The Rialto Report podcast is dedicated to the golden age of adult film in New York. It features interviews, profiles and features of the actors, directors, distributors, cinema owners, crew members and anyone else who was a part of making it happen… from the great and the good, to the notorious and the obscure, you'll find them all covered here.
The Murder of Kathy Harcourt: England’s First American Adult Film Star
Kathy Harcourt was an English XXX star in America in the early 1980s.
She appeared with Lisa DeLeeuw, Seka, Billy Dee, and Ron Jeremy in adult films and 8mm loops.
She featured in magazines, stripped at the Melody Burlesk, turned up at all the industry parties.
And then she was found dead in Manhattan’s East River amidst rumors of a mob hit.
Over the years, her life and death has been a mystery.
After 40 years, the truth about Kathy Harcourt is finally revealed.
This podcast is 96 minutes long.
One of the great features of the golden age of adult film is the diversity of the performers. You had all shapes and sizes, ages and ethnicities. It seemed that everyone was welcome – as long as they were willing to have sex on film.
The only thing was that they were nearly all American citizens. Sure, you’d expect that – as the X-rated industry in its early days sourced its talent locally. But even so you never really saw anyone with a genuine foreign accent.
Which made an actress like Kathy Harcourt stand out. You see, Kathy was English, and spoke with an accent so English that it was almost comical to hear her talk on screen with performers like Billy Dee or Ron Jeremy.
Kathy was a beautiful, voluptuous actress who appeared in ten or so pornographic feature films around 1980, and a bunch of 8mm loops too. She featured in magazines, stripped in the best clubs, and for a short time turned up at all the industry events and parties. She seemed bubbly and happy and sweet, and everybody spoke highly of her.
And then she was found dead in mysterious circumstances.
Kathy in Bahrain before she came to America and entered the adult industry
Kathy gets her adult start modeling for men’s magazines
Kathy posing with her friend and short-time boyfriend Ron Jeremy
Kathy with Marilyn Gee
Kathy is schooled by PT in Lips (1981)
Kathy unwinds at the infamous Bernards bar and restaurant in New York
Kathy goes blonde in Australia
Carn(iv)al Love: Sex, Wrestling and the Story of Misty Blue Simmes
From 1985 until 1997, Misty Blue Simmes was the biggest female name in professional wrestling. She held belts from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and the Ladies Professional Wrestling Association (LPWA), was courted by Vince McMahon of the WWE, and graced the pages of all the major wrestling magazines.
But wrestling wasn’t Misty Blue’s first time in front of the camera. Before there was Misty, there was Diane – a married swinger who had a double life, with her husband Jon, as a stripper. Actually, they had more than one double life: they put on foxy boxing shows, mud wrestled, featured in men’s magazines, and performed in adult films as Bunny and Buddy Hatton – working with Gerry Damiano, Joe Sarno and many others.
Theirs is the story of a small-town couple exploring the worlds of sex and entertainment for both fun and profit. And it’s a love story of a couple together for almost half a century, raising a family and always having each other’s backs.
This is Misty Blue Simmes’ story. And Bunny and Buddy Hatton’s story.
And a little ditty about Jack and Diane.
With special thanks to Jon and Diane for sharing their story.
This podcast is 45 minutes long.
Outlaws and Outcasts
A little ditty ’bout Jack & Diane
Two American kids growing up in the heartland
Picture this. It’s August 1978 in upstate New York. You’re driving down a county road during the lazy, hazy, dog days of summer. You see some tattered signs for the local fair, worn out from years of repeated use. Follow the setting sun and the chorus of cicadas until you come up on a city of tents. It sits in a large field that lays unused the rest of the year.
Keep going. Track the smell of funnel cakes and hot dogs past the Ford Pintos and Chevy Impalas parked on the matted grass. You’re gonna see an unlikely mix of locals: Parents losing sight of excited kids. Town council members with painted-on smiles and sweating in polyester suits hand out re-election leaflets. Gangs of teenagers sneak cigarettes and make fun of rides they happily waited in line for just a year ago.
Continue behind the stands towards the hum of generators until you reach two used RVs parked so close they’re almost kissing. There’s a length of weathered rope between the vehicles, holding up hand-washed clothes. You got neon bikini bottoms, mesh bodysuits, pony-fringed tops with deep necklines.
Four pretty young women sit in rusty lawn chairs. One leafs through a magazine while tuning a cheap portable radio. Another pops gum, her legs propped up, painting her toenails maximum orange glitter. Two more pass a tallboy can of beer between them, swigging like truck drivers.
The door to one of the RVs opens. A guy and a girl come out. They’re cocky; their confidence makes it clear they’re in charge.
Jon is wiry, bearded and all business. He turns back to lock the door.
Diane’s a cutie. She’s wearing cut-off shorts and her hair is feathered like Farrah Fawcett. She looks over at the girls and issues her instructions: “Grab the hose and the ring – it’s time to get dirty. Mud wrestling waits for no one.”
R.I.P. Jim South (1939-2020): The Last Of His Kind
Jim South didn’t act in many adult films, and certainly didn’t take part in any sex scenes.
He didn’t direct, produce, or finance many movies either.
But if you watch any film made in Los Angeles since the mid 1970s, the chances are that Jim South was intimately involved in who you’re actually watching on-screen.
For years his company, World Modeling, supplied talent to the adult film industry. Actresses would converge there from all over the country for a chance to be cast in X-rated films. The agency represented adult stars such as Shauna Grant, Marc Wallice, Ginger Lynn, Savannah, Katie Gold, and Christy Canyon. His office was a hive of activity, always at the center of things. His huge casting calls were legendary, as were the picture books that he meticulously kept with Polaroids of every actress taken on the day they turned up in his office for the first time.
His agency was successful and profitable, but not without controversy. He had to weather all kinds of storms – the police had him under surveillance, he was arrested for pimping and pandering on several occasions, several high profile actresses that he got started in the industry committed suicide, he was charged over the underage Traci Lords scandal, and rivalries with other agencies sometimes spilled into physical violence. Somehow Jim survived. Maybe being an Irish, right wing Republican from Texas had something to do with it.
Over the years the adult film industry changed, people changed, and social networking replaced the old order, but Jim South is still in business. The golden days may have gone but he remains the same. He’s still out there, looking for the next girl, the next breakout star.
He’s one of the last of the original dinosaurs, and this is his story.
This episode running time is 78 minutes.
Jim South, the most famous agent for adult film stars, died this weekend. With him, dies a part of the golden age of adult film.
In the autumn of 1957, a lieutenant from the Dallas Police Department, called Red Souter, rented an apartment as part of an undercover surveillance operation. The target of his investigation was America’s first porn star, Candy Barr.
You see, six years earlier, back in 1951, Candy had appeared in one of the most famous and widely circulated of the early underground pornographic films, a 15 minute stag film called Smart Alec.
The cops sat up and took notice: the first problem was that Smart Alec was an explicit hardcore film – which was illegal anywhere in the 1950s, let alone a Bible-thumping redneck conservative stronghold like Texas. And to make matters worse, Candy had been only 16 when she made it. Over the years, Candy would insist that she’d needed money,
The Rialto Report Turns 100! - Podcast 100
The Rialto Report is 100 episodes old today.
When I first had the idea of doing a golden age adult film podcast, I realized it was a pretty specialized and niche subject area. But I thought that the real history of this time had never properly emerged, and I wanted to provide a place where it could be told by the pioneers, in an unfiltered way. Good or bad.
I read somewhere that the average number of podcasts that people put out is 7. I figured I was good for 4, and if I really tried, maybe I could kick it up to 6. Good enough, I thought. Let’s do it.
At that stage, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I sure as heck knew what I didn’t want to do.
Firstly – I didn’t want it to be commercial: so that meant no ads, no promotions, no banners. I hate ’em. I’m sure you do too. Everything should be free in life.
Secondly – I only wanted this podcast to feature people who were actually there, in the trenches of the business, taking the risks, suffering the consequences or enjoying the spoils – their voices have been neglected over the years, and I wanted to hear from them. That meant no bloggers, academics, or cultural commentators. The world has too many opinions right now. I just want real stories.
And finally – I wanted no me. Nothing about me, or indeed nothing about any other host of this show. This isn’t about the presenter, it’s about the subject. Most of the time, I just want to get out of the way.
Except for this episode. On this 100th podcast, I want to look back at some of the favorite moments from the last 99. And tell you stories behind how we got anyone to agree to an interview in the first place. Sometimes, I can’t believe we did. In fact, I have no real idea who listens to this. But you’re listening. And I’m happy to have you here.
We’re 100 episodes old today. We made it past 7. So come on let’s celebrate. This is for you and me.
This episode is 141 minutes long.
The music playlist for this episode can be found on Spotify.
This episode, featuring highlights from the last 99 podcasts, includes:
Rhonda Jo Petty: Happiness is the Truth (podcast 68)
Rhonda’s candid and moving interview covers her difficult upbringing, her entry into the adult business in 1970s California, and how she’s found peace on a ranch in Arizona.
Originally aired April 16, 2017
George Payne: Wild Man of Porn (podcast 2)
George appeared in many New York adult films – both straight and gay – and straddled the film and video era too. And he could really act; his performances seethe with a nervous, unpredictable energy.
Originally aired March 10, 2013
Paul Thomas: The 10 Provocations of PT (podcasts 88 & 89)
Why did Philip Toubus – brought up in financial privilege and with recognized performing talent – enter the porn industry? Our interview tries to get at answers – and hold PT’s healthy ego in check.
Once Upon a Time…in the Valley
‘Once Upon a Time…in the Valley’, a new podcast series co-produced and co-presented by The Rialto Report’s Ashley West, launches today with the first three episodes.
Episode 1 – T-R-A-C-I
It’s 1986. The San Fernando Valley. And, it turns out, the biggest star in Adult, isn’t one.
Episode 2 – Wanted: Figure Models
A 15-year-old Redondo Union High sophomore learns to fake it so she can make it… as a nude model.
Episode 3 – We Kinda Made it Hardcore
Traci lands the Penthouse centerfold–and the studliest stud in porn.
Download via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, RADIO.COM and everywhere podcasts are available.
New episodes will drop every Tuesday throughout the series. Subscribe to the series for free here.
C13Originals Launches Season One of its new Documentary Series, ‘Once Upon a Time… in the Valley’: The Traci Lords Scandal
A real-life mystery and porno-noir created and written by acclaimed Vanity Fair writer and literary iconoclast Lili Anolik, featuring Ashley West, consultant on HBO’s The Deuce.
Before there were sex tapes, there were sex tapes…
C13Originals, the Peabody Award-nominated documentary studio division of leading premium podcast company Cadence13, announces Once Upon a Time…in the Valley, the real-life mystery and porno-noir podcast series created and written by Vanity Fair’s Lili Anolik, featuring Ashley West.
Before there were sex tapes, there were sex tapes. Before there was Paris or Kim, there was Traci. The first, the best, the O.G. Hardcore since ’84.
In the roaring 80’s porn world, Traci Lords reigned supreme. No one questioned her right to sovereignty. Only, it turned out, the biggest star in adult films was, legally speaking, just a child. As America would discover in July 1986, when the FBI busted down her door. Traci Lords was really Nora Kuzma, who’d entered the industry as a 15-year-old high school sophomore. Traci, the victim, was saved. And the industry, the villain, was very nearly destroyed. But what if the victim here was also the villain; the villain, also the victim?
As Anolik cautions, “Put your condoms on, get that safe word ready” because she and Ashley are going in hard and deep. It’s the San Fernando Valley. It’s the mid-1980s, the moment the industry is exploding: moving from New York to L.A., from film to video, from the shadows to the spotlight. Traci may be the series’ focus, but its setting and supporting players—Ginger Lynn, Christy Canyon, Tom Byron, to name but a few—are so dynamic, they’re constantly threatening to upstage her. (Not that she’ll let them.)
“It’s the story I’ve wanted to tell more than any other,” says Lili Anolik. “Just imagine Boogie Nights, if Boogie Nights had a three-way with Gone Girl and A Star Is Born—and it let Gone Girl be on top.”
“Lili’s instincts for storytelling, and her brilliant writing style are on full display in this franchise,” said Chris Corcoran, Chief Content Officer, Cadence13. “The launch of ‘Once Upon a Time…in the Valley’ marks the continued expansion of the C13Originals slate, and the boundary-pushing, and thrilling ways we can tell compelling cultural stories with the best storytellers.”
Angel Kelly: Giving You the Best That I Got – Podcast 99
I’d always wanted to interview Angel Kelly. She was a big name in 1980s adult film, and one of the few black female superstars of the industry. She was a founding member of the Pink Ladies, the west-coast adult actress support group with Nina Hartley, Jeanne Fine, and Porsche Lynn. She acted with the big names of the day – people like Sharon Mitchell, Lois Ayres, Billy Dee and Mike Horner. And she was friends with Tupac Shakur, featuring in the video for his song “How Do You Want It?”
But I wasn’t so sure that Angel Kelly wanted to talk with me. I first contacted her years ago and – while she was kind and polite – she told me she wasn’t ready to speak. She said the last time she sat down for an interview was 1996, and she just wasn’t ready to delve deep into her adult industry life. But she said we could keep in touch, so we did, trading the occasional texts and holiday greetings.
But a few weeks ago, Angel Kelly contacted me and said it was time. I wondered what made her ready to do something we danced around for years. We set a date and I questioned if she would keep it.
She did. And thank goodness – because Angel Kelly has quite the story to tell.
So what has Angel Kelly been doing since her time in the business? And why is she finally speaking out now, almost 25 years after her last real interview? Here’s your chance to listen and find out.
This episode is 87 minutes long.
The music playlist for this episode can be found on Spotify.
with Tom Byron
The Pink Ladies (from top left): Porsche Lynn, Angel Kelly, Nina Hartley, Jeanna Fine
with Nina Hartley
with Alicia Monet
with Jeanna Fine
with Jack Baker
with Tracey Ada...
Customer ReviewsSee All
Love your work hope you can interview Vanessa Del Rio
Great job, brought back memories of the legends of porn from going into their personal journeys that got them into porn, to what they are up to now. Please Please Please get Vanessa Del Rio! I’m getting a boner just thinking about her! Again fantastic work ✌🏿😎
Thanks for research and respect
April and Ashley do an amazing job of thoroughly researching and showing unusually refreshing respect for all the contributors to the golden age of adult movies. Thanks for giving all the behind the scenes details. Some like Terri Hall and Lisa De Leeuw are I hope future topics.
I am so happy I discovered this podcast!