If you find yourself watching a gay porn film which seems definitely a cut above the average check out the director, chances are it'll be the creation of Frenchman Jean-Daniel Cadinot, writes Steven Gardiner.

since the death of JD Cadinot in April 2008. His photography was unmistakable and became world famous as it focused on homoerotic imagery, and his films were noted for their emphasis on plot and realism. He won countless awards for what one critic describes as his ".... ability to weave interesting narratives into visually splendid sexcapades." The Cadinot style remains instantly recognisable.

He specialises in "minets" (or "puppies") with smooth and tender skin and cocks that take no time to harden. Filled with lust and desire, these young guys explore each other's bodies in a very "cadinian" style: they kiss, touch, fondle, suck and fuck each other passionately, sometimes slowly, sometimes with tenderness. Less hunky than their American or Bel Ami counterparts, they give plenty of ideas to viewers and they seem totally oblivious to the camera.

The story of Jean-Daniel Cadinot is a remarkable one. After studying at the National School of Photography in Paris in the early 60's, Cadinot's career began at Valois Studios where he directed mainstream films for French-speaking audiences. In 1972 Cadinot photographed French gay author Yves Navarre and popular singers Patrick Juvet and Pascal Auriat all in the nude. "But these photos didn't get much attention in the media, they circulated in a more underground world, in a small circle of people and were not visible in the press", recalls Cadinot.
J.D. Cadinot
While he continued his mainstream career, he took more and more nude photographs of men for private circulation mostly to friends. "The nude male technique is much more difficult than the female nude. Firstly, there are a lot of taboos concerning the male nude that originates from more than 2000 years of Christianity. We had far less male nude representations in the arts in general. Secondly, when you photograph male nudes you have less freedom, less creativity than you have with a female body who has more curves, the poses and positions are more limitated with men."

By the late 1970s he'd published no less than 17 photo albums with a circulation of over 170,000 copies. Then in 1978 he created his own production company French Art which released its first 16mm film "Tendre Adolescents" (Tender Teens). The move from still to moving picture came easily: "The still photo became too limiting. I quickly reached the boundaries and I had a desire for action and movement. I wanted to go further, create situations, tell stories, our collective stories as gay men. I was frustrated by the limits of still photography and the video enabled me to do just that. I have to say that when I'm shooting photos I prefer to work as an artist and make artistic photos because otherwise it's not long before it gets pornographic and I don't like that. In that sense there was a progressive evolution towards films in order for me to tell stories about men. In some way, it was my first gay activism to illustrate our sexual stories", he explained.

Unlike many in the industry who shoot numerous videos a year - always with the same old recipe of gorgeous hunks, big pecs and huge cocks - Cadinot shoots a maximum of 4 videos a year that respect his artistic vision. "It's true that I have an artistic vision of my work. I'm very proud to be gay and I like to give throughout the world a positive image of the gay community. Thus no one can dispute this image. They also represent my tastes, I like young men and I like sex, I consider it as a sort of ceremony. I want to show idyllic and irreproachable high quality images that appeal to people."

In 1992 Cadinot gave up renting studios for his films, and decided to restore a 19th century farmhouse in Picardy, an hour north of Paris. "I needed it for more autonomy, to store all the sets and the equipment, and to have the freedom to shoot at any hour of the day or night and to take the time to work with the actors." These farmhouse buildings were transformed into an inn, a studio, a storeroom, and a workshop where he builds his video sets since all the indoor scenes are recreated inside the studio. In his country home with its sunny terrace, playroom and numerous tv sets, Cadinot really lives "a dream that I had when I was a kid to live this way".

"It's very satisfying to have this studio now, to live with the actors for many days, to discuss with them and understand their personality which helps me to develop the scenes. Here, there is space for more than a dozen people and each youth can do whatever pleases him, whether it's staying with the group and having fun or having some privacy."

If Cadinot has an idea of the story he'd like to tell, he asks the actor's about their own sexual experiences, what's excited them in the past and what excites them now. "I write a scenario that fits the young guys. This is the essence of my films. The performers don't portray things that are imposed by me but things they like to do themselves. These "puppies" kiss each other with real passion, with real lust. It's the emotion that makes my particular style. I tell a story. I don't do things that are "robotical" like we often tend to see in the porn industry, my scenarios are based on the actors' tastes."

Another element differentiates Cadinot from the rest of the pack: the "minets", the young men who are barely 20 years old. "To me, they represent the freshness and innocence of youth. They are provocative: a 20 year old is more subversive than a 30 year old man, there isn't yet the weight of socialization and education on his shoulders, he isn't moulded yet into society. I like the freshness but also the intelligence of these guys because I don't necessarily choose Apollo type men with big cocks. I want men that could be your average next door neighbours, fresh, natural, without any complexes regarding their sexuality or their sexual tastes."

In 1997, The International Erotic Film Awards, in Berlin, created a gay section and handed its first awards to gay porn people. It was a surprise to no-one when Cadinot received a "Venus" as Best Director, an award that pleased him tremendously and encouraged him to pursue his career as a gay porn director... "And this is something that I intend to do for as long as I can", he says. And Cadinot has gone from strength to strength. During the past year alone he won a Special Award at the adult "Oscars" the AVN Awards in Los Angeles for his body of work, and another Venus in Berlin for "C'est La Vie".

On 23 April 2008, Jean-Daniel Cadinot died of a heart attack. His company French Art was then headed up by François Orenn, a classically trained pianist who started working for Cadinot as a score composer and who managed the company from 2002. Two unfinished films by Cadinot, Subversion and Le Culte d'Eros, have since been released. Orenn also began directing films of his own in Cadinot's style (Anges et Démons and L'Avarice) employing most of Cadinot's technical crew. In 2013, StudioPresse and PinkTv jointly acquired the Cadinot trademark and exclusive distribution rights on all Cadinot movies, including previously unreleased material.

The website Cadinot.fr is owned by StudioPresse and from here you can watch and download all of his movies. His DVDs are available from a number of online retailers, including Cadinot.co.uk who have compiled a section specially dedicated to his work.


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