Getting It Straight

It's a longstanding fantasy among gay men: mooning over the hot - if unattainable - straight guy, only to discover that with the right approach, he's attainable after all. According to producers, directors and performers, that's a large part of the reason for the "sudden" popularity of the so-called "straight-guy" niche.

"This is nothing new," though, said long-time agent David Forest, who retired in July after 27 years in the gay adult entertainment industry. In the early 1980s, the late Matt Sterling began employing straight men like Jeff Stryker, Ryan Idol and Steve Hammond in his productions in order to appeal to the segment of the market that fantasized about "turning" a straight man. "They were gorgeous, hunky and studly," Forest explained.

Shortly thereafter, Falcon Entertainment began to promote its straight stars: Mike Branson, Ken Ryker and Billy Brandt. Nowadays, according to Forest, "every movie has got a couple of boys that are ‘gay for pay.' Zeb Atlas, who's only done oral so far - but there are rumors [that he'll do more in an upcoming production for Falcon] - is the latest."

But are they gay?

There is one school of thought that says any man who'll have sex with another man is gay. Forest pooh-poohs that notion. "Everybody has the potential for having a little bit of ‘flexibility,'" he said. "Ryan Idol and Ken Ryker say they're just ‘sexual.'"

So does Rusty Stevens. Stevens tried traditional modeling as a way to finance his education in multimedia and Web design, but he found the atmosphere "very unhealthy as far as egos, etcetera." When the opportunity arose for him to work in gay porn, he said he accepted the job out of curiosity. The money was good, and "it's another way for me to express myself and show off my physique, which I work on several hours every day," he said. In addition, gay video work offered an opportunity to travel to places he'd never been, and as a lifelong San Diego, Calif., resident, that appealed to him. One final bonus: He got to have lots and lots of sex, and since the sex was with other men, his girlfriend didn't consider it cheating. Plus, "girls tell me gay sex is hot. That was very shocking to me."

Other performers, like Raging Stallion exclusive Ricky Sinz, are unashamed to claim the sometimes-disrespected no-man's land of bisexuality. Sinz has performed with gay, bi and straight male partners, but he said he prefers masculine gay or bi partners. "If I wanted to have sex with a girl," he noted, "I'd go have sex with a girl."

Over the past two years, Sinz has formed an opinion about the gay-for-pay contingent within the adult industry: "There are two kinds," he said. "Most are curious or bi, and the others just want the money. The few honestly straight guys who just want the money are hard to work with, mostly because they haven't really come to terms with their sexuality. What they need to realize is, it's OK to be who you are." Possible denial on the part of scene partners doesn't keep Sinz from engaging in straight-guy fantasies of his own, though. "If they tell me they've never done it before, that's all it takes to get me ready to go," he said with a grin.

Then there are the gay industry stalwarts who've reached their conclusions over a number of years in the business. Steve Shay of Citiboyz is one. "To be honest, I've yet to run into a gay-for-pay model," he said. "We do hear from a lot of young straight guys, but they're only interested in solo work. If a straight guy posing naked and jacking off for the enjoyment of gay men is gay-for-pay, then I guess I know a lot of them. I'm familiar with the concept of G4P and I'm aware of some well-known gay porn performers who are supposedly straight. In my own experience, though, I haven't met any."

Titan Media vice president Keith Webb takes that notion one step further. "Quite honestly, we have always assumed that gay-for-pay is really just a marketing ploy to sell the straight fantasy to gullible consumers," he said. "The vast majority of the performers being billed as gay-for-pay are actually bisexual or gay. If you can get your dick hard and pop a load with another man, you are not straight. You are bisexual, at the very least. Let's be honest here, half of the models I see being portrayed and marketed as ‘straight' are as queer as a $3 bill.

"Gay means happy - happy, content and accepting of your homosexuality," he continued. "So while many of these [gay-for-pay] models are bisexual or homosexual, they are not ‘gay,' as they have not been able to be happy and accept their own sexuality. They can rationalize their actions as long as they are being paid to do it."

Publicist Davyd Dixon agrees, at least in part. "It could be studio marketing," he said. "It also might be a way for some guys to ‘come out': ‘I'm not gay. I'm getting paid to do this.' What I've noticed over the years, though, is that most of them become more ‘gay-acting' the longer they do gay porn." Part of some men's reluctance to label their sexuality, he said, probably lies in societal stigma. "The world's a mess in general," he posited. "This is just one part of it."

On the other hand, filmmaker Leor Ram, whose company Carbon Films LLC, together with Rising Sun Entertainment, is producing a mainstream documentary about the gay-for-pay phenomenon, said 50 percent of the self-identified gay-for-pay performers he has interviewed for the project are legitimately straight. The other 50 percent are divided equally into men who are bisexual and masculine gay men. "I was surprised to find so many straight men in gay porn," Ram said, adding that many gay-for-pay performers seem to identify as straight initially, then change their self-identification to bi or simply refuse to label themselves as they continue in the industry. The legitimately straight men, he said, may be able to perform in gay porn because they can "compartmentalize" their personalities. "The ones who continue to identify as straight say they don't enjoy [the work]; they're just in it for the money."

In the grand scheme of things, it appears, sexuality is only one part of what defines a person, so who cares how one identifies himself?

Does anyone care?

As a matter of fact, some studios and performers do care about the sexual orientation of the people with whom they work. According to Lucas Entertainment publicity director Patrick Collins (only partially tongue-in-cheek), "Our models and staff don't have gay-on-straight fantasies. Michael Lucas forbids them."

Jet Set Men and CockyBoys exclusive Jesse Santana, who self-identifies as gay, said he recently made the decision not to work with gay-for-pay performers any longer. The primary reason for that, he said, is that "chemistry" can be elusive in scenes involving gay-for-pay models. "Good scenes come from good chemistry," he said. "You seldom get good chemistry between gay or bi guys and gay-for-pay models. In my best scenes - the ones I've enjoyed the most and the ones that have been nominated [for awards] - I've always worked with a gay scene partner."

Santana said he feels the industry "should use our good-looking gay models. We need to have more respect for our industry and ourselves."

That's not an uncommon sentiment. "We have always felt it was somewhat degrading to our customers, and ourselves, to use gay-for-pay performers," Webb said. "There are many hot gay performers who actually enjoy what they are doing on film, and that's what we want to portray in our films. Our core erotic premise is showing hot gay men having hot gay sex, not straight performers being paid to do something they aren't into."

Not everyone feels that way, however. Dink Flamingo, founder of Dirty Bird Pictures and the popular military-themed, amateur-straight-guy website, is not at all hesitant to say "straight boys are easier to work with. There's nowhere near as much drama." He also said that many of his ActiveDuty models voice a similar feeling about sex. "I've never had a model that became completely gay," Flamingo said. "But I have had more than one tell me ‘The more I deal with women's shit, the more I realize I like men better.' They continue to like affection from women, but they prefer to have sex with men because there's less drama." That's a sentiment he completely understands, he noted. "I've had sex with a lot of women, and I'm as gay as they come," he revealed, laughing.

Big Blue Productions founder Blue Blake said he enjoys working with gay-for-pay models, too: "I myself am gay, but 99 percent of the models I employ are gay-for-pay. The gay-for-pay guys work really hard, and they are always turned on and ready to go when the cameras start to roll. I think this is because they are all secretly bi and it's their chance to have sex with a guy regardless of whether it's on camera or not. When I was a performer, I always requested to fuck or get fucked by the gay-for-pay guys, then always hooked up with them off camera. I probably shagged too many, but I was gorgeous and in my prime."

Blake also has noticed an interesting side benefit to working with gay-for-pay performers. "The gay-for-pay guys sometimes show up with their girlfriends who sit beside me by the monitor and watch their boyfriends fuck and get fucked," he said in a charmingly British way. "Nine times out of ten, these girls are gorgeous - sometimes porn stars themselves - and they definitely get turned on watching their lovers nosh down on some guy's cock. HBO made a documentary about gay-for-pay guys for which they shot me making a film called Brute. In it, Ben Campezi fucked Jason Hawke in the wrestling ring. Ben's then-girlfriend, Sara Diaz, a Penthouse Pet, watched and instructed him how to suck Jason's cock. It was quite extraordinary."

What now?

Regardless of the true sexual orientation of gay-for-pay performers, they're probably not going to disappear. For one thing, the straight-guy-seduction fantasy continues to trip many a gay man's trigger. As Flamingo said, "We all like things that are unattainable. Seeing these boys cross the line is a huge turn-on." Consequently, the straight-guy niche is popular and profitable, he said. "There are so many people shooting gay porn now that you have to set yourself apart from the rest of the pool."

From a performer's perspective, it's easier, less dramatic and more profitable to work in the gay industry - so much so that Sinz is planning to helm a signature Raging Stallion line that will feature gay men having sex with women, with a nod to the pioneering personality in that category, Jack Wrangler. Sinz described the new studio's product as "straight porn with gay sensibilities: good-looking men, good-looking sets, passion and better money for the models. Gay guys are lining up to participate," he said. Hopefully, the approach will help more men feel better about expressing their sexuality in whatever form it may take. Even though he said he's experienced some disrespect from both gay and straight men because he's openly bisexual, he encouraged other men to open up and enjoy themselves. "If your friends and family don't want you anymore [because of your sexuality], come to the other side," he said, chuckling. "We'll welcome you with open arms. There's plenty of room."