How to make a Cult Gay Porn Star:
Find a model whose aesthetic is completely outside the contemporary industry norm. Cast him in a series of almost underground titles. Allow the bulk of his filmography to vanish in the rush of adult film corporate consolidation.
Enter Marco Martinelli.
You would think that the mantle of “Cult Gay Porn Star” would actually be redundant. Gay Porn is itself an outsider medium and even the biggest stars likely have little to no name recognition in popular culture outside of that purview. Still, in our circle a name like Ken Ryker or Ryan Idol will register with even unfamiliar viewers well after their retirement.
You’ve probably never heard of Marco, and it’s tough to nail down whether he was a vestige from another time or a harbinger of what was to come. During his tenure in the mid-’90s, there really was no mainstream market for the over-40, hirsute, Daddy-type that’s popularized in porn now, and so that that left him on the outer wings of the industry in gloss-free features that were evocative of ’70s loops and the current guerilla-lensed product of the Web.
Marco worked mainly for the now-defunct indie porn outlet Iron Horse, which specialized in shoe string-budgeted movies devoted to blue collar players like cops, construction workers, and leathermen. These had pretty generic titles like Cop Tales, Sex Patrol, and Cop Tops, and most have virtually vanished from the market. The sex play was no-frills and the models tended to look more like amateur enthusiasts than they did familiar pros. In the midst of it all was Marco — green-eyed, porn ‘stached (very Colt), balding-but-not-bald, beefily mature, and sporting an inviting pelt that made to you long to be up against it.
He was definitely a formative figure for me, arriving at a time I naively presumed you couldn’t have multiple types and that you had to be sexually attracted to someone your own age. Surprisingly, Marco was not the gruff, hulking top he appears to be at first glance. Police Daddy Marco showcases him at his best as the sort of sheepish lion so endeared to his small coterie of admirers — soft-spoken, prone to hanging his head in an aw-shucks manner, gentle in his machismo, and not one to overdo all the butch theatrics.
Watching Jackson Phillips turning the expected tables as he handles the stunned elder Marco — he was often billed under that moniker — with exuberant assertiveness is still scorchingly hot in its organic unfolding. If you’ve ever secretly dreamed about having a torrid clandestine fling with a closeted cop or seducing your best friend’s abashed dad, this is a fine approximation.
Marco did manage to turn up in some relatively more upmarket features, usually as a scene-stealer employed to add a dash of maturity to a cast. Hairassment finds him essaying a randy underwear executive, the DVD cover immortalizing him nude and emerging from a sunlit pool, still one of the most erotic images I’ve ever beheld. He plays a helmeted CHP in the dungeon finale from The Taste of Leather, which unfortunately underutilizes him and sets him up against a group scene where his charms aren’t appreciated like they should be.
If you can get your hands on House For Sex, then pull that hair trigger because he’s in top form here. His final scene with Rob Cryston elevates what would be an otherwise forgettable and workmanlike entry to porn perfection. He’s clearly hot for the always-game Rob here, who seems happy to reciprocate. The heat between them is so natural and sincere that by the time Rob is reverse cowboying atop his just-home-from-work hot piece, the look of ecstasy on Marco’s face conveys nothing so much as “Oh fuck! I can’t believe I’m really banging this muscle boy!” — a very hard sentiment to coach, much more fake.
It’s Marco’s comparative inaccessibility — few films, no “Best Of” retrospectives, no magazine layouts, little in the way of fanfare on the Net — that fuels the Martinelli Cult. Was he gay-for-pay? Did he really fight in Vietnam? Around 2000 when he had already vanished from sight for several years, rumors started to swirl that he was no longer with us, supposedly dying of AIDS. His obscurity is such that I can’t confirm or deny that, but as a Marcophile, I choose to believe that he’s very alive, very well, and rockin’ that ‘stache for someone special.
© 2011, Shawn Baker. All rights reserved. Nightcharm.com