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Conversations with Master Jerry-final

Porn Valley- Sunday night, I’m introduced to Master Jerry. Paul Interlandi of Freedom Distributing does the honors. Interlandi was throwing an Erotica LA wrap up party at Harper’s Bar & Grill in the Valley, and Master Jerry and I got to talk briefly. Master Jerry, with the tough guy shaved head but with a salesman’s smile, was telling me how he was one of the first people shooting an amateur series in the 1980’s. It was titled Amateur Hours, and Jerry shot something like 600 hours which are now going to be re-spun on DVD with Jerry providing commentary. Freedom Distributing will be handling it. Wednesday morning, Jerry and I got to chat a bit more about his adult career and that specific project.

Jerry, www.masterjerry.com, was a professional photographer in the Inland Empire- Riverside, etc.- before he got into the adult business. “I had gone from family portraits to motorcycle and car magazines,” he says. “Then I got to the point where I was doing portfolios.” Jerry said he was looking in the newspaper and saw a drawing in a sports section announcing Marilyn Chambers TV which came equipped with a special antenna. Jerry said he looked the people up, introducing himself as a photographer and asked if they wouldn’t have better success with their ad if they ran photos instead of a drawing. Whereupon he was told they were doing promotions at bars. Jerry was shooting portfolios of some models and thought the models would like to be involved as well. “They used my girls and my girls enhanced their portfolios, got some experience and made some money.”

About the same time, a friend of Jerry’s was running an amateur night at a local topless bar. “I hooked that up- I got the TV station to come out and promote it and videotape it. We got some prize money put together. Then I brought my girls down so they got a chance to get on TV and maybe make some money.” At the time, the models were paying Jerry to do their portfolios. A girl would come to me and I’d charge them whatever. At a certain point the girl comes to me and says the portfolio is pretty much done what do I do with it now? I’m, like, I’m not an agent. I don’t know. And because of that I was keeping my eye out, like, what can I do to help the girls out?”

When it was discovered that all three winners in the topless bar contest were models of Jerry’s, the owner of the Toy Box in Upland approached him. He told Jerry about an idea he was tinkering with to sell home made amateur videos out of his store. But in it’s present state it wasn’t working because the owner’s brother-in-law was taking the pictures for the boxcovers and they looked like shit. He couldn’t sell the videos. Jerry said he would be glad to come to the shoot and take pictures of the people in the movie. The Toy Box owner said fine, that he’d break the news to his brother-in-law.

Jerry agreed to come to the first shoot as a spectator and basically get his feet wet. “See what I need and get a rough idea for this- I had never been on a porn set,” Jerry explains. “I don’t want to have a heart attack while my equipment’s in my hands. Let me just be a fly on the wall.” When he got there, Jerry saw the camera pointed at the top of a girl laying on a pillow. Jerry said the camera seemed to have been focused on everything but the essential action at hand. Jerry, looking at the monitors, suggested that maybe the camera should be pointed at the girl.

“Why are you taking a picture of the ceiling?” Jerry asked. “Somewhere in there I became part of the show. I got in the movie, and by the end of the night we’re all drinking a little bit and I’m giving everybody advice. I go to the guys at the Toy Box and said I hope I haven’t been stepping on anybody’s toes, offending anybody or jumping into it with my big mouth running.” He was told, nah, but at the same time the feeling was expressed that the project would be dumped. Jerry told them it was a great idea but the people shooting the footage seemed to be overwhelmed by the sex and weren’t paying attention to the cameras.

Jerry was then given the project with contacts of people and equipment. He was told to shoot and that the store would sell the footage and they’d split the money. “A few months later it was selling like hotcakes,” Jerry says, suggesting that the material be put in other stores. He was told, you’re the car salesman, find the stores. Thinking that he didn’t want to go store to store, Jerry called Bob Williams at Ambassador Video. Williams told Jerry that he had a client who owned stores in Arizona and wanted that kind of footage, too. A meeting was set up and Jerry brought a tape from the Toy Box.

“I put it in the VCR and this guy, Paul [not Interlandi], is on one side of me and Bob’s on the other. We’re playing this tape. This Paul guy is saying that’s exactly what I’m talking about! See how the girls look like the girl next door and the guys are balding with pot bellies. He’s the average Joe with the girl next door.” Jerry was told this was the kind of stuff that was flying off the shelf at the Toy Box.

“I pushed the eject button and right on the spine of the tape it said property of the Toy Box. I’m going you’re talking about my stuff and Bob’s looking at the movie. He looks at the guy. He says is that you with a beard? I’m going yeah, pretty obvious that it’s my stuff and my living room. And that’s a picture of my kid hanging on the wall.” Les Sex Shops picked up Jerry’s footage, and Williams had some international distribution besides. But he told Jerry not to get too excited because this was a passing fad and wouldn’t last longer than six months.

“As it turned out it lasted three years until I got drafted for the Persian Gulf War,” says Jerry who was on the inactive reserves. ‘While I was gone my old lady got on drugs, lost her mind and gave away everything I owned. She went around door-to-door telling everyone that I was a bad guy and that they should give her all my money.” Jerry began his amateur video run in 1987 with Amateur Hours. “In February of ’91 I got that notice from the military.”

With 600 hours of footage now at his disposal Jerry has been tinkering with the idea of also airing it on TV. “I got myself a community-access license,” he says. “While I was talking to somebody about that, I was told we can also put your old footage in hotels and motels. Paul Interlandi was thinking we can do a vintage thing as well, putting it on DVD and releasing it to a whole new generation.”

Jerry notes that Vicky Latelle was the salesgirl who was pushing Amateur Hours. “She wrote a letter to AVN, probably when you were the editor. It was published and it basically said we want to thank the following people for putting Ambassador on the map. It mentions me and Howard Green and AVN and the fans. She mentions that we’re the first nationally distributed amateur product ever.

“The only thing that was going on when I started was a guy named Greg who was down in San Diego with a company called Homegrown,” Jerry continues. “He was basically a clearing house for you make your own movie of you and your old lady. And instead of swapping with somebody in your neighborhood directly, you sell it to him and he swaps it out with people you can’t meet in New York and New Jersey- people that are out of your reach. He was a clearing house for the make your own mom and pop ones. What I did was I came in with professional photographer experience and did some lighting and made sure there was some sound. I moved the camera around instead of moving the troops around. I moved the camera real nice and smooth and made sure you could see something. Then I directed the people a little bit. It just went crazy.”

Jerry started out shooting people he went to high school with. “They put the word out that I treated people really good. And I gave them a little finders’ fee to introduce me to their friends. I treated the girls right so they had no objection to bringing me their girlfriends. The girls were having fun. Somewhere along the line my personality started coming through. As I’m directing it people are trusting me and it was whatever you want Jerry. Treat me good and I’ll do anything you ask me to. I directed on camera so I’m in the scene and that became a character.”

With the re-release of the footage on DVD with wraparounds, Jerry feels he’ll be able to personalize it more. “I was there that day. I can tell you what really happened and, in the process, introduce my character. This is who I’ve become, now. Once I use this series to recapitalize my business, I’m going to shoot some new stuff that’s more in line with what this character has become and be my own spokesperson.”

Of course, Jerry also had to deal with drama- people telling him his masters were lost only to find them getting on the market. Even Interlandi discovered that he was acquiring footage from people that didn’t own it. “And he didn’t realize it,” says Jerry. “So when I went to introduce myself to him, I’m the guy who did this, he’s going, no, no, no. Somebody else owns it. No, I said, I never sold it. So he’s very familiar with the series. And Paul is an honest person that’s why I’m going with him. That’s the other thing that kept me out of the business for awhile- finding someone that i was comfortable with and trust to count my money.”

I noted Master Jerry’s business card. It features him wearing a drill sergeant’s hat. Jerry tells me that was Ray Pistol’s suggestion. “He was the one who introduced me to Paul.” Jerry’s connection to Pistol was through Bill Margold and The Legends of Erotica. Jerry remembers getting a call one time from Margold.

“He says there’s this girl living in Santa Monica and she’s really, really new. We can’t use her at all but you’re doing this amateur-thing and you like ’em to look like they don’t know what they’re doing. Why don’t you put her on camera and if she ever gets comfortable, send her back to us. She’s the one I ended up married to. She was like 19 when I met her. Bu she looked like she was 16. She looked very young for her age. When we’d walk into a place I was just waiting for someone to say, oh, is that your father? But before anybody could say that I’d introduce her as my girlfriend. And then she would turn around to this 23 year-old that was living with us and give her a nice, big, wet tongue kiss and say this is my girlfriend. Between the three of us, we just blew the doors off everybody we bumped into.”

Jerry tells a story about the time Margold was being interviewed by Channel 2 news in L.A. “And Viper was there telling everybody she was an ex-Marine who could do a 1,000 guys at a time,” says Jerry. “They did that interview and turned off the camera. The producer then asked Bill what’s the next hot thing coming out. He said, Jerry, standing right next to you. They came to my house and interviewed me and from there I ended up on Hard Copy a couple of times and Current Affair.”

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