There was a time, when I was just starting out, that I had no real idea who anyone in gay porn was. You see, I didn't watch porn of any kind. I didn't have a moral objection to it or anything, it was just not something I'd ever really found that interesting. I suppose that's funny given I spent the last 21 years surrounded by it (although I think the last time I knew who all the stars in the industry were was about ten years ago).
The movie theater in my hometown in Wisconsin was a single screen first run house up until around 1977/78... Then, it closed and turned into a porn theater for a few years. I was kind of amused by it all - "Pinocchio - it's not his nose that grows!" - to this day, I'm not sure if that's a real movie tag line or something I made up. (UPDATE: my writer friend Dave White - "Linoleum Knife" podcast star - sent this in to prove to me that I wasn't just making it u!)
In junior high I used to have evening rehearsal for plays I'd be in and my mom would be late to pick me up afterwards. I'd sometimes sit until 9 or 930 even in winter waiting for her to arrive (we lived a couple miles out of town). For years I thought that, because she could be a little flaky and would later be diagnosed with agoraphobia (among other things) that she just forgot or would be having an anxiety attack about driving into town across the bridge by herself. Funny that I never really minded because it was just something that she did.
But, then, years later, I found out that she and my dad would some of those times be at the porn theater watching a movie. When I found this out, I was GREATLY amused. My mom and dad were always kind of frisky and very kissy (a great role model of a loving relationship, by the way) but never knew that they were so cool as to have gone to an X rated theater. However, I have to say here that I can't quite imagine them sitting in the theater surrounded by their peers - we did, after all, live in a town of only 3,000 people and my dad had grown up there and my mom, at that time, had lived there for like 30 years. Of course, when I found this out, I also had to reflect that I had, at one time in my junior year, following a dress rehearsal for a play that took place in the Renaissance, gone out with some friends and done a 'Chinese fire drill" in front of the theater just as the movie was letting out all the while yelling "smut smut smut!" at the top of our lungs. I actually got it wrong what we were supposed to say and, instead, yelled "slut slut slut". Looking back, I really hope that wasn't one of the nights that my parents were there (mainly so they didn't see me prancing around in the street in tights and a ruffle). :) And yes, later on in the 'mad cap' evening, we could be seen at the local grocery store carrying a turkey down the aisle singing "The spirits of the first turkey lovers". Amazingly, we did this sober. We weren't arrested or beaten up either. A miracle all the way around. :)
A couple years later, one of the friends, Kris, who was with me during the fire drill incident, was working with me at the town library for a summer theater play group and, once during a break, we walked around the downtown area. Kris, a girl I'd known since kindergarten, always has a knack for getting us both into oddball situations (it's probably why we're still friends all these years later) and decided that we needed to go into an adult video store. We were 19 and found the phrase "marital aides" painted on the side of the building to be funny. And we were curious so, we walked in. So, any of you who have actually ever been to a video store, know how really boring it is. Years and years later, I'd be in and out of video stores looking to see if they carried my movies. How times did change! But then, I was a scared young in the closet (even to myself and by the way, not even masturbating yet) gay guy whose only sexual experience was getting an erection while transfixed by John the high school quarterback in sophomore Biology class. Not exactly a Don Draper, was I?
So we stood there and we were both kind of terrified and kind of in awe of all the video tapes and magazines. I only remember one magazine that I fixated on - it was called BIG AND BLACK and the woman on the cover had the biggest breasts of all time. Of course you could literally hear the clerk's eyes roll up into his head at the stupid teens who were giggling in the store. After a couple minutes we got nervous and then dashed out - only to run into my summer school teacher of Economics, which I was basically failing at that point. He did not have a sense of humor (I'm sure he had had it surgically removed decades prior). I think the word "fuck" came out of my mouth and then we, completely embarrassed, made a mad dash for the library across the street. Although, interestingly, the shop wasn't really next to anything else other than the library. So maybe the Econ teacher was maybe heading not to the library, but in to the bookstore?
Anyway, in 1986 I spent a semester studying in London and that's where I came out and I was determined to figure out this gay thing by the time the semester ended and, part of that, was to buy a magazine with a naked guy in it. I was at a small college on the north side of London and there weren't a lot of options - so I went to a small news shop up the street and, looking much more suspicious than I really intended, bought a Kit Kat, a Coke (it was the 'real' Coke, not the Coke after New Coke bombed, I was in Heaven), and the latest Playgirl magazine. I mumbled something incoherent about buying it for my girlfriend and walked out. I rolled my eyes about myself even harder than the guy in the porn shop back in Wisconsin.
The cover model was a bodybuilding, dark haired hottie who was exactly my type - except for the long hair, which has never really done anything for me. I loved the bulging body and the hair on the chest and used it to get off whenever I needed some help. The mag worked so well that I continued to use it for many years to come. I still have it. (I can hear some friends nodding, "of course you do") and it's in a box under my bed along with a few other pics of bodybuilders I've collected over the years. Ironically, I'm such a visual person, but I found that I didn't really need pics of sex in order to get off. I guess I was having a lot of sex even early on so it wasn't really a problem to find things to think about to get off.
Anyway, in 1988 I moved to San Francisco and a few months later I found myself working at a downtown law firm. My boss was an out gay man - and probably one of the best bosses I've ever had. Not only that, but Gerard was a mentor on all things gay. He would talk about how he and his husband (he used the term long before it was legal) would go to Mexico with dildos and once they didn't have enough time to pack them in their checked luggage.. .so when they were going through customs and the guy felt around in their carry on, well, he got a bit of a surprise. Anyway, one night I was at one of the Castro bars - it might have even been the Midnight Sun, I saw a porn that they were playing - two bodybuilders were fucking each other in a New York subway car. I couldn't stop thinking of it and the next day I mentioned it to Gerard. I didn't know the title but, in addition to the subway car scene, knew that there was some guy on stage who was a rock star and then afterwards he was with someone in an alley getting a blowjob. Immediately Gerard knew that it was Jeff Stryker's Bigger Than Life. And the very next day he brought his VHS copy into the office (literally in a brown paper bag) and once I was alone in the living room of the apartment I shared with two others, I spent the evening watching and rewinding and watching and rewinding that subway scene. I found it to be ... amazing.
Now you're probably thinking - oh so this is when he starts watching porn regularly? Nope, it just reinforced my appreciation for bodybuilding and made me want to go to the gym more. LOL The only other pre porn career porn that I watched was a brief scene from what I'm pretty sure was a Studio 2000 'frat boy' flick in 1989/90. A woman I had worked with in London thought I'd be a good match for her gay friend, Steve, that she had in St. Louis where she was from. Steve and I ended up writing snail mail letters for months back and forth. It was fabulously romantic and we both still have the letters. Eventually it was time to visit each other and I flew to St. Louis to spend a weekend with him. It was a mad passionate weekend filled with great sex, a canoe trip and... a little porn thrown in ... I didn't find it to be all that romantic so we turned it off - - the guys were sort of too pretty and fake-tanned for me to find hot... And how could I enjoy fake porn when I had a real (potential) boyfriend sitting next to me? But as fun as the weekend had been, we decided that a long distance relationship wasn't the thing for us to do then, but we did stay in touch and still do to this day.
One other little piece of trivia - that Playgirl cover model I was so wild about. I eventually met him. I was living in New York in the mid 90s and working out at Better Bodies (or, as they called it at the time, Bitter Bottoms) on West 19th Street when I spotted him training someone. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was just so unexpected. Of course, still being that shy kid way down deep inside, I couldn't bring myself to introduce myself to him and even if I could, what would I have said "I've had sex with you like a thousand times even though you weren't really there... thank you the amazing orgasms" ?
Wait. Actually I have had people say that to me on occasion and I consider it a compliment, so maybe he would have too. :)
Anyway, thought you all might find it amusing that someone who spent a very big chunk of his life in porn bought exactly one porn magazine and watched one scene and one half of one scene of video before getting into it himself.
And P.S. I love the internet. I mean, really, it took me about thirty seconds to find the cover to this magazine...... amazing!!!!
This post is part of a series of blogs celebrating The End of Will Clark