Schmeckle Movies in California: Howie Gordon’s Hindsight

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Photo by Vincent Fronczek
Carbo-Loaded by Margarita Korol

Written by Steve Karras. Steve is a staff-writer for the original online automotive and lifestyle magazine Web2Carz.com. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Steve has worked ever since as a freelance writer and documentary filmmaker. In 2009 he completed a ten-year initiative to conduct over 2000 hours of interviews with WWII veterans and was the genesis of two completed projects: a feature length documentary film, About Face, and a non-fiction book of oral histories entitled, The Enemy I Knew: German Jews in the Allied Military in World War II (Zenith Press, 2010). His articles have appeared in Hollywood Reporter, Goldmine, Gawker, AOL, Yahoo, Aufbau, Variety, and Huffington Post, to name a few. Steve is a single dad, singer-songwriter, and lives on Chicago’s North Shore with his daughter.

Rated R

Howie Gordon was an adult film star but his path to porn wasn’t exactly a wayward one. “Everybody who comes out of the porn world is supposedly a ‘reluctant participant’ or an ‘unlikely porn star’. It’s universal, but that’s not my story,” said Howie Gordon who penned the wildly entertaining memoir Hindsight: True Love and Mischief in the Golden Age of Porn.

Gordon, who “sought to be a mensch in the X-Rated business”, appeared in roughly 100 films, most under the swaggering nom-de-porn Richard Pacheco, and in 1979 was Playgirl‘s “Man of the Year. A “go-to guy” for the legendary porn director Anthony Spinelli and any other director interested in eliciting a performance, Gordon was less recognized for his “swordsmanship,” but had a career because he could actually act and bring emotional depth to characters when few of his peers could.

He loved porn and porn loved him back.

“Howie had real emotions about what he was doing and was such a lovely person,” Adult film legend Seka told us recently. “Guys like Randy West, Mike Ranger, Herschel Savage, were all wonderful to work with because they were just sweet human beings. But there was nobody like Howie, never was and never will be.”

Hindsight is also testament to Gordon’s skills as a bona fide writer. An animated storyteller, he takes the reader on a journey, from chubby Jewish kid into a sex-star, like those you’d see on sites like xxxvideor.com, and the unpredictable course of marriage and fatherhood with the same splitting insight and self-deprecation one typically associates with Philip Roth. Even pal Whoopi Goldberg, responsible for the book’s forward, writes, “…prepare to laugh and gasp, and if you get moved to say, make yourself even happier, well go for it.”

“I got stuck in pursuing this whole porn star persona as a way of sexually healing myself for the traumas I’d had coming to grips with my own manhood,” said Gordon who stopped performing in 1985. “I put myself in a milieu that was often difficult for me, sitting there on set unable to get hard, but give me a cold read and I was fucking [Laurence] Olivier.”

It is likely though that Gordon would have been successful in any number of occupations. And, after reading the book one would agree.

Howard Marc Gordon was the younger of two sons, raised by loving, observant Orthodox Jewish parents in Pittsburgh.

He idolized his older brother whose hard work eventually led him to Harvard Medical School and, eventually, Israel, where he was on a surgical team that once operated on Prime Minister Golda Meir. His father managed a gas station, while his mother looked after the boys, kept a kosher home, and took care of her mentally handicapped brother, the beloved Uncle Izzy, who lived with the family until his death at 60. It was a happy childhood.

Gordon describes the Jewish community in which he grew up as “very socialized in our neighborhoods so we put clubs together. We had parties and participated in athletic leagues, and charities. It bonded us. It gave us the life lessons of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. We were The MARQUIS. We still are. To this day I get nachus being connected to these people I went to kindergarten and grew up with.”

Gordon goes on to further discuss his relationship to Judaism: “Jewishness was the horse I rode in on, but by the time I was done with Bar Mitzvah, I began unlacing the Tefillin, which I always thought of as Jewish bondage. When I was applying for my conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War years, the forms asked me to state my religion: I quoted Woody Guthrie, I believe, who once responded to such a question by answering, “All of ’em or none of ’em…”

By the time Gordon arrived as a freshman at Antioch College in the fall of 1966, he was lean, confident and attractive to the opposite sex. Fortunately for him, 60’s counterculture and the sexual revolution was in full bloom and collided with his emerging sense of self. Unfortunately, the age of “free love” was becoming more complicated.

“I went to the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam in Washington DC wearing a priest’s collar – because I was less likely to get beaten up by the police,” laughed Gordon.

“Within six months every woman I wanted to fuck was into Women’s Liberation. I wondered, ‘What do I have to learn to still get laid?’ The left had started eating itself. Instead of just this unified mass that was pro Civil Rights and against the war, all of these other splinters emerged. The women’s movement grew. The environmental movement began. The gay rights movement started up. People were trying to ‘out correct’ each other. And the country elected Richard Nixon president. It looked like the revolution was over and that the wrong side won.”

So, he went to California.

The West Coast was ground-zero of Gordon’s hijinks but it was also the key to his future. He met his lifelong partner, Carly, in a hippie commune and the two married in 1975. (“Carly’s grandfather on her mother’s side was a Rabbi who emigrated from Palestine in the 1920’s. On her father’s side, they were Jewish cowboys from the American West.” Gordon, though beyond the “Orthodoxilation” of his early youth, still once applied to the Hebrew Union Seminary to become a Reform Rabbi. He didn’t want a congregation. He just wanted to study history. When he learned he would have to move to Israel for the first two years of the program to learn Aramaic, he chose another path. Boy, did he ever!) And Gordon’s porn career evolved with the marriage and birth of their three children.

No good porn memoir is without…well…porn. Connoisseurs of the genre will be thrilled to read countless (the book is 700 pages after all) juicy accounts of his many titillating encounters with Insatiable‘s Marilyn Chambers and a pantheon of other porn goddesses like Georgina Spelvin, Nina Hartley, and Shauna Grant, to name only a few. There are equally compelling anecdotes of porn-set folly, not to mention loving tributes to his late friend and co-star John Leslie and the filmmaker Sam Weston (Anthony Spinelli) who paired the two actors in the award-winning film Talk Dirty to Me and its sequel Nothing To Hide.

“Occasionally, these different forces came together to produce some actual nobility, as well as all the wretched excesses that you would expect porn to be. I don’t deny that the porn world could get ugly, be slum infested, and not exactly represent the flower of humanity, but there were also those moments where it all came together and some very clean, righteous work was produced. People have been struggling for a long time with the body’s capacity to give and receive pleasure. The battle goes on.”

And yet at Hindsight‘s very core is Gordon’s devotion to his wife of four decades, Carly, a psychologist and the mother of his three children.

With the author’s permission, she contributes her own pages, recalling her parents’ reaction to their son-in-law’s career, as well as her occasional suffering through her hubby’s profession.

“This is an extraordinary woman and if something was taking me away from this relationship I had to look really hard at it…because we’ve made an incredible life together.”

Richard Pacheco’s jersey was sent to the rafters, but Gordon’s post-porn life has not been idle. Now a grandfather, he is already at work on a second book and is a sought after lecturer, often speaking about pornography and AIDS.

For your personally autographed copy of Hindsight: True Love and Mischief in the Golden Age of Porn by Howie Gordon, AKA Richard Pacheco, go to www.hindsightbook.com and buy yourself a treat!

For Kindle, go to Amazon.com or bearmanorbare.com.

From the Gordon Archive

From the Gordon Archive

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