|In 1985, gay porn in America was enjoying unprecedented popularity. Slick video productions, like Inch by Inch, Matt Sterling’s Sizing Up or any William Higgins feature, filled adult bookstore shelves. To the producers of gay porn, the “all-American boy” was kingeven if he was a queen!
“But does every gay man in America prefer such ‘white-bread’ fare?” asked 40-year-old Brian Brennan, a New York City graphic artist. For anyone who had a hard-on for young Latin men (or blacks, for that matter) it was slim pickings if you wanted to rent an X-rated movie with a “Cruz” or “Rodriguez” in the cast. If none of the established studios on the West Coast would provide the kind of ethnic diversity Brennan craved, he’d make his own videos and see how many others out there shared his taste for young Latin manhood!
New York City was and is teeming with sexy Hispanic papis that are more than proud to show off their family jewels, so Brennan grabbed a camcorder and began to “stalk the wild Latino.” Having no connections in the adult video industry and not able to afford the cost of printing color boxes (in order to sell his product to stores) mail-order sales seemed to be the only way to go.
When his newly-formed Latino Fan Club began offering gay Latin titles by mail, the response proved there was a huge untapped market for men who were hungry for the “Latin look.”
In 1985, the Latino Fan Club’s first release was San Juan Six Pack, with a cast of young, macho, mostly Puerto Rican models, which Brennan found hanging out at a popular Manhattan hustler bar called The Phoenix. Real-life male hustlers, they had the sexual aura and machismo that has become the main ingredient in the Latino Fan Club recipe for X-rated erotica over the years.
This element of natural masculinity, in fact, is one quality that has always set the LFC videos apart from the usual L.A. gay porn, which, for the most part, produced titles featuring more “romantic” man-on-man sex. That may appeal to a majority of viewers, but not to everyone. Many, including Brennan, wanted to see the types of men they encountered on the streets of New Yorkstreetwise, macho hustler-types looking to show off their hard bodies and harder dicks for a few dollars.
Making porn in those days meant renting expensive three-quarter-inch video cameras and recorders. Brennan took a chance and shot on consumer-quality VHS, knowing what was lacking in technical quality would be made up for in shooting hot sex scenes between horny Latin males. As orders began to fill his post office box, Brennan planned his next series of video features.
As the new decade approached, the Latino Fan Club had released New York Street Boys, Boys of El Barrio (and its sequel), Foreskin Forever (and its sequel), Boys Behind Bars (and two sequels that are still in stores today!), Red Hot ‘Ricans, a three-part epic named Hooked on Hispanics, and the solo collection Horse-Hung Hispanics. By 1990, the Latino Fan Club was getting noticed, and Brennan was offered an opportunity to have his videos distributed nationwide. While he retained the rights to his mail-order operation, LFC titles now appeared in stores in color packages that would appeal to a wider base of consumers.
Originally shooting out of his apartment in Astoria, Queens, in 1992, Brennan was offered a huge space in a renovated school building in the heart of Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem, now owned by the friend of one of his models. This ideal studio location had 22’ x 24’ former classrooms and 18-foot-high ceilings and plenty of natural sunlight. Over the next twelve years, sets were constructed, backdrops painted and Brennan produced video features such as Jacknives, directed by his friend Julian Anthony Guerra and edited in both R- and X-rated versions, Latin Sex Party, introducing one of LFC’s most popular stars, Romeo Castillo, and the first four-hour, double-cassette gay porn epic Spanish Harlem Knights. The late gay film critic John W. Rowberry wrote, “The jewel in the Latino Fan Club’s crown…Spanish Harlem Knights is epic gay porn, a sprawling landscape of emotions that never journeys beyond the geographic boundaries of the title, but encompasses universal truths about the human condition.”
Although a small independent company with minimal distribution, word of mouth continued to establish LFC’s reputation as a unique provider of ethnic porn with an urban flavor. The media began to take notice, not just the gay press. Vince Aletti wrote in The Village Voice, “The LFC aestheticthough inspired by exploitation (and mock exploitation) auteurs like Roger Corman, John Waters, and the anonymous dirty old man behind those ‘solo’ films from Old Reliableowes its style to its stars. Loose, funky, playful, always ready to drop real work and fool around, LFC doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
To underscore this observation, a typical video feature may take as much as three months to complete. “West Coast companies have a reputation of shooting what they call ‘one-day wondersand they tend to look it,” states Brennan. “I like to take my time and work at a pace where you can enjoy each day without outside pressure. In shooting a scene, I believe that it is important to create a non-threatening atmosphere where the talent of the models can be brought to the surface. I don’t have them memorize lines from a script. I explain who their character is and what information needs to be in the scene and let them use their own words. I get a more natural and realistic scene this way.”
Over the years, Brennan has shared the directing and producing tasks with kindred spirits like George Courtman, who wrote and directed the wildly popular View to a Thrill under his “Black By Popular Demand” label. More recently, J. Colina wrote and directed his now-classic series, starting with Spanish Lessons, which many critics in the gay media consider to be one of the best gay Latin videos ever. Brennan has also introduced new directors like Gary Mallorca (Hip Hop Body Shop and Backstage Boricuas) and Rob Greco (Ruffneck Rehab and Ruffneck Relapse).
While Latino Fan Club videos have explored gritty, “real-life” portrayals of the lives of young inner-city Latin men, the company has also offered a variety of themes and movie genres. Super Barrio Brothers, which came out in 1993, presented a vision of Latin men as superheroes in a fantasy city of the future. An even more extreme erotic fantasy, 1995’s Attack of the Amazing Colossal Latino, starring Antonio Caballo as a one-hundred-foot giant, had special effects to rival any Hollywood productionit was “the ultimate movie for size queens,” wrote one reviewer.
Other popular themes included life behind bars for horny, macho inmates in a metropolitan prison (Doin’ Hardtime, 1992), the sexy adventures of big-city bicycle messengers (Speedy Rodriguez, 1996; “They have more than a bicycle between their legs,” declared one ad), the backstage antics at a male strip club (Latin Showboyz, 1997), and when Brennan and “his boys” were invited to perform at three Paris clubs in 1999, the director wasted no time in shooting the trip and turning it into the X-rated Papis in Paris.
Since 2000, the Latino Fan Club has continued to keep its fans informed about ongoing video projects and premieres, new model photos and video preview trailers on its Web site, www.latinofanclub.com.
In March of this year, director Brennan received the Gay Video News Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the GayVN Hall of Fame in Los Angeles. “It may be our twentieth anniversary,” says Brian Brennan, “but I feel I’m just getting started!”