“How do I become a male porn star?”

After I wrote about the adult film industry, I got emails from men all over the globe with one common request

Topics: Pornography, porn, Masculinity, Sex, Love and Sex, California, Editor's Picks,

"How do I become a male porn star?"Male porn star James Deen (Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)

On April 23, 2012, I published a post on my Forbes blog: “The Hardest Thing About Being a Male Porn Star.” I don’t remember what prompted the idea for the post, other than the fact that I have been covering the adult movie industry for more than a decade and have long been interested in how its male performers navigate a business in which they play second fiddle to its real stars: women.

I had sent emails to several male porn stars, asking them about the most challenging aspects of their job. Their answers varied from the mundane (“The hardest thing about being a male porn star is convincing your female co-workers that you are an interesting, well-rounded, fun guy who they might consider dating in a parallel universe after a few drinks”) to the mechanical (“The most difficult part about being a male porn star is the hard-on”). Only one of them couldn’t think of anything difficult about his line of work – James Deen, arguably the most famous male porn star working today, who declared his occupation “pretty easy.”

Recently, the post surpassed 1,000,000 views. Every day, it gets several thousand more. Most of the traffic is organic and comes from Google searches; in other words, those who find it are searching for some combination of “male,” “porn” and “star.” Every week, I get emails from men I have never met, who have read the post, who want me to tell them how they can become male porn stars, too.

Hello sir i want to be a porn star so i want to make a porn movie.

Their letters arrive from all over the world: Florida, Suriname, Pakistan. Of those who mention their age, most are in their 20s. They are looking for work, they decided male porn star is the job they would like to do, they need money and believe this is the best way to get it.

I want to be a porn star. Tell me what to do …

Typically, their emails are not very well written. The majority of the men are straight; a few are gay. They all want to know the same thing: How can I be a male porn star? They believe I can introduce them to an agent/producer/figurehead in the porn industry who will cast them in an adult movie to which everyone will masturbate, ostensibly. This is their dream.

I don’t have any adult industries phone numbers how can I find the number?

It is unclear if they know who I am. One addressed his email to “Sir.” For the record, I am a woman. I am a journalist. I download their emails in a home office with a desk, a filing cabinet and a garbage can for recycling. I am married. I am not who they think I am. I do not have a magic wand that can turn them into male porn stars. I don’t know what to tell them. Truth be told, it is very difficult for men to break into the porn business (unless one rides on the coattails of a female who wants to be a porn star, a scenario with its own set of complications); many of the men who work in porn do not make a lot of money ($150 to $300 for a scene is not uncommon); and what it takes to be a male porn star (to wit: get up, get in, get off) is, for lack of a better word, hard.

I am looking to pay for school in these tough times.

The men who email me do not remind me of male porn stars I have known. I have seen woodsmen work. I have had conversations with men who work in porn during which they were naked, sweaty and dribbling spunk from scenes in which they had just performed. I flirted with them, and I wrote down the things they said in a notebook. I liked them. They were tanned, chiseled, waxed. They were smooth talkers, women worshipers, looking for love. You could describe the feelings I had toward them as a kind of romantic longing, one that is never meant to be realized. They appeared suspended between male adolescence and adulthood, caught in the net of those pubescent days when sex is everything, girls are an obsession, and showing what a stud you are makes you the king of your brethren. As grown-ups, they had enslaved themselves to our collective masculine ideal, forever trying to fulfill it, forever failing to do so. They were at war with themselves, their cocks their weapons, a semen-stained sofa in a rented mansion atop a hill in the San Fernando Valley their chosen battlefield – for reasons that, in the end, escaped me, a woman.

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This has always been a dream of mine and I would do anything for a chance.

These young men I hear from grew up online. For their generation, the male porn star and his eternal boner symbolize what it means to be a man in the 21st century. In this digital reality, a new vision of masculinity is taking shape in the form of a patchwork man of pixel-based experiences: a click on a porn site, a pirated YouPorn video, an X-rated Google image search. In cubicles and bedrooms, the wannabe woodsman prays for deliverance into manhood at the altar of his glowing screen, gobsmacked by a shared GIF featuring a never-ending pop shot that he worships as if it were a virtual god, the signs of success eternal: money, women and a dick that won’t quit, unless someone breaks the code.

Iv been trying to get into porn since I ended my military contract.

To the uninitiated, James Deen and his peers are sexual superheroes. Yet, in Porn Valley, the male porn star is situated squarely in the industry’s most precarious position. Tasked with holding up an entire production by the strength of his erection, he is beholden entirely to others’ desires: a female costar who may be more interested in a paycheck than in him, a bored director hiding behind a video monitor, a crew member who long ago learned it’s easier to make porn by tuning out than tuning in. The male porn star’s greatest fear: a penile breakdown. From our red velvet seats in the anatomical theater that technology has given us, we watch the woodsman working, scrutinizing his every thrust. If his body fails him, he knows he is penniless, forgotten utterly, a human being chewed up like a piece of gristle spat out by the Great American Capitalism Machine that ate him.

I DOESN’T HAVE SHY TO FUCK IN FRONT OF CAMERA ALONG WITH ALL TECHNICIANS.

Once in a while, I reply to their emails. I ask them all the same question: Why do you want to be a male porn star? Sometimes, they answer. They tell me it’s for the money, so they can support their family. They say it’s because they’re really good at sex, so I should give them a chance. They confess they don’t know, so they can’t explain it to me.

Because intire desire always think about sex like devotional.

A few send photos of themselves. I scrutinize their images for clues. Here he is, smiling for his webcam. Here he is, peering over his erect penis half-obscuring his face. Here he is, resplendent in a sherwani, a golden dragonfly embroidered on his collar. I know the gap between us is real. The distance between us seems impassable. The Internet is the connection between us across the void.

Susannah Breslin is a freelance journalist.

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