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"Working Stiffs"

I sold this feature to in October 2007.  They paid me on time, but never ran it.  (Too “real” for them, maybe?)  Here it is…

(Evan Stone on the set of ‘The Da Vinci Load’ with the late Hailey Paige, December 2005.)

Thinking about pursuing a career in on-camera studdery? Consider these warnings from men who are actually balls-deep in the trenches.

By Ben Goldstein

Even before his dick exploded, Shane Diesel’s greatest concern was his future. The 44-year-old porn superstar — who often performs under the name “Blackzilla” — got into the business about six years ago when the airline he worked for slashed employee pay to stave off bankruptcy. Though he was only looking to make a few extra bucks and build a nest egg for retirement, Shane’s on-screen charm and (no bullshit) enormous penis quickly made him one of porn’s most recognizable and highly paid male stars. Yet he never quit his job handling cargo. Which seems totally absurd, until he tells you about that one fateful shoot.

“I was working with a great girl, I was really aroused, and I busted the main vein,” Shane says. “I looked down, and my penis looked like an eggplant.”

Shane’s injury only sidelined him for a month — his doctor was originally concerned that he had severed a tendon, which would mean surgery and no sex for four-to-six months — but it put the fear of God into him. “All this can fall out at any time,” Shane says. “To me, porn is not a career. It’s just a well-paying gig.”

It turns out that as an adult film actor, a busted cock is the least of your worries. Getting paid to bone hot chicks may be every adolescent male’s fantasy, but when sex is literally your job, things can get complicated. For one thing, there’s the potential for loneliness. After all, it’s not easy to find a girlfriend who doesn’t mind sharing her man with a different woman every day.

“Let’s say I meet a girl at bar, she recognizes me, she’s excited, and we have sex,” explains Evan Stone, a nine-year porn veteran and star of Vivid Video’s Popstar, which hits racks in November.[1] “She’s never had great sex like that, and all is groovy for the first week or so, until she comes to a porno set and sees you fucking someone else, and all of a sudden it’s evil and you need to cut your hair and get a job for UPS.”

Since the profession tends to freak out civilians, most male performers seeking relationships find their partners within the industry. But if you think that porn actresses don’t possess the female jealousy gene simply because they do the same thing for a living, you’d be wrong, and if you think the daily sex life shared by two porn stars would be explosive, you’d be really, really wrong.

“When you’ve worked nine days in a row and you finally get a day off, sometimes the last thing you want to do is have sex,” says Randy Spears, a member of the AVN Hall of Fame who has been appearing in adult films for over 20 years and has been married twice to porn actresses. “It does taint your personal life, to be honest. If I’m going to work tomorrow, I won’t make love to my wife tonight.”

Currently enduring a rocky marriage to Hungarian sex-bomb Rita Faltoyano[2], Tommy Gunn has learned that being in porn and being in a committed relationship should be mutually exclusive propositions. “If you want to do well in this business, don’t have girlfriends or wives,” he advises. “When you show up at work after having a fight with your girl, your brain isn’t there, and your performance could be jeopardized.”

And to these men, there’s nothing more sacred than Performance. Because here’s the deal: Men don’t exactly “star” in adult films. The DVD box covers feature only the women, few porn fans care who the guys are in any given film, and after a sex scene begins, viewers generally see only the male talent’s penis, testicles and ass; his ability to emote on camera rarely figures into the equation. Thus, a porn actor’s job description is often reduced to “Can you keep your dick hard?”

Now, if you’ve ever had a fight with your girlfriend so intense that it affects your productivity at the office, causing you to get reamed out by your boss (figuratively speaking, of course), imagine if you were required to maintain an erection while crunching spreadsheets. If you think that’s a silly analogy, then you don’t know how closely porn sets mirror the world of bullshit cubicle culture.

First of all, there’s the micro-managing bosses: “One of the worst things about the job is dealing with bad directors,” Shane says. “They’re like frustrated actors, sitting behind the camera and telling you what to do. They’ll be jealous that you’re working with a girl they like and they’ll try anything to screw up the scene.”

Then there’s the annoying co-workers whose incompetence only creates more work for you. “I hate dealing with 18- and 19-year-old girls that know nothing about sex,” Shane continues. “They don’t know their bodies and they’re always posing for the camera or sitting there giggling instead of working with the guy. That’s why the chemistry is so much better with the older women — like 27 years old and up.[3] They love having orgasms and they love pleasing the guys.”

Jack Venice, a 25-year-old ex-Marine who’s been doing porn for about three years, agrees that dealing with female newcomers is probably the biggest cold shower in his line of work. Ever since porn-consumer dollars started shifting towards Internet-based companies like Bang Bros and Naughty America, who own multiple sites that are relentlessly updated for subscribers each week, a female performer’s novelty has become far more valuable than her sexual talents or screen presence. The superstar era of Jenna Jameson and Tera Patrick is ending, and taking its place is the era of the untrained masses — girls whose marketability starts to decline as soon as they take their first facial. Unfortunately, that information doesn’t seem to have trickled down to the starlets, many of whom[4] see porn as a first step towards mainstream stardom.

“Even if a girl’s really pretty, she’s got maybe a year before it’s over,” Jack says. “But you can’t take a girl from Whatevertown, Kentucky, bring her out to L.A. where every porn girl is riding around in an $80,000 Benz and making 30 grand a month, and tell them not to spend all their money — to save it, because it’s not going to last. No, the very next day, she’ll have a couple Louis Vuitton purses, designer glasses, a $3,000 poodle so she can look like Paris Hilton, and then a $3,000 bag for the dog to shit in when she realizes that the dog actually shits and eats.”

And when their careers inevitably burn out because they can’t compete with the busloads of fresh-faced 18-year-olds flooding into the San Fernando Valley every day? “They either have to do shit that’s more extreme, or get drastic amounts of plastic surgery. It’s sad, but you can’t do anything about it except smile and do your scene.”

Which brings us to why, despite the lack of recognition, the romantic difficulties, the performance anxiety, the broken blood vessels, and the emasculation of being paid less than their co-stars — male performers start out making about $300-$500 per scene, while the girls start at around $800-$1000 — for the first time in history, porn might be a better gig for the men than the women. Adult film producers (as well as fans) don’t care if a guy is young, perky, and new — they only care that he can stay hard and shoot a load when it’s time for the scene to end. Youthful enthusiasm might be enough for the girls, but being a woodman takes specialized skills[5], and if you have them, then you also have job security.

As Tommy puts it, “We’re not the most celebrated in the industry — the girls are obviously the marketing backbone — but when a guy is good and can do his job, he’s got a long life expectancy ahead of him.”

“As long as you’re happy and healthy and you show up on time and you’re not on drugs, they love you,” Jack adds. “If you can pop in less than two minutes, you’re their hero.”

Everyone loves to bitch about their jobs, but if the negatives of doing porn really outweighed the positives, these men would be in different lines of work. Assuming you have the right attitude[6] and the requisite exhibitionist streak (and you don’t mind sleeping with thousands of women in your life), being a porn star can be the fabled California Dream. And ultimately, its participants are quick to defend it.

“Unless you’re President of the United States — and there’s a lot of stress with that job — there aren’t many jobs that have the same thrill as the one we have,” Evan says. “If you don’t like what you’re doing, it’s because you have a problem with yourself.”

“Sometimes I wake up and I feel like I’m a dream, just from the money alone,” Shane says.

And Tommy Gunn, a formerly underdeveloped and meek kid from New Jersey who gained confidence through stripping, and later porn, finds the business rewarding in ways that have nothing to do with money or sex: “The industry has been a family to me. I feel like I’ve found a place where I belong.”

With that in mind, it’s possible that the only thing male porn stars need to be truly wary of is their own success. “Once people become popular, it tends to warp them a bit,” Randy says. “They become unhappy with themselves, or ashamed, and then they start doing drugs to bury that, and it becomes a vicious cycle. It’s really no different from Hollywood, actually.”

[1] With his wild hair, slightly crazed grin and hyperactive verbal delivery, Evan comes off very much like a caveman raised by used-car salesmen.

[2] Who we would find a way to get it up for, no matter how many pop-shots we had to do that day.

[3] Women: You may think the ageism in today’s dating scene is rough, but you’ve never experienced the special kind of ego-shredding that comes from being relegated to “MILF” videos the day you turn 24.

[4] …bizarrely, idiotically, delusionally…

[5] As Evan explains it, erection-enhancing drugs have made the job more accessible, but there’s no pill that can magically transform a man into a porn star. “It’s not just sex. You have to perform sex—you have to show off to the camera, and you have to make the girl happy about what’s going on. It’s all presentation, and some people get it and some people don’t.”

[6] In general, the happiest male porn stars tend to be the ones who get into it for the money, and stay in it for the money. Those seeking respect, admiration and fame become depressed and disillusioned in short order.

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