Greg Patton, dba Rod Phillips

Another chapter in the Lives of the Gay Pornstars, this time the story of Greg Patton (with his sometime boyfriend Bobby Pyron), who performed in porn in the 1980s under the name Rod Phillips (while Pyron performed under the name Lee Ryder). This posting is not particularly lubricious, but it is about male sex workers and does refer to anal sex between men, so it won’t be to everyone’s taste.

My interest is in how these men managed their lives in the porn business (separately and together), how they balanced their everyday lives — Pyron had a passion for flower arranging, Patton for jewelry design (how queer is that?) — with their careers in porn, and (insofar as this can be determined) how they coped with growing up in a largely hostile straight world and managed relationships with their families. The central question — one that has dogged me all my life, from early childhood on — is:

How, in these circumstances, does an anomaly like me fashion a life that is both decent and bearable?

A previous posting here about Pyron/Ryder, on 12/1/18, “Bobby Pyron”, referred to “Rod Phillips, Pyron’s one-time boyfriend Greg Patton”, but didn’t develop Patton/Phillips further. (The porn name Rod Phillips combines the phallic Rod with the probably phallic Phillips of Phillips screwdrivers.)

(I should add that friends of mine knew these men back in the day and describe them both as sweet and charming, and also sexually hot, but with no interest in flaunting their porn fame.)

Now, from the site Being But Men, We Walked Into the Trees (“A blog about Cleveland, Ohio, and Washington, D.C.; history; photography; cinema; literature; cooking and food; and lots more”) on 3/1/17:

Rod Phillips (born Gregory Leslie Patton, August 23, 1960, in El Centro, California – died May 24, 1993, in West Hollywood, California) was an American pornographic actor who appeared in gay pornographic films from 1982 to 1993.

His neighbors while growing up owned a jewelry business, and Phillips was fascinated by jewelry at a young age. He learned basic gem polishing, and was knotting pearl necklaces by the age of 12. He graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1978. After graduation, he moved to Paris, Texas, where he studied jewelry making and gemology at Paris Junior College. He left school and moved to Midland, Texas, but returned to Santa Barbara in 1980.

Lee Ryder (born Darras Robert Pyron on August 3, 1959, in Norco, California – died July 10, 1991, in Los Angeles, California) was an adult film star who began doing gay adult film in 1983 at the age of 24. He was an overnight star. He was tall, lean, dark-skinned, and had a nine inch endowment [in a real-life sexual partner, this is far from an advantage]. Ryder grew up in Laguna and graduated from Esperanza High School in Anaheim. Like many young gay men at the time, he discovered that the only place that would hire an openly gay man was a florist shop. He found work with Crosley’s Flowers in Los Angeles, an upscale florist which handled arrangements for the VIP rooms at the Beverly Hills Hotel and on various television series. After a while, he quit his job, and traveled. He followed this pattern throughout his life, working for a florist and then quitting to visit Germany or Hawaii or Jamaica, or Panama or Switzerland.

Ryder had met a man named Glenn, who was from Massachusetts but living in Dallas. They were deeply in love. Then Glenn left him. Ryder wanted to open his own flower shop, so beginning in 1982 he began nude modelling. Within a year, he’d done several layouts and had been on the covers of three national gay porn magazines.

In late 1982 or early 1983, Ryder met Rod Phillips at the Boom-Boom Room, a popular gay bar in Laguna Beach [I note that such gay bars were cruising grounds, but they were also locales of sociability for gay men]. Ryder was 24, and Phillips 21 [given their birth dates, they must have been closer in age than that — say, Ryder 24 to Phillips 23]. They were deeply attracted to one another, and spent a few months commute-dating before Phillips moved to Los Angeles. At Ryder’s urging, Phillips began performing in gay porn films. The two appeared in several of the same films, with Ryder even fucking Phillips in Biggest One I Ever Saw and Winner Takes All. But problems set in. They became jealous of one another when one got paid more, and sometimes accused one another of “enjoying” the sex with a co-worker more than the sex at home…

By 1985 or so, Phillips and Ryder separated. Phillips kept working in adult film, however. In 1986, Phillips moved to Philadelphia, and then to Wayne, New Jersey (just outside New York City). But by 1988 he was back in Los Angeles, and in 1990 was back doing adult film again. He did two films that year, the first of which was Guess Who’s Coming? Phillips dated gay adult film star Joey Stefano for a few months in 1990 [Stefano was a fabulously hot performer but also famously, drastically, out of control of his life], and fucked Joey in the 1990 film Hard Steal. Phillips got out of adult film again, but returned in 1993 for Hologram.

It was the last thing he ever did. Phillips was struggling with HIV-related lymphatic prostate cancer, with which he’d been diagnosed in 1992, and undergoing extensive chemotherapy. It was taking a huge toll on him, physically. He could no longer ride his motorcycle to work, Diamonds on Rodeo Drive. He had to take a freelance position at The Gauntlet, which was two blocks from his apartment in West Hollywood. This enabled him to walk to work.

Phillips died on May 24, 1993, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He had been in good shape until early 1993, filming his last adult video in February and continuing to go to the gym every day. Rumors that he committed suicide are only rumor. His health had rapidly declined in the three weeks prior to his death, and while his passing was sudden it was not due to suicide by an overdose of drugs [as several on-line sites assert].

The Phillips filmography:

Winner Takes All: High Voltage (1983); Spokes (1983); Boys Town: Going West Hollywood (1984); Windows (1984); The Biggest One I Ever Saw! (1984); Kink: Hot Shots 6 (1986); Bare Tales (1988); Too Big for His Britches (1988); Plunge (1990); Hard Steal (1990); Hologram (1993)

I have no information about Patton’s relationship with his family. About Pyron’s, we know a little bit more:

Pyron was buried in the family plot, in Montecito Memorial Park, in Colton, San Bernardino Co. His father was buried there after him: Darras Roosevelt Pyron, 1935–2004. His mother, Dorothy Phyllis Dexter Pyron (later Lima), 1937–2015, was apparently not buried in this site.

Now the photos, all of Phillips rather than Patton (I wish we had some of Patton with his jewelry designs):

(#1) Phillips in a full-body display, from the side, emphasizing his beautiful butt

(#2) Phillips doing a pitsntits display

(#3) Phillips as a hot property on the cover of Advocate Men magazine

(#4) Phillips and Ryder together on film

3 Responses to “Greg Patton, dba Rod Phillips”

  1. [BLOG] Some Wednesday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky considers, briefly, the little is known about the lives of 1980s gay porn stars Greg Patton and Bobby Pyron. […]

  2. Reyah Says:

    I wondered what ever happened to Greg, he and his sister Tawnya were some of my best friends in the 70s, living in Carpinteria just south of Santa Barbara. I also worked at the jewelry store, called “The House of Turquoise” owned by Jon and Connie Berg. I moved to the east coast in 1980, and lost contact with him and his sister. I know at some point, his sister Tawnya moved to Appaloosa Louisiana to be near their bio mother, and got married. I moved back to the Santa Barbara area in 96, worked as a nurse in two AIDS hospices until they were no longer needed when the onset of miracle drugs were introduced and people then lived with AIDS rather than died from it. All this time I tried to find my old friends Greg and Tawnya, with no luck.. I again tried finding them on facebook, and in a search I saw AIDS memorial listing, and there it was, his name. Really made me sad. Greg was a fun person to be around, kind, and always good for a laugh. Rest well Greg, your old hang out with buddy <3

  3. David W Moorman Says:

    Tha guy on the cover of Advocate Men is Brad Phillips, not Rod.

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