Toby Ross

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Toby Ross is an American film director who made straight and gay pornographic films in the 1970s and 1980s and later on went to produce non sexual and cult films with a strong sense of comedic flare. Many film aficionados consider Ross the only missing link between Adult films and commercial independent films ("Ross—himself a prominent 70s queer filmmaker whose films bridged the gap between porn, exploitation, and art cinema"), [1] as Ross calls it The Antarctica of the film business. He was born in Landsberg am Lech, Germany, to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father. At the age of eight, his mother having remarried an Austrian Jew, he moved with his mother and stepfather to Israel. He served two years in the Israeli army. After studies in Los Angeles, attracted by stories of the freedom in San Francisco, he moved there in the 1970s. [2]


Before Ross made feature films he made loops, which were shot on silent 8mm or 16mm. His earliest feature films were partially composed of some of his loops with added soundtracks. Some of his later films were very successful in underground gay film circles. These films include Do Me Evil, Cruisin' 57, and Schoolmates.

His earlier theatrical features were released under Cinema Mirage. In 1980 he started a company called Hornbill Films which he used to release his hard core films onto VHS and in 1995 his regular general audience films some shown in various festivals.

In the early 1980s he began making movies on video instead of film.

He no longer makes hardcore porn movies, only "erotic story movies." [3]

On October 8, 2008, Canadian film maker and experimental klezmer/hip hop musician Josh Dolgin showed Cruisin' 57 at the Pop Montreal music festival; the film was accompanied by a live band and played to a packed house with standing room only. [4] [5]

In the winter of 2010 Josh Dolgin released his Film "Socalled The Movie" in which parts of a documentary he made with Ross profiles Toby Ross as one of his influences. [6]

Awards and nominations

Many consider Ross to be on one league with John Waters and Gus Van Sant.


From XXX to regular motion pictures

In 2005 s he began making regular comedy films which include Bowser Makes a Movie, Get a Life, and Father Knows.... In 2007, he and Joe Rubin directed the movie Live For Sex, Die For Love which was a departure from Ross' comedies into dark and semi-surreal drama. It was a success.

In the spring of 2008 he started working on a spy thriller called "Moon over Hong Kong", an all-male homage to the James Bond genre. "Like a Moth to a Flame" in 2009 has reunited Ross with Rubin and was available on DVD November 30, 2009. One of the trilogies of Moth was shot on 16mm and directed by Joe Rubin. 2011 was the year he released his dark erotic crime documentary "Payton Collins Serial Rapist", the film spent 3 weeks as #1 best seller on and was a success. Payton Collins was nominated as the best gay thriller for 2012 TLA GAYBIES award.

Father Knows...

Father Knows... is a 2007 American film starring Cort Donovan as Brad, who has just completed his memoirs. The film then goes into an extended flashback about Brad's relationship with his childhood friend Ira and the ups and downs which follow. Their romance takes them from Chicago to San Francisco and back and along the way they both learn a lot about life and each other. The film was shot in Chicago, Illinois on digital video.

Homosexual, Toby Ross and the 70s and Paper Dreams

From 2012 to 2014 Ross made a few documentaries, notably "Toby Ross and the 70's" with an Ebook version (much racier than the video) in which the San Francisco era (1971 - 1977) is retold in a new light. (

Paper Dreams 2015 The history of the erotic all male magazine industry (1966 - 1973) retold in a "film noir" style to enhance suspense.

American Pop Culture Icon - The Rise and Fall of Bill Eld 2020

Examining the life and meteoric rise of "the most beautiful male pinup in the world" (Toby Ross) from the heights of the modeling world to a bitter sad end. Toby Ross calls it "The Madame X syndrome and is told in a captivating dramatic manner..


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  1. Daily Grindhouse
  2. David-Elijah Nahmod, "Long Ago and Far Away. Gay Porn auteur Toby Ross remembers", South Florida Gay News, November 12, 2014, p. 14,, retrieved 11/24/2014. The online version is titled "Interview: Gay Porn Auteur Toby Ross Remembers".
  3. From the Nahmod interview cited above.
  4. "Ottawa XPress - Film - the Socalled Movie". Archived from the original on 2010-06-07. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  5. "POP Montreal: Owen Pallett Scores a Porn a/K/A Final (Really, Really Gay) Fantasy - New York Music - Sound of the City". Archived from the original on 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  6. [ dead link ]
  7. "1998 Grabby Awards Winners". Grabbys. Archived from the original on June 4, 2004.
  8. 1 2 "GayVN Awards past winners".

See also