October 25, 2007 | Leave a Comment
"Okay. Let’s all take a breath," writes JasonCurious.com‘s Jason Sechrest. He is chiming in on the David Awards controversy that is roiling the gay adult biz this week, and his comments are pissing off some of the folks who were involved in the initial dust-up last Friday.
First up is the contention by Lucas Entertainment, XXX-Project Germany and others that David Awards organizers offered nominations and wins based on the amount of financial support they offered the show. First off, Mr. Sechrest writes, "That’s the way [Adult Video News] has been running things since day one. Go talk to Gene Ross over at AdultFYI.com about all that. He used to work for them. Not to mention hordes of others who have since gone on to write for other publications where they openly discuss sponsorship earning awards. It is no big secret that those who pay for the most ads in trade publications win the most awards at their show. Let’s not all feign shock over these revelations."
Channel 1 Releasing and Titan Media, among others, are furious that bareback companies were honored alongside condoms-only U.S. studios. The win Treasure Island Media claimed as Best U.S. Studio stirred the pot even more. A complete list of nominees was not circulated to the industry, nor was a program apparently available during the ceremony. Given their loud safer-sex advocacy, Channel 1 and Titan have publicly speculated the full list of nominees was intentionally withheld in order to "trick" them into attending the show and providing sponsorship. Both companies have stated they would not have attended had they known bareback companies were among the nominees.
"I can remember earlier this year at the GAYVN Summit in San Francisco," Mr. Sechrest writes, and "all anyone was talking about was how difficult it is becoming to sell American videos to a foreign market. Why? Because we are the only country left that is producing sex flicks with condoms en masse! Perhaps the reason the David Awards didn’t feel the need to warn anyone about bareback pornography being nominated was because in Berlin, it is considered no more controversial than any other kind of pornography… [b]ecause it’s pornography! Not a sex [education] video! The United States is the only country out there that sees fuck films as having some sort of moral responsibility–namely because we’re the only country that believes our citizens are stupid enough to not already know the difference between what is safe and unsafe, right or wrong and that they’re going to emulate what they see on a tape… Condom movies aren’t being bought by foreign distributors like they were a decade ago. It’s become a problem to the point that Raging Stallion is digitally erasing condoms from the screen! There is no hiding from this issue."
Indeed, the horse is out of the barn. Just recently, Kristen Bjorn‘s Sarava Productions released a director’s cut version of EL RANCHO that contained a condomless duo scene between real-life boyfriends Pedro Andreas and Daniel Marvin. BelAmiOnline.com offers condomless sex scenes to their members that features many of their big stars.
"Let’s face it, those who make porn aren’t doing it for their health," Mr. Sechrest writes. "They’re doing it because it’s fun and because it makes them a lot of money. But no matter how much they’re making, when they see the kind of dollar signs they could be making and either their ethics or their past vows stand in the way of getting those extra dollars, anger and judgment ensues… If you want to refuse to make bareback porn, nobody’s stopping you. But creating an out and out divide and a public war between studios, not stepping foot on ground that has a different point of view than your own is completely absurd and childish. Not that saying ‘fuck you’ was all that adult, either. My point is: Can’t we all get along and be at the same functions in a civlized manner?"
When I spoke to Mr. Sechrest on the phone earlier today he had a lot more to say about the David Awards fight. "You know, most of these companies had booths right next to all the bareback studios at Folsom Street not that long ago. Okay, so you wouldn’t have attended the David Awards if you’d known there were bareback nominees. But Folsom Street was okay?"
I also spoke with Sam Dixon, VP of Tipo Sesso and 1 Distribution. They produce and distribute bareback titles as well as condom titles. "It is absolutely sad how this is being depicted," he told me. "Let me say first we won an award for Best Outdoor Movie for our EU release BAREBACK RANCH. We have never spent a dime on advertising with GAYeLINE Magazine." Mr. Dixon says the David Awards nominees were printed in the magazine so "no one can say they didn’t know bareback was included in the nominations."
"It is amazing how unprofessional these American companies are acting," he told me, adding that his studio was booed by a prominent company when they went onstage to accept their award. "They seemed to become upset when they didn’t win in a category. I stayed on a few days after the awards and met with some EU companies who are aghast at the immature, unbusinesslike behavior of these companies."
Futher, he says, "I still have yet to wrap my head around the logic of these companies who find it all right to sell precondom classic films and simultaneously denounce bareback companies. If you are selling bareback, you are selling bareback no matter when it was filmed. You are portraying the same image. Last I checked we were all in business to do business, not to have a personal soap box."
As I was calling around today, a story surfaced that has turned up the heat. A story out of the U.K. claims three porn actors–aged 18, 21 and 26–became infected with the HIV virus when they filmed a British bareback film in September. The actors and the adult company that employed them have not been publicly identified. I should note that it has not been proven the young performers contracted HIV on the set.
"This is why I say all the things I do," an emotional Ms. LaRue told me. "This is why I do it. This is what it’s all about. Three young kids are HIV positive now because they did bareback."
But isn’t testing positive a risk you have to accept if you chose to do film a bareback scene? "You can’t put them in that position," he says. "I understand you can’t babysit them every second of the day. But you can’t ask them to come onto your set and put them in that kind of danger. It’s irresponsible. I keep using this same analogy: If you own a welding company and you hire someone to work for you, then you tell them, ‘We don’t use gloves or protective goggles. Now go do this dangerous work,’ y
ou can find people who will do it. It’s the same thing. You can’t just look the other way and say, ‘They knew what they were getting into.’ You owe your performers more than that."
For the record, we have not been able to locate a representative for GAYeLINE Magazine or the David Awards for comment.
Here are the questions I haven’t been able to get answered: What does the anti-bareback crowd want? Do you want the industry to stop filming condomless sex entirely? Do we really want to get into a freedom of expression debate over this? Where do we draw the line? Are oral cumshots acceptable, but bareback is not? How about a topman pulling off his condom and shooting his load all over a bottom’s inflamed, gaping rectum? What about digitally erasing condoms or taking steps to minimize their appearance?
And what about those thousands of precondom-era films? How is it we assume consumers will understand the context of a precondom film–and therefore are not likely to emulate the behavior of the featured models– but the possibility of their emulating the sexual behavior of a bareback film is just too great?
Chime in, people. We’ve got a lot to talk about.
[Photo © JasonCurious.com.]
Contact JC Adams at JCAdamsXXX@aol.com