Marc Hamilton is just back from a holiday at Disney World, which held
an all-gay weekend. Years ago, he says, he worked there, on the
now-defunct "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" ride. "Horrible ride," he says,
"it's no longer there." To spice up his very first day on the job, his
training supervisor blew him. "We were in the back, where the ride went
through the water on tracks."
This time around, he had no such waterside adventures. But he did
get lots of smiles and shy waves from other gay men he'd never met. They
recognized him, but not for his current day job -- he is an assistant
manager of a health club in Minneapolis. What they
knew him from was his porn career. In the past two years he has done 20
hardcore videos, including "Deep in the Brig," "Fallen Angel," "Slave
Brothel" and "Glory Hole Pigs." Every few months he takes a leave from work and flies to California to have sex before the cameras.
The soft-spoken Hamilton is one of a growing army of white-collar gay men
who perform on weekends and holidays in porn videos, nude magazines and
saucy Web sites. Hamilton is his porn name; he prefers not to mention his
real one. He has gotten down and nasty with all manner of professionals,
including a professor of American history. Recently he did an orgy scene
with, among others, a dentist. Airline employees, accountants and loads of
computer industry geeks are turning into part-time show ponies in what has
become a trendy way to achieve minor fame. It has become popular enough
that white-collar workers boast that they're pushing out the traditional
ranks of hustlers and strippers. Perhaps a dubious claim but it's evident
that a lot of guys are taking a break from anonymous, stolid careers to
participate in the gay world's fascination with porn.
The white-collar invasion is a far cry from the hardscrabble lives of the
porn stars of yesteryear. Amply paid by their regular jobs, the new men of
porn want for little. They will never suffer the indignities of the
legendary gay performer Al Parker, who was always so low on funds he used
to shuttle his old Cadillac between friends' garages to elude the repo man.
Other porn stars were notorious for arriving on
set strung out on drugs. Far too common were the psychologically troubled
stallions, such as Steve Fox, who committed suicide in 1997, and Ryan Idol, who
battled drugs and alcohol before whistling out a fourth-floor window in
New York last year in an attempt to take his own life. (He survived.) Now,
confident white-collar workers are arriving on set on-time, drug free
and with professional attitudes, which porn producers are only too pleased
to greet. Some, like Hamilton, are looking for an ego boost, others for a
kind of niche fame they'll never experience in their day jobs, others just
because they simply love to put out in public. "Nobody does porn for a
living anymore," Hamilton says.
Hamilton has been transfixed by the men in gay porn for years, even back when he worked for Jerry Falwell. Before he came out of the closet he worked as a lighting technician for Falwell's "Look Up, America" multimedia shows. ("I got invited to his house," Hamilton says of Falwell. "I cooked steaks on Jerry's grill!") When he saw gay porn videos for the first time he saw in the performers a vibrant sexual attractiveness he had never felt about himself. "I've never been able to look at myself in the mirror and say I'm good looking," he says. "So it's an ego thing." After he split with his fundamentalist Christian family and came out of the closet he decided to have some erotic photos taken and sent off to California porn producers.
Hamilton also relishes the attention of a small but worldwide audience. Every night he comes home to 20 to 30 e-mails. They write from some of the most remote spots in the United States, where the sight of a manly, out-of-the-closet homosexual having great sex is a rare thing. "I got one last night from a guy who said he could never come out, so he thanked me for creating a fantasy. You don't know what that did to me."
What do his employers think of all this? "What you do on your time is your business," he says. Many of the health club's gay members certainly know of his porn sideline. They might even know that he had won the title of "best newcomer" at the Probe "men in video" gay porn awards held last year in July. (This year he's up for "best bottom.")
Craig West of Beaverton, Ore., is similarly unconcerned about what impact his work as a working stiff has on his career as a technical writer and software programmer. He works freelance on long-term contracts and picks and chooses his assignments. "My skills are very much in demand. If someone has a problem with [my doing porn], I wouldn't want to work with them anyway." West (who works under the porn name Carl Barnes) had a rigorous religious background, too. He once trod the back roads of Portugal trying to convert people to Mormonism. Then, in 1996, he didn't just come out of the closet -- he catapulted. In May, he acknowledged his homosexuality; by August he was stripping in Portland bars. "It's a thing among good Mormon boys," he says. "To come out is more like an explosive decompression." From stripping he appeared in magazines and recently did "Bear Moving Company," his first sex video for Brush Creek Media, a California porn producer.
Why does he do it? "It's not the money," he says. Porn pays anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per shoot. "The money is nothing compared to what I do in my day job," West says. Rather, he does it to show off his fine figure, which includes an outsized sex organ and a hairy chest but no navel ("surgery when I was an infant"). Both West and Hamilton deny that they have become porn stars as an expression of frustration or anger about their fundamentalist pasts.
Still, it's one thing to tell your buddies at the water cooler you do porn and it's another to have them actually see you literally kissing ass. Some women co-workers found out West is a stripper. "They thought it was wonderful and wanted to come down and see me. But I was concerned there would be a change in how they perceive me in a shirt and tie after they've seen me in a G-string." Hamilton has similarly resisted requests from co-workers to bring copies of his videos to work. "A woman I work with," West says, "doesn't want to see my porn because it would change our relationship."
West believes heightened sexuality is common among professionals, the polar opposite of the common belief that career pros channel most of their energies into work. "I'm in the leather community. It has a high incidence of doctors and lawyers. You have to have money to buy all this crap. Successful people tend to have healthy sex drives. It's the great lesson from Clinton. We have this image of people being totally either into their bodies or into their minds. Many are actually highly accomplished in both. When I did the porn shoot everyone had day jobs, and more than half had professional day jobs. One was a medical student from Chicago, one was a bank vice president, one was a registered nurse."
Some white-collar performers are even getting famous, though sometimes with unintended results. A Boston real estate broker who performs under the name of Cole Tucker has made more than 20 videos. He gained even more attention after being identified as the lover of British member of European Parliament Tom Spencer earlier this year.
Twisty and Homerun, both 34, make their own kind of fun. Preferring to be identified only by the nicknames they use for Internet chat, they set up a porn site last year. Later this year or next they plan to take the site commercial, using their professional skills and abilities to network. Twisty is head of training for an international cosmetics firm in Toronto and his lover Homerun works in commercial lending for one of Canada's huge chartered banks.
In page after page, they record their sexual encounters, and they are often joined by other exhibitionists. Thus far, none of their guest stars has been white collar, but, as Twisty says, "give us a few months." Both are lean, muscled and handsome, favoring black tank tops and jeans. They share Hamilton's fascination with porn, but unlike West they see it as a springboard to money. "When I was in college in the early '80s," Twisty says, "I was in data processing. I didn't want to sit around writing payroll programs. It was too depressing. And I was fascinated by porn videos." Homerun is equally ambitious. "My goal with porn is to make money," Homerun says. "I've been working with entrepreneurs on the lending side for two years and I realized I'm an entrepreneur too. I don't want to go down to the head office and climb the corporate ladder."
Although Homerun's bank has a pro-gay culture, it has yet to show much appetite for pornography, and he worries that any day one of his commercial clients may find out and freak. Twisty is shocked at how quickly his colleagues learned about it. An American employee of the company was at the head office one day and blurted out a request for the site's URL. "It could have gotten to the head of personnel or PR," he says.
Given the often dubious business sense among traditional porn companies, Twisty and Homerun believe they can score big with a commercial site built around themselves. As Craig West says of the producing side of porn: "Most of the people running porn are flaky, use drugs and they can be difficult to deal with. The sex industry doesn't attract rocket scientists and brain surgeons -- at least not full time."
Ironically, the arrival of white-collar workers is driving down the rates performers get paid. "It's almost a cool thing to do now," Hamilton says, and producers are naming their prices. In July he'll be moving behind the camera in Palm Springs, Calif., to direct his first porn video. He's feeling pressure from fellow white-collar types to include them in his next project. "All you have to do is holler out the back door," he says, "and they come running."