This is the second part of an essay on working with gay for pay performers. The first half appeared in Headmaster Magazine and is excerpted in the previous blog entry. In the second half, I’ve changed a few names to protect a few people. The rest is all true. Thanks to Berke Banks and Girth Brooks (and Ashley Edmonds) for cooperating for both pieces and for being amazing guys.
Girth Brooks and Berke Banks’s apartment keeps its furnishings from Girth’s relative, who owns it. It’s a Florida nightmare of a place; everything in the common areas is pastel and frilled. There are prints on the walls of roses and the frames are brass.
“Ever since we put the stripper pole in, Berke has been wanting to have people over late at night. We’ve been getting complaints.”
The stripper pole stands shining and smooth, floor to ceiling in the living room. I can’t describe how perfectly it fits here. You wouldn’t notice it unless you walked into it or someone told you. It’s by sliding glass doors that lead to a balcony overlooking a rolling green hill.
Berke is in the bathroom, and the door is partially ajar. A sliver of him; a side of his body completely bare from head to toe. The side of his ass cheek, one of his cold blue eyes and perfect eyebrows, a long leg, his black hair on his head and on his arm.
“Hey,” he says.
I notice myself lowering my voice when I say hello. I can’t help it. Everywhere I go to meet something new, my voice drops a few octaves. I’ve tried to change this in two ways, by always staying in the loose, natural higher voice and by pushing my nerves down into the deeper manlier one. Neither stays. It’s up and down up and down, whichever man fits the situation. Which one is true?
It occurs to me – if you ever want to learn a real lesson about sexuality, listen to any gay man’s voicemail greeting.
Berke leaves for a few hours before I get a good look at him. He needs to buy Valentine’s Day gifts for his girlfriend. His friend, Ashley Edmonds, a fetish porn star and dominatrix, picks him up. She’s blonde, friendly, and has an intense but still pretty face. She laughs a lot and tells me within a few minutes how much she loves gay porn. “It’s my thing,” she says.
She’ll be the one filming my scene with Berke later and I get nervous because I’ve never had sex anywhere near a woman before.
Girth passes out on the couch with the low, frustrating hum of ESPN coming out of the TV. I look through Berke’s room. It’s straight: A pile of dirty laundry on the floor. A lit-up display case with watches inside and ballcaps on top. A DVD rack. Somehow this is erotic, like nothing has changed in here since the 1990s. I consider for a moment looking through the pile of laundry on the floor for a loose pair of underwear to smell, but I leave it.
I am charged with sex in this room. It smells lightly of sweat. It is still and sleeping and I don’t want to disturb anything except to live here in all of it.
Berke is the sort of guy that literary types and intellectuals and spiritual people think they have figured out instantly and entirely: He’s a businessman, maybe too crass, loves the gym and grooming, has drive and gets drunk a lot. These things are all true, but so what?
His website features him having sex with men in many improbable/too-good-to-be-true situations.
Berke Visits Ashley Lawrence While She’s Filming and Her Scene Partner Recognizes Berke and Berke Fucks Him. Berke Meets A Kid at the Mall Who Asks Him for Directions and He Ends up Fucking the Kid Later
Berke Picks Up Conner Habib after His Scene with Girth Brooks and Gets So Excited Hearing about the Scene That He Has to Get A Piece of the Action
Which is flattering. Mine isn’t one that’s just coincidental fucking – Berke asks me for it.
We’re in Ashley’s car and I suck Berke’s dick in the back seat while we’re driven around. While his dick is in my mouth, Berke talks to Girth in the front seat. This, for me, is the most erotic part.
When I was an undergrad, I swapped head with a guy in a bathroom stall at a bar. He was there with his girlfriend and his buddies and while we were in the stall, his friends walked into the bathroom and started talking to him. “Justin, what’s going on? We want to go.” I jumped up onto the toilet so that my feet wouldn’t show. Through the wall they talked about his girlfriend, who was waiting for him. He was one of the handsomest guys I’d ever had sex with, but the most erotic part was that brief conversation he had with his friends, while I kneeled with a hardon on top of the toilet. I can’t remember the words, but it was like living inside their bodies. This was their world, their life together.
I was invisibly one of them.
The walls at Ashely’s apartment, which is a stand-in for Berke’s apartment, are turquoise. She films live shows here for her fans. People might believe Berke is straight, but will they still believe it if they see that he has a turquoise room with a turquoise couch? Then again, his real apartment has beige couches with floral prints on them.
He unwraps Magnum condoms and puts them aside. His girlfriend shows up. A dog and a cat bound around the room. I ask before we start, shouldn’t we lock them up in a bedroom?
“Oh don’t worry,” Ashley says, “they won’t interrupt. They get the picture.”
Berke is taking a fat burner because he’s supposed to be on the cover of a magazine soon. He says it’s fucking with the Viagra, and we all take Viagra in case you were wondering. Or if not, the guys will inject their dicks with Caberjack or Trimex, which I can’t even think of without feeling a bit queasy, though I’m told it doesn’t hurt. It’s not that we’re unable to get hard, it’s just that we usually have to go for so long.
Instead of the of Viagra, since it’s not working so well, Berke’s girlfriend gives him a blowjob. He’s hard instantly and he jumps up and fucks me; my pants down around my ankles, my head against the bright soft turquoise. And my mind going in a lot of directions – how do I look? Is he enjoying this? I hope I won’t forget to keep my abs flexed, this feels amazing – but mostly, he’s so handsome. God, he’s so handsome.
“The diamonds are coming off my nails,” Ashely tells me, and looks at her diamondless pink fingernails with a frown. She puts the camera near my face, “I like to get right up in there!”
Ashley talks a lot during the filming. “I can’t help it, I’m like the peanut gallery,” she says.
“Does this turn you on?” I ask Berke’s girlfriend.
“I just love watching him,” she says, and I know exactly what she means.
I watch Berke as he drinks his orange juice between different positions.
He holds my legs and my ass up against his chest for my cumshot, so that I’ll hit my own face. He thrusts and moans and I listen and gaze into his face. I feel his thick and solid thigh with my left hand, and it pushes me over the edge.
The girls rewind it on the camera and laugh and say, “he is so cute,” about me while I lie there, drying.
I have dinner with Berke and his girlfriend afterward. They’re friendly and I need them to be because I’m so tired after yachts and fucking.
I may sound like I’m over-idealizing gay for pay guys. It’s just that I haven’t had any trouble with straight guys in movies. I’ve had enough trouble with them elsewhere; getting called “faggot” during some of my high school years, not because I was out but because I had long hair and wore punk rock t-shirts and didn’t play sports. Those words lasted forever until going to my ten-year reunion somehow alleviated all of it. Seeing everyone there with fatter or thinner faces than I remembered, with smiles and happiness – well there were no more nightmares about high school after that. I knew where they all were. We were all doing okay.
But I never stopped pursuing straight men, and from college onward, the straight guys were always offering it up. Kissing during spin-the-bottle games; drunken blowjobs at and after parties; making out on my bed in front of girls who thought it was hot; in locked bathrooms at parties.
Was anyone straight?
I used to tell myself that everyone was gay, though I don’t believe that anymore, mostly because there have been men comfortable enough to try it out and then stop, deciding quite casually that it wasn’t for them.
My college friend Jeff; tall, handsome, Jewish, and straight: We sat on my bed after going to a bar (the same bar I had sex in) and bared our souls to each other and he leaned forward suddenly and started kissing me. Never another gay peep out of him. When I asked him about it, he said he just wanted to try it with me if he were ever going to try it. It made sense.
Sometimes it pissed them off a little. I used to receive intense pleasure from going up to the cutest, jockiest guys at the straightest bars and kissing them on the mouth and then running away. I idolized Bugs Bunny for this, so why not me? Like Bugs Bunny, I figured that I could always talk my way out of it if I needed to. I’m not exactly proud of this guerrilla gayness, but I don’t feel all that terrible about it, either. I was in college, I was drunk, and my head was filled with jingoism about power and revolution. The white straight rich guys could stand to be unsettled from time-to-time, I reasoned. And surprise: None of them punched me, none of them flipped out. The worst that happened was a bit of fury. Once a guy stormed out of the bar past my friends shouting, “Why do guys always kiss me?”
But what about the straight guys that are offering it up for pay in the movies, the ones that aren’t even as kind as the drunken frat boys I got to?
A friend and scene partner of mine told me about the favored golden status of the straight guys he worked with. On the set of one of his shoots, a huge TV screen played straight porn for his straight scene partner. To my friend, they gave a portable DVD player.
“I’m not kissing you,” the straight guy said. They were expected to get erections in separate rooms.
“He had a wife,” my friend told me. “and he had a girlfriend. Neither of them knew he was doing gay porn. And he was kind of a douchebag besides that. Having someone tell you that he doesn’t want to kiss you right before you’re supposed to have sex doesn’t make things easy. Also? The porn that was on the TV was really violent. The men were screaming at the women.”
Usually we all at least get along. I imagine my poor mild-mannered friend, bewildered by the forcefulness of the shoot. “It felt like I was sacrificing myself to a monster,” he said.
And then there’s Toby, who did a threesome with two straight guys, Chris and Jack. He told me that he later found out directors shy away from putting more than one straight man in a gay scene. Something weird happens when they’re together. A bad reaction.
Both Chris and Jack had perfect bodies. They stood on one side of the room, Jack constantly talking about the girls he’d had sex with. “I was in my own universe,” Toby said.
They rarely engaged with Toby at all, and then there came a further twisting in them as they competed to enjoy the scene less. Toby stood on the bed and Chris and Jack were asked to suck his dick. But they were making disgusted faces at each other, Jack barely letting Toby’s dick in.
When the oral sex was over, Toby was angry. “You guys give horrible blowjobs,” he told them. They looked at him with hurt and innocent expressions. How could they be bad at anything?
I’m not sure why guys do this if they can’t handle it. There must be all sorts of interpretations open to us. For example, we can see the scene I did with Berke as a whole. For us to have sex, we needed a camera, two girls, and camaraderie. All the elements were essential. Taken as a whole, that’s a very complex sex act.
Or maybe it’s just acting – but when someone cries in a movie, is he just acting or is he inside that part of him that cries?
Or perhaps, as Gore Vidal has suggested, sex is just about money now. The money is so eroticized that it carries the straight men through the act.
Berke tries to confirm as much at dinner. “I was called in for a jerk-off scene and then they called me back for an oral scene with a guy a few days later. I said no, but then they doubled the amount they offered me.” So he did it and did it and eventually he was fucking and even (once) getting fucked.
But again, this is more complex than it seems, for how long until it all becomes Pavlovian?
The money and the sex and the men become so intertwined at some point; they must. The thought of having money is a tiny bell inside the gay-for-pay performer’s head. And anyway, is it hetero- or homosexual to fantasize about money? Isn’t it just monetary-sexual?
Maybe we don’t even have sexualities anymore.
Our sexual energy is dispersed amongst our things. It could be a dollar bill or a whip or a locker room or a conversation between two straight men. Where is our arousal coming from? We fool ourselves if we think it’s merely a response to bodies. We fool ourselves even more if we think it’s the drive to reproduce, as evolutionary psychologists are fond of pointing out.
I’d like them to explain the evolutionary advantage and history of Berke Banks fucking me in a turquoise room with girls and cameras present. They’d try with their withered speculations and they’d lose the nuance and excitement of it. Indeed with such flat, boring answers, they lose the entire picture.
There’s no clean answer. If you think there is, you’re missing everything.
“I lost some friends over this,” Berke says. “I didn’t realize everyone would find out. And it’s so fucked up because I thought, what if I were gay? They would have hated me for that too. But you just get on with your life.” The restaurant is loud and bawdy. There are men everywhere and a few women hanging on their words.
“I got a DUI and had to go to jail for three months, I can deal with stuff. I just waited it out. You wait your whole week for one video monitor call and that call, that face in the little box, is your whole world. If it doesn’t come, you’re crushed. But I dealt with it.”
We ordered food awhile ago and I’m getting anxious for it to arrive, I’m so hungry. When it comes, it’s mediocre, but Berke loves it.
He seems to love everything.
We go back to the apartment and Berke shows me how to use the stripper pole. He spins upside-down on it. It’s not that hard, he shows me. It’s more about momentum than muscles. Just swing yourself around enough and anyone can do it at least a little. I spend my last evening there at a dive bar in a strip mall with Girth, Berke, and Berke’s girlfriend. A girl hits on me and then realizes I’m gay. “Of course,” she says. There’s a bad cover band with six members playing. People are dancing to alternative songs from the 1990s.
“Do you want to get laid tonight?” Girth asks me. I’m exhausted, and tell him no. He shows me a picture of a friend of his from his bartending job. “I’m so fucking horny,” he tells me. And then, “I can call my friend here for you.”
His friend shows up a little while later, with another man who is even cuter. I want to pay attention to the friend, but the other man, Jason, gets all my attention.
Berke tells me how to pop my abs and pecs for an upcoming event. I wander down a long hallway to the men’s bathroom and don’t lock the door. I don’t understand how I could have another second of sex, but this is Florida, I remember. This is Florida.
Two days ago, I stood in front of a shut-down store in South Beach and stared at the three mannequins, all facing away from me in the window. This is where the homeless are so wrinkled from the sun that they’re not recognizable; more like bunched up blankets than people. Somewhere close to this bar, there’s an alligator pushing itself into muddy water, and a panther stooped in grass.
When we leave, I ask Girth about Jason. “He’s definitely straight though,” Girth says.
“Are you sure?” I ask. “He was massaging your gay friend’s shoulders.”
“Actually you might be right. I have this girl I work with and she’s good at spotting that stuff – she called him out the other day because he does this gesture. He does this, like, gay gesture.”
So you never know.