The Curious Dance Between Gay “Mainstream” Culture and Porn

Posted June 3, 2009 1:16 AM by with 0 comments

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(Image of Francois Sagat and Tony Ward courtesy YVYMag)

One thing that’s fascinated me about gay porn since I started writing about it is the way the industry is simultaneously marginalized and embraced by popular culture at large. We’ve seen fashion designers, artists, indie filmmakers and the like “risk their careers” by courting sex stars with the implied promise of saving them in what is all-too-often an empty attempt to cash-in on their sexual cache. Conversely, lots of models look at porn as a stepping stone to more mainstream work, when more often than not it ends up being the boot in the face that keeps them down. The allure of Wet Palms to almost everyone involved (Including myself — I won’t lie) was the specter of it somehow leading to the “bigger and better”. It hasn’t really. Earlier this week MSNBC posited the day of porn being a hindrance were *totally* over. Case in point? WP alum Dylan Vox (née Brad Benton) and his star turn in “campy cable horror soap The Lair.” (I love Dylan to death but I don’t really see The Lair as a step up from porn.)

And yet, everyone keeps trying. Collin O’Neal announced this week that he was trying to unload his site and DVD line to work on “mainstream Hollywood projects … backed by some of [his] celebrity friends.” His retirement from porn should come as little shock as he’s retired (and un-retired) before, but some of the comments he left here on a recent entry suggest, perhaps, a deeper anxiety about all this.

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(Image of Francois Sagat and Tony Ward courtesy YVYMag)

People might tote the Jenna Jameson’s, Jeff Stryker’s and Ron Jeremey’s of the world as proof that porn has crossed over — but I argue that they’ll never be seem as anything more than novelty acts. Bruce La Bruce tapped Francois Sagat for his (hardly mainstream) Untitled Zombie Porn Project for the same reason Steven Soderbergh tapped Sasha Grey for his new film The Girlfriend Experience: because they are porn stars, (and rumors abound that Grey had to fuck Soderbergh to get her part). What Brent Corrigan thought was going to be a speaking part in Milk ended up being perhaps little more than a ploy by Dustin Lance Black to get into the twunk’s pants. Maybe I’m just projecting.

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My point? I’m not sure that have one, but the one to whom the rules have always refused to apply to is Gus Mattox, who performed on Broadway and was a successful composer before ever getting into porn. Since he’s left porn? He’s been featured in the NY Times for doing a few breathtaking home renovations, among other things.

So it would only make sense that Gus (who, like a true superhero, shifts back and forth between his non-porn persona Tom Judson) would sort-of be dipping his toe back into porn waters again. He’s taking his one-man show, “Canned Ham” on the tour in October (with Chi Chi LaRue producing). The 45 minute-long piece will include music selections played by Tom himself. On the accordion. But then, Tom transcends. He’s time. / I’m just a clock.

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No responses to The Curious Dance Between Gay “Mainstream” Culture and Porn

  1. noone June 7th, 2009 at 11:55 PM

    wow. brent’s got some ego.

    Reply

  2. Cranky June 8th, 2009 at 6:08 AM

    This speaks to a bigger problem in American culture overall – the puritanical way entertainment is handled in America.

    Just watch the UK television for awhile and you see how conservative and uptight Americans are about sex, sexuality and race.

    Sexuality is on display (as well as some body parts) on UK television in a way American is not, there are also lots of interracial couples in their shows without any issue whatsoever.

    So of course American porn stars will never be major tv stars, movie stars etc. It’s because the industry has to treat the public like they are over protective parents.

    Reply

  3. Sandman June 8th, 2009 at 6:10 AM

    Does every post have to say something about Sagat?

    Reply

  4. Marc K June 8th, 2009 at 8:14 AM

    The one porn star who has actually crossed way over into main stream a long long time ago is Jeff Griggs aka Tony Sinatra. He has simply crossed so far over into main stream that he is never mentioned in these articles that tend to only focus on the stars currently making the attempt. None have ever gone as far as Tony and I suspect none ever will:

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0341828/

    Reply

  5. Scott June 8th, 2009 at 8:33 AM

    You are surely right, the (very small) handful of porn personalities who have managed to do some mainstream work is small, and the work itself is not long lived. I figure Katie Morgan must’ve been pinching herself about having a fairly prominent role in Kevin Smith’s Zach and Miri Make a Porno, but like the Soderbergh movie you mentioned, she was cast b/c she was a porn star. Ditto Tyler Saint and Tony Capucci in Sasha Baron Cohen’s Bruno.

    I mean, good luck to Brad Benton and Colton Ford, but I don’t see much coming of it, other than novelty stuff.

    Reply

  6. jizzedonjock June 8th, 2009 at 12:35 PM

    I am STILL a Gus Mattox/Tom Judson fan, so to hear him going on tour is REALLY exciting. God bless, that man.

    Reply

  7. VK June 8th, 2009 at 8:05 PM

    Forgot about Traci Lords! I think she is the only one who has really broke into the mainstream and have been more successful than anyone in both gay & straight porn.

    Reply

  8. Peter Everhard June 8th, 2009 at 9:31 PM

    These days “AGGREGATING A MASS” has replaced what was referred to as “mainstream” back in the day. Aggregating a Mass is about appealing to a lot of little specialized groups AROUND THE WORLD to achieve CRITICAL MASS – a larger audience.

    As you well know, there are not many artists (in any field) today who can get the kind of sales in North America that was possible about 10 years ago. But, globally, there are a lot of artists who can “reach critical mass” by aggregating a global audience.

    Reply

  9. tom June 9th, 2009 at 6:07 AM

    I read Brent Corrigan’s comments about his experience with MILK. Maybe I read too quickly, but I saw no mention that Dustin Lance Black wanted “to get into the twunks pants.” Did your info come from Brent (but wasn’t part of his blog)?

    Reply

  10. Joshua Norton June 9th, 2009 at 7:24 AM

    Tom/Gus is a charmer and was a type of Renaissance Man well before he gave porn a try, so he always has other talents to fall back on. A lot of others in the business are barely able to put two words together and would be flipping burgers (not very well) if they didn’t have man parts they were willing to wave around. Unfortunately, Gus teaming up with Chi Chi still gives him with a touch of the sewer that he really doesn’t need. People will show up expecting him to drop his pants, not entertain them with an up tempo version of “Lady of Spain”.

    Reply

  11. mr. Pam June 11th, 2009 at 5:42 PM

    awwwww… I Love Gus Gus and Chi Chi! What a cute photo!!!

    Good luck to 2 of the most talented & wonderful people I have had the honor to play with in this industry.

    love you both… your fan…
    mr. Pam

    Reply

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