« Film focuses on Mormon role in gay marriage ban | Main | Few anti-gay protesters show at Sundance for Prop. 8 movie »

A look back at Ryan Idol, when he starred in 1998 South Beach production of ‘Making Porn’

Saturday night in Fort Lauderdale, I attended the Empire Stage theater production of Making Porn, Ronnie Larsen’s comedy about a straight out-of-work actor who becomes a gay-for-pay porn star.

Twelve years ago, I first wrote about Making Porn, when one-time gay porn icon Ryan Idol starred in a production at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road.

I interviewed Idol before his South Beach appearance. It was the first (and as of now only) time The Miami Herald ran a section-front profile of a gay porn star.

Here is my 1998 Ryan Idol profile – and a fun follow-up I wrote a few weeks later:

Aug. 5, 1998

Top porn star recreates himself in SoBe play

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

ryan idol Five months after throwing himself through a fourth-floor glass window, X-rated gay-film star Ryan Idol is porn again.

Fully recovered from the near-fatal fall, Idol returns to public view tonight, buck naked on the stage at Miami Beach's Colony Theater. His role: Jack, an out-of-work straight actor pushed into gay sex films by his girlfriend, in the Off-Broadway play Making Porn.

"I love the show, I really identify with the show, " said Idol, 31, who began his porn career a decade ago, after stints in the Navy and as a construction worker. Needing money, Idol -- then Marc Anthony Donais -- began stripping for women in clubs. That led to a Playgirl magazine spread and an offer to do explicit sex films.

"I looked at it as a career move, " Idol said. "At first it was a little awkward. I got over that very soon, because I'm a natural. I'm very natural in front of a camera, whether still or motion picture. I was born to be in show business."

Not exactly Olivier, Idol starred in such films as Score 10, Idol Eyes, Idol Thoughts, Idol Country and Idol in the Sky. His next movie project: Idol Gods.

"As time went on, I became more comfortable with the camera and
the sex in front of the camera, " Idol said. "Now I am comfortable saying, 'I'm a sexual being.' "

Idol, a top earner in male porn, says he pulls in up to $50,000 per movie, for a few days work a year. "I am the biggest, " he says, proudly.
The rest of his income comes from live performances in gay nightclubs and work as a personal trainer in Southern California.

Still, Idol admits that during hard times, he resorted to hustling. "I've dabbled in 'personal appearances, ' but that was compromising myself too much." '

Brought up in foster homes, Idol says he never knew his father and had little contact with his mother. He became an angry young man.

"My disposition was nasty. I acted out with drugs and alcohol, " Idol said.
His behavior has haunted him ever since.

Last year, Idol was cast as Jack in playwright Ronnie Lawsen's Making Porn, a show that originally flopped when it opened in Chicago in 1995.

"Every single review was totally dismissive in the most violent way (There isn't one single laugh in the show), " Lawsen said. Then Making Porn moved to California. "People started saying it was really cute, really good.
"We went back to Chicago a year later and got total love letters, " said Lawsen, 29, of New York City.

Along the way, Lawsen cast several real-life porn stars in the role of Jack, including Idol.

Idol's Chicago appearance ended with more drama than anticipated:

During intermission one night, the star allegedly punched out the playwright and was led away from the theater -- in handcuffs -- by police.
"I swore he would never be in the play again. Then, someone bought the play for him to do it, " Lawsen says.

After Chicago, Idol's life went into a tailspin.

"The drugs and alcohol took over, " he said.

Idol's unhappiness came to a head on March 20 in New York. He calls it "the incident."

"I went out a window."

"I was drinking gin. I never used to drink gin. It totally took me over. I don't remember jumping out the window, but all evidence points to that. I never contemplated suicide before. It was a little out of character."

Luckily, Idol apparently bounced off an awning before hitting the pavement four stories below. He fractured his pelvis and at first no one thought he would live. But within days, he began to recover.

Having no health insurance, Idol has resorted to asking fans to send him money to pay his medical bills. He has set up a Web page, www.ryanidol.net, in which he sells autographed pictures of himself. Also, Idol says he has "become the gay spokesperson about getting health insurance in the adult film industry."

That's quite a step for Idol, calling himself the gay anything.

For years, Idol called himself straight. He had several girlfriends. Now, he declines to categorize his sexuality and says he is open to relationships with women and men.

Idol realizes that his star can fizzle at any time. "I'm sure my time will pass. I don't want to do this the rest of my life." He hopes to someday own a vineyard and a restaurant. "I love to cook."

Until then, he plans to continue making videos and to tour in Making Porn.

Lawsen says he expects the worst. "He's a huge risk."

Responds Idol: "This is not going to flop. It's going to be smooth sailing in South Beach, Florida."

Then this story, a month later:

Sept. 1, 1998

Porn actor leaves full house in the lurch

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Troubled actor Ryan Idol promised "smooth sailing in South Beach, Fla., " before his opening at the Colony Theater in Making Porn. Saturday night, Idol sailed out of the theater in a huff, telling a sold-out audience there would be no performance.

"Ryan Idol walked off stage, breached his contract and left, " said Murray Hodgson, the show's producer. "The house was full on Saturday, and we had to refund all the tickets. We had to call Miami Beach Police to throw him off the premises."

Idol, who last year was arrested during a Making Porn performance in Chicago after he allegedly punched playwright Ronnie Lawsen in the head -- and who five months ago drunkenly threw himself through a fourth-floor New York City apartment window -- declined to comment on the latest fracas.

"I'm not going to release any live statements, " said Idol, 31, back at home Monday in Los Angeles.

Idol and company arrived at the Colony on Aug. 5 for a scheduled three-week run. Business was so good that Hodgson extended the show an extra week. The show was supposed to close Sunday.

Early in the run, Idol's behavior was uneventful. He promised he was off drugs and booze for good. Gradually, though, a change came over the gay-porn icon, according to Hodgson.

Backstage bickering ensued, and one night -- on stage -- Idol cursed out a fellow cast member, pretending it was part of the script, Hodgson said.

Idol's contract called for him to arrive at the theater at 6 p.m. for 7 p.m. performances. Saturday night, he arrived 45 minutes late, just before curtain. The house was sold out, 465 people in the audience.

"His eyes were dilated, and he was extremely agitated, " Hodgson said. "I told him he was in breach of contract for showing up late. His response to me: 'Sue me. . . . F--- you. . . . I'm not going on.'

"In his street clothes, he went center stage in front of the audience and said: 'Ladies and gentlemen, the show has been canceled.' He walked out through the front door and left."

Hodgson followed Idol outside. They continued to argue in front of shocked theatergoers. The producer called police. Idol eventually agreed to leave the theater premises and to check out of the South Beach resort where the cast and crew stayed.

The incident was strangely reminiscent of Idol's final Making Porn performance last year in Chicago. That time, however, police led him from the theater in handcuffs.

All theatergoers, who each paid $25 to see Idol perform nude in the show, received refunds. Also, tickets for the show's final two performances Saturday and Sunday nights were refunded, Hodgson said.

The week before Idol came to Miami Beach, playwright Lawsen had predicted the worst.

"He's a huge risk, " Lawsen said of Idol.

On Monday, he gloated.

"That's the story of his life. . . . That's his way of saying thank you to Miami and the producer. By walking off the last two days, " Lawsen said. "They threatened to sue me for libel after the last story, for saying he's a liability. He is a liability. You know what's amazing? That he made it through a month."

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b26169e20128770a360b970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A look back at Ryan Idol, when he starred in 1998 South Beach production of ‘Making Porn’:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment