WAKEFIELD POOLE (né Walter Wakefield Poole III) was born on this date (d: 2021) was an American dancer, choreographer, theatrical director, and pioneering film director in the gay pornography industry during the 1970s and 1980s.

Poole was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, and was raised both there and in Jacksonville, Florida, where his family later moved. He joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1957 and later became a dancer, choreographer, and director on television and Broadway. From 1964 to 1968, Poole was married to Nancy Van Rijn, a Broadway performer and choreographer.

In the late 1960s, Poole and his lover Peter Schneckenburger (later known as Peter Fisk, star of Boys in the Sand) began experimenting with film and multimedia shows, culminating in a multimedia gallery show for Broadway poster artist David Edward Byrd at the Triton Gallery in New York. Poole made his directorial film debut with Boys in the Sand (1971). When Boys in the Sand opened at the now gone 55th Street Playhouse in Manhattan, it became the talk of the town. The sex it portrayed between Adonic men frolicking in the Pines came across to viewers as blissful and guilt-free. Soon, celebrities like Liza Minnelli, Rudolf Nureyev and Halston were also lining up to see it.

In a memoir, “Dirty Poole,” published in 2000, he related how, during the film’s release, its producer sneakily bought an ad for it in The New York Times, leading Mr. Poole to speculate that the paper’s advertising department may not have looked at it too closely. Variety reviewed the movie, a rare instance of critical coverage of hard-core gay pornography by a mainstream publication (though it took a dim view of the film). Even its marquee billing challenged precedent: It displayed Mr. Poole’s real name.

He and Boys in the Sand producer Marvin Shulman made another film the following year entitled Bijou, starring Bill Harrison.

Poole and Shulman then attempted to make a crossover film, Wakefield Poole’s Bible, a trio of Old Testament stories focusing on female Biblical figures and starring Georgina Spelvin as a comic Bathsheba. The film was unsuccessful with audiences, though well received by the few critics who saw it. A number of Poole’s films starred Casey Donovan, one of the best known porn stars of his time. One of them, Moving! (1974) challenged what Poole in a 1978 interview called the “middle-class values” of “the vast majority of gays” with its lengthy and graphic fisting scenes, which Poole considered important as “one interpretation of reality related man-to-man.”

Poole said that he stopped making films because of “the AIDS situation. I lost my fanbase to AIDS.” In the same interview, Poole said that he had been a heavy cocaine user, and that “cocaine saved my life,” because it made him unable to have sex. After his filmmaking career, he studied at the French Culinary Institute and worked in the food services industry until retiring to Jacksonville.

Poole appears as himself in the film documentaries Ballets RussesThat Man: Peter Berlin, and Where Ocean Meets Sky. In 2000, Alyson Books published his autobiography Dirty Poole: the Autobiography of a Gay Porn Pioneer.

A film documentary based on the autobiography, entitled I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole, was directed and produced by Jim Tushinski (director of That Man: Peter Berlin) in 2013. Poole died at a nursing home in Jacksonville on October 27, 2021, at age 85.