Jason Berringer: The Man Called Jaybear

Jason Berringer is a grown man evolving. If you visit his Website or watch his videos, you can see him do it before your very eyes. Berringer's online presence, www.Jaybears.com, is a reminder of what sexy Websites used to be - and still are - when done right. They're personal, not just sexual. They capture and communicate the essence of the individual that inspires them. They encourage a sense of intimacy and friendship that goes beyond nudity or graphic imagery. They make visitors feel as though they are welcome and wanted parts of a larger community. They motivate people to return and learn more, to wonder what will happen next.

Given that evolution, by definition, is a process of change, of formation, of development, of growth from a state of relative simplicity to one of greater complexity, Berringer's ongoing evolution as an adult is a guarantee that something will always be happening next. As the man called "Jaybear" since his youth puts it, "I'm just trying to find my own voice. Until I'm 6 feet under I will never finish my process, so people are invited to come along in video and on the Website."

What those who explore Jaybears.com and the tapes that Berringer has appeared in will find is a person much like themselves: a man seeking an identity as he progresses through the stages of his life, a man in search of "a place, a partner - what everyone wants; love, happiness, respect, fame, fortune, whiter teeth, and fresher breath."

Like many, Berringer's early erotic roots are humble. His images initially ran on an amateur Website called Gay Self Pix. In time he entered a photo contest held by the site's owner - and won! "I was so floored," Berringer explains. "You gotta remember I was in my early 40s. I felt like Sally Field. 'They like me! They really like me!'"

Like Jaybear they did. As unexpected as it was for the ballet dancer-turned-mid-life self-stroking sex symbol, men from all over the world wrote him with praise for his good looks, his friendly demeanor, his accessibility, and obvious sincerity. Unlike so many smooth-bodied, tiny-pored, Adonis-perfect, cookie-cutter male models, Berringer emoted his enthusiasm; and when he looked directly into the camera, his fans felt like he was looking at them, wanting them.

From there, like his own exhibitionistic cock in front of a camera, Berringer's career "grew out of my hands!" The December 2000 issue of Playgirl magazine featured a photo spread of his toned self, beguiling and enticing not only its presumably heterosexual female audience but also the gay and bisexual male readership that shares such an appreciation for handsome men. Then Catalina Video called him, leading to three titles and demand as a performer.

Having tasted success, Berringer truly began a new stage in his evolution as a sexual being, this time as one making a living as a mainstream gay porn star where, under the full glare of "operating room lighting" he found that hours of maintaining erections to live out another man's vision of gay sexuality from multiple camera angles could be exhausting not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. Berringer's experiences - as wonderful as they were - made him realize that he wanted to do more with his sexuality, he wanted to communicate more, and connect more intimately with his viewers. "Like anything in life, I have found that the closer I stay to the truth, the more I draw people to me that are interested in the same things."

Berringer reflected upon his experience as a classical ballet dancer and realized that, even though it's technique which is in demand for both the porn and dance industries, it is performance that causes an audience to feel connection. "That's sort of where Jaybears.com started," the man himself reveals. And, if visitor feedback is to be trusted, it's a sentiment that resonates with many. "One of the things that I like to hear best," Berringer confesses, "is that 'this guy isn't a super hung, super muscular, super young guy - and if he can do it, why not me?' I think there's a lot of identification."

It is precisely from this identification that Berringer's Website and video performances truly draw their strength. Unlike gorgeous young models who often leave their admirers feeling alienated and distant, unlikely to meet or be chosen by their idol, Berringer's handsome accessibility allows viewers to imagine meeting him or finding themselves in similar situations. "I am looking for communication," Berringer further explains. "Sex is a form of communication."

What Berringer communicates while speaking the language of sex is that men retain their sexual worth and vitality throughout their entire lives, and that experience - real life experience - is a big part of what lends, develops, and sustains a situation's erotic heat. Sex - like any other language - takes on new meanings as men grow older and perceive life from the different stages. As Berringer sees it, "When you're young the biological drive is simply to procreate - and that has nothing to do with sexual orientation. It's just a release-recover, release-recover consistent search for spreading the seed. As you get older that drive becomes much lessened [when compared to] the interest, the satisfaction, the stimulation provided by the mind. It's like you can eat, or you can dine. Teenagers will eat Jack-in-the-Box and actually prefer it over sitting down to filet mignon and wine and conversation. It's simply a different level of maturity and development."

This evolution to maturity is a very important part of the path that Berringer and his site's visitors are walking. What the photos, the videos, the dairy entries, and the personal touches Berringer includes on Jaybears.com remind himself and his fans of is that life and sexuality are processes and not events. "An orgasm is an event," he points out. "If you're event driven, then after it's achieved, you're done."

Berringer is far from done - which could explain why his site's renewal rates are so high. For three years, a strong cross-section of subscribers have tuned in to watch the "hot little daddy extraordinaire" and his friends evolve to maturity. Men ranging in age from 18 through their late 50s log onto the site to connect with the accessibly handsome Everymen while they each explore their unique understandings of roles including daddy, boy - and bear.

Sometimes a bear lover visits Jaybears.com expecting to find big hairy men. Instead, they encounter what friend and creative collaborator Thor Johnson of Altomar Video calls a high-energy, cheerful, "otter" bear. Berringer and Johnson have taken the story of Jaybear's quest for enlightened evolution to videotape with Jaybears' Fur Fun, a heavily autobiographical story that includes insights into the growth process of becoming a mature adult as well as an erotic performer. Berringer's hope is that the Best Specialty Release-nominated tape will be the first in a continuing series. In the meantime, he and Johnson continue to work on other joint projects, including the Naked Cocktail Party line, and the Picture Perfect online project of 12 vignettes of calendar shoots of models in (and out of) seasonal garb.

Along with introducing paid models, including Michael Knight, to his bulging site, Barringer is growing his goatee out to show off the silver that men his own age - and younger - find so attractive. "I really feel a moral responsibility to be out there for younger men growing up so that they don't have to go through what I went through trying to come out of the closet, which was a lot easier than [it was for] the generation before I came out." Berringer reflects. "If we are out, then we show that 'This is okay, this is who we are.' It is so reaffirming to be real."

Darklady is the content editor for AdultBuzz.com and a regular contributor to AVN. "Tales of the Darklady," her personal sexuality lifestyle column, is back at Exotic Magazine, where it had its beginnings. In the not-too-distant past, she's been a radio personality, art model, political candidate, and associate editor for AVN Online.