Vintage Gay Porn: Bareback-In-The-Day
I ran into Billy Bowers from Factory Video the other day and we started talking about Factory’s highly successful retro-tinged Time Warp To the 80s series. It’s a lot of lost (now found) footage from the mid-to-late 80s and, watching it again, it reminded me of how resilient the porn industry is.
There’s been much noise about the bareback (sex without condoms) porn explosion of the last several years. The established studios — most of whom codified their condom-required positions in the late 80s and early 90s — object not only morally but strategically. The bareback studios are financial insurgents, capturing a large segment of the market with the eroticism of danger.
Watching guys sero-convert on camera isn’t TOTALLY my idea of hotness (um, hi World AIDS Day), but sometimes you do — if only for it’s taboo appeal — want to see cum dripping out of a hairy, puckered butthole. The Time Warp series is pre-condom, but not bareback. For one, some of the guys are actually wearing condoms. For two, they don’t fetishize cum and fluid-sharing in the same way (modern) bareback films do — it’s more than semiotic, it’s a matter of genre.
While some pre-condom porn was limited to loops (shorts), much of the golden age of porn were feature-length movies playing in dark theaters. Glorious condom-less flesh-fests by directors like Wakefield Poole (Boys In The Sand), Joe Gage (Kansas City Trucking Co., L.A. Tool and Die), Jerry Douglas (The Back Row, Flesh and Blood), and Bill Clayton (The Other Side of Aspen, Spokes) have me reaching for my crotch everytime — without feeling concern for the actors. As clips and by-scene PPV purchase become the dominant medium for internet porn, some worry that the feature-length format will fall by the internet wayside. Others worry that the insurgent modern bareback features will kill the condom-oriented studio system.
Me, I don’t think it’s so simple. The more I work in the business, the more I realize that porn — for all it’s flat, surface appeal — is a complicated and resilient medium. Video hasn’t killed print, nor did print kill erotica. As with everything else, more options means more consumption. Porn is more of a buffet than a meal. Just wear your bib.