In the early 1990’s, Ryan Idol was the king of gay porn. Idol Eyes, his 1990 debut video starring opposite Joey Stefano (another story, another time), was a huge success and promotion of Idol as the face of a higher quality, professionally filmed version of erotica made him a recognizable name. I have some vague recollection of being at some party about that time in which the dance floor was alive with the rumor that Ryan Idol had just arrived by helicopter.
Idol (real name Marc Anthony Donais) went on to star in Huge Video’s Idol Worship, Idol Thoughts, Idol Country, and Idol in the Sky, along with a few others which did not feature his name. Coming to the porn world fresh from a Playgirl centerfold, he claimed to make $50,000 per movie.
But by the late 1990’s, Idol’s career may have been suffering from overexposure and after 1996 he ceased working for Huge. While pursuing plans to produce his own video, Idol Gods, Idol turned to stage acting. The transition was not a large one. In 1997, Idol stepped in to star in Making Porn, Ronnie Lawsen’s play about an out-of-luck straight actor who ends up in the gay pornography business.
But Idol was still in the limelight. And he lived it up in the company of Windy City Times founder Jeff McCourt. (Chicagomag.com 2000)
… McCourt would drift into a number of brief relationships, the most notable of which was with Marc Anthony Donais, a man far better known in the gay community as the pornographic film star Ryan Idol.
“In some kind of fucked-up way, they cared about each other,” says Alter. “They were two highly narcissistic, very on-the-edge types of personalities who were using each other for image, for money, for drugs, for sex.” He adds, “In spite of all that—and I know how strange this sounds—I think there was something real there.”
Donais, who today lives in a small New England town, agrees. They met in the late 1990s, when Donais was in Chicago and attempting to launch a legitimate acting career by starring in a play in Bailiwick Repertory’s annual Pride Series. He and McCourt began a yearlong on-again, off-again relationship that was complicated by the fact that, for most of that time, Donais had a girlfriend. “He was somebody I’ll never forget,” Donais says. “He was really like a best friend, a big brother. He would have me in his office all the time to show off and stuff. And he would be wielding his power, and I identified with that.”
The staff remembers it somewhat differently. “We’d have editorial meetings where Jeff would be sitting there with white powder around his nose, drinking booze out of a bottle with Ryan Idol asleep on the couch,” says Weisberg. “At some point we just knew this wasn’t going to work—that this was no way to run a business.”
But life for Marc Anthony Donais was not all flashbulbs and applause. The glamorous life, with its abundance of chemical happiness, was difficult for him to handle. And his erratic behavior and fiery temper got in the way. One night after a performance he got angry, punched the playwright, and left in handcuffs.
While that put a temporary stop to the starring role, the worst was the night of March 20, 1998, when Donais took a leap out of the window of his girlfriend’s fourth floor apartment. A fortunate bounce off an awning saved his life leaving him with a shattered pelvis, mangled left arm, severe concussion and whiplash.
Without health insurance and resorting to on-line appeals for funds, Idol went back to the play in Miami Beach’s Colony Theater. He promised to be good. He lasted a month. On September 1, 1998 Idol showed up 45 minutes late. (Steve Rathous)
“His eyes were dilated, and he was extremely agitated, ” Hodgson said. “I told him he was in breach of contract for showing up late. His response to me: ‘Sue me. . . . F— you. . . . I’m not going on.’
“In his street clothes, he went center stage in front of the audience and said: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the show has been canceled.’ He walked out through the front door and left.”
That was it for Making Porn, but Ryan continued his stage career with Scent Of Rain, a rural-set gay-man-finds-love story with lots of nudity. And, after a hiatus of about a decade, got a bit part in a revival of The Ritz (2007) and earned the right to say he played on Broadway. He even managed to get a one man show, Anatomy of an Idol, produced. But Idol Gods never materialized and Ryan Idol’s superstar days were long over. The public had no interest in an aging Marc Anthony Donais.
But three years ago, Donais returned to the public eye, though not in a way he would have preferred. That night he was upset over a recent breakup and went to visit the woman with whom he had been involved. (SacBee)
According to the victim’s testimony at trial, Donais entered the woman’s apartment the night of Sept. 5, 2009, and told her, “I came over here to kill you.”
The two had been involved in a relationship, but the woman – whose name is being withheld because she is a domestic violence victim – said she ended it when she caught him having sex with his male lover.
The woman said Donais stormed into her bathroom while she was taking a bath at her 48th Street residence and began to beat her with the porcelain lid.
He claimed to have beat her in self defense saying he thought she had a knife. The jury didn’t buy that one. On September 20, 2011 he was convicted of attempted murder.
When he went for sentencing, his attorney requested that he be removed. Donais then sought another trial, claiming inadequate council. His second trial didn’t fare better and yesterday Donais faced his sentence.
More than a year after his conviction, a one-time gay porn star who beat his former girlfriend over the head with a toilet tank lid has been sentenced to 12 years in state prison for attempted murder.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Troy L. Nunley imposed the term Wednesday on Marc Anthony Donais, 46, who established a reputation in the 1990s as one of the top stars in his genre under the name of Ryan Idol.
Which brings me to my Ryan Idol story. It’s not exactly that thrilling and doesn’t portray me in a particularly complimentary light, but here is how I recall it:
This was way back when, in the mid 90s just about the time that Ryan Idol was coming to recognize that in porn fresher is better. One of my clients, an HIV/AIDS service group, was the charity recipient of that year’s gay porn awards and the executive director asked me to join him at the event.
It was not nearly as risqué as it sounds. Because liquor was sold, there was no nudity and clips from the videos couldn’t be shown. Other than a couple “oh, I didn’t know you did porn” encounters, it was fairly boring and only one moment really stands out it my mind.
At the table next to our own was a still-recognizable face: Ryan Idol. He was easy to spot as he was the only man to bring a female date to the event, a woman he described as his fiancée.
And he was noticeably drunk. And obnoxious.
Now most people weren’t treating this in a very serious manner. After all, where exactly does one display the award for Best Bottom in a Three Way?
To my defense, I insist that we didn’t really start it. But we couldn’t help but notice that Idol has strong opinions about who should be receiving awards, opinions that he wasn’t exactly keeping to himself.
My client got a mischievous twinkle in his eye, and I played right along. We noticed that Ryan Idol was nominated for some award later in the program and decided to set the stage. We started a just-loud-enough-for-him-to-hear conversation about the role. Neither of us had seen his performance but we assured each other that it was a masterpiece and worthy of the highest praise.
“Oh my god, that was so hot! Amazing! And look at the competition. Did you see that one? Ugh, booooring, I fast forwarded!”
Perhaps a more sober or more astute man would have known that he was being egged on. And perhaps a less volitile actor would have politely applauded the winner when his name wasn’t called.
But I will forever remember Ryan Idol standing and screaming at the stage, “That’s bullsh!t! That’s fuc%ed up!”
In retrospect, I’m glad he never found out that he was set up. And that he didn’t have a handy toilet seat.