Gay for Pay, Part 1 (excerpt)

10 Jan

The following are excerpts from a longer article, now available in the first issue of Headmaster Magazine. The article is itself part of a longer piece on working with two gay for pay porn actors. You can read the first half in its entirety by ordering or buying an issue of Headmaster. The second half will be featured on my blog soon.

I’m shooting gay porn scenes with two straight men this week, and I intend to understand this.

They’re roommates and friends and they both celebrated their friendship by getting pirate tattoos on their legs. For these shoots, I have to fly Florida, which is filled with strange animals and plants that have been dying lately from a cold snap. The first straight guy I’m going to be filmed having gay sex with is a friend.

His porn name, I’m not kidding, is Girth Brooks.

We’ve done a scene before, and when his photos were sent to me for the first time, something tugged at my memory, but I wasn’t sure.

His dick is huge, so thick, that your hand wouldn’t fit around it unless you were a monster. That was new to me – but the face; I kept coming back to it. It wasn’t in the middle of the night when it hit me, but instead at a Starbucks. I was fucking around on the internet and an image of one of my students – I used to teach at two different colleges in New England – rose up in my brain. I was anxious and checked facebook. There, in my student’s family pictures, was Girth Brooks. Girth Brooks kneeling next to my student and a Christmas tree, Girth Brooks getting drunk with my student, Girth Brooks with one arm around his mom and another around my student. They were brothers.

And it wasn’t a forgettable student, but one who I would think about after class and masturbate to. He’d be sucking my dick or fucking me in front of everyone else in the class. All sorts of things you’re not supposed to talk about. I get the feeling, even, that we’re not supposed to think about these things. As if there were some way to shut out all desire for a student because it’s inappropriate. As if there weren’t a hundred novels and movies about these things. As if he weren’t an adult. He could go to jail and kill someone for the government, but I wasn’t supposed to think about his naked body.

Him. His brother. Did I mention they look alike?

* * * * *

We spend the night on a yacht, owned by Girth’s childhood friend and her family. It’s not easy.

The father keeps talking about “ragheads” and “the gays”. He looks too much like Mr. Roper from Three’s Company for me to take him entirely seriously, except that he owns a company that builds military stuff for the navy. He wears a baby blue sweater, and I don’t say anything about anything. None of them know that Girth is in porn (or that he calls himself “Girth” for that matter), none of them know that I’m Middle Eastern, and none of them know that I’m gay. It’s like high school, I pass and do my best to blend in without making any specific references to men or women I’m attracted to. We only spend about ten hours together not including sleep, but it’s the longest I’ve gone pretending for…I can’t remember.

We get drunk. I don’t drink often, but sometimes you really do have to make life entirely bearable. We eat horrible food at an Italian restaurant that also has curry on the menu. We go to a bar where girls are dancing on a stage, wearing leopard print bikinis. The whole world seems drunk, actually. We must all be going through something.

On the cab back from the bar, I catch myself making what feel like harmless racist jokes and then even through the haze of alcohol think about the father’s comments and try hard to forgive him. He’s ridiculous and kind underneath the swaggering and mistakes. What can I say?

If there’s one thing I want to remember, if there’s one thing I want all of us to remember, it’s that within each one of us, there are so many people. Porn is generous in this way – it’s a world of doubles. Girth Brooks is not really Girth Brooks, after all. He doesn’t even have sex with men off-screen. And the racist, homophobic, rich, white dad who works for the military also lets a stranger stay on his yacht and buys this stranger dinner and gives him French toast and a hug goodbye the next day. Is that what evil looks like? Is it really that kind?

Am I, then, evil? I sometimes wonder this. Am I fucking up the world with porn? I want the man I’m dating to see me as someone smart and happy and free, but the world is full of doubt and I can never fully know the effects of my actions. None of us live in certainty. We take our clothes off and have sex and usually I feel comfortably seated in this. But why, then, do Girth and I always want my partners to see me as innocent? As a boy? Wouldn’t they just see it if that’s what I was? There are so many questions and without answers to them, we’ll never know what we deserve from our partners or the world, we’ll just have to come out and list our demands and hope they’re met.

Drunk at the edge of the yacht, we watch silver tarpon slip past us. They’re huge and beautiful.
“I want to jump in there,” Girth says.

A tarpon swallows a mouthful of smaller fish, which are dancing in light blue water, lit up by the boat.
“I want to grab that fish,” he says. “Look at it. I want to grab it.”

31 Responses to “Gay for Pay, Part 1 (excerpt)”

  1. Casey January 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    Another beautiful piece, Conner. I find myself conflicted about Girth Brooks, but did notice that where his public porn star persona is an act (gay for pay), your experience with his family ended up being a similar act, having to fill a role you weren’t necessarily comfortable in. It made me think about how many performances we give throughout our lifetime.

    • Conner Habib January 11, 2011 at 12:01 am #

      Thanks for noticing that, Casey. I hope it’s clear from the excerpts – it certainly is from the whole piece – that sexuality is very complicated. We’re all pretty conflicted in one way or another, at some point in our lives.

  2. Kevin Lately January 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    I don’t completely understand the ‘Gay for Pay’ mindset. A man needs to be aroused to have TOP Sex. On some level the Straight guy (Girth Brooks) is enjoying sex with another man. That would indicate the fluidity of his sexuality rather than the Status Quo of his “Straightness”.
    We don’t live in a vacuum but if Magically All social restrictions on our sexual behavior was lifted: We would see many Men enjoying the Freedom of our Bodies with each-other.
    In the mean time Girth’s Gay for Pay is mostly a mental gymnastic; or maybe just a convient excuse to bend the rules.
    I hope you both enjoyed the game..:-D

    • Conner Habib January 11, 2011 at 12:04 am #

      Hey Kevin, I hope you get a chance to read the full article – the piece in Headmaster (which I can’t legally reprint in full) and the second half of this essay, available soon. It explores more deeply the “mindset.” But something to consider: a man may need to be aroused to have top sex, but in porn, sex is a stop-and-go affair. When filming, we begin and stop, begin and stop – many many times.

  3. Kyle Michel Sullivan January 10, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    We tend to forget how incomplete we are as human beings. Even the best of us will never be fully formed…but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for that perfection. You know this. You do this. You have no cause to question yourself…but I think it’s exquisite of you to still wonder.

  4. Michael Strangeways January 11, 2011 at 2:31 am #

    Or, maybe “gay” and “straight” are just meaningless terms. People are “sexual”. You can’t define or quantify it with numbers or percentages. What makes us hard, or wet, or aroused is arbitrary. We’re forced by society to label ourselves as “gay”, “straight” or “bi” but do we really need to resort to meaningless terms like “gay for pay”? It seems like more and more porn performers are rejecting this label and just admitting, “I’m bi.” It’s kind of sad that some people apparently aren’t comfortable enough with their sexuality to just admit “Friction makes me hard and it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman applying that friction…”

    • Conner Habib January 11, 2011 at 7:24 am #

      I don’t know – I’m not sure “bi” is any more useful than “gay” or “straight.” Our sexualities are organized around extremely complex and absolutely individual behaviors. One of these behaviors IS the classification of our own sexualities. The label we come up with for ourselves is a symbol of what we’ve done and at the same time an organizer of what we will do.
      Identity isn’t separate from sexuality; it’s an interwoven part of it.

    • Tom December 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

      So…….If I just rub my dick against some pussy, thus causing friction I will get hard and just be able to stick it in??????
      Is it that easy? Then I could be straight?

      • Kyle Michel Sullivan December 8, 2013 at 3:07 am #

        No, Tom, you’d just be horny. Why do even need to label that gay, straight, or anything?

  5. Kevin_BGFH January 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    I really love the way you express your thoughts. There’s such a clarity there, but also an almost lyrical flow to it. You always have some little nugget that jumps out at me. I’m not making any sense, never mind. But also, as someone who works in the copyright field, I really respect that you’re honoring the publisher’s rights. Do you know if it’s carried in stores like A Different Light, or do we just order from the publisher directly?

    • Conner Habib January 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words! Re: where to get it – It’s not in SF yet, unfortunately. It has much wider distribution on the East Coast, since it’s based in Rhode Island. It’s in LA but not here. Sigh! I think the best way to go about it is to order it from them and while ordering gently suggest they get it out here. :)

  6. Alex January 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    If I remember correctly isn’t Girth’s roommate Berke Banks? Is he still doing porn? I’d be interested to read the rest of this piece. Very well written Mr. Habib. Keep up the good work.

  7. Derek January 13, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    I personally don’t understand what the big deal is. The “Girth Brooks” persona is making money mainly because there is a market for “gay for pay,” whether we agree or disagree with the concept. Gay sex FOR money, in its strictest sense, IS “gay for pay.” I think arguing over how much someone enjoys said sex is pointless because it’s irrelevant to the fantasy of porn. I don’t care about Girth as a person; only the entity that has sex on camera. I’ll never meet the man behind the image in person, so why should I care if he personally identifies as gay, bi, or straight? Isn’t that a question for the woman he eventually settles down with and has to reconcile his past as a gay porn star to her? Maybe this sounds callous, but this is a problem of his own making.

    • Conner Habib January 13, 2011 at 5:02 am #

      Thanks for the comment! It’s not callous, but I do think it’s much more complex than that. I also don’t think it’s a “problem” but something to be examined.

      • Rocco January 13, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

        1.) Gay-4-Pay isn’t (Gay for equal Pay). Straight/bi guys are paid more or by specific acts (rimming, bottoming…), while many gay performers are low-balled with all-inclusive fees.

        2.) Sterile and dispassionate sex has become the norm. Most g4p guys don’t rim, some don’t kiss, some don’t want cum on them…; just the way gay sex was meant-to-be. That’s sarcasm btw! I looked at some videos from suite703 yesterday and I excited to such great pairing of hot models, only to be dissapointed with tired “formula” of talk-suck-fuck-cum-that’s all folks. Maybe it’s just me, but when I make love or I’m just screwing around I: kiss, lick, suck, nibble, hug, tug, rim, talk, tickle…

        3.) It feeds gay guys self-hatred/loathing nature. Straight-acting, butch, masculine-only are all part of the gay social hierchy;yet, it’s the drag queens, transgender community and “feminine” guys who, dared to be themselves on a daily basis(not just in the gay ghetto’s), who endured and challenged prejudice head-on.

        Also I challenge anyone to read Paul Morris’ lecture about the sterile dispassion of the xenophobic porn industry! You don’t have to like his stance on barebacking but, he knows his

      • Conner Habib January 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

        Rocco – I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t totally agree.

        1. In some instances – with Sean Cody, for example, that’s true – But in many cases, gay and straight performers are paid equally. But pay is tricky business in porn – sometimes new guys get paid tons of money for lackluster performances while a reliable and enthusiastic performer is paid less. Both could be gay – pay inequality is much more complicated (and in many cases unfair) than gay vs. straight.

        2. Here I agree – and again, this has as much to do with bum gay performers as straight ones. Girth Brooks is actually a good performer and he enjoys his work – I can’t say the same for all gay for pay, of course. Bear in mind that I’ve been on sets where gay performers wouldn’t rim or kiss either.

        3. I don’t blame straight people for gay self-loathing, but I agree that it takes lots of courage to be out and feminine. It’s a daily challenge just to be who you are, and I’m always put off by guys who are only into masculinity. That said, I wonder how we can open the world up to more porn/erotica featuring guys who aren’t masculine. Any ideas?

  8. Karl of Themyscira....the indescribable lightness of being Wonder Womans number one fan. January 14, 2011 at 12:05 am #

    its an absorbing subject. I personally cant understand how someone can be ‘gay for pay’ myself, but sexuality is fluid in all of its forms, and we all have ‘roles’ we have to play, in order to get on in life. Myself, I have to covet my sexuality in order to do my job [ Im a prison officer in an all male prison]. There is absolutely no way I could ‘come out’, no doubt about it. Prejudice runs cold and deep in the justice service and for me its simply not a viable option. That makes the likes of Girth who do this rather confusing to me, tho Im not critising him personally; I see and encounter a lot of bisexuality in my work, mostly determined by circumstances. Im routinely surprised by how many indulge who are totally straight.
    A fascinating subject.

  9. Sid January 15, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    I just found this blog, you’re a great writer. Your last thought reminds me of a line from Whitman.

    Do I contradict myself?
    Very well, then, I contradict myself;
    (I am large—I contain multitudes.)

  10. Chriso January 20, 2011 at 3:11 am #

    I actually find Girth Brooks to be one of the more enthusiastic gay for pay guys doing videos right now. And in spite of what Rocco said above (some of which I agree with), I see plenty of gay guys phoning in lackluster performances full of formula and zero passion. If I could see one thing change in porn it would be for directors to pair people up based on chemistry, not just on wanting to see those 2 (or 3 or 5 or 8) folks do it together.

    All of that aside, your post is quite fantastic, as is your blog in general. I really love how introspective and questioning you are about all aspects of your life. I can relate to that a lot and it’s cool to see other queer guys in the world who are unafraid to share their complexities and contradictions instead of trying to present some sort of perfect package. Oh, and you’ve mentioned Steiner more than once but I can’t seem to figure out if you went to Waldorf schools or not. I was a Waldork myself from 6th grade through high school. I think it’s part of what helped instill in me a need to question things and challenge my own thoughts/ideas.

    • Chriso January 20, 2011 at 3:14 am #

      And it looks like an 8 next to a parentheses turns into a cheesy smiley with sunglasses. Yikes.

    • Conner Habib January 21, 2011 at 2:12 am #

      Thanks Chriso -

      Girth is also one of my favorites – I had an amazing time with him and he’s a close friend. I think his performances are across the board enthusiastic and impressive.

      I never went to Waldorf school anthroposophy came to me later in life. :)

  11. Billy January 20, 2011 at 4:35 am #

    Was this friend Berke Banks? What ever happened to him??

  12. Autoverz January 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    wow. I never thought about this in that way

  13. James Pence February 3, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    I’m struck not only by your insight, but also by your vulnerability you convey. To do porn evokes confidence, swagger, and narcissism. I’ve not judgement on the morality of porn or those who perform, but the image is so curated as to not bring any fresh breath to the genre. I am fascinated by the meta process you describe. It makes me hunger to hear you narrate the whole of a vid. While you are aesthetically in the dead fucking center of my erotic bullseye, your prose evokes deeper attraction and arousal.
    I appreciate your sharing. Keep going, keep writing.

    • Conner Habib February 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

      Wow, thanks for the kind words! I don’t mean to destroy the spell, but yeah, every porn actor I know is struggling through his sexuality. I wish more of us would talk about it.

  14. Michael Australia January 28, 2012 at 1:20 am #

    Well here it is a year later and with berke and girth widing down or leaving porn the gay for pay debate is going on and on. From a watcher’s point of view all I can say is both of them seemed into it especially berke’s 2 scenes with Paul Wagner. Live and let live and just do not consume this porn if you have objections.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] essay on shooting porn with straight guys (Girth Brooks and Berke Banks, to be specific), “Gay for Pay” was selected for publication in the upcoming Best Gay Stories 2012 from Lethe Press. The second [...]

  4. New everything. | Connerhabib's Blog - August 1, 2013

    […] worked with a lot of straight-identified men in gay porn, and have written about it here and here.  There’s a quick write up on my appearance here. Below is me and the […]

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