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Review: ‘Seed Money’ examines the philanthropy of gay porn mogul Chuck Holmes

“Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story”
A mailer montage from the documentary “Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story.”
(Breaking Glass Pictures)

The provocative documentary “Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story” spotlights the man who founded a gay porn empire in 1971 and then, in the AIDS-conscious 1980s and ‘90s, used his fortune to back gay rights groups and like-minded politicians. But did he do it out of social awareness or to buy respectability?

That’s just one of the questions explored in Michael Stabile’s nichey look at Holmes and his Falcon Studios, which strove to bring a sense of class — such as it was — to gay porn by shooting buff, clean-cut young guys in beautiful surroundings.  

The brand, a reflection of Indiana-born Holmes’ own sexual predilections, launched such iconic performers as Casey Donovan and Al Parker and proved a driving force in the industry until Holmes’ death in 2000 from AIDS-related liver failure.    

Using video clips from the Falcon vaults (softcore only); interviews with Holmes’ colleagues and co-workers and other observers of the era; and period archival footage, Stabile paints an intriguing picture of the shrewd, enigmatic entrepreneur whose influential output provided legions of gay men with a safe sexual outlet, especially when the real thing became potentially deadly.  

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Despite the film’s brief running time, it packs in vital social context, gay history and nostalgic imagery along with some sad truths.   

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‘Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story’

Not rated

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Running time: 1 hour, 12 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; also on VOD Oct. 4

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