Gay porn’s most shocking taboo

"Twincest" is pushing limits in an industry known for extremes. What is it, and why are so many people watching?

Topics: Pornography, LGBT, Sex,

Gay porn's most shocking tabooElijah and Milo Peters

Based on their YouTube channel, Elijah and Milo Peters just seem like your average, slightly awkward Czech teenage twins. They enjoy role-playing games and steak. They like frolicking around on the beach in their elaborately patterned underwear and taunting each other while bodybuilding. (“Hey you lazy-ee boy! Put some weight on eet!”) But the Peters twins aren’t quite as innocent as their goofy grins and adorable accents suggest.

Over the past few months, they have become two of the most controversial performers to hit the gay porn world in a very long time. That’s because they’re willing to break a taboo that, even in an industry that thrives on extremes, is too extreme for many: twin incest (or, more succinctly, twincest). While the concept of twin performers is not new to the gay porn world, the Peters twins are notable both because of the extent of their popularity and the things they are willing to do with each other on camera. They French kiss; they perform oral sex on each other; they have anal sex; and most shockingly of all, they do it in a tender and romantic way.

“My brother is my boyfriend, and I am his boyfriend,” says one of the twins during a phone call from Prague (Elijah and Milo sound so much alike on the phone it is impossible to tell which one is speaking). “He is my lifeblood, and he is my only love.”

The twins’ astonishing lack of shame — and their willingness to do anything with each other on camera — has helped turn them into a gay porn phenomenon. Since they first began appearing on Czech porn studio Bel Ami’s website (NSFW, like all links in this story) in 2009, the company’s traffic has doubled to 1.5 million users per month, and Milo and Elijah have become the subject of breathless coverage on adult blogging sites like Fleshbot and The Sword. They’ve even been flown from Prague to the United States for a whirlwind tour of Florida gay nightspots. But their surprising popularity raises some disturbing questions: Who are these twins? What keeps so many people watching them? And what, exactly, are viewers getting off on?



The company behind the twins, Bel Ami, is probably the biggest and best-known company in the booming Czech gay porn industry — which, thanks to the growth of Internet porn and the low cost of Czech performers, has become the world’s second largest center for gay porn production after California. Bel Ami mainly features “twinks” (skinny white men in their late teens or early 20s with a vanilla aesthetic and an unfortunate penchant for feathered hair) and exports its movies around the world. Go to any American gay porn store and you’ll find Bel Ami titles like “An American in Prague” and “Some like it BIG.”

The twins first appeared on Bel Ami’s site in the summer of last year, as performers in a couple of “group scenes.” At first, Elijah and Milo didn’t really touch each other in their scenes, but over the course of several months, in a rollout worthy of “Cloverfield,” the studio either let them (or pushed them to) go further and further with each other on-screen. At first this involved them jerking each other off during group sex, then, in a scene with a gangly performer named “Trevor Yates,” performing oral sex on one another, and finally, in a much-hyped video, having full-on sex. The studio sent out a press release in the days preceding it, warning gay porn bloggers that “twincest” was coming.

The first of the full twincest videos begins with a confessional interview, in which the two of them sit on a couch and talk about their attraction for one another — “Just looking at my brother’s watching his body in the mirror makes me horny.” Before long they’ve stripped down to bikini underwear, are sitting on each others’ laps, and slow-dancing in the middle of Bel Ami’s living room set while reminiscing about a night out (“Like that night at the disco, do you remember?”).

Then things get a little more intense: They kiss passionately, jerk each other off, give each other blow jobs, and finally, in the grand finale, have unprotected anal sex with each other on a couch. The entire affair is disturbing not only because the sight of two identical-looking men having sex is, well, disconcerting, or the fact that they’re doing so without protection against HIV — but because the twins are either really good actors, or they really enjoy having sex with one another.

“Part of what makes them so shocking is that they’re really into it — when they have sex with each other, there’s no holding back,” says Jack Shamama, the editor of Gay Porn Blog. Fleshbot, Gawker Media’s site about the porn industry, was a little more critical. Blogger Cedric DeWittison wondered: “What was the sequence of tawdry events that lead to the brothers 1) screwing each other with abandon to begin with, and 2) deciding to capture it on film for money for millions to see? Are they that desperate for cash?”

According to the back story being sold by the twins and the studio, it’s not just about the money for Elijah and Milo: They are two brothers engaged in a real-life romantic relationship, and are simply showing it off on-screen for the enjoyment of viewers. According to them, they live their lives together as a couple, and only have sex with each other (and nobody else) in their private lives. Speaking in sweetly broken English, they come across as charming and giddy teenagers that, at the tender age of 19, are genuinely thrilled about their newfound fame and notoriety. It’s unclear if the story they are telling is true, or part of their marketing, but it is clear that they enjoy playing along. They also don’t seem remotely uncomfortable speaking about their peculiar sexual behavior.

The way they tell their story, they were “very close” as children and first began having sex with each other when they were 15 years old — around the same time they decided to pursue a career in pornography. Once they turned 18, they submitted their photos to Bel Ami, explaining that they’d be willing to have sex with each other on camera. After their work hit the Web, they say, somebody sent a link to one of their videos to their parents: “Our parents recognized what we actually do, and it was not good,” says one of them. Though, clearly, that isn’t stopping them.

Of course, twins aren’t a new fantasy by any means. For straight men, sex with twins has become a cliché that’s popped up everywhere from Coors Light commercials to, more recently, MTV’s “A Double Shot at Love With the Ikki Twins” dating show, in which male and female suitors competed to date two spray-tanned bisexual twins with rhyming names. But the appeal of gay twincest is a little more complicated than the standard straight male twin fantasy (in which one man is usually the passive recipient of the twins’ attention).

“On some level, you could argue that twincest is this idealized version of gay sex,” says Shamama. “These guys are basically having sex with themselves.” It goes without saying that the two look identical — but Bel Ami plays this up in the twins’ scenes, having them wear matching outfits, and posing in publicity photographs as if they are reflective images. According to Jonathan Turner, a distinguished professor of sociology at the University of California at Riverside and the author of “Incest: The Origins of the Taboo,” “it’s almost like self-masturbation.” For Shamama, who says he used to fantasize about having sex with himself when he was younger, these fantasies were a way to rationalize his gay attraction. He used to do it “as a way to sublimate the fact that I wanted to have gay sex.”

The biggest part of twincest’s appeal, however, probably has to do with the forbidden-ness of watching two brothers have sex. “If it’s porn, it’s usually violating some cultural norm,” says Turner. Both gay and straight porn are filled with storylines about breaking the conventions of class (sex with the pool boy or pizza boy), race (interracial porn), authority (sex with a teacher or a police officer) or age (younger men having sex with older men or women). Of course there are countless other porn genres (from fisting to water sports) built on traditionally unacceptable behavior — so why not incest, one of the least acceptable sexual behaviors there is?

There are certainly good reasons to discourage incest — and, for the most part, our aversion to it runs deep. According to Turner, the disgust that comes with certain forms of incest, like mother-son incest, has been hard-wired into the human brain, since those carry heightened chances of genetic abnormalities (like cleft palates, autism and mental retardation) in resulting children. The notoriously promiscuous chimpanzees, for example, developed elaborate behavioral mechanisms for avoiding parent-offspring incest (young females are often expelled from groups at an early age, and young males will scrupulously avoid all sexual contact with their mothers). But in the case of siblings, the chances of genetic problems are lower — and therefore, Turner argues, we’re less hard-wired against it.

“Sibling incest between opposite-sex children is regulated by something called the Westermarck effect,” explains Turner. This stipulates that one of the factors keeping most people from being attracted to their siblings is their close proximity as children. As researchers have observed on Israeli kibbutzes, among other places, children that roughhouse together in their youth are less likely to get married to each other as adults. “Some sort of imprinting occurs that hits during puberty,” he says, “but sibling incest is not a normatively powerful taboo.” Meaning: It doesn’t have the power or cause the kind of instantaneous revulsion that other forms of incest, like mother-son, do. That might explain why the transgressive allure of watching twincest manages to outstrip the revulsion for many porn fans.

It also might explain why twins have been popping up in gay porn since the ’70s, though usually in a much more demure form than the Peters twins. Likely the first twins to appear together were the Christy twins, two long-haired brothers who appeared in films in the 1970s (though some argue they may simply have been two men who looked very much alike). About a dozen gay porn twins have followed in their wake — with names like the Odyssey Twins, the Lautrec twins, and the Otov twins — though very few had any real sexual contact, the most notable exception being a pair of Czech twins named Jirka and Karol Bartok. The Bartok twins released one major film, “Double Czech,” with William Higgins, another Czech studio, in which they had sex with each other while looking utterly mortified (the same studio has recently begun touting another set of twins, the Richter twins, as their own up-and-coming twincest stars). But like most other gay porn twins, the Bartok twins quickly left the industry, either out of embarrassment or because they’d made all the money they wanted.

And that’s something that the Peters twins claim they have no intention of doing. “We want to keep making videos for Bel Ami for the next 50 years,” one says. Of course, like previous gay porn twins, their motivations for doing porn are likely a mix of the pragmatic (money, travel opportunities) and psychological (adolescent rebellion, sexual exploration and fame-seeking), but unlike their predecessors, their astonishing lack of shame is enough to make you believe them. They’ve recently taken part in what Bel Ami is touting as “the largest orgy in gay porn history,” filmed in South Africa, and they’ve got their sights set on our shores. “Being famous would be the best thing,” one says. “In the future, we want to move to America.”

That may be so, but if they ever do take up residence on our shores, they’ll have to choose their new location carefully: In many American states having sex with your brother isn’t just very taboo — it’s also very illegal.

Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers is Salon's former Arts Editor. He has written for the Globe & Mail, the Village Voice and other publications. He can be reached at @thomasmaxrogers.

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