I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole tells the story of a sometimes overlooked gay liberation and independent film making pioneer. In late 1971, Wakefield Poole, a respected Broadway dancer and choreographer, had the audacity to put his real name above the title of his first film, a low-budget, hardcore gay erotic feature called Boys in the Sand. And to make sure everyone knew about it, Poole advertised the film in the New York Times, creating a sensation. In an era when anyone making, promoting, or appearing in what the US government considered "pornography" could be liable for prosecution and jail time, Poole was a remarkably open and honest gay film maker. He became internationally famous and his movies screened for years as examples that films could be artistic as well as sexually explicit.
Director/Producer Jim Tushinski continues the exploration of art and sexuality he began in That Man: Peter Berlin, but this time around, the main character is not a cool, untouchable icon. Poole was an outspoken and articulate artist in a turbulent, passionate time. He didn't think of himself as a pornographer. He was a filmmaker who used his dance and theater background to create beautiful, erotic art films that "challenged the mind." To many, though, Poole just made dirty movies.
Filled with gorgeous archival footage, excerpts from Poole's lushly photographed films, and entertaining and illuminating interviews with Poole's contemporaries and colleagues, I Always Said Yes is a story of artistic integrity and disappointment, self-destruction, reinvention, love, sex, fortitude, and a little musical comedy.
People interviewed in I Always Said Yes include composer/writer Mary Rodgers Guettel; actress Jill O’Hara; playwright Drey Sheppard; directors Joe Gage, Jerry Douglas, and Ed Kresley; dancer/choreographers Frederic Franklin and Gemze de Lappe; artists Robert W. Richards, David Edward Byrd and Charles Sinclair; actress Georgina Spelvin; and authors Felice Picano, Jack Fritscher, Linda Williams, and John F. Karr.
I Always Said Yes is being financed by individual donors and has fiscal sponsorship from the San Francisco Film Society, so all donations are tax-deductible.
Many of Poole's visually stunning films have been unavailable for years or only seen in tattered prints or in low-quality VHS and DVD versions. As part of making I Always Said Yes, Jim Tushinski is remastering many of Wakefield Poole's films and releasing them on DVD through his company Gorilla Factory Productions, ensuring that future audiences see these films the way they were intended to be seen.