The Dirk Diggler Story

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The Dirk Diggler Story
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Produced by Shane Conrad
Written by Paul Thomas Anderson
Narrated by Ernie Anderson
Starring Michael Stein
Robert Ridgely
Eddie Delcore
Rusty Schwimmer
Cinematography Paul Thomas Anderson
Editing by Paul Thomas Anderson
Release dates
  • 1988 (1988)
Running time 31 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Dirk Diggler Story is a 1988 mockumentary short film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It follows the rise and fall of Dirk Diggler, a well-endowed male porn star. The character was modeled on American porn actor John Holmes. The film was later expanded into Anderson's successful 1997 breakout film Boogie Nights.


Dirk Diggler (Michael Stein) was born as Steven Samuel Adams on April 15, 1961 outside of Saint Paul, Minnesota. His parents were a construction worker and a boutique shop owner who attended church every Sunday and believed in God. Looking for a career as a male model, Diggler dropped out of school at age 16 and left home. He was discovered at a falafel stand by Jack Horner (Robert Ridgely). Diggler met his friend, Reed Rothchild (Eddie Delcore), through Horner in 1979, while working on a film.

Horner slowly introduced Diggler to the business until Diggler became noticeable within the industry. Diggler became a prominent model and began appearing in pornographic films, after which his career took off. He had critical and box office hits which led him to stardom. The hits and publicity led to fame and money, which led Diggler to the world of drugs. With the amount of money Diggler was making he was able to support both his and Rothchild's addictions. The drugs eventually caused a breakup between Diggler and Horner, since Diggler was having issues with his performance on set.

After the breakup Diggler tried to make a film himself, but it was never completed. He then attempted a music career, which was successful but led him deeper into drugs because of the amount of money he was making. He then starred in a TV show, which was a failure both critically and commercially. Having failed and with no work, Diggler returned to the porn industry, taking roles in low-budget homosexual films to help support his habit. On July 17, 1981, during a film shoot, Diggler died of a drug overdose.

The film ends with a quote from Diggler: "All I ever wanted was a cool '78 'Vette and a house in the country."



Anderson conceived the film when he was 17 years old[1][2] and a senior at Montclair College Preparatory School.[3] Anderson called his friend Michael Stein, telling him to come over for a production meeting, and told Stein his idea: "John Holmes".[4] Stein loved the idea and was cast to play the role of Dirk Diggler; he selected his own wardrobe.[4] Stein showed Anderson some video of his friend Eddie Dalcour, who was a professional body builder, which Anderson loved and cast him in the role of Reed Rothchild.[4] Anderson's father narrated the film and Robert Ridgely, a friend of Anderson's father, played the role of Jack Horner.[4]

The film was shot in 1987[1] using a video camera and steadicam provided by Anderson's father.[4] Some scenes were shot at a motel.[3] Anderson raised money for the film by cleaning cages in a pet store.[3] Being influenced by This is Spinal Tap at the time, he decided to do a mockumentary[5] and used the John Holmes documentary, Exhausted, as a model for the film, even taking some dialogue almost word-for-word.[4] Anderson worked from a shot list and wanted the actors to be serious since the characters took their work seriously.[4] Anderson edited the film using two VCRs.[6]

Boogie Nights[edit]

The Dirk Diggler Story was expanded into Anderson's 1997 breakout film Boogie Nights[1][7][8][9] with a number of scenes appearing almost verbatim in both films.[4] Two actors had roles in both films; in Boogie Nights, Robert Ridgely played The Colonel, a pornography financier, and Michael Stein had a cameo appearance as a stereo store customer.[8] The main differences between The Dirk Diggler Story and Boogie Nights are the mockumentary versus narratives styles in the former and latter films, respectively;[5] Diggler's stint in gay porn in the first film versus his prostitution in the second;[4] and Diggler's dying from an overdose in the first film versus his happy return to his former roles and lifestyle in the second.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c McKenna, Kristine (October 12, 1997). "Knows It When He Sees It". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "Transcript: Paul Thomas Anderson 12/16/99". Time Inc. December 16, 1999. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Rochlin, Margy (October 12, 1997). "FILM; The Innocent Approach to an Adult Opus". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Richardson, John H. (September 22, 2008). "The Secret History of Paul Thomas Anderson". Hearst Communications, Inc. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (October 19, 1997). "Director's talent makes 'Boogie' fever infectious". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Allen, Emma (April 26, 2012). "The Short that became Boogie Nights". Virgin Media Shorts. Virgin Media. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Waxman, Sharon R. (2005). Rebels on the backlot: six maverick directors and how they conquered the Hollywood studio system. HarperCollins. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-06-054017-3. 
  8. ^ a b Hirshberg, Lynn (December 19, 1999). "His Way". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  9. ^ Mottram, James (2006). The Sundance Kids: how the mavericks took back Hollywood. NY: Faber & Faber, Inc. p. 129. ISBN 9780865479678. 

External links[edit]