I’m a Porn Star documentary

documentary I'm a Porn Star

I’m a Porn Star is a feature documentary exploring the lives of men working in the gay adult entertainment industry.

There are an estimated 370 million pornographic websites online.  Porn is now a thirteen BILLION dollar business.  So who’s doing all this moonlighting?  Turns out – probably some people you know.  I’m a Porn Star is a documentary revealing the inner workings of the gay adult industry.

I like to make films about sexuality – how we as a society embrace or are repulsed by it, what some see as artistic expression and others view as pornography, and where the seeds for these often very visceral reactions begin.

I’m a Porn Star is entertainment but it also delves into a provocative new era of sexual liberation and expression.  Living in a domestic post gay liberation era we are now bombarded with the male form undressed for pleasure, for provocation, and as a catalyst in advertising and media.  I wanted to explore how young men are being conditioned to perceive their own bodies, their constructs of masculinity, and the disintegration of labels around sexuality.

A decade ago we consumed pornography in magazines or buying DVDs and VHS tapes.  Today the studio giants in the adult industry have been gutted by the Internet auteur and are struggling to reinvent themselves before it’s too late. 

I'm a Porn Star documentary Brent Everett

A millennial gay porn star could make a living with film and was truly the star of the community in a time when Hollywood was still afraid to come out of the closet.  Today a gay porn star likely has another job to pay the rent, which usually includes ‘club appearances’ or online hustling. 

At the turn of the century we were still shocked by the AIDS epidemic and many studios began routinely testing their stars and only filming safe sex.  Today in spite of rapidly rising rates of HIV transmission in youth – bareback scenes are in vogue and receive special promotion on many websites. 

In 2000 it was risky business getting into adult entertainment. Today in a volatile economy, more and more young people are using it to ‘put themselves through school’ or because like the new Queen of Pop they’ve also been bitten by the Fame Monster. 

I'm a Porn Star documentary on set

‘Boys will be boys’ as the saying goes and we were invited onto a pleasure island while filming I’m a Porn Star.  As a young twenty-something, I witnessed several handsome friends suddenly working in the adult industry – either as strippers or in adult video.  I always wondered how much was enough for them to say yes to that world and the lifestyle that went with it. 

I'm a Porn Star documentary Rocco Reed

To what extent will a young person push their body, their will, or their sexual preference in order to grab some quick cash? The answer of course is not easy and each subject we worked with presented their own set of motivations – everything from lust for dollars, an addiction to attention, or simply loving to have sex!

Directing the I’m a Porn Star documentary was such an adventure because I was able to immerse myself outside my comfort zone, grow and be challenged by the experience.  There were many times while interviewing when I had to keep my fist planted firmly under my jaw so it wouldn’t fall to the floor.  These guys are shocking, competitive, profane, relatable and endearing.  Perhaps they’ve made choices that there’s no turning back from or perhaps they’re brave enough to live the sexually liberated lives we all secretly fantasize about.

I'm a Porn Star Johnny Rapid

Following the interest in the first documentary, we decided to do a sequel, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay which explores the lives of straight men who work in the gay adult industry. 

INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR CHARLIE DAVID, Director of I’m a Porn Star documentary

What was the genesis for I’m A Porn Star? Was this your brainchild or were you approached by someone else to take part?

I was approached by OutTV Canada to create a film that somehow reflected a change in the queer experience over the past few decades.  I decided to look a little beyond the obvious political landscape and explore adult entertainment and how it’s been impacted by technological, social and consumption advances and new norms. 

Porn is ubiquitous now – creation and engagement are high across all social classes and so a deeper look at the people who make it their career despite it still being a taboo fascinated me. 

This isn’t your first documentary, but it’s the first with people who are fairly well known, at least in the porn world. Did you have an easier or harder time getting them to open up for the camera?

I’ve been really fortunate with my documentaries that my subjects have been extremely comfortable and forthcoming with me.  I also do interviews in the casting and vetting process so I won’t work with someone if I think they’ll be flat or problematic in a show. 

For this project, there are many great looking guys who take awesome photos or make great sex videos but in an interview situation or to follow them around in real life with a camera would be a terribly boring experience both for me and for an audience.  Those early interviews and doing some research before considering production is very important.  It’s casting essentially and a dynamic story line and compelling characters are tantamount to having any entertainment experience succeed. 

Working as a host on the travel show Bump for 6 years really cut my teeth as an interviewer.  We filmed 120 episodes all around the world and there were some great interviews and some that were painful teeth pulling experiences.  I think that process of learning how to get a person comfortable with me and asking the right questions so they share freely and openly was like boot camp for becoming a film director – especially of documentaries. 

Were there any revelations you had while making this or any moments that really stood out to you as being eye-opening? 

I went to some shoots with various companies prior to filming and seeing the use of injectables like Caverject to get erections for filming was certainly eye-opening.  There really are a disproportionate number of straight identifying men working in gay pornography.  Some of the feedback on my doc and on blogs I’ve read, the comments seem to obsess with who’s straight, who’s gay, is it subconsciously homophobic that we have so many straight guys doing gay work, etc. 

Honestly I don’t understand the obsession with these questions or lines of thinking.  It seems so old-school to me to be labeling sexuality so rigidly.  There’s a continuum of sexuality and these guys along with all humanity fall somewhere on the spectrum.  However, because of the obvious fascination, I decided to do a follow up documentary, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay which explores this.

Coming from a fairly liberal place like Canada to the US, do you find that there’s a more puritanical view of sex here in the US than there is in Canada or is the opposite true?

While we may vary on other norms in terms of sex within culture my experience living in Canada and the USA has been that we’re fairly similar.  Our countries are geographically immense and there are plenty of pockets of conservatives, progressives and moderates in both.

You wear a lot of hats, but where are you most at home? Is it performing, producing, writing, directing, or something else?

At this point on my journey I love directing and producing.  The documentaries are really fun but I’m looking forward to directing some scripted films & TV as well.  I’m certainly open to being contacted by studios or independents to direct.

You said in an interview with Out Visions that your work resides in “a little niche within a niche,” but do you see the audience for what you do expanding more rapidly now than it was even a year ago?

Yes, I think there’s a growing hunger for content and the type of sexy, off-beat, gay-centric shows and films I make.  There are emerging markets and growing populations that want to watch compelling films about the gay experience and that’s what I do. 

You also mentioned in that interview that you have received communications from people whose lives were impacted by your work. Would you care to share any one of those with us?

Most of the emails and letters I receive come from either a Dante’s Cove fan or from someone who has just watched my film Mulligans.  I think with Mulligans the inter-generational relationship between the father and his son’s best friend is compelling, arousing or relatable in some way to a lot of people.  It’s also a story about a family man who comes out in his forties and for a lot of men living in those more conservative pockets of the country I think this also strikes a chord. 

Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you’re dying to work with?

Of course, there’s a huge list here!  We’re actually preparing I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay, which will dive deeper into the lives of the straight dudes who work in gay porn since that seems to be such a fractious topic.  So in the adult world we’re starting to compile a wish list and are certainly open to your readers input. 

 In the mainstream I’m a huge fan of Xavier Dolan’s work as director, writer and actor. 

Anything else you’d like your fans to know or perhaps anyone that’s discovering you for the first time?

I love when an audience interacts with a film.  So I invite your readers to watch our work and rate it, review it, share it, comment on it and discuss it.  My documentaries are meant to be kindling and I hope they start a conversation. 

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I’m a Porn Star: Gay for Pay documentary

I'm a Porn Star Gay for Pay by Charlie David

A large number of the men working in gay porn identify as straight. This documentary explores the fascinating world of guys who go Gay for Pay.

I'm a Porn Star Gay4Pay

Watch the gay for pay documentary, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay now on your favorite platform!

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When did straight actors start playing gay for pay?

Over the past century of western cinema, we’ve seen a steady increase in representation of LGBTQ characters, but there’s long been a taboo against playing these ‘gay4pay’ roles, for fear of being typecast. In the 1950s to 1970s, it could be a career killer to play gay, and few actors or studios were willing to take the risk.

Gay for Pay Rocky Horror Picture Show

Most examples we have were either studio films where the queer characters were villains or independent ventures by boundary-pushing filmmakers. In the 1980s, films with gay story lines were often indistinguishable from activism, and often reflected characters coming to terms with new HIV transmission and AIDS.

Gay for Pay Philadelphia

In the 1990s and 2000s, a curious change began to take place. A-list Hollywood actors began to selectively play gay characters.  And it wasn’t about playing gay for pay.  Playing gay was associated with a new adjective – brave.

The TV series Melrose Place had a straight actor playing gay for pay in the early 1990’s – a rarity.

Doug Savant starred as Matt Fielding on a FOX series titled Melrose Place from 1992 to 1997.  I remember this story line very well as it was one of the first openly gay characters on mainstream television.

This depiction of a gay person  was scrutinized and censored by the network.  For example,  a kiss between Matt and guest star Ty Miller during the finale of season two was edited out at the last minute by FOX. 

Doug Savant left the series after five seasons and, a year later, his character was killed off-screen in a car crash.

Watch the gay for pay documentary, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay now on your favorite platform!

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Watch the first 5 minutes of I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay free above!

Gay for Pay Interview with the Vampire-Pitt Cruise 1994

In the 1994 film, Interview with the Vampire, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt play a homosexual vampire couple although the word gay is never used in the film.  Any LGBTQ person who has read the book or watched the film knows these guys are more than just best buddies who spent several centuries together! 

The actors playing gay for pay were most often straight-identified men who were lauded with praise for tackling brave roles. That word, brave, has always struck a chord with me and most often, a dissonant one.

Why for a straight man who is an actor, who makes believe for a living, is it brave to take on a gay role? What is it about exploring the idea of love, intimacy and sexual excitement causes a wall of fear to be thrown up, a wall so high that only the most courageous would attempt to climb?

Suddenly, the tides were shifting. Everyone wanted a gay4pay role on their resume.  It was now a badge of honor for straight actors to go gay for pay, and many wanted to join the ranks of Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Brad Pitt, Eric McCormack, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

I'm a Porn Star Gay for Pay

The floodgates were open and it was exciting, but still confounding to chat with straight actors at auditions who would say things like, “Oh, yeah, I play a serial killer, so why not do a gay for pay role?”

Catch that?  Playing a gay role was associated with playing a serial killer.  Decades later and the queers are still being villainized in common conversation, often unintentionally.  I’m sure comments like this come with the best intentions, they’re just most often uninformed. 

I'm a Porn Star Gay for Pay 14

Today, it seems we’ve finally reached the point where it’s no longer breaking news when an actor tackles a gay for pay role, regardless of their personal stated or still often unstated sexuality.

I'm a Porn Star Gay for Pay Star Wars

Intrigue has refocused online into the world of pornography. Curiously, there is a disproportionate percentage of men working in gay porn who identify as straight. Why would a straight man do gay4pay porn?

What motivates him to try this or make a career out of it?  Why is there such keen interest and debate into the sexuality and personal lives of these men?

And what does it say about us, the viewer, that so much of gay porn is dominated by images of straight men? Are there shades of internalized homophobia emerging?

Why might we be turned off if the man on screen looks, sounds or behaves in a way that is identifiably queer?

To try and answer some of these questions, we interviewed men from some of the most popular and prolific studios, which fetishize straight men.  Performers like Will Braun, Dennis West, and Justin Bryant Adams.  I also spoke with gay performers like Eddie Stone, Brent Everett, Alex Mecum, and Diego Sans about their experiences working with straight guys.

We also hit the streets of Toronto and San Diego to test the curiosity and opinions of the public. Welcome to the curious, surprising and always outspoken world of straight men who go gay for pay.

I invite you to watch I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay and join in the conversation.  I always love to hear your reactions so please be sure to rate, review and comment wherever you rent or purchase the documentary.

Watch the gay for pay documentary, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay now on your favorite platform!

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I'm a Porn Star Gay for Pay 13

Director’s Statement – I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay

Curiously there are a disproportionate percentage of men working in gay porn who identify as straight.  This is called working as a gay for pay or gay4pay performer.  But why would a straight man do gay porn?

I’m a filmmaker. My job is to provoke you to think and hopefully start a conversation after watching my work. In my opinion, it’s not my responsibility to tell you what your opinion should be.

Instead of emulating Sally Field (“You like me. You really like me!”) I’d rather the subjects of my films make you uncomfortable. Love them, hate them – doesn’t matter to me. Just consider them.

As wise old Rumi said, “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

I was asked by a TV network to make a documentary about straight men working in gay for pay porn. There are reams of digital 0 and 1s filling cyber space with people arguing, guessing, colluding, and fantasizing about what the real sexuality of these men are.

That doesn’t actually interest me and I’ll be blunt here and suggest it shouldn’t intrigue you either. That conversation is about putting a label on a person. It’s our responsibility as a society to stop reducing each other to labels and they are many – fat, slut, white, black, poor, privileged, straight, queer – you get the point.

I hope I can poke your curiosity beyond firing up your labeling machine and to an arena that considers broader questions like…

What does it say about us, the viewer that so much of gay porn is dominated by images of straight men? Are there shades of internalized homophobia emerging?

Why are so many young people considering porn as part of their career or financial paths?

What are the ramifications of straight producers, directors and performers making gay for pay porn?

Does this entertainment accurately reflect our bedrooms?  Does it need to?

Is it a mockery to have straight men doing gay for pay porn? Or is it an example of how far acceptance and visibility for LGBTQ people have come?

Is this the entertainment the gay porn audience wants or is it simply what’s being offered?

To answer these questions the documentary interviews men from some of the most popular and prolific studios that feature straight men. Gay performers also add their perspective about working with straight guys.

Please watch the documentary, consider these questions and then comment. Let’s start a conversation. Let the 0 and 1s fly!

Watch the gay for pay documentary, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay now on your favorite platform!

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Find out more about Director Charlie David here.

Director Charlie David discusses his film Positive Youth.

Did you know that I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay is actually a sequel?  You can watch the first film, I’m a Porn Star here.

 

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