William Higgins is an American pornographer who can safely be called an artist. He made his most famous films in the ’80s, classics like The Young & the Hung and Sailor in the Wild. I saw these on VHS in the ’90s, and they are stunningly well-crafted scenes starring all-American boys who seem genuinely country.
Higgins went on a world tour in 1988 with the goal of shooting in exotic locales and drifted into becoming an entrepreneur in the cowboy days of the Czech Republic (shortly after the fall of Communism), creating an elaborate sex club called Drake’s in Prague.
I visited Drake’s in 2005, and it was a fascinating, mazelike venue reminiscent of the Bijou in Toronto: secret passageways, rooms you could rent with hustlers if you knew the right staff member, an eerie, cavernous basement cruising section. I fucking loved Drake’s.
Once Higgins got Drake’s established, he grew bored and started filming porn again, with Prague as his permanent base. He stayed, not just for the abundance of cheap, gorgeous, military models, but also for the art. As Higgins writes in his blog: “I have, and will always keep, a different motivation nowadays. The work will always be my art and not the source of my daily bread.”
I purchased a monthly membership to williamhiggins.com to catch up with the legendary director, who resembles Santa Claus. Because it’s an old site, and a massive site, the navigation is a bit clunky, but if you dig in deep, you will be blown away by the sheer quantity of material. Many of the models are holy-fuck hot, and most of them have that ambiguous sexuality that I think works so well in porn.
The material on his site is eccentric and leans towards the genre I love: reality. There are tons of behind-the-scenes videos where you can see Higgins in action, directing his inner circle of hot Prague boys. His crew appear to be guys who started as models then evolved into loyal lifelong employees. They act as translators and cameramen, and I would guess they also keep Higgins safe from any rough trade.
There are medical examination–themed scenes (super hot), fetish scenes, a section called “Duty Bound,” which involves tying up boys and torturing them. There’s also my new porn word of the day, a genre called “Gonzo.” Wikipedia defines Gonzo porn as “a filming style… that attempts to place the viewer directly in the scene.” I like this category because you get to see the hot Higgins cameramen seducing new recruits.
I admire Higgins as a real artist — an adult filmmaker who made actual films in the ’80s that stand the test of time. What I admire even more is his reinvention as a true internet pioneer — he moved to a foreign locale, established himself, built a massive infrastructure and now spends all of his days doing what he loves the most: creating porn. It’s arguable that this involves “exploiting” small-town military boys, but I’ve met some of these boys — their fees of a couple hundred bucks go a long way towards supporting their families. Doing porn is not a chore or an embarrassment to them; it’s just an honest living.
Todd Klinck is a proprietor of Goodhandy’s. Porndoggy appears every two weeks on Xtra.ca.