February 12, 2020 | The Biz

The golden decade of William Higgins

William HigginsThere are few people who have had as big an impact, and as lasting a presence, in the gay porn world as director / producer William Higgins. From the 1970s till his death in 2019, he made sweaty gay men fucking an even more beautiful sight to behold!

He started as a porn fan in the early 1970s. At the time, there were few porn studios; Falcon and COLT were two of the major players. These were the days before DVDs and VHS tapes; people had to order actual 8 mm films for personal viewing. In larger cities, fans could slip into a seedy neighborhood porn theaters to get their porn fix.

Closeted at the time, he found a local gay porn theater a welcome distraction. And when times got tough, it became the inspiration for a new career.

“The last job I had before I got into adult was operating some hobby shops in Texas,” he explained. “One of the recessions came along in the 1970s, and the first thing the housewives did was stop going to hobby shops, and it put me out of business. I was left with about $5,000.”

“... I thought, ‘Well, these films are really horrible -- certainly I can do better!’ I would also say that I was about 34 years old, and I had been a [mail order] customer of Falcon in Dallas, and one day I received a letter from Falcon saying that no future orders would be shipped to Texas, Tennessee or Florida…and that really made me angry. So, I decided, ‘Well, the movies are so bad and Falcon won’t sell me their 8-millimeter films, I’ll just go out and I’ll make gay porn on my own.’”
And he did!
He put up ads around Houston, looking for models. Instead, the Texas Rangers took notice. Somehow Higgins received a tip about them coming in time to gather his possessions and take off. Los Angeles proved a much more welcoming place, and it offered him many potential models with whom he could work.
His first film was 1974's A Married Man, featuring Jack Wrangler in one of his earliest roles. Wrangler is the subject of the 2008 documentary, Jack Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon.

Jack Wrangler

This was the prelude to William Higgins's "Golden Decade." Between 1978 and 1987 he directed and produced thirty-five gay porn releases under his studios, Laguna Pacific and Catalina. The decade corresponded to the  mass adoption by consumers of the VCR, making it much easier to enjoy porn in the privacy of one's own home. The genre exploded.

Below we highlight some of the most memorable of Higgins output during these years. Many of these iconic titles have been re-released by Chi Chi La Rue's Channel 1, which acquired Catalina in 2007. The videos are availabe on DVD or streaming. Click the titles or box covers for preview clips from GayDVD Empire. 

The Boys of Venice (1979)


The Class of 84 (1980)


William Higgins - Class of 84


Pacific Coast Highway (1981)

Pacific Coast Highway - William Higgins


Brothers Should Do It (1981)


Brothers Should Do It - William Higgins


Buster Goes To Laguna (1982)

Buster Goes To Laguna - William Higgins

The Best Little Warehouse in L.A.


Cousins (1983)

Cousins - William Higgins


Sailor in the Wild (1983)

Sailor in the Wild - William Higgins


Leo and Lance (1983) 



Frat House Memories (1984)

Frat House Memories


Route 69 (1984)



Pizza Boy: He Delivers (1985)

Pizza Boy William Higgins


 The Young and the Hung (1985)

Young and Hung - William Higgins


Big Guns (1987)

Big Guns - William Higgins

Higgins left the US in 1988, during a crackdown on pornography by the FBI. He decided to explore the world, travelling to Australia, Hong Kong, and Spain, hoping to finally settle in Amsterdam and continue his porn career there. But that didn't pan out, and he took a break from the business for several years.

He started making movies again once he discovered the men of Eastern Europe. Though many were straight, they were more than willing to fuck on camera in exchange for money. 

It all started with a trip through Czechoslovakia, and he and his interpreter picked up a young hitchhiker.

Higgins explained: “He got in the car, and I said to my interpreter, "Ask him if he’ll have sex with me for 60 D-Mark. And the kid says, ‘Yup!’ Well, that was the beginning of my love affair with Czechoslovakia.”

His first comeback film? Andel’s Story in 1997.

Andel's Story, William Higgins

But times were changing and the Internet was taking hold. He knew he needed to embrace the new technology and so he launched EuroMilitary.com, which later became WilliamHiggins.com. To this day, the site is still one of the most popular gay porn destinations on the web.

Higgins passed away in 2019, but his legacy will most certainly live on through the aesthetic he established with his classic films and his prodigious output since then. 

He's also helped launch some pretty impressive careers: 

A completer videography of William Higgins' work is available at the Gay Erotic Video Index.

For more on Higgins, see The William HIggins Interview, Part 1 and Part 2 at Adult Video News. 

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