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.