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Jean-Daniel Cadinot
(February 10, 1944 – April 23, 2008) France

Jean-Daniel Cadinot

Photographer, director and producer of pornographic films


Cadinot, son of a tailor, was born in Paris in 1944, at the foot of Montmartre hill in the Batignoles Quarter. "My father dressed people", he liked to joke; "I undressed them later on".

Artistically inclined, the teenaged Cadinot hoped to become a painter and in the face of parental opposition ran away from home at seventeen. He studied industrial drawing at the École des Arts et Métiers in Paris, but his teachers told him that he had no talent. He discovered the camera at nineteen and began taking evening classes in photography, while supporting himself by working during the day as a messenger on a warehouse packer.

Cadinot started his professional career taking studio photographs of actors and actresses. He also took nude photographs of male friends on the side and by 1975-76 he was selling his erotic pictures to homosexual magazines. He published the first of seventeen albums of photographs in 1976 and directed his first pornographic movie, Scout #1 (only 39 minutes long), in 1981. By 1998 he had directed fifty-four films and videos (some under the pseudonym Tony Dark).

Cadinot's movies are intensely personal. "I never try to know what the public will like or not, I don't do market studies... I make the films that I want to see". Directing, he explains, is "my personal therapy". "Through my movies, I settle scores with my parents, with society, with the Church." He claims that his movies are all autobiographical in origin: "My movies are my past private life; in my life today I am preparing my future movies!"

Although they include the obligatory (and frequent) scenes of sexual activity, Cadinot's movies always tell a story. Most American porn stars are wooden actors whose well-muscled (and usually shaved) bodies seem artificial. Cadinot's performers are not professionals. They are as young and attractive as their American counterparts, but their bodies are more natural and their acting seems spontaneous.

Cadinot disliked "clones" and chosed performers "with swarthy skin, sensual lips, a face that catches your eye". Above all, he said, "I like their personality". Cadinot has remarked: "I can't film somebody who doesn't give me an erection, that's evident... but to act on [my desire] is another matter. I express my desire through the lens." All this contributes to the so-called "Cadinot look" for which his movies are famous.

Cadinot had no complexes or reservations about either his homosexuality or his career as a pornographer. Although he disliked the word "pornography", because of the pejorative implications, he also declared that "pornography is life, it's sex, and life cannot be pornographic".

He was pleased that his brother held shares in his film company and his mother has played bit parts in two films. No mere photographer, Cadinot was a shrewed and successful businessman, as well as a genuinely talented artist. Cadinot died at his home, following a heart attack.


Source: Michael Sibalis in: Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon, Who's Who in Contemporary Gay & Lesbian History, London, Routledge, 2001

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