One of the best birthday presents I received this year didn’t cost a cent – a YouTube link on my Facebook page, posted by DJ Frank Booker, aka Chris Cox, a chap with exceptional musical taste. I haven’t stopped listening to it since and am watching the post for a Discogs delivery any day. (James Murphy – I’m looking at you to pack this for Despacio on Friday.)
You can find various versions of this around the interwebs – the 8.37 12″ version, the rather charming Casablanca promotional video with Dennis awkwardly doing the disco point in a silver jumpsuit and a wonderfully crap eagle, Todd Terje’s re-edit – but after careful consideration I have to say I prefer the version Chris originally shared (ignore the French TV host talking at the start). And there’s something so sweet and sad about Dennis pathetically busting out his disco moves in the big city – he seems so unsuited for the job that it almost makes me want to cry.
And in fact, Dennis’s story is one to bring a tear to the eyes of most right-thinking people. Born Dennis Posa, he changed his name to Wade Nichols (a name Greg Wilson would go on to pinch for some of his production work) and hit the silver screen – as a porn star. Wikipedia lists his first film as the gay porno Boynapped, but he spent most of his porn career performing straight-for-pay. His films included the innocently named Barbara Broadcast, Summer of Laura, Marishino Cherries and Teenage Pajama Party. It was a different time, a Diggler time.
Indeed, you have to wonder if Dennis’s story wasn’t the inspiration for Boogie Nights. Desperate to get out of porn and make his name in the mainstream entertainment world, Dennis somehow made his way onto the Casablanca roster, recording just one album for them in 1978. Like An Eagle was produced by Jacques Morali and, in addition to the title track, included another minor hit, a cheesy homage to the NYC disco scene, New York By Night.
In 1979 he joined the cast of soap opera The Edge of Night and mainstream success seemed assured – but then he left the show and died shortly after. There’s very little information out there about Dennis – no big tribute pages on music history sites, he’s a footnote at best. On the websites he where he merits a small mention, most say he killed himself with a gunshot wound to the head, but the truth is much sadder – he contracted HIV and by 1984 was too ill to work. He died of an AIDS-related illness in January 1985.
Here’s to you, Dennis.