Monday, June 15, 2009


When it comes to storytelling, especially in cinema, you have 2 choices: Plot and Premise. Plot is perhaps best described as an intricate story that leads the characters through the development of the events from beginning to end. Premise is, loosely speaking, the idea behind the plot. Porn is adaptable to both. You can certainly use one or the other (or both) and tell your story successfully.

To illustrate, consider a well known motion picture. I’ll use The Wizard Of Oz as an example. In it, Dorothy is a bored, young girl who dreams of something more in her life. When the dull day to day events of her life culminate in the confiscation of her dog by Elvira Gulch, Dorothy takes her refugee dog and the odd little assortment of things she can fit into a picnic basket, and runs away from home. She unwittingly comes across a charlatan who claims to be able to tell her fortune. He convinces her to return home so that her Aunt will not be worried. A tornado comes up and Dorothy arrives home too late to seek shelter with the rest of her family and friends. She is struck in the head by a window that is blown off its hinges by the tornado and the concussion knocks her out. The tornado then picks up her house and deposits it in a far-away mystical land ‘somewhere over the rainbow’… I could go on, but you get the idea.

The premise of the movie, however, is that a young girl learns a valuable lesson about life and family while unconscious from a blow to the head.

Premise cuts to the chase. It also leaves the door open to many different interpretations. Using the basic premise, Dorothy might have been struck in the head with a shovel or fallen out of a hayloft and had any number of disturbing dreams course through her unconscious mind which ultimately would lead to the same basic conclusion.

Therein lies the beauty of premise. It’s a loose thread that you can tie up any way you like. Simple porn plots aren’t really plots per se. They are ideas that tie several vignettes together cleanly. The easiest of such premises is that certain events occur or have occurred between various and sundry characters, and they are bound together through a narrative.

I recently watched a DVD called “The Arousers” (a late-70’s porn flick that has been re-released on DVD) in which the premise was very simple. A young man is doing a study on homosexual experiences and has placed an ad somewhere (‘where’ is not important) asking men to send written accounts of their fantasies or experiences to him. When the film opens, he and his buddy/partner are enjoying a glass of wine and reading the responses to the ad. As the narrative begins, the scene dissolves into the first vignette. Once the sex scene is over, it dissolves back to the two ‘main characters’ who then pick up another letter and begin reading it. The scene dissolves into the next vignette, and so on until – predictably – there are no more letters, and the two buddies finish the film with their own sex scene. Pretty simple overall, and very effective. The premise tied all of the sex scenes together rather neatly, incorporated several unrelated fantasies into one story (whereby the premise actually became the fantasy), and drew the viewer (in this case, me) into the action. I wanted to see what each upcoming fantasy would reveal.

For what it’s worth the sex in that video was pretty mediocre, but that’s not the point of this discussion.

Plot is more difficult to sustain because all of the characters and actions MUST work together for the story to have cohesiveness. It is, in essence, a form of choreography. Every step along the way has to be pre-determined. And there has to be a definite beginning, middle, and end or else the story fails. It has been said that in porn, most plots end up being abandoned by the end of the second sex scene. I tend to agree with that statement based on what I have seen. I think one of the biggest mistakes made in porn is setting the audience up for a story and then losing focus midway through the project. It would seem that some directors haven't finished their stories before starting to shoot, or they start with a great idea and then get distracted and figure they'll just throw in some random gratuitous scenes they shot in order to fill time. And it shows in the final product. With plot-driven porn, as with any movie, you have to stick to the story no matter what. At all times there must be a logical point to what is happening and it all must get sorted out by the end or the story makes no sense and your audience will be left wondering what the fuck that was all about. And, you have to work some good exciting sex into your story as well. I mean, that’s the point of porn, right?

If you can weave a good story and have an aptitude for writing, I’d encourage you to go all out and try your hand at plot-driven porn. It’s OK if you borrow ideas and plots from other movies you’ve seen or books you’ve read – people love a good spoof. Just be sure you change the title and enough of the story and the characters’ names to protect you from copyright infringement. But if that's beyond your capabilities and all you can envision are various and sundry vignettes featuring men fucking and sucking in different positions, try creating a simple thread to tie your vignettes creatively together. That will at least give you an edge over the many producers who do the stock and trade point-and-shoot videos discussed earlier and it will help bring back that missing element of fantasy that the bareback genre so desperately needs.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Gentle Readers,

I'd like to take a moment to discuss a practice I think is imperative for this industry to adopt: sero-sorting.

Show of hands… Who here doesn’t know what sero-sorting is?

If you raised your hand, allow me to enlighten you. Sero-sorting is the common-sense practice of choosing sex partners whose HIV status matches yours. Sero-sorting helps prevent the possibility of HIV transmissions taking place. That should be a primary concern to those of us in the BB porn business, where sero-sorting would mean only hiring performers who are already HIV+Positive. Some of you might think that goes without saying. But apparently it doesn't.

Perhaps the harshest and most accurate criticism that people speaking out against bareback porn have levied against the industry is that filming bareback scenes puts performers at risk. There is truth to that allegation. Take for example a situation in the UK where three young men of the "barely legal" set were diagnosed with HIV after performing in a bareback video where all were thought to be HIV-Negative. The fellow who infected his co-workers only tested Positive after the shoot had taken place and he’d infected the other 3 boys. This would not have happened if the producers of the video had adopted a POZ-ONLY hiring policy. As easy and sensible as a POZ-ONLY policy is to implement, there’s no excuse that this should have happened.

There’s more to be concerned with. When this kind of thing occurs, the "victims" tend to claim that they were infected as a direct result of performing in a bareback video. I don't mean to discredit the claims of the performers mentioned above, but in reality that may or may not be 100% true as we don’t know what the infected boys have done in their private sex lives. And therein lies the trouble.

If you hire someone who tests negative for HIV and he becomes positive some time after the porn shoot, you don’t know whether he got infected on set or in his private affairs. That doesn’t mean he won’t go pointing the finger of blame at you. You ‘re the easiest and safest (and perhaps wealthiest) target. And there are some who might throw such an accusation at you just for the sake of being spiteful. This kind of accusation could potentially ruin your business or get you thrown in jail. Or both.

Yeah, yeah, you could have a contract that includes a waiver of liability. But you won't need that waiver or the legal headache that goes with it if you hire only HIV+Positive performers.

If you hire HIV-Negative performers for a bareback video you will always be carrying the unnecessary potential of putting some of them at risk. If instead, you hire only HIV+Positive performers, there will be no risk of anyone acquiring HIV on set, nor causing you trouble over it down the road. You will be doing your part to prevent new infections AND disproving the claims of the anti-bareback-video folks who like to paint us as reckless and careless smut peddlers.

I remember being told that the American Disabilities Act forbids asking job applicants and employees to disclose their HIV status. That rule is in place so that people who are HIV+ will not be discriminated against. I don’t believe the law prevents you from only hiring HIV+ people (also called discriminating in favor of HIV+ persons). In fact I would think the law would be supportive of any effort to stop the spread of HIV in the porn industry, including this kind of reverse discrimination. Keeping HIV-negative men out of the bareback business is one sure-fire way of achieving that goal.

And here’s a tip for EVERYONE in the porn business, gay or straight: You can also dispense with the cost of testing before shooting if you only hire HIV+Positive performers. No risk, less cost… what could be better?

There are plenty of hot looking HIV+Positive men of all ages out there. I strongly suggest that we all adopt a policy of only hiring POZ performers from now on. That is how I intend on conducting my hiring policies. I hope you will do the same from here on in.

Two stories about the UK situation:

Let me leave you with 2 questions which I'd like you to weigh in on:

1) Are you already excluding HIV-Negative men from your hiring practices?

2) With HIV disclosure a sensitive issue, how would you feel about going on record as a studio that only hires HIV+Positive performers?

Don't be shy. I want to hear what you have to say!

Sunday, May 31, 2009


I have been told by certain sourpusses (who will remain nameless) that there is no market for plot-driven bareback porn. Ha! I disagree. I think the market is ripe for story-based sex movies. Just ask Sean Storm.

In 2004 Storm, collaborating with Helix Studios, co-produced "Storm Drain," the bareback genre’s first true plot-driven video. And it was very successful. So much so that Storm created his own production company and began filming "The Storm Chronicles" – a multi-part story that follows Storm’s self-inspired character on a lampoon of his life and livelihood as a porn star caught between his love for sex, his love interest, his career, his fans, a stalker, and his long-lost twin brother (on a mission of sexy revenge). The story is set during the onslaught of a hurricane. His character is genuine, funny, and sympathetic. The sex for the most part is hot. And the series is both charming and successful.

As well, take a look at what some of the non-bareback studios are doing as of late. These are videos I consider my "YSW" list (YSW stands for "You Should Watch"):

Michael Lucas released "Dangerous Liaisons" in 2005 and it won all sorts of accolades (including best picture) at the GayVN awards – as well it should have. "Dangerous Liaisons" is a very well done movie with plenty of sex, drama, intrigue, and more.

FUCK FICTION > Cazzo Films
Not as polished as "Dangerous Liaisons" mostly because of the dialogue between German actors being delivered in stilted English. However "Fuck Fiction" won Best Overall Film in the 2007 European Gay Porn Awards and is well worth watching for inspiration.

SEX HIKER > Black Scorpion
Black Scorpion is a relatively new production company who released a film last year called "Sex Hiker" and it won the GayVN award in 2009 for Best Group Scene. And it’s no wonder. The scene was very well shot. Overall the film has an Indie film look to it thanks to the wonderful camera work by Mr. Pam. I recommend this one for the overall look of the film in addition to the use of a rather simple but effective premise.

TO THE LAST MAN > Raging Stallion
The hands-down winner in this year’s GayVN Awards was Raging Stallion’s "To The Last Man" – a 2-part plot-driven movie that captured awards for Best Picture of the Year, Best Editor, Best Art Direction, Best Oral Scene, Best Three-way, Best Music, Best Screenplay, Best Videography, Best DVD Special Edition, and Best DVD Special Features.

To The Last Man takes the sex movie to new levels. It is a violent portrayal of life in the West, complete with brutality, a hanging, rape, a drowning, and a revenge-fueled killing spree. The sex is of the caliber Raging Stallion is noted for. And the acting is better than in many indie gay films that have played the film festival circuit. But while the violence and bloodshed contained in this picture seems unnecessarily over the top, the fact still remains that this is about as close to a Hollywood movie as any gay porn film has ever come.

I cite these examples because I feel they show a trend that is developing in gay porn. And I believe today’s gay audience is far more sophisticated than many porn producers are giving them credit for. These films are the equivalent of fine cuisine compared to the junk food our genre has been churning out ad nauseum. There is no reason some of us in the industry couldn’t start making porn of this caliber. I do not believe we are any less talented, or that the kind of talent that is necessary to create such films is unavailable to us. Certainly these examples demonstrate that there are men out there who can act AND fuck. Perhaps we are not fully utilizing talent that is already in our midst.

Hollywood has provided numerous great genres we can tap into if we so desire: mystery, suspense, drama, action, romance, period, capers, film noir, crime, espionage, western, horror, sci-fi, even camp. We can borrow and adapt stories we love or we can tell new ones that are of our own creation. We do not need huge budgets to work with. What we do need however is a commitment to creating a better product overall. Once we commit to that the rest will fall into place.

I am not saying that all producers of bareback porn must follow my recommendations. Certainly some among us are comfortable doing what they are doing and have no drive or passion for change. And there will probably always be a market for junk porn just as there may always be a market for the brand of pure dreck featured on Xtube. However we do need a few bold souls to get out of the junk porn rut and start producing something that will inspire and challenge the rest of the pack as well as entertain the portion of our audience that is craving something more sophisticated and personally involving. We need to break the mold again. We need to come up with videos that blow the porn-watching public out of the water and make the folks who organize awards programs such as the GayVN Awards take note that we are not the underlings they want us to believe we are.

No goal is too high to set for ourselves if we really want to achieve it. I firmly believe we can do this. We can change the direction of bareback porn for the better, and make it a more viable, marketable, and entertaining medium. I want to know who among you is willing to give it a try!