Al Parker (born Andrew "Drew" Okun 25 June 1952, Natick, Massachusetts ) became known in the early days of gay porn as a hot man, with a sensational body, handsome face, huge dick and balls and unlike many in the early sex film industry, didn't have a skin problem.
As a teen his parents loaned him their brand new Mustang to attend Woodstock, which they thought was a classical music festival. While at Woodstock, Drew had several homosexual experiences, the most notable in the back a van - a theme that would be repeated throughout his adult-film career.
After graduating from High School in Natick, he moved to Los Angeles where he landed a job operating the film projector booth at Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion.It is not known how long he worked there and his career in gay films started when he was "discovered" by Rip Colt, founder of Colt Studios and it was Colt who gave him the name "Al Parker"
Parker signed with Brentwood Studios where he made 12-15 minute loop films shot on 8 mm film reels, as this was way before video tape would change and revolutionise the porn industry enormously. He has the distinction of appearing as one of the crowd on the original Woodstock movie poster.
Parker began a long term, and open, lover relationship with Steve Taylor and together the two established Surge Studios, a gay-adult film production studio.
Following Taylor's sudden death from AIDS, Parker's interest in the studio faded. Parker himself serio-converted and tested positive - following which he made several "safer" porn movies with other HIV+ actors and in a 1987 interview, he sharply criticized the gay adult film industry's failure to respond to the effect the AIDS crisis was having on its performers. He was one of the first producers to insist that performers use condoms in his movies.
His films and content made him famous and eventually he began to produce, direct and star in porn films.. Surge Studios started making larger budget "theme" features and not just the "film loops." with many any of the films being shot out of Parker's home in Hermosa Beach, California.
Al Parker died 17 August 1992 from Aids and it was hard to find anything in the UK gay media concerning his loss - or his achievements, yet hundreds of thousands had watched and enjoyed his films over the decades and he will be sorely missed.
His movies were hugely popular as he portrayed a masculine side to gay life that many did not see, as in the 'old days' where many assumed gay men were all camp nelly queens and not muscular manly men, he broke the mould of many peoples concepts about who was - and who was not - gay.
A few years later when Rock Hudson died, his death sent a huge shock wave through America - for not only was he a house hold name and mega star, but it was always assumed he was a typical all American man - as clean and respectful as Doris Day - and when he died of Aids and the public realised he had been a cock sucking fag ( as some saw it ) it brought it home to millions of naive Americans that just about anyone - why even the soldier - the builder and the truck driver - ( policeman, politician as well as hairdressers and cabic crew ) could in fact be gay. It changed how people saw gay men forever.
Looking back at a lot of the early porn that is sadly lost to us now, the choice of men prepared to act in the early films was very limited and many - especially within the gay community - considered porn stars and escorts to be beyond contempt, utterly lower than low - and this was often the case within the gay media right up until ( in the UK at least ) the advent of magazines like QX in the 1990's - and very few inches were used in various UK based gay magazines when Al Parker died in 1992 and it was hard to find anything written about him - his life or his achievements - and this is sad.
These days porn stars become hugely famous - wealthy and respected by the media and community they aim their work at ( gay / straight / bi - whatever ) but it most certainly was not like this back in the 70's - 80's and 90's. Gay publications were rude and obnoxious towards those in the sex industry and although a little better these days - there is still a lot of obnoxious attitude and it is only because money talks that attitudes have changed. Many of the gay press earn a fortune out of the sex industry while belittling those who work 'hands on' and this dichotomy is an odd one. Back in the 80's and 90's, it was much worse and it was people like Al Parker who started the change.
Today the macho look of Al Parker is so common place - that it seems almost everywhere you look, any masculine macho man with muscles and tattoos has to be gay, but back in the 70's, going to the gym was not common and just about no one in the UK looked like Al Parker, whereas these days, it seems tens of thousands of gay men fashion themselves on his type.
Al Parker was the cause of many wank for me back in the past and it is time more people today realised how easy it is for those who want to be in - or even just to buy - porn, as it is so much more accepted, legal and appreciated for its content - than it was decades ago.
Al Parker was one of the first gay porn super stars and his legacy lives on.