Practically the entire psychiatric profession agrees that we can’t change our sexuality. When we’re young most of us try both men and women to make sure what we prefer. But then we’re either gay or straight for the rest of our lives. Or are we?
The sex trade suggests that, if the price is right, we can switch. That’s by no means a new idea. But the buzz-phrase “gay for pay” has only been around for about twenty years and now it’s become a talking point.
There are a lot of sites which use financial negotiations (how much money will it take for a straight guy to have gay sex on camera?) as part of the turn-on. But gay for pay models are also causing conflict. Some genuinely gay models won’t work with them. Some porn fans won’t watch them. “Gay for pay is the 21st century blackface,” says one angry blogger. The conflict has focussed attention on sexual labelling.
There’s a newish acronym, MSM, to describe men who have sex with men, but who don’t identify as either gay or straight. This subject is extremely complicated, enough to make us doubt our basic concepts about sexuality. I could have asked questions among medics, who coined MSM but, as is so often the case, prostitution and porn found the answers first.
As it’s the oldest profession, prostitution must have practised gay for pay thousands of years before it was named. My reasoning is that, because people tend not to change intrinsically, boys probably have always been attracted to the sex trade not for the sex but the trade.
Like any job, they won’t make money if they don’t provide the service the clients require. As an escort, that service could entail anything from nude cleaning to full penetration.
But as hard as it is for some people to believe, this doesn’t mean the escort’s necessarily gay as we understand the word. We don’t have to go all the way back to Ancient Greece to find a whole society that distinguishes gay sex from gay mentality. 19th century gay travellers discovered that throughout North Africa boys were willing to have gay sex for money, but only until they got married to girls. (It’s still the same today).
In the 1940s psychiatrists identified “situational homosexuality”, that is sex among all-male groups found in boarding schools, prisons, the armed forces and hard-line Islam. It often happened that, when a man left the group, he had sex with women.
“THERE’S A NEWISH ACRONYM, MSM, TO DESCRIBE MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN, BUT DON’T IDENTIFY AS EITHER GAY OR STRAIGHT.”
Most all-male groups have now been infiltrated by women, at least in the West. But a relatively new one remains unadulterated – gay porn. The first porn superstars emerged after the sexual revolution of the 1960s, when bisexuality became cool. Even the most famous star of straight porn, John Holmes, did gay movies.
But nobody thought he was a gay man playing straight. When gay porn became big business, many of the early stars also did straight porn. But gay critics decided these guys weren’t bisexual, they were gay for pay, a disparaging term implying that they were fooling the public in return for cash. Two interesting examples are Peter North and Jeff Stryker, both of whom shatter any preconceptions we may have about the gay/straight divide.
North began in gay porn in 1982 as Matt Ramsey and quickly developed a following. (He wasn’t known as Sir Cumalot for nothing). He’s still in the business but as a straight porn stud. Out of more than 1,600 movies, only a handful he made in the early 1980s are gay. What was he playing at? He’s only got a sort of an explanation.
“It was not part of my sexuality at all,” he says of films such as A Matter of Size and The Bigger the Better. “I was only able to do it because of my strong mind and my physical ability to have control over my own body.” Stryker is a different case, an international icon known largely for his gay movies.
But wait a minute. This ultimate gay role model/masturbation fantasy/whatever has also starred in at least 15 hetero pornos. And he has a 20-year-old son. “I don’t define myself as anything,” he states, but adds more revealingly, “I could be sitting next to God knows what and get turned on.”What Stryker may be referring to is his sexual “fluidity”, a concept I was introduced to by webmaster Jake Cruise (see QXMEN, June 2009).
Jake is an older man who has sex on camera with young hunks. One of them is muscleman Zeb Atlas, who on his own site also has sex with a woman. On shock jock Howard Stern’s radio show, the Stern posse reckoned Atlas is mostly gay. But Cruise dislikes labels, as he explained to me: “I really hate saying someone is gay or straight or whatever unless they completely identify themselves that way.
I’ve had sex with men who are straight because in their real life they’re looking for women… I think sexually we can do all sorts of things. But emotionally? That’s what makes you gay or straight.”
This is all very well. But what about all these current sites in which guys say they’re straight and “prove” it by talking about tits and pussy, but then take the money and each other’s cocks up their arses? Are they all sexually fluid too? Er… no. And especially not the camp ones who look like they’ve arrived straight from the chorus of the local tranny bar. “Gay porn producers have almost certainly described some actors as heterosexual to increase sales,” says one source.
What’s happened is that, as political correctness has faded, gay men have become more honest about one of their favourite fantasies – having sex with a manly man who previously only fucked women. It’s not likely to happen in real life. But it happens all over the Net. What surprises me is the number of critics who take seriously the claims of one of the most enjoyable (but silliest) sites, Bait Bus. Have you seen it?
Their come-on is “What does it take for a straight guy to go gay?” The premise is always the same. A straight guy is picked off the street and lured into a bus by a female decoy. Once trapped, he’s offered $4,000 to have gay sex. He always does. But afterwards he’s thrown out of the bus in his underpants.
We’re also expected to believe that “They never get paid!” Yeah, right. Quite aside from the fact that the victims are often recognisably models who appear regularly on other gay sites, the idea that the well-regulated US porn industry would allow hundreds of men to be filmed having sex without their permission is, like some of the cocks on the bait bus, hard to swallow.
Never mind. The site is just a bit of fun and it highlights the very essence of gay for pay. There are relatively few guys who are totally open-minded about sex. But if they’re remunerated they’ll have it with Anne Widdecombe. They just have to think about someone else while they’re on the job. Kurt Wild, who’s been bummed in gay porn for the past ten years, thinks about his girlfriend. He’s also got four kids.
On a TV chat show last year, Wild also answered another question everyone asks. If a guy is basically straight and wants to fuck in public, why doesn’t he do straight porn? We come back to money again. Straight porn pays its female stars a fortune but its male performers hardly anything, about $300 a scene. For the same amount of time working for a gay porn label, they can get $5,000.
And there are other perks. Aaron James, nominated for three GayVN awards last year despite the fact that he’s openly gay for pay, says, “If I’d known I was going to get so many female fans, I would have been having sex with guys all my life.”