The Death Of The Gay Porn Star

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Maybe I started to realize it during the spectacular rise and ridiculous fall of Jason Crystal, the gay-for-pay performer who adopted no less than a dozen aliases, at least three hair colors, and appeared on over twenty gay porn websites in less than one year, but if I ever had any doubt, this image (left) of Robert Axel and “Coach Daddy” is proof of something that a lot of us have been lamenting (or in my case–denying) since at least the start of this decade: Gay porn stars are dead.

To be sure, I’ve used the term “gay porn star” here in a lot of cases when I shouldn’t have, and I’ll no doubt continue to use it out of habit/laziness. But in some cases, it will be appropriate. There are exceptions. Those performers who have branded themselves and made a name for themselves not because they appeared on eight thousand websites but because of their consistent performances and their devoted fans and their undeniable physical appeal can call themselves stars (e.g., Brent Everett, Francois Sagat, Erik Rhodes); those performers who have anal sex with another man “for the first time” on an old couch on some set in the Valley can not.

But it’s not the aspiring “star” who killed the Gay Porn Star. After all, everyone deserves a chance to work and to try to become famous, and there has never been anything wrong with being a newcomer. What did kill the gay porn star? A lot of things.

It’s been the internet (illegal downloads, XTube) and the economy (producers paying literally anyone $300 to get fucked in a moving bus) that have helped the death of the gay porn star along. But at the same time, haven’t we helped, too? We get what we pay for. We keep the kind of porn that relies less on stars and more on niche content in business, don’t we? And at what point did we decide that certain types of men would be acceptable to masturbate to? Did our aesthetic change on its own, or did a collection of amateur porn producers gradually change it for us? Or, were we all just shallow before, masturbating to unrealistic and idealized versions of gay men, and over time we’ve become more accepting of and in turn stimulated by different body types–body types more like our own (which, in turn, makes us narcissists)?

Falcon Studios exclusive Mike Branson in an undated photo from the late 1990's; two NewYorkStraightMen.com performers in 2011

It’s been over saturation. It’s been quantity over quality. By the time a larger, non-amateur studio signs a popular model to an “exclusive” contract, it’s as unremarkable as it is meaningless. For one, we’ve already seem him working for seven, eight, or thirteen other studios. He can now only work for one company, for six months? Big deal. And that’s assuming the contract is even honored or legitimate in the first place, which they often aren’t. Take Axel, for example, who one week was signed as an exclusive to Falcon Studios and the next week was signed as an exclusive to Cocksure Men. While everyone was writing press releases, Axel was simultaneously filming bareback scenes with senior citizens on amateur sites. Oops.

Like Crystal and Axel, a lot of models have realized that they can make a lot of money (a lot of money for someone without formal job training or an education) in a short amount of time by filming for as many companies as they can, as fast as they can, before anyone catches on. In six months, a performer can film 50 scenes for 20 websites and maybe make $25,000, which is fine! There’s nothing wrong with that. But while these lightning round, assembly line style productions are great for well-hung grifters, they’re not going to cultivate any gay porn stars.

It’s been a lack of promotion. The rise of the gay porn star came when entire movies were centered around one individual performer. He was on the box cover (remember box covers?), he maybe made one public appearance at a bar once a year, he never bottomed because he was a top (or, he never topped because he was a bottom), and he never asked you to like him on Facebook. Now, instead of releasing movies, studios release scenes from a movie, once or twice a week. The lack of a cohesive whole and the glut of content doesn’t mean we still aren’t masturbating to, say, an individual Jesse Santana scene, but the fact that studios don’t market a movie using just one performer means that no one performer is given special, god-like status over another. Instead, studios spend more time marketing their websites, their membership options, the fact that their content is in HD, and that you can “download to own” all their scenes. Really? I can own something I paid for? Thanks. But why should a studio bother marketing an entire movie using one star when we’re not even buying movies anymore? The death of the gay porn star really is all our fault, isn’t it? It’s been us, the consumers.

Despite the death of the gay porn star, I have no reason to believe that people have stopped masturbating to gay porn. In fact, I think people are masturbating even more than they ever have before. But instead of spending two or three years masturbating to the same big-dicked muscle jock and eagerly waiting months in between each of his movies, we spend two to three weeks masturbating to some interchangeable person who just told us what he had for lunch on Twitter.

 

 

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61 Responses to “The Death Of The Gay Porn Star”

  1. Steve454 says:

    I agree that image is unimportant these days and the paycheck is everything. Someone like Axel is obviously more interested in earning as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time and could care less what his admirers think of his image. If he did care, he wouldn’t be having sex (on camera) with senior citizens, and unattractive ones at that. Another aspect of the death of the porn star is the proliferation of gay-for-pay and male enhancement drugs that have made it possible for so many str8 guys who would never be considered for str8 work make good money in gay porn. Standards have plummeted and as you said, quality has taken a back seat to quantity. So, I lament and grieve over the end of an era.

  2. mr man says:

    The death of the gay porn star is our own fault. We got cheap. We didn’t want to pay for the content, and now whinge that it’s not there anymore

    The biggest thing to shake up porn is the internet. People are not so interested in buying DVD’s, so there was a shift to membership sites.
    A whole swag of low budget studio’s jumped on the band wagon seeing an easy way to make a killing from selling content online, which has saturated the market with every type of scene, guy, niche you could poke a stick at.

    The fact that some beef heads are not treated like gods because they get their cocks out or living isn’t such a bad thing in my books. Maybe it will teach the kids that the real money is to be made in getting an education (no matter what you look like or how well you can fuck).

  3. John says:

    You can’t blame these guys for trying to earn a living. The proliferation of web sites, illegal downloads, a glut of material coming from all corners of the globe, etc. have all contributed to the shrinking paychecks of certifiable “stars”. Standards have plummeted because paying audiences accept it. I was recently privy to a conversation between two directors over the one camera vs. two camera shoot for a web scene and one (relatively successful) content producer argued “why go to the expense of two cams? No one pays any extra for it.” hard to argue against in a business with shrinking revenues. Unless the audience begins to demand higher quality and is willing to PAY for it, I fear that the situation will continue to decline.

  4. FINALLY!!!

    I guess it took theSword.com to say the same things I have been saying for years:

    I noticed the problem early 2008, scene rates were nose diving and production values were slipping. I had hoped that it was just a passing thing and that the industry would return to normal. It hasn’t bounced back yet, infact do to lower scene rates alot of performers were retiring or disappearing from the Skin Trade all together. Lower scene rates only attracts those models willing work for that Fee, so you will not get any big name for that production. Not to sound stuck up or diva, but We put our lives on the line with every production, speaking for myself only….I WILL BE DAMNED IF SOME STUDIO WANTS TO LOWBALL ME…I know what I worth. I have a fan base that will buy my work and put up the numbers($$),the studio will make its money back times ten but they are scared of high pre-production costs.

    As far as porn stars working for below average scene rates and overexposing themselves, those are the types of models that do not care about having a fan base. They are only in it for the check..and most are honest about it. Also do to recession you have alot of hungry models willing to work for dirt cheap because they are DIRT CHEAP!!enuff said. But whats funny is that the studios know they have a subpar model but still try to sell that model to fans who are not buying into it. One model said that Studios are hiring anybody right off the street and putting them in a production… and they are right!!!

    Gay4Pay models it is what it is…so many years of this selfhatred thing gays have about themselves(turning Str8boys, Str8 trade)We have gotten to the point When we can not view Gay males having sex with other gay males without hating on the models for being too Cunty or Fem, or has attitude on Twitter, or their personal sex life(with women)without it hitting all the blogs and gossip pages. When I read comments from fans still waiting on Cody Cummings to kiss or suck a dick or fuck a guy….Makes me want to throw up!! After years and years of the Cat and Mouse game, people are still waiting on the day when he interacts fully with another male. Way too many goodlooking gay guys who perform to the best of their abilities getting passed on for a gay4pay model who doesnt even like to suck cock…

    Anyway…. I have always said that porn has changed, there is no such thing as Porn Stars only Porn models. I’m glad that I’m apart of that breed of Porn Stars who are actually PORN STARS

    BTW I have 30 scenes under my belt, but I have been in the Biz for 7years….all my scenes are Quality!! I know some porn models that have done 100+ scenes and only in the Biz for 1 year. Can you say Overexposed!!?!

    Anyway I was due a rant havent been on this thing in months..

  5. manu says:

    Ummm sorry but what was so good about those porn ‘stars’ ? Did they have better sex than now ? O_o Ryan Idol , Ken Ryker , this bunch of dead behind the eyes tools were also gay for pay and just as bad as some of those we see nowadays.
    Robert Axel is out to make money , so what ? You do know that most porn stars also escort and that most of their clients look like this dude , don’t you?
    The sad part is that the actors are getting paid less and less and that it s difficult to make a career out of it now.
    No actually the really sad part is that people desperate to make a few bucks endanger themselves for reckless websites because bareback sells more .

    • Gotta agree with the big “Who Cares?” Most of these porn “stars” were plastic, rubber stamped copies of one another trying to out “perfect” each other……Boooooring…….However, there is absolutely no such thing as “Gay for Pay” as some idiotic goofballs like to claim. Either you’re attracted to other men or you’re not….that suddenly doesn’t change because someone waved a dollar bill in your face. Guys who try to make this claim are insecure losers who can’t come to grips with their sexuality and are an insult to gay men everywhere.

      Thank God for sites such as X Tube that give us a choice to watch real guys have real sex instead of paying too much to watch plastic, overly staged performances. Progress marches on and better ideas always win out….as well it should be.

  6. who was that says:

    What’s the reason for the death of the gay porn star? We could sum up the article in one word. GREED. Insatiable unending greed in all parts of the equation. Then when greed guts the system (as it inevitably always does), the people who COULDN’T make enough money complain because of the people who did. Welcome to the United States!

  7. Will Will says:

    There is also this whole idea that the gay porn business is a cash bonanza for anyone who can stomach the work…fact is the economics of the business are: razor-thin margins,ridiculous liabilities, marketing.marketing.marketing and a requirement to constantly produce new product. Constantly. Seriously. The attention span of the consumer is…oops…hey…what were we talking about?

    Its a bitch of a business that requires those involved to be dedicated and committed–and throw in some professionalized sex addiction for good measure–so I can totally understand the bitterness towards carpet baggers and others who dont respect the process and those who dip into the bidness just to walk away with a few dollars that would have otherwise gone to the true soldiers of the trade.

  8. Ramon says:

    …..”STARS”….LMFAO!!!!!!

  9. damques says:

    warhol said it best, “in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”. technology killed the gay porn star, or stars in general. everyone has a digital camera and with “reality’ t.v. and youtube and xtube everyone thinks they’re a star. plus most people are fed so much information so quickly now everyone under 40 has the attention span of a gnat. also you have to blame the internet. who actually buys porn anymore? who buys music anymore? ect….. it’s all available for free.

  10. JonnyD says:

    Excelent article! Zach you are a great writter!

  11. Rich says:

    Yawn. There has always been cheap porn and fetish porn, even back in the film era. And even the classic “films” have nobodies and gay-for-pays in them. Now there is much greater volume in every strata, but there are still A-list site/studios and grade-Z ones. Old Reliable, Tony Bronco, Filmco, the ghastly Atlanta-based studios of the late 90s/early 00, the cheap loops from the 70s that were repackaged in the early video days. The expansion of content also has made sites/studios more fragile. Titan seems to be operating off their lawsuit revenues. The major studios have consolidated, with the major attraction probably being the backlists, previously produced work that can be re-released and repackaged in many different ways. Sites like BrokeStraightBoys, Cockyboys, and Collegedudes have stopped and restarted usually with changes in ownership. Many start-ups like Eon, Ridgeline, etc. have faded away. The live party and fetish sites seem to come and go. The market can only support so much of this. People said the samething in the eraly 90s that the Sword is saying now–you could look even at Falcon videos of that era and see “fill-in” performers like Paul Morgan and no-name guys who came and went. The nature of the business doesn’t change much.

    • butteetr says:

      Get a grip Paul Morgan was real cool. None of those falcon homos could blow a load like him. I once saw him douse a chandelier frim ten feet out. Get a life, pencil Fill in performer, I think not!!!

      • queen creamer says:

        Yay to that girl friend! Back in 97, I lost my choco-cherry watching Paul Morgan anally assault Chance Wildwood, and he did it while reciting Kiplings,” If ” and other Departmental Ditties. So there! Rich, you bitter pillow biter!

    • butteetr says:

      Rich, your talking out of your cake hole. Paul Morgan was not a ”filler”. He could out blast any one of those falcon limp dicks! I was in North Hollywood back in 96 and.saw him spray a chandalier from ten feet away! He was in hundreds if flicks and it was for one reason. That little ho could perform. He got it up, and kept it up for three years straight! Now hes assistant to the assistant manager at a fuddruckers in pioria illinois and his balls are shriveled like two rotten walnuts. But then, he was the shit!!

  12. Estelle says:

    Robert Axel also popped up on 5 or 6 of the Bang Bros gay sites within all within a week or two. So did Spencer Fox who just shot for gay room which has a group of very similar sites. Pacific Blue models seem to be the worst offenders in regards to booking their models to work on a whole bunch of different sites within a very short period of time. AJ Irons (last year), Spencer Fox, Tyler Ford (no longer listed with Pacific), Robert Axel, and more recently Jimmy Clay/Coxx have had back to back to back scenes for a whole bunch of different companies in a very short period of time.

    I don’t know if it’s the viewers that aren’t paying for porn like they were or the fact that these companies recycle the same group of guys over and over again and people just get sick of them. Phenix Saint, John Magnum, Marcus Mojo, Rod Daily, Steven Daigle, Jeremy Bilding, Parker London, and Rusty Stevens poppped up over and over again in the last year. Why would anyone pay for Rod Daily or Marcus Mojo’s “exclusive sites” when they have been on so many other ones and some companies are still putting out new content for these guys. Even companies like Kink.com who have prided themselves on being different and unique has fallen into that rut (Do we really need to see yet another scene with Josh West flogging someone). Michael Lucas has fallen into the trap as well, he used to use guys that didn’t shoot much porn or even considered exclusives now he uses the same group of guys I listed above. It’s kind of hard to ask a consumer to pay $60 for a DVD that features scenes with guys that you have seen on at least a dozen other sites.

    I don’t think it’s about a performer having a fanbase but about how cheap they will work. If you see the same guy on a bunch of different sites in a short period of time, it’s not because they have a lot of fans but because they work cheap. I know there have been a few guys who were big names a few years ago and retired who considered coming back into the industry but once they saw what scene rates where and where the industry was going, they decided it was better and more financially smart to stay retired.

    There are a lot of studios that are hanging on by a thread financially and some of them are the worst offenders as far has overusing lackluster or overexposed talent. It’s harsh but maybe these are the companies that need to ride off into the sunset. I mean after you have relaunched twice and it didn’t work out, doesn’t that tell you that maybe it’s just not going to work out? Yeah the internet, torrents, and the over saturation of third rate cheap studios have killed the gay porn star, and yes the consumer has played a role in that. At the same time, when Falcon merged with AEBN and Colt filed for bankruptcy, the only assets they had of real value were their vintage or classic catalog titles, not the current content they were shooting at that time.

  13. I’ve actually been wanting to write an article like this, and am glad you finally got around to it. Especially since there has been talk on this subject on twitter for a few months.

    Gay porn is in an interesting / scary place. I can get an email about a new scene, go check on xvideos, and it’s already there before I can get a blog post up about it. And with some studios who don’t care / don’t combat piracy, will stay there for all eternity.

    I feel like the entire industry will either have to fail, or get damn close before it comes back again. Just like in the music industry, I feel like the business model MUST change; to a model where content will be produced with the expectation that it may just be distributed freely, but where the major source / revenue stream isn’t subscription-based. (And it’s not xtube. Because even THEY rely on ads and subsctiptions to pay sites).

    Whoever can figure out that business model will be king of the porn, and maybe even king of the digital world. Because while xtube is nice, I really don’t want gay porn to become some fat, headless guy with a 3-inch dick riding a dildo, in a poorly-lit room, using his iphone as a camera. I also don’t want ‘SEXCBOII2242′ or ‘@ILurveGaySexxx#BBBH’ to be the gay porn stars of the world.

  14. Desslock says:

    Perhaps it is not so much about the death of the gay porn star, but rather the death of the platform to create the gay porn star.

    Hmmmm.

  15. Carlos Eduardo says:

    To simplify all of this shit talk everybody must blame PIRACY! ITERNET+P2P+BROADBAND made everything possible. Diesel Washington and Gay Porn Fanatic are so right!

  16. I CALL BULLSHIT ON YOU!

    There were Gay Pornstars before “the MBA Queens” invaded gay adult. A producer for Eurocreme was quoted saying that the European consumer for Gay Adult was not into “The Look” marketed by the “big North America Gay Adult Companies”.

    Without Question, the German models who have appeared in the Bruce LaBruce / Cazzo collaborations are Gay PornSTARs. And, since their product has been released as so-called “mainstream theatrical movies”, it can be said that these models have reached a much larger audience than any Gay Pornstars that came before them. For example, Marcel Schlutt has appeared in a number of movies that have been released as “mainstream” theatrical films – a lot more than TWO (wink, Judas Kiss and Werebear).

    How much models are paid and how may websites a model appears on is not something I give a shit about. I couldn’t even begin to list the number of names Chad Driver has used or begin to count the number of websites and studios Chad Driver worked for.

  17. Dominic Ford says:

    A very thought-provoking piece, Zach. It’s something I think about a lot. Two things I would like to echo are the ideas of accessibility of stars and the differences between amateur and studio porn.

    When we began DominicFord.com, I was very intent on being “accessible” on Twitter and other social networks so people didn’t think we were a company who didn’t care about its members. I even had a live chat on my homepage. People chatted with me and didn’t really believe it was me (because they assumed I had better things to do than sit and chat with them!). My partner argued that sometimes being too accessible makes you less of an enigmatic figurehead, because anyone can talk to you. He wasn’t sure if being accessible would help or hurt our brand. I remember early comments I made on queermenow.net were met with replies saying “you’re talking to us/joining the conversation now, but once you are successful you’ll stop talking to us.”

    I think that part of what made the “stars” of yesteryear stars were that no one had access to them. Certainly, I assumed that the stars I idolized growing up lived on remote islands full of beautiful people. They weren’t on twitter telling me how long the line at the DMV was, and the internal drama of the industry wasn’t opened up for all to see. Look at the Bel Ami boys of today for an example of that same mystique. They aren’t on twitter, Facebook or anything like that. They are untouchable because they are inaccessible. And therefore they are arguably bigger stars than those who have decided to be accessible. I remember coming back from Abiza when we filmed for Bel Ami. I showed photos to my friends, who said “You met Johanne Palik? WOW!” or “I can’t believe I know someone who knows Kris Evans.” These are things I used to say about the stars I grew up watching in Falcon movies. In fact, *I* was star struck when I met Johanne (and still wait for the day I meet Lukas Ridgestone). They weren’t accessible to normal people when I was growing up.

    But Twitter and the like have allowed “stars” to become accessible so anyone can reach out directly and talk to them. In my opinion, that has made the “stars” come down a little lower, because it’s not a big deal anymore if you talk to one of them. Today’s porn stars (and myself to a lesser degree) face that dilemma: do they open themselves up to their fans and show the fans how much they appreciate their loyalty, or do they remain elusive and therefore more inaccessible? Most of us have chosen to open direct lines of dialogue with fans/members/etc. But I (and I say this candidly) always wondered if anyone actually knows Sean Cody, because he is not on twitter or the like. He has more mystery around him than say I do, or many of the stars who appear on my own site. I’m at once jealous of that, but also happy that my members have a direct line of communication to me.

    Now, on the exact other side, I know porn stars today who remain stars BECAUSE they are accessible and because their fans have a real connection to them. I know that first hand on my own site, as I reply to every customer email within minutes. People are shocked, assume I am an indian call center, and then are more loyal because they know I actually care that they are having a technical problem. I would make the same choice over again: be accessible and be a real person. So it makes the stars/producers less enigmatic, but maybe it’s more important that people know you exist in real life too. Then again, when I found out that Cher was on Twitter I was like “really? What does Cher need twitter for?” And she lost a bit of mystique to me. So, my consumer side doesn’t want to think that Cher is a human being like me, because I’ve always put her on a “star” level that was far above mine as a person. But my producer side is at war with that same idea, because that part of me applauds her for opening herself up to her fans.

    Are there still stars? Sure there are, even if they are over-exposed. Hell, I went to the movie theatre last week and Jason Bateman was in 2 previews, and starring in the movie I was watching. That’s overexposure also, but he is still a movie star. I agree with everyone, however, that fucking a guy once on a couch does not make you star. To me, a star has staying power. People like Spencer Reed, Arpad Miklos and others are (in my opinion) stars. They have been around a while (Arpad for a LONG time), and they are still working. That’s because they are great to work with, always deliver, and take their jobs very seriously. Topher DiMaggio is another one who comes to mind with a terrific work ethic. These are guys who will not have sex (or cum at all) for DAYS before their shoots, go to the gym extra and really work with the director to try and make their new scene with you different than something they have done before. They berate themselves if they weren’t operating at 100% that day, and leave their issues off the set. We filmed Gavin Waters with Parker London, and Gavin had a stomach flu the entire time but refused to cancel, and gave an amazing performance (and he was bottoming). We made him do crunches (he filmed a workout for us), and I felt terrible because there was not an exercise that put him in more pain than that. But he did it, and the video shows no trace of him being in any pain. That’s what work ethic is.

    I can’t tell you how many guys come in to do a scene and tell me how they were out until 4 that morning, how drunk they got, and who they took home. And I am thinking to myself, “why aren’t they taking my scene seriously”? These are not stars, but they are also generally not people who have their minds set on being a porn star. As Diesel (whom I adore) and others have said, these are paycheck guys who are doing this until something else comes along. The fact that they call themselves “stars” is unfortunate, because they don’t have the professionalism that being a “star” warrants. That doesn’t make them less valuable or less of a person, and I am equally grateful they choose to work with us (a relatively small player in the industry). Their motivations are simply different, and being a star is not one of them. Sadly, the term ‘porn star’ is overused and misused by them, but I don’t believe they are calling themselves stars out of any grandiose vision. It’s just the term they know for people who perform in porn.

    When YouTube.com came along, the mainstream press had the same concern: movie stars would soon be a thing of the past now that anyone with a webcam could be a “star.” Yet, there are still movies, and still movie stars. YouTube did not kill the movies. XTube will not kill porn.

    The difference with porn is that at the end of the day people want to see a penis. And if they can see that for free, it’s ok if the lighting isn’t that great, and there is no lush on-location shoot. The amateur and pro stuff satisfy the same need the viewer has, and one is free. Compounding the problem is that unlike Hollywood (which continued making big-budget films instead of copying YouTube and creating amateur-looking videos), porn websites (and I am guilty of this as well as the rest) saw that people liked amateur-looking stuff and starting producing it. So now we have amateur porn that is free, and amateur porn produced by studios, which is not free. But it all looks the same to the consumer, so why would he pay for one and not the other.

    I’m not saying the answer is that studios go back to producing only high-budget movies, but studios (again, mine included) need to find ways to differentiate themselves. Some do it with exclusive stars, some with higher quality downloads, and some with other innovations. Certainly we have tried to do this by filming everything in 3D and supporting emerging platforms (though choosing hot guys and having passionate scenes is priority #1 above any technology decisions). Some might say big-budget movies are an 80s or 90s idea simply because consumer’s buying habits have changed in favor of piecemeal scene work. But I think there is room for both in the market.

    Sadly, budgets restrict our’s/everyone’s vision sometimes. We didn’t exist in the Halcyon days of porn, so I don’t know what that money even looked like. We started after the industry had already started hemorrhaging. I would love to only do movies like Whorrey Potter, or series like So You Think You Can Fuck (I SWEAR I am not trying to plug my own stuff here, sorry). It’s much easier for me to let my creative juices flow on projects like those. But consumers are now all about quantity, so “on the couch” scenes are the easiest to produce and edit on a weekly schedule. We routinely get complaints that we don’t update our site enough (we update weekly). But I know sites that update 3-4 times a week who get the same complaint. You can’t win in that department. The insatiable appetite for “new” (as you said quite well in your article) is what drives many business decisions.

    Piracy compounds this problem even further. In the MSNBC article about piracy, some of the comments were from people asking if watching a video on XVideos or XHamster (instead of downloading them from a torrent) was also illegal, because they don’t think they are “stealing” since they aren’t downloading anything. The ignorance out there about piracy (and what constitutes piracy) is amazing. It’s something we all struggle with on a daily basis. People have left comments on MY site asking where they can download the movie whose page they are on. Really?!

    Sorry for the long and candid response, but I think it’s a really great topic, Zach. Thanks for writing this.

    Best,
    Dominic

    • Steve454 says:

      Great comment, Dominic. To your point about Sean Cody, I can only say that it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the distance he has created does add a certain mystery to his product and it’s “stars”, however it has also created a bubble in which he exists. His so-called mysterious persona and that of his studio has also separated him from his fans and what they want to see. His product has suffered as a result, and I personally have canceled my longtime subscription. The perception is he no longer cares about the product, and it shows with bad direction, the substance of his videos, and a ridiculous amount of editing. I call it Sean Cody Lite. As with so many things nowadays, consumers are getting far less and paying a lot more.

  18. Res says:

    You guys go on like people hold pornstars to some kind of high standards. They’re nobody’s Beyonce. LOL All we come to do is bust our nut and move on with our lives. I’m not sitting at home thinking about Robert Axel as some prolific public figure. To be frank, I don’t even buy porn or download it because 85% of the performers are lackluster and these dumbass companies continue to mistreat gays with that gay-for-pay bs. So I can’t be mad because my money is still in my wallet. If you’re tired of the shit, stop buying it. Case closed.

    • Well that may be true, but you’re not everyone. Some people DO hold these porn guys in high regard. As for me, I don’t watch TV. I think getting caught up in someone else’s drama, scripted or not, in 10 minute increments with 5 minutes of commercials in between, is not my idea of exciting at ALL. I’d rather watch someone have sex. So I do hold a lot of these guys in a different regard than you, who looks at them as something to jack off to.

      And also, when you say “They’re nobody’s Beyonce”: you must not remember how her latest album was leaked 3 weeks before it’s release date, and hundreds of thousands of people downloaded it illegally. And she’s “Everybody’s Beyonce”.

      These problems, though we’re talking about the adult film industry, these problems are not exclusive to that industry. They affect any sort of digital media.

  19. J says:

    I think the terms “porn star”, “porn actor” and “porn model” are often seen as synonymous but are the terms “porn actor” or “porn model” really any more accurate, if a guy couldn’t be a real model because he’s only impressive from the neck down and his “acting” is laughable?

  20. robirob says:

    There’s a sense of overwhelment. Porn has become an easy accessable mass product that can be easily purchased (or consumed for free) through the internet.

    New releases push old releases (that didn’t manage to gain cult or legendary status right away) aside as fast as fresh faces, suckable dicks and puckering holes replace familiar faces, too familiar dicks and (now) gaping holes (unless they manage to gain a loyal cheering squad like fanbase). Porn has become a revolving door and even the most hardcore fans (who have more than one particular taste, type, or preference) have trouble to keep up.

    I think a lot of porn fans suffer from a mental “obesity” where they consume massive amounts of gay porn, but no longer are able to appreciate it.

    • Gunga Dun says:

      “Mental obesity” is the perfect explanation for what’s being discussed here. I remember the “old days” of porn when I would salivate over Colt ads and order films that had no actual sucking or fucking, but that was just about all there was. I’m talking 1970s… there was only a handful of magazines and to find one with a hard cock was almost impossible. Now? There are so many naked men out there… jacking, sucking, fucking, pissing…It’s become a chore to decide which one you want to invite into your fantasy. LOL — I’m not complaining but I also can’t help feeling a little nostalgic for the days when ONE photo of someone like Gordon Grant would become the object of my imagination for not just an “update” but for a year!

      As for Cody Cummings… He has as many rabid fans as he has haters. Not my cup of tea but gotta hand it to them…

  21. cider says:

    Maybe one problem was that gay porn studios became lazy and relied on one thing, a models heterosexuality as a selling point. It didn’t matter how he looked, how he preformed, all that matter was he was straight. As a result there was so much bad, lazy, cheap, amateur, run of the mill gay porn, all relying on the gay 4 pay selling point, there was no plot, no heat, no chemistry between models, nothing, just two non-gay models having boring sex for the 50th time filmed badly, why would anyone bother paying for it.

    Gay studios got lazy and they are now too shit scared to do anything.

  22. mitch says:

    hmmm always thought the term gaypornstars a bit funny and awkward. Stars are for me EVERY performer who delivers on screen and sadly enouff there aren’t that many and often when you have a few like pistol pete, jonathan vargas, tyler johnson they’re gone before i can say wow.
    Why is porn slimming down? Very simple : piracy, piracy and piracy, go and rent the movie, copy it and return it. That’s reason ONE, reason two the cost price. Most of them are too expensive. I’m willing to pay for a dvd i want but the price must be fair. Michael lucas is fair in his prices, bjorn and raging stallion can be so expensive.
    In the end i will submit to pay-websites as long as i can download the scenes. Say 50 bucks a month or so seems reasonable for a site or two.
    Hey i can even start my own studio if guys are willing to film a scene with me for a hundred bucks…..

  23. Pornobobbie Uncut Superhero says:

    Lets all just watch Str8 porn. Done.

  24. Nom Nom! says:

    Zach, although you raise some valid points, this article is too narrow to begin to describe the fall of the Porn Star.

    We’re all basically a by-product of our environment. We have too much technology, too much information, too many distractions, not to mention how much our main sources of visual stimulation have shifted as well; television/marketing.

    American TV and Film editing has sped-up and killed our attention span, and moved our focal point to ordinary people. Marketing also shifted from nothing but glamorous models and celebrities selling us products and appearing on ads, to a more inclusive style of cute but average joes who are less threatening and more attainable.

    Now, go back to big studio porn and tell me how much has changed. The guys are still massive, the style is still the same, and the men are still, for the most, part Caucasian. Yet I’m sure there’s much more to this shift, just throwing some really obvious ones out there.

  25. Tom Breston says:

    It also has to do with the fact that all the company heads don’t give a shit about anything but money anymore. They don’t care about making great content or putting passion into their work. It’s starting to show. Movies now aren’t creative what so ever. It’s always oral, ass eating, fuck position 1, fuck position 2, possibly 3rd position and then cum shots and them they kiss and it pans out. It’s only going to get worse now that all these companies are merging.

    • AJ Llewellyn says:

      Hey Zach,

      Very interesting topic and this particular comment is very true.
      I teamed up with director John Bruno (ex Massive Studios and Falcon) to do the first ever collaboration between a gay erotic romance author and a gay porn studio. We did four books together that were published by Extasy Books, and sold very well. The “Laid” series was John’s idea and I wrote the stories from his loglines.
      They were supposed to be books that would then be shot as webisodes on Falcon.
      I LOVED the pure eroticism of these books, plus there was humor,mystery and and some scorching sex. In the first of the “Laid” books I wrote a scene around the car wash on Santa Monica Boulevard, coreographing everything in my head thinking how cool it would look on film.
      John loved it, but the studio said it was too expensive to shoot with all that water.
      !!!
      Since it was deemed too expensive, only the second book,”Bad Cops” became a webisode series on the Massive site and the scenes were shot in a warehouse. We got some great stuff out of newcomer Hunter Marx and one of my fave guys, Samuel Colt but it was the first time I realized all the things that go wrong on a SIMPLE porn shoot, such as actors not showing up,actors who couldn’t deliver the money shot etc. etc.
      I was excited at the prospect of the “Laid” collaboration because I saw this as a whole new wave of adventure. Buy the book, see the sex scenes – original, HOT sex scenes and…damn.
      It came down to money.
      I still feel proud of the books but so sad at the wasted opportunity to create something special.

      • This is a very interesting story, I had no idea there were even people in North American Gay Adult now who were even capable of this kind of thought. Some very interesting content came out of Gay Adult North America back in the day and a shit load of very interesting content is coming out of Gay Adult Paris and the UK today (for example, MENOBOY seems to have been doing webisodes for some time now). I continue to wonder WHY it took North American Gay Adult Studios so fucking long to realize that, with the right kind of story, they could just edit down the hardcore scenes and have a movie that could be sold to a much larger audience (to the “mainstream” as it was, even though I fucking hate the word mainstream). Essentially, Bruce LaBruce (Toronto / Berlin) and Toby Ross (Chicago) were doing this “under the radar”. Now, the concept seems to have gained some headwind thanks to Bruce LaBruce.

        As I said in my comment, with movies like Bite Marks and Otto and with the fact that some North American Gay Adult Producers have finally gotten onto the TWO VERSIONS OF MOVIES (hardcore and theatrical) wave, the ECONOMICS of gay adult would be in for a radical change. And, as said, THE NEW WAVE of Gay Porn Star could reach a level of celebrity and “mass appeal”. This is what my previous comment was about. Butt, as per usual, it went over Zacharisha’s head.

        • Zach says:

          No matter what the story is that you’re commenting on, you find a way to make your comment somehow about me, for some reason? And neither it (the comment itself) nor your need to bring me into it makes any sense. ~smh~

          • although not a “gay erotic romance author”, Jean was gay and an author. And, while not a gay porn studio per se, Rainer was Gay and a movie director. In any event, the end product turned out well, with “mainstream” appeal. So, obviously, there are some situations where “big budget” is warranted.

  26. Estelle says:

    Wow, I think this is the first time where I have agreed with all the comments here. All of them have very valid points. The question is will any of these comments be taken to heart? I doubt it. I think Robert Axel has been teetering around the porn industry for the 5-6 years. I’m guessing as the studio got lower end, then the paycheck he got was on the lower end as well. At this point, I wonder who, if anybody, would work with him? A lot of companies had egg on their faces with Jason Crystal and now Jake Cruise looks kind of foolish promoting this guy as an exclusive when he obviously wasn’t.

    Dominic, Arpad hasn’t worked that much in a couple of years and when he has it has been mostly in the “older man/hairy bear” kind of films. Reading some of the feedback you got back on Twitter Zach, I thought it was interesting that one of the two performers that took issue with your article is essentially doing the same thing that Robert Axel is doing.

    Gay for pay Spencer Fox in a few short months has appeared on something like 20 different websites including almost all of the in Jaden Grey’s words “low class” Bang Bros gay sites that feature the disgusting moving van you mentioned in your article. I mean that’s fine and all, but you aren’t going to become a “true gay pornstar” by jumping from site to site every week. In fact, it’s more like your time in the industry will be brief and you will flame out quickly. The average female porn performer’s career lasts about six months these days, I guess gay porn and straight porn have more in common then we thought.

  27. joeblow says:

    It’s not just porn stars but porn in general that is dead. All the major studios do porn by committee and consensus so it’s robbed of most of its passion right off the bat. The safe sex Nazis dictate what can and cant be depicted in porn, then the post office must be appeased as to what can be shipped where (which also dictates what is seen). Then the director and his friends and everyone else that have been let on to a hot set when porn is being filmed become a de facto editor. By inhibiting the performers, making comments and generally being bitchy.

  28. E M Greythorne says:

    Let’s put in a kind word for XTube, though. It’s satisfied the fetish community in a way no other medium possibly could have. While mainstream gay porn has become as routinized as Mr. Breston says, XTube has not only commodified the entertainment of those of us who collect dildos, it’s allowed us to exchange videos and reviews on name brands in a way no mainstream video producer would, and no written description of the implement could. While I still rent the occasional DVD for anything more than a few minutes of entertainment, I despair to find much that speaks to my, er, hobby. XTube remains my preferred source for the kind of entertainment I enjoy.

  29. sink-bot says:

    Brilliant writing

  30. JOSE says:

    The Death is because of alot factors (stabbings if you will):

    Stab #1: Piracy: Plain and simple it stole the money right from the studios. You can get whole movies online for free now. Because of this studios have less money to work with therefore shittier product. Remember this is a business especially for the big studios.

    Stab #2: Porn Companies: Because of the lack of money the studios are relying on familiar faces to attract people. Remember a couple of months ago when the same two porn stars were on two different box covers for two different studios and they came out within days of each other. While it kinda makes sense to use the same models the customers get bored. Its the same recipe and its dull. They don’t try to do anything new or using a new look so people became uninterested. Amateur porn however shows new and different looks and some of these are hot but the main stream studios won’t use them because they aren’t “marketable”. Playing it safe is ruining the studios from within.

    Stab #3: Porn Consumers: They want it all and they want it fast. But instead of telling the studios what they want they just don’t buy it or accept whatever is given to them. Its our money fucking take a stand. Our taste varies and we should demand that in our porn. Unless you do the same position and routine when you fuck everytime you fuck. Ask for something different…more black guys bottoming (I can only think of Race Cooper), more Asians (Nicco Sky). Just not the same shit over and over again with rotating backdrops.

    Stab #4: Social media/Porn Actors: Its a double-edged sword. I mean yes we should know what the stars are doing but not everysingle fucking move. Like Zach said I don’t need to know how long the DMV line was. I don’t need to know how much weed you smoked. Samuel Colt, Chris Porter, Austin Wilde and others are pros and making sure whatever they post is entertaining while being relatable. Yes we will never perform at Hustlaball but thanks for showing us pics (seriously). They respond their fans as opposed to others who only tweet back to other actors or when they want you to buy their shit. There are some who just tweet every detail of their day thinking that their fans are so enamored by them that they will love it. Guess what you’re fucking wrong. Be smart about it.

  31. Jose says:

    There are a combination of factors but “big” studios never diversified, meaning they kept using the same format over and over again with some “costume changes” here and there and different actors…bottom line… redundant and boring no matter how buff, hung or big budget it was. The Internet has opened venues to those who saw this and created “niches” that the big studios did not create. Look at Treasure Island Media, Working Man Studios, Macho Fucker,etc – they created niches that fill everyone’s fantasies.

  32. Sam says:

    I hope you people are as passionate about our economy as you are about these losers of life..LoL

    • Asenath says:

      I don’t see how your comment is at all relevant. It is possible to be a well-informed adult, voter, & consumer, and to also be interested in the industry side of how porn is produced. Especially if you’re of the opinion that the perfomers & sex workers are interesting people in their own rights. And if you are interested in ethically-sourced porn. Lumping them all as ‘losers of life’ isn’t kind or fair, and sort of underlines your own sadness: here you are, on a porn blog, but you think the guys you are getting off to are unworthy of personhood in their own right?

      Sounds like therapy issues to me.

      • Sam says:

        My comment stands..as i haven’t gone into dept as many have above regarding this (ie mindless entertainment)..it is what it is..apparently by your response it shows how sad your life is…:-)

        • aiden says:

          no mister you’re the sad one.this is a nice article and some interesting discussions worth participating in yet you show up faking disinterest just to have your chance to say “I don’t care abut this irrelevant discussion I care about politics and economy”.By making these statements you just want to reinforce in yourself a sense of superiority because unlike us you waste no time in discussing *le sigh* porn.gtfo loser of life.

  33. Jake says:

    I would argue that the star system didn’t die with the introduction of the internet and the proliferation of free porn on the net, I would argue that the star system died in November 1994 with the death of Joey Stefano. I think the industry realized that the price to be paid for glorifying one individual over all others was too high even for the greedy business that it is. Jeff Stryker, Ken Ryker, Ryan Idol and Joey.. they weren’t everyone’s thing but they had a certain celebrity that has not been repeated. Sure, there have been popular models since 1994, some that have even broken through to mainstream.. but real gay porn icons/stars, that’s a thing of the past.

    Moreover, since the mid 90s, there has been a widening in the definition of what we consider to be ‘hot’, ‘sexy’, ‘beautiful’, ‘erotic’. I mean my God, up until the late 90s, if a model had body hair it was a mortal sin much less tattoos, piercings, was not ripped, etc. We’re still behind on the race thing (how many black and Asian models have been big names over the past twenty years – I mean aside from the stories that these models tell themselves – I mean in reality?) but at least we’ve broadened our appeal in the area of body image. And that too has cut down on the notion of ‘stars’. There was a time when everyone agreed that Jeff Stryker was what we were supposed to look like.. but I don’t think that’s true anymore. There are so many body types available to us as erotic role models that having just one is laughable.

    Finally, and this goes back to what many of you were saying, the responsibility has to ultimately fall upon the models themselves. When you sell yourself short and work cheap, when you agree to do an appearance and flake, when you arrive on a set drugged up or drunk, YOU ARE NOT A STAR.

  34. aiden says:

    How comes that such an interesting and incredibly well written thread is completely ignored by most porn models?
    They all usually come here writing their crap for self-promotion but now that the subject gets real they are MIA….kudos to dominicford and the other few insiders who contributed.

  35. GAZZAQ says:

    Zach this is a well written article. I just click on the link from Banana guide and was glad I did so.

    I have been watching porn for 30 years and up to about 5 years ago me and my mates would always waited for the big studios Falcon, Catalina et al to release their lastest videos and then rush out to buy them as they unveiled their ‘stars’ of the day.

    Then as the internet porn continued to grow and grow we moved with the times and to be honest it is miles cheaper as you have access to the whole website content not just one four to five scene DVD/VIDEO.

    There is so much choice nowdays and we are saturated. Thats not a bad thing as it about choice and now you can follow a model for a few months and then onto the next guy.

    Its funny to watch a model nowdays come and go so quickly and the short term(said in the best possible taste)attention span of some of the blog critics for example WayBig’s bloggers are funny at at times and then down right nasty if a model does not fit their perceived’perfect image’ of straight man handsomeness or is around to long. This is reserved particularly for the Sean Cody Models who remind me of the Falcon in thier heyday

    Ah Mike Branston from Falcon he brought back a few good memories.

    Cheers

  36. Greer says:

    “Or, were we all just shallow before, masturbating to unrealistic and idealized versions of gay men, and over time we’ve become more accepting of and in turn stimulated by different body types–body types more like our own (which, in turn, makes us narcissists)?”

    You were shallow. Acknowledging that men can be attractive without spending 6 days a week in a gym does not make people narcissistic. The death of the gay pornstar seems to have coincided with the rise of niches. We recognize now that people’s tastes are wider than the look provided by someone like Mike Branson and there are hundreds of sites and plenty of companies willing to fill those niches. It seems to me the “gay pornstar” was something we shouldn’t miss too much anyway. It was invariably some overmuscled, big-dicked (but overexaggerated), circumsized and shaved guy with zero on-screen charisma and performing power(or conversely, an ego the size of Rushmore). Some of the hottest videos in recent years have featured men having passionate, real sex and they didn’t need that body-type or the promotion as big STARS to make the performance hot.

    Also, let’s not lie to ourselves and pretend it was ever not about the money, then or now.

  37. Silver Pixie says:

    I know most of the replies have been from men but I thought a straight (well slightly straight) woman needed to speak up for a moment and give her opinion. So here it is for what it is worth…

    No understands that Redtube and those websites are posting films illegally. Honestly Until till I read through the replies it didn’t accrue to me that what they were doing was illegal but it does make sense now that it was and is. I think that this is a world of people feeling self entitled to if you can find it on the internet that it’s free and can be done with as they wish. Laws till recently sadly reflected this self entitlement. Everyone now a day’s want something for nothing and if it means visiting websites to view and download porn they will… We need to take a stand and somehow put a stop to it. I know that many Writers are now standing up and being heard and I think the Gay Porn industry should do but I am at a lost as to know where to start. I also as parents of 4 kids (one being a boy) don’t want to see some of these sites go away. I think that some kids (even if they are underage) need an outlet to figure themselves out and sometimes porn gives them an idea of what turns them on. I am not saying we should make it easy for them but I don’t think that we should make it that hard either… I am the type of mom who sticks with what I don’t know won’t kill me or them… does that mean I don’t know NO does it mean I will play stupid if I think its best YES.
    I also think There needs to be a better check and balance and People need to stop feeling like they are entitled to everything on the internet for free. Sadly I also think that there needs to be a way to make DVDs less expensive sorry I said it but porn isn’t cheap and people want cheap and good… I also think that the industry doesn’t always realize that their “art” appeals to woman like myself… where I cannot tell you why as a woman I think its hotter than hell to watch to men go at it I know that I like it and kill myself sometimes to support my habit Albeit a bad one at times. I hate to see what the internet is doing to this industry. I truly do and I will do what I can to support each and every company I can in any way that I can… does it mean its always with my money no… sorry I am short on that but I’ll be DAMNED if I don’t have a Big mouth and I will report, Bitch piss and moan when I see someone abusing the gay porn industry.
    I do the same thing for the Writers out there I don’t want to see a good thing go away… However at this point and time I might not be so broken up to see straight porn take a nose dive off the face of the earth But that is a Rant for another Thread..

    Thank you for letting a crazy woman have her say… I am sure it’s kind of random and useless but I am writing this around a 9yr who is being really nosey.

    Silver Pixies
    Momof4
    Porn Lover and supporter.

  38. Spencer Fox says:

    Love the article and love the user comments even more! Piracy is thievery. There is no way to justify it and there is no such thing as a free porno. At least not yet in our non utopian society lol… When you are watching a porn, we are inviting you into our working lives as performers and It dosent matter how ripped, or cool some of us are, because either way, we are all peformers trying to put on a good show. I will never discriminate against any company and I will always make sure to perform my very best in each scene because I know in my heart that if I’m not putting in the time or giving the respect that each scene deserves, then I am not being worthy of even 1 penny that I’m earning. I love being a performer and im forever greatful to the people of the industry and the honest people who pay for our product!

  39. Who cares about stars anyhow?

    If consumers are enjoying whatever they are buying, and if the models are having fun making videos (and getting paid fairly for their work) then achieving an overabundance of fame seems less important. (Note I said overabundance. Even many non Star performers get more than enough fame to enjoy that aspect of making adult videos.)

    In music, the “hit” song is really dead too (see the music version of this article here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/magazine/the-swan-song-of-the-top-40.html ) But music is still being made, and people are still enjoying making and listening to music.

    Some create porn for fun, some for money and some for fame. All of these things are still out there. But excepting fun, they are all limited quantities spread out a lot more thinly across a larger number of performers.

    But those that are in this business for fun, those who find it a calling, will find that they are still able to achieve an abundance of enjoyment in making porn.

  40. Samuel Colt says:

    I think the Internet killed the gay porn star. Maybe “killed” is not the right word, but “changed” is better. It made them more accessible, and thus less mysterious. I remember driving 300 miles to go see my favorite star when I was in my 20′s… thinking “Oh my god, I can’t believe I am going to meet him in person!” With the internet we don’t have that mystique anymore. Performers are largely accessible. We can tweet them, email them, watch the live cam show.

    Is it a good or bad thing? Well, the answer doesn’t matter because that is how it is now. Unfortunately for some performers, we get to see their true personality. Doesn’t matter how hot some people are, for me the personality can kill it. Fortunately for others, it allows a fan to truly interact and follow the performers they enjoy. If you have a good personality, it will even grow your fan base. I hear all the time for people who say “I’ve followed you on twitter for months and I really enjoy what you say. I’ve never seen your porn before but I want to now… what should I get?”

    Piracy and tube site are killing the big porn studios, but it is communication and the internet that caused a change in the idea of the “gay porn star”.

  41. Peter says:

    I would argue that Lukas Ridgestone and Johan Paulik, whose careers began just at the advent of cyber-porn, were the last gay porn stars in the the Jeff Stryker and Kevin Williams sense of the term. They peaked when most of us still had dial-ups and you couldn’t really download full scenes, much less movies. Those little thirty-second GIFs were great promos for their features.

    Bel Ami actually forms a bridge between “classic” gay porn of the Falcon ilk, and today’s cyber porn as they were the first real ‘gay4pay’ producer. George Duroy was providing what every gay man wanted to see: incredibly good looking straight college-aged guys having hard-core gay sex. Bel Ami, pardon the pun, tapped into that ‘look but don’t touch’ frustration that is an integral part of the sentimental education of a gay man.

    So it hardly surprises that the most popular internet gay porn sites feature ‘gay4pay’ performers. Whether they are truly straight or not is anyone’s guess. I think most of them are, which is why they usually squirt and scram: they make enough money to pay-off the credit cards, tuition, etc.

    I would suggest that the closest thing to old-school gay porn stars today would be the Corbin Fisher long-timers like “Dawson”, “Lucas”, “Travis” etc. The site still maintains that these guys, who have been in close to 100 gay action scenes each, are straight, and they may very well be. But perhaps its the ‘straightness’ that prevents them from becoming stars.

  42. MikeZReady says:

    Okay, guys. I came across this thread by accident and I’ve gotta say, I don’t get it.

    As an older, gwm, who’s been around the block more than a few times I’d like to take the time to state what should be obvious:

    1) Welcome to capitalism! Your goods and services are only worth as much as someone is willing to pay.
    2) Making a living by pulling your dick out of your pants is a short-lived career. There’s always someone younger, better looking with a bigger cock waiting just around the corner who’s willing to do it for less.
    3) Elevating these performers to the level of “stars” is probably a mistake. Just because they’re young and enthusiastic about bending over for the camera doesn’t mean they have talent.
    4) Your concern for these performers is misplaced. Trust me, they’re not concerned about you.
    5) These performers are a dime a dozen. There’s nothing rare or special about them. They’re just men like you and I.

    Porn actors are like mirrors. They reflect our hopes, dreams, fantasies, passion and lust for sex. They typically do this by accident. In a few years, when the mirror has lost it’s shine, no one will recognize them.

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