Friday, July 27, 2007

EDGY MY ASS. Barebacking Is Just " FUCKING STUPID' !!!


The following is a very disturbing article from the current, August 2007 issue of OUT magazine, written by James Gavin.

Baring the Truth

After decades of scrupulous condom use, bareback porn is proliferating—with a corresponding rise in HIV infections. The collective silence is deafening.

The sticker on the video box was as chilling as a skull and crossbones: bareback. It was 1998, and an HIV-positive couple from Palm Springs, Calif., had just begun videotaping bareback orgies and releasing the tapes under the company name Hot Desert Knights. After a decade of scrupulous condom use in gay porn, after all the deaths from AIDS complications and the struggle to curb HIV, these films seemed to betray everyone who had fought the fight. Chi Chi LaRue, the hefty cross-dressing porn director, who entered the industry in 1987, recalls his response to those first bareback videos: “Shock. Anger. Sadness. I thought, Why?”

Today, by various estimates, the bareback genre accounts for up to 30% of the gay porn industry’s output. On MaleDVD.net, the Netflix of that field, about half of the top 20 rentals at any given time are condomless. “The consumer has spoken,” declares Sam Dixon, a ’90s porn star now directing bareback films. “This is what people want to see.”


Shot like home movies, most of these videos are cheap to make and easy to profit from. Their casts include “real people” along with a growing wave of aging HIV-positive porn actors. Bareback porn is also a playground where boys barely out of high school frolic without condoms as though AIDS doesn’t exist. Many of these films fetishize semen so graphically that the message is unmistakable: a loud “fuck you” to the plague that once terrified us all.


Why has bareback sex proliferated, on- and off-camera? Many reasons are given: safer-sex burnout; medications that have made HIV seem like “the new diabetes,” as an HIV-positive character on Nip/Tuck called it; the scourge of crystal meth, a destroyer of inhibitions. Then there’s the allure of sexual taboos, which bareback video exploits. I really don't buy this shit. It's just a crutch.

To former porn actor Will Clark, the trend “reflects our need to be edgy and defiant in a world where being gay used to be edgy and defiant and every day has become more and more commonplace.” Clark, whose AIDS fund-raising and safer-sex advocacy have earned him broad respect in the industry, feels that a key effect of these films is to give permission to—and eroticize—what guys are already doing, or long to do.

Many performers, like ’90s porn regular Dino Phillips, a newcomer to bareback, insist these films are harmless fantasies. “Otherwise,” he says, “every movie that shows gunslinging and murder would have to use a disclaimer saying, ‘Duh, this is just for entertainment, we’re not really advocating this.’ ”

The comparison is disingenuous. While most people don’t aspire to mimic murderers, they do want to have hot sex. And on-screen depictions of violence are fake; bareback porn is not. “These films may stage a fantasy, but these are real people having unsafe sex,” says veteran filmmaker Gino Colbert. “They’re not using special effects here.” Will Clark calls the fantasy explanation “a cop-out given by these people so they can sleep at night and not think their actions have any consequences to their gay brothers. Porn is tremendously influential.”

That’s hard to deny. From the hairy-chested blue-collar style to the pumped-up gym bod, porn has helped promote every dominant look in gay culture. Positions, leather, sexual swagger, dirty talk—porn teaches them all. And to Chi Chi LaRue, that brings a responsibility. “People have called me a condom Nazi,” he says. “Fine! I think sex is fantastic. You can still do it the right way.” You go girl.

Nearly all the top-tier studios maintain a strict condom-use policy. But many are feeling outmoded as well as outsold, and the strain shows. The once-forbidden oral come shot—less risky than raw anal penetration—has become fairly common. So has bare-boned prodding without full insertion—at least in the finished edits. Bel Ami, the twink-glorifying Czech company, offers bareback video on demand as a Web site exclusive rife with familiar “do as we say, not as we do” disclaimers: “We fervently hope that in your private life you act responsibly and take every precaution to keep yourself healthy.” Previously, the majors took a supposed moral high road—some called it a power play—by barring actors who’ve done bareback films. That rule has faded; some of their names mean money, with or without rubbers.


Undisputed by all who were interviewed for this article is the fact that safer-sex practices are on the wane—far beyond the scope of porn. “A lot of people, stupidly, think the AIDS epidemic is over,” says LaRue. HIV and AIDS statistics, imperfect (and dated) as they are, bear out the rise in unsafe sex among men who have sex with men (MSM). Recently the American Journal of Public Health announced that between 2001 and 2004, HIV diagnosis rates among men who have sex with men from the ages of 13 to 24 had grown by approximately 14%. Other studies have found jumps in new HIV diagnoses among some groups of MSM over the age of 25.

For some, seroconversion can feel liberating—in the short term, anyway. (To me, this is pathetic. )Though himself negative, “Morningwood”—the assumed name of a San Francisco–based 24-year-old member of the Radical Faeries—has seen the “reward” claimed by so many who contract HIV, including one of his past lovers. “A surrender of fear happens,” he says, “and the sense that now you’re free to have whatever kind of piggy bareback sex you want.”

Michael Brandon, a partner in the studio Raging Stallion, might say yes. He dotes on fans who worship his porn persona: a lanky, bearded, horse-hung embodiment of his company’s name. At home he’s in a long-term condomless relationship. “We’ve been tested, and we’re comfortable with each other’s health issues,” he explains, but on-screen is another matter. “I feel I have a huge responsibility. If one of my fans or a teenager sees Michael Brandon fucking without a condom, they may think, Michael Brandon does it, so why can’t I?”

That’s not Sam Dixon’s concern. Dixon runs 1 Distribution, a Los Angeles–based DVD distributor, along with Tipo Sesso Productions, which produces cut-rate bareback video. Doesn’t he feel that porn filmmakers have some obligation to promote safe sex? “We’re an adult industry,” he states with nonnegotiable firmness. “We’re not an educational industry. I think the best you can do is try to put a little PSA at the beginning of your films. Beyond that, I truly believe that one’s sexual practices are cemented by the time they’re watching porn.” As for his actors, he says, “If they don’t do it for me, they’ll do it for somebody else. It’s not my position to chastise them. That’s censorship.” Blame the rise in barebacking not on porn but on crystal, he says, and on neglectful parents. “Way before someone’s watching adult films, the education has to start: Here are the facts. Be responsible. And save bareback sex for your life partner.” Who’s communicating those messages today? “No one.”

Certainly not the Bush administration, which preaches abstinence and insists that condoms are unreliable. “We have this government that’s so sex-phobic it’s destroying safe-sex education all over the world,” says Howard Grossman, an eminent HIV specialist. Ignorance also pervades the bareback porn world, as Tim Valenti knows. As cofounder of NakedSword.com, a Shangri-la of gay video on demand—none of it bareback—Valenti has met lots of the subgenre’s young models. “I found them to be extremely naive about what they were doing. Young people were being pushed into participating in something without having a clear understanding of the ramifications. I didn’t want to be part of it.”


In the Czech Republic, where bareback rules the industry, both gay and straight actors undergo regulated HIV screening. In the United States testing of gay actors is sketchy. Some producers do only quick screenings for antibodies, which may not appear until six weeks after infection. But if gay porn were to shut out HIV-positive performers, as straight porn does, the business would crash. “You’re looking at an industry where easily 50% of the actors are HIV-positive,” says Michael Stabile, NakedSword.com’s marketing director. “I’ve talked to some of them, and they say, ‘The only time I ever have sex with a condom is on-screen.’ So bareback isn’t any huge fall from grace for them.”

Sometimes it’s a merit badge. THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID,IT IS ALMOST UNBELIEVEABLE

On the sprawling third floor of a building off Folsom Street in San Francisco, a dozen or so workers go about their duties as busily as Santa’s helpers. Welcome to Treasure Island Media, whose notorious films exploit some of the darkest gay sex taboos—and create a few new ones. Dawson’s 20-Load Weekend and Dawson’s 50-Load Weekend star a soft-spoken, attractive young employee of a scientific firm in his on-screen guise as “world-class cum dump.” He enjoys cattle-call gang-banging, piss enemas, and penetration with a “devil’s dick”—a condom filled with the frozen loads of multiple anonymous men.


To Treasure Island’s reclusive middle-aged owner Paul Morris, sex and homosexuality are meaningful only if they’re transgressive, unreined, risky. (He calls HIV-negativity “the new virginity.”) “To me, sex is a religion,” he says, and Morris—an ex-hustler with the rugged air of a ’70s trucker—wields the eerie charisma of a cult leader. He has laser-beam eyes and a voice that keeps one off balance; its drawling cadences can convey fatherly concern or sarcasm, seduction or intimidation. “Dawson” waxes as rhapsodic of him as did Susan Atkins of Charles Manson. “Paul is a wonderful, wonderful man, a brilliant man. He’s this idol figure that I always looked up to and wanted to please,” he says. He even dreams of having impetuous sex with him: “That’s not played out, unfortunately.”


In his office Morris recalls a plea from queer theorist David Halperin that he start his videos with the pledge “No gay men were harmed in the making of this film.” Morris’s response? “To a certain extent my job is setting up a zone in which those questions don’t appear—a sexual cloud of unknowing.”


He explains his philosophy further. “I want to make porn that comes from a place even I don’t understand. Porn from a place that’s wild, forbidden, that’s absolutely secret. That to me is gay. Not filtered through what the government says you should be. Not according to what the industry says you should or should not do.”


Intellectually tantalizing as his battle cry may seem, what about practical concerns, like infection? Don’t such Treasure Island productions as Breeding Season and Plantin’ Seed fetishize HIV? The filmmaker’s eyes harden. “I see them as fetishizing unalloyed and pure sex among men,” he says bluntly.


Perhaps it’s true for some viewers, as Morris claims, that watching extreme behavior can purge us of similar urges. But “Morningwood” experienced no catharsis from Dawson’s 50-Load Weekend. “It totally overwhelmed me,” he says, and he went on his own mini barebacking spree. Playing safe has been a challenge ever since: “Now that I know what I’m missing, I have to find that inner strength to make the right decision every time.”


The bareback field’s former poster boy has made a life-changing decision of his own. “Hi, I’m Sean Lockhart,” says the slender, sweet-faced lad of 20 who greets me, hand extended, near the Amtrak station in downtown San Diego. As “Brent Corrigan” (as Lockhart now prefers to be called), he starred in such twink classics as Take It Like a Bitch Boy. He’s the twink-lover’s dream: a deliciously piggy boy-next-door type who’ll submit to the kinkiest fantasies, then nestle in your arms like a little lamb. The fact that he was under 18 when he entered the industry had some nasty consequences. So did his involvement with a producer who was killed early this year in one of the most notorious murders in porn history.


He talks about it all at an outdoor cafĂ©. By his side is Grant Roy, his older Texan boyfriend, father figure, and “protector,” as Corrigan calls him. Roy is his partner in BrentCorriganInc.com, an Internet candy store of pay-per-view sex scenes along with the actor’s revealing blog.


His is the story of a sexually precocious but naive boy with a dysfunctional mother, an absentee father, and painfully low self-esteem. Strapped for funds, he let his then-boyfriend falsify his proof of age (Corrigan was 17) and sell his services to Bryan Kocis, owner of Cobra Video. Kocis—who’d been nabbed for videotaping himself having sex with a minor—became Corrigan’s substitute father and lover; Corrigan became Kocis’s cash cow. But when the actor fled and publicly revealed the age violation, a livid Kocis sued him for fraud and threatened anyone who employed him. Along the way, he made enemies. On January 24, someone entered Kocis’s small-town Pennsylvania home, slashed his throat, stabbed him 28 times, and set the house afire. (On May 15, porn stars and video-on-demand Webmasters Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes were arrested in Virginia and charged with the crime. Investigators believe the two allegedly committed it in part because the duo wanted to clear the way to work with Brent Corrigan.) In an earlier blog post, I followed this murder. I will try to keep you posted of any developments in future blogs.

This excruciating tale has at least one bright spot. “Thankfully, at this time, I’m HIV-negative,” he says. And he has since become a safe-sex champion. “I strongly believe that condoms in porn are important. It’s not necessarily the end of the world if you get HIV, but it’s still gonna affect who you can and cannot date, who you can and cannot have sex with.” Last year he appeared in his first mainstream gay porn film, Falcon Studio’s The Velvet Mafia. (Due to pressure from Kocis, who claimed ownership of the name “Brent Corrigan,” the actor was billed as “Fox Ryder.”)


All the scenes on Corrigan’s site employ condoms; he plans a series of PSAs in which he’ll demonstrate “fun ways” of using them. “I think it’s time for some of us youthful types to come out and say, ‘This is what you should be doing and this is the way I do it.’ ” Bareback, he feels, is the “crutch” of the unimaginative pornographer. Good for you, Brent.


Condomless porn, of course, isn’t going away. “I want to shout from the mountaintops, ‘It’s just sex!’ ” says Dino Phillips. “Then I think, Should it be just sex? The decision to play safe, he adds, is “ultimately going to have to rest on people’s sense of self.”


But to Grant Roy, that’s a lonely way to live. “Any community should be taking care of its own,” he says. “I think that as gay men, we’ve developed this strange complex of, ‘I have it hard, so I’m gonna bulldoze the fuck over you too.’ There aren’t very many of us out there. If we take care of each other, we’ll be much better off.” To Grant and other guys, who would like to change things, we support you.

I have commented about this insane form of unsafe sex more than once over the years since I've been blogging. I can't for the life of me, rationalize the behavior of these fucking stupid guys. To me, it's a no brainer, fuck, your eyes out, but do it with a condom. Why is this so hard, for guys to understand.

I admire a porn star like Brent Corrigan who wants to spread the gospel of safer sex. On his web site, http://www.brentcorriganonline.com, he wants to show young guys and those who like their men, on the chicken side, ways to demonstrate fun ways of having safer sex. While Brent is definitely, not my type, I give him credit for leading the way in showing guys that safer sex is really more fun. You don't have that fuckin fear hanging over your head, the Russian roulette thing, about if you've been infected or not after unprotected sex. It just makes damn common sense to use a condom ever time you fuck another guy. It is the top man's responsibility, plain and simple.

Why can't gay guys show each other some, what I like to call, buddy bonding? Buddy bonding to me is unconditional protected sex, done in imaginative and hot scenerios.

If a guy likes sex, he has to take fantasy all the way. Whether it be role playing, uniforms, leather, other fetish, doing it well and doing it passionately, will make any guy, I guarantee, a convert to safer sex. And those who can't be pursuaded, are lost causes. If they value their lives as worthless, who am I to say otherwise.

To all the hot men out there, mega hairy muscle hugs and endless nights of buddy bonding.

16 comments:

psyther said...

It's like cigarettes...you know the dangers and it's stupid to do something that would put you at such great risk and known to be harmful. But, we all take risks--some bigger than others. It's sad to think some dudes just won't learn their lesson until it's too late. I only feel sorry for a hot minute though before I remind myself they got themselves into the situation and it's not the porn industry's fault. Though, I do applaud those studios & actors who incorporate educational platforms though.

raindog469 said...

It's really a bummer that the genres I like most - leather, bear, blue-collar - were the first to give in to barebacking. It's really dick-softening, because I get a little sad every time I see bareback pr0n.

It's not that I think to myself, "those poor guys don't know what they're doing to themselves". They're porn actors, not rocket scientists.

No, when I watch them fuck I remember watching my first lover die, and watching my first slave's previous master die, and watching that same guy's lover die, and so on, and so on, and so on. The AZT, the weight loss, the many fascinating varieties of skin rotting, the visible rib cage, the cancer, the total death of personality to dementia, the violent outbursts, and finally that last, utterly graceless moment in the hospital or hospice.

Over and over again. That's what I fucking see every time some dumb muscle queen pipes up with "It's my choice" or "Sex is supposed to be dangerous" or fires off a round into some other dumb queen's rectum.

I think men just have to have a short memory, or didn't get out much 20 years ago, in order to not be saddened by a dick going into a stranger's ass with no rubber. I'm not even 40 and I think I'm the youngest guy I know who doesn't do bareback. I know guys who still don't think HIV has anything to do with AIDS and guys who really do think HIV is the "new diabetes" (and as a diabetic, I have some idea of what a pain in the ass that really is, whether or not it ends up killing you.)

At this point, in order to avoid that awkward question ("Do you really HAVE to use a rubber?" Yeah, I do, and thanks for the warning that you probably lied about your HIV status) or dangerous assumption (getting chained up to a rack or something and having the guy decide we're close enough to be fluid-bonded), I'd rather just skip the anal altogether.

If they're not going to pursue "gift givers" for murder, as they would with any assisted suicide, at least they could have the decency to put a card up front saying "All of these actors are HIV-positive, or will be shortly." Statistically speaking, it's absolutely true.

Sorry for the rant, but it seems like someone should have learned something after 25 years.

Robguy said...

I find bareback porn to be a big turn off. Even in "fantasy", having no respect for you or your partner's health isn't hot.

Will said...

Buff, again you stand up for reason and the preservation of gay community. I so admire you voice.

Jessica said...

Barebacking's a major turnoff. Most in my generation (Y) don't know much about HIV/AIDS. It's really sad how ignorance has hindered society. In my sex-ed class in high school, we weren't taught protection and what resources were available to us; we were taught that sex "makes bad stuff happen" and to not do it. Fortunately, my sex-ed class came a little too late for me, and I knew the instructors were fucked up.

Lemuel said...

The area in which Kocis was killed is not far from my many places I've lived. The news here was "guarded" about what it was all about.

You post confirms my suspicions about the dangerous attitudes and actions of many in the Family and those who may "sacrifice" many whom they will never meet in order to make a buck.

cola boy said...

Buff, a powerful post, but a subject that needs to be talked about. Your post has convinced me to finally do a post I've been debating putting up about the same subject. Hope you won't mind me posting a link to this blog entry for others to read.

h...and I wouldn't mind some "buddy bonding" with you sometime. ;-)

Take care!

JB said...

Hmmm, complicated. Personally I don't find barebacking a turn on, and I don't think I'd ever do it - I'm in a steady relationship, 4+ years, and I'm pretty damn sure neither of us have any nasties hiding inside us, but I still wouldn't want to do it with my lover regardless, I just couldn't stand the thought of someone's shit on the end of my dick, even though I know him inside and out.

Putting all that aside, I would say that porn is ultimately a fantasy so there's something "acceptable" to me about it involving barebacking, since there's none of the "artificiality" of a condom.

I dunno, this is difficult for me to put into words and I'm probably not explaining it well. All I know is it seems OK to me, but not if it boils down to them taking stupid risks. If I were running the show I'd expect them to be tested all the way and if there was the slightest doubt then no barebacking.

I rather liked Treasure Island Media. Now I'm feeling a bit less happy about them.

Spider said...

This post needs to be made required reading for ALL gay men - excellent and outstanding job Buff - I have missed you!

TOS said...

Buff, right on brother. Well said but what else is new eh?

I also think Raindog's comments are super 100% right on. I'm a gen x'er but still a relatively young one in terms of being mature enough to understand the AIDS epidemic in the 80s and early 90s. I've been watching a lot of documentaries and reading books on recent gay history and it has opened my eyes even more.

People, both young and old need to be reminded of what happened. They need to remember or learn about the heroes that laid down in St. Patrick's cathedral, marched in the streets, and laid a fraction of a massive patchwork quilt that still filled the National Mall.

Just because the face of the disease has changed (via cocktails, attitudes, or other things both positive and negative) doesn't mean that it isn't a killer, nor a terror for those who live with it. Sure quality of life has improved dramatically, but we still don't know the longterm effects of the new drugs etc. Why risk something you don't have to - if putting on a thin wrap of rubber can reasonably spare you these problems why wouldn't you do it?

Personally, I think a lot of it has to do with A) deceptive pharma marketing and B) a "fuck-it-all" overall society that magnifying itself somehow in the gay community.

Think about it, U.S. culture these days is even more ME ME ME than ever. So when some trick lies about HIV status or some dude rationalizes their escapes in the name of sexual liberty or fetishism, they just exemplify the new cultural norm of "why should I care about you, even if I don't care about myself?"

I'm HIV negative. I support equal rights for all. I just wish people wouldn't put their lives at risk when there is so much education, evidence, and resources available to reduce or nearly eliminate it.

The only sad thing about barebacking is that because of the irresponsible people who do it the whole idea of that type of sex is demonized. But if that is the casualty for better public health, so be it.

Anonymous said...

Barebacking is not 'fucking stupid'.
It is 'stupid fucking'! hehe
Great article!

Sh@ney said...

I am going to keep this short & sweet! Every man whether young or old has had some form of education regarding STD's HIV & AIDS. We all know the risks, we all make a choice, but there is only one answer when it comes to gay sex:
PUT A CONDOM ON YA PRICK

Leonard said...

Oh Buff, and to everyone else...no wait, I will not apologize...well maybe I should? No. Here is the thing I feel about this article. I practice safe sex in the real world, porn..is not real. It's a fantasy, always has been for people. You watch porn for what you can (or won't) do in real life. I love bareback porn (as the gay world gasps) but I do. Why? 'cause it's a fantasy, it's taboo and it's something I can not do. So yeah, I like it. Maybe YOU know those actors or HIV poz, but I don't. To me they are just boyfriends getting it on without condoms, hence the fantasy part. Are they HIV poz? I dunno...are they promoting an unsafe sex message? yeah..to stupid people. I practice safe sex, but watching bare back sex doesn't make me want to have it. I know I can't. So...Buff, as usual...I go against the grain of everyone else who commented, but I would feel bad if I didn't express my point of view. I just refuse to say something bad about an industry that I do not have a problem with, it's not the bandwagon I want to jump on. That's just me. ;-) peace

raindog469 said...

I think that whether or not you "dunno" whether barebacking porn actors are HIV positive, when even industry people will admit that over half of them are, is like saying you "dunno" if the chick really got killed when you're watching a snuff film.

In the end, if it hasn't been accomplished through the use of special effects, it's still a snuff film.

Leonard said...

Hmm...well I've never seen a snuff film, but if you're watching those kind of films, then bareback porn is really the least of your problems. ;-) peace

raindog469 said...

And if your best defense to my argument is to go all ad-hominem, I'd say watching bareback is the least of yours.