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Wiktor Grodecki: Bodies without souls

9pm Sunday, February 3, 10, 17, 24.

The Cineforum, 463 Bathurst below College. 416-603-6643. Restricted. 17+.

My first night in Toronto I arrived in the dead of winter thinking I had a friend. Found out I didn’t. I was underage but that didn’t stop me from entering a bar. I had just enough money for one beer. As the waiter dropped it on the table the police walked in.

Seeing my concern an older man said, “Drink your beer and talk with me.”

“Do you have a place,” he asked after the police left.

The next morning he told me to meet him that night in the same bar.

“You should not have gone home with that man. He’s a real piece of shit,” said a much better dressed man who worked in the movies. He offered to help get me a job.

“Turn around,” he said when I got to the bottom of a narrow stairwell at his home.

I looked up to see him standing at the top of the stairs with a hammer in his hand.

He said, “Give me what I want or I will kill you.”

“Had I warned you would you have believed me,” said the fellow I had met the first night.

“Not yesterday, but from now on, yes.”

His name was Billy. He helped me get my feet on the ground.

Billy’s mother, a prostitute, had put him to work servicing her clients to bring in extra cash when he was ten. With a mother like that we either become a wreck or someone special. Billy was someone special. In those first years I got a close up look of a side of Toronto few see.

In  preparation for this program I found another boy who had been put to work by his mother. That boy, Jessie Marsson, became a wreck. His story, at least part of it, is here:   .

The films of Wiktor Grodecki document that world as no other film maker ever has. 

A friend described prostitution as living off one’s capital. Most people invest their capital. They live off the interest.

This is a world I was briefly part of. I never actually plied the trade but I met and loved the trade that did. It was a time when homosexuality was illegal in Canada. Police picked up queers routinely to take them to Cherry Beach. I knew people who barely made it back from those rides.

I grew up believing myself hated by God. I grew up knowing if my truth came out I could get the shit beat out of e, I could get murdered.  I grew up in a nightmare.

When I discovered Jessie Marsson I researched him. No movies have been made about his life. They don’t have to be. His life is mirrored in the films of Wiktor Grodecki.

Jessie Marsson with his mother. Marsson was not made a porn star by a bunch of “dirty older men.” He was made a porn star by his mother.

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