Thursday, June 14, 2012

Porn Stars-Are We Pushing Them Too Far?


As I have started writing for an adult studio I have been trying to quickly learn a business that I am not that familiar with and I am having concerns.

Being concerned about those I write for and the industry as a whole seems to be a defect in my character at this point because I am not really sure how much the industry or the viewing public really care.



The questions that are coming up more and more in my mind as I write for the studio and models is the thought - are we pushing them too far?

 We have extreme sports, extreme weight loss, extreme home make over shows, every product now seems to start with the word extreme, we even have extreme pizza.

 And I am not talking about the different fetishes like BDSM for the moment I am talking about what we are doing to the adult performers themselves.

 Do we have some responsibility here as consumers to be aware of what we are REALLY viewing and what it takes to create it?


We as a society seem to be concerned with how the clothes we wear are made and how the food we eat is harvested. Should we be concerned by how the adult content we view is made and those who perform in it?


I believe strongly we should. And I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the way I see adult entertainers treated. They are many times treated as less than human, without feeling.  Not just by some of the studios and agents but the fans and bloggers as well.

I believe gay performers are treated with even less respect many times than their straight counterparts. 
That is one of the reason I chose to write for a gay, rather than a straight adult studio. If my writing brings just a tiny modicum of respect and dignity to these performers who bear themselves for our viewing consumption, than I will have accomplished a tiny bit of peace within my own soul about what I do.

I can see the pressure these entertainer are under is intense.

On the one side society intellectually knows a healthy attitude toward sex and sexual fantasies makes for a more complete human being. On the other side, we still treat sex and pornography as being a taboo even though statistics are coming out everyday how many people are actually viewing and reading about it.


And these outmoded notions of taboo are shoved in the faces of the adult entertainers on a daily basis. Add to that the fact that so-called fans and a myriad of gay porn following blogs that will relish and cannibalize performers for any misstep they make. 

This is a tough road for them to walk.  Even a rhinoceros’s hide is not that thick and these conflicting assaults must take a toll on them.


 
BEAUTIFUL BODIES
We are regularly seeing the “ripped” male physiques in not only adult productions but mainstream media as well. There is no denying we love to look at them but have we stopped to think of the cost to the performers?

I recently heard an actor on a U.S. television series say, “I just cannot keep up with 15 hour shooting days and a tough gym schedule so I have asked the producers to allow me to keep my shirt on more.” But what if your entire job is to have your shirt and everything else OFF in front of the camera?

The accounts I have read of adult male stars workout and diet routines make an Olympians workouts look like recess at a Kindergarten.

How hard these performers work was brought to the forefront today for me when Mr. Adam Robinson Vice President for Falcon Studios announced the passing of performer Mr. Erik Rhodes who worked with them for over 8 years.  A memorial page has been set up at the Falcon site if you would like to express your condolences.



The male body was not meant to show every cut in their abdominal wall because of the natural layer of protective fat that covers them. However many are dieting themselves to dangerously low body fat levels then decreasing their fluid intake to make their muscle “pop” as they call it, on camera.
Add to that the fact that in a gay male scene one or both partners must anally cleanse themselves prior to filming which leaves some feeling nauseous, dizzy and weak. Then on top of all that they cannot eat for most of the day and I believe they are setting themselves up for some real health problems.

How good would you feel about seeing an adult scene if you knew the models were feeling sick for most of the shoot?



THE STRAINS OF SOCIAL MEDIA & SELF PROMOTION

And it is not just the physical strains that are put on these performers.

Most adult performers cannot make a living in this industry full-time and have jobs outside of the industry. Besides the second and third job they work they also have to promote themselves to get more work in the adult arena.

I say “arena” because at times, all the hustle for promotion they have to do reminds me of the Romans and the Coliseum where slaves and others were slaughtered by lions for sport.


The adult entertainers have to set up their own web sites, blogs, affiliate pay sites, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and MAINTAIN them!
They have to attend award ceremonies, promotional events, dance venues and so on.  Make sure they find a good agency, get in with the right studios, get their picture taken with the right people.  All this while hoping for calls from a talent agency they were able to sign with while fending off the "predator" scouts.




BACK AND FORTH
I have also started to wonder what it must be like for these performers after they have spent the day or weekend with people who are comfortable with sex and their sexual orientation only to have to return back to their lives and other jobs where people may not be so accepting?

How jarring the harsh realities must be when they can no longer be as open and must watch what they say and how they act. For those who live in large cities with a large LGBT community it is probably not so difficult. 

However I wonder about the ones who do not. Who return back to their lives and have to sequester that part of their being. I know I could not bear this type of schizophrenic existence.  I feel for those who have to and the effects it must have on their psychic souls cannot be good and must further their feelings of isolation.


A SAFE HARBOR

Here in the U.S. some of the adult gay performers seemed to have found a nurturing environment with the M/M male/male romance writers. They even have a following calling themselves LOGP or Ladies of Gay Porn. I am so glad to hear these men have found a welcoming environment there since society is still mistreating them for their sexual orientation and choice of career.

I enjoy reading the interviews being done by some of the writers and those “outside” of the filming industry like Ms. JP Barnaby’s and the gals of Books and Porn. Their interviews are showing a more complex side to these performers rather than just the “scene interview” you so often see on studio blogs that tell you absolutely nothing about the performer as if they are just a machine. A very beautiful machine but for the most part just a machine without feelings.

 
Am I wrong to be concerned about such things?

Maybe I am just worrying myself for no reason here. Maybe everything is good and well and everyone is happy and getting everything they need. That the industry is perfectly fine set up the way it is and does not need to change and neither does our thinking toward it.
However I know that over HALF of all adult performers only do one or two scenes and never return.  That is a huge number for any industry and quite troublesome to me.




For now though those thoughts will have to wait for another time little blog.   Because my head is really starting to throb with all these conflicting thoughts and emotions and  I know I have a long night ahead.  I will be starring at the ceiling in my room and chewing at my bottom lip while I try to figure out a way to sleep and be O.K. with all of this………..










*quoted in http://queermenow.net/blog/gay-porn-news-owen-nicco-sky-riley-price-pete-anthony-romero-diesel-washington-erik-rhodes-matt-cole-janos-volt/



10 comments:

  1. Well althou i appreciate your concern i have to say i just dont see it. As a proformer in the industry i really dont think that im treated all that bad. I have seen first hand how females are treated on the straight side and i feel gay proformers are treated very well at least with the companeys i have worked for i have aleays felt respected. As for my workout and diet my doctor has said that i am his healthest patient. And cleaning your colon can be a healthy thing and i never feel sick in set yes a few times during along shoot i have gotten a little cranky from hunger lol but not for the lack of food as it is always offered by the companeys i have shot for by my own choice to wait until the scene is over to eat. I dont feel that what i do is unhealthy there is actually alot of literature that supports the fact that for men a fasting day every once in awhile is healthy. I think the key thing here is everything in moderation.

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  2. Many years ago I published an interview with a young gay porn actor who also was a local 'professional wrestler.' Krist Cummings was his porn name. His wrestling name was Drew Lucid. Andrew (real name) and I remain friends to this day. We both live in San Antonio.

    I know he suffered a lot of emotional stress as a porn actor. It was like being gay on steroids and he is now retired from film work. Wrestling had more long lasting physical effects. He blew out a knee, several times and has scars from the props.

    Andrew still loves wrestling and would like to get back in the "squared circle" as he calls the mat. He does make occasional appearances and is more careful but thankfully does not do the 'hard core' wrestling anymore. I think he has no desire to get back in front of the porn camera.

    Andrew has turned out well but it was a rough go for a long time. Family and friends made the difference.

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  3. I'm glad I stumbled across your blog...What bothers me no end are the attitudes of many of the so-called "fans". It's been especially noticeable the past few days, with Erik Rhodes passing. I just find it hard to wrap my mind around some of the commentary being offered. And these are from the fans!? God!
    And that just brought out the worst of them...there were plenty of hateful comments while he was alive, too.
    And many of the ones who seem to offer some kind of tentative compassion end up spitting out something snarky. Jeez, with friends like that, who needs enemas?
    Oh, yeah...I guess they have those too. What a life for these guys.
    Chew 'em up...spit 'em out like peanut shells...*sigh*

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  4. A career in art has never been a bed of roses.

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  5. True, but Sylvia Plath was a troubled artist who died tragically young, and I've never seen poetry fans suggest she somehow deserved it because she was a mess of a woman. The rule in porn seems to be "Love the art, despise the artist".

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  6. Its unfortunate that a number of anonymous commentators on the blogs are giving us the true fans of models a bad name. I have to believe that the majority of us fans do appreciate and respect the models!

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  7. This is an interesting article.
    I agree that there is extreme pressure put on porn stars. There always has been. Not everyone can perform in front of a camera...

    As far as Gay Porn Stars being disrespected, I feel that there is no difference in the amount of predatory and/or abusive employers in either gay or straight porn.

    Like Mr Diesel I've only had great, respectful studios.
    If I need a break I get one.
    If I need a small bite to keep up my blood sugar during a shoot; I get it.

    As far as the extremes in maintaining body type: I agree that it is extreme.

    Maintaining body type is extreme for models, movie, television and all media.
    Our culture has pushed impossible standards on women as far as modern history can see and beyond.

    Anorexia & bulimia are big problems for women in American culture. Now both those diseases as well as Megarexia are problems for MEN in our culture, So of course it's a problem for gay men in porn...but doing porn is a choice.

    If one feels internal pressure to go beyond health to embody an ideal, one needs to address that.

    If you feel pressure from your employer/ studio to do this:
    Quit.

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  8. I do feel like there is an extreme pressure put on porn stars. However, while I agree with a few of your statements, I disagree with some as well.

    In terms of the bodies, there is a pressure, but there's no more pressure to maintain their bodies than you see from mainstream culture, or just for being a gay man in general. I think many you see in porn obsessing over their body so they spend half a day in the gym do it more for themselves.

    I also don't feel like having to go back to a town that isn't as accepting as a gay porn set isn't necessarily a bad thing, or pushing them too far.

    I feel like where gay porn stars ARE pushed too far, though, is by fans. Fans say some of the NASTIEST things about porn stars, either in blog comments, or in blog posts, if the fan happens to be a blogger. They say things like "Christopher Daniels is omnipresently ugly." They critique EVERYTHING about the porn stars. Don't let you dick be too big, too little, too thick, too thin. Don't be too muscular, too twinkish, too fem, too straight, too gay, too tan, too pale, too niggerish, too white, too tattooed, too old...the list can go on and on. It's like you can never win with some of these fans. I used to be like this until I started meeting them and seeing them as people.

    Another way I feel like they're pushed too far is that with declining scene rates and other reasons, pornstars must work harder and harder and shoot more and more scenes JUST to make it worthwhile. We want to see them more and more, but if you shoot too many, you risk being overexposed.

    I still think it's a great blog post, and I hope some eyes are opened.

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  9. I stopped watching Falcon's video because I got tired of the fact that they basically only feature buffed, muscled up shaved guys who must live in the gym or take steroids. Sorry but the majority of the gay community is not that way. And I feel that promotes a type of image that most are unable to obtain.

    People might hate studios like Treasure Island but at least they feature REAL men who have body hair, some might have a big of a spare tire but that is how people are.

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    Replies
    1. I want to thank all of you who took the time to comment on this post.

      This was my first article that I sent out to a few and was surprised and grateful to the people who picked it up, retweeted it and posted it to their FB pages and blogs.

      It has had several thousand views and keeps going and the response from those of you in the industry has been overwhelmingly positive. I wasn’t sure how it would be received and I want you to know your kindness and acknowledgment is very much appreciated.

      I am also glad to know that not all of you have experienced the harsher side to this industry.

      But I do agree there is too much negativism out there.

      So if you take nothing else away from this article I hope you will stop a moment and think about this. They are all human beings and this is their art that they are creating for you.

      You do not need to like everything you see but when you do feel the need to comment you will never regret treating someone with dignity and respect.

      Thank you all again.
      Shadow Sterling

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