Dick Ho: The Lost Footage
An Interview with Jeffrey Lei, Director of Dick Ho: Asian Male Porn Star
My search for Asian American representation in porn brought me to a film entitled Dick Ho: Asian Male Porn Star. Cleverly billed as a documentary, the film stars its director Jeffrey Lei as a legendary 1970’s porn actor who mysteriously vanished (along with all footage or other evidence of the performer in action). Dick Ho: Asian Male Porn Star is hilariously accessible while probing at an industry’s lack of attention towards Asian American masculinity. Is it lack of a market or a larger conspiracy? You decide¦
Jiz Lee: Your film is brilliantly disguised as a real documentary, complete with celebrity interviews and old footage. It’s interesting to note that the fact that it is a parody goes over some peoples’ heads even after they’ve watched it in its entirety. At the risk of giving away the secret, why do you choose to bill the film, which won SinCine’s Erotic Spirit Award, as a documentary and not a mockumentary?
Dick Ho: I stress “documentary” to promote the believability factor that he actually existed and help change the social perception of Asian male sexuality as you know very well its present state in the business. There are people who believe this is real which is the intention. I see it as a justifiable lie. I hear ya on that hunger to see Asian male rep, which is why I had to make this!
Jiz: Part of the brilliance in the footage is the reference to other unsolved mysteries, such as the Loch Ness monster, Sasquatch, and of strange cults. Much of the mystery is surrounded by rumors about Dick’s enormous penis, which also avoids an explicit shot. Why did you choose to conceal explicit sex? And, where has the film screened?
Dick: I used the conspiracy element, like the dark figure’s dialogue “…most of the footage was purposely edited to conceal the size of Dick Ho’s penis” to add suspicion to the footage and to avoid any hardcore as well. Aside from the sex/erotic festivals, most film festivals and distributors would probably not screen or market this if it was. It’s not meant to be actual porn but a statement that can be more widely seen for a general market. For some of the Asian American film festivals, it still pushes the envelope. So, it’s been through the sex fests like the ˜S.F. Sex Worker Film & Arts Festival’, ˜SinCine Erotic Film Fest’, ˜CineKink NYC’ and most of the Asian fests, including the ˜S.F. Int’l Asian American Film Festival’. The Asian screenings are always very nerve-racking but they’re extremely receptive overall. I would love to have more screenings.
Jiz: Do you think the myth of Asian men having small penises is around because of a lack of representation in porn, which I believe, is where most people get their sex ed?
Dick: The idea of Asian men having small dicks isn’t due to their absence in porn, I don’t think, as viewers wouldn’t know not seeing it. It seems to be spreading in the social mindset though, just by word of mouth and in the media. And from my experience, it seems some non-Asian women don’t even know about this stereotype, being they’ve never been with an Asian man.
Jiz: I think there is some irony that a film about the lack of straight Asian dick in film does not show any Asian dick. Then again, Rick Lee (www.Asian-Man.com) is one of the few straight men Asian Americans fucking online, and he intentionally covers his face so that his identity is not revealed. This seems to me to mirror the idea of a hidden figure, like the obscured or missing footage in your film. How did you come up with the idea for the film? And, have you ever considered being in porn?
Dick: Personally, I’ve never officially auditioned for a production¦but I have been to some “parties. The idea for Dick Ho actually first started as an on-going joke I had, “If I was an Asian male porn star, I’d call myself ‘Dick Ho’.” Then, it spawned on me, why not make this into a mockumentary, better yet, play it off as real or an investigative piece; is the footage real or not? The lack of hardcore was not completely my decision, but it also builds up to the Bigfoot parody scene or, as I call it, the “Bigdick footage where I do show Asian dick and a lot of it!
Jiz: Annie Sprinkle seemed to be the only interviewed celebrity to throw in stereotypes for Dick Ho — “that karate guy”, “Japan or China or wherever he was from”, “Bruce Lee with a really big dick”, and also a fetishist view of spirituality (such as the western view of eastern religion, Buddhism, etc…) was that intentional? And, what was the inside joke behind Sharon Mitchell’s reference to drug use?
Dick: Yeah, some of the comments by the porn stars like Annie, are meant to be satirical. I thought they did a great job! You nailed it. Most of the porn star’s responses were improvised. They didn’t want to be scripted so I only directed them in terms of theme. I think Annie was also poking fun at white Orientalistic views of Asians with the stereotypes. I guess it depends how you take it. Sharon seemed to be drawing from her past experiences, I think with John Holmes, with the drug use story.
Jiz: When I think of an Asian American male porn star, the only examples I have are performers who are gay or transsexual women. Sometimes I think that gay Asians have an easier time getting into porn because they’ve already faced coming out to their family — in a sense they are ‘freed’ of familial obligation. Why do you think it is more acceptable for Queer Asian porn actors?
Dick: I’ve come to realize from Mika Tan’s perspective that Asian men don’t want to be in porn because of cultural restraints. In terms of the lack of straight Asian guys in the biz, it first seemed to me that the white male-dominated industry is not threatened by gay Asian men who they might see as feminine anyway, making them no different than the number of straight Asian female porn stars. But then I always wonder, are most of the gay Asian male porn stars ‘bottoms’? Are there any Asian male ‘tops’ to portray masculinity? That would definitely challenge that aspect.
Jiz: I definitely agree that most gay Asian porn actors are bottoms. It seems to reflect the media’s feminization of Asian men. However, I see a future for straight Asian men in porn; do you consider your film to have opened some doors for further discussion and new opportunities, having broken down stereotypes and given permission for the conversation to move on? Mika Tan is casting Asian men for “Year of the Cock”, to be filmed next month. Do you think your interview with her inspired a desire to pull this cast together?
Dick: Not sure if I’ve opened any doors. I get a sense there’s some discussion. Also aware of some Asian guys with their own amateur websites of them having sex with non-Asian women like, as you mentioned, Rick Lee. But they were already around before I’d finished shooting. As for Mika Tan, it seemed she started casting for “Year of the Cock” shortly after I interviewed her. Hmmm¦Coincidence or inspiration? She did have a lot to say on the issue. Maybe Dick Ho was the final catalyst for her.
Jiz: Has Dick Ho: Asian Male Porn Star screened for any Asian American classes at colleges and universities?
Dick: Funny you mentioned that. Darrell Hamamoto told me he did screen it for his class at U.C. Davis. Much respect. Interesting that he focuses on an all-Asian cast/representation in his skin flick, but I guess that reflects his theories.
Jiz: I think Darrell Hamamoto’s film may be the only one which has an Asian (Asian Canadian) man paired with an Asian American female. There are many Asian American and Hapa (mixed race) female porn stars working in the field. The women on Rick Lee’s site tend to be white, however he says that there are just more applicants who are white women. I got the sense that you cast white women for the archival footage found in Dick Ho, to reflect the predominantly white range of actresses in the 1970s (such as the celebrities interviewed like Juliet Anderson, Sharon Mitchell, Kay Parker, and Annie Sprinkle¦ ) How did you cast them?
Dick: I can relate to Rick Lee whereas the only women to answer the call are white, although my film’s performers aren’t porn actors. There were a few Asian women that showed interests but they either never followed through or only wanted to be in non-porn scenes. This brings up another factor I forgot to mention regarding the sex scenes in ˜Dick Ho’ being soft core is that none of my actresses would agree to have actual sex with me on camera¦well, almost none. One of them was an ex-girlfriend. So I had in mind of using the myth/conspiracy angle to explain the missing penetration shots. I would’ve screened it in full at the erotic film festivals but still edit out the hardcore for the general and Asian film festivals – they always stress in their guidelines, “No pornographic material.”
For more about Dick Ho: Asian Male Porn Star and to view the trailer and buy the DVD visit: http://www.idontcarefilms.com/dickho/.