Robert Kerman Poster


Robert Charles Kerman was born on December 16, 1947, in Brooklyn, New York City. His father was a pickle maker and his mother did bookkeeping for the family business. He grew up in a in a middle-class Italian-Jewish neighborhood of Bensonhurst, sharing a two-family row house with his aunt and parents. He first became interested in acting during his freshman year at Lafayette High School. During his senor year he enrolled in a drama class and found another incentive to pursue acting: girls, pursuing relationships with a few of them.

After graduation he enrolled at Brooklyn College to earn a Bachelors Degree. While there he acted in over 30 plays the university put on, but recalled that he didn't get to act at all during his first year at the college because there were a lot of required courses to take and credits to be earned before acting came. During his second year, however, he took acting classes at night school. He also went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he appeared in numerous plays. During his final year at Brooklyn College, Kerman met the chairman of the acting department, Wilson Lehr, who had him audition for the play "Look Back in Anger".

Kerman began acting in many off-Broadway shows in both Brooklyn and Manhattan, in local productions of such classics as "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", "A View From a Bridge", "Camille", "The Knack", "Joe Egg", and many other comedies and dramas, in both lead and supporting roles. Following graduation from Brooklyn College in 1970, Kerman went off on his own to pursue acting. He took such jobs as driving a Good Humor ice-cream truck and a taxi driver, since what he made from acting wasn't enough to support him.

Kerman become involved in the underground adult film business in the mid-'70s, performing--in non-sex roles--for $100 a day. He first performing on-screen sex in 1974 in director Roberta Findlay's Anyone But My Husband (1975), playing the lead role of the snobbish husband of C.J. Laing. Kerman was at first very uncomfortable with the sex, performing with Susan Sloan as a nude babysitter. When porn producers asked Kerman to create a "nom de porn" name for himself, a logo on a cardboard box of Bolla wine inspired him to create his porn acting name: "Richard Bolla" (often shortened to just "R. Bolla" because he didn't want people referring to him as "Dick"). He even briefly took the name "R.C. Bolla" for his middle name of Charles, but quickly dropped it.

Kerman's porn career flourished during the middle and late 1970s and early 1980s. He appeared in over 100 adult porn feature films in lead and supporting parts. His real acting talent made producers cast him in porn films with actual plots and stories, which made him a valuable commodity to porn filmmakers seeking to make story-driven feature films that could compete with mainstream movies. Kerman worked for many adult filmmakers on the East and West Coasts, such as Gerard Damiano, Gary Graver (as "Robert McCallum"), Henri Pachard and other port auteurs, and performing with such porn icons as Seka, Vanessa del Rio, Jennifer Welles, Ginger Lynn and Veronica Hart, among others.

Mainstream acting continued to remain Kerman's true calling, though, and in between porn roles he tried to pursue work in mainstream films. In 1979 he was introduced to Giovanni Masini, an Italian production manager who was filming a "B" picture in New York. Their association led to Kerman appearing in a small part as an air traffic controller in Ruggero Deodato's Concorde Affaire '79 (1979). Deodato then cast him in the lead role in his notorious film Cannibal Holocaust (1980), which was filmed in New York as well as on location in the rain forests of Colombia and Venezuela, an interesting experience for him in acting on location and seeing first-hand how the Italian film making business worked. Kerman was later cast by Italian director Umberto Lenzi for another lead role in an jungle cannibal film Eaten Alive! (1980), in which he played a rugged adventurer and trail guide. The film was shot in Sri Lanka.

Although Kerman wanted to continue working in Europe for Italian film productions, it was not to be. He returned to New York when acting jobs in Europe did not materialize. He planed to return to Italy, but labor laws prevented him from doing so--for his last Italian film role, a minor part in Lenzi's Cannibal Ferox (1981), he had to film all of his scenes in New York City, as he would not be allowed to work in Italy.

Kerman resumed his work in the American porn industry until 1984, when he moved with his girlfriend to Los Angeles to break into mainstream acting. His last adult film was Corporate Assets (1985), which was a big production shot on location in the San Fernando Valley. By early 1986 he had more or less quit the adult film business to pursue acting roles in mainstream movies and television. He landed an agent and within three months signed a three-year contract to act. He appeared in five or six television shows in guest star roles, and had small but memorable parts in No Way Out (1987) and Night of the Creeps (1986). Then one day his female agent fired him for no clear reason and, unwilling to get back in the porn business, Kerman returned to New York where by the early 1990s he dropped out of the acting business altogether, rarely working since.

In 1998 Kerman received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Free Speech Coalition's annual Night of the Stars, a gala event for the adult film industry. In 2001 the theatrical re-release of "Cannibal Holocaust" brought Kerman out of his self-imposed retirement to promote the movie in Los Angeles. It was there that director Sam Raimi asked him to audition for a role in the first Spider-Man (2002), and Kerman got the role of a New York City tugboat captain in small but memorable role.