Did Gay Porn Kill Danny Roddick?
When the news broke on Sept. 13 that gay porn star Danny Roddick had died of an apparent drug overdose, it didn't take long for friends and fans to mourn his loss.
Unfortunately, it also didn't take long for people to blame Roddick's chosen profession for his death.
David Forest, founder of Los Angeles-based David Forest Entertainment, doesn't mince words when asked whether those opinions have merit.
"That's bullshit," he says. "I've been in the porn industry for 27 years and I've known many stars who have taken their own lives or accidentally overdosed on drugs, but there's no porn company out there that could make someone kill themselves."
Although Forest doesn't believe Roddick intentionally took his own life, others in the industry who have done so in the past "were not happy people in general," he says. "I don't think what they were doing-making gay porn-was what caused them to be unhappy, though. I think their lives just weren't going the way they had hoped."
That becomes an especially apparent issue the longer someone stays in the industry, Forest says. "A porn career doesn't last forever. The longer you stay in the business, the longer you draw it out, the more you find it's true that you're only as big as your last hit."
Jason Sechrest, founder of JasonCurious.com, agrees. "A lot of boys get into this business thinking it will be the perfect career for their 'wild phase' in life, a time when they can be a kid and explore (their sexuality) or, in the case of many straight men, have their bodies worshiped and make money while doing it," he says.
"The problem with this is that porn isn't about being a kid. It's called adult entertainment for a reason," Sechrest adds. "You really have to be an adult to walk into this line of work and walk out of it without the scars.
"If you don't have a strong sense of self when you get into this business, you can quickly find yourself drowning in superficiality when it becomes all about how good you look, how big your dick is, how long you can keep it hard and whether you're still hotter the new thing on the market."
Colton Ford, who was featured in a handful of gay porn flicks between 2001 and 2002, says his former industry of employment "definitely is not something kids should be getting involved with-and I'm including plenty of 30-year-olds in that definition as well. There are plenty of people in this industry who are 30-year-old kids and it affects them, too.
"You have to know who you are and be comfortable with that for it not to affect you," he adds. "Otherwise it can really screw you up."
Studios Not Responsible
"You don't belong in this business if you're not an adult," Forest says. "And if you're an adult, you're responsible for your own actions.
"The directors and the producers shouldn't have to baby sit these people," he adds.
Even if they're 30-year-old kids? "Unfortunately, that's difficult for a director to gauge during a casting call, isn't it?" Sechrest asks.
Gay porn is a business just like any other, he adds, so why should we expect the adult entertainment industry's bosses and employees to act differently than they do elsewhere? "Your personal life and your problems are not something you usually take to your boss or your manager," he says.
That said, even when gay porn directors and producers buck the trend and become best buddies with their actors, "if you don't have your shit together they will say, 'I love you and I want to keep being your friend, but I've got to let you go," Sechrest says.
"It's a job," he adds. "It can be a fun job, but it's not play time."
Is substance abuse a problem in the gay porn industry? "Sure it is," Sechrest says, though he suggests it's a problem for more mainstream entertainers, too.
"They have drug problems, they have relationships that are falling apart, they have severed ties with their families," Sechrest says. "Sounds an awful lot like the lives of some of our gay porn stars, doesn't it?"
Adds Ford: "How many actors or musicians or actors find themselves in a similar position-on drugs or in trouble with the law? Look at Britney Spears or Lindsey Lohan or any other entertainer making headlines for their bad behavior these days. They have the same problems, but they're not in the porn business.
"It's a big deal that it's happening in the porn industry," he adds, "but it's happening everywhere else, too."
Unfortunately, the gay porn industry still draws a kind of curiosity that even mainstream entertainment has a hard time competing with-making such comparisons moot.
"How many other people died on the same day as Danny Roddick? Quite a few, I'm sure, and many for the same reason," Forest says. "We didn't hear about them, though. We only seem to hear about them when they involve an actor or a musician or a porn star, because that's where we always shine the spotlight."