Why do gay porn stars kill themselves?

13 Feb

Why do porn actors kill themselves?  Who is responsible?

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Whenever a porn star – especially a gay porn star – commits suicide, theories show up, and people act very, very certain about them.  Arpad Miklos, who was as much as a porn “star” as anyone can be in a time when we are hyper-saturated with porn, killed himself on February 3rd, 2013, at the age of 45.  As usual, many people felt sure they knew why he committed suicide, without much evidence.  It was drugs, it was studios not treating him well, it was the feeling of dehumanization, it was the vague but all encompassing “porn industry” that did it, it was the feeling of being hollow, it was it was his loss of validation after being a star for so long.

I can’t claim any special knowledge about his death, I didn’t know him very well.  We met in passing on a set; he’d just finished a scene, and I was about to start mine.  He was huge and handsome; I’m not saying anything new.  If you met him, you were impressed by his smile and his body and his presence.  Looking at him almost made you feel a sense of unbalance in the world, like his handsomeness and flawless physique were proof of some deep inequality between people.  But then you’d forget that feeling and be drawn back into the intense attraction.

He gave me a kiss and his phone number and asked me if I’d like to spend time with him later that night.  My scene ran over schedule, and I was exhausted, so I told him I couldn’t meet.  We communicated a few more times over the years by text and phone, and that was that.  I mention all of this to say:  I don’t know his motivations or who he “really” was.  We kept passing through each other’s lives without ever truly meeting.

But others who knew him even less than me flooded twitter, wrote articles, posted to facebook about what had happened.  The theories appeared as soon as the news did.  It was immediate, like flies to a corpse.  Theories arrived before grief, before honor and love and the experience of loss.  When a gay porn star dies, instead of an outpouring of grief, what we are usually witness to is a buzzing.

All of this is to say that not even death can trump many people’s confused and hostile attitudes towards porn and porn performers. That is how deeply injured we are as a society when it comes to sex, sexuality, and love.

***

It’s natural to turn events like suicide into cultural concerns.

Tragedies are supposed to pose questions to us – the feelings of discomfort that sadness brings can create meaningful action.  But these actions are always most effective when we don’t bypass grief and compassion to get to them.  Unfortunately, the people that make up the largest group involved in porn – the viewers and consumers – may not understand what it’s like to be a performer or to work for a studio.  The porn industry remains obscured by unexamined attitudes towards sex.  So compassion isn’t always available.

There’s a general confusion for outsiders about performer motivations for making porn, how much money they make, what happens during a shoot, what health and safety precautions are in place, how a scene is organized, what it feels like to be a crew member and more. The result is that a monolithic image of “gay porn star” and the “gay porn industry” is formed.  But unlike ideas of other industries – banking or agriculture, say – people’s perceptions are colored by a broader societal confusion: a difficulty in thinking and communicating clearly when it comes to sex and desire.

This confusion is generated by many factors, most importantly by social and cultural institutions that have historically leveraged sex as a way to control people (I address some of those forces here, and will write more about them in the future).  Because these forces create pressure and guilt around sex, when someone like Miklos, who had sex publicly, kills himself, people tend to think he was sad because of his public sex life.  They don’t focus on the fact that he was trained as a chemist nor do they ask what his relationships were like or if he was generally happy.  Instead, a knee-jerk reaction links his sadness with porn.

People want to know: How was porn involved in this death?

This isn’t a totally unfair question, but when left unrefined, it’s not a good one; it’s misguided at best, damaging at its worst.  Aside from not taking all the other factors of Miklos’s death into account, it’s misguided because it’s not nearly a deep enough or complete enough question. It focuses too much on the performer as victim and not enough on sex in society, nor how the porn viewer receives porn and thinks about porn performers, or how sex is legislated, or what our unquestioned assumptions about the “porn industry” are.

The porn performer is, in general, not a victim. This image of the performer as starting porn because of bad circumstance or compulsion is largely a lie (perpetuated, in part, by confused critics of porn).  Part of this false image comes from the idea that porn performers just “fall into” porn or that they’re “discovered” by unscrupulous studio moguls with big, villainous mustaches.  But the majority of would-be porn performers now approach studios, not vice versa.  They’re seeking porn work for different reasons.  Some of those reasons are aligned with the performer’s heart and integrity, others are not, but almost none of the reasons merit the label “victim,” at least not for deciding to be in porn.

The result is thousands of healthy, thoughtful, happy porn performers in gay and straight porn that haven’t killed themselves. And their ways of enacting being a porn performer are very different.  There are performers that make one movie to try it out.  There are porn stars who make a career out of it like Miklos did, appearing for years in different movies by different studios.  There are performers who shoot scenes with their boyfriends and post them to XTube; there are performers who wish they could make more.  There are people who long to be in the porn industry but can’t break into it, or are too afraid to start.

Many (though not all) have other jobs: Along with porn stars who are also escorts and personal trainers, I know gay porn stars who are lawyers, farmers, doctors, meteorologists, and artists. Some don’t have much overhead at all because they live with their parents, who know what they do and are proud of their children.

While there may be some vast archetype that encompasses all porn stars, there’s no such thing as a typical “gay porn star.”  We’re all different.

So sadness and mental health problems are not an industry epidemic – that perception is inaccurate, as is the notion that porn stars don’t have any other skills or feel compelled to do porn out of a lack of options.  Such statements simply aren’t true.

Of course, some performers do have mental health problems.  Some are suicidal, some are drug addicts.  The same is true for lawyers, farmers, doctors, etc. who are not porn stars.

If we strip misconceptions away, we still have a question of porn and mental health before us.  But it appears in in a refined version, a version that makes sense.  We can ask ourselves, what are the specific pressures of being in gay porn?  How can we make those pressures less of a burden?

***

None of the pressures that face porn stars are exclusive to porn – many of them face mainstream actors and athletes, for example.  One of the main problems is the constant inflation and collapse of a performer’s ego.

Once, after shooting a scene for a studio I hadn’t worked with before, one of the staff enthusiastically invited me to the “family.”  He told me how great I’d done and how excited he was to work with me again.  I was in a towel, exhausted, and happy to hear the news.  We were interrupted by a phone call.  He answered and entered into an urgent sounding discussion with a performer on the other end.  The studio just couldn’t hire him, the employee said, for the rate he wanted.  Then he relayed to the performer, studio by studio, how much other studios were paying.  It was significantly less than I’d been paid for work that day.  I felt a little sad for the other performer, but didn’t think much of it.  I became friendly with everyone at the studio, and we’d talk outside of work, too.

Months later I was the performer on the receiving end of this conversation.  Another staff member of the studio had warned me that I was “fat” and that I was asking for too much money.  My appearance hadn’t changed since they’d last hired and praised me.  If anything, I was more toned. I explained that I was only requesting the same rate they’d always paid me.  He went down the same studio-by-studio list, detailing rates, saying that everyone was paying less now.  But the rates he quoted were incorrect. I knew that now, because I’d worked for everyone on his list, appearing in a scene for one of them just a week ago.  It was a canned speech, created to dock performers’ pay.

Why was someone who I thought was my friend lying to me?  The first answer that comes to mind isn’t quite right : money.  Such a simple answer doesn’t explain why we couldn’t have had an honest conversation about money, rather than one coupled with insults and constructed to intimidate me in to accepting less.

Another time, I saw a hopeful newcomer come to the set for some preliminary casting Imagephotos.  A director photographed him, and gave him many encouraging words when they were done.  When the aspiring performer left, the director started complaining about how fat the guy was.

“What a fucking slob,” he said in front of me and the other performers hired for the day.  Everyone was quiet.

“Did you tell him he wasn’t ready?” I asked, finally.

“No, he should have known,” he said.

There’s a fear among many performers that what we hear from employers is not reflective of how they actually feel, and this fear is, at least in part, justified by stories like these.  I’ve heard these complaints echoed again and again by other performers.   On top of this, like many entertainment-related businesses, porn studios are extremely busy but often disorganized.  Not hearing back from a studio in a timely manner after initial emails or calls creates a  flashing anxiety; is it because they’re ignoring you, because they forgot, or are they simply, reasonably, busy? Until you learn how to navigate it, all this puts you in a weird split state.  Are your employers your smiling and nodding friends or are they harboring thoughts about you that they’re not expressing?

Again, this isn’t a complaint confined to the porn industry – it’s a problem with many American business models, where honesty and forthrightness are not properly valued.  But in porn, it’s  compounded by the fact that these concerns mix into performers’ anxieties about their bodies.  Every porn performer I know has at least some fear of how the public will receive our bodies or how “fat” or “skinny” or “small” we look, even though we may not be fat or skinny or small by any means (and if we are, that brings in a separate set of societal issues).  This situation isn’t made any better by unscrupulous internet commenters and bloggers, who are happy to leave the cruelest comments they can think of under photos of our naked bodies.

***

Seen in this light, working in porn has a healthy aspect and a dark shadow.

Porn is healthy for a performer to the extent that it allows him to detach, rather than immerse himself in his body.

***

Porn offers an amazing opportunity to think about your body.  You have to think about how it looks, what food to put into it, what exercises to do to refine it, how to relax it, how to take care of it.  You even have to consider that other people may not like your body, no matter what you do.  Your dick might be too small (or too big!) for them.  They may not like your face or think your abs are undeveloped.  In porn, you have the opportunity to hear these complaints and to love yourself anyway.  It’s very freeing if you can achieve it.  When you can think about your body, you create a loving distance from it, a detachment.  It becomes an honor to have a body when you know it’s only an aspect of your being.

One happy and surprising side effect being in porn has had on me is that it’s loosened up my response to societal standards of beauty, allowing me to see who I actually find attractive.  Before porn, I found myself having a reflexive response to men with huge pecs and six pack abs.  If a huge guy walked into a bar, I (along with a lot of the other patrons) would turn instinctively to look at him.  Maybe I’d compare myself or other guys at the bar to him.  After being paid to have sex on camera with men like that, the feeling has totally left me.  Sometimes I’m still attracted to men who fall into society’s standard of beauty, but it’s not reactive.  Being in porn, being detached from my body, has helped me see the real contours of my desire and attraction, rather than conforming to what I’m told to think is attractive.

The same detachment is what allowed me to hear from the studio owner that I was “fat” and not breakdown, or to read mean-spirited comments on blogs, or to resist the command to do steroids from another studio worker.  My body is linked to my worth, but it’s mine, after all.  I’m a caretaker for my body.  The more detachment I get from it, the more clearly I see that.  I can feel this way most of the time now, but I still dip into the shadow every once in awhile.

The shadow side is that, as a porn performer, you can begin to completely identify with your body.  You can think it’s who you are. You can stumble off to the gym and onto the set and through parties and bars, cutting off your mind from other aspects of experience.   When you’re in this immersed state, an internet commenter or mean-spirited blogger or tactless industry employee calling you fat can feel devastating.

This is problematic enough, but it becomes crushing when you start to believe that your body is all you have to offer.  While I think most arguments about objectification are shallow, I also notice how porn performers can limit their own freedom and destroy their happiness by equating their bodies with their worth (and their worth with how much people are willing to validate their bodies by paying to film them.)  This is where a cliche comes from, the one where the ex-porn actor says desperately, “But porn is all I know!”  How to perform on camera is never all anyone knows, but being in porn creates the possibility of that self-delusion.

It’s good to equate some self-worth with the appearance of your body.  Too little emotional and thoughtful investment in our bodies can lead to poor health and compulsive daily patterns.  Equating too much self worth with our bodies can do the same, but the damage is often to mental health.  We become sensitive, obsessive, or prone to taking mood- altering steroids which for some can amplify the problem.

***

But these are just the pressures porn performers face directly through their involvement in porn.

Since porn is a global phenomenon, watched by millions and millions of people, the largest part of the porn industry is the consumer.  Consumers make up a special and powerful part of pornography.  Since viewers derive pleasure from porn, they are connected to it, not exempt from shouldering some of the responsibility for the well-being of porn performers.

Despite the global popularity of porn, prejudice against performers has not diminished. Teachers have been fired, simply because they had consensual sex with another person on camera; but no one is prepared to say why being in porn should make someone unfit to teach.  Olympic hopefuls with a porn past have been banned from competing under the auspices that they wouldn’t properly represent their country; but isn’t porn part of the country’s culture?  Reality TV stars – have been disqualified from their shows for being in porn; but pornography was the original reality TV, a blend of real and unreal, and certainly full of performers that people are willing to pay to watch.

Involvement with porn becomes an automatic, unthinking grounds for discrimination.  The same people who fire or “out” porn and former performers must have watched porn.  But the porn viewer can conceal his/her enjoyment of pornography.  So long as this is true, the many people who have masturbated to pornography – and this includes most men and an increasing number of women – don’t have to feel any connection to the well-being of porn performers, who have provided the viewers with sexual pleasure.

All that is a broad, societal issue.  But what about smaller, personal instances of discrimination?  Porn viewers make discriminate against porn viewers on a smaller scale, through unthinking slut-shaming. But porn performers aren’t just a spectacle, they are, in one sense, the sexual partners of the people who watch them.  Their images and actions tie into the arousal and orgasm of the viewer.   Why are we asking, “What is it with gay porn?” but not asking, “What is it with the way society treats people who bring them pleasure?”

These are larger questions that I – and many other sex workers – continue to work through, and that are larger than the scope of this essay.  One of the reasons many sex workers are interested in these questions is because they expose something fascinating about Western culture and sex.  But another is that we want to be able to stop this unwarranted discrimination, to be able to be ourselves without reproach or dismissal.

***

So: Why do porn actors kill themselves? is not the right question.  It’s bound to prejudices, misconceptions, and shame.

A better question: What can we do to make involvement with porn easier, less stressful, and healthier?

Each of us, depending on our relationship to porn, can approach this by asking a series of different questions, and by working towards honest answers.

Performers can ask themselves: 

Am I ready to be in porn? Does porn fit into the context of my life and my vision of my future?

Can I endure the misunderstandings of others without lashing out in anger or being weighed down by sadness?  Will I be okay when my parents and loved ones find out (and they invariably find out)?

Most importantly, can I maintain the knowledge that I am not only my body, that my body is a part of me, not all of me?

 People who work for studios can ask themselves:

Am I ready to put in effort to deal with performers, who may have sensitive feelings about their bodies, in a gentle way that is at the same time honest and open?

Am I being honest and open with the performers I work with and hire?

Am I being transparent (with myself and my performers) about pay and why certain performers are being paid the amounts they are, and why they were hired or rejected in the first place?

Studio employees and owners can also ask performers the questions that performers should be asking themselves:  Are you ready for this?  Can you do this and not put your self-worth into it?  Does this fit into the context of your life? Etc.

Viewers can ask themselves:

How do I feel about porn performers?

Am I grateful for the pleasure that porn gives me, or do I feel shame about it?

If I met a porn actor I liked, how would I react?

Viewers can also talk more openly about watching porn (and sex in general), which will help give voice to just how commonplace a phenomenon pornography is.

Of course, these questions don’t have to be phrased the way that I’ve written them.  They don’t have to all be asked at once; any one of them might be difficult to answer honestly.  I’m also familiar enough with the many problems we face in pornography – the way it tangles in with some of the best and worst aspects of economics, desire, and shame – to know that questions alone won’t solve all the problems facing us. But asking questions like these can help cultivate more kindness within porn and more acceptance in those outside of it.

When Arpad died, many people rerouted their guilt about porn – stemming from a lack of openness, reflection, and care about sex, pornography, and desire – onto his life.  Instead of sympathy, many people projected guilt and shame.  It’s up to all of us involved in porn – not just performers, and studio workers, but viewers as well –  to be more loving, open, and honest with ourselves and each other.  That way guilt, shame, and confusion can be redeemed and transformed, rather than absorbed by the empty space where a beautiful man used to be.

For John Bruno and Arpad Miklos

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164 Responses to “Why do gay porn stars kill themselves?”

  1. Mayson Buffingtoni February 13, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    Thanks Conner for the well thought out commentary!

    • Jon February 13, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

      Man, you are an absolutely engaging writer, and on top of that, you’re able to edit and organize your sometimes complex ideas into easily digestable chunks. I can’t describe how gratifying it is, after being in awe of your face and body for so long, to be in awe of your mind too.

      A point you touched on obliquely was of introspection and self knowledge. In porn or out of porn, lack of introspection, lack of self knowledge, causes shitloads of suffering in our lives. You clearly make self knowledge a priority, and I feel a certain relief about that, i.e. that you’re avoiding at least some of the self esteem problems that snag other people. I make no assumptions that this is why AM killed himself, but I think of the old saying and how true it is; the unexamined life is no kind of life to lead (paraphrase).

      Thank you. The haters who were chomping at the bit to connect his death to porn: you addressed them clearly and calmly in the essay. Thanks for putting it out there and doing such a good job.

      • Conner Habib February 13, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

        Wow, thank you so much for reading and for your thoughtful and kind response.
        CH

      • David-Elijah Nahmod February 25, 2013 at 11:31 am #

        The problem in the porn biz is the same problem that exists in the gay community as a whole: we treat each other like disposable trash. We rarely value each other’s humanity, We have yet to learn that it’s OK to be friendly and civil to people we’re not sexually attracted to.
        And when we’re not sexually attracted to a person, we tend to treat them very badly–that’s our culture.
        While the porn biz continues to toss models aside like yesterday’s fish, here’s what goes on in the rest of the community:
        a gay man here in SF who owns a small sandwich shop wouldn’t be civil to me because he’s so “fabulous and gay”, it’s beneath him to speak to those who aren’t “his type”. He’s so full of himself, he’s unable to see that I’m not the least bit interested in him sexually, I just wanted to buy a sandwich.
        This is not all that far removed from how the porn biz treats models. This kind of behavior is in fact the social norm among gay men.
        If we ever took honest looks into our mirrors, we’d understand why so many gay men, porn stars or otherwise, feel so demoralized undervalued and unloved, they take their lives.
        We can change this by changing the way we treat each other.

    • The Makeup Social February 24, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

      Thank you a huge bunch for sharing and helping many be more aware about our own perceptions. This article is a mind opener and eye opener. Thank you Connor.

  2. runeworker February 13, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    great article. Thanks!

  3. LickxxxDick February 13, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Like, like, like! I met my first porn gay porn star recently, an escort, and he proved to be intelligent and warm beyond what I expected. The media tempts us to judge without thought, and its a shame. I have great respect for you, Connor.

    • Conner Habib February 13, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

      Thank you so much – and I hope you share that you found warmth and intelligence in sex workers you’ve met. It’s a good message for others to hear.
      CH

  4. Carlos C. February 13, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    Insightful as always, thank you!

  5. Kate February 13, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    Hello Conner Habib,

    I really enjoyed reading this piece. Though I am not a porn performer, I can relate to what you wrote about body image stress and societal sex shame from my life experience as a woman. While reading, I began to reflect on how I connect and engage with pornography as a viewer. I think that as a viewer, we can sometimes slip into the mode of the critic whereby we seat ourselves on the high throne of judgement.

    • Conner Habib February 13, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

      Thank you for sharing and for being open with your experience!
      CH

  6. Marco Kiesel February 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

    Thanks Conner, for your comments and questions which seem very adequate and helpful to me

  7. Steve February 14, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    This is a very articulate blog. I will be thinking about the questions posed for sure.

    Steve

  8. Michael February 14, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    Conner,
    I admit to having only skimmed some of your past articles. This one, for some reason, was different. It’s making me regret not fully investing in the others. This was an excellent article, and I cannot wait to read the next one.
    Michael

  9. Ronnie February 14, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    A thoughtful and insightful piece. I have had friends who used to be in the industry and dealt with a lot of the issues you mentioned but they eventually left the biz and are doing fine.

  10. rob February 14, 2013 at 1:25 am #

    I always enjoy your writing and this is no exception. It resonates particularly at the moment because I am trying to understand better the role porn has in my life.

    I have been a consumer of porn for 30 years now and it is still able to bring me shame and guilt which often overides the pleasure aspect.

    Your article encourages me to examine where those feeling come from.

    There is nothing inherently ‘bad’ about porn and yet we do as a society and individuals co-opt it as the scapegoat for so much of the world’s woes and our own percieved shortcomings.

    I’m not sure why, but I feel lighter and better about my role as a porn consumer after reading this. i think it will warrent a few more readings before I am done. Thanks for your work.

    • Conner Habib February 14, 2013 at 1:54 am #

      Wow, what a great thing to read – I’m so happy that this had that effect on you. Thank you so much for sharing your reflection with me!
      CH

  11. D'Artagnan February 14, 2013 at 2:04 am #

    Very interesting article Conner. I have met a few porn actors in my life, and more sex workers (male escorts) than you could count on the digits on your hands and feet combined. I have been blessed to become friends with many of them. My sex worker friends are all highly intelligent, well educated (almost all have bachelor’s, many have master’s, some have several of each). Not the sort you hear portrayed as desperate men pushed into the den of iniquity that is porn and sex work.

    I was talking with one today and the topic of Arpad’s death came up (as it has in virtually all our conversations since the news). He had talked with Arpad about getting together but their schedules never meshed. But he had been talking to a good friend of Arpad, who seemed upset and bewildered. Floundering a bit actually. And I know that with any suicide, the questions are eternal. But one question always pervades: Why? And as someone who was in that same position as Arpad less than 3 years ago, I can tell you the why doesn’t matter. When you are that close to suicide, reason and rationality have no part of your thinking. You think you are doing the world a favor by removing yourself. You think that no one will notice. Everyone will be better off not burdened by you. And I’m sure that Arpad was in that same dark, deep hole. I was rescued by some extraordinary people. Then I hired my first escort and my life has turned 180 degrees. They have become teacher, mentor, counselor but most of all friend. Since then I have gone from the closet to out proud gay man with a partner who I want to share my life with. Without my escorts, none of that would be possible. But when you are in that hole you see none of that. You see no possibilities. You see no hope. And there really is no logical explanation. Suicidal depression is the furthest thing from logic, from a sound reason for this most selfish act. As someone who has been where Arpad was, and as someone who knows the sex work industry pretty well, I can most certainly guess it had almost nothing to do with this tragedy. Some of the questions I’m sure were honest attempts to rationalize the irrational. Many others were I’m sure simply an excuse to belittle porn and sex workers. But in the final analysis, there will never be a valid reason.

    Arpad’s loss has hit me, even though I never met or talked with him. Some of my friends did and they are hurting now. All we can do is support those hurting most, so that they know there are people who really do care for them.

    Thank you for this wonderful essay. Hopefully some will find comfort or enlightenment from it. Just remember: It Gets Better. Or as the SFGMC sang, “It gets more than better. It gets amazing and astounding”..

    Thanks again.

    • Conner Habib February 14, 2013 at 2:09 am #

      Thank you – I encourage you to share these sorts of stories with others elsewhere, too. A lot of sex workers have helped and healed people, and it’s really helpful to have people expressing their experiences of that to the world.
      I also agree with you that depression is deeper than thinking and perhaps even deeper than feeling. It’s like a chronic gravity that people struggle to be free of. Sometimes they do free themselves from it, sometimes they don’t. But I appreciate that note in your comment.
      CH

      • D'Artagnan February 14, 2013 at 4:38 am #

        Trust me Conner. I tell everyone who I think is open to the idea. I am not ashamed of hiring escorts, anymore than I would be ashamed of hiring a plumber or a lawyer. I know, perhaps better than anyone, what they can do for a guy like me. My escorts consider me one of their success stories. And I proudly tell of the positives of having a great relationship with a truly professional sex worker. I have been blessed to be great friends with at least 7 or 8 escorts, both as a client and friend. They have all rejoiced at me finding a partner and have all met him. We were at a luncheon last month with 14-15 escorts there. My partner views them as friends and he knows what they have done for me and been to and are to me. And I couldn’t be luckier. And thanks to them I have never been happier in my close to 6 decades on the earth.

        Thanks again for the column.

  12. Jose C. February 14, 2013 at 2:07 am #

    Beautifully written article! I’m a gay man and watch gay porn and have absolutely no problems with it…now…society will judge me different. The public “perceives” the porn consumer as “dirty old men”, “perverts”, “sex addicts” “sexually depraved” – all these comments I heard – even in different languages – throughout my life. What this does is create guilt, shame, even self doubt of sanity for the consumer.
    No doubt “religion” plays an enormous part of it but I won’t get into that subject cause I can write a book about it!
    I can’t even imagine how porn performers are perceived. Since I see the world thru “different eyes” I see porn as entertainment period. Hey it brings “happiness” to millions of people – but because of the “stigma”- no one talks about it BUT its a billion dollar industry…hmmm…the hypocrisy.
    Living in South Florida- quite a few gay porn stars live down here or spend time filming etc here – I have met a few personally ALL super sweet people not blown up sex dolls. If any gay porn star reads this – a great majority of fans DON”T want to see smooth perfect bodies with .5% body fat, 8 packs, perfectly chiseled Adonises – for a lot of us – that “perfection” is just well “too unreal” to be even desirable! It’s OK to not look “perfect”, you’re more “real” to us, more “approachable”, feeds into the fantasy of “hey I could be that person on screen!” LOL
    Suicides happen, they happen to ALL peoples everywhere. I’ve dealt with a few suicides in my life, after the shock – comes all the questions, the theories, the assumptions. After time, you realize that whatever “inner demons” drove that person to commit suicide must have been extreme – and all you can do is hope that person finds peace.

    • Conner Habib February 14, 2013 at 2:10 am #

      Thank you – I agree that the pressure to have a certain kind of body is not even in line with what the viewing public wants. That, perhaps, is something else viewers should do: communicate in a kind way with studios that the ideal has changed.
      CH

  13. Johnny February 14, 2013 at 2:16 am #

    Hi Conner,

    Really well written article. You’re a talented man. A smart man.
    I don’t know who you are but I came across this article on a blog recently.
    I’m a native NYer. Construction worker. 35 yr old, tall, handsome, fit, gingery guy that came “out” about 5 years ago. Very late to say the least.

    I just wanted to share my experience with Arpad (Peter, as I knew him).
    Around this time last year, January 2012 is when we met. We met on Scruff. He liked me because of my gingery looks. That was his “weakness” as he called it. I didn’t know it was Arpad because he only showed his torso and when he sent pics of himself they were far away with sunglasses in National Parks (which I see he was a fan of and only realized after his passing from reading an article online). But, I still kinda recognized him.
    When I went to his place on the LES, I was pleasantly surprised that it was him.
    Long story short, I never let him know that I knew he did porn. For all I know he may have assumed that I did. I don’t know. He was Peter and I was Johnny. That’s it.
    Anyway, I DON’T claim to be his friend at all. I would never say that we were close. But, it wasn’t just hookups either. We shared a lot about ourselves together. Not just him but me too.

    About him: He was physically massive, hairy, smiling all the time, kinda shy. I remember telling him he was like a bull and he said, “No, a bull has big balls and I don’t, haha!”. So I called him an ox instead Lol!

    He had a very simple studio apartment. White sheets. Not cluttered. The first time I was there, there was a 12 pack of Amstel light on his kitchen counter that he offered to me (a friend had left it on New Years – and he told me he didn’t drink – which surprised me when I read the NY Daily News article about him that said he was found with alcohol containers and pill bottles at the time of his death – maybe he did drink sometimes, but I gathered from what he said that he didn’t).

    We had a fun time. Followed up a month later by another fun time and then lost touch. Recently, about a month ago. I was on a date on the LES of Manhattan. Not a great date but it was fine. He contacted me on Scruff. Said he was “Sniffing around”. We exchanged a few more lines and I said I’d be in touch again. That was the last I heard from him.

    Reading of his passing hurt me to the core. Made me regret not seeing him last month. Not for sex. But just to see him. I would have liked to talk more. But, after much thought, I know that wouldn’t have prevented anything. I was “nobody” in his life other than a nice man he found sexy.
    I thought a lot about his death: “He was probably an illegal immigrant and couldn’t get a real job here and felt stuck” that was what I came up with. But that’s not a fact. Just conjecture. I’m friends with a few people who are here illegally in NYC and it’s very hard for them. But, like I said, I have no idea of Peter’s immigration status. I would like to think that he would have gotten a job in the Sciences here in NYC if he could. That seemed to be his earlier path which I found out later.

    He came across as very smart. I didn’t know that he was a Chemist. He told me about Hungary but not about his job.

    I do know this: He was tired of NYC. He told me this many times. He was a sex addict. He told me this too. Addiction can consume you. I know this from former addicts of alcohol and drugs in my family. He was always “looking”.
    But he NEVER mentioned anything about porn to me. He was a brilliant adult. He was not a sucker. He knew what he was doing. My gut says he wouldn’t blame porn at all. But, I could never say for sure.

    I won’t pretend to know why he did it. I don’t. But I DO know that he was so sweet and always smiling.
    Like you wrote at the end of your article, we should learn “to be more loving, open, and honest with ourselves and each other.” I thought Peter was all of that. I just wish I could see that big Hungarian wall he put up so that I could look over that wall and see the hurt and loss instead of only seeing the smiles and sexy. I wish he was still with us. He was a good man. And, I am happy to see that the gay community in NYC realized that.

    Johnny

    • Conner Habib February 14, 2013 at 2:21 am #

      Reading your stories of Arpad create a longing in me to see him again. He was funny and sweet and you’ve painted the right picture of him. I don’t know if he was a sex addict, even if he said he was. That’s another problematic term, one that is created by people who demonize sex. I’m not saying there are no problems created by wanting or pursuing sex too much, but perhaps the wording isn’t right, perhaps the thinking is too limited. Still, what him saying that indicates to me is that he had some struggles with his desires. Thank you for sharing all of this.
      CH

    • Dan F. February 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

      When I saw his name, I made the Hungarian connection. By happenstance, by own grandfather was a Hungarian immigrant who came to NYC and became a chemist. (And the name substitution is familiar too.) Feeling “stuck” and having it weigh heavily on one’s self worth makes sense to me, from what I’ve inherited of the Hungarian mindset (in terms of aspirations vs pragmatism). Hungarians can be melancholy and sometimes very fatalistic; that might add a bit of content to how the emotions and pressures this article documents got the best of him.

      It sounds like we’re all worse off for Arpad/Peter’s loss. This was great write. Thanks for putting it out there, Mr. Habib.

      • Dan F. February 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

        Grr. Context, not content.

  14. Russell February 14, 2013 at 2:46 am #

    Thank you for writing such a beautiful and articulate piece.

  15. Jonathan van Ekelenburg February 14, 2013 at 2:48 am #

    Thank you so much for this insightful article, Conner. I shared parts of it with my partners and it inspired a lot of great conversation about the role that porn plays in our lives and how we react to it. As usual, your excellent writing has helped illuminate a subject that we’re usually encouraged to leave in the dark.

  16. Terrell Stephens February 14, 2013 at 2:50 am #

    Having several friends who work, or have worked in the industry, this article represents my experience to such a great extent. Thank you for writing such an intelligent, synthesized piece. This is definitely worth sharing. It speaks so much to how we need to change our attitudes towards sex, and those that work in the industry. We have come to a place where even the mention of sex in a public forum is considered lude, and not acceptable. I can only hope that this article will reach the masses, and at the very least cause some to think about their personal perceptions.

  17. ingonyama70 February 14, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    This was such an awesome, thoughtful, thought-provoking blog. I’ll probably never be more than an avid consumer of porn (though one of my boyfriends is looking to break into the field), but I can honestly say I have a better appreciation for the performers after reading this.

    Most of it is just common sense, but that’s the tragedy of it: how many people not in the business actually consider how much work it takes to cultivate a profitable porn physique and persona?

    If you find yourself getting the bejesus hugged out of you in the Castro sometime, don’t worry. That’ll just be me.

    • Conner Habib February 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

      thank you, but please when you hug, let me keep my bejesus! :D
      CH

  18. Mats in SF (@swedeinsf) February 14, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    Thank you, Conner, for a really great and important piece!!

  19. Jean-Jacques Zee February 14, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    You might get a buzz knowing that the San Francisco alternative news site “The SFist” mentioned your essay about porn stars and suicide, with a link.

    I really enjoyed your piece. My long-time friend Bill Brent committed suicide about 6 months ago and it was a total surprise and mystery. The name may be familiar to you. He was a publisher of “Black Sheets”, a zine of “intelligent, alternative porn”. He was also a publisher of many books on edgy erotica. I was a fan of Arpad, and it saddens me that he is gone. I like what you wrote about people’s pronouncements on suicide deaths. No one will really know why Arpad died or why Bill Brent died. I find it annoying that people judge their lives and declare that they know exactly why they chose suicide. Only the departed know why they chose to reject life.

  20. topoet February 14, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Excellent article – fascinating – “societal standards of beauty” makes me think of porn actor James Jamesson’s decision to go hairy – not shaving his body or even his face – and how his ‘fans’ are responding to it -

  21. Elias Guerrero February 14, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    Conner, what a great essay and it is a privilege to witness your thoughts and writing on this subject. Keep up the good work……the world needs men/people like you! May Arpad’s journey be gentle……

    ….just posted this on Nightcharm.com where I came across the essay

  22. storm February 15, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    completely heartbreaking :( my best friend also worked in the industry and he passed last year. it has left my heart since it happened. i didn’t know abut Arpad until just now.. :(

  23. David February 15, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    A particularly insightful post that describes some of the questions that remain for me regarding sex performers. I often wonder how you and others are treated off camera. Even for the strongest ego, it has to be rough sometimes.

    Our cultural shame over perfectly natural and healthy interest in masturbating to exciting sexual images is degrading and juvenile. There are so many messages we receive as men that tell us that cock is a sorrowful burden and shameful plaything, when it’s clear that nature provided us with a great gift to be celebrated.

    The culture is changing and people like you, Conner, are leading the charge. For me the term porn has such broad definitions that it’s basically meaningless. But the domination of the corporate adult industry rarely feeds my imagination or desires because traditionally the images are so plastic and unrecognizable to me. The men I have sex with and the way we have sex look nothing like what I see in studio productions.

    With the new technologies it’s much easier to find the real-world amateur images that make me want to masturbate. But you and others like Colby Keller have brought humanity and intelligence to the studio priduct, and what makes your work special for me is that there’s an identifiable spirit and human being underneath the skin.

    You do that because it’s fun and liberating, it seems to me, and it’s like you stand up to the illusion of shame that people try to impose on us for being sexual, and you just flat out reveal the prejudice and self-delusion that is behind sex-negativity. You represent joyful and thoughtful sexual expression. Well, you represent it because you live it beyond the product. It’s more than a job or career or exhibitionism, it’s a philosophy of life as a man free of worrying what others think while still being gracious and caring. I’m meeting more and more men like that these days, and it’s so encouraging and hopeful to see real men rising above all the cliches our media concoct.

    Arpad’s death is a personal matter for his friends and family to decipher. It’s always a shock when someone takes any life. It’s human to be especially shocked when it’s a beautiful person who the rest of us have envied. These events are potent examples that appearances are simply facades that we impose on others. That was his job. But it’s so sad to know that he must have been suffering for whatever cause. Depression isn’t reasonable and makes no sense.

    I’d like to say thanks to Arpad and all you guys who give your bodies so that we might shoot a wad. It seems trivial to some, but to me you’re forerunners of a growing sexual enlightenment. As our culture comes to understand sex as meaningful and vital, I think history will prove that we’re finally growing up.

    Thanks Arpad, and thanks Conner.

  24. DaytonGMOG (@DaytonGMOG) February 15, 2013 at 3:12 am #

    I have this desire to question gay porn stars. I want to know what they feel, think, sense in each other, and generally experience in their lives, especially their work lives. I have this desire because a part of me has a sense that gay porn actors have been to us what many philosophical leaders have been to other groups of people. Maybe that sounds odd, but if you think about it, for many of us, especially those of us who grew up in the late 70s and 80s, the appearance of gay porn as a force in the porn world meant that we had a view of people like us, who had the same desires as us, or I should say me, and who, by being, showing, playing for my education and pleasure, I was allowed to feel like I wasn’t alone, a freak, or something to hide.

    Until I saw two men kissing in a porn magazine, I had never known that two men could kiss each other that way, because society, and my family, taught me that the desire and emotion I felt was unnatural, and so I was able to grow, knowing they had all been wrong, knowing that it was real, and beautiful, and hot, and I wanted to explore it, not hide it away.

    But what I saw was always a performance. The sex was real, but what about the attraction, the lust, the inner workings of those moments captured on film, what were those?

    I have always wanted to ask that, to understand it, and to see those people doing such awesome things on camera where their hearts lie, where their feelings were at those moments.

    Maybe not enough people in his life ever bothered to ask Arpad, seeing only the person they saw in film and which society said was disgusting, or maybe he simply decided he was done and wanted to go. We’ll never really know, but I wish he was still here so I could ask him to tell me who he really is on the inside, because porn star or not, I think maybe that’s what most of us want in life, for people to care enough to ask us who we are and to listen to the answer.

    Thanks for the article, Mr Habib, and thanks for sharing who you are with us. I, for one, am thankful.

  25. Lee February 15, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    I enjoyed this article as much as the very articulate and intelligent people who have replied prior to me. I do take every opportunity I can to read your articles and podcasts as they are well written and very thoughtful (and often quite humourous).

    I appreciated your insights into the pressures our society knowingly and also inadvertently put on sex workers. I had puzzled over Arpad’s (Peter’s) suicide and hoped (in vain) that this would not be objectified and that people would think about the man, the human being, and not the image. Your article has gone a long way in helping us put this in perspective. The comments following also have impressed me with their thoughtfulness, particularly the one eulogy from Johnny.

    One thing I haven’t noticed is that one question we should be asking is whether Arpad’s (or anyone else’s!) depression was the result of any outside pressure at all. Could it have been a bio-chemical issue? I ask this to raise awareness. I have many friends who are bi-polar who fight suicidal tendencies, and I have had many family members who took their own lives because of undiagnosed or poorly treated mental illness. Is it truly wilful despair as we all used to believe, or is more like heart disease, a debilitating condition often with a deadly outcome that can result from personal life choices but also from inherited or environmental conditions?

    Regardless of the cause, let us remember the man, not the image and offer a small prayer that he has truly found peace. Let light perpetual shine upon him.

  26. drew February 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    Great point you make about detachment from your body. I think there is a journey that many gay men make–certainly of my generation–of alternately feeling defeated by and conquering and being betrayed by their body, only resolved in the detachment and self-acceptance you speak of.

  27. Marlin February 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Think this is relevant: A few thoughts on spotting my fav porn actor yesterday:

    I’ve been thinking about the extent to which I am relating to these actors when I watch their porn. What is the bond between us? Is it business or pleasure? I was on lunch break yesterday from an art gallery and spotted a fav porn actor a block away. We walked past one another, and he was with a woman with magenta hair. I got the sense that she was leading him around to some shows.

    I think it would have been fine to say hi, introduce myself, suggest some galleries… but jesus he’s just too handsome. And then there’s this little fact, which became a major part of my apprehension: I know him by a fake name.

    I giggled and blushed my way back to work. IF I could go back and do it again (or lets be honest… if I had some balls), I would have wished him a happy valentines day. Romance is hard, and porn is easy. Hence, my shame.

    Thanks!

  28. Tai February 15, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    CH,

    Wow! This article was completely engaging, evocative, and elucidating. You are a great writer and thank you for answering some of my questions and putting a human face on the porn I watch.

  29. Alex February 16, 2013 at 3:50 am #

    Great essay, persuasive without stridency and beautifully written. Your idea of ‘detachment’ from one’s body offers me a new approach to dealing with my own body issues that is tremendously insightful and will help me a lot.

    I wonder, though, if the way you’ve phrased it is quite right. For it seems you’re describing, not detachment from one’s authentic experience of one’s body, but from how that experience has been warped by external perceptions and judgments. Likewise for immersion: I might say instead *internalization* of media-driven ideals of beauty, desirability and pleasure that are (fatally) misaligned with the fullness of one’s own reality.

    Your analysis here crystallizes for me issues with how media shapes (and distorts) our lived experience as gay men that I’ve struggled a long time to articulate. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Conner Habib February 16, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I do think of it as detachment from the body – but this is more of an esoteric concept. I don’t think there is such a thing as the “authentic experience” of the body unless we discount thoughts which come from society, etc. Since those weave into our experience, that IS the authentic experience. The point is to detach from that too – and redeem our encounter with and in our bodies.

      • Alex February 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

        Thanks Conner — not first time I’ve been accused of esotericism :) For some reason I don’t see my original comment posted, so I’ve copied it here FWIW

        Great essay, persuasive without stridency and beautifully written. Your idea of ‘detachment’ from one’s body offers me a new approach to dealing with my own body issues that is tremendously insightful and will help me a lot.

        I wonder, though, if the way you’ve phrased it is quite right. For it seems you’re describing, not detachment from one’s authentic experience of one’s body, but from how that experience has been warped by external perceptions and judgments. Likewise for immersion: I might say instead *internalization* of media-driven ideals of beauty, desirability and pleasure that are (fatally) misaligned with the fullness of one’s own reality.

        Your analysis here crystallizes for me issues with how media shapes (and distorts) our lived experience as gay men that I’ve struggled a long time to articulate. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      • Conner Habib February 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

        How odd – I answered this when I approved it! Anyway, I can answer again if you’d like to pursue this in email. Your question is great, and I don’t agree with the conclusion you draw from it haha – So please feel free to contact me. It takes me awhile sometimes, but I do answer every email!
        CH

      • Devon February 22, 2013 at 11:57 am #

        Thanks for such an interesting article (found on ‘Long Reads’ website). I’m female and straight and had made many moralistic assumptions about porn performers, which you very neatly dispelled! Also found the discussion of (gay) male body image fascinating – not something I had ever thought about – we women are so used to complaining about the way we are portrayed in the media, we sometimes forget that the pressures are there for guys too.

  30. Antonio February 16, 2013 at 5:53 am #

    Hey, Ive become really interested in porn and its relationships with its viewers. I was so curious of the industry and the way its deep influence in our psyche, i interviewed Maverick Men, and days later arpad died. So i had all the thoughts u mentioned in this article going through my head. It was really insightful to read it and made me think more about your job and this relatiobship viewers have with performers. Anyways i could go on about how great your writing is.
    Can you do a post about your thoughts on gay porn’s gaze on straight men and the dissemination of the amplified myth of seducing straight men. The effects of constructed fantasy that us viewers imitate and recreate in our own private lives and if its problematic that these models of reality we consume are so focused on being straight on playing “a straight man too broke or drunk to resist a gay man” .
    Id be relly interested in reading it. Heres what i asked maverick men….peace
    http://dismagazine.com/blog/40558/maverick-men-1-amateur-couple-on-xtube/

  31. thetarotman February 16, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Conner, thank you for this post.

    I live in the NYC area, and when I heard about a memorial for Arpad Miklos, I could not imagine going, for the simple reason that I never met him, although I saw several videos that starred him and certainly found him delicious-looking.

    And you are correct; it seemed immediate the flurry of Tweets, posts, comments about his passing, and there were hardly any that expressed sadness about the occurrence. Well, I did not notice that many.

    And, I must say, there is one passage in your post that I shall have to work hard on refraining from plagiarizing. And that is: “That is how deeply injured we are as a society when it comes to sex, sexuality and love.”

    Your questions were excellent, and I love that you invite us to engage in Self-Inquiry.

    Oh, and I love this post so much that I AM now following your blog.

  32. Skooter McGoo (@usorthem3) February 17, 2013 at 4:29 am #

    Over the years I have meet adult film stars and everyone of them has been the most pleasant of people. In the USA we have a problem with sex. It scares so many people and their answer is it doesn’t exist so we can’t talk about it. It’s something not many can speak about with adult language and honesty, the ones that do are probably doing porn like you and Colby Keller. Very nicely written with both personal and factual experiences which only goes to prove that snap judgement of things are often misinformed. Blessed Be to you and keep telling the truth, it does us all good to talk about it.

  33. M.M. February 17, 2013 at 6:01 am #

    Hi Conner,
    You are a very well spoken man. Though your essay focuses on porn stars, I felt that many gay readers, who are not in the porn industry, can relate. It can be hard to navigate through the “gay community” sometimes. We can be caught up with how we are perceived and that can affect our feeling of self worth. As you said, our bodies are just part of us. If we can all just be more kind with each other, we can have a better community at large. Thanks for the article.
    Cheers,
    M.M.

  34. Daniel Liao February 17, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    Such a great article. Stir up a lot of (my) thinking. Enjoyed to read this.

  35. Felix Darknite February 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    Conner,

    I enjoyed reading your article for its insight and the points of view offered from your own experience. You explain convincingly how society’s own hostility toward sex and sexuality remains unexamined and is reflected in its quickly made explanations about the suicides of porn stars. It makes me think of the complex relationship viewers of (or those who pretend not to view) porn have with it. Would you say that, for a repressed society, porn becomes both the site of the expression of quelled desires as well as the expression of what it fears or has learned to hate? In this vein, the death/suicide of a porn star would seem to consummate both parts of this dichotomy: allowing for the vicarious enjoyment of sex and the simultaneous fulfillment of the belief that porn/sex/sexuality must be bad because it kills.

    In as much as you do hold the industry to task, I do think that more could be said about how, at the end of the day, porn is still a business and its actors are beholden to the caprice of entrepreneurs and profit motives. Within this, when you refer to the remarkable ability you have gleaned to think of your own self-image/body as a product, what part would you say is played by how race impacts both saleability as well as self-management, particularly within a still white-dominated gay porn industry (and I’m thinking here not only of actors, but also those who own studios)? I’d imagine you are in a unique position to answer this question, given your mixed race background, but also the fact that you could pass for white (which I do not say here as a criticism, but rather as an honest opinion/assumption which could be completely erroneous).

    Thank you very much for your essay – I really did enjoy reading it, both because I enjoy porn and thoughtful views about it ;).

    • Conner Habib February 18, 2013 at 12:15 am #

      Hi –
      Thanks for the kind words and the comment.
      I don’t think about porn in the terms you presented. It’s an interesting way to consider it, for sure. But I think it’s more like: at this point we’re so screwed up about sex that anything that is part of the solution will at least initially look like part of the problem (and indeed overlap with the problem). Or stated another way, anything that is brining about real change in society will at first be perceived to be evil.
      I’m not sure I totally understand your second question – feel free to email it to me with a different wording and I’ll try to answer!
      CH

      • Felix Darknite February 19, 2013 at 7:38 am #

        Quite all right, Conner, and thank you for taking the time to respond. My second question was about how whiteness as an unacknowledged racial dynamic continues to play out in the porn industry and if it has anything to do with some of the issues you reflect on in your article (in relation to the body). As requested, will email you.

        Cheers,
        felix

      • Conner Habib February 19, 2013 at 7:44 am #

        Thank you – I think it’s an extremely complex question – I don’t know that it plays out in porn any differently than it does elsewhere. People of color are fetishized or ignored (aka whiteness is fetishized) by many porn studios.
        I would love to have more to say about this, but I’d have to investigate my thinking and experience more deeply to give you a real and worthwhile answer. I thank you for inviting the opportunity!
        CH

  36. John February 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    Conner –

    Wow, when I woke up this morning and went to Facebook I had no idea I would end up here. What an amazing, insightful and thoughtful piece you have written.

    We have lost far to many friends and performers in the adult industry the last few years. I was so pleased to see an honest and educated perspective calling for tolerance, accountability and kindness toward each other with regard to this topic! Thank you.

    My partner is a performer and has been in the industry for many years we have many friends in the porn world. We often speak about the tragedies and misconceptions around the porn industry. Thank you for putting it into words so eloquently, and being an advocate for sex workers.

    • Conner Habib February 18, 2013 at 12:16 am #

      Thank you and thanks for having the strength to confront whatever feeling you must have/encounter dating someone who is in this line of work! You’ve probably answered a lot of the questions posed in the essay.
      Warmly,
      CH

  37. LickxxxDick February 18, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    Connor, I would love a chance to talk with you about spirituality & sex. I’m one of those NDE (near death experience) people, and my thoughts are hardly conventional. Don’t have a desire to preach…not my place. We could help each other I think…you have my email.

    • Conner Habib February 18, 2013 at 3:26 am #

      I don’t know that I have your email, but feel free email me with your thoughts :)
      CH

  38. Stu February 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Great writing. And even better reasoning.

    But back to the original question, why did Miklos kill himself? In every suicide there is only one reason for the living to accept. For whatever reason, the idea of ending life will result in a state better than continuing on.

    We have lost two people very dear to us. And every year we revisit why it happened. And we revisit the guilt over could we have stopped it. But these were people who were part of our lives, not personae on a screen.

    Whether the living agree with it or not, this is where the person committing the suicide finds themselves. And all we can do, for those of us fortunate enough to love someone, is be attuned to what they are going through.

    There are those of us who care enough to care for this person, from the distance that we have, to feel a sense of ownership in porn actors because they excite us. But the simple truth is that we are the ones who are in the grandstands. The emotional stake we have in people like Miklos is nothing like the emotional stake that his real friends and family (chosen and biological) have in him and his death. They want the answers, too. And they have more of a right to those answers than we do as consumers.

    May he find in death whatever escaped him in life.

  39. Tusk February 18, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    Well thought out and touching. Thank you.

  40. mrmountweazel February 18, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    Utterly wonderful writing…something to think about indeed

  41. BehindMyBooks February 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    I have absolutely no experience with porn, or the porn industry, but I think this is a fantastic piece, and I think it is something which desperately needed to be said. I have had a lot of experiences with mental illness and suicide, and I think that people always have a tendency to focus on the wrong things and make the wrong assumptions. It’s inspiring to hear someone stand up for the truth of a situation, and admit that they don’t know everything. Good for you.

    On a completely separate note, this is phenomenally written. I continually read essays written by English Graduate and Undergraduate students which are unorganized and uninspired. Your piece is neither. So everything else aside, congrats on writing an absolutely stellar essay.

    • BehindMyBooks February 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

      Of course, after posting this comment I checked out your extensive list of achievements. Now I’m saying, “duh!” of course he’s a good writer. Still, I stand by everything I say… just with a tad bit less surprise.

  42. Franco February 18, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    That was long… but interesting. I criticize porn a lot, mostly because the ‘industry’ doesn’t appear transparent. I believe that pornography doesn’t always perpetuate a healthy depiction of human sexuality, and it can be damaging to our societal understanding of body image, especially in the gay community where there is a tremendous focus and importance levied on appearances. I’m not terribly interested in objectifying people to gratify myself, and I wish porn promoted all body types, but I guess one can argue that it does. Perhaps I should watch more of it. But I’m a long-term relationship kind of guy, and haven’t been single in over 12 years, and have always been monogamous. I understand that not everyone is like me. I think when a lot of porn stars die in a close time period, these questions about their chosen profession naturally arise, and some people (including me) are not as tactful or as sensitive as they should be. Anyway, I’m rambling… I enjoyed what you wrote here and it might take a few more reads to fully comprehend your message, and perhaps it will help change my perceptions a little. Who knows? Cheers. Oh and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  43. Marthafied February 18, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    Very well and thoughtfully written post. It raises a lot of guestions about our attitude towards sex, and how the industry treats people. However, the same could be said of any entertainment industry. A great post.

  44. Julie February 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Just wanted to say what a well written, thoughtful and articulate piece of writing.
    Society naturally wants to label people, it makes them easier to deal with. Unfortunately these people that tweet, and have opinions about what must be going through someones mind at the point where they feel that the only option is suicide is an extension of this labelling.

    Usually they label because if they can put them into a category that is far removed to anything they could comprehend then they feel they can distance themselves and stand in judgement.

    Luckily not everyone thinks like that

  45. sistasertraline February 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Very interesting and thought provoking x

  46. mr_bloo_sky (@mr_bloo_sky) February 18, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    I think that this is well written, and points out a number of things that can be improved in the profession to make people’s lives better.

    However, I haven’t seen any research that proves that this profession increases the odds of suicide for any population. Until that research has been done, and the results peer-reviewed, everyone is just assuming that there is a correlation that might very well not exist. Some of the populations involved, for example, middle-aged men in the United States, already have a very high suicide rate. It’s easy to point at some of these men, with a high public profile, and say that their professions contributed to suicide, when, in fact, it may be the case that it wasn’t related, and we’re only creating a relationship that isn’t there.

  47. Humans Are Weird February 18, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    To be honest, I didn’t read through the whole article – despite how fantastically written it was – though, I’m pretty sure I got the message to enough of a degree to share some cents.

    I think that, like you seemed to be alluding to, we, the people, the observers, are always looking to place blame for something, somewhere. There’s always got to be a direct correlation between things. A clear cut line. If you put the words “porn performer” and “suicide” together in one sentence, there’s got to be a correlation?

    I’m assuming this sort of thought processing has to do with our need for certainty and, equally, our disdain for ambiguity. Though it’s a shame, me thinks. Because it does indeed just undulate misconceptions and downright bullshit out into the public eye. And it detracts from the underlying problems, the core shit. Like, why people – as you mentioned – are coming up with theories about this incident, instead of mourning and appreciating a friend?

    Cool article. Not a thing I’ve ever mused on before, so twas very interesting.

  48. Maisha Duty February 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    I was absolutely drawn in by your words!!! I so appreciate your compassion and thought but carefree angle while writing!!! We are all human and I truly feel that some of us set themselves apart from the rest in some type of Superiority Sense!!! Thank you for sharing…

  49. segmation February 18, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    I have never thought about Why do gay porn actors kill themselves? Thanks for writing about this topic as I have never given it much thought before. Do you know if in general if this is the case for the majority all porn stars?

    • Conner Habib February 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

      Hi – thanks for your reply! – I’m not sure what you mean by “this is the case” in your question – is what the case?
      Thanks,
      CH

      • segmation February 18, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

        What I mean is, do you know if all porn actors kill themselves as well? http://www.segmation.wordpress.com

      • Conner Habib February 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

        I’m not sure how you could ask that question if you read the essay I wrote. Unless I totally misunderstand what you’re asking.

  50. Indra February 18, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    A wonderful article. I have known and worked with porn actors (in a white-collar office job). They were some of the the sweetest, most dedicated and capable people I have ever worked with. They simply chose to work in porn, when the opportunities arose, because it paid better than working in an office.

    Anytime a person commits suicide it’s a tragedy — one which only magnifies when others try to “explain” the motivation for it based on personal (usually negative) feelings toward the victim’s work, sexuality, religion, whatever.

    When a neurosurgeon kills himself, we never say it was because of his profession. But the weird thing is, doctors are the group with the highest rate of suicide. Yet no one is upset about that. No one is saying “Don’t be a doctor.” We’d never dream of discouraging someone from that profession.

    People really need to be educated about sex workers and adult entertainment. Your post was a brilliant conversation starter.

    Thank You!

    • Conner Habib February 18, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

      The high rate of doctor suicide is definitely interesting, especially bc it has had no dent on thoughts of being a doctor. I’m going to investigate statistics for this and talk about it a bit more in the future. Thank you!
      CH

  51. Terri February 19, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    Wow, great article. Lately in my life, I’ve become more settled existentially…in other words, I’ve figured out some questions to “meaning of life” type things. I don’t claim to have solved them, but only that I’ve figured out answers that are satisfactory to me and allow me to move on with my life without getting bogged down by too much thinking.

    One of the central “answers” is that I found that the world makes much more sense and seems simpler if each individual looks at the world through the lens of themselves. To do so does not mean to compare oneself with others, but rather to view the world through the only perspective an individual owns – their own perspective.

    Since this perspective is all each person has (as far as it seems), each person owes it to themselves to learn to trust this perspective…

    It’s as easy as it sounds though. In my humble opinion, the first step to self-acceptance is to love yourself for the sake of yourself with no strings or conditions attached. This clears your mind to be able to have a detached view of yourself. Once self-acceptance has settled, take a gentle but brutally honest look at yourself, while not clinging to viewpoints from others, society, your boss, your teacher, your parents, etc.

    The clearer your view of yourself, the easier to view others without judgment. However, don’t wait around until a magical 100% understanding of yourself has been made. You may die before that’s ever achieved. Just practice each and every day to love yourself a little bit more, step-by-step unconditionally loving yourself more. Also each day, reevaluate your perspectives on others just a little bit after every that day’s progressive step loving yourself.

    At least for me, I can say that this philosophy has been life changing. Maybe it’s because of my particular circumstances and personality, but hey it’s worked wonders.

    I would say that the author described exactly how he learned to accept a part of himself. And as you can see, his circumstances are similar to mine in that suddenly he learned to accept and love other people more and subsequently see more deeply and more fairly into other people’s lives.

    The amazing part for me is that acceptance of others (via acceptance of myself), feeds back around by helping me understand and accept myself better because I understand better how I fit into the people and society around me. Which in turn helps me to accept others better. Karma can be subtlety blissful, it’s not JUST a bitch.

    In case it matters, I am a straight male. Based on this article, I can really see parallels into the hetero porn industry. (note, I’m not trying to compare apples to oranges, so no offense meant to anyone in the gay porn industry). I think that society imposes vindictive attitudes on anyone who takes part in taboo activities, especially sex. I mean, it blows (no pun intended…) my mind that people react “meh” about watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but proceed to flip their utter shit when it comes to sex in the media.

    Anyway….I hope that bit of rambling made sense and I wish the best to all of you reading this :)

    Just know that there are people out there like me who are rooting for you and have no lack of respect for your way of life, whatever it may be.

    Love oneself, accept oneself, then love others, and live a fulfilled life (not necessarily in that order).

    • Terri February 19, 2013 at 12:15 am #

      Moderator:
      Please fix a typo in my post above (and delete this post?)
      “It’s as easy as it sounds though”
      should be:
      “It’s not as easy as it sounds though”

    • Conner Habib February 19, 2013 at 12:39 am #

      thank you for sharing your process/journey via your thoughtful comment! It’s a very loving response, and I appreciate it!
      CH

      • Terri February 19, 2013 at 1:04 am #

        No problem.

        Btw sorry about the text wall…I have a massively difficult time not using millions of words XD
        Wasn’t meant to attempt to overshadow your article but just to show tribute to it.

        imo Pink Floyd’s “On The Turning Away” lyrics are relevant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKweZEKPSqw

  52. The Sean Maloney Show February 19, 2013 at 12:43 am #

    so engaging and truthful, didn’t want it to end. Your writing is so compassionate and thought provoking! loved every bit of it!

    feel free to take a look my blog x

  53. Eyagee February 19, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    Wow, it is articles like this which will change people perceptions of sex workers in general. Most people have never thought about them beyond their job, which is a shame. For a short while I was a driver for an escort agency. I got to know the girls a little better and understand some of the things they go through. The writing here would put many authors to shame because it is, in the least, brutally honest and infinitely posting the right questions and proving the right thoughts people should be having. I can’t say that I’ve ever watched a single gay-porn video but I can damn well appreciate the person behind this article!

  54. lucrativeonline February 19, 2013 at 1:48 am #

    Reblogged this on LucrativeOnline.net16.net and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  55. Eyagee February 19, 2013 at 1:49 am #

    Reblogged this on Stuff Found and commented:
    One of the best written pieces I have read in a very long time. So much truth and honesty here.

  56. Someone Something February 19, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    Fantastic insight and article!

  57. curan February 19, 2013 at 5:27 am #

    First I’ll say that one of the best things that I’ve taken from religion is the understanding that as much as I do not judge others, I will myself not be judged. As much as I forgive others, I will myself be forgiven. These are pretty thoughts, but the world does not work this way, as much as I wish it did.

    If I was a perfect man, a pursuit of (performing) porn in someone around me would be irrelevant, as innocuous as stamp collecting.

    Unfortunately, I am not perfect. I suppose that I project a veneer of acceptance, while behind my eyes I grapple with desire and fear.

    It does seem that most love and sex is counterproductive; love is something that a human feels when they are about to act against their better interests, and sex is an easy way to alter decades of your life on a whim. Love and sex are best taken in small doses.

    To love someone who has done porn, and to trust them with your sex introduces difficulties; inadequacy, jealousy, possessiveness, and distrust: the temptation to give these dark seeds room to grow between you is very great. It is hard to starve them.

    But, to the original question… why would a porn performer take their own life? why would anyone take their own lives? There are some basic chemical hints about the answer (inadequate lithium or tryptophan/serotonin), but we will never know.

    For my part, as sincerely as I can, I wish that no one made this choice. It is a dream I have.

  58. RacerCub February 19, 2013 at 5:53 am #

    Thank you for posting this. I had a long distance friend who I talked with quite a bit over a couple of years, and who I did find out was in porn (no big deal to me,) commit suicide last year. The problem I had was two fold, number one was the falsehood that those of us that never had the bodies for the camera always think first: “how could someone who was so attractive and seem to have it so easy have an issue?” Secondly, I think there was a desire to know why, to know if we could have helped. If only the note could be made public, we would understand why they were hurting, and understand how they got to such a desperate situation. Maybe we could then recognize when other friends are going down the same road and maybe try to help, or at least feel there was some point to it all and not just feel helpless and bewildered.

    I have met enough “perfection” guys to know, the more perfect they are, usually the farther from content they are. Big muscle guys get that way because they don’t see perfection, stop and enjoy. They get that way because they see themselves inaccurately; as still being too small, so they must gain more and more and more. Everyone has feelings and concerns and issues that are not worn on their sleeve.

    Whatever his reason, I do not look at my friend Bjorn with anything but respect for his life and his decisions he made. As much as I regret not knowing if I could have helped, I realize it was his life and his decision. Not mine.

  59. Kevin Shawn February 19, 2013 at 6:03 am #

    I’m one of the people you’ve described in your article of wanting to perform in the adult industry but have had so many fears of doing it, i.e., what if they don’t like me, I’m not good enough for it, how will this my future aspirations of becoming a doctor, etc. This article helped me a lot and was just curious if you could share anymore information on this.

    • Conner Habib February 19, 2013 at 7:18 am #

      Thanks – I’d have to know more about what;s on your mind. Feel free to email me to continue the conversation!
      CH

  60. The Nazirite February 19, 2013 at 8:18 am #

    Wow, As I beginner in blogging I was so amazed on how these personality of yours has been made up. The reality you just showed me here put on a milestone of encouragement for me. These people are very the same as we common individuals lives. I hope someday that these truth in our society will be accepted. Thank you so much.

  61. moodsnmoments February 19, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    an amazingly engaging piece. you’ve left me pondering and self-introspecting. The aspect about being judgmental about one’s body…being conscious at all times…self-deprecating or abusing it to fit the desired bill….am no artist at all but can relate to it; being a woman, we’re believed to be objectified at all stages of our lives…..
    you’ve articulated so much, so well and just -as-a-matter-of-fact…it leaves me bewildered….at the same time, it has enlightened me to be sensitive…
    wonderful blog…great work!!

  62. Ed February 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Well written article . My feeling is that sexuality without love in ones life can be very unfulfilling & addictive but obsessive or addictive behavior never brings us what we all really want – addictions are not knowing how to love ourselves – what our hearts want can be very different to what other parts of our body want – while there’s no judgment about porn &/ or the sex industry people have to realise that real happiness is found within & finding a healthy balance of sex is essential for good health – the absence or presence of love in ones life largely determines ones health & happiness & happy people generally don’t end their own lives – may all beings be happy

    • Conner Habib February 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

      Thanks for the comment and the kind words! I agree with what you’ve written, but perhaps seen from a different angle. I think that sex, lust, sexuality ARE expressions of love. I’ve written elsewhere that part of our task is to elevate the way we love to the intensity of our initial attractions to someone. Sex is not lower than love, it’s a form of it that is so strong, we should aspire to it. My essay, “The Virtues of Being an Object” which is excerpted on this blog and appears in the book Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness goes into this in deeper detail. Thanks again!
      CH

  63. SW February 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    This piece just got better and better as I read through. Have sent it to my friends. Here’s to a kinder future!

  64. mandyf February 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Reblogged this on LGBT Nation and commented:
    Whenever a porn star – especially a gay porn star – commits suicide, theories show up, and people act very, very certain about them. Arpad Miklos, who was as much as a porn “star” as anyone can be in a time when we are hyper-saturated with porn, killed himself on February 3rd, 2013, at the age of 45. As usual, many people felt sure they knew why he committed suicide, without much evidence. It was drugs, it was studios not treating him well, it was the feeling of dehumanization, it was the vague but all encompassing “porn industry” that did it, it was the feeling of being h

  65. Mini Naeem February 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Reblogged this on Media Central.

  66. queerlyroux February 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Wonderful post! Thank you for writing it. I wish there were better ways for viewers to connect with performers and show their appreciation or whatnot. As a consumer of not necessarily gay porn, but queer porn, I try very hard to watch things in which I know performers are happy, treated well, and love what they’re doing (it also, arguably, leads to better scenes), but despite this personal choice of mine, I find that it’s still hard, even with highly ethical studios, to really breach the gap between viewer and performer. Any thoughts?

    • Conner Habib February 19, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

      Thanks – I’m not sure exactly what you mean by breach the gap. What do you have in mind when you state that?
      CH

      • queerlyroux February 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

        I think there’s an inherent gap in the industry between viewers and performers (and to a lesser extent studios) which is the equal result of both societal shame and digital mediums, but I wish that gap didn’t have to be there, does that make sense? I think it could be rewarding for both performers and viewers if that gap was smaller or even didn’t exist.

      • Conner Habib February 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

        I think that gap is eroding which will bring new problems along with whatever freedom it brings. But I look forward to it, as well.
        I don’t think the gap is one special to porn – porn may have its own version of it, but I think it ties into the problems we face with celebrity in general.
        thanks!
        CH

      • queerlyroux February 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

        I agree that they are comparable, but I’m not entirely sure they’re similar. We follow celebrities. We want to know every detail of their lives. We interview them; we give them awards; we compete over their endorsement of products and events. Porn performers however are scandalous and outsiders. We think about them secretly and, though we may follow their careers, we would never publicly admit to that, nor would we necessarily desire/trust their endorsement of, say, toothpaste or shampoo.

      • Conner Habib February 20, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

        In my experience, that’s not entirely true. I know that just from checking the amount of twitter followers I and other porn performers have. There’s something else going on besides the public shame you’ve mentioned. But I think we agree that there’s overlap with non-porn celebrities and differences as well. It’s an interesting question I’d have to think much longer about to have a worthwhile answer. Thanks for inspiring me to think more deeply on it!
        CH

  67. Hyperkind February 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    I can see where you';re coming from, but being a social scientist, I have to fall back on statistics. If I look at certain fields, I can see that some have a lower life expectancy, some produce people who are less likely to be in relationships, some produce people most likely to have lower back problems. So, what I have to look at is the ratio of any type of prevalence fromt he point of view of a field in respects to suicide. You have to admit that the porn industry is not a huge field; while there are thousands of actors that have been active, and hundreds active at any time, it is a relatively tiny field. Now, if we take the percentage of the population, and look at the rate of, for example, suicide,, we would see that (a) it is higher than the general population, and (b) from an occupational point of view, it’s simply more likely to happen to porn performers. I could reflect the same reliance on data when I look at , say, police officers and their greater likelihood of engaging in domestic violence.

    I guess my point is not one of prejudice and/or stereotyping, but is there an inexorable tie in the field which may be augmented by a sometimes pervasive moral question tied to the field by others. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask the question, especially if that question is ‘what is it about the porn industry that makes the comparable suicide rate higher than most other fields?’

    • Conner Habib February 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

      I hear you, but I feel like I addressed all of this in the essay.
      Thanks!

      • Hyperkind February 19, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

        Understood, and I get that perception, but throughout most of your piece, I felt like there was a lot of it that spoke to the issues in the fields of acting and modeling, but self-harm rates aren’t even close. I get the sense that this has a lot less to do with self perception and image issues, and more to do with the degree to which someone may feel like they are ‘hiding’ a piece of themselves if they don’t feel comfortable revealing their field to everyone. So, to me, it all comes down to occupation-related stigma, which may become internalized. Meh, but that’s just a sociological take. I think there is a panel at this years’ Popular Culture Association conference talking about something really close to this. I’ll have to bring this topic up! Thanks!

  68. mpwilson February 19, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    Excellent article and very well written. I too have read postings online trying to place the blame for it on one thing or anything, which saddens me because it makes it seem him less of a person and more of an object (in their eyes). Not once did I even consider that his suicide was anything other than him trying to get away from the hurt he felt inside. As someone who has had many bouts of depression over the years, I am empathetic with whatever he may have gone through and the thought processes behind it, regardless of why he was going through it.

    Anyway, definitely looking forward to reading more of your writing.

  69. insanityofmotherhood February 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    Facinating article. You wrote about a topic I knew very little about and I learned so much. The myths of why someone would become a porn star was what I found most interesting. I’ll admit I have been judgemental of the porn industry. Your article brings the human element to the business. Well done.

    • Conner Habib February 19, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

      Thank you for your openness and your comment!
      CH

  70. Chanodom February 20, 2013 at 2:32 am #

    nice article , My mom read in iPad “this story is good more people must read it” she said

  71. thineownpalace February 20, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    Well tempoed, clear, concise, deeply insightful. Your writing is exceptional and I’m very glad to have stumbled onto it. This blog will stay with me for a few days and I’m sure I’ll be giving a lot of what you wrote plenty of thought, especially as I’ve recently stopped watching porn. I just made this account and blog, and yours will be the first one I follow.

  72. simplycurvy February 20, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Amazing article, the first blog I’ve ever read, and I’m very greatful it was yours. I love your insight, and facts you provide to sustain your credibility! Great Job

  73. Steve Swindells February 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    A porn star who can write? Shurely shome mishtake. Seriously though, a very thought-provoking and beautifully written piece from someone who knows evidently knows what they’re writing about. I look forward to reading more of your words and would love it if you would check out mine. Steve :-)

  74. OyiaBrown February 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  75. otantinton February 21, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    Reblogged this on otantinton and commented:
    リブログするとどうなるの?実験

  76. irisshackleton February 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Beautifully written. It’s insightful, articulate and thoughtful. Thank you x

  77. GrassDitch February 21, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    Beautifully written, and incredibly interesting article.

    The idea of a shame and guilt-free, honest and supportive network surrounding porn is wonderful and would be ideal for both people involved in the “industry” and people watching it. I only wonder if it could ever be possible; perhaps part of the reason porn titillates is because, for some people, it’s offensive and possibly even shameful. It sort of needs that to be porn, and not just any other film/programme.

    • Conner Habib February 21, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      Historically, you are both correct and incorrect at once haha – It’s quite complex. Many societies had sexual imagery everywhere. But it wasn’t called “porn” in a widespread way until it was suppressed and hidden and only accessible to people in power (and denied to lower classes). So there is something secret/hidden about porn by definition. However I think we can move (and indeed are moving) to a society that is more understanding of sexual imagery, and so a lot more will be possible as we integrate our new understanding with that older, pre-porn model. It’s a huge thing to think about, I’m sure I’ll getting to writing about it sooner or later. :)
      Thanks for your comment!
      CH

      • GrassDitch February 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

        It’s sure to be spurred on with people out there writing and educating others about it! I look forward to reading it when you do :)

  78. Olivia Panthera February 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    Enlightening, intelligent and one hundred per cent spot on.
    I take my hat off to you

  79. Danny February 22, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    As usual, excellent & sensitive observations. Thanks Conner.

  80. rodken February 22, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    Dear Mr Habib,

    My feature aggregator app picked up your piece yesterday morning and I read it on the train on my way to work.

    Extraordinary!

    I’ve subsequently done at bit of gleuthing (google sleuthing), and have discovered more of your excellent, insightful, and (let’s be frank, we’re among friends), arousing work.

    I shall be following your work with interest and delight.

    Best regards

    Mr Kenning

  81. Anne Chia February 23, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    Thanks Conner for such a beautifully written piece. I am ashamed to admit that I had always believed that the porn industry was a last resort for people who could never break into any other genre or those who couldn’t find work. I think that in many ways our culture encourages denial and society indulges hypocrisy; there is a reason the industry thrives afterall. At the end of the day,pieces like this are important; we get an insight into areas of our mindset that we need to begin to articulate and re-define. I have taken a deep breath and begun to question everything that I have been taught. Am definitely coming back to your blog. Thanks for sharing

    • Conner Habib February 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

      What a great, open, and honest reply – it’s just the sort of thing a writer wants to read after writing haha – I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me!
      CH

  82. C L Smith February 23, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    You’re a great writer with a kind soul :)

  83. malekei February 24, 2013 at 3:55 am #

    Thank you for posting this essay. I studied value theory in my honors years in philosophy, studying the different attitudes towards sex, and the problems that lie with each. I wish I had read this essay during that year of study, it would have helped me think about the male representatives in the porn industry. I agree that the age-old stigmas about porn have created firm cultural attitudes, not just towards the industry, but to the individuals themselves. I’m sure people will read this essay and reevaluate their own attitude towards porn (hypocritical or honest), and how they relate themselves to sex, which underlines pretty much everything. Thanks.

  84. bevinnefromhevinne February 24, 2013 at 6:24 am #

    It may be all of the above that caused the star to kill himself. Just overwhelmed with the tiredness of life. Sometimes people succumb to powers beyond their control. I’ll be praying for you. God bless you.

  85. rose February 24, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    That’s a pretty good analysis. I do think in an industry where your body is the product, you are going to get criticism based on that. In no other industry (except modelling) does ‘you’re fat’ or ‘you’re ugly’ have such a direct marketing implication.

  86. zamoracatalina February 25, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Wowwww!!!! Omg Omg Omg If I were at an opera right now I would be standing yelling Encore! Encore!! You are by far one of the best writers I have witnessed here (besides me of course..LOL!!!) out here in blog land! I even learned a lot and you have increased my sensitivity not only to gay porn but to porn in general! Yeah who woulda known you are human…of course I am saying this lightly!!! I am a proud porn watcher…would I say it standing on my desk here at work at the county job for education, of course not, I’d be stoned! That is society for you! prudes bunch of prudes! Thank you for your beautiful blog! Right ON!! Write On!!

  87. angedavis February 28, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    Reblogged this on angedavis.

  88. 毛雷 March 5, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Thanks Conner for writing such a great story and sharing thoughts on the porn industry. I translate your article into Chinese on my BLOG (link: http://maolei.me/2013/03/05/%E5%90%8C%E6%80%A7%E6%81%8B%E8%89%B2%E6%83%85%E6%98%8E%E6%98%9F%E4%B8%BA%E4%BB%80%E4%B9%88%E8%A6%81%E8%87%AA%E6%9D%80%EF%BC%9F/ ), I hope you won’t mind. fair use. :-) thanks again, god bless you.

    • Conner Habib March 5, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      thank you! so awesome to be translated! :D

  89. Gordon G Geise March 12, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    Conner—Beautiful essay; I’m sorry I just now saw a link to it. In the wake of Arpad’s death and the onslaught of “ZOMG WHAT’S WRONG WITH GAY PORN” hand-wringing and neo-Puritanical snideness, I wrote a much briefer piece on FB to the same basic tune—with an additional ironic note about how many great writers have killed themselves, intentionally or otherwise; yet nobody suggests we ban writing. Well, nobody but extreme fundies. Anyway, thanks for the gourmet food for thought, and keep up the good work.

  90. silverrrcloud March 13, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    There is a palpable degree of schadenfreude whenever something bad happens in the porn industry. Many people reason that those guys are having sex and getting handsomely paid for it while the rest of the world is stuck in their daily grind. This is where the envy kicks in. Whenever a suicide happens, the silent majority feels validated in their secure choice of sticking with the daily rut. Even if they qualified for commercial porn this would not have been a good choice… Or so the envy-inspired thinking goes.

    I have been working for years in a non-porn related industry. As many other industries, we too, heavily depend on the services provided by independent suppliers and many free-lancers, too. Precisely just like the porn studios, other industries have developed detailed protocols of how to force the weaker players, i.e. independents and free-lancers to work for less. At the very moment that any major player perceives that its service suppliers heavily depend on their business, they start turning on the downward income spiral. Invariably so. A good strategy for the independents is to amply demonstrate that they have a number of other options, and that their dependency is very limited. It is amazing how even relatively big players start paddling back, offering additional pay and other considerations. Whereas the greenback is always invariably green, human talent has many hues and shades. Only those who command the top talent stay at the top.

    SC

  91. A.B. Gayle March 14, 2013 at 3:10 am #

    Thanks so much for the insightful article, Conner. Sorry I came into the discussion so late, but at least that way I also got to read the intelligent comments that followed. I think the depth that you went into in exploring the issue of suicide, porn and sexuality was such a refreshing change from the fifteen second/1000 word grab we have been subjected to for so long. I linked to this and your other essay on objectification on my FB wall. Hope that is okay.

    Writing is a great way for those in the sexworking industry to prove that they have a brain as well as a body. I’ve recently come to hear about the Red Umbrella Project which encourages that. They have recently released a book called Pros(e).

    As a straight, married woman who writes about gay men having happy fulfilled lives and enjoys watching gay porn, I agree that society’s attitude to sex needs fixing. As porn star Wilfried Knight (who also committed suicide recently) said: “I do not see how having sex on screen is less socially acceptable than being a corporate banker regularly backstabbing anyone on his way in order to get richer.”

    Yet to suggest such a thing is a travesty. I can admit to watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but not to watching two people (of any combination of genders) having sex.

    I’ve subscribed to your blog and look forward to reading more insightful posts. So glad you are helping other writers too. Giving anyone a voice to express themselves is good. Gay or not.

  92. Benjamin March 15, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    Love your article, Conner! You’ve tried to answer my question very responsably, I was devastated to read about Arpad, but at the same time, I felt sad about Eric Rhodes and Roman Ragazzi because they were also my favorite pornstars.And now Wilfred Knight! 4 stars in less than 6 months! Is this a horrible trend in porn? God, I hope not! As in any business, like acting, which they won’t hire you because you are blonde, 5’10” tall or whatever, I guess the same thibg happens with porn. So you are trying to say that the pornstars that kill themselves is because they can’t handle the many pressures you mentioned pornstars face everyday? I think that one big reason to kill yourself is loneliness, or a lack of love. Pornstars are humans too, I know that! But Isn’t there a place, a12 step program pornstars can go when they feel depressed? I see an opportunity there! Thanks Connan for a wonderful article!

  93. suzannesblatherings March 16, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    I went to school with Barry Rogers aka Johnny Rahm, another gay porn star who committed suicide. The confusion and speculation you described as following the suicide of a gay porn star was certainly present following this one, as well. I didn’t know Barry well, as he was a few years ahead of me in school, but I do remember him as being a very kind individual, and I was saddened by his passing. Thank you for enlightening me on what it may have been like for him.

  94. Tyler Firth (@T_Firth) March 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Conner, you’ve made a slew of valid points. As someone operating within the mental health counseling field, I’d like to also point out that, if companies would like to screen for suicidality and depression, there are some very affordable and reliable psychometrics that could be employed. The Beck Depression Inventory is the go-to, but there are others like the free PHQ-9. Many professional circles (medical and legal included) have integrated burnout/depression testing as a means of knowing who might need services. I think the porn industry could easily do the same. As always, you’ll have people who lie on the Inventory but we continue to provide the test for that one person who tells the truth about how they feel.

    Sure, the rate of suicide might not be directly related to the nature of the business or even statistically higher than what we might find in other industries. But taking simple steps like this prevents unnecessary stigma/regulation and provides comfort to the viewer; I like to know that the people who entertain me are happy, healthy, and being supported by their community. Furthermore, a lot of people out there consider doing porn but very few take the plunge. When they see their favorite star commit suicide, I’m sure it might occur to them, “I really think I want to do this, but am I going to survive it? I can’t do this forever and apparently being on the tail end of the experience can be abysmal.”

    As an aside, I’d also like to thank you for doing the NNN Sex Expert videos. Some of the subjects you hash out are just the kind of thing that come up in sessions and public outreach. Like Dan Savage often points out, LGBT elders don’t get to raise LGBT youth; resources like your videos do make a difference.

  95. adamfromnorway March 21, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Reblogged this on Adam from Norway and commented:
    Good article here!

  96. Michael G April 11, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    If I came across this article in The New Yorker, I would not be surprised. What a well-written, insightful piece. It really made me reconsider society’s relationship with pornography and I know it is a piece that will stay on my mind for some time.

    Your articulacy throughout was impressive. Great post.

  97. Marc April 23, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    Excellent travail d’ écriture. Bonne approche de fond des problèmes liés au porno en général. Bravo Conner

  98. Tim June 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    I’m not sure I ever saw him perform, but what a stunningly beautiful man. Bless his spirit.

  99. Cody G July 18, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Amazing article! Very well written, you ask just the right questions. Intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

  100. Francis Bros October 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Hello,
    I am French is in February watching a porn movie on a French gay blog that I learned of the death of Arpad
    it made me shake when I learned it , how so handsome , so strong, so manly he was able to do that.
    Now I understand better reading your blog Conner, the porn industry is not kind , it is necessary to have a beautiful body beautiful face , to be presentable in a gay , ever more demanding public and avid beautiful muscular body .
    and when you are not in the standard they throw you .
    it is time for us gay and public of these films to know the conditions under which they are turning these films.
     respect the men who give us so much pleasure , you are as respectable as any man you Pornstars .
    I hope Arpad rest in peace , and that other name does not come to add to its name .
    Conner thank you for your blog I found randomly .
    sorry for my english is not perfect

  101. Victor Ismael December 12, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    Thanks for this article, is one of the most important articles I’ve read, I feel identified because I’m a model, you mentioned about how to divest myself of the body is not the only thing I have to offer, I found a very useful and healthy tips that I can apply to stay in this environment, my views on pornography has radically changed with a more mature and sensible approach.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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