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.
‘Centurians of Rome’ (1981): The Behind-The-Scenes Story – Podcast 105
As The Rialto Report heads into an Easter break, we present an all-new podcast about the making of Centurians of Rome, a story we broke a few years ago, but that has been absent from our site since then.
The film has been the subject of much speculation since the movie was first released in 1981.
– It was supposedly the most expensive gay porn film up to that point
– It was allegedly funded using the proceeds of a robbery
– It was claimed to be owned by the prestigious Lloyd’s of London insurance company
But what is the real story?
The Rialto Report has tracked down and interviewed over 30 people to find out the truth – from those connected to the making of the film, FBI, police and lawyers, as well as friends and family of the protagonists.
In this installment of The Rialto Report, the full story behind Centurians of Rome is finally told. It is the story of three men; a producer, a director, and an actor, and how their lives connected briefly in 1980/81 to make one of the golden age’s most notorious films.
We featured the written version of this story two years ago – and now here’s the podcast.
With sincere thanks to all those who contributed their memories to this article.
This podcast is 69 minutes long.
‘Centurians of Rome’ (1981)
George Payne and Scorpio
Scorpio tries to control an unresponsive horse
R.I.P. Fanne Foxe (1936-2021) – Podcast 82 (reprise)
Fanne Foxe died this past week at the age of 84. She was famous for being the stripper that ended the career of one of the most powerful American politicians of the 1970s – Arkansas congressman Wilbur Mills, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
But Fanne, whose real name was Annabelle, was so much more than a scandalous footnote of history.
While she grew up in small town in Argentina, she had big dreams of becoming a doctor, to follow in the footsteps of her father. But when she fell in love young, became pregnant and got married, her life took a turn. She and her then husband Eduardo began performing across South America, he as a cabaret musician, she as a dancer who turned to stripping for the money it offered. After bearing two more children, the family moved to the U.S. where Annabelle became Fanne, continuing her stripping career, eventually meeting Wilbur Mills and rising to the peak of scandal.
Fanne’s fame post-Wilbur eventually drew her to towards the adult industry. Porn producers sent Jamie Gillis and Harry Reems to convince her to appear in a hardcore film for $1 million dollars – a role that Fanne considered but ultimately turned down. She was featured in Playboy and became a sex journalist for Cheri Magazine and then mens magazine Partner – work that her colleagues remember her thoroughly enjoying.
But all may not have been as well as it seemed – and a series of events led Fanne to leave the adult industry, turning away away from her infamous Fanne persona and returning to life as Annabelle.
When I tracked down Annabelle several years back, all the rumors were that she’d returned to Argentina, and had disappeared, lost to time. On the contrary, I found her in St Petersburg, from where we had a warm and entertaining conversation.
While she didn’t want to revisit events of the 1970s, describing the years as a dark and difficult time, she was happy to share updates on her life after leaving the limelight. She told me she had remarried and had another child, a girl who unfortunately passed away in 2017. She reignited her love of learning, pursuing several degrees in business and marine science. She became a scuba-diving master at the University of South Florida, and an underwater videographer. And she reveled in time with her seven grandchildren.
This is the story of Fanne Foxe and the life of Annabelle.
This podcast episode is 58 minutes long.
The music playlist for this episode can be found on Spotify.
October 5 1975: Fanne opens her family to the media for the first time
1976: Fanne Foxe poses for Playboy
Fanne Foxe working at Cheri magazine
Fanne Fox (middle bottom) with the 1977 Cheri team, including Peter Wolff, Annie Sprinkle, Jody Maxwell, Kim Pope, Andrea Ambers, Cherry Bomb, C.B. Lucci and others
1977: Fanne Fox in Cheri magazine
The Hunt for the Real John T Bone - Part 2: Podcast 104
Who is John T Bone – and why did The Rialto Report find him languishing in jail when we looked for him?
John T Bone was one of the more controversial figures in adult film history.
But as we heard in the first episode of our mini-series about him, he was also an enigma wrapped in mystery with a fascinating past. Before he ever got involved in making X-rated films, he was a notable figure on the fashion scene in London at the height of the Swinging Sixties. Then he made millions trading in antiques, before becoming a successful art dealer in New York in the 1980s. Along the way he was part of a hoax involving Marilyn Monroe’s secret diaries, was close friends with Adrian Lyne, the director of Flashdance (1983) and Fatal Attraction (1987), and used Cher’s costumes from her Las Vegas stage show in porn films. He acquired a drug habit and a porn star. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Now in the concluding part of The Search for the Real John T Bone, we find out how John became the bad boy of 90s porn, the truth – revealed for the first time – behind Jerry Springer’s secret sex tape scandal, how he made the infamous World’s Biggest Gang Bang in 1995, in which Annabel Chong supposedly had sex with 250 men in 24 hours, became the first Westerner to shoot adult films in Eastern Europe, introduced Rocco Siffredi to America, and was thrown into jail in the Far East for prostitution.
But why, when The Rialto Report found him, was he was in jail serving a lengthy prison sentence, forgotten and alone, and willing to reveal all?
This is the second part of our mini-series, The Hunt for the Real John T Bone.
This podcast is 83 minutes long.
John T Bone – Part 2
A selection of some of the people and topics covered in this episode.
Jasmin St. Claire
Cicciolina and Riccardo Schicchi
John T Bone, whose real name is John Bowen, is sentenced to prison
The Hunt for the Real John T Bone - Part 1
Who is John T Bone – and why did The Rialto Report find him languishing in jail when we looked for him?
John T Bone was one of the bad boys of 1980s and 1990s adult film, a moviemaker responsible for some of the most controversial moments in X-rated film history. He worked at the cheap end of the porn film business – but his films nevertheless always stood out. It was John, for example, who made the infamous World’s Biggest Gang Bang in 1995, in which Annabel Chong supposedly had sex with 300 men in 24 hours. Then he made the sequel with Jasmin St. Claire, and follow-ups too numerous to mention in a career that lasted over 20 years.
But it wasn’t just John’s films that were controversial – John was the rare example of a director who was even more notorious than his work. If you look back at media coverage of the X-rated film industry from the 1990s, John’s name features prominently, and he appeared regularly on TV scandal programs like The Jerry Springer Show. He seemed to go out of his way to shock – and sometimes appall – people, winning awards for filming the most outrageous sex acts, one of which involved a quart of motor oil that… well, you might want to google that one.
John’s films weren’t universally loved, but they did make a lot of money. Which was a bit like John himself. He wasn’t universally loved, and stories abound about his arrogance, egotism, and swagger. Tom Byron said John was an a*****e; Paul Thomas called him cruel and manipulative – even Jamie Gillis said he could be crude and obnoxious. But John did well in the porn business, lived in style and owned a fleet of fancy cars that include a vintage Rolls Royce.
By now, John T Bone had our attention.
But when we started to enquire after him, a number of very different rumors started to emerge. First, we heard that he’d had been a notable figure on the fashion scene in London at the height of the Swinging Sixties. Then someone said he’d actually been a wealthy antique dealer, and another that he’d been a major art trader in New York in the 80s. We heard that John was close friends with Adrian Lyne, the director of Flashdance (1983) and Fatal Attraction (1987), and that he worked for Tony Scott, director of Top Gun (1986). Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones supposedly stayed with him whenever he was in Los Angeles.
So how could all these stories relate to the same person – let alone someone who was also a scandalous pornographer? And where was John now? He seemed to have disappeared overnight.
We wanted to find the answers, so we looked for him – in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Colorado, Florida, Thailand, Brazil and the Philippines. Each time we found an address where he’d lived, we discovered that he’d left years before. For someone who’d loved the spotlight for so long, it was surprisingly difficult to find what had actually happened to him.
And then, finally, we did find him. Except not where we expected. He was in jail serving a lengthy prison sentence. He was forgotten and alone.
R.I.P. Carter Stevens (1944-2020)
Carter Stevens, one of the adult film industry’s true originals, passed away this week.
He started to make his first feature film before the landmark success of Deep Throat, and he was still in the sex business thirty years later.
For a time it seemed like he was everywhere. In the 1970s and 1980s, he directed a series of increasingly popular and ambitious films that included Lickity-Split, Teenage Twins, Rollerbabies and Honeymoon Haven. He was just as prolific as an actor too, and was a regular, uncredited crew member for many mainstream and adult film productions.
He made loops, directed a series of films for the Avon Theater chain, and fought battles with drugs and charges of obscenity and of hiring an underage actress, before re-emerging in the 1990s with a successful fetish newspaper and publishing business.
Ashley West remembers Carter, and the role he played in creating The Rialto Report.
This episode running time is 71 minutes.
When I was a teenager, and into old blues and folk records, I read about the life of John Lomax.
Lomax was a pioneering musicologist and folklorist who did much for the preservation of American music in the first half of the twentieth century. Back in the 1930s, he became concerned that much of the blues and folk music that he loved was in danger of being lost – and along with it the stories of the people who created it. This was because the people who had made much of the music hadn’t made a lot of money and over time they had simply disappeared. So in 1933, Lomax got a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, and acquired a state-of-the-art, 315 pound phonograph disk recorder which he installed in the trunk of his Ford sedan. Then he set out on the first recording expedition – traveling around the country and meeting many long forgotten musicians and singers. His mission was simple: he would set up his recording equipment and then get out of the way, just preserving whatever he got. These recordings became priceless as they enabled the world to hear directly from the artists themselves.
Twenty years or so ago, I was talking about John Lomax with the adult film director Carter Stevens. I’d found a website that he’d set up, and it listed his phone number – so I gave it a call, and shortly afterwards Carter and I were having a wide-ranging conversation about films, music, politics, and New York in the 1970s. Carter made a comment that he wished someone would do what John Lomax had done – but with the pioneers of the adult film business. In other words, travel around and capture the stories about birth of the X-rated film world directly out of the mouths of those who’d been involved.
I liked the idea, and we made a date to do a field recording of our own. The following week, I went to Carter’s house in the Pocono’s and set up some cheap recording equipment, sat back and let Carter talk.
Now it’s fair to say that I was no John Lomax. After recording three hours of memories, Carter’s roommate walked through the room, tripped over the cable, disconnected everything, and we lost the whole recording. Thanks to Carter’s kindness, we decided to repeat the whole conversation over the phone a few days later so I set up a phone recorder.
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
Excellent interviews! Outstanding!
April has to be the best interviewer I’ve heard in a long time. An active listener who leaves interviewees (and listeners) feel understood and validated! Bravo, April! 👏🏿
April, thank you for the care and specificity you bring to every interview. And, thank you for the Angel Kelly interview, absolutely exquisite! Those final moments with Angel Kelly were so moving. I’m grateful she decided to be interviewed.
It is clear Angel was touched by your interest and persistence. Her story is so profound, rich and unsung. The musical interludes were the perfect touch.
Also bravo, Ashley, on a stellar episode about Tina Russell (Linda Marie Mintzer)!
The Rialto Report is great
I am shocked that you guys are doing 60 minute level interviews for interesting characters in this industry.
Love your podcast
Loved your podcast very interesting and intriguing.Please interview Vanessa Del Rio and Bunny Bleu