Friday, April 11, 1997

Donnie Russo: In His Own Words, Part 2

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #49, April 11, 1997)

PHOTO: Donnie Russo

Photo by Ken Binder

Here’s more of our conversation with adult-video megastar Donnie Russo, continued from last issue.

His films: I don’t know how many movies I’ve made, probably about 300 now. The movies I’ve done for my own company—those were my fantasies, basically, and I love people coming into my world. And you call me sick, degenerate, kinky, however people label it—it’s just that I know how to express myself, and I have no qualms about it, no reservations. I don’t look at sex as being dirty or perverted. Even bondage, watersports, or even scat—if you’re into it, you’re into it, and that’s your prerogative, you know, and you have a choice. I was able to employ my emotions and my fantasies and then allow people to view them. And that’s where I did very well, because my realism came across.

Even in my normal life off the screen it’s no different. It’s not that every guy I come home with I piss on, or he pisses on me, or we get into a bondage scene or leather or uniforms. Sometimes it’s just about making love. It’s trial and error. Some people don’t like spitting—I do, I get off on it. You gotta try it before you knock it. I hate it when people say, “Omigod, how can you do that?” Have you ever tried it? If not, then you’re not an authority to even speak on it.

Work ethic: When I’m in front of the camera I give my all. Like I always tell every guy I film: It’s up to you how you want to come across. If you go out drinking and getting stoned the night before a shoot, it’s gonna show the next day. That’s not fair to the people who you’re gonna be with or to the people who watch the films. If you’re just doing it for the money, just go out in the street—it’s easier. Seriously.

Safe sex: I always fuck with a rubber now. I believe we’ve all been exposed to HIV and the AIDS virus, and it’s just how the body responds to it. I mean, I’m not old, but I’ve been sexually active probably for at least 24 years. In 24 years, especially coming out in 1977 and 1978, and fucking around in the early 80’s until it was really brought to our attention—I just feel we’ve all been exposed, there’s not one of us that hasn’t. I’m negative, but I always act like I’m positive. You have to—each and every one of us has to. Just because your statistics show negative, that doesn’t mean nuthin.’

Longevity: I’ve lasted a long time in the porn industry, and I’ve lasted a longer time in the community. You figure I’ve been at least a good 17 years working in the clubs in New York. Last summer a kid stopped me on the street and said, “Hey Dinosaur!” So I said to him, “Excuse me??” And he said, “Hey Dinosaur!” And I said, “I beg your pardon, who the fuck are you callin’ Dinosaur?” He said, “You, because you are one. Don’t take it wrong, I’m a dinosaur too.” He says, “You know, you’ve lasted, you’re around. I remember you as a kid, man, and that’s why I call you a dinosaur. I don’t remember too many people ’round here, ’cause they ain’t around no more to remember.”

And all of a sudden reality comes into play, and it’s like, wow. Seventeen years later, man, and I remember. I got pictures of me, sixteen, seventeen years old on the corner of Christopher Street. And I’m still here.

Aging and change: I got pictures of me at home, and people go “Who’s that?” And I tell them that’s me, and they fuckin’ fall over! I mean, I looked totally different. My hair was halfway down my back, my waist was 24 inches. You would not recognize me. Age came into play and grabbed me. It’s so weird to think of all the people who coached me all these years and said “Oh, don’t worry, wait until you hit this age, you’re going to start gaining weight.” And all of a sudden, I did. I grew out of my boyhood and went into my manhood. And I often reflect on that when I see myself on the films. You’re caught in time. And people, if they never bought another film and they have a film from six years ago, they’re going to fantasize about him. They’re fantasizing about that guy on the screen, and if they meet me now, it’s like two different people.

Even today at the signing (at Rainbow Road), I was looking at all these old videos, and it’s such a throwback. You’re immortalized, you’re totally immortalized. Why me? I would never dream of this ten years ago. I would have been like, “Yeah, sure.” It’s so spooky.

Personal philosophy: I have my own ethics and my own way of life, and I look at life totally different than most people. I see death every day of my life, and I understand how short life is, because I walk downstairs in the funeral home (as was explained last issue, Donnie and his family are in the funeral business, and he lives above the funeral home) and I see babies, children, adults, middle-aged, elderly, and so forth. So my perception of life is that it can be over quick, just like that. So enjoy it, keep it simple, be yourself, have fun. You’re dead longer than you’re alive.

Upcoming Leather Events

Mr. Minnesota Fantasy Weekend ’97:

Leather Meet & Greet
Saturday, April 12, 9 pm-1 am, Gay 90’s Men’s Room Bar

Contest and Show
Sunday, April 13, 6-10 pm, The Saloon
Meet the contestants and current International Mr. Fantasy Kevin Watson on Saturday night. On Sunday, this year’s contestants put it all on the line—who will be judged the hottest man with the hottest fantasy? (And who will win the weekend packages to the International Mr. Leather and International Mr. Fantasy weekends which are being given away?) Come and see.

Community Fundraiser
Sunday, April 20, 4-9 pm, The Saloon
Hosted by Mr. Northwoods ’97 Colin Spriestersbach; proceeds benefit Queer Street Patrol and B.D. Chambers’ participation in the Minneapolis-to-Chicago AIDS Ride. Community organization booths, artist exhibits, 10 cards, raffles, prizes.

Other Upcoming Events

May 22-26: International Mr. Leather Weekend, Chicago. It’ll be here before you know it. For information, or to charge tickets, call 1-800-545-6753 or e-mail to Visit their comprehensive web site at, featuring everything you ever wanted to know about the contest. While you’re there check out the pix of this year’s contestants, including our own Mr. Minnesota Leather ’97 Kevin Cwayna.

May 30-June 1: The Knights of Leather present Knights Tournament Nine. This year’s theme: uniforms! For more information, write Knights of Leather, Minneapolis MN.

July 18-19: Mr. Minnesota Drummer Contest. Details next issue.

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