I’ve had the pleasure of knowing one of my favorite stars, David Benjamin, for quite some time now. Something that David brings to his scenes in terms of intensity and the ability to convey to fans that he enjoys what he does really sets him apart from the other players in the game. Now David is heading into 2016 full throttle as he just became an exclusive with TitanMen, one of the biggest and best studios out there. With all that is going on with David, he took time to sit down with me and discuss his new role at Titan, his favorite scene partner so far in his career, who he wants to work with now and thoughts on his hopeful future. Take a look.
For so many articles that I have done about people in the gay porn industry on Manhattan Digest, they have always been people who have performed in front of the camera. As talented as a lot of them are (my hand definitely thinks so) all of what they do wouldn’t be possible without the people behind the lens. Someone behind the camera who has done an incredible job at making a name for himself in the gay porn industry is Titanmen director Jasun Mark, who has worked for huge studios ranging from Jake Cruise to Fratpad to Cocksuremen.
I have been a fan of Jasun’s work for years, not to mention that he himself is pretty easy on the eyes. I also have gotten to know him personally and on top of being a fantastic director he is also a very intelligent human being who has a keen eye on what is going today, both in and out of the industry. I recently sat down with Jasun to discuss it all, from how he got into the industry, his meteoric rise to where he is today, people he still wants to work with and where he sees his future. Take a look.
So Jasun, how did you get involved in the adult industry to begin with?
My first actual paying job was as an HTML designer for a Canadian porn site called Bedfellow, but I really feel like I got my “real” start working for Fratmen and Fratpad. They hired me as a video editor and graphics guy, but before long I was taking part in production and marketing and just about every aspect of what we were doing. Fratpad was a crazy 24-hour cam circus, and while it was 24-hour stress and work, I loved it all. A lot of people copied what we were doing, but Fratpad really was the first and I think best-ever cam house. My first feature I directed on my own was a documentary about our shoot in Australia called “Fratmen Going Down” and then I started shooting a lot of the fun at Fratpad. Those Jack-Off Races were mine. I’m honestly really proud of how well all that stuff turned out, considering I really didn’t much know what I was doing.
I left Fratpad after about 4 years because I wanted to direct hardcore and I knew I was never going to be able to do that where I was. Leaving Fratmen was hard… it was like a close knit family there. But I knew when it was time to leave the nest. I’m still in contact with everyone there, and we’re all still friends. There was no bad blood leaving. I took a job with Jake Cruise… He was starting what was at that time called “Jake’s Men” which was essentially JakeCruise.com without Jake. That, of course, is what was eventually re-named CocksureMen. That was a total dream gig… I was basically allowed to do whatever I wanted. I spent four years learning how to direct on the job while shooting content I actually wanted to see. I’m very proud of the work I did there.
But the brass ring for me was ALWAYS a job working for Titanmen. Titan had been my favorite studio since the 90s and it was always a dream gig. Getting the call from Brian Mills asking if I wanted to come hang out on set and shoot some bonus content for the new François Sagat movie was like getting called up the Big Leagues. I still have to pinch myself that this is all real.
Anytime someone has the desire to enter an industry, there are usually inspirations that drive that particular passion. Did you have any yourself prior to joining?
It’s funny, when I was studying film and even when I was in high school wanting to become a film maker, I was divided between whether I wanted to do children’s horror movies, science fiction or porn. When I was in elementary school I was already writing scripts. Sadly I came from a music family so my begging for a movie camera was laughed off as a silly dream and I was forced to take cello and bassoon lessons, which in itself explains why “children’s horror movies” was on my want list, probably (laughs). But by the time I was in high school I was writing a lot more porn-ish scripts. Most of which were about teenagers stuck in small towns escaping to a city that tried to eat them up but the protagonist always ended up making the city his bitch. I guess my musical background was always there. When I was in high school I recorded an album of songs for my Canadian Literature class that had a song called “Stand Up” about football players checking out each others dicks in the shower. So I guess I was always a bit of a sexual shit-disturber.
What I’ve always loved about making porn is that you’re getting people at their most primal and personal. I can make all the comedy or Sci-fi movies that entertain people [Jasun Mark worked on the Gay Film Festival darling “Birthday Cake” and the Sci-Fi Zombie Web Series “Project: Phoenix”], but porn is what really gets under people’s skin. I’ve heard from so many young men that they were scared, lonely gay teenagers who thought they’d never find a place to fit in until they saw those Fratpad Jack Off Races where instead of getting called “faggot” for expressing sexuality, there were a bunch of guys standing around cheering. One guy told me that after he saw that he knew everything was going to be OK and he was going to find a place where he’d fit it. So I guess the “Ricky/Kent Jerk off race” was my best “It Gets Better” video.
Your work has been primarily behind the camera, was there ever a thought of performing in front?
Honestly, no. I’m um… well, I’m not physically what a porn star should look like. I’m pretty short and stout and I just can’t be arsed to work out enough really look good on camera. When I was doing marketing for Jake Cruise, I did actually stand in for Jake doing some massage videos where I was fully clothed and I did one scene with my friend Adam Russo for Nasty Daddy just to see what it was like to be a performer. But I never really considered being a porn star and no studios have asked me. I’ve always wanted to be a film maker. I never really seriously considered performing.
You have worked for high-profile studios like Jake Cruise, Cocksure Men and of course Titan. Do you have a particular favorite scene that really resonates with you to this day?
Oh man… that’s a hard one. I’ll choose that Ricky/Kent Jack Off Race from my Fratpad days. From Cocksure Men I think I’ll choose the 3-way with Dean Monroe, John Magnum and Devin Draz. I was chatting with Dean the other day and he told me that of all the scenes he did in his 20-year career, that’s one of the few that he still jerks off to. From Titanmen… Almost too hard to nail down. Maybe the opening scene from Nightfall where Thomas is lured from out behind his computer by Alessio Romero. Or the one with Hunter Marx and Damien Stone in Bad Cop. There’s also one coming out this coming Christmas with Jesse Jackman and Eric Nero where I finally got to put some of my cinematic chops on display. I’ll admit that it’s going to be fun to show people I can do more than just shoot good video of hot men fucking…
What about performers, anyone in particular that stands out for one reason or another?
I’ve been so lucky. I got to work with some of the best gay porn stars going. François Sagat, Dean Phoenix, Dean Monroe, Arpad Miklos, Allen Silver, Jesse Jackman, Johnny Hazard, Adam Herst, David Anthony… the list goes on and on. I’ll tell you this… François is one of the most unappreciated geniuses I’ve known. And I grew up in a family of university professors. He’s fascinating and disarmingly nice but surprisingly modest and shy. He’s an enigma, but I’m so proud I got to work with him and still stay in touch with him.
Coinciding with that, is there anyone you would like to work with both in front and behind the camera?
There are a few guys I’ve wanted to work with. I regret I never got a chance to work with Kennedy Carter, but I’m so proud of how well he’s done post-porn. I wish I’d gotten a chance to work with some of the greats like Leo Ford or Anthony Gallo. Guys currently working… I still hope I can get a chance to work with Jaxton Wheeler. Behind the camera… I’ve worked with Joe Gage and Brian Mills… so I guess my only remaining idols are Kristen Björn and ChiChi LaRue.
What is your take on the industry today? Do you find the word “gay porn star” to be a bit of thing of the past?
Not at all. I think it’s easier to BE a gay porn star now so the term is a bit watered down. I also think that as porn performers become more accessible to us, they lose a lot of their mystique. Now you can friend and follow your favorite porn stars on Facebook and Twitter and interact with them in a way you never could in the golden age. But we still have huge stars like Jesse Jackman, David Anthony, Trenton Ducati, Adam Russo, Rocco Steele… I mean the list goes on.
As far as the state of the industry… I think we’re still at a cross-road much like the TV and music industries. The digital age has meant some HUGE changes to how people access and consume content. 20 years ago, production companies had people by the balls. You had to buy things how they chose to sell them. Record labels ruthlessly monopolized record store shelves, TV schedules were chosen for us along with programming. Now that people have broken that model and can consume content in their own ways… it’s evened things out in ways we never thought of before.
Now a tiny artist like Justin Bieber from a tiny town in remote Canada with NO industry connections can use Youtube and become the biggest pop star of a generation. Small home-made porn sites like Sean Cody could totally buck the system and sell his content only online on his own self-hosted, cutting out DVD retailers altogether… and that revolutionized how gay porn was DONE. Look at how the guys from Where The Bears Are have been able to skip the middle man and get their fans to fund their series season by season. Independent Radio shows didn’t really exist before iTunes launched Podcasting. Now even the major players are diving into that. None of that would have been possible in the 90s and most of that wouldn’t even have been possible until about 2005 when we got Podcasting and Youtube.
Even making a movie on a very tight budget is possible if you’re willing to do the work. Digital film making has made budgets almost unimportant. People ask me how much I had to spend on all the digital effects in Nightfall and Dick Danger and the answer is “nothing.” It just meant I stayed up very late for a couple weeks and did it myself. Now you just have to be willing to work your ass off.
All of this means that the porn industry has had to constantly reinvent itself and adapt to a new digital age where we’re putting out a new scene every week instead of a new movie every month. We have tighter budgets and more competition for people’s attention on Twitter and the blogs. We have to have a well-designed and easy to navigate site, we need to have a good social media presence AND we have to have good movies. I find it all exciting but yes… it’s not as easy to get rich making porn as it was maybe in 1997.
What do you have planned for 2016 that your fans can be excited about?
I have some amazing stuff in the works. the really sad thing is that I can’t really talk much about it. Titanmen has a pretty long turn-around time for our movies because we all like to polish and perfect and do all the work we can to make them their best possible and THAT means other studios that turn their stuff around in a week or two can easily copy what we’re doing and release their crappy knock-off the same week you release yours. I think starting this Thanksgiving with my Dad/Son movie Like Father Like Son you’ll see exactly where we’ve been going… more stories and scripts and characters. More hot setups and more developed ideas. Let’s get back together in April and you’ll see just how hard we’ve been working. I can tell you that Like Father Like Son is the most story-driven porn movie I’ve ever directed. You can already see the trailer and people are going ape-shit for it. So looks like I struck that primal nerve I was talking about.
Ultimately, what is your biggest goal for yourself moving forward?
I used to say “to be lead director for Titanmen” and I’ve been letting myself bask in that glory for a bit. But now my job is to pick up that mantle and run with it. Titan has a very proud history and I know just how much responsibility my job came with… so I guess my goal is to live up to the standards of what came before me.
It is always good to catch a star on the rise, and that is exactly what I did when it comes to the handsome and super intelligent Eddy Ceetee. Eddy, who currently resides in Boston, has become very well known in such a short period of time due to his presence at one of the best (if not the best) studios out there right now- Titan Men. His chiseled body and warm smile has delighted fans for months, enough to earn him a Best Newcomer nomination this past weekend at the annual Grabby Awards in Chicago. With all that is going on with him, Eddy sat down with Manhattan Digest to discuss this and so much more.
So tell me how you got into the industry in the first place?
I’ve always thought about it and something I did research on. I was bartending in Providence at Ego where two very known stars, Jesse Jackman and Dirk Caber, were guests there. I started talking to them and they said I would be perfect for it, which I obliged and then they got me in contact with Jasun Mark (Director for Titan Men). I had an interview with another company which I didn’t feel as good about it as I did with Titan. I felt completely comfortable there.
When I talked to Jasun he was pretty much opened to whatever I wanted, even the contract I was signed to was tailor made for that sort of thing. A couple of months later I flew to Los Angeles to film my first couple of scenes, and it has been great ever since.
So in my opinion, Titan Men’s models always seemed to be the most physically fit and look natural while doing so unlike other studios where the guys can look borderline plastic. That being said, has health and fitness always been in your life or did it spur when you joined the industry?
100 percent been about health and fitness. I remember the day I got my drivers license was the same day I got a gym membership. I was always skinny, especially in high school, and I knew I always wanted to be bigger and more muscular. If you look at pictures of me over the years I have grown and changed and I just like that I am able to manipulate my body in anyway that I want and I get results right away. There aren’t many things in life that you can get results instantly and I feel like with my body that I have gotten to know it so well so I can manipulate it and make it grow and do these changes.
Health is something I also take very seriously. I don’t know what it is because my parents let us eat whatever we wanted growing up, but I knew in the back of it I wanted to be healthy. Coming into this business I was already muscular and knew I had the body and I say that with pride because I am at the gym 7 days a week. I put the gym before a lot of other things in my life. I wasn’t born like this and want to be able to keep this momentum going for as long as I can.
So did you have any inspirations that got you into this industry?
My favorite is Francois Sagat. I like what he has done with his career and he has made something out of it. If there is a way of being classy in this industry, I feel like he did it.
So I know you are still new in this industry so your first scene wasn’t too long ago. Can you tell me about it and what it was like?
I was actually very nervous! For some reason though, it felt right. My biggest fear was I was going to go into this and regret it and when I came out of it not doing so, I knew it was the right thing.
My first scene was with Nick Prescott, however for whatever reason Titan didn’t release that as my first. I think they wanted the big shock and Nick Capra has been around for 10-15 years so I think it was a great decision there to put that as the first scene as it got me out there more. It was amazing. Nick and I connected right away and we hung out after it was over even with us being together for six hours straight. I have heard from a lot of other guys in this industry that the first guy they have a scene with they develop a connection with. You are putting your all out there and having someone to share it with so I think that is what that experience was.
So your background tells me that you grew up in Lebanon until you were 10, then moved to Connecticut and have been living in Boston for the past couple of years. As someone who is out and proud, was it difficult for you growing up to come out regardless of your geographical location?
I didn’t think about anything gay before I came here. I don’t remember anytime before I was 10 where I felt like I had a gay moment. I always had crushes on girls. Around 14 I started having feelings for men, but I still dated girls and had a girlfriend throughout high school. Originally, I didn’t want to accept what was going on and deal with those feelings so I would try to not think about it. The first time I was with a guy was when I drove two hours away for it and convinced myself that I wasn’t going to like it and then I’ll forget these feelings. Turns out I liked it and never went back to women. Dabbled for a bit, but never completely back. I’ve been with different types of people and am open about it. I think I’m just human so if I feel a certain way about someone why not just go with it?
A lot of guys who work in the business also wind up doing escorting on the side or as a duality type of thing. Is that something you would consider?
I did it for a while, I just don’t know if it’s my thing. I have nothing against it at all, but it’s not for me. I don’t feel comfortable doing it, but I’ve done it here and there and it just didn’t feel right. For me. Everyone wants attention, love or to feel important, so a lot of these people who hire escorts- that’s what they want. You are pretty much helping these people feel better about themselves. So I don’t think there is anything wrong with it.
I ask this in all my interviews regarding barebacking in scenes. Would you ever do it?
I feel the industry is heading to be completely bareback, but it’s something I don’t want to do now. I’m a big advocate of safe sex, and from my experience with some of the fans that contact me that are 18 and 19 years old and some of my clients is that they are simply uneducated. If they see bareback all the time, they think it is going to be more OK to do it. It is not. People forget that this is real life as well, and even though you may be taking care of yourself the other person might not. Sex is supposed to be fun and happy, you just don’t want to be worried about diseases and other stuff out there. If you can avoid getting some of this stuff, why not?
I just don’t want to do it because its putting the wrong message out there- for me. I have friends who do it and have nothing against it, however I am educated enough in my personal life that I will not do that. I don’t want to put it out there for the younger gays to think its OK to do that without the education behind it.
Do you have a particular actor or director you want to work with?
I know he doesn’t really shoot anymore but I would love to do a scene with Francois. I put all these interviews out there hoping he would hit me up, but he hasn’t! I just think hes awesome and love the photography that he does, its very artsy and weird which I love.
A lot of people who come into this industry are flashes in the pan, where they are hot for a minute and then are out the next. How do you plan on elongating the Eddy Ceetee brand and going the distance in this industry?
I already feel like I’m different than most of these people because I am thinking outside of the sex in the scenes and not just the now moment. I believe that no matter how you get a voice, use it in a positive way. That is what i am going by. My favorite quote is, “aspire to be admired”, so if you present yourself in a certain way, people will want to cling onto you.
If you are in the Boston area, check out this great event that Eddy will be apart of!
The 2015 Hookie Awards went down this past Friday night at BPM inside The Out Hotel on 42nd Street. It is true in some cases when you say third time’s a charm, and seeing as this was my third Hookie award show that I went to I can truly say that this was the case as this one I had the most fun at. Probably because I have interviewed most of these intelligent and sexy men, and knew what I was getting myself into (puns galore). Regardless of the fact that the shitty weather was keeping us from half naked men and water cooler awards like Best Cock and Best Boyfriend Fantasy, the room was packed to see the who’s who in the Rentboy world as well as some bonus amenities that I will get to later. This event was also live streamed for this first time on the web so you could enjoy the debauchery and excitement at home in your boxers with those sticky stains on them. Ew.
I started off my evening before the show at a pre-party with some of my favorite guys in the industry like Neil AKA Erotic Hypno, Jesse Jackman and Dirk Caber as well as a new friend that I met, Duncan Black. I also got to hang with my Buffboyz buddy Jeffrey Watchman who let me in on some pretty awesome news that I will be writing about soon (think naked guys. Wait, this article already makes you think about that. Just look at Jeffrey’s photos for reference and stay tuned). After the pre-party we waltzed into the show itself where I hung out with my new favorite person (and fellow chicken finger lover) Dewitt from Manhunt who is just as cute in real life as he is in his photos. His shorts he was wearing left little to the imagination, which would’ve been a disappointment if he wore more. The award show itself was hosted by Rupaul’s Drag Race legend Alaska Thunderfuck and by comedian Brad Loekle, who pretty much stated throughout the award show that he is a grateful size queen who would bottom for the majority of the audience with a smile on his face. The reference he made about Boomer Bank’s huge cock and Dora The Explorer was probably the funniest joke of the night. Kudos to him. Alaska seemed to be feeling her oats for the most part however I thought her jokes could’ve been a little bit better as Brad seemed to be carrying the entire show. Needless to say they both did a great job in keeping the event going seamlessly and in a timely fashion.
Onto the winners. I love Rocco Steele as he has been a great friend of mine for almost a year now. The fact that he even doubted winning Mister International 2015 was something that I giggled at as this was his Julianne Moore “Still Alice” moment. He was a shoo-in from the moment he was nominated so naturally I was ecstatic that he won that and another pivotal award… Best Cock. 2015 really was his year and the fact that he continues to be humble in a community that has a bit of arrogance is really what makes him such an incredibly awesome person. I am beyond proud of him for what he has done since I first interviewed him last July.
Boomer Banks won a unique award that Rentboy presents for Best Style, which didn’t seem like much of a stretch as I have seen his get ups in person as they are quite spectacular. He should’ve won for Best Pornstar or tied that with Rocco, but it is what it is. Something that I was quite happy to see this year as I am a bear/cub was that the people who won this year (tie) actually represent that community. The winners were Ted Byrns & Will Foster, and I couldn’t be happier that they represented us at The Hookies. Totally rad. Whereas I didn’t agree with some of the winners at the actual event (not naming names here but I did shake my head a couple of times) the ones that did win were genuinely happy and that’s really all that matters at the end of the day.
Side notes from the event:
I felt like I was one of the few people who actually knew who Stoya was. She is one of the biggest female performers out there, drop dead gorgeous and I loved that someone from her realm of porn was repping for the gays at ours.
The biggest shock of the evening wasn’t exactly the winners or anything that happened on stage. It was quite possibly the most handsome man I have ever laid my eyes on Colby Jansen being in attendance. He was there to present Best Bear/Cub (nice) and couldn’t have been nicer or better to look at. Colby, I’m ready to interview you… pick the location. I’m so open. 🙂
One of the nicest people that i met that night was hairy ginger & Best Twink winner Shameless Seamus, who was visiting New York for the first time by way of Nashville. Adorable and sweet in person, he has a thing for older bears (He’s 22 and I’m 28. Daddy age is coming). So naturally I want him to visit again so we can explore his “older bear” thang.
I was so happy to see Seth Fornea be one of the trophy boys at the ceremony as I have happily interviewed him in the past. However, his counterpart who goes by the name of “Ricky” was on a lot of people’s lips that night. Not literally, but chatting wise. If he really decides to go the distance in this arena he could be the next big thing. Cuz boy oh boy was he fun to look at (and chat with later on that night at Attic).
Completely forgetting I met him at Hustlaball 2015, I was happy to see Bravo Delta make an appearance by way of the never ending winter city of Boston. A nominee that night, I enjoyed our conversations that we had as he is one of the most intelligent men I have met in this biz.
Want to know more about The Hookies? Check out their official site.
Sometimes when you take one big one, you gotta get the other in there as well. What do I mean? Well after interviewing megastar Jesse Jackman for Manhattan Digest a couple of months ago, I was curious to know more about his other half. I am talking about the uber sexy and devilishly handsome Dirk Caber, who has been partnered with Jesse for quite sometime now. Being part of one of the gay adult industry’s super couples, they have drawn quite the following on their Facebook and Twitter pages, spotlighting many moments in their lives but also having a separate viewpoint in what is going on in and out of the industry.
I have been a big fan of Dirk’s for quite sometime now, even meeting him before a movie premiere back in May right here in New York City (loved the kilt btw). So I wanted to sit down and get to know him more. I recently sat down with the Boston hairy lad to discuss his take on his time in the industry, how he views being seen as a “daddy” in many scenes, his relationship with Jesse, and how music is playing a vital part of his life outside of the camera. Take a look.
Hi Dirk! So first question is super important- Chipotle or Moes?
I presume we’re talking about Moe’s Subs & Italian Sandwiches, the chain in New Hamprhsire? If so, the answer is NOT Chipotle!
Hehe. Now that is out of the way, let me ask you about your humongous success in the adult industry. How did you get your start?
I got involved in the BDSM scene in NYC many years ago, about the same time I started taking my physical health more seriously, lost a bit of weight and discovered that under that fat was muscle. Through the S&M world I made a number of good friends worldwide, one of whom turned out to be Paul Wilde, at that time director of the ROUGH line at Titan. He said that it was rare to find someone who knew their way around a length of rope and a flogger who also looked the part, and if I were interested, he’d he happy to have me at Titan. It took about two years for me to finally feel confident in myself enough physically to say “Let’s try it”, and even then figured I’d make one or two films and that would be the end of it. Four years later now, and some sixty films for some dozen studios, and I’m still going strong, much to my deep astonishment.
Many men (and women) start at a young age in their early 20’s. What made you start later on in life?
It’s when the possibility was first raised. First of all, as fat as I was in in my 20’s, I had an impossible time getting anyone to even think of me as physically desirable, let alone actually have sex with me. I certainly didn’t see myself as any sort of sexual being in those days; I was an intellectual and an artist, resigned to what I expected to be a fairly monkish life. I spent those days expecting a fairly ascetic future and hence working on other aspects of myself; this part of my life didn’t bloom until much later.
A lot of your scenes revolve around you being the “daddy”, especially your recent series with men.com. What’s your take on that? Do you embrace it?
It does make me chuckle. But then, I myself have always been attracted to more mature men; I generally dated guys ten years my senior. Even now at 43 I still find fit men ten and even twenty years older than me sexy; the key difference is that I’m now at a point where I can look at a guy appreciably younger than I am and still see a man and not a boy. I have one friend who’s in his mid-sixties now, still fit and viable and full of sex appeal. His take on aging is to keep yourself up physically, stay young at heart, and don’t do anything too stupid to yourself. The first and last I can take care of myself, but having younger friends certainly helps with keeping me young at heart too. Might be a daddy with silver in my beard and chest hair, but I’m certainly no old man!
You are partnered with the incredibly sexy and very smart Jesse Jackman. How did you guys meet?
Everyone thinks we met on set or something like that. We didn’t; a mutual friend, not in the industry, introduced us during Folsom weekend in San Francisco. He figured we’d make good friends, but I don’t think had any expectation that we’d hit it off THIS well, especially considering that we lived 850 miles apart at that point, he in Boston and me in Chicago. We’ve now been together for almost three years and lived together for well over a year; we’re going as strong as ever.
I’ve had his take on your relationship within the industry, but is it hard to maintain a healthy one when you are having sex on camera with other people?
It all depends on your own confidence in the relationship. Both of us were already in the industry when we met, so it’s not like it was a later conundrum to have to deal with. We’re both highly sexual creatures, and we both understand sex as an expression of affection beyond just the “one and only”. We have sex with each other as partners, we both have sex with friends outside of that, often together, sometimes separately. I indicated when we first formalized the relationship that I’d a few friends with whom the relationship was more than amicable, it was sexual, and I wasn’t prepared to lessen those connections merely because “I gotta boyfriend now.” It’s because Jesse and I know full well that we come first in each others hearts that fucking around with someone else we’re close with and trust becomes essentially as un-threatening as having coffee with them. We have only one rule, as I’m sure he mentioned as well: “Never bring home anything you wouldn’t want to share.” If you think about it, it’s really amazing how applicable that is on so many levels to a relationship. Beyond that, the whole trick to staying connected is to communicate (always my challenge, quiet guy I tend to be) and to stay absolutely honest with each other.
But that’s just the open relationship aspect. Going back to the industry, the misconception everyone seems to hold is that this is what we do, that we daily go into the office (the ‘orafice’? LOL), fuck some other guy, and walk home with our paycheck. In fact neither of us is in the studio more than a couple times a month at the most, and sometimes not at all for months at a go. If that paucity of extraneous sex were the biggest challenge our relationship were burdened with, we’d consider ourselves very lucky indeed.
Finally, we’ve all seen porn couple after porn couple split as one retires or one’s career outpaces the others. Indeed, colleagues warned me and Jesse against getting together, as they’d seen how jealousy, not necessarily sexual but in fact also professional, so often can ruin such relationship. I know only a few porn couples well so my expertise here is admittedly limited, but those I know tend to be, like us, relatively stable, and I think for the same reasons we believed we’d be successful. Porn is not a long-term avocation, and hence not something which as a commonly-held bond for a couple can be counted on more than a few years. Jesse and I recognized far more shared interests and commonalities, from the importance of our families and “day” careers, arts, fitness, and friends to a shared nerdy geekiness, senses of humor that are either cracker dry or kneejerk whiplash puns, passions for music, gadgets, and sci-fi films. And knowing that porn is an ebb-and-flow prospect, we do enjoy taking turns supporting the other when one’s on the wax and the other’s on the wane. It makes us even more of a team.
Speaking of the industry, what is your take on it now? With the evolution of web-only content seeming to exceed DVD sales, do you think the overall landscape of it has changed?
Decidedly! And in more ways than we really have space to delve into here. Nearly all the older larger studios have had to revamp the way they actually produce content as well as how they release it to keep up with the change of technology and hence how we consume our porn. This is hardly the first time this industry has undergone such growing pains; studios had to retool themselves with the advent of videotapes when people started watching at home instead of in theaters, and again when DVD came along and people could more easily fast forward through non-sex content, for instance.
Also, now that we’re more able to afford a camera and some lights to film and post to the internet for general consumption, it’s no longer just a few large studios producing content using equipment and dissemination resources beyond the means of any smaller pornographer. This leads to the springing up of smaller studios already based on the newer internet-based and single-scene-oriented studio model which has become so predominant today; many are coming to produce truly polished content certainly coming to approximate what the larger studios have always been able to produce. Conversely, this ability to afford the camera and the ability to post online has caused an explosion of free online content. Some of these home videos are okay, of course, but much of it might be characterized as “two fat guys out of focus in a badly lit room fucking on a flowered duvet.” At the moment I know there’s a lot of motion in the world that, irrespective of the quality of the content, if it’s there for free, why pay for it somewhere else? The problem is that this means less revenue for the studios, which means less production and less incentive for performers to be at the top of their game. When, as I suspect will happen, there’s a backlash against the cheap free content online and a desire to return to a more polished product, I hope these studios are still around and able to oblige.
Who did you look up to in the industry growing up?
I’ll confess I didn’t pay it much attention. At the time I would have written that off to “not being a sexual creature”, but I now understand that it’s more than that. I need more than just the visual stimulation to find a situation hot; I need the smells, the tastes, the physical contact, the connection. Porn is essentially limited to a visual medium, meaning that much the same way I can appreciate when a woman is truly beautiful without feeling any urge to get her undressed, porn usually left me tumescent. That said, I’d met a few porn stars with whom I’d made a connection, rarely sexual, but which certainly have left a positive mark on me. Mike Dreyden was my boyfriend for over a year and is still a treasured friend. Through Mike I met Alessio Romero who when I later entered the industry was such a help and support and is also a very close friend. I had a splendid conversation one night outside of View Bar in NYC with Alex Baresi who I think is still one of the sweetest men ever. Heh, I’m thinking hard, and I know I’ve got further industry friends whom I’d met before I started and while they were current, but because I know them now outside the industry, I forget that that’s how I first came across them.
Are there any active stars that you would love to do a scene or two with?
Let’s see, in ten minutes how many can I think of, no particular order? Among my friends I have yet to work with: Samuel Colt, Rogan Richards, Brock Rustin, Seven Dixon, Marcus Issacs, Tomas Brand and his partner Logan Rogue (together!), Ale Tedesco, Hans Berlin, Draven Torres, Jaxton Wheeler, Boomer Banks, Felix Barca, Paddy O’Brian, Paul Steele and his pup Aleks Buldocek, JR Matthews, Jake Bolton, Yohann Banks, Seth Fornea (if he ever actually wanted to do porn), Cutler X and his partner Adam Russo, Isaac Jones, Damien Stone, Austin Wolf and his partner Tyler Wolf, Boyhaus, Dolf Dietrich, Cylus Kohen. Guys I don’t know yet or only know virtually and would love to work with: Alex Marte, Kris Irons, Justin King, Kip Ryker, Marco Wilson, Edji da Silva, Frank Valencia, Rok Rangel, Jean Franko, Dani Robles, David Benjamin, Brock Hatcher, Ben Statham, Josh Long. And alas, I think some of these guys are “retired” now, but I’ve really wanted to work with Heath Jordan, Kyle King, Byron Green, Jon Galt and his partner Vic Rocco, Josh West (again) and his partner Peter Axel, and Derek Parker. It’s a source of sadness that I so often shared a set with Wilfried Knight and yet never got to actually work with him. And of course this doesn’t include all the great guys I’ve worked with already and would happily work with again.
Besides the industry, what else are you working on now that our readers should know about?
I’m always working on music; now that I’ve finished a few others there are two large musical projects I’m just about to undertake about which I’m particularly enthused. I’m still hunting for more regular work beyond my freelance music income. I’ve had a few health issues to address, mostly things that happen to guys my age and nothing like what my partner has been through in the last several months, but things which have still required a little attention. I’m still adjusting to living in Boston and making friends here, but I’m happy to be back close to my parents and siblings and nieces and nephews. Planning some travel, to London and Berlin with my buddy Dolan Wolf in September, and possibly a return to London with Jesse in November. Other than that, Jesse and I are happily building our life together.
What are you ultimately hopeful for in the future?
I’d presume there will be a day when I’ll be happy to hang up my pornographical laurels, hopefully before they begin to wilt, and return to a civilian life. I’ll stop worrying about maintaining my abs, and allow my torso to resume the “muscle bear” shape it gravitates towards; I’ll be able to concentrate completely on music as my total life and keeping my family and man close. Maybe that day is next month, maybe it’s ten years from now—I’ve no idea at the moment. Meanwhile I’m enjoying what I’m doing and guys still seem to enjoy watching. I’m not getting younger, so I may as well do it while I can.
I think mainly anyone can tell you that something that is a big factor in finding someone attractive is not only their looks but really if they have a good brain to back it up. Jesse Jackman is a good example of that. Not only is he a rugged, handsome and all around sexy as f kind of a man, but he also is a fellow writer who dishes out quality op-ed’s for the world to see and engage in. One of the biggest names in the adult industry, and a current XBiz nominee for Gay Performer Of The Year, has truly made a name for himself both in and out of the industry. He and his boyfriend, fellow adult film star Dirk Caber, are the biggest porn couple out there right now, are at the forefronts of many of their fans minds and khaki inseams with their ongoing posts, travels and opinions about themselves and the community around them. I got the chance to sit down with Mr. Jackman himself, to get a better idea of who he is not only as the star that many of us have come to know but really the man behind the lens, something that is often lost in this type of industry. Take a look.
Let’s take this back before you became a well known figure. At what age were you when you discovered you were gay and what was the process in coming out?
I think I always knew I was “different” somehow, but I didn’t really figure out I was gay until I hit puberty and started eyeing the other boys in junior high school instead of the girls. I didn’t date anyone when I was in my teens; I was too afraid to come out as gay, and dating women just didn’t feel right. So all through high school and college I chose to throw myself into my studies rather than owning and exploring my sexuality.
I finally came out when I was 20 and wrote a letter to an openly gay teacher who had spoken to my high school class at an assembly several years earlier. He was the only flesh-and-blood connection I’d ever seen to the gay world, and the only person I could think of to reach out to. I didn’t think he’d write back, but he did, and his letter was incredibly supportive. He encouraged me to tell a someone I trusted and didn’t think would be judgmental. I took his advice and told my best friend. It went wonderfully; in fact, it deepened our friendship considerably because I didn’t have to hide that part of me anymore (although he suspected I might be gay because I never dated anyone). I gradually told more and more of my friends over the next couple of years, and they were all really accepting. I think my favorite reaction came from one of my college friends about a year after we graduated: All he said was, “That’s cool… what’s for lunch?” and that was the end of it. Even my parents were supportive. I had thought that coming out would be this huge dramatic affair, but in fact it all went wonderfully. I finally started dating just before I turned 23.
Did you find it much harder to come out back then compared to how much easier and accepted it is to come out now?
I think that depends a lot the situation. Generally I’d say that it’s easier now than it was 20 years ago, but I still hear lots of horror stories from young gay men and women who were beaten up by their peers or thrown out by their families. I was very lucky; I grew up in a very liberal state (Massachusetts) in a great family with supportive friends… but I know people that people in other states, countries, and circumstances aren’t nearly as fortunate. One of the reasons I wrote my first Huffington Post article, “We Must (Not) Surrender” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jesse-jackman/we-must-not-surrender_b_4220188.html), was to help LGBT victims of bullying and intimidation understand that they are not alone.
What has been your experience as a whole in the gay community? Where do you think that we excel at and where do you think we can improve on?
I find the gay community to be a bit fractured. For example, Dirk and I live in a traditionally lesbian neighborhood; there are also traditionally gay (male) neighborhoods in Boston, and the two communities don’t interact much. I see similar divides just within the male community. The idea of “classifications” of gay men (circuit boys, bears, otters, twinks and so on) always bothered me a bit, especially when people in one category segregate themselves from those in other groups. I’ve found HIV status to be a big dividing line, too. I’m proud that my friends come in all different shades of gender, appearance, sexuality, and status.
It seems to me that it either takes a cause (Stonewall, marriage equality) or a crisis (AIDS) to really unite the LGBT community… and when we do unite, we’re one of the strongest social forces on earth. I wish we could learn to be more unified all the time, not just when faced with adversity.
How did you get your start in the industry?
There is one guy in particular, Roman Wright, who got me into making porn. But first a little back-story: Over July 4th weekend in 2011 I met Hunter Marx, a Titan model, and his partner Ethan Anders in Saugatuck, Michigan. They were hot. We fucked around a lot had a ton of fun… so much so that I started idly wondering if what we did might be reproducible in front of a camera. A week later, back in Boston, I happened to run into the aforementioned Roman, an old friend, and half-jokingly asked him if he thought I could work in porn (with no serious intent to ever do it, despite my curiosity). He said he thought I could, but that I shouldn’t. Roman knows me pretty well, and thought I wouldn’t deal well with the inevitable criticism that comes with public performance. (He was ultimately right: I try very hard not to read reviews of my scenes because I take negative criticism rather personally.)
Roman flew home to San Francisco the next day. Then, out of the blue, I got a message on Facebook from a guy I’d never heard of named Patrick Finger:
I handle casting for Titan Media. I’m standing here with Roman Wright and he’s telling me that you’d like to work with us. You’re a great looking guy. Are you interested?
Oh, that Roman. I guess I’d been putting off a pretty strong vibe that, subconsciously, I really did want to work in the industry… or Roman figured he’d at least arrange for the opportunity and let me make up my own damn mind. Anyway, I told Patrick I’d think about it. After about two weeks of soul-searching I finally decided that if I didn’t at least try it, I would always wonder what it was like. I filled out the model application and emailed it in. Less than three hours later I got a message back from Patrick saying that everything looked good and that Titan would love to work with me. We spoke on the phone the next day, and within a couple of weeks I flew to San Francisco to film my first scene – with Hunter Marx, the Titan Man from Saugatuck, of all people! – for my first TitanMen film, Surveillance. I eventually got to shoot a scene with Roman too, a flip scene in Command Performance.
What do you think is the biggest misconception of the adult industry?
Unfortunately, a common misconception among the general public is that porn stars are one-dimensional, or are in porn because we’re somehow “damaged,” or even that we’re all drug addicts who turn to porn as a last resort. People are often surprised to find out that I have a day job. Most of us do! I’ve met actors who are personal trainers, weather forecasters, investment bankers, stock brokers, artists, massage therapists, Broadway dancers… my husband Dirk is an accomplished classical musician! The fact is that there are many well-rounded, well-adjusted, fascinating people in the industry who are simply doing it to add some spice to their lives and earn a little pocket money in the process.
By the way, my regular employer is totally fine with my little side career. It’s actually an interesting story; you can read about it at http://jessejackman.xxx/2012/10/15/adversity-advocacy-and-affirmation.
For anyone that is looking to get into it, what advice do you have?
I wrote about this extensively on my blog in a post called “So You Think You Can Fuck” (http://jessejackman.xxx/2013/02/27/so-you-think-you-can-fuck), but here’s the summary: First, decide why you want to be in the industry. You should do it because you want to, not because you need to; it’s not a career, and you can’t rely on getting steady work. There might be periods of time when you’re filming every week, but there will also be dry spells that last for months. Also consider whether your family, friends, and employer will be okay when they find out you make porn (which they will). Reach out to studios that match your look and attitude; if you’re a heavily-muscled, hairy, tattooed cigar smoker, don’t apply to a company that makes twink porn! (The guys at Titan, however, would love to hear from you for their Titan Rough series.) And when you do apply, be honest. Don’t lie about your stats or your level of experience. Don’t send airbrushed or Photoshopped pictures; the studios would rather see the raw material they have to work with, not an artist’s rendition of it. Finally, know that if you ever film a bareback scene, you’ll be automatically excluded from working with some of the largest studios out there, including Titan, COLT, and others.
Let’s talk about your relationship with Dirk for a second. How did you guys meet and how long did it take for you to be in a full blown relationship?
I was introduced to Dirk by a very close friend in September of 2011. I was new to the industry, and my friend thought that Dirk, who’d already been in the industry for over a year, would be a good “big brother” to me as I started to learn the ropes. I’d already seen Dirk in TitanMen’s Sting, which I watched while doing research for Surveillance. (Hunter Marx, my Surveillance scene partner, was also in Sting and I wanted to learn more about what would turn him on.) Our connection was immediate and strong and very sexual, and we actually hooked up the same night I met him. We worked side-by-side at the Titan booth during the 2011 Folsom Street Fair, and we stayed in touch afterwards, talking and texting almost daily. He lived in Chicago at the time, so we weren’t sure that a long-distance relationship would work, but after a couple of trips to see each other, we realized that our chemistry was too amazing not to give it a try. By Halloween we considered ourselves a couple; at Thanksgiving we met each other’s families; and on Christmas day we made it “official” in the way that it’s done these days: by changing our Facebook relationship statuses. That last step came as little surprise to our friends; by that time the general consensus was “Well, duh!”
After another year of doing the long-distance thing, we decided the time was right to move in together. Dirk started planning his relocation to Boston, and we finally moved in together at the end of May 2013. Everything’s going great so far… although we have more furniture than we know what to do with.
I read a post you did for HuffPo detailing how you guys are open but there are rules to it. Seeing as open relationships tend to be very judged in this community, how do you respond to people who think that relationships should be strictly monogamous?
To each their own. I have no problem with monogamy; if it works for you, go for it! Although Dirk and I have found that an open relationship is a good fit for us, I’d never judge anyone for being in a monogamous relationship. Similarly, I would hope that monogamy-oriented people don’t judge our open one. Dirk sums it up very elegantly: “To paraphrase Ingrid Bergman in Cactus Flower, they can go to their church and we’ll go to ours.”
Seeing as both of you are well known inside the industry, what hurdles do you face when it comes to not being on camera and being in the real world?
We have our share of trials, successes, and failures, just like all couples do. I’d say that the biggest challenge so far has been adjusting to living together. I’ve never lived with a partner before, and Dirk only did so very briefly when he lived in New York, so it’s a big change for both of us. We’re in each other’s space a lot. Fortunately we have a pretty big house, which we’ve set up so that each of us has a room where we can just shut the door and focus on whatever we need to. Dirk, who is of Scottish descent, even has a sign on his door (which I gave him) that says “Scottish Territory: No Trespassing!”
Outside of the industry, you have a lot going on for yourself including being a big time blogger. How did you score the HuffPo gig and what is your mission statement when you write for them?
The Huffington Post gig came about as an unexpectedly amazing result of a very challenging time. In October of 2013 I posted a (G-rated) photo on Facebook of Dirk and me sharing a kiss. Although I’d posted plenty of pictures like that before, for some reason this particular one got a lot of negative comments, from the mild (“Ew, gross!”) to the overtly threatening (“All faggots must die”). One person even threatened to shoot me. And then, without warning, Facebook deleted my photo and banned me from posting for 12 hours, claiming that the photo had “violated community standards.” I immediately contacted several industry blogs to draw attention to the situation, and my story also drew the attention of several mainstream media outlets, including newspapers in several countries, a television station in San Francisco, and the Huffington Post’s Technology section. Shortly after the HuffPost article was published, Facebook quietly restored my photo (along with all the comments, even the harassing ones) without offering me any direct explanation.
A few days later, the editor of HuffPost’s Gay Voices section contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in writing about my experience during the whole incident. I agreed, and spent three weeks writing an op-ed piece that not only provided a recap of the events, but also explained why it was important for Dirk and me to stand up to the harassment and threats we’d received. I guess the HuffPost editors liked what they read; after the article was published, to my surprise they provided me with a regular contributor’s account. I’ve since written two additional articles (one on safe sex and another on gay marriage) and will be contributing more in the future. You can read all my articles at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jesse-jackman.
I feel like working in the adult film industry gives me a unique perspective; I hope that sharing my experiences in the industry and beyond will make some small difference. For example, a future article will discuss the importance of, and controversy surrounding, pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV exposure. I’ve found that a lot of gay men don’t know about PEP and PrEP, so I see this as a valuable opportunity to get the word out about these revolutionary therapies.
What are your hopes and goals for 2014 and beyond?
My life just keeps getting better as I get older. My only wish is for the trend to continue.