten the promise he made to me. But the straw that broke the camel's back was when I was leaving. He handed me the remnants of the complimentary hotel basket with partially eaten fruit inside and open packages. The only thing that was intact was the bottle of Dom Perignon champagne. So I took the champagne and
put it on the shelf in my apartment as a reminder of how demeaning and how cruel he was to me. To give me leftovers as if he was giving me a gift of some kind. So, after that, I pondered the idea and I decided to tell the Enquirer about who Travolta really is."

Note: Barresi claims that although he took the money, the retraction he offered never denied the sexual relationship he'd had with Travolta.

After that? 

To this day, Barresi maintains a quirky love-hate relationship with the adult film industry, the gay community and Hollywood in general.

Barresi has said that after the Travolta scandal, "not one gay-owned or run manufacturer of gay porn, despite my exceptional track record of having written, produced and directed over 52 successful gay videos to date, has hired me. They include All Worlds Video, Hollywood Sales, Odyssey, and Falcon Studios to name a few."

But that is not the only issue Baressi has with the gay porn industry. Perhaps it's due to his Catholic school upbringing or his stint in the military, but he has been described as, "an extremely moral, ethical and principled fellow, more like your favorite gym teacher in high school than an adult film legend," Barresi will not hesitate to expound expansively on the low moral standards in the industry, mentioning names of directors and producers that, according to him, are guilty of pedophilia, prostitution and all around sleazy scum behavior. 

"I want to set the record straight about these people," says Barresi. "Why should I be the only one that always gets criticized and ridiculed? I'm not recognized by my peers in the porn industry. I'm discriminated against - maybe because I live my life as a straight man."

Baressi is, indeed, married to a woman (Joanna) and the father of three children.

As for his personal sexuality, Baressi once had this to say: "Had it not been for AIDS, bi-sexuality would be far more accepted today than it is. But the virus threw everybody in the closet. Everybody kept their own behavior in check because they didn't want to be branded. That's why a lot of closet cases like John Travolta would only go out with straight men because he was so fearful of catching AIDS."

Yet, despite all the issues he had with the industry, Barresi continued to carve out a career in the adult entertainment industry until 2006. In fact, Barresi, using the alias Joe Hammer, won numerous industry awards for his work, most of it non-sexual, in gay porn films, and in 2008, Barresi was inducted into the GayVN Hall of Fame. Industry magazine Adult Video News said Barresi's directorial efforts make him "...undisputedly the king of military-themed videos."

He also continued to pursue his dream of being a  mainstream actor. Credits include: the films The Wild Party (1975),  Perfect (1985), Tobe Hooper's  Spontaneous Combustion (1990), and appearances on the television programs JAG and Father Dowling Mysteries. Regarding the difficulty of crossing over into mainstream film, Barresi once told Entertainment Tonight: "No one really takes a porn actor seriously ... and no one really respects a porn actor."

In 2006, it's believed Barresi began working as a private eye. 

This was confirmed in 2008, when Barresi went on record as working as a private detective for jailed gumshoe and former Hollywood 'fixer' Anthony Pellicano. Sources at the time thought Barresi was working on behalf of Tom Cruise and Scientology, something Barresi has vehemently denied.

As for the Travolta scandal, to this day, Barresi claims to possess intimate letters sent to him by Travolta while the actor was in Thailand and elsewhere, on location, and that each of these letters were signed: "Love... John". 

Barresi continues to explore the idea of selling the letters to the highest bidder for "a quarter to half a million dollars."

--- ---

While I'd definitely heard his name before, and knew his iconic Colt photos, I knew nothing about Barresi until I started researching this post. 

I 'get' who is and what he's about. And honestly? 

I think he's rather courageous. 

To have enjoyed all that attention and then have to navigate all that came after? Amazing. 

And, yes, people say he's bitter. Well... wouldn't you be? 

Bottomline, whatever gripes he's got? They're legitimate.

And so is he. And so was his career. 

Personally? I hope he gets that half a million bucks.

--- --- 
That's all for this week.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section. You know how I love to hear from you.

And, as always... thanks for reading.

I Thought I'd Lost You - Miley Cyrus and John Travolta

Let Her In - John Travolta


Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Oh, he was very attractive. He looks like Burt Reynolds in that Playgirl cover. He's the perfect example of the Clone, no?
I do like a man with a mustache.
I totally believe he did Travolta. And I totally believe Scientology ruined his life. They are the worst.


whkattk said...

I sometimes think that Travolta and Cruise stick with the Church of Scientology strictly for the "protection."

SickoRicko said...

Wow, what a story! I always thought he was hot.

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