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Gay Porn Memories: Bill Henson, Sex God of The Waters & The Wild

by Shawn Baker

Few stars can lay claim to so iconically embodying the Me Decade as statuesque Bill Henson can

The face that was a mix of Sixteen Candles’s Jake Ryan by way of American Psycho. The body by Soloflex. The blow-dried, gelled-to perfection coif.

Bill Henson is as gloriously ’80s as acid wash, Masters of The Universe, and Iran-Contra.

Even if you experienced him the first time around, you might still feel somewhat muddled in placing him in context. That’s because there were several performers with the exact same surname frequenting the biz during that decade. Superstar Mike Henson was well-known thanks to top-line titles like Big Guns, In Hot Pursuit, and Hot Rods: Young & Hung II, while blond Steve Henson — featured in Pizza Boy, Giants, and The Other Side of Aspen II — was actually spun-off/passed-off by producers as Bill’s younger brother, this despite nary a passing resemblance between the two.

Yes, it’s all clearly indicative that gay porn needs a name generator with better permutation capabilities, but by any other name, Bill was certainly distinguishable by virtue of his marbled Michelangelo physique, cool brunet mystique, and adamantine ass that both begged for a pounding and could no doubt deflect lightning strikes.

Though he only appeared in four features lensed over a single year — all now considered indispensable classics — Henson remains a pretty formative figure revered by many the viewer of the day. His appeal is boosted by the almost mythical Eddie & The Cruisers-style supposition surrounding his post-porn fate. This is a man whose life is shrouded in so much second-hand lore and gay urban legend that he’s virtually impossible to completely pin down. In our current era of TMI porn stardom, Bill Henson continues to remain a biographical cipher, and that’s an essential aspect of his immortality.

First, the few relatively known knowns. By most accounts, Henson debuted in gay porn in 1983 with the hope that dipping his toe into hardcore would translate to a career as a legit model. Colleagues cast him as a man who wasn’t especially game for man-on-man action (who’d nevertheless admit, when pressed, that he liked to take it hard) and who could turn up the heat quite nicely with the right direction.

He graces the stunning cover of Huge’s seminal A Matter of Size — decked out in a jock and leaning back on his arms all come-hither — which finds him, appropriately enough, drawn into ass play with a chum when a game of softball turns erotic.

Falcon’s Winner Takes All (a collection of loops assembled into a feature) continues the horseplay theme, with Henson’s segment having him put his sweet ass up as the ante when he wagers that he can best Aaron Gage in a swim-off — or get fucked trying! First appearing as a billboard come-to-load-blowing-life, he’s later lured into a very memorable threeway with Kristen Bjorn and Nick Harlen in Falcon’s The New Breed, his persona as the easily-seduced guileless naif fully realized. (You can view this scene right now in Nightcharm’s Falcon theater, inside the Inner Circle).

It’s William Higgins’s pastoral classic Sailor In The Wild that emerges as his star-making turn. In this opus, he’s a park ranger with a penchant for crankin’ shaft in the great outdoors who gets mounted by Brian Thompson under a cerulean lunar sky backdrop. As if all these onscreen antics weren’t enough, it’s the film’s promotional art — depicting Henson standing nude astride a bluff like Talos from Jason & The Argonauts — that arguably stands as one of the most awe-inspiring gay porn images ever conceived, no mere feat when you take into account that he’s not the sailor of the title and indeed only a supporting player in the film proper.

Now for the conjecture, all of which will vary depending on the source. After calling it quits on a burgeoning porn career — prior to or during which he was rumored to be a U.S. Marine sergeant — Henson is purported to have made a few inroads into mainstream modeling in Europe that were ultimately quashed when his film career came to light. Daunted by legit success and haunted by continuing blue movie fame, the talk is that he took to sporting a full beard and shades so as to avoid being recognized in public by fans. He either was married while doing porn or shortly thereafter, in some accounts hitched multiple times, in others marrying into money. More lurid assertions have him succumbing to AIDS circa 1990, others going so far as to allege that the disease killed both his wife and his young daughter as well.

Is the truth somewhere in all the details, or none of the above? Who knows? Only D.B. Cooper and Mikey from the Life cereal box have more convoluted life stories. Anyway you slice it, Henson will always be the Neoclassical man-nymph of Sailor In The Wild — beckoning starry-eyed mortals off into the sun-dappled, carefree carnality of the badlands.

Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild!

  • kodiak

    I remember seeing sailor in the wild, and being totally transfixed by him. Thanks for the memories.

  • Pervayor

    Still one of my all-time favourites. At a time when I was discovering video AND porn, the two were ultimately entwined in the form of a number of actors. Giorgio Canali, Scott O’Hara, Brian Hawkes, Jim Bentley and Bill Henson to name but a few.

    What fascinated me about Henson was his all-out masculinity, which flipped into submissive cock-hungry whore in the movies. Clearly a man who wasn’t ‘just’ gay-for-pay. He clearly enjoyed what he was doing.

    And I’ll always enjoy him doing it ;)

  • Naked Men LOVER

    Loving this series you guys are doing, revisiting the gay porn greats from the past. God, they really don’t make ‘em this natural and gorgeous anymore! (Or am I just getting too old!?)

  • nikko

    He’s so handsome. I hope he’s alive and well.

  • Jim

    Sailor in the Wild was the first porn I ever watched. There’s an amazing scene in which Brian Thompson talks park ranger Henson into taking his clothes off for a massage. Henson gets into it and Thompson convinces him to lay on his stomach and begins to rim him. The first time I watched this, when Henson looks back and says, “Is that the deepest you can stick your tongue?” for the first and only time, I ejaculated so hard that I hit the ceiling about eight feet above me. To this day, if a porn shop doesn’t have a copy of Sailor in the Wild, I tell them that that’s like the Louve not having the Mona Lisa!

  • James

    Sailor in the Wild was the first gay porn movie I ever saw, too! I was shocked, and it was at a friend’s house who invited a bunch of people over for dinner, and everyone was eating off plates in the living room, watching this movie, acting like it was no big deal. Anyway, years later when I got the nerve to buy my first porn video, this was it! I was living in San Diego, and I remember someone telling me that Henson was a bartender at the Brass Rail, but I didn’t go there to verify. One time I saw him jogging down the street in the Hillcrest neighborhood; just a pair of shorty shorts, no shirt, and very shiny-sweaty. I had to pull my car over….

  • Corner Blowjobs

    Good lord, the ammount of cum I’ve spilled over Bill Henson. Brings tears to my eyes, and pre-drool to my cock. They had faces then!

  • C.A.

    LOL…Bill/Doug rented a room to me when he and his THIRD wife seperated. He had been married 3 times before he was thirty. He was str8 and only bottomed because he couldn’t get hard to Top. Trust me when i tell you that he was not into men. I even have a homemade sex tape he made with one of his tricks.

  • Manou

    Call me crazy, but I always thought he was everything to look at in stills, and nothing to look at in porn. Clearly gay for pay, and clearly not into it, I’ll take the real gay legends of those years (who really loved getting fucked, and their hard dicks showed it) any day over him. But he was very pretty . . .

  • http://na michael james decker

    That was the first gay porn i ever rented. Yes one can judge a book from its cover.

  • HERMAN COLEMAN

    Bill Henson is and will always be the ultimate gay for pay porn star. He is my all time favorite and Sailor in the Wild is the film all gay porn needs to live up to. I said it and I am sticking by this statement.

  • juliana whte bitch hiv positiv

    BILL HENSON É HOMEM BONITO,LINDO E CARA DE MORAL. MIKE HENSON, JOHNNYM RAHM, KYLE CARRINGTON, STEVE FOX, MATT GUNTHER AL PARKER LON FLEXX. PIERRE BUISSON. CADE ELES FICARAM ASSOMBRADO E PERDIDOS DEPOIS DA MORTE HIV. ELES SÃO OS MELHRES CLASSICOS E PORNSTAR HOT E SEXY.. QUER O CEU LHE AS PORTAS…

  • BlogZilla

    Oh he was into it. If you really want to know who doesn’t seem like they’re into it, it’s the Kristen Bjorn models. Many of his are definitely gay for pay. Henson looked like he was too eager to get fucked not to be into it, and he was too erotic as well.

  • BlogZilla

    I don’t understand. If he wasn’t into men, then why is he getting fucked by them and sucking their dicks on film and video? There are plenty of guys in straight porn who never do gay porn, so you can’t tell me it’s just because of money