Quote of the Day: “Have you ever wanted to play with someone so much you’d taken any one, boy or girl?” — “Anna Stesia” by Prince
Recently I talked to a straight guy who told me that he wanted to experiment sexually with another guy. It was, I found out, a come-on, of sorts. Which I turned down, mainly because about seven years ago I had a slight hook-up thing with his sister. There was no way I was gonna get involved in that. What did fascinate me though was that this guy wanted to experiment partly because of something he saw on the Internet, a website that featured straight guys having sex with other straight guys, something called gay-for-pay. So of course I had to look into it. Which meant I talked to peeps I know. The following article grew out of one such conversation… (WARNING: Some of the links in this story are rather, um, raw…I’m just sayin’…)
To answer the question that you may no doubt have while reading this: Yes, my friend understands the double standard at play in his logic (or lack thereof). But he just can’t seem to shake it. You touch a dude or let a dude touch you, you’re gay. Or bi. Either way, I learned, the guy is thus labeled. Defined. Put in a box that, even if my friend doesn’t realize it, makes that guy lesser somehow, not quite a man, tainted. As my friend said to me, “Look at it this way. If you’re a dude who finds out your woman’s been with women, that’s hot. If a woman who finds out her man’s been with dudes? No, that woman is not sticking around for that.” Apparently in my friend’s eyes, the idea of sexual experimentation doesn’t really appeal to women—unless it’s between two women.
I like having these kinds of conversations with friends and acquaintances because I always feel like I learn more about life, about the ways other people look at the world, Even if we disagree, I can always walk away from discussions knowing that sometimes some smart people think and say some really dumb things. And there’s something reassuring about that.
All that said, I’ve been thinking a bit about the whole idea of sex between “straight” men. Not just because I’ve had it (and was recently offered it again), but because I’ve always been intrigued by the fluidity of sexuality, and because my new non-fiction book, the follow-up to HUNG, deals with some of these issues. A coupla years ago I became fascinated by perhaps the greatest example of that fluidity, the idea of “Gay-For-Pay,” the porn phenomenon in which ostensibly straight guys—or at least “straight-identified”—guys indulge in rampant sex scenes with other guys, and get paid (well) for it. I was to understand that one of the reasons so many straight guys fuck around with guys on camera is because if one wants to work in the porn biz, and apparently there are a bunch of cute, young, hung, buff dudes who do, one will never make much money as a stud for hire in straight porn, because in the straight porn world, the women are the real stars—the faces on the DVD boxes, as it were, the selling points. Which, I guess, makes some sense: straight guys who watch porn probably watch it for the women getting screwed, not the guys doing the screwing, right? (I must note here, however, that many straight guys I’ve talked to—in life and in research for this book—have told me that they in fact do pay a bit of attention to the dick in the straight porn scenes they watch—it’s just not real PORN without a dick doing some penetrating—and the bigger the better. Of course they do. Guys look at other guys’ dicks. I guess it’s just not a selling point… okay, moving on…)
Personally, I’ve had no problem, ethically speaking, with gay-for-pay. To be honest, there’s something oddly on-target about it to me. I mean, porn is (some may debate this) acting, is it not? And I’m guessing a bunch of porn peeps do it for the money, right? So why not go, if your heart and dick and orifices can stand it, where the money is? But also, I’ll admit, there is something fascinatingly sexy, to me, about the idea of “straight” guys being sexually intimate with each other, trying new things, seeing how the other half comes. I’ve had sex with guys who think of themselves as straight—either because they really are, or because they need the label fixed to themselves to avoid that taint I spoke of earlier—and if it’s just about sex, what’s the problem? Some of us call ourselves Christian or black or vegetarian when we know deep down inside that we’re really, truly not. Some “straight” guys, I think, don’t find what they need with women. In prison, for instance, they simply can’t. Just as some “straight” women, from what I’ve heard, don’t find all their sexual needs with men. What’s sorta funny about the gay-for-pay thing to me is that once upon a time, a few decades ago, I think some of these same boys might well have experimented across the sexual orientation divide and called it Free Love—I think of that great line, for instance, from the hippie musical Hair when Wolf says that he wouldn’t throw Mick Jagger out of bed. But generations later—in a post-Paris Hilton world, savvier about celebrity and fame, looser in their feelings about both porn and public sexuality, willing to do a lot of things to get paid, there’s a bunch of boys who say you can take your Free Love and shove it: I look good. I got a big dick. I got a nice body. You need a cock sucked? You’re paying me a few grand to do that and fuck a dude in the ass, a little more even to take the dick in my ass? No problemo. Point me to the set, man.
Recently I came across a post at a great site called Fleshbot which chastised gay-for-pay porn actor Patrick Bateman (uh, yes, apparently he’s named himself after the lead character in American Psycho—what might that tell us? Or that his other stage name is Matt Murdock, the AKA of Marvel Comics Daredevil). Apparently Bateman was caught in some behind-the-scenes footage, getting fucked on camera for the first time. That’s not why he was being chastised. In the scenes, Patrick is heard (be)moaning the fact that he was taking dick, calling it “level seven and a half” of Dante’s 7 levels of Hell, whining about his discomfort, basically wondering how anybody could do what he was doing for pleasure. At least that was the tone of it. The writer at Fleshbot basically ripped Bateman a new one, wondering how Bateman could behave the way he was behaving, say the things he was saying, when much of his audience does what he’s doing all the time, and LIKE IT!!! Wasn’t Bateman’s behavior a smack in the face to all those bottoms out there who buy his DVDs and download his scenes? And it didn’t help that Bateman’s also (as Murdock, this time) in a scene on another website, screwing a guy doggy style—with a girlie magazine propped on the bottom guy’s back, apparently to keep Bateman excited and motivated. As if the money wasn’t enough, one guesses. (All dollars aside, the other thing that I found interesting about Bateman’s outtakes was the rock-hard, apparently “hurts-so-good” erection he managed to maintain during the doggy-style scene and the transfer to the reverse cowgirl position that came next. Methinks the lad doth protest too much…)
Frankly Bateman’s behavior on set—which I’m assuming we were never supposed to see, being “outtakes”—doesn’t, to me, differ that much from all the joking that happens on talk shows when mainstream straight actors play gay. You’ve seen it, actors describing how hard it is to kiss a guy who hasn’t shaved or breaking into fits of embarrassed giggles when talking about an intimate scene. I always feel like saying, Don’t do the movie if you’re only gonna go on Leno and be all “icky” adolescent about the fact that you had to kiss a guy (even though I’m becoming cynical enough to think this just might be good marketing, the best way to appeal to all that latent homo guy energy out there that wants to go watch Jake Gyllenhall take it but don’t want to act like they want to see it.) Should gay or bi guys feel the same way about Batemen that I do about straight actors on Leno or Letterman? Even as so many of us keep sites like Broke Straight Boys and Sean Cody and College Dudes 24/7—all of which majorly tout the straightness of their “models”, and are fun; I’ve checked them all out a few times—in business? I wonder…Particularly because of Cody Cummings.
Cody is a internet porn star, too. He’s straight, from what I understand. According to his site, his favorite things are “nice butts, spitting on a pink butthole (I know, kinky!), dime-pieces (hot women), shoes, ps2, Reese’s Butter Cups, rough sex, tanning, and football.” Lately he’s been starting to incorporate intimate moments with guys into his shoots. But only oral, nothing beyond that—apparently those pink buttholes are only of the dime-piece variety. And yet, whenever an update of Cody’s site appears on Queerclick, a great site that aggregates all the porn sites for one-stop clicking, the readers there lash into Cody again and again for not going farther with guys, for not fucking or taking dick himself. Now, Cody is straight, right? Is it possible there’s just not enough cash in the world to make him cross the line into hardcore man-on-man sex, just because others do? But, his critics shout, how can he take all that hard-earned gay audience money if he’s not going to give the people what they want to see? And I ask: there are tons of gay-for-payers out there; why would someone want to essentially force a “straight” guy to have sex with another guy if, apparently, it’s not what he’s feeling? Just for your entertainment? If anything, isn’t Cody selling a real true “straight” guy image—that vaunted image of masculinity—that gay and bi guys supposedly love so much? So trady and butch that he’ll “settle” for a BJ cause he can’t find one or is too lazy to look elsewhere? Wouldn’t crossing over into hardcore fucking just start the rumors—“oh, yeh, we always knew he was a fag anyway.” I don’t know. I do know that in my more cynical moments I look at it another way: Cody is just biding his time until the uproar about him is so loud that when he does decide to go “all the way,” they’ll be so much interest that peeps will pay top dollar to see it. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Gay-for-pay, at the end of the day, is a concept as old as prostitution, probably. Hetero dudes have probably been selling themselves to the highest gay bidder since Alexander the Great was a tyke. And, I guess some “straight” guys just figure: if some gay guy’s gonna pay for me to be “gay” with him, I won’t tell if he won’t. I’m still straight. And hetero dudes know deep down—sorta like Cody Cummings—that what they’re selling is really just the myth of masculinity that all men buy into. Apparently a little of it goes a long way to satisfy a craving, whatever one’s sexual orientation is.
But I still wonder. Because it always seemed to me that one’s “sexual orientation” (I hate that phrase, by the way) always had more to do—especially considering that fluidity of purpose and desire—with who you loved rather than who you fucked, which is why I so often use quotation marks around words like “gay” and “straight”. And I don’t see a whole lotta loving at the male-4-male porn sites I’ve been to—other than maybe a love of cold hard cash. I’ve gone to them to see sex. Between guys. Who cares what they call themselves in “real life”? I’m not even that concerned about what I call myself when I’m in bed with a man or (less frequently these days) a woman. I just want it to feel good.