The New York Public Library’s Donnell Media Center is presenting “The Two Faces of Wakefield Poole,” centering on the filmmaker of X-rated gay and not-so-gay cult classics such as Boys in the Sand, on Sat., April 28, at 2:30 p.m.
Wakefield Poole began his career in Salisbury, N.C., where he was a professional dancer with the Ballets Russes. He later became a Broadway chorus dancer, appearing in such hit shows as Finian’s Rainbow and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Additionally, he danced on television for Perry Como, Ed Sullivan, Gary Moore, and Jackie Gleason, eventually turning into a choreographer, first assisting Joe Layton, and then working solo on Do I Hear a Waltz.
At the end of the 1960s, Poole asked himself a good question: “Why can’t someone make a good porn film that’s not degrading?” The answer was Boys in the Sand (1971). According to the Donnell Media Center’s press release, Boys in the Sand, starring Casey Donovan (left), was the first hardcore gay film to have a display ad in the New York Times and to be reviewed by Daily Variety.
For the next decade and a half, Poole kept on creating erotic works, including the psychedelic Bijou (1972), with Bill Harrison; Bible! (1974), a softcore version of the biblical tales (with The Devil in Miss Jones‘s Georgina Spelvin as Bathsheba); and the inevitable Boys in the Sand II, also with Casey Donovan, which came out in 1986. (Donovan died of AIDS complications the following year.)
The Two Faces of Wakefield Poole will include video excerpts of Poole’s dancing on the television programs Lamp onto My Feet and The Gary Moore Show, with Gwen Verdon; his choreography for Do I Hear a Waltz and for the “end credits” for Once Upon a Mattress, which featured dancer Michael Bennett; plus samples of his work as a filmmaker, including his first film, Head, described as “a light-hearted parody of a cooking program featuring a voice-over by Julia Child,” and a clip from his Boys in the Sand, along with a joint interview with Poole and Casey Donovan on the early cable access program Emerald City.
The event will be hosted by Joseph Yranski.