Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Happens When People Stop Being Polite and Start Doing Porn

I gotta be honest guys, this has been the greatest spring break of my entire life. Very little to do other than sleep in, read, and go to the gym. I might even get a little work done by the time this week is over, but let's not get overzealous.

This is the true story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.

The Real World.

Over the course of this break, I've also been given the opportunity to indulge one of my favorite past times: trashy reality television. But why is the Real World showing up in this queer little slice of the interwebz, you ask? I can assure you, it's not just because this blogger is green with envy that he's been excluded from yet another season. The first reason, of course, is to show Chuck Klosterman that he is not the only one in the world capable of discussing the Real World and also using the word "postmodern" in a sentence. It is my hope that this will entice Mr. Klosterman to give up ranting in the hopes of sounding smart publishing books and simply start a blog. (My first passive-aggressive strike-through!)

Secondly, Terp enthusiasts, my very own soon-to-be alma mater is finally being represented in the annuls of reality television in the form of the kinda nerdy, only recently de-flowered Michael Ross. I've got to say, in terms of people who might be representing our fine institution, I'm pretty unimpressed. UMD is quite well known for its diversity. Why, MTV, did you select a straight, white, frat-type, when you could have instead selected one of our extremely qualified and infinitely more interesting queer students (for example, a socially awkward blogging undergrad with a penchant for putting his foot in his mouth)? I'm just saying, MTV, you missed out on some marketing gold there.

At least Michael Ross seems to be sort of smart, though obviously one has to be generous when talking about intelligence in MTV terms. It's not totally unlike running a three-legged race with a corpse as your partner. In one of my all-time favorite Real World exchanges, Michael (with whom I have no less than five facebook friends in common) uses the word cataclysm, and then proceeds to spout information about solar flares, while the rest of the cast just stares blankly at him. The camera then cuts to a confessional with another cast member, who explains that she needs a thesaurus just to understand Michael, so she usually just smiles and nods. Pseudo-unscripted television at its finest.

And then there's the fact that this is one of the least diversified seasons ever. I was more than a little sad to discover that the season was void of queerness. No gay dolphin trainer. No sassy lesbian from Milwaukee. Not even a little bi-curious straight girl that we can all agree is pretty offensive. On second glance though, that might not quite be the case. Enter Dustin Zito. Dustin is your typical, obnoxiously attractive straight white guy. Oh, plus he used to be a gay porn star. Dustin did a stint on a vaguely reality-themed site called (WARNING: Actual porn link) Frat Pad. Maybe the season is a little more diversified than I first thought.

MTV certainly seems to be developing a fetish for gay-for-pay porn stars. This phenomenon fascinates me. What does it mean for a totally "normal" straight guy to make his money posing naked for other dudes? What does it mean for him to peddle his heterosexual identity (on which he insists, relentlessly) to a gay porn site whose premise is that all of its models are straight dudes who just happen to be naked? Of course, part of me wants to label this phenomenon as a complex intersection of capitalism and identity that says a lot about the ways in which we concretize identities. The realist in me also just thinks the man probably needed some cash and didn't have much going for him other than his revoltingly attractive face. Not that I'm bitter.

Also, while I'm asking speculative questions, what do we make of MTV's recent documentation of the gay porn industry, with particular emphasis on gay-for-pay porn stars? On the one hand, its nice for gay smut to be getting some recognition. On the other hand, this phenomenon has a strangely pornographic-imperialist feel to it. Does MTV's treatment of gay porn give the impression that my porn is really just something that straight guys get paid to do and that I happen to enjoy? Does it frame some of the gay porn industry as a bone that straight guys are throwing us (pun obviously intended)? Don't straight guys have their own smut to publicize?

Will Danger

(Obviously this conversation about queer porn is framed almost exclusively in terms of gay men, not in an effort to recapitulate the terms of the rampant sexism that exists in the gay community, but rather because the majority of my pornography experience has involved man-on-man action. Is there a parallel phenomenon in the lesbian porn community? I would be fascinated to know.)

Picture via


  1. Hey Will Danger!

    While I have yet to catch up on the latest MTV trends (other than pregnant adolescents, that is),I think you raise some important questions about the gay porn industry. I wonder what documentation to which you are referring? I need to inform myself of these latest changes in MTV programming!

    I'm thinking back to Tila Tequila days, where that woman thrusted her bisexuality in our faces...except I heard that she wasn't actually bi at all? I think we could argue that what she did on her show could constitute as soft-core porn...don't you think? I wonder your opinion on that show and its impact on the gay porn industry?

    Glad you're having such a great break!

  2. I didn't mean to suggest that MTV is suddenly saturated with gay porn, but they've had a True Life documenting a gay-for-pay porn star and I think they've had a special on the subject (though I could be wrong). So while its not regular, there have been several blips that I find sort of interesting.

    You raise a really interesting point with Tila Tequila (whom I had forgotten about, probably because I repressed). I'm not sure what to make of her in relation to the porn community (certainly she has done her fair share of porn-like stuff), but I wonder if her show suggests a wider scope to this discussion: is there a certain trendiness to being gay? Is the inclusion of gay porn and Tila Tequila in their programing an attempt to cash in on the gays?

    I hope your break was good too!