David Hurles

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David Randolph Hurles (born September 12, 1944, Cincinnati) is a gay pornographer, whose one-man company, run from a private mailbox, was called Old Reliable Tape and Picture Company. His work, produced primarily in the 1970s and 1980s, falls into three categories: photographs, audio tapes, and videotapes. Hurles' models were typically ex-cons, hustlers, drifters, and lowlifes.

Early years[edit]

In the 1960s, Hurles appeared in movies and magazines, with Guild Press, Washington D.C., for whom he was also a photographer.[1][2]:59

In 1975, already filming in Super-8 format used by his mentor and longtime friend Bob Mizer of Athletic Model Guild, he met and became a great friend of Jack Fritscher, editor of Drummer magazine, who described David as "my longtime pal and housemate".[3][4] The character Solly Blue in Fritscher's novel Some Dance to Remember has much in common with Hurles.[5], but while they share "archetypal coincidental adventures", Fritscher has denied that Blue is based on Hurles.

Hurles has written of San Francisco at the time: "Perhaps you had to be there...the 70's, San Francisco, the blossoming and peak of the gay sexual culture. It was a rare time; everything, it seemed, was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that those of us there could not have possibly imagined it might ever be otherwise!"[6] Jim Stewart describes his encounter with Hurles, the neighborhood they both lived in, and the birth of the name Old Reliable in the first chapter of his Folsom Street Blues.[7]

His first published pictures appeared in Drummer, 21 (January 1978);[2]:293 no other magazine would touch them.[2]:59 He also shot many covers and centerfolds for Fritscher's zine Man2Man Quarterly (1980-1982),[2]:59 whose mailing address was Hurles' San Francisco apartment.[8] Subsequently, Hurles' photos have appeared in dozens of gay magazines. He moved to Los Angeles shortly.

Old Reliable[edit]

In 1990, Hurles issued a catalog of his Old Reliable material, a guide to nearly 500 men and the hundreds of original Old Reliable Video Tapes, as well as the audio cassettes and photos in which the men appear (56 pp.).[9] In 1995, a second volume was published, taking up where the first one left off, also "a guide to nearly 500 men" (64 pp.).[10]

Models were recruited among ex-convicts and addicts. As put by admirer John Waters, "David likes psychos. Nude ones. Money-hungry drug addicts with big dicks. Rage-filled robbers without rubbers. And of course, convicts."[11]:236 Many of them were dangerous—he wanted them to be, that was a key part of their attractiveness for him[12]—but part of David's skill, which no one since has duplicated, was being able to manage them so that they would perform as instructed and not attack him. However, Hurles also said: "There have been several thousand models. When they are not in prison, or very married, it has been my practice to stay in touch with many of them, often over decades. They are my friends."[13] On another occasion he said that one of the hardest parts of his job was not getting caught up in the miserable lives of his models.

Although he did not publicize it, sometimes Hurles' models were more mainstream gay pornographic actors. Scott O'Hara made a tape for him, as did Peter O'Brien.[14]


Hurles chose to downplay technical fireworks with his camera in order to focus on the emotional pyrotechnics of his models.[15] His models, picked up on the street or sent to him by referral, would come to his apartment, get naked, and masturbate. Usually they were shot solo, and with an erection; the amount paid depended on "the size of your dick and whether you could get it up in front of the camera."[16]:112 They were distinguished by "attitude" - straight, in your face, angry, contemptuous of fags, dangerous, smoking cigars, giving the finger, flexing their biceps. "Rough trade is too tame a word", was the description of John Calendo.[17] Getting robbed by his models, or having his equipment stolen, he viewed as part of the cost of doing business. His photographs may most easily be consulted in two collections: Speeding, in black and white,[16] then in color Outcast,[18] and to a lesser extent in The Big Penis Book.[19]

Hurles printed his pictures in his own darkroom, and filled all orders single-handedly.

834 of Hurles' photos are reproduced on tribe.net.[20] A large number are posted on vintageoldreliable.blogspot.com and also in the Yahoo! Group Old Reliable Trailer Park.[21] There are no permission statements posted with any of these photos, and presumably David receives no compensation from this use of his pictures.

Hurles' pictures are used, with permission, as illustrations in two collections of Boyd McDonald's Straight to Hell: The New York Review of Cocksucking material: Meat[22] and Skin.[23][24] Hurles described McDonald as "the kindest person," who "gave me such encouragement."[24]

Audio tapes (cassettes)[edit]

Besides paying for modeling, Hurles paid many of his models to talk, while alone in a room with the door closed, into an ordinary cassette recorder, typically on how they would like to mistreat fags. In many cases he would go on to record a second audio tape in which he sexually serviced the models. Behind the bravado and aggression of the models there sometimes come through haunting overtones of the fact that they are losers in life and they know it. There also comes through, at times, their bewildered, demasculinized admiration of Hurles' enthusiasm for sex, for being the bottom, paying to give them fellatio, paying them to masturbate, buying their (gay sex) orgasms, which feel disturbingly good, although they see themselves as straight. Other models, however, are not threatened at all; they find it enjoyable to exploit Hurles for cash and sex, and "a hole's a hole". Some of the models were openly bisexual or gay, but David preferred straight models.

He released over four hundred of these tapes of verbal sexual abuse.[11]:221 He has "always felt his audiotapes were his finest achievement."[25] Five CDs of selected recordings have been released by Bijou Video.[26]


With the arrival of home video recording equipment around 1980, David began creating videotapes, eventually releasing over 300 of them. Most were solos, but some were boxing or wrestling among two of his models.[27] Four volumes of "The Best of Old Reliable," plus Tape 43 (Five Days with Phil) and 51 (I, Rick), are available from Ray Dragon Video.[28] The same two, plus four additional DVD's transferred from Old Reliable tapes, are available from Bijou Video: 32 (Hairy Guys), 38 (Arkansas Luggage), 56 (Basic Black #5), and 82 (Boxing 1)[29] Others are available as video-on-demand from Bijou Video; besides the ones just mentioned, these are 25 (Perfect Me), 47 (Men Worth Watching), 49 (Sizzling Solos), 154 (Innocence Explains Nothing), 211 (Ace Is The Place), 269 (Just As They Are), and 277 (Some Old Friends).[30] The first page of a Bijou catalog from 2004, listing 326 no-longer-available VHS tapes and cassette tapes, has been archived.[citation needed] Another former catalog has been archived on the Wayback Machine.[31] Some of his videos are available (2018) at http://raydragonvideo.com.


Hurles has published three well-written, thoughtful reviews of gay books on Amazon: of the 1990 edition of Fritscher's Some Dance to Remember,[32] of the 1994 edition of John Rechy's City of Night,[33] and of gay porn star Scott O'Hara's Autopornography: A Memoir of Life in the Lust Lane (1994).[34]

Hurles and Fritscher co-authored an interview with "Scott Smith", an ex-con from Soledad Prison.[35]

Hurles wrote an introduction: "A Thousand Light Years Ago: Drummer", to Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer, Volume 1. A Memoir of the Sex, Art, Salon, Pop Culture War, and Gay History of Drummer Magazine.[36]

Hurles' memoirs, drafted in 1992 as No Title Necessary: A Few Notes, Comments, and Observations, have not been published.[37]

From 1999 to 2005 Hurles added items to a revealing "Wish List" on amazon.com[38][39]

Later years[edit]

A "wrestling accident" in 1990 led to the gradual loss of eyesight in one eye, a disaster for a photographer.[11]:219 Shortly thereafter, the arrival of pornography on the Internet destroyed most of the market for Hurles' material, at the same time that AIDS (and drugs) killed many models and potential models.[11]:226 "I know where a great many of them [my models] are. Six feet under".[11]:224 His company folded, and he lived on welfare and food stamps. In 2008 he had a massive stroke, and currently "is the most popular resident of a state-funded nursing home in East Hollywood".[40] He is conscious and can communicate. Pictures of him from 2009 through 2011 can be found on his Facebook page.[41]


John Waters declared himself influenced by Hurles, and dedicated to him part of a chapter in his Role Models, stating that "The wonderful, beautiful, scary life of David Hurles has been an inspiration to my inner filth for years". According to him, "David Hurles's photographs forever scarred some gay men's ability to be attracted to another average gay men. Without these pioneering Old Reliable photographs, homoeroticism in the art world couldn't have existed. Robert Mapplethorpe was a pussy. Mr. Hurles is the real thing.”[42] With Dian Hanson, John Waters curated an exhibition of David Hurles' photos, "Outsider Porn: The Photos of David Hurles," at the Marianne Boesky gallery in New York, June 4–25, 2010.[43] Another exhibit, "Straight to Hell Presents: In Cock We Trust", was presented in 2008 at the Berlin art gallery Exile.[44]

Sex-positive feminist Susie Bright has also declared herself a fan of Hurles.[45]

His friend Dian Hanson, who manages his financial affairs and the Old Reliable archive, described him as an "intelligent, funny, mild mannered guy who studied his models the way I’d studied my readers all the years I worked making men’s magazines. David is a true intellectual, a psychological hobbyist, and even more interesting as a person than he is as a photographer. He says we’re “simpatico”, and that seems the best description for the way we clicked immediately, sharing a taste in men and in exploring the intricacies of human psychology and sexual attraction.”[46]

Archival material[edit]

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California, has VHS videotapes of a nine-part interview conducted from August 18 to December 29, 1998, and 6 compact audiocassette tapes of what appears to be a four-part interview conducted on January 12, 1999. The collection also contains two compilation CD-ROMs, copyright 1998, of Old Reliable photographs: "As Seen from the Rear ... the Butt CD!" and "Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar!" The interviews were conducted by Pat Allen, with the assistance of Bill Wyman.[47]


  1. ^ Fritscher, Jack (September 1982). "Old Reliable: A legend in his own time. The Photographer whose Boys made Drummer Fresh...and Scary!" (interview with Hurles)". California Action Guide. 1 (3). Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Fritscher, Jack (2008). "Untitled biographical sketch of Hurles". Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer: a Memoir of the Sex, Art, Salon, Pop Culture War, and Gay History of "Drummer" Magazine, The Titanic 1970s to 1999 (PDF). 1. Palm Drive Publishing. ISBN 978-1890834388. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 10, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  3. ^ Fritscher, Jack (May 1978). "Review of End Product: The First Taboo". Drummer (22). Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  4. ^ Fritscher, Jack (September 1982). Introduction to "Old Reliable: A legend in his own time. The Photographer whose Boys made Drummer Fresh...and Scary!". California Action Guide. 1. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  5. ^ Van Leer, David (2010). "Introduction". Some Dance to Remember: A Memoir-Novel of San Francisco 1970-1982. Palm Drive Publishing. p. xxi. ISBN 978-1890834265. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  6. ^ Hurles, David (June 19, 2000). "Fritscher's masterpiece, savour this time now gone (review of the 1990 edition of Fritscher's Some Dance to Remember)". Amazon. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  7. ^ Stewart, Jim (2011). Folsom Street Blues: A Memoir of 1970s SoMa and Leatherfolk in Gay San Francisco. Palm Drive Publishing. ISBN 978-1890834036.
  8. ^ Fritscher, Jack (2008). "Virtual Drummer. How Drummer Influenced Other Magazines and Publishers". Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Vol 4 - The Rise and Fall of Drummer Magazine (PDF). Palm Drive Publishing. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 3, 2014.
  9. ^ "The Old Reliable Catalogue (Comes with Colt Photo set of 1 5x7 Black & White Photo and 1 5x7 Color Photo and a color slide from their collection in special envelope.)". 1990. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  10. ^ "The Old Reliable Catalogue II (This Catalog picks up where catalog 1 ended.) Single Issue Magazine". 1995. Retrieved 2014-09-16.
  11. ^ a b c d e Waters, John (2010). Role Models. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 978-0374251475.
  12. ^ Jack Fritscher, "Call Him 'Old Reliable' Because He Is", 1981, http://www.jackfritscher.com/Drummer/Virtual/Old%20Reliable.html#Feature article, retrieved 2014-09-02
  13. ^ "Old Reliable's Prince Charming Might be on Death Row", Box Magazine, issue 6.2, reproduced in http://oldreliablefund.blogspot.com/2009/04/old-reliables-prince-charming-might-be.html Archived 2014-09-05 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2014-08-17
  14. ^ Ohara, Autopornography: A Memoir of Life in the Lust Lane, Binghamton, New York: Haworth Press, 1997, ISBN 9780789001443, p. 109.
  15. ^ Rex, quoted by John Calendo, "Jailbirds and Drifters: The Men of Old Reliable" http://www.nightcharm.com/2010/10/17/jailbirds-and-drifters-the-men-of-old-reliable/#.U-6BafldXwj, retrieved 2014-08-15
  16. ^ a b Rex (2005). Speeding: The Old Reliable Photos of David Hurles. Green Candy Press. ISBN 1931160392.
  17. ^ John Calendo, "Jailbirds and Drifters: The Men of Old Reliable" http://www.nightcharm.com/2010/10/17/jailbirds-and-drifters-the-men-of-old-reliable/#.U-6BafldXwj, retrieved 2014-08-15
  18. ^ Green Candy Press, 2010, ISBN 1931160716
  19. ^ Ed. Dian Hanson, Taschen America, 2008, ISBN 3836502135
  20. ^ http://tribes.tribe.net/oldreliablemodels?current=tribephotos&set=y#tabs, retrieved 2014-08-17
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2014-08-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ Meat: how men look, act, walk, talk, dress, undress, taste & smell: True homosexual experiences from S.T.H. writers, introduction by Charles Shively, with blurbs by Gore Vidal, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg, Gay Sunshine Press, 1981, ISBN 091734278X, archived here: https://archive.org/details/Meat.HowMenLookActwalktalkdressundresstasteSmellTrueHomosexual Archived 2016-04-03 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Skin: Homosexual Experiences in the Classical Period, 1940-1980, ed. Boyd McDonald, introduction by Harold Norse, Bright Tyger Press, 1988, ISBN 0944378005
  24. ^ a b Jones, William E. (2016). True Homosexual Experiences. Boyd McDonald and Straight to Hell. Los Angeles: We Heard You Like Books. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-9964218-1-2.
  25. ^ Dian Hanson, "Treasures from the OR Storage Unit," http://oldreliablefund.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-10-06T19:02:00-07:00
  26. ^ http://www.bijouworld.com/search.html?searchword=reliable, retrieved 2014-08-17
  27. ^ A list is provided at http://gayeroticvideoindex.com/C/0/5310.html Archived 2014-10-02 at the Wayback Machine, including some of the advertising leaflets announcing certain films (for example, http://www.gayeroticvideoindex.com/V/9/15049.html Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine; both retrieved 2014-08-18.
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-09-03. Retrieved 2014-08-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-09-03. Retrieved 2014-08-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "(Untitled)". Retrieved 2014-08-18.
  31. ^ "David Hurles' Old Reliable". Archived from the original on 2009-04-23.
  32. ^ "Fritscher's masterpiece, savour this time now gone". Amazon.
  33. ^ https://www.amazon.com/review/RYE24RTKY9937 Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine (permalink), retrieved 2014-08-23
  34. ^ https://www.amazon.com/review/R2G9VCU9OWUDFC Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine (permalink), retrieved 2014-08-23
  35. ^ “Scott Smith: Heavy Rap with a Solitary Ex-Con, Drummer, No. 18, March, 1978, pp. 12-15, partly available at http://www.jackfritscher.com/Drummer/DrummerPages/Drummer_021-pg13-web.jpg
  36. ^ Palm Drive Publishing, 2008, ISBN 1890834386, pp. 51-59; text reproduced at http://www.jackfritscher.com/PDF/Drummer/Vol%201/07_Intro%20Hurles_Mar2008_PWeb.pdf Archived 2014-09-03 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2014-08-25
  37. ^ Jack Fritscher, introduction to "Old Reliable: A legend in his own time. The Photographer whose Boys made Drummer Fresh...and Scary!" (published in California Action Guide, volume 1, no. 3, September 1982), http://www.jackfritscher.com/Drummer/Virtual/Old%20Reliable%20interview.html, retrieved 2014-08-25
  38. ^ https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1Z8BO1DLKYYXT?page=1&filter=all&layout=standard&sort=date-added&reveal=unpurchased&view=null&itemPerPage=24&type=wishlist&id=1Z8BO1DLKYYXT Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2014-08-24
  39. ^ Since this biographically valuable list may be ephemeral, here are its contents as of 2014-08-23: Strapped for Cash: A History of American Hustler Culture by Mack Friedman; Empire City: New York Through the Centuries, by Kenneth T. Jackson and David S. Dunbar; The Main Line: Country Houses 1870-1930 by William Alan Morrison; American Splendor: The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer by Michael C. Kathrens, Richard C. Marchand, and Eleanor Weller; Pornography On Trial: A Reference Handbook, by Thomas C. Mackey; Bad Boys, Bad Men: Confronting Antisocial Personality Disorder by Donald W. Black and C. Lindon Larson; Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, by Robert D. Hare; Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York, by Luc Sante; Lost New York, Expanded and Updated Edition, by Nathan Silver; Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (The History of New York City) by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace; The Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book, by Dan Poynter; New York's Fabulous Luxury Apartments: With Original Floor Plans from the Dakota, River House, Olympic Tower and Other Great Buildings, by Andrew Alpern; The New York Apartment Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter, by Andrew Alpern; Inside Story - San Francisco Vice [VHS]; L.A. Detectives - Hollywood/Vice/Narcotics/Homicide (Program #111) [VHS]; Porn: Myths for the Twentieth Century by Robert J. Stoller; Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "Frenzy of the Visible", Expanded edition, by Linda Williams; L.A. Detectives - Homicide/Male Prostitution/Juvenile (Program# 113) [VHS]; Hated [VHS] by GG Allin, Merle Allin, and Shireen Kadivar (VHS Tape)
  40. ^ Christopher Trout, "Legendary pornographer talks rough trade, homeless lovers, and spontaneous erections," Butt Magazine, March 30, 2010, http://www.buttmagazine.com/magazine/interviews/david-hurles/#_edn1 Archived 2014-09-04 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ https://www.facebook.com/davidhurles
  42. ^ Role Models, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010, ISBN 190761608X, pp. 227 and 219. According to Fritscher, Mapplethorpe collected Old Reliable photos (Fritscher's commentary to Hurles' introduction, "A Thousand Years Ago", to Some Dance to Remember, p. 59, http://www.jackfritscher.com/PDF/Drummer/Vol%201/07_Intro%20Hurles_Mar2008_PWeb.pdf Archived 2014-09-03 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2010-09-02
  43. ^ http://www.marianneboeskygallery.com/exhibitions/outsider-porn-the-photographs-of-david-hurles-project-space-exhibition-curated-by-john-waters-and-dian-hanson-adult-content/works Archived 2014-09-03 at the Wayback Machine; Tamsen Greene, "Outsider Porn: The Photographs of David Hurles", "Blouinartinfo", November 6, 2010, http://www.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/277188/outsider-porn-the-photographs-of-david-hurles
  44. ^ http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/88672-david-hurles-old-reliable
  45. ^ John F. Karr, "Erotic Explorers", Bay Area Reporter, 9/29/2011, http://www.ebar.com/arts/art_article.php?sec=karrnal&article=279 Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 9/15/2014.
  46. ^ Quoted by Richard Gilmore in "Old Reliable (adult content)," April 16, 2009, "Murmurs of Desire. Musing and ruminations about desire, disease, death and identity," http://richardgilmour.blogspot.com/2009/04/old-reliable-adult-content.html Archived 2014-09-05 at the Wayback Machine
  47. ^ http://www.usc.edu/libraries/finding_aids/records/finding_aid.php?fa=Coll2008.034 Archived 2014-08-26 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2014-08-17; http://www.onearchives.org/uploads/collections/2008-034_hurles.pdf Archived 2014-09-04 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2014-08-17