Porn Star

Living in sweet and simple harmony with nature, salmon, and knotty pine

 LOCATION Catskill, New York
PRICE $22,000 in 2000
SQUARE FEET 240 in 2000, now 800 [shack]
OCCUPANTS Tom Judson a/k/a Gus Mattox [porn star-actor-writer-composer]

What do I call you, Tom or Gus? Either.

I began my journey early this Sunday morning, sliding away from the barbarous city in a train along the river, all bandbox blue with a gold light, expectant as if something's going to happen, though the train moves on before it does. There was a swan moving its way north. Frankly, I was so tired. . . . How do you make a living in porn? You don't. Except for the producers. I have a pied-à-terre in the city, in my friend's two-bedroom apartment. I pay $200. I share a room with her office. I met her when I was in 42nd Street. I got this shack after my Cabaret national tour. I bought it from a lawyer. She bought it from the guy who built it. I think, in the '70s. She said he moved to a kibbutz. I grew up an hour south of here, regular old 1950s house, in Washingtonville.

Tom Judson a/k/a Gus Mattox
photo: Toni Schlesinger
Tom Judson a/k/a Gus Mattox

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  • What did you do? I played the French horn.

    How did your mother feel when she heard that you didn't get the award for Best Threesome? Was she sad? We didn't discuss it.

    Where did you live before here? New York. In 25 years, I only had two apartments, first at 45th and Ninth, then 3rd between Second and Bowery.

    Did you move here because you yearned to live in sweet and simple harmony with the craggy mountains? Like a Brueghel painting? No. [He points to a photograph.] That was my husband, who died of AIDS in '96. We met in '90. A friend of Bruce's had this house by the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Bruce was a video editor. He worked for Entertainment Tonight. We met at the Russian Tea Room. We would come to that house near the bridge every weekend. Then Bruce died. We had such wonderful times together at the other home. We'd cook, play Scrabble.

    I see. This shack was just this tiny, tiny room when I bought it. I lived in it for about a year. I made the deck. I made the rooms with six-by-six wooden posts sunk into the ground. The walls sit on the edge of the floor.

    How do the walls stand erect? At first it's shaky. As you go along, it gets sturdier and sturdier, and everything supports each other. Cutting through the wall to make a door was exciting. The floor is one of my great inspirations. When I did the rooms, I knew I could afford either a hardwood floor or knotty pine paneling. What you see is subflooring. I thought, I'm going to stain it and polyurethane it and call it a day.

    I think it's the little, pale-brown piano that gets me. Then, of course, the sylvan-glade green towels. The look I was going for was a TV writer from the '50s who has a little getaway.

    He would write for The Alcoa Hour or . . . The Philco Playhouse.

    All your shoes are lined with sheepskin. I just happen to have three pairs of slippers.

    How often are you alone? It can be a week or 10 days. With my website, I have constant conversations with people from all over the world. I go to the gym in Cairo [New York], I see the same three guys there every day. I'm going to San Francisco tomorrow. I have lead roles in two movies. I actually have scripts to study. [He serves a lunch of poached salmon and a marinade of cucumbers and sweet onions.]

    What is your motivation? In one, I play a sheriff who's found some boys stealing. We work something out so I don't have to arrest them. In the other, I work at the leather store in San Francisco. I am sort of the connect character. I've only been a porn star for a year.

    I'm so energized by the salmon. I feel I could do a film. In the leather one, is there a revelation in the plot? The what?


    schlesinger@villagevoice.com

     
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