Al Parker (1952-1992) was the most celebrated gay porn star of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Born Drew Okun in Natick, Massachusetts, Parker epitomized the gay “clone” style: “butch appearance, emotional withdrawal from sexual partners, and a view of sex as a contact sport.”
His was an age of sexual promiscuity, as newly-liberated gay men explored their male instincts without the restraint that reluctant women put on their straight counterparts.
“Gay men selected tricks and performed sexual acts in a hypermasculine fashion. . . . Hot men were hung, built, butch, and ruggedly handsome, sporting short hair and a mustache or trimmed beard.” The gay clone look came to a shattering end with the onslaught of AIDS, a plague that took the lives of too many clones, Al Parker being one of them.
Al Parker certainly lived up to the clone ideal. Though he did not invent the clone look, he gave it a public face and body. His, how shall I put it, “member” (this is, after all, a family newspaper) was prodigious; and became even greater later in life when he had his foreskin restored. (Parker was a life-long foreskin fetishist.) And he certainly had a face and body that launched a thousand orgasms.
On the other hand, as biographer Roger Edmonson writes:
“Al was a gay everyman, someone guys could identify with, not just stand back and gape at in awed silence. With his cropped hair, neat beard, and taut but far-from-overdeveloped frame [unlike some of today’s buff porn stars], he looked like them. The look he embodied was one that could be copied by a majority of the men who were making the new gay social and sexual scene.”
It was not beyond the reach of many men to actually have sex with Al Parker; and many eventually did.
Roger Edmonson, who wrote Boy in the Sand: Casey Donovan, All-American Sex Star, did a better job with Clone: The Life and Legacy of Al Parker Gay Superstar. Edmonson based his book in part on Stranger Than Fiction: Like Beethoven Going Deaf, Okun/ Parker’s unpublished autobiography.
Parker certainly had a more interesting life than did Casey Donovan. After losing his virginity “at knifepoint” at the age of 15, Okun attended the legendary Woodstock music festival, ending up on the poster for the movie. Later Okun worked as a butler at the Playboy mansion where, for obvious reasons, “almost all the butlers on staff were gay”.
Finally, Okun signed up with the legendary Rip Colt, who gave him the “nom de porn” Al Parker and launched his legendary career. Soon “Al Parker” was a household, er, name for millions of gay and bisexual men.
Though it was Al Parker who was in the public eye, Drew Okun managed to keep pace with his public persona. After he moved to California in the mid-1970’s Okun met Richard Cole, a handsome veteran who was a dozen years Okun’s senior. “As much mentor as lover, Richard introduced Drew to the guiltless sexual hedonism of the mid ’70s, when newly liberated gays lived life without limits. . . . Together they would become the perfect clone couple, joining forces to take the gay world by storm.”
Theirs was an open relationship, like so many gay couples at that time. Later in life the two men put a bed in the back of their van to use for their sexual pickups during their cross-country trips. In 1980 Drew and Richard formed Surge Studio to produce Al Parker films and videos.
Though Al Parker got all the attention, it was Cole who “provided the business acumen that made Al Parker and Surge Studios a financial success.” When Richard died of AIDS complications in 1986, Drew was devastated.
Clone is a fascinating look at the 1970’s gay clone lifestyle and at the man who made it famous. To his credit, Edmonson does not pass judgment on Okun/Parker’s reckless drug use and sexual promiscuity, putting it rightly within the context of his subject’s life and times.
Later in life, after AIDS devastated our community, Parker’s Surge Studios promoted safer sex practices in their videos, and by their example inspired other studios to provide condoms for their performers. To the end, Al Parker set the standard that other gay men followed.
Dirty Poole is part of Alyson Books’ series of porn lives that include Roger Edmonson’s biographies of Al Parker and Casey Donovan, Charles Isherwood’s biography of Joey Stefano, and Chi Chi LaRue’s autobiography.
Though Wakefield Poole is largely unknown today, he was the man who started the gay porn balls rolling with 1971’s Boys in the Sand, the flick that made Donovan famous. In Dirty Poole Wakefield takes us through his extraordinary life; from his early years as a dancer and choreographer through his years of fame and beyond.
By Jesse Monteagudo who is a freelance writer and gay activist who lives in South Florida with his partner and tries to live life to the fullest. Write him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.