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Conversations with Cass Paley- final

Porn Valley- Cass Paley has been directing under the name Wes Emerson for many years, but if you go to the Johnny Wadd documentary about John Holmes, there’s Paley’s name. I’m telling Paley I love this documentary which, for good or for bad, is located as a second disc on the Lions Gate release of Wonderland. And it’s no secret that Wonderland pretty much sucks. Paley’s telling me that they’re lobbying Lions Gate to get the documentary released in a separate edition.

Paley was directing Vampire Chronicles this week for Arch Angel- two movies, in fact. Paley is working on one documentary in particular. “It’s been taking a little time to start that up,” he says. “it’s on the history of the loops in the adult industry, starting in the 1940’s and ending in the mid ’80’s when videos took over and the loops went away. Then features came in. Now we’ve gone complete circle and gone from features all the way back to loops. They call them gonzos today but they’re loops as far as I’m concerned. They’re just a little bit longer. Instead of seven minutes, they’re 15 minutes. So I want to do a history of those because that’s basically how this industry started. We had the smokers earlier on, but the loops like Swedish Erotica and Play Time and Playmates and Golden Girls were the start of this industry. People picked up on that and saw how nicely they were shot and how pretty they looked, and some of them actually had sound and music.”

Paley said he was going to start interviewing some of the people who created them. “That’s what I’m working on,” he says. In Wadd, Paley interviewed Bobby Hollander and Bob Vosse both of whom had a heavy hand in the creation of the loops. Hollander, of course, died unfortunately several years ago.

“Vosse was awesome,” said Paley. “He told me some great stories about how he started and how he added a lot more color. I think he was the one in the first or second set of Swedish Erotica who used the colored scarves and the colored lingerie and stockings to spice up the girls so they could look a lot sexier than basically your flat back. He was happy with that. Bobby Hollander also told me some great stories of the ‘early days’ when he said you’d pick up a hooker, pay her some money, get a hotel room; find some guy for a couple of bucks who would have sex with her, shoot that and get it to the lab. By the time you were done by 6 o’clock that evening you could sell it out of the trunk of your car.”

I was curious as to how much of Paley’s life the Wadd documentary consumed. He just laughs. “From start to finish it was close to 2 1/2 years,” he says. “We shot 35 hours of footage; interviewed about 50 people- some of the people didn’t make it into the show and one of the main reasons is I couldn’t verify some of their stories. I said if I can’t verify by at least one other person, I’m not going to put it in. Then I’ve got a lot of hearsay. Most of the stuff was pretty much confirmed. There were people who didn’t believe that John was a [police] snitch. Why would the one vice cop who’s nicely retired and smoking his cigars and drinking his scotch come out of retirement to tell me stories if it wasn’t true. I think it upset some people to find out that John could do something like that. But John faced three years in jail. I don’t think John wanted to go to jail and his choices were limited. But it was fun. I really loved that show and Lions Gate has it right now. It’s the second disc on the Wonderland DVD- I just wished that had labeled it a little bit better. I’m trying to convince them that they should release it as a single disc because the Deep Throat, documentary is coming out and they can ride on that kind of advertising. We’ll see what happens.”

Paley tells me that Adam & Eve is interested in the project. “Because it’s going to be a five-disc set,” said Paley. “There’s that much information and that much history to our industry. Which nobody has really covered. It’s mentioned briefly in a lot of documentaries. The BBC did one and it gets about two or three minutes of air play then it goes away and nobody realizes that it established this whole industry.”

Besides directing, Paley has edited tons of adult features and started directing actively after VCA’s Russ Hampshire went to prison. “I asked if I could direct. I got so tired of fixing everyone else’s mistakes. I figured let me make my own and I’ll fix those. Word came back. Russ said fine. The first one I did- I think- was a show with Ashlyn Gere called Dirty Books. It was great because the people at Doc Johnson were absolutely wonderful. I had a whole set on the old stage at Canoga made up as a bookstore. They sent over one of their guys with an entire Doc Johnson wall and dressed it with Doc Johnson products. It seriously looked like a bookstore. I had a great time. I was a little intimidated by Ashlyn Gere because I had seen a lot of her stuff and, all of a sudden, you’re Ashlyn Gere! Oh, cool.”

Directing actively was the key to Paley’s answer because his first movie-movie that he produced and co-directed came in 1975. It was titled Health Spa. Then in 1980 he did a movie with John Leslie, Sharon Kane and Kitty Shane called Exposed. “Then I went back into editing because all of a sudden, the whole world was changing. We went from really nice days of one scene a day and 35 mm film and having a budget that was absolutely extravagant to no budgets and no time. I said, never mind. I’m just going to edit. And that’s what I did for all those years until Russell gave me permission to do it. I bless him and thank him.”


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