Their letters arrive from all over the world: Florida, Suriname, Pakistan.Of those who mention their age, most are in their 20s.
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. I flirted with them, and I wrote down the things they said in a notebook. 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. For their generation, the male porn star and his eternal boner symbolize what it means to be a man in the 21st century.
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. 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.
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 You Porn video, an X-rated Google image search.