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Monday, June 21, 2010

Matt? Where are you now?

Monday's Man: Matt Collins

I left out the photos of Matt Collins from my recent post on the January 1978 issue of After Dark, because I wanted to make him my Monday's Man.

Matt started off as a top steeplechase and show rider from Pennsylvania. He was discovered by the famous Wilhelmina Cooper. "She said, 'I must have you. You'll make millions with your face' and all that crap," remembered Matt. He went on to become one of the highest paid male models in the industry.

Acting was the next obvious step and when he played the small role of Rudolph Valentino in Gene Wilder's The World's Greatest Lover, he had found a new love.

Well, it was short-lived. He had small parts, but decided to give up acting when Allan Carr wanted to make a sitcom about his life as a model. He was then lured to play the lead role in The Last Resort. It was featured in After Dark December 1979 when Matt made the cover.

Reading the behind the scenes piece that Patrick Pacheco did, it wasn't a happy set. The story was based on the novel Butterflies in Heat by Darwin Porter. Eartha Kitt was supposed to be playing a drag queen, but didn't want it to be a male character.

Barbara Baxley and Matt didn't get along and the producer had to keep them from tearing each others eyes out. Roxanne Gregory and Matt had zero chemistry.

Matt's acting was wooden and the producer said it would be up to Kitt and actress Pat Carroll to carry the picture.

Matt refused to remove his pants in the pool scene and the lack of shirtless scenes for a movie about a male hustler is obvious. The article said that he was suprised that Matt's body was not in as good shape as one would have expected. The producer said he mentioned that to Matt and he became furious, because he felt his character should be a bit flabby. I didn't think he looked all that bad. He looked good in denim, that's for sure.

When it was finally released, it was under the title Tropic of Desire. Yes, I own a copy on VHS (did you really think it was available on DVD?).

After watching it, I see some merit in the film. Of course the opening scene is on Matt's crotch and the butterfly patch on his jeans. So points go to grabbing my interest right away.

Matt's not all that bad. He plays a young man named Numie who travels to Key West and ends up being a gigolo.

His customers are a drag queen, a gay man, and a fashion designer, but he falls in love with Anne, the most boring character in the film. Of course, he has a run in with the local law enforcement, who taunt him and throw him into a jail cell to be raped by two other prisoners. Before this happens though, he is released.

I guess after the turmoil behind the film, Matt decided to walk away from the business. Supposedly the Jon-Erik Hexum/Joan Collins TV movie Making of a Male Model is based on Matt's life. I guess the sitcom idea didn't sell. Or did it?

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