A French director of gay pornography known for his distinctive style of filmmaking. Born on February 10, 1944, Jean-Daniel Cadinot was the son of tailors, who assumed he would follow in the family business. In defiance Cadinot ran away from home at 17 to pursue a career as a painter; he instead found a talent as a photographer and filmmaker. When he died on April 23, 2008 he left behind a substantial body of work.

 


 

The importance of Cadinot's work is its deviation from the work of other houses of pornography. Most pornographic films are composed of long sex-scenes girded by flimsy, laughable dialogue and shallow plots. The actors are usually well-built white men who go robotically through the motions, moaning "Oh yeah!" That's right!" "Take it all!" at predictable intervals. But the films of Jean-Daniel Cadinot feature characters and storylines that are enriched by sexuality, instead of dime-a-dozen nature films. Cadinot knew that, sooner or later, watching two faceless strangers bump uglies fails to excite. Pornography's ability to titillate is dependent on believable fantasy. His fantasies usually included young, thin twinks, Arabian men and locations, and actors that were genuinely turned on by the sex they were having.

Cadinot's cinematography is an important part of his appeal. He would often shoot in incredibly low light, with the camera obscured by objects or at odd angles, making the viewer feel less like a disinterested onanist, and more like a heady voyeur. Some of his camera tricks are astounding in their ribaldness: In one film, a young man is being digitally stimulated and the camera abruptly switches to a different point of view, one in which the camera is looking through a pink aperture of flesh. Cadinot had simulated the camera being inside of the young man's orifice.

The delicate choice of setting is integral to an understanding of Cadinot's oeuvre. The sexual promiscuity in his films doesn't take place in a nondescript set, tarted up to look like a hotel or a barracks; his shooting locations vibrate with secret life. His depictions of sex are played out in the places where men live: in the dormitory at an all boys school, in a dungeon-like Turkish bath, in the woods. As such, his models always look hurried, rushed; there seems to be someone forever in the next room, waiting to burst in. Rarely undressing all the way, their embraces are as intense as they are clandestine.

A fair amount of Cadinot's films are disturbing and unpalatable; often speaking as they do in the language of taboo. In Les Minets Sauvage, a teenager in juvenile hall is graphically raped by his bunk mates; Secrets de Famille is about the effect of incest on a French family. In his later years, Cadinot became more mainstream; his films took on a more professional feel, and he toned down some of his more controversial themes.

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