It’s taken a while, but you can now watch Straight Guys online now on Vimeo. Sorry for the delay, and I hope you enjoy!
For those who are interested, there are a few reasons it took me so long to post it. This doc was my masters thesis, and once I got my MFA I jumped right into a PhD. I had a few offers for distribution, but most involved turning this 35-minute piece into a feature-length work—i.e. adding at least 30 minutes of extra footage. While I had tons of footage, I didn’t think that adding it would make the piece any stronger; if anything, I worried that it would be too long and end up dragging on. Second, because I had started another degree, I really didn’t have any time to do another edit, or to shoot any more footage. So it just kind of sat around for a bit. But recently I had gotten some messages from people who wanted to see it, including some from those who participated. And I wanted to honour and thank the people who had donated their time and work for this project, and letting it sit on my hard drive certainly wasn’t achieving this.
A few years on, my opinions have changed on some of the subject matter discussed. As have those of some of my participants, I’m sure—to quote Bravo Delta: “by now I’ve basically come out and been like ‘wtf kinda denial was I in?'” I’m still proud of this work, and a lot of these questions are still animating my PhD research.
Thank you again to everyone two participated and helped out both on-camera and off, and to all those who retweeted and Liked and stuck around to watch.
Straight Guys will be having its international premiere at the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival on September 14th! It’s closing out the shorts program entitled Boys Shorts 1: Desire, and tickets are available here. As other screenings are secured I’ll post the details here.
There have also been a couple of questions about distribution and when it will be available to view – as of now there is no distributor. As it gets in to more festivals that will hopefully change, and as soon as it is available I will let everyone know!
Speaking of trailers, here is the trailer for Doc Now Festival 2014, where Straight Guys (and 23 other films and gallery exhibitions) will be showing starting at the end of the month. The festival runs from May 28–June 28 in Toronto, opening with a reception and panel discussion at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre. If you’re in Toronto, make sure not to miss it. Project descriptions, artist bios, screening times and more can all be found at docnow.ca.
This isn’t a sexy update or a fun update, but one to let you know that I’m a) alive, and b) progressing with the project. I’m currently in the unglamorous stage of editing, but there are some new developments to note:
1. One of my all-time favourite bands, Pansy Division (read about them here), have agreed to let me use their music in the film. I’m thrilled. Even in the beginning stages of the project I imagined the film set to the sounds of PD’s queercore, so this is a dream come true. Thanks Jon Ginoli and Pansy Division!
2. Two studios have also let me use their footage – NakedSword and CockBoys (both links NSFW) – NakedSword for their videos featuring Conner Habib, and CockyBoys for their work with Bravo Delta. Both studios were very friendly and supportive of the project – big thank yous to both of them.
3. I’m also working hard planning the 2014 DocNow festival–the end-of-year festival for my MFA program–and I think it will be a great one this year. Our website is still in the works, but the Facebook page is up – take a look!
And finally, on a tech note: yes, that is Final Cut Pro X. This is the first project I’ve used it for where I haven’t wanted to throw my computer out the window. The organizational tools are very, very useful for a project like this. The ability to keyword segments of video, and then search for any combination of keywords (ChaosMen, PG-13, Kellan, in the above example) is enormously useful, and the 10.1.1 update has taken care of many of my initial gripes with the software. I’m very glad I chose to work with it.
It took us a little while, but Bravo Delta and I finally managed to settle on a location for his interview. I had my heart set on a picnic table.
We had met the night before over lobster rolls in Boston’s Atlantic Fish Co., gotten through the preliminaries, and so were able to get down to business. That is, answering questions posted to his Tumblr account.
If you haven’t read Bravo’s Tumblr (NSFW), I highly recommend it. It’s one of the reasons I was so keen to speak with him in the first place. Bravo got his start on XTube (NSFW- his username has since become his porn name) recoding solo masturbation videos. We talked about how he initially noted that his followers were mostly male, but figured that made sense. I believe his official answer was a shrug. It was only when extremely popular NYC-based gay porn studio CockyBoys contacted him that he really started to consider his opinions about sex with men.
And this is what makes his Tumblr so interesting. Bravo is very transparent about the evolution of his desires. Before his first CockyBoys shoot he would have identified as straight, but in our interview he placed himself as a 2 or 2.5 on the Kinsey scale (where 0 is exclusively heterosexual and 6 is exclusively homosexual). We talked about this evolution, his experience with dating men, and how a large portion of his audience wants him to define his sexuality in more concrete terms than he’s willing to use.
For those not familiar with the blogging service, Tumblr allows visitors to a blog to post questions to the author, either through their own Tumblr account or anonymously. It was these questions that served as the framework for our interview. We got questions that ranged from tech support to marriage proposals, from dating advice to variations of “are you really straight?” He answered each of them candidly and as best he could. It gave us jumping-off points into his first experiences with men, how he still imagines settling down with a woman, and how his first time giving head to a guy came as a bit of a surprise. It was during his first duo scene with CockyBoys. He was expecting just to receive oral from scene partner Max Ryder, but during filming he was asked to reciprocate. He describes what went through his head at the time:
“Now I’m not one to say YOLO, but I thought ‘oh whatever, YOLO.'”
Words to live by. Thanks Bravo, for being so open and friendly, and pleasant to work with.
While in Boston I also had the chance to sit down with QueerClick contributor Dave Allen. QueerClick is an award-winning gay porn blog that has been publishing since 2004. Dave was the perfect person to break down the different categories (for lack of a better term) of straight-guy porn, talk a little about its evolution, and speculate about where it’s headed. He argued that teens today are growing up in a much less restrictive environment than he or even I did, and that a sexual exploration phase for men is becoming de rigeur. If porn is a reaction to the society in which it is produced, what will become of straight-guy porn when it’s ok for men to be a little more fluid in their sexuality? Will the ‘straight guy’ still be seen as some sort of unattainable, hypermasculine ideal, or will that all start to break down?
All in all, Boston was a great success. When I get time, I hope to put together a little question-and-answer video with Bravo, as a thank you to his Tumblr followers who submitted questions.
Huge thanks to the lovely and talented Louis Lazaris for both driving us and filming both of these interviews so well.
Final note: the interview with Dave marks another gay porn coming out of sorts: this is the first Dave has shown his face while speaking or writing about porn. Not that we don’t love his QueerClick avatar. Well done, Dave!
We went to visit ChaosMen studios, which is on a vast expanse of land 30 miles outside of the city. Where there are longhorns, scorpions, tarantulas, and roadrunners (we only saw roadrunners and longhorns).
Bryan Ockert, ChaosMen’s owner and director, gave us incredible access to his studios and models. We were there for four shoots – an oral shoot, a ‘Pure’ shoot, a standard fucking shoot, and a guy’s-first-time shoot, and all were really interesting to watch.
*All names (except Bryan and when noted) are the performer’s porn names.
Day 1 – Glenn and Wren
Accidental rhyming scene partners Glenn (left) and Wren (right) were our first shoot, and quite honestly, one I had originally planned on skipping. I’m glad I changed my mind though, because there were a lot of interesting dynamics at play.
Glenn is a ChaosMen veteran. He has been working with the site for about a year, and has 20 scenes online. He identifies as straight. And here this brings to mind a question that I get asked all the time – “Are the guys really straight?” The answer, at least based on what I saw this weekend, is yes.
The running theme that links almost all the ChaosMen models (and I’d imagine most straight performers in gay porn) is a need for money. Pure and simple. There are those that were perhaps curious about being with another guy and see porn as a safe place to explore those desires (doing it for money makes it ok, all the models are tested for STIs), there are some who admit to being bisexual or at least bi-curious, and there are even a couple of gay models, but for the most part these guys are heterosexual and doing it simply because they are being paid.
Glenn and Wren were an interesting pair, as Wren had previously fooled around with guys, and I believe he falls into the porn-as-a-safe-place category. This scene was his second, and his first where he was required to interact with another model. The setup was this: they’d watch some porn, pull their dicks out when they got hard, Glenn would give Wren head, some rimming, they’d 69, cumshot. Bryan made an interesting point during one of the breaks while shooting – you can tell whether or not the model is enjoying himself during the scene by where he is looking – at the straight porn playing on the monitor or at his scene partner. And Wren was pretty locked on Glenn.
Top tip: if your interviewee is shirtless, he can wear a wireless lav as a necklace.
This brings us to another interesting dynamic. When I sat down with both of them, after their post-scene shower, I asked them if they had fun. Glenn was first to answer, and he basically answered no. He liked the environment, the people he works with, but no, it was never hot. Now I could tell Wren enjoyed the secene. He was pretty focused on Glenn, so much so that when Glenn came (on Wren’s face no less) Wren was only seconds behind. I’m in no position to label him sexually, but there was attraction there. But when it was his turn to answer the question, he got all bro-y and macho, choosing to echo Glenn’s statements. Maybe I should have interviewed them separately.
All in white and with lots of baby oil
Day two saw two veterans (Gavin, left, and Theon, right) in a Pure scene. The pure videos are shot in an all-white room, the idea being that the background drops away and the viewer can focus on the action. It’s a pretty interesting room to be in, and it’s definitely an aesthetic that isn’t seen on other sites. Gavin was a bit sleepy (see fantastic yawn gif) but Theon was an old pro. Travis, who used to model but now mostly helps out on camera, pulled me aside during the shoot to point out how good a performer Theon was, “He really knows how to turn it on.” And he does. It’s impressive (and a little bit jarring) to watch the passion dissolve when Bryan called cut.
This time I interviewed them separately after the shoot. At Bryan’s suggestion I interviewed Gavin in the shower (thanks Bryan!) where we talked pretty candidly about his motivations, how he doesn’t get nervous before a scene anymore (“Just another day at the office”) and how he doesn’t watch his videos because he doesn’t like the way his body looks.
Theon and I spoke afterwards about his fears of his girlfriend finding out, how he’ll read fan comments to see what people liked and didn’t like about his performance, and how he incorporated a few of the more interesting sexual positions into his own personal repertoire. He also interviewed me a bit about how long I had been working on the project, why straight-guy porn, what questions I was looking to answer. He’s a clever kid.
Day three – Gavin and Bay.
Oof, Bay. Bay is relatively new, and I had seen him on the site prior to arriving in Austin. I admit I was a bit nervous to film and interview someone I had previously masturbated to, and he didn’t make it any better by flirting heavily with the cameras. His post-scene interview was probably my favourite, as while he identifies as straight, he admits to having “a bi side”, and laments the fact that during a shoot you have no time to “get intimate” with your scene partner. Check out his repeat eyebrow-raises below.
Day four saw new guy Kellan’s first time having sex with a guy. Director Bryan was nervous about this one, as his oral scene had been a bit of a struggle, but it went pretty smoothly. During the interview he mentioned detaching himself from the moment – “You’re there doin’ it, but your brain is somewhere else.” I also got a chance to sit down with Travis (he goes by ‘Ransom’ on the site) about his work and how he scouts new models and with Bryan about the desire for straight guys and the kind of porn I watch.
So…was it hot? A few people have asked me this since the shoots. The answer is, yes and no. The first shoot yes. the ‘first time’ thing does it for me, and though Wren had been with other guys there was a definite newness to his interactions with Glenn. And Bay’s scene was hot, but that might just be the result of a combination of his white bad-boy look and the fact that he was enjoying himself. Otherwise after a little while it got kind of banal. After some time shooting I found myself concentrating more on framing the shot in an interesting way than the action unfolding in front of me. I also reacted more to (fake?) intimacy than some of the more x-rated acts – the kissing was more erotic to me than some of the cumshots.
All in all it was a very interesting, very productive, super fun few days. Bryan was so welcoming and everyone we spoke to was pretty honest, open, and easy to get along with. Kind of makes me want to make porn myself.
Final thought: because we were staying at the same hotel as the models were, we got to spend a bit more time with them. We rode back together after the shoots (thanks for the lifts, Bryan), had a meal with Theon and Gavin, got driven into the city in the hotel’s electric limo (ha!) with Gavin and Bay. As friendly as everyone was and as good as we may have gotten along, they seemed to draw a line at hanging out with us beyond that. None of the models were ashamed of the work that they did, but it felt like they wanted to disassociate from it after it was done. Discussing our dinner options on the ride into Austin, I asked Bay what he was in the mood for. “A hot blonde,” he answered. We went our separate ways after dinner.
Porn star, lecturer, author and sexpert Conner Habib sat down with me yesterday in San Francisco’s beautiful Dolores Park to talk to me about his experience working with straight-identified performers, shooting scenes with their girlfriends present, teenage and not-so-teenage crushes on straight guys, growing up gay, and unpacking the desire that so many gay-identified men share towards straight guys.
Not only was Conner a sweetheart, but we were able help one another expand our understanding of certain issues, and he certainly opened up my thinking about this project.
ChaosMen’s Bryan Ockert has agreed to open his studios’ doors to me and my camera! ChaosMen (formerly ChaosInAustin.com) has been online for 8 years now producing videos of mostly straight guys – jacking off together, receiving their first blowjob from a guy, and so on. They’ve also introduced a new feature on the site – ‘Peep’ videos. These intimate solo videos are recorded by the performers themselves, after a quick camera how-to from ChaosMen model Ransom. These Peep videos are lower-budget, lower-quality videos than the rest of ChaosMen’s work, but offer a voyeuristic look into straight guys in their own homes.
Bryan has agreed to let me visit, speak with him, tour the studio, watch a scene being filmed, get some behind-the-scenes footage, interview the performers – basically everything my little heart desires. I’m so thrilled to be able to profile a studio like ChaosMen, and really pleased and humbled that Bryan has given me so much freedom. Can’t wait until the end of the month!
I’ll be sitting down with XTube sensation, CockyBoys exclusive model and prolific gif-maker Bravo Delta at the end of July and am pretty stoked about it. Bravo began uploading videos to XTube 3 years ago and caught the attention of NYC porn studio CockyBoys, where he has since released 5 scenes.
Bravo has identified as straight, but has expanded that definition somewhat as his work in porn continues. He’s very open with his fans, answering questions posted to his Tumblr almost daily about his work, his life, his sexual preferences, his video game stats. I’m really looking forward to speaking to him about his transition from ‘amateur’ cam star to ‘pro’ porn star, the importance of perceived authenticity in porn videos, and the desire of the audience to pinpoint his sexual identity (for a funny answer to the “how are you straight if you sucked a guy’s dick?” question, click here.)
Take some time getting to know Bravo, ask him a question on his Tumblr, watch his videos. So excited he’ll be a part of this project!