Gay Essentials -
J.D. Slater ...
The Man Behind The Music ...
There are few people who rise to the top in any industry, and even less in the adult world. Often, they are mega-personalities that are the result of created personas, or victims of publicity from their public antics. In this case, we get to have a rare look into the life of someone who fits neither of those profiles.
What we have here is a man of humility that has worked his way through the adult industry honing his craft, and finding a niche which has allowed him to bring forth an expression of his soul – his music. If you haven’t heard of JD Slater - that’s not a bad thing. JD hasn’t been spending his time promoting himself like a mega-porn personality. He has been working passionately, and what has resulted is a body of work of which he is proud. And pride-worthy it is. JD’s work has a signature to it. And his music has revealed the true expression of his being.
While JD has had many interviews, all of which can be read on his website (JDSlater.com), none has been as personal and intimate as the time he spent with GayPornSpace. JD opens up in a way that invites you into the most private parts of his creative soul.
This is but the first part of the interview. After reviewing the interview notes, there were almost 30 pages of transcript. Most interviews can be substantially shortened given the amount of fluff you have to go through to get to the meat of any story. In this case, JD didn’t hold back, so it was a matter of finding a way to share everything, and capturing it in a way that you can truly discover the man.
In addition to this, I highly suggest that you read the articles on his website. Much of the information there is good background. I tried not to cross-over to the obvious, but build on what was already known about JD. So go to his site (JDSlater.com) and check out the existing articles. Then sit back and get to know the real JD Slater.
Currently JD Slater has a new album available entitled Naked. Oddly, it’s not about nudity, but rather an honest expose of his soul. Slater bares himself musically going into territory that is not normally availed to him. In the opening cut, Desert Hymn, you are taken by surprise with ethnic themes. There is a hypnotic quality that you almost immediately surrender to. The CD continues to seduce you with textures and layers of meditative themes. One of my favorite tracks, Manticore is so lush that I drifted away (when I should have been working - and that's saying a lot as I am a very “type A” kind of guy).
The tone of the album shifts with Hussein - almost like a rich wake up call. Think of the ending to a good massage where the therapist uses gentle scented oils to bring you out of a trance.
The CD ends with a fresh awakening called Sunrise. I can easily imagine listening to this CD while watching a sunset along the coastline. Its therapeutic tone cleanses you of stress, and awakens you with fresh energy at the end. It’s a great piece of work. If you have a copy of the CD, take a moment and hit play, and let’s begin with our exploration into the heart and soul of JD Slater…
GPS – So you made it to the half-century mark, you're 50 this year.
JD - Yes. If anyone would have bet me, I would have said I'd never have made it to 40.
GPS – Did you find that the year 2000 was like a big thing?
JD – Um… It was very odd. I never expected to see it. And then when it came, I was like, “Hello? Okay.”
GPS – Yeah, now what do we do?
JD – Exactly! I opened the door and there was no Messiah (laughs).
GPS – Kind of disappointing that the aliens didn’t come.
JD – The aliens didn’t come, the computers didn’t crash, we didn’t get plunged back into the stone-age. I was looking forward to that.
GPS – (laughs) A little Fred and Barney action.
JD – It was sure anticlimactic.
GPS – Absolutely. What month were you born?
JD –September, I’m a Libra.
GPS – Ah…do you give any credence to the stars and their thing?
JD – All the founding members of Raging Stallion are Libras. Yeah, Chris and I are born exactly 5 days and 5 months apart…
GPS – How did you guys meet?
JD – We lived 5 blocks apart. We met, not because we were such close neighbors. we met due to another friend of mine from Dallas who met Chris at IML 7 1/2 years ago.
GPS – How long were you into the whole leather thing?
JD – Since I came out.
GPS – When was that?
JD – 1976. I was lucky…I was in New York City.
GPS – What did your parents think? When did they find out?
JD – 2 years later. It wasn’t a big deal.
GPS – That’s a blessing.
JD – It wasn’t a big deal…my mother tended to ignore stuff she didn’t want to deal with, and, my father and I hadn’t been tremendously close when I was younger. Oddly after that, we became closer. It was sort of strange.
Now, my entire discussion with my father about me being gay happened out one night. I was with lover #3, who was a rather famous painter. We spent almost our entire relationship traveling around the world. We were back in NY, after a few months of traveling. My father never ever called me…ever. And the phone rang, and it was my father and, he’s an Irish immigrant, and he said, “Hello Johnny!” I could tell that he’d been drinking a little bit and I said, (hesitantly) “Hi, Dad! What’s up?” thinking something was wrong. And he said, “Oh, nothing, nothing, I was just calling to say hi, how’re ya doin’?”
I was in my dressing room in the apartment, staring, deciding which fur I was taking to Aspen…and Dad says, “So, how are things going?” So, I looked at the clothes from Acapulco and the jewelry I was putting away from Acapulco and looking at the furs that were going out for Aspen, and the jewelry going out to Aspen and I just said, “Gee dad! I’m doing Fucking fabulous! How are you?” (laughs) He said, “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny! I had a question for you.” I said, “What is it?” He said, “I was wondering’…are you happy?” And I said, “Yeah, Dad, I’m extremely happy.” And he said, “No, no, no, no, no…and you HAPPY?” And it dawns on me that he can’t think of the word “gay,”
GPS - That's a revelation
JD - and so I said, “Yes, dad, I’m happy.” “Ya sure? And Gustavo?” And I said, “Gustavo’s VERY happy.” (laughs) And he says, “And?” And I said, “And all of the men that I’ve brought to the house for the past four years are happy.” And he said, “Ah…that’s a nice group of boys.” Yeah, “That’s it! Have a good night!” And that was it! That was the entire extent to our conversation.
GPS – That's pretty amazing! (Shifting the conversation). You were raised Catholic, right?
JD – Oh God, yeah.
GPS - Did you go to private school?
JD – Yeah.
GPS – You know I had a similar experience. I was wondering if you remembered anything from that generation that we shared that was uniquely Catholic dominant, nun type stuff.
JD – Oh god yeah…no, I had some of the meanest nuns in the world. And um, when I was in eighth grade, um, we had this one Sister, she must have been a thousand years old. I have three older sisters that are 15, 14 and 13 years older than me and they had all had her, and she was ancient THEN!
GPS – Did she have that thing on her head that made her look like she could fly?
JD – No, no, no…she didn’t have the Flying Nun head gear. She just had one of the regular nuns - normal clothes. And uh, tiny, tiny little woman and on her desk, she always kept…do you remember those windup alarm clocks with the bells on top?
GPS – Oh Yeah.
JD – She always kept three of those on her desk.
GPS – Three?
JD – And the woman had an arm like Sandy Kofax. And she could hit anyone in the room straight on with the damn thing. One day, we were getting ready for a test or something and I asked the kid next to me for a pencil. And, suddenly you hear the whistling through the air and I get hit in the head with the alarm clock. It hits me right above the eye and it starts to bleed. She comes running down the aisle to smack me up and, I had gone through a growth spurt that year so I was bigger than her, and I stood up in the middle of the aisle and she came running down towards me and I grabbed her by the shoulders and swung her back down the aisle until she smacked into the blackboard. And she just slid down to the ground and I walked up, and she started screaming, and I stepped on her neck and I said, “Shut the hell up, bitch!” (laughs)
GPS – There you go! Well, you know when you get hit in the head with a clock that will do that to you!
JD – And um, I went back to my desk, packed up my schoolbooks and walked out.
GPS – After that, did you go to private high school or public?
JD – Mostly private high schools. My parents were bound and determined to see me going, so I went to Regis, which is the hardest high school in the world to get into… It was a Jesuit high school and THE hardest high school in the world to get into. Every year they get 6000 applications for the entrance exam, out of that they pick 150. And out of the 150, they only bring in 50.
And what you do for your entrance exam is you sit down at this desk and they hand you the entrance exams to Harvard and Yale and Stanford and all this other stuff. And you have to sit there and go through this stack of entrance exams. The one nice thing about the mean, old nun was that she had a record of having the most kids make it into the good school. And all we did for the last half of the year was sit down and do entrance exams.
GPS – You know, I think there’s a double-edged sword to that private education, in that, while it was very disciplined, we did get great schooling.
JD – Yes, so I not only finished the entire stack before lunch, and, because they gave you a lunch break, I finished the entire stack before lunch. I remember going up and handing it to the priest and they said, “You can't leave before you finish." And I said, No, I’m done.” And he said, “You can’t be done. You’ve only been working on this for three hours, this is an eight hour test.” And I said, “No, I’m done!" I had broken the school record for time and had the highest score in the school’s history. I skipped a grade in grammar school so, then started Regis, and went from Regis to Chaminade. And from there to Loyola, and then to St. Dominic’s.
GPS – Loyola where? Chicago?
JD – No, no, New York.
GPS - When you were growing up, what community were you raised in?
JD – When I was younger, we were on Long Island - which was a very, very wealthy community. My father was an estate supervisor. He had originally been a jockey. And uh, my father was only 4’11 wee, tiny, little bit of a man.
GPS – Was your mom a “giantess?” (Harry Potter reference)
JD – No, no! My mother was a half an inch taller!
GPS – Wow! What happened to you?
JD – I am to this day convinced there was a horrible, horrible mistake at the hospital because I came from short, fat, ugly people (laughs).
GPS – And now you’re a dominant force in the leather community.
JD – (laughing) Yeah, that’s it.
GPS – When you think back to your childhood, growing up, you know I remember my first memory was kinda stumbling down the sidewalk smelling the fresh cut grass. What’s the first memory you have of your childhood?
GPS – Really?
JD – Horses. We had about a dozen horses on the estate. My father started putting me on horses when I was about 3. And that’s the first memories I have…being put on top of this gigantic animal! (laughte)
GPS - Espcially at that age, they’re like so huge!
JD – Yeah, they were gigantic! They didn’t put me on a pony, they put me on a big ass horse! And it’s funny, it looks like I’m a small package of potatoes on top of the horse.
GPS – What did you study in college?
JD – Clinical psychology, English, fine art, and theology.
GPS – That’s an interesting mix! You degree'd in Psychology didn’t you?
JD – Yes
GPS - Did you pursue anything with that or did you just find it as a good something to get you through life?
JD – It’s come in very, very handy with directing and just dealing with people in general. But, no, I never really did anything with it.
GPS – What was the first job you had whether it be at age 15, 12, 17 or whatever? What was the first memorable job you had?
JD – First job? I was always going to school. I didn’t work when I was in school and I went to school straight on scholarships so I didn’t have to work. And, I did other things for money, but we won’t discuss that (laughter). But, my first major job was right after I came out. I started off as a sound guy, I played in bands all the way through school, and started off in sound, then became Technical Director for the ensemble studio theatres in NY.
GPS – So it’s interesting having a background as a musician and an understanding of the technical side.
JD – My older sister married a guy who owned a recording studio and I spent a lot of time down there. That’s where my interest in the technical end of it came in.
GPS - Now, this is way back when they had big tape machines running at 15ips?
JD – Oh God, yeah. His studio was the studio where they recorded “Leader of the Pack.” It was wild! It was amazing! Most of those concerts were recorded at his studio and so I was at all of those shows. You would be like one of 40 people crammed into this tiny, little studio and you’d be like sitting on Fleetwood Mac’s lap.
GPS –What was your favorite experience in that room? Something that really changed your life?
JD – Let me think….uh…probably the Grateful Dead. The Dead didn’t stop playing. They just wouldn’t stop playing.
GPS – And they rolled tape through the whole thing?
JD – Yeah, they did, and the place was packed. We got in a couple of minutes late, just as they were starting…we had to sit right up in the very front, so I had to sit with my knees crossed in such a way where I wasn’t blocking Jerry Garcia’s guitar pedals. I sat there all night with like Jerry Garcia sweating on me just watching his fingers on the guitar.
GPS – Yeah, I would have kept that shirt in a bag for the rest of my life. Tell me something, when did music first come into your life? How old were you?
JD – When the Beatles came out. '62.
GPS – ’62…Ed Sullivan! Did you see that show?
JD – Oh, God yeah.
GPS – What did your dad say that night?
JD – My father got up and walked out of the room. “Nah, this doesn’t interest me.” And he got up and did something else.
GPS – I think he went to grab a beer with my dad.
JD – (laughing) Probably!
GPS – What did that evening mean to you?
JD – It changed music for me. I was like, “Whoa! I didn’t know they could do that!”
GPS – Had you been playing an instrument at that point?
JD – No.
GPS – What was the first instrument that you picked up?
JD – Guitar.
GPS - And what other instruments do you play?
JD – Some keyboards, bass, drums, some stuff like that. But, I’m bad at it, I’m a really bad musician.
GPS – Are you self taught?
JD – I took some lessons, but the rest of it’s mostly self taught.
GPS – What did you think of the teachers you had?
JD – The first guitar teacher I had was a complete idiot. Most of the one’s after that…I mostly took lessons in large classes, I never took private lessons. The teachers’ just never clicked with me. I understood more about where the music was coming from than they did. And that was pretty clear from the start.
GPS – So, you thought they were being intellectual about it and you were being spiritual?
JD – Yeah, I was always going for the feeling and they were like, “No, no, no, this way, and this way, and this way” And I was like, “Why?” “And you can’t mix this with that.” And I thought, “Of course you can. That’s why they put all the strings there!” (laughs)
GPS – That’s pretty funny. I’ve always, you know, come from the Eastern thinking to do something right, you have to be it.
JD – Yeah. But, most of the time in the bands, I was just the singer. I was a crappy musician and as I got older, I just got crappier because I broke my right hand three times and my left one twice.
GPS - And you did this for fun?
JD – No, no, no, no…I did them in fist fights - I was a bouncer for a club in Manhattan. I got stabbed once actually at that job.
GPS – What year was that?
JD – 1976.
GPS – That was before the wild ‘80s!
JD – Yeah. I was doorman at a club in NY which was the world’s largest drag bar. Massive, massive, massive club. We had 2 cabarets, 2 discothèques, a trapeze artist over the dance floor of one of the discothèques, 16 bars, a bar staff of 80, cabaret and entertainer staff of 115. Heavily Mafioso. Heavily, heavily, heavily Mafioso.
GPS – Well, that’s the only way it’d work with that kind of budget.
JD – Yeah. They loved me because I was this nice, innocent Irish-Catholic kid who didn’t look gay. And, so when I wasn’t working at the club, the owner’s wife needed to go to a Broadway show or something like that and he didn’t want to go, I was the one they sent. Or if his daughter had to be taken to a dance or something like that, I was the one they sent 'cause they knew I was safe.
GPS – That is hilarious. That’s quite a little piece of history right there. What do you recall of NY at that time besides that?
JD – NY was very exciting. Everybody was discovering everything at that moment. Gay had just become the new black. And basically, all you really had to do to have a fabulous life was to be somewhat good looking and gay. And people came along and handed you amazing careers. When I was 23, I was one of the editors of Blueboy Magazine, which at that time was the biggest gay magazine in the world. I was the guy in charge of the "what’s now and happening" stuff. They didn’t have a huge presence, so you ended up writing most of the articles yourself, so, I was the guy telling people what to wear, what’s hip, what shows to go to, what clubs were good…it gave you a ton of valor…as you were basically the style-maker. I had been gay for what seemed like 20 minutes at that time, and I’m telling everybody else how to do it. Then, I met lover #3 and we started traveling a lot so I went down to Associate Editor so I could travel with him. Mostly travel pieces…gay around the world and stuff like that.
GPS - I was thinking musically, as we grow older, sometimes we start to appreciate things that we used to hate…like I used to hate country western, and now I kind of understand it a little bit better. Obviously we know the music that you create today…and I know the list of music that’s inspired you, but what kind of things do you like or appreciate now that you used to hate or grown to understand better?
JD – It was very odd…at 11, I was listening to jazz…I was probably the only 11 year old that was actively listening to John Coltrane or Miles Davis. I had a country thing for a while. But, uh, all music made sense to me. Music and physics were the two things that always made sense to me…everything else I found a little confusing.
GPS – Music as they say… a genius is a mathematician type of person and music flows out of that genius, so do you think that that ties into your music appreciation?
JD – Oh, yeah. Definitely. And music is math…that’s the only way I can...I write as fast as I do because suddenly it becomes complete math to me. I don’t know if I can explain the algorithms that run through my head as I’m writing, but I can lay out 140 tracks and stop listening to them and start placing them in and out as I need them.
GPS – Do you hear it in your head before you start the work?
JD – Oh, yeah. I’ve written songs in less time than it actually takes to play the song.
GPS – So, it sort of like you have to get it out of you before you forget a nuance or a subtlety?
JD – Yeah. I know where they start but where they go is anybody’s guess…I just go with it.
GPS – On an esoteric level of physics, what do you think about the concept of time – past, present and future?
JD – Well, time is just an effect of gravity. I think you sort of live in all times all the time. At any point you can reach back or reach forward.
GPS – Interesting. Who, what group motivates you as of late?
JD – The one that probably predominated my music is U2.
GPS – What do you think of Bono’s politics?
JD – I love Bono. Bono should be President. They should have made Bono Pope. (laughs)
GPS – Well, anyone’s better than the one we’ve got.
JD – Exactly. Bono or the Nazi? Let’s see?
GPS – (laughs) Tough choice.
JD – I find most of the answers to the questions in life are included somewhere in U2 songs.
GPS – I personally love their very early stuff. To me, it was amazing before they became a commercial success. It seems like every other album they throw caution to the wind and do something off the hook.
JD – They’re astonishing in concert. I’ve seen them more times in concert than I care to admit. They’re sort of religious experiences for me.
GPS – Now, interestingly enough, most of the musical and entertainment community is not very fond of the current political administration, and Bono found an amazing way to bridge that achieve some amazing results with George Bush.
JD – And still make his point very clear. Did you see his last tour?
GPS – No, I did not.
JD – During the Auchtung Baby tour, when George Bush Sr. was in the White House, every night in the middle of the show, Bono would pull out a portable phone and call the White House. About halfway through the tour, the White House got tired of ignoring him and George Bush would actually answer occasionally. Bush answered. “Hi Bono…how are you doing this evening?” And the crowd would go nuts and stuff like that. This tour, about halfway through the show, they had them turn on all the lights in the stadium and said, “I want to see all the cell phones in the house.” And the stadium lit up with cell phones. And on the screen they flashed a number for them to text. And they said, “Everyone text this number right now. Punch in this number. Okay, you’ve all just texted Congress.”
GPS – That’s awesome!
JD – His politics and his ability to get an entire audience in on his politics and not being threatened by it was probably one of the most incredible things I’ve ever watched.
GPS – Yeah, it’s not angry, it’s just “Here’s what we need to do.”
JD – Yeah. It isn’t born out of anger. It isn’t born out of a negative space. It’s born out of the fact that if you just try hard enough, you can make things happen. You can effect change, and it doesn’t have to be a violent act.
GPS –On a planetary level, what would you like to see happen in out lifetime?
JD – I would like to go back to the world that I expected when I was a child. (laughs)
GPS – That’s very interesting! What do you think has disappointed you as you’ve become aware of the world?
JD – The fact that it’s not so much that people don’t hear each other, it’s just that they refuse to hear each other.
GPS – You mean they listen, it’s just that they don’t hear.
JD – Yeah. And they just don’t care! The fact that we seem to be going backwards, rapidly backwards to a point where politically we’re at a stage…When I first became aware of politics was in the ‘50s. I’d listen to my father, my father being Irish of course, we’d go on about politics all the time. Listening to my father rail on about stuff…my father was very conservative. I remember thinking as a child, “Okay, now that’s wrong.” (laughs)
GPS – Was he Republican?
JD – Oh, god, yes!
GPS – Have you decided to be a Democrat or what are you?
JD – I decided to become a Democrat or an Independent probably at age 3. I used to take my political cues from my parents…whatever they wanted, I was against. (laughs)
GPS – We were both at the end of the Vietnam War in terms of the draft. Did your number ever come up?
JD – They stopped the draft two weeks before my number came up.
GPS – Had you already thought about what you would do?
JD – Oh, yeah, I was on my way to Canada.
GPS – Me too. My father disowned me at that spot.
JD – I was just on my way to Canada thinking, “I’m not going to deal with this! No, no, no!” I’m glad I didn’t have to go because life would have been very different. No, I was not going to participate in that at all…I wasn’t willing to die for that cause.
GPS – Yeah, I hear what you’re saying on that one for sure. You obviously have been involved in the adult industry for a number of years…you started in front of the camera…how many years did you do that?
JD – About 15 all together.
GPS – Any regrets or did you find a high point?
JD – There were a bunch of movies that I’d rather not have been in…quite frankly, I did 165 movies, so I’ve been in more turkeys than Pepperidge Farms stuffing. But it was all part of an experience. It was all part of a learning experience.
GPS – Who was the best director that you worked with?
JD – Wakefield Pool.
GPS – What did you like about his style?
JD – I only got to work with Wakefield once. The next would be Christopher Rage. But, Wakefield and I were just, I dunno, just buddies. And the piece I did for 1 through 3 was a 17 minute monologue. It was the first time that anyone ever tried to do something like that and it was the first safe sex movie, really. Wakefield just said, “I’ve always wanted to someone to do this and you’re the only one I could think of to do it,” and we just sat down and we filmed it.
Christopher Rage was amazing because I probably learned the most from Rage. Rage was so wildly experimental. The gutsiest artist that I ever knew because he would try to do experiments…some of them failed miserably, quite honestly…but succeed or fail, he put it out. Every six weeks there was a release and he would just crank them out and out it would go and some of them would fail miserably and some of them were great. And he learned something from each one and as a result, you learned something from each one. He knew how to deal with cast members, how to find their inner dirty old boy or whatever…and how to reignite that. And also not to be afraid to try stuff that people haven’t done. Very formula…and nobody did any experimentation of any type.
Wakefield did a little, but for the most part, everyone tried to do a Hollywood type movie, if they had the budgets for it. Rage said, “No, screw that. Just go out find something new and do something that you feel.” And I had enough theatre background with lighting and sound that, when I like my movies, I don’t do video lighting, I do stage lighting.
GPS – It makes a difference.
JD – When I design the sets, I’m designing stage sets, I’m not designing a video set. I design them with that in mind and the dramatic impact of the things going on around them. It’s why my stuff looks different.
GPS – Obviously there is a time in your life when you went through some drama. When you spent some time in the hospital…was that a turning point for you?
JD – Oh god, yes. Up to that point, I had…After years and years and years of being at the top of my field, I’d become a raging jack-ass…I was completely full of myself and not treating people around me the best one could. I was angry at the entire world. I developed a serious chemical dependency…
GPS – What was your favorite chemical?
JD – At that point, it was meth.
GPS – Okay! Well, you survived that! That’s pretty damn amazing!
JD – Thank God I came down with all those diseases, I didn’t have a choice! One day I was a speed freak…I was shooting a 16th a day just to maintain.
GPS – How long ago were you doing that? I mean, for how long did you do that?
JD – Years. I did it for years. And then, the next day, I was in the hospital and they were taking one testicle out, and I’ve got TB and HIV, and I’ve got maybe 18 months to live.
GPS – Was the cancer a family thing or…
JD – No, no. Mine was a result of steroid abuse. Back then, in the early ‘80s they were still experimenting with a lot of the steroids and stuff that they put us on…I was going to doctors…I wasn’t buying bootleg stuff. They really didn’t know the long term effects of all this crap.
GPS – Well, the good news is that you didn’t end up looking like a Russian woman!
JD – No, no! Thank God! Thank God! And they didn’t really effect me the way they effected other people. It was really hard for me to put on weight when I was younger. It wasn’t until after I turned 40 where I could actually put on weight.
GPS –So, you made it through the hospital and you came through to the other side…and you had an awakening in that period…
JD – Well, after the cancer op, whenever you have an operation, either your hands or your crotch, which is where all your nerve groupings end up, there’s like a 1 in 100,000 chance that both of the nerve groupings end up fused. Which doesn’t affect you much until 2 of the opposite nerve grouping fire off at the same time and then, I would have effectively what would seem like a grand mal-seizer.
GPS – And you were 1 in 100,000?
JD – The full effect of it is more like 1 in a quarter million.
GPS – You really need to be picking lotto numbers.
JD – Yeah, I know. I started getting them and at one point, I started getting them every 45 minutes. You get the seizure and you go out, and when you came back…it’s like when you’re rebooting your computer, except than when you when you came back online, initially you were in safe mode. And I couldn’t speak, wouldn’t be able to walk. And slowly you would come back…but, when they started happening every 45 minutes, the computer stopped resetting. After about 9 months of that, I lost the ability to speak and walk. Internally, inside my head, I could still do every thing, I just couldn’t get the body to do it. When people would talk to me, I would try to respond my best, and the right thoughts would come to my head, I just couldn’t get them out of my mouth.
(NOTE: If any of you have wondered if a relative or friend was cognitive when in a coma, or had mental capacity when paralyzed or incapable of speech, this is very enlightening.)
GPS – You think about the elderly who have Alzheimer’s and you wonder if in their head everything’s fine and they just can’t get it out. Having come back to consciousness from something like that, what was it like?
JD – That’s where everything changed because for about a year, I was in that condition…a little over a year I was in that condition. All I had was the internal conversation. And, I couldn’t even watch television because halfway through a show, I’d go out halfway through a show and that’d always piss me off. I started talking to myself about what you had done with your life, and who you treated well and who you treated badly. All these people were around me, some of whom I had not treated the best, were suddenly around me every day, and taking care of me…taking me to the bathroom and feeding me and all this other stuff…and um, I realized the selflessness of their act. And I was not necessarily the nicest to them…and um, it changed absolutely everything. It changed how I looked at money. It changed how I looked at people. It changed how I looked at myself. It changed how I looked at what I do for a living. It changed the way I looked at music.
GPS – Did you ever feel suicidal?
JD – Constantly. Constantly.
GPS – It’s not you could have done anything about it… That must have been frustrating.
JD – Yeah, I couldn’t have done anything about it…that was the big, Catholic joke. (laughs) If there was ever a time where God would have forgiven me for suicide, but I couldn’t pull it together to do it.
The biblical irony of me losing a testicles not lost on me. In many ways, I think I was over-testosteroned as a young man. Losing a testicle was the only thing that aided me in making it to 50! It slowed me down just enough to come down to normal human level.
GPS – So, you came out on the other side, so to speak…walked into the light and stepped out and here you are again…how many years ago was that?
JD – About 15 years ago.
GPS – So, I guess the expression for people who are long term survivors of anything…they say that we’re living on “borrowed time,” how do you feel about that? What’s it done for you in your life?
JD – I don’t think it’s borrowed at all. We’re obviously supposed to be here for something. I hadn’t reached anywhere near my potential…I still don’t think I’ve reached my full potential,…but I’m no where near my potential on anything yet.
GPS – Do you think you didn’t want to go or God didn’t want you back?
JD – There came a very, very unique sort of moment where I was rushed into the hospital at one point, I’d had an abscess that had to be taken care of right away. And, they rushed me into the hospital and it was very odd…I was rushed to the hospital every 4 or 5 weeks for a while there, so it wasn’t a big deal. But, I got into the hospital this one time, and I knew from the moment they checked me in, I was going to die. This was it. Something was going to happen during the operation. I was going to die. And there was no doubt in my mind at all…it wasn’t like fear, I was just very, very sure of it. And I picked up the phone and I started calling friends to say, “Goodbye.” Without sounding alarmist because I didn’t want them freaking out. I just wanted to have a final conversation with a few people. And called a bunch of friends and they came into the room…this is at San Francisco General…they came into the room and wheeled me out of the room, and wheeled me to one of the elevator banks, and somebody else was going to take me down to the operating room.
So, I’m lying on the gurney and I’m facing this big, full, floor window that was facing up Hill, and the fog comes in over the hill. And I’m sitting there watching the fog roll over the hill and I get tapped on the shoulder and I look up and there’s this woman standing next to me and she goes, “That’s the carpet to go home if you want to now!”
And I said, “Excuse me?”
And she goes, “That the carpet to go home if you want to go now. If not, you can stay, but it’s going to be a long walk back. But you have to decide now.”
And I don’t know why, but I decided that I wanted to stay, so she said, “Okay!” and walked away.
And sure enough during the operation, I had two heart attacks. And then when I came to in the recovery room, I came to and there’s a nurse standing over me, laughing hysterically. And the doctor’s standing right next to here looking really pissed. And I asked the nurse, “Why are you laughing?
“You’ve been sitting there singing for the last half hour?”
I said, “What have I been singing?”
And she said, “Depeche Mode, the song about I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumors, but God has a sick sense of humor.”
GPS – So, the person standing beside you prior to going into the operation?
JD – Oh, she was an angel! I knew everybody who worked in that damn hospital, I was in the hospital so much, everyone knew me, and I knew everyone there. And no, they were right, it was a long, long, long, way back.
GPS – Do you think everybody gets that option?
JD – I don’t know. I don’t know. Obviously not. Obviously there are just points where they just take you. But, it’s odd because I also believe in reincarnation.
GPS – Why did you want to stay?
JD – I wasn’t done. I knew I wasn’t done. There was something else there that I needed to do.
GPS – Do you think you’ve achieved that yet or do you still feel that you’re an instrument of some greater power and it’s just flowing as time passes?
JD – Yeah, that. Yeah, I don’t think I’ve achieved the ultimate purpose, whatever that is. I don’t know if there is an ultimate purpose, I think part of it might just be to help move yourself along and moving other people along. That I’m an instrument not only in my own life, but in other people’s.
GPS – Now, prior to your medical situation, you said you had grown to a place where you weren’t the generous person that you’ve become…and in recent years, you’ve certainly been a very generous gift of music and probably that extends to many people whose lives you’ve touched. When it’s all said and done, hang up your hat, how do you want to be remembered? Or, what accomplishment do you want to be known for?
JD – Bringing people to think of life on a bigger scale. Think of life in a bigger scale. Think of music in a bigger scale. Relate, think of their sexuality more freely and in a more positive space. Just being one of those points in people’s lives where the world could have gone either way and it went the better way because of me.
GPS – Right. I’ve been listening so closely to you as opposed to not listening to you and not thinking of the next question, which is, I get distracted to say the least. So, we were both raised Catholics …what do you consider yourself now?
JD – I think of myself as a religious man. I don’t think of myself, well, I guess I do still think of myself as a Catholic, in some odd sort of way, but not in the Catholic Church, Catholic. I respect…my own religious beliefs take different pieces from everything. From Buddhist to Hindu to American Indian to Shinto to Confusiousism to Taoism…they all sort of blend.
GPS – What do you think of the things that have been going on in the Middle East with the whole Muslim deal? I mean, you studied Theology…
JD – I think it’s the way people are being educated and brainwashed. They’re getting interpretations of the religion as opposed to the religion. It’s what the Catholic church did and what the Protestant church did…they had the original manuscripts and they decided, “Okay, this translation doesn’t work for us, so we’re going to change it to this.”
The good thing about going to Jesuit schools as many as I did, as opposed to the rest of the Catholic church, they were not afraid to point out the things that didn’t jive between gospels. More than following their beliefs on what they thought it was, it opened me up to the fact that it was all interpretational. That God it there and it’s your interpretation of him that affects you life.
GPS – Aside from the Nazi discipline of going to private schools, one of the things I noticed about the Jesuits was that they taught you to think as opposed to taught you to memorize.
JD – Yeah, most definitely. And they told you to figure it out on your own. Which just stumped a bunch of kids, but I enjoyed that. My whole adult life has been basically creating jobs and positions that didn’t exist before I came along and turning them into careers.
GPS – You bring up an interesting thing there at the heart of creativity and at the heart of openness and spirituality…if you look at so many of the people on this planet who are really following and fitting into the grand scheme of things, do you think it would be to their advantage to find that creative spark inside of them, to choose what they’re doing instead of being automated robots?
JD – Yeah, a perfect example would be Bono. Before there was Bono, there wasn’t one of those. There were politically active musicians, but they always stayed within their political stitch/jargon. They didn’t communicate with the whole audience or the whole world. He created his own style of music, he created his own style of politics, he’s created very own philosophy for people to interpret any way they want to and that really didn’t exist before him.
GPS – When did “Naked” get released?
JD – “Naked” was released on Valentine’s Day. It was Get “Naked” for Valentine’s Day.
GPS - Looking back over the library of your creativity, going to the very beginning to where you are today, how do you feel about the growth of your music and the direction it’s gone?
JD – I could never have seen the direction it’s going in, I attribute a lot of that to my business partner, Chris Ward, who time and time again has come to me for specific projects and gone, “Okay, you’re going to write this.” Like with “Raiders,” he said I want orchestration, we want authentic tribal inserts. I was thinking, “Okay, I’ve never done full orchestrations, I’ve never done that." Chris said, “No, no, no, you can do this!” And I started writing a lot of the Latin stuff that I write, but before that, I never approached that genre. I’ve listened to a lot of Latin music, but I haven’t really written any. It was the good people down at Our World’s who handed me a soundtrack for a movie called “Zoot Suits” and I said, “Well, what do you want?” And they said, “We want 1940’s Jazz.” And I was like, “Ooh-Kay.”
They said, “No, no, no! We think you can do it!”
And I sat down and did it. With Arabesque, once again Chris said…when we first started it, we were basing it on the original Rudolph Valentino movies, the Sheik in front of the Sheik, which the soundtrack to Scheherazade. Originally, we thought we’d sort of do an updated Scheherazade, and then we said, “No, no, no. That’d be hokey.”
And if we didn’t want to be hokey, we had to use instruments authentic to the region. I sat down for months learning the instruments of the regions, what were the right percussive instruments, how were they played? I need to know first how an instrument is played before I can actually write for it.
I don’t have to be able to play it myself, per se, but I need to be able to watch somebody else play it and figure out in the playing of it, what is it that makes it make certain sounds.
Chris kept telling me, “You can do this! You can do this! You can do this!”
And I’d hand him something and he’s go, “That’s nice, but that’s not the best you can do.”
And would hand it back to me. And for the rest of the afternoon, I’d be like, “That son of a bitch!”
GPS – I think to have somebody in your life that can push you to stretch like that is great.
JD – Incredibly supportive. There isn’t another studio in the world that has an in-house composer. Once again, a position that we invented for me. And it makes a lot of difference in the movies, Chris and I know each other so well, that now when I write for his stuff, he rarely listens to it before he lays it in and he just knows that it’s going to be right. We think the same way on a lot of levels. The places where we diverge, we appreciate the other’s divergence. “Oh, that’s interesting, let’s go that way!” So, it’s been a very, very interesting partnership.
GPS – You guys met how many years ago?
JD – About 8 1/2 years ago.
GPS – Did you get a sense that something was going to happen at that point?
JD – Immediately, I knew that he was the most talented filmmaker I had ever met and I wanted to work with him. And we just got along really, really well from the get-go. Became almost inseparable for the first year and a half…we were really joined at the hip and learned a lot about each other. We went through a lot of stuff with each other…went through break-ups with boyfriends, and in my particular case, a number of health crisis’s, all sorts of stuff. The sort of stuff that either bonds you for life or spins you wildly apart. And we chose to bond.
GPS – So, what’s next?
JD – Haven’t a clue. I would like to go onto…I’m having a great deal of fun with Raging Stallion. Now when I direct…(I stopped directing for a while, but when I came back,) I’ve just done projects I want to do. Once again, the great luxury of having the company and having such a great, supportive group that I work with.
I’m not sure. I want to keep fresh in all of our stuff. We try and portray sex in a very positive light and as a life-affirming thing. The last couple of years, we’ve been concentrating heavily on making it multi-national and having one’s porn more greater reflect the actual world as opposed to just sort of the old-fashioned white kids by the pool type of thing. It’s why our movies now have wildly international casts. We cast from all over the world…we don’t see color…I don’t think that there’s anybody else is that does that. We just look at people. Slowly but surely we are affecting most of the industry that way.
GPS – Absolutely! What do you think about the…statistically in sales right now, the bareback movies are doing so incredibly well.
JD – And they have since they’ve hit, yeah.
GPS – What do you think about that morally and ethically?
JD - I don’t like to make moral judgments for other people. We won’t put it out ourselves, because we think that is a judgment thing you need to make on your own.
And I know for a fact that that stuff I put in early movies, sort of kinky things that I put in early movies, and I thought I demonstrated well in the movie, I would find out years later that someone in East Oshkosh had tried it and done it wrong and injured somebody.
But, I learned from a very early point that what you put up on the screen, people are going to try to copy. And, they’re not going to think about it because you did it and they trust you. And I’m sort of a trusted figure in erotica and they tend to follow what I do and I don’t want to be the guy that they point to after someone’s been bare backing for a while and then turns positive and goes well, “Slater said that it was okay.” I don’t want to be that guy…maybe that’s just being selfish on my part, or else we’d all be selfish and be making a lot more money.
Raging Stallion would be making approximately 10 times what we’re making if we’d do bareback. We would be having this conversation on my private island, with some monkey servants.
It would be very posh, but we just refuse to go there and we’re getting a lot of crap for it! I can’t tell you the amount of people that complain that there’s no bareback and then they ask about your personal life and you have to tell them that that’s personal!
GPS – Right…that’s a decision 2 partner’s make privately.
JD – Exactly! As much as you’d like for me to be able to give you all the answers, I think my job is much more about asking the right questions.
GPS – Very, very true. The other thing on the Internet, of course, there are certain sites you can go to and be exposed to XXX content without any AVS or child protection what so ever. Your website, of course, is responsible and it shows enough, but if you want more, then you’ve got to…
JD – You have to jump a couple of fences to get there…
GPS – Yeah, and it’s not like the ultimate answer…none of us have found that in any of our websites, but you could make a lot more money if you just had an open door there and let anyone in.
JD – Oh, god yeah! But then, if you let everyone in, then you let in pedophiles, you let in abusive personalities, you let in people who are fucked up on 1,001 reasons and then you are then validating their “fucked-upness.” People are screwed up sexually for a number of reasons, and they have to find their own way out of it. I don’t consider it my job to fix everybody’s problems…but I would consider it a disservice to my audience if I validated myself in my heart was negative behavior.
GPS – What do you think about the gay community now, I mean the White Parties, Black Parties, and the dynamic growth of Meth use?
JD – (laughing) It’s kind of hard for me to point fingers on this one…
GPS – Well, you’ve been to hell and back…
JD – But it’s…I mean, the original White parties and Black parties of which I was a part of in NY, were much different affairs than they are now. And the sad thing I see with the meth use and the massive drug use is how it’s become about the drugs and not about the event. The event is the background for taking the drugs as opposed to the drugs being an incidental to the event. In cases where you try to pick up somebody or chat with somebody on like and their first line is, “Do you PNP?” And that’s where I cut off the conversation. I’m like, “Okay, if that’s your first question…and you’re not interested in either me or the sex…”
GPS – Mm-huh…you just want somebody to party with…
JD – Yeah, you want somebody to do drugs with and elevate yourself with…I’m not that guy.
GPS – What do you think is ultimately going to happen with this culture with…it’s gonna get worse or it’s gonna get better. Where do you see it evolving?
JD – Over the past 50 years, you and I have probably seen the same thing…the perpetual door has to swing one way or the other to eventually get back to the center and correct itself. I think we’re hitting such a point where, with the meth problem and things like that, where it actually has hit it’s breaking point. I think people are beginning to be turned off by it. People are beginning to get turned off by the vast commercialization of it are trying to find some other way around. Dictating whatever highs they want to get instead of using meth or whatever drugs are being used currently.
GPS – Let’s talk about some silly stuff…do you have any pets?
JD – No. Unfortunately, no. My work schedule is such that won’t allow me…I live in a rent-controlled apartment in SF. I have a 2-bedroom apartment in the Castro that I pay $500 a month for.
GPS – I hate you…
JD – (laughs) It’s a tiny 2-bedroom!
GPS – Yeah, yeah, yeah…that makes me feel so much better!
JD – (laughs) They don’t allow pets, so I wouldn’t do anything to screw that up. But, my work schedule is so insane. I mean some days I’ll be on set for 14 to 16 hours. Or I’m on a road trip with the company and I’m gone for a week or 2 weeks and I don’t think it’d be fair. I would tend to have a bulldog. I want a bulldog more than anything in the world!
GPS – Well, it’ll happen. Any quirky hobbies or things that you’re into collecting?
JD – Not really. My quirky hobbies sort of work their way into my work. And the past couple of years especially we’ve been producing at such an incredible high level of output that it doesn’t really leave a lot of room for anything else, that’s why I’m not in a relationship right now.
GPS – Do you create on your guitar or keyboard?
JD – I haven’t touched an instrument for quite a while. I do everything on the computer. Everything is set up on computer.
GPS – Do you have a keyboard for your computer?
JD – Yeah.
GPS – What program do you use?
JD – Most of my stuff is written on AcidPro. I have an old pair of KLHs that I use for monitoring. Everything is mixed on them. Ultimately people listen to my music through their television speaker. So, it has to sound good on the crappiest speaker I can find and if I can make it sound good on there, I know it’s good on the other stuff.
GPS – Do you have a favorite movie that you’ve seen recently?
JD – Domino. Incredible, visual way of telling a story, the use of different photographic mediums and color and the editing style and the other stuff they did with it I thought was quite amazing.
GPS – Do you have a favorite female movie star or classic movie or director?
JD – Love Hitchcock, Coppola, Scorsese, Tarantino…
GPS – Tarantino’s quite a lunatic, I love him.
JD – Yeah, his willingness just to go for it and let it find the most extreme end of things is really interesting.
GPS – I think he pushed the boundaries with each film or project that he does that he gives directors another 5 years of techniques to catch up on.
JD – Exactly, Kill Bill 1 and 2 was, I think, a revelation to everybody.
GPS – Absolutely. I was so…my chin was on the ground just from the directorial, I had to see it a second time to see exactly what happened.
JD – Exactly! Love Uma Thurman just ‘cause she’s so smart!
GPS – I’m telling ya, I’d go straight for her.
JD – I would, too! Susan Sarandon. Another movie I really love is Illuminates, which she’s such a genius in. Meryl Streep. I like Colin Farrell a lot.
GPS – These people have an interesting, offbeat look, all of them.
JD – Yeah. They’re real, not a manufactured look, and there’s more personality in that. If you look at the guys we use in our movies, especially in my films, they’re not typical porn star types. And guys that come up to me and ask if they could be in one of my movies, and they’re 6’2 and 245lbs, and perfectly built, I say, “Well, that’s nice, but I get 300 of those a month.” So, let me see you smile…and they go, “What?”
“Let me see you smile!”
I cast on smiles. If they can’t give me that sly, little smirk, then I don’t want to know about them because there’s nothing underneath that 245lbs.
GPS – For me, personally, there are certain TV shows that I appreciate and am almost ashamed that I like them. Are there anything like that out there for you?
JD – I’m wildly devoted to Family Guy. Just because at different points, I am either Stewie or Brian.
GPS – I’m an American Idol fan, I can’t help myself.
JD – I didn’t watch that for a while, I watched too many good people get voted off on bad reasons. And I find that very frustrating, that’s one of the reasons that I sort of, whenever I do music, I abandon all the other things in my life because watched so many wildly talented people, much more talented than I, get passed over and other people that I didn’t consider worthy of picking up my garbage, suddenly becoming stars.
GPS – Yeah. Very strange, isn’t it?
JD – I realized that while talent is an ingredient, it isn’t the thing that sells it. I’ve become…there’s a lot of “it” factor involved and that’s another thing we cast on. People will say, “Why did you cast him, “ we’d say, “Well, ‘the it’ factor.”
They’ll ask, “What’s the ‘It’ factor?”
And we’d say, “We don’t know what it is, but he’s got it.” It’s the intangible. It’s recognizing the spirit within the body.
GPS – I visualize you when you’re writing music that your mind is calculating thousands of things simultaneously; multi-dimensionally
JD – Yeah. I can actually see the music. And it’s very odd… I don’t write around other people because it’s such a…people who watch me do it ask me, “Are you feeling okay?”
I’m going, “Why?”
“Because you’re waving at the air.” They comment
I go, “I’m moving things… Scoring in space."
GPS – I understand all too well.
I'd like to thank JD Slater for his candor, honesty and passion about life. Hopefully, you found this series illuminating. Not only about JD, but in your own self-discovery. Underneath it all, we are all very much the same - searching for our own dream - trying to express our humanity in this life. JD's sharing, for me, is a brave ongoing story that offers hope.em>
For More Information on JD Slater, go to his site at JDSlater.com.
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