Dirty Poole: a Sensual Memoir

Cover of Dirty Poole: a Sensual Memoir

Poole, Wakefield. Dirty Poole: a Sensual Memoir. Lethe Press, 2011. Paperback. 279p. $20. 978-1-59021-229-5.

Famous for creating the first quality gay porn films, Wakefield Poole began at the age of 35 with Boys in the Sand in 1971, starring his friends including Casey Donovan (Cal Culver). His work drew on his early performing career as a dancer and director in musical theater.


Although his first film was a success, he struggled with his personal life.


After a succession of lovers, including one heterosexual marriage, Poole became caregiver to Paul Hatlestad, who died of AIDS.


During their relationship, they both became addicted to drugs, losing friends and work, before they hit bottom and crawled back from the abyss. Poole always believed that he escaped AIDS because his addiction caused him to lose interest in sex. After Paul’s death and the double-crossing problems of the porn industry, Poole attended the French Culinary Institute at the age of 50 and became a successful chef.


Although an important book for those interested in the history of gay film, it can get tedious. Poole’s phenomenal memory causes Dirty Poole to be filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of names which can be hard to keep track of, especially when only a first name is used. He also describes every dance, theater, and film production in minute detail.


The book contains several typos such as the last name of Poole’s last lover.  The most serious one is changing the name of the well-known Anti-Aggression League in Taiwan to The Andaggression League. The original edition of this memoir, chronicling Poole’s life until he was 60, was published in 2000 by Alyson Books.  This new edition has additional photographs and an author’s afterward when he was 75.


This book is recommended for large libraries with a focus on film history.


Reviewer: James Doig Anderson, Professor Emeritus


Library and Information Science, Rutgers University



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