Molten Cock: Black Lava (1986)

Dave moves into the shot-on-video era of Gary Graver’s XXX career for a film that marks the last of his ten picture run with producer Harold Lime.

For those of you who consider a night in with some BBC to be a little bit of Strictly and the lottery numbers, think again – because in 1986, Gary Graver took a giant step into the world of interracial pornography. Even in the mid-‘80s, this specific subgenre was a career choice that was frequently discouraged among the inner circle of adult performers. There was a tentative push at the end of the Golden Era by trailblazers like Bill Margold’s wife, Drea – who directed a threesome of mixed-race smut in ’84 with Hot Chocolate, Brown Sugar and Black Jailbait – but as Jon Millward’s expansive 2013 survey of ten thousand porn stars revealed, 87% were content to subject themselves to a facial, but only half stated that they’d be comfortable engaging in interracial [1].

When Marilyn Chambers and Johnny Keyes got it on in Behind the Green Door (1972) – a sequence widely regarded as the first racially mixed scene in a porno – the fact that their contemporaries didn’t follow suit in the wake of this ‘taboo’ being broken underlines an element of racism in the industry. This allegation is one that’s resurfaced again recently. Lexington Steele, perhaps the most decorated black male porn star in the form’s history, spoke to The Root about race in the adult entertainment sector a few years ago:

“It’s just an element of American culture that still exists, and that is the feeling that a white female will be deflowered or soiled, if you will, by doing a scene with a black male. But that does speak to the continued existence of bigotry and racism, and I don’t think porno is unaffected by certain elements of American culture. And quite honestly, adult media is the only major business that allows for the practice of exclusion based upon race.” [2]

For Graver, interracial sex was something that he’d shot previously, most notably in Peaches and Cream (1981) – albeit with a white man and a black woman. BLACK LAVA was the first time he flipped that equation in his XXX career, and it would also mark the tenth and final occasion that he’d partner up with writer-producer ‘Harold Lime’.

In a stunning moment of coincidence, Edward Paramore III took his nom-de-plume from Orson Welles’ character in The Third Man (1949), and it was with Graver – Welles’ constant camera-wielding companion until his death in ’85 – that Paramore establish much of his legacy. In that regard, Black Lava is certainly a double-take moment when you compare it to the lavish production values of their biggest successes like The Ecstasy Girls (1979) and Co-Ed Fever (1980), relying on recycled sets, and prone to a wayward shadow and boom creeping into shot.

‘Lime’ penned the script (and cameos in his regular bartender role), which finds King (Tony El-Ay) and JoJo (F.M. Bradley) picking up the feisty Tina (Tiffany Storm). “I’m into the dark side of the street,” she says, before they head over to the home of Charles (Buck Adams) and Dee Beaumont (Lorrie Lovett) and recruit their foster kids, Barbara (Tanya Foxx) and Johnny (Marc Wallace), for a session of suburban salaciousness.

A grubby example of the transition from film to video, it can be a struggle to see Graver’s influence on Black Lava. More animalistic than any of his other top-shelf titles, it has a heavy dependence on anal, which, in tandem with its budget, gives the picture an intensely debauched flavour that’s at odds with the sweeping soft focus of his earlier work. Having said that, it’s a thrill to see Bradley and El-Ay’s well-dressed selves as the focal point of the film (“We’re black, righteous and well-hung”), while Storm, Foxx, and a guest appearance from Jeannie Pepper ensure a fine ensemble.

USA ● 1986 ● Adult ● 71mins

Lorrie Lovett, Tish Ambrose, Tanya Foxx, Tiffany Storm ● Dir. Gary Graver ● Wri. Harold Lime

[1] Deep Inside: A Study of 10,000 Porn Stars and their Careers by Jon Millward, 14th February 2013.
[2] Is the Porn Industry Racist? by Keli Goff, The Root, 3rd April 2013.

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