||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (January 2008)|
Gay pornography is the representation of sexual activity between males. Its primary goal is sexual arousal in its audience. Softcore gay pornography also exists; it at one time constituted the genre, and may be produced as beefcake pornography for heterosexual female and homosexual male consumption.
Although pornography has usually focused on heterosexuality, due to the prevalence of the heterosexual orientation, explicit gay material has a long history as well, which reaches back to Greek antiquity, if not to prehistory. Every medium has been used to represent sexual acts between men. However, gay pornography in the modern world is mostly concentrated in the making of home videos (including DVDs), cable broadcast and emerging video on demand and wireless markets, as well as images and movies for viewing on the Internet.
Early modern in the United States
Homoeroticism has been present in photography and film since their invention. During much of that time, any sexual depiction had to remain underground because of obscenity laws. In particular, gay material might constitute evidence of an illegal act under sodomy laws in many jurisdictions. This is no longer the case in the United States, since such laws were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas.
However, hardcore pornographic motion pictures (stag films, as they were called prior to their legalization in 1970) were produced relatively early in the history of film. The first known pornographic film appears to have been made in Europe in 1908. The earliest known film to depict hardcore gay (and bisexual) sexual activity was the French film Le ménage moderne du Madame Butterfly, produced and released in 1920. Most historians consider the first American stag film to be A Free Ride,, produced and released in 1915. But in the United States, hardcore gay sexual activity did not make it onto film until 1929's The Surprise of a Knight.
Legal restrictions meant that early hardcore gay pornography was underground and that commercially available gay pornography primarily consisted of pictures of individual men either fully naked or wearing a G-string. Pornography in the 1940s and 1950s focused on athletic men or bodybuilders in statuesque poses. They were generally young, muscular, and with little or no visible body hair. These pictures were sold in physique magazines, also known as beefcake magazines, allowing the reader to pass as a fitness enthusiast.
The Athletic Model Guild (AMG), founded by photographer Bob Mizer in 1945 in Los Angeles, was arguably the first studio to commercially produce material specifically for gay men and published the first magazine known as Physique Pictorial in 1951. Tom of Finland drawings are featured in many issues. Mizer produced about a million images, and thousands of films and videos before he died on May 12, 1992. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the advent of 16 mm film cameras enabled these photographers to produce underground movies of gay sex, male masturbation, or both. Sales of these products were either by mail-order or through more discreet channels. Some of the early gay pornographers would travel around the country selling their photographs and films out of their hotel rooms, with advertising only through word of mouth and magazine ads.
The 1960s were also a period where many underground art film makers integrated suggestive or overtly gay content in their work. Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising (1963), Andy Warhol's Blow Job (1964) and My Hustler (1965), or Paul Morrissey's Flesh (1968) are examples of experimental films that are known to have influenced further gay pornographic films with their formal qualities and narratives. Tyler Gajewski is a noted actor and model of the period who appeared in Warhol's and Morrissey's films, as well as in Mizer's work at the AMG. Also of note is Joe Dallesandro, who acted in hardcore gay pornographic films in his early 20s, posed nude for Francesco Scavullo, Bruce of L.A. and Bob Mizer, and later acted for Warhol in films such as Flesh. Dallesandro was well-known to the public. In 1969 Time magazine called him one of the most beautiful people of the 1960s, and he graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in April 1971. Dallesandro even appeared on the cover of The Smiths' eponymous debut album, The Smiths.
During the 1960s, a series of United States Supreme Court rulings created a more liberalized legal environment that allowed the commercialization of pornography. MANual Enterprises v. Day, 370 U.S. 478 (1962) was the first decision by the United States Supreme Court which held that magazines consisting largely of photographs of nude or near-nude male models are not obscene within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1461. It was the first case in which the Court engaged in plenary review of a Post Office Department order holding obscene matter "nonmailable." The case is notable for its ruling that photographs of nude men are not obscene, an implication which opened up the U.S. Postal Service to nude male pornographic magazines, especially those catering to gay men.
Wakefield Poole's Boys in the Sand, starring Casey Donovan, can be considered one of the first gay pornography feature films, along with the works of filmmakers such as Pat Rocco and the Park Theatre, Los Angeles, California, circa 1970. Boys in the Sand opened in a theater in New York City in December 1971 and played to a packed house with record breaking box office receipts, preceding Deep Throat, the first commercial straight pornography film in America, which opened in June 1972. This success launched gay pornographic film as a popular phenomenon.
The production of gay pornography films expanded during the 1970s. A few studios released films for the growing number of gay adult movie theatres, where men could also have sexual encounters. Often, the films reflected the sexual liberation that gay men were experiencing at the time, depicting the numerous public spaces where men engaged in sex: bathhouses, sex clubs, beaches, etc.
The 1960s and 1970s also saw the rise of gay publishing with After Dark and Michael's Thing. During this time many more magazines were founded, including In Touch and Blueboy. Playgirl, ostensibly produced for women, was purchased and enjoyed by gay men and feature full frontal nudity (the posing straps and fig leaves were removed).
The 1980s were a period of transition for gay pornography film. The proliferation of VCRs made pornography videos easily accessible, and, as their prices fell, the market for home videos aimed at adult viewers became more and more lucrative. By the mid-1980s, the standard was to release pornography movies directly on video, which meant the wide disappearance of pornography theaters. Furthermore, video recording being more affordable, a multitude of producers entered the market, making low-budget pornography videos.
This shift from watching pornography as a public activity to doing so in private was also influenced by the discovery of HIV and the subsequent AIDS crisis. Public spaces for sex, such as theatres, became less attended when in the early 1980s it became a much riskier behavior. Masturbatory activities in the privacy of the home became a safe sex practice in the midst of this health crisis.
Gay movies of the 1970s had contained some exploration of novel ways to represent the sexual act. In the 1980s, by contrast, all movies seemed to be made under an unwritten set of rules and conventions. Most scenes would start with a few lines of dialogue, have performers engage in foreplay (fellatio), followed by anal penetration, and ending with a visual climax close-up of ejaculating penises, called a money shot or cum shot. Video technology allowed the recording of longer scenes than did the costly film stock. Scenes were often composed of extended footage of the same act filmed from different shots using multiple cameras. The quality of the picture and sound were often very poor.
Major directors such as Matt Sterling, Eric Peterson, John Travis, and William Higgins set the standard for the models of the decade. The performers they cast were especially young, usually appearing to be around the ages of 22 or 23. Their bodies were slender and hairless, of the "swimmer's build" type, which contrasted with the older, bigger, and hairier man of the 1970s' gay pornography. Performer roles also evolved into the tight divisions of tops and bottoms. The top in anal sex is the penetrating partner, who, in these films, typically have a more muscular body and the larger penis. The bottom, or receiver of anal sex, in the films is often smaller and sometimes more effeminate. The stars of the decade were almost always tops, while the bottoms were interchangeable (with the exception of Joey Stefano, a popular star, who was more of a bottom.)
This strict division between tops and bottoms may have reflected a preference by some of the popular directors of the decade to hire heterosexual men for their movies. Heterosexual men who perform gay sex for monetary reasons (commonly labeled gay-for-pay) are considered a rare commodity in the gay sex trade, but the biggest producers of the decade could afford them. Many critics attributed the conventionalization of gay pornography of the 80s to this trend.
The gay pornography industry diversified steadily during the 1990s.
In 1989, director Kristen Bjorn started a pornographic business which was considered as setting a standard for gay pornography producers. He was a professional photographer, and the images in his videos were considered to be of high-quality. As a former porn star himself, he directed his models with care, which helped improved the actors' believability. Other directors had to improve their technical quality to keep up with demands from their audiences.
Another significant change during this decade was the explosion of the niche market. Many videos began to be produced for viewers with specific tastes (i.e. for amateur pornography, military (men in uniform) pornography, transsexual performers, bondage fetishes, performers belonging to specific ethnic groups, etc.), and this led to a diversification of the people involved in pornography production and consumption.
The gay pornography industry grew substantially in popularity during the 1990s, evolving into a complex and interactive subculture. Professional directors (such as Chi Chi LaRue and John Rutherford), technicians or deck operators during the U-matic phase of video technology, and performers started to engage in pornography as a career, their work sustained by emerging pornographic media and influential critics, such as Mikey Skee.
In the 21st century, gay pornography has become a highly profitable enterprise, ranging from the "straight-guy" pornography of Active Duty and Sean Cody, to the 'twinks' of Bel Ami. Many niche genres and online delivery sites cater to various and changing interests. For instance much of Van Darkholme's work contains bondage and particularly shibari, the Japanese art of bondage and knot-tying, a specialty within BDSM cultures.
On the other hand, Lucas Kazan Productions successfully adapted literary classics: Decameron: Two Naughty Tales is based on two novels by Boccaccio, The Innkeeper on Goldoni's La Locandiera. Lucas Kazan also found inspiration in 19th and 20th century operas, combining gay porn and melodrama: The School for Lovers, 2007 GayVN Award Winner for Best Foreign Picture, is in fact inspired by Mozart's Così fan tutte.
Some controversy currently exists regarding studios that produce bareback videos (videos of sexual penetration by the penis without a condom). Mainstream companies, such as Falcon Entertainment, Hot House Entertainment, Channel 1 Releasing, Lucas Entertainment, Raging Stallion Studios, Lucas Kazan Productions and Titan Media and LGBT health advocates assert that condomless videos promote unsafe sex and contribute to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, both in the pornography industry and in the gay community as a whole. The controversy dates back to the first few years of the HIV crisis, when nearly all gay pornography production companies voluntarily required their models to wear condoms for anal sex.
The premise of industry figures, notably Chi Chi LaRue, is that gay pornography serves as a leading forum for teaching safer sex skills and modelling healthy sexual behaviors. At least one bareback studio agrees that porn should promote healthy sexual behaviors, but disagrees on the definition of healthy in this context: speaking about the AIDS crisis, Treasure Island Media owner and founder Paul Morris has expressed his belief that, "To a great extent, the current gay mindset surrounding HIV is a result of a generation of men living with PTSD and not getting the support and help they need now that the war is over. [...] As a pornographer, all I can do in response is to produce work that features men who are openly positive (or negative) and happily living their lives honestly and fully."
[relevant to this section? ]In August 2005, adult star Jenna Jameson launched "Club Thrust", an interactive website featuring gay male pornographic videos, which was shown to attract a female audience as well. Yaoi comic books and slash fiction are both genres featuring gay men, but primarily written by and for straight women. Some lesbian and bisexual women are also fans of gay male pornography, specifically yaoi, for its feminine-styled men. An analysis by Mother Jones found that Pakistan leads the world in gay porn searching on the internet.
- Boys in the Sand (Wakefield Poole, 1971) is the first feature gay pornographic film to achieve mainstream crossover success; helped usher in "porn chic." Said to be "a textbook example of gay erotic filmmaking" that was screened in film festivals all over the world.
- The Back Row (Jerry Douglas, 1972) is the first feature from award-winning director Douglas. Re-made by Chi Chi LaRue in 2001. Featured in Unzipped Magazine's The 100 Greatest Gay Adult Films Ever Made (2005).
- L.A. Plays Itself (Fred Halsted, 1972) is a movie by an influential director (read the chapter consecrated to it in Moore, 2004 for more) and is archived at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.
- Nights in Black Leather (Richard Abel and Peter Berlin, 1973) is an influential movie starring Peter Berlin.
- Falconhead (Michael Zen, 1977) is still acclaimed by cultural critics as one of a few gay pornographic movies that tried to bring complexity to the blue movie. Inspired many contemporary pornographic directors (Morris, 2004). Featured in Unzipped Magazine's The 100 Greatest Gay Adult Films Ever Made (2005).
- Dune Buddies (Jack Deveau, 1978) Hand in Hand Films, is a film by a prominent director and studio of the 1970s. Shot on the historically gay-friendly Fire Island, the film (and others of the company) document well the sexual lives of New York City's gay men of the period. Excerpts displayed in the documentary Gay Sex in the 70s.
- Joe Gage's wrote an influential trilogy of gay films, collectively referred to as either “The Kansas City Trilogy” or “The Working Man Trilogy” in the late 1970s. The films, Kansas City Trucking Co. (1976), El Paso Wrecking Corp. (1978) and L.A. Tool & Die (1979) were praised for their consistent portrayals of male/male sex occurring between rugged, masculine men who came from blue-collar and rural backgrounds and who related as “equal partners” – avoiding the frequent stereotypes of such men as effeminate inhabitants of urban gay neighborhoods, or who were caught up in a constraining “you play the woman, I’ll be the man” mindset of dominant/submissive roles.
Connelly, Tim, Editor (January 9, 2006). The AVN Guide to the 500 Greatest Adult Films of All Time: Plus: The Sexiest Starlets, Hall-of-Fame Performers, Behind the Scenes, and More!. New York, New York: Thunder's Mouth Press / Avalon Book Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-56025-719-6.</ref>
- The Bigger The Better (Matt Sterling, 1984); one of Adult Video News' 10 Great Gay Movies.
- Les Minets Sauvages (Jean-Daniel Cadinot, 1984) is one of the biggest films of the influential French pornographic director.
- The Other Side of Aspen series, beginning in 1983, is among the Adult Video News' top ten all time gay movies.
- My Masters (Christopher Rage, 1986) is one movie by a director that has influenced numerous gay artists
- Powertool (John Travis, 1986) is one of Adult Video News' 10 Great Gay Movies.
- Big Guns (William Higgins, 1988) Catalina Video; is one of Adult Video News' 10 Great Gay Movies.
- Carnival in Rio (Kristen Bjorn, 1989); see History, 1990s section above.
- Idol Eyes (Matt Sterling, 1990) Huge Video is a movie with Ryan Idol. Read Dyer, 1994 for more.
- More of a Man (Jerry Douglas, 1994) All Worlds Video is a popular film with Joey Stefano (see History, 1980s section) also featuring Chi Chi LaRue in a non-sexual role. Read Burger, 1995 chapter for an extensive analysis.
- Flashpoint (John Rutherford, 1994) Falcon Studios is an award winning film by major director Rutherford. Featured in Unzipped Magazine's The 100 Greatest Gay Adult Films Ever Made (2005).
- Frisky Summer 1–4 (George Duroy, 1995–2002) Bel Ami is one of Adult Video News' 10 Great Gay Movies.
- Flesh and Blood (Jerry Douglas, 1996) All Worlds Video is one of Adult Video News' 10 Great Gay Movies.
- Naked Highway (Wash West, 1997). The narrative and aesthetic qualities of this movie are representative of a new generation of pornographic directors. (Thomas, 2000:66) One of Adult Video News' 10 Great Gay Movies
- Three Brothers (Gino Colbert, 1998) Gino Pictures is a popular movie by influential director Colbert, starring the real-life Rockland brothers (Hal, Vince, and Shane). Featured in Unzipped Magazine's The 100 Greatest Gay Adult Films Ever Made (2005).
- Descent (Steven Scarborough, 1999) Hot House Entertainment is a popular gay pornographic video with infrequent artistic qualities, by a prominent director and studio. Created legal dispute in Canada when the government tried to forbid its distribution in the name of obscenity rules.
- Skin Gang (Bruce LaBruce, 1999) Cazzo Film is a famous film by art/porn director LaBruce. Aired in gay film festivals around the world.
- Fallen Angel (Bruce Cam, 1997) Titan Media is a major film by prominent director and studio. Featured in Unzipped Magazine's The 100 Greatest Gay Adult Films Ever Made (2005).
- DreamBoy (Max Lincoln, 2003) Eurocreme. Spawned a whole series of similarly titled films (for example, OfficeBoy, SpyBoy, and RentBoy)
- Michael Lucas' Dangerous Liaisons (Michael Lucas, 2005) Lucas Entertainment is the biggest production by this director and studio. Variously described as a film adaptation of Les liaisons dangereuses (1782), and a remake of Dangerous Liaisons (1988).
- Dawson's 20 Load Weekend (Paul Morris, 2004) Treasure Island Media is a major production by infamous director Paul Morris. Created huge controversy because it is mainly composed of bareback sex.
- Wrong Side of the Tracks (Chi Chi LaRue, 2006) Rascal Video is the largest production up to date by one of the most enduring pornographic directors of history.
- Wet Palms Season One (Matthew Moore, 2004–06) Jet Set Productions pioneered pornography made for online delivery, using an episodic narrative structure based on TV soap operas.
- Michael Lucas' La Dolce Vita (Michael Lucas, 2006) At a budget of $250,000, Lucas Entertainment claims it to be the most expensive gay porn film ever made. It contained celebrity cameos and attracted controversy with a lawsuit.
- Bisexual pornography
- Lesbianism in erotica
- Gay male pulp fiction
- List of male performers in gay porn films
Further reading and information
- Bronski, Michael (2003). Pulp Friction : Uncovering the Golden Age of Gay Male Pulps. New York: St. Martin's Griffin.
- Burger, John R. (1995). One-Handed Histories : The Eroto-Politics of Gay Male Video Pornography. New York: Haworth Press.
- Cante, Richard C. (March 2009). Gay Men and the Forms of Contemporary US Culture. London: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-7230-1. Chapters 4–6.
- Delany, Samuel R. (1999). Times Square Red, Times Square Blue. New York: New York University Press.
- Dyer, Richard (Spring 1994). "Idol Thoughts: Orgasm and Self-Reflexivity in Gay Pornography". The Critical Quarterly 36 (1): 49–62. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8705.1994.tb01012.x.
- Dyer, Richard (2002) . "Coming to Terms: Gay Pornography". Only Entertainment (2nd ed.). London ; New York: Routledge. pp. 121–134.
- Dynes, Wayne R; Johansson, Warren; Percy, William A; Donaldson, Stephen (1990). "Pornography". Encyclopedia of homosexuality. Garland reference library of social science 492. Garland Pub. pp. 1023–1028. ISBN 978-0-8240-6544-7 
- Kendall, Christopher N. (2004). Gay Male Pornography : An Issue of Sex Discrimination. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.
- John, Elton (2005). Goodbye Yellow Dick Mold – The Control of AIDS in the Gay Porn Industry. Yerrinshire: Rock Hudson Liberace Museum.
- Moore, Patrik (2004). Beyond Shame : Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sexuality. Boston: Beacon Press.
- Morrison, Todd G. (2004). Eclectic Views on Gay Male Pornography : Pornucopia. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press.
- Slade, Joseph W. (2001). Pornography and Sexual Representation : A Reference Guide. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
- Stevenson, Jack. (Fall 1997). "From the Bedroom to the Bijou: A Secret History of American Gay Sex Cinema". Film Quarterly 51 (1): 24–31. doi:10.1525/fq.1997.51.1.04a00040.
- Thomas, Joe A. (2000). "Gay Male Video Pornography: Past, Present, and Future". In Ronald John Weitzer. Sex for Sale : Prostitution, Pornography, and the Sex Industry. New York: Routledge. pp. 49–66.
- Waugh, Thomas (2004). Lust Unearthed: Vintage Gay Graphics from the Patrick DuBek Collection. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press.
- Waugh, Thomas (2002). Out/lines : Underground Gay Graphics from before Stonewall. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press.
- Waugh, Thomas (1996). Hard to Imagine : Gay Male Eroticism in Photography and Film from their Beginnings to Stonewall. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Williams, Linda (2004). Porn Studies. Durham: Duke University Press.
- Edmonson, Roger (2000). Clone: The Life and Legacy of Al Parker, Gay Superstar. Alyson Books. ISBN 1-55583-529-5.
- Edmonson, Roger; Jerry Douglas (1998). Boy in the Sand: Casey Donovan, All-American Sex Star. Alyson Books. ISBN 1-55583-457-4.
- Isherwood, Charles (1996). Wonder Bread & Ecstasy : The Life and Death of Joey Stefano. Alyson Books. ISBN 1-55583-383-7.
- Larue, Chi Chi; John Erich (1997). Making It Big: Sex Stars, Porn Films and Me. Alyson Publications. ISBN 1-55583-392-6.
- Beyond Vanilla. (Claes Lilja, 2001)
- Gay Sex in the 70s. (Joseph F. Lovett, 2005)
- That Man: Peter Berlin. (Jim Tushinski, 2005)
- Island. (Ryan Sullivan, 2010)
- e.g. DNA (magazine), Blueboy (magazine)
- Bolger, Doreen; Barry, Claire M. (March 1994). "Thomas Eakins's 'Swimming Hole.' – 1885 painting in the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas". Magazine Antiques. Archived from the original on August 27, 2006. Retrieved January 6, 2009.
- Bolger, Doreen; Cash, Sarah; et al. Thomas Eakins and the Swimming Picture. Amon Carter Museum, 1996. ISBN 0-88360-085-4
- Goodrich, Lloyd. Thomas Eakins, Volume I. Harvard University Press, 1982. pp 239. ISBN 0-674-88490-6.
- Figliano, Laurie. "Naked and Exposed: A Historical, Psychosexual and Comparative Analysis of Thomas Eakins' Masterpiece, The Swimming". Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History, Issue #2. Retrieved December 21, 2008.
- Lubbock, Tom (February 1, 2008). "Eakins, Thomas The Swimming Hole (1885): The Independent's Great Art series". The Independent. Retrieved January 6, 2009.
- Adams, Henry. Eakins Revealed: The Secret Life of an American Artist. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-515668-4, 308–09. Referenced from Male Desire: The Homoerotic in American Art by Jonathan Weinberg
- Le Menage Moderne Du Madame Butterfly at the Internet Movie Database
- A Free Ride at the Internet Movie Database
- Knight, Arthur, and Alpert, Hollis. "The Stag Film." Playboy. November 1967.
- Di Lauro, Al and Rabkin, Gerald. Dirty Movies: An Illustrated History of the Stag Film, 1915–1970. New York: Value Proprietary, 1988. ISBN 0-517-24682-1
- The Surprise of a Knight at the Internet Movie Database
- Burger, John R. One-Handed Histories: The Eroto-Politics of Gay Male Video Pornography. New York: Harrington Park Press, 1995. ISBN 1-56023-852-6
- Waugh, Thomas. Hard To Imagine. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-231-09998-3
- Slade, Joseph. "Bernard Natan: France's Legendary Pornographer." Journal of Film and Video. 45:2–3 (Summer-Fall 1993).
- Ramakers, Mischa. Dirty Pictures: Tom of Finland, Masculinity and Homosexuality. New York: Saint Martin's Press, 2001. ISBN 0-312-20526-0
- Ferguson, Michael (1998). Little Joe, superstar : the films of Joe Dallesandro. Companion Press. ISBN 978-1-889138-09-1
- 370 U.S. 478, 495–496.
- Holt, Madeleine (March 4, 2008). "HIV scandal in gay porn industry". BBC. Retrieved May 10, 2008.
- "Treasure Island Media's Maverick Sets the Record Straight About Porn, HIV, and 'The Complex Behavioral Language of Gay Sex'" Let's Talk About Sex, April 25, 2011
- "Sex advice: Is it unusual for a straight woman in a happy marriage to enjoy watching gay porn?". The Times. February 4, 2006.
- Gay Porn Blog: Free Gay Movies, Gay Sex Pics and XXX Nude Tube Videos
- Sensor Glitch – Amusing Toronto Star Article
- Despite strong intolerance of gays, Pakistan leads in world for gay porn searches retrieved 14 June 2013
- 2008 Philadelphia Film Festival[dead link]
- Connelly, Tim, Editor (January 9, 2006). The AVN Guide to the 500 Greatest Adult Films of All Time: Plus: The Sexiest Starlets, Hall-of-Fame Performers, Behind the Scenes, and More!. New York, New York: Thunder's Mouth Press / Avalon Book Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-56025-719-6.
- The Christopher Rage Collection
- Irwin (November 30, 2000). "Video censorship – Glad Day goes to court to ‘fight for survival’". Glad Day Bookshop. Archived from the original on June 6, 2008. Retrieved May 28, 2009.
- Van Meter, William (October 30, 2006). "The Lion of Chelsea". New York Movies. New York Magazine Holdings LLC. Retrieved January 9, 2007.