Entertainment » Culture

Barebacking: Wave of the Future?

by Scott Stiffler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Nov 20, 2007

This past October Treasure Island Media - the leading adult male barebacking studio - won the Best American Studio citation at the David Awards, the European porn awards in their second year. What made this so significant is they won over Titan, Channel 1 and Hot House - studios that have firm policies against barebacking. Controversy ensued, when Channel 1 and Titan condemned Treasure Island's winning of the award, and both Channel 1's Chi Chi LaRue and Titan's Bruce Cam refused the awards they were given. LaRue had planned on using his acceptance speech to denounce barebacking, but said the event organizers didn't allow him to.

Barebacking is the elephant in the room within the adult gay male industry - everyone sees it there, but doesn't know what to do about it. Most apparent are the dangers of filming unsafe sex. Recently a British magazine reported that three male actors working on a barebacking video were infected by a fourth, who did not know he was HIV+ at the time of the shooting. According to a report in Boyz Magazine, the actor had tested negative during testing prior to shooting, but it turned out to be a 'false negative.' (In Europe mandatory testing of models is required.) This turn of events will not influence the release of the DVD, which means that audiences can witness an HIV-transmission in real time, but will likely never know since the DVD's title and the actors involved will not be released due to confidentiality agreements.

Nonetheless when an American porn company that specializes in portraying sexual behavior that's been taboo for two decades wins an industry award, has barebacking been given a new respectability? And has barebacking finally crossed the line and become part of mainstream adult gay male films? "Indeed, the horse is out of the barn," reported JC Adams on his website Gay Porn Times. "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." It has also been reported that Raging Stallion is digitally removing condoms from sex scenes.

But with barebacking becoming more respectable, what effect do these DVDs have on the sexual behavior of those who watch them? Have gay men transitioned from watching barebacking on a HDTV to doing it in real life? It's an undeniable fact that raw sex feels great. It's natural and totally hot; and, well, wrong on many levels. But even if we could all agree that it's inadvisable behavior, what's the harm in having a look? Edge spoke to both sides of the fence - only to find that bareback porn's champions and critics each have a righteous axe to grind, a legitimate point to make, and not much respect for the middle ground.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Are those who consume bareback porn likely to have bareback sex? Would I (or YOU) ever in the hazy, horny early morning hours choose to have unprotected sex just because we invited the notion into our bedroom via the DVD player?

Like all of the murky questions raised by bareback porn, the short answer is yes; and, no. Adult entertainment news & gossip columnist, porn blogger and radio host Jason Sechrest (JasonCurious.com): "I know a lot of people who watch bareback porn because they know it is unsafe to do in their personal lives. It's an outlet for a fantasy for them ... I don't know that you can pinpoint or generalize that people get off on bareback porn or bareback sex for that matter because it is dangerous or risky. It just feels better and looks better. Period. There's no denying that. Though someone may prefer to be safe, no one prefers sex with a condom."

Porn impresario Michael Lucas, who along with Chi Chi LaRue has been a high-profile advocate of safe sex in film as well as everyday life, says: "The majority prefer to watch movies without condoms because it is more natural. When people watch porn, it's about imagination; and condoms are distracting the imagination."

Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, Professor of Applied Psychology & Public Health, NYU, doesn't necessarily think that watching bareback videos leads to barebacking. "It is likely that some may choose to act upon what they see, but certainly it is not the video which in and of itself is the direct cause of their unsafe sex ... the problem is that the videos may normalize and legitimize it ... For some, it is their only sexual outlet ... if men choose to act out their barebacking fantasies by watching porn instead of their sexual transactions with others, then this is a safer approach for their own heath and that of their community. Thus, the porn might act in a protective manner as well ... There is no simple linear route to explain why gay men continue to engage in unsafe sex practices. However, it is more likely that it will 'give permission' to men to bareback. This problem parallels similar discussions about cigarette smoking by characters in major motion pictures."

Raging Stallion's Chris Ward put it even more bluntly: "I am often told the argument that barebacking is all about fantasy - just like Hollywood," he told the Gay Porn Times. "But in Hollywood, they do not use real bullets to make war movies. They don't kill real people when making horror movies."

There ought to be a Law?

As Cyndi Lauper eloquently put it in She Bop, "There ain't no law against it yet." But should there be? Done habitually, barebacking is just as sure of a health risk as cigarettes, alcohol, and overeating - which, combined, make the human/financial/social cost of AIDS pale in comparison; but unlike these other self-inflicted, self-indulgent maladies, barebacking can deliver its fatal flaw in one single event. There's no denying that unprotected sex is a (bad?) habit that many will continue to indulge in; so maybe we need laws and regulations that parallel the federal oversights imposed on smokers and drinkers. I for one would love to see unedited C-Span coverage of the Senate hearings on regulating the porn industry ("The Chair will now hear from our esteemed representative from the great state of Pennsylvania, who will walk us through a screening of Dawson's Twenty Load Weekend.").

Although we're still a few more Bush family administrations away from the policing of our bedrooms, it has been suggested that requiring the porn industry to test for STDs and HIV is not an entirely unreasonable idea. That way, the actors would be safe and viewers could pat themselves on the back while watching-and still have one hand free. It's also been suggested (now, by me) that bareback videos should be exclusively populated by POZ and/or monogamous couples. But really, would that seriously impact the talent pool? Perhaps Big Brother is the way to go. Lucas: "I would be for regulating the porn industry. It would be nice if the government would step in and request all models to use protection. We will all be in the same situation." But this is still (for now) the land of the free; and there's an equally valid argument that consenting adults can, and should, be able to fuck raw with impunity-knowing, accepting, and even inviting risk.

Paul Morris, of Treasure Island Media, is an unapologetic advocate of barebacking. He talks about the scorn his studio has faced for its honest and frank portrayal of male sexuality: "My work is about one thing, really. It's about the exhilarating and transcendent wonder that is men having creative, consensual and mature sex with other men ... And the dynamite I use is the extraordinary and vertiginous sex that I celebrate, a sex that's powerful and beautiful beyond logic ... this, not the fact that there are no condoms, is what critics find most disturbing and frightening. The men in my work are absolutely euphoric, out of control with lust and a passion for sexual communion. Neither they - nor I - will lie about who we are, nor will we be ashamed of what we do."

Having been called everything from a frank and brave sexual outlaw to a manufacturer of snuff films, Morris is, in the eye of the beholder, either an admirable or demonic mix of Libertarianism, hedonism and nihilism.

Morris: "There's often a more or less disingenuous effort to focus criticism of porn like mine in terms of the safety of the models. Enormous generalizations are made about how I work, how I treat the models and what I represent in my movies. They are, for the most part, wrongheaded and simplistic. The angry critiques from other studios seem to be actually based in an odd rage centering around the fact that the men in my movies are engaged in sex with a commitment and passion that can only poorly be represented by the mainstream and money-driven productions ... The vast majority of the men in my movies approach me, eager to take part in sex that is actually about them, that honestly and explicitly celebrates what they've chosen to do with themselves. One of the principle jobs of my men who are in 'casting' is to keep the files of the legions of men who volunteer in good order. A good number of these men either refuse to accept payment from me for their work or they actually offer to pay me."

Next: Is it a case of bareback envy?


  • David_B, 2007-11-23 10:26:02

    At one point, the writer suggests that all barebacking videos should have only HIV+ or monogamous couples. This perpetuates one of the most dangerous myths about HIV: that if both people are HIV+, it’s okay to have condomless sex. Unfortunately, it is *still* dangerous for them, beyond the obvious risk of contracting another STD. This is because there is not a single strain of HIV, like there is for, say, polio. If there were, making a vaccine against it would have been fairly straight forward. And someone who is doing reasonably well may suddenly wake up to find that his treatments have stopped working, or that an entire class of drugs he has never taken is suddenly unavailable to him.

    Additionally, people who watch condomless videos are just as culpable as the people who make them. While they may be doing it for fantasy, the actor is still being exposed to a very real risk. Sure, it is the actor’s choice. However, if people didn’t buy or rent condomless videos, the producers would make the *exact same* video, only with condoms. And the more people who buy or rent the videos, the more profitable it is for the company, and the more likely it is that they will make more of them.

  • DJPerezMA, 2007-12-12 11:14:52

    A Note "From the Heart" to Any Man or Woman, Transperson, or Other-Identified considering doing their first Bareback Porn: In the Name of Love and Life, PLEASE STOP AND THINK. Is The $100+ you earn for a Bareback shoot Today worth Mortgaging your Tomorrows for a life with a possibly premature expiration date?

    Is your Life worth More than the $$$’s?


    Peace, Pleasure, and the Pursuit of Happiness!

    D.J. Perez, Education Outreacher, Fenway Community Health VIP Crew, Boston, MA .

  • , 2009-06-20 13:57:10

    You know if the mere complexities of life were that simple...if it was just about a guy on a screen putting his cock in another guys asshole but the truth is it is not! No matter how you try to minimilize it unsafe videos and really porn itself just like alcohol, just like cigarettes and really just like food can be a loaded gun. People overeat everyday as well as get cancer from MSG and other shit they put in the food and water we eat...some people can have one glass of champagne at New Year’s and other’s die from Alcoholism. Some people smoke a cig with a martini some die of lung cancer and bareback porn whether it be from the 70’s or from 2009 is no exception. My thing has always been one of amazement how can you have sex with 50-100 guys in a video some obviously emaciated form a bought with what appears full blown AIDS of some sort and still appear healthy in video after video. I mean someone honestly please help me get into the mind of a "straight" guy or a "straight acting and appearing top guy as the ads read" that would knowingly fuck a star of a porn who has time and time again had sex with 100’s of guys who probably have had every major STD under the Sombrero Galaxy? Paul Morris himself has said that these guys offer to pay him so it is not the money. I am in no way judging for we all have to make a living but I mean is it the meth I mean it appers to me that these guys seem under the influence in a lot of these BB porns or is that my imagination. I am just trying to understand the nature of the beast and the hold it has on people’s psyche. You can say all day from a professional standpoint or laypersons that it does not make you want to have BB sex by watching but it does...how many times have you watched superman as a child and tied a sheet to your neck and ran around the house yelling "SUPERMAN". The industry needs to take responsibility for what it is putting out yes people are at choice but sometimes I wonder how many people including porn stars from the 70’s till today would be alive or healthy if it was not for BB porn? Just a question. Bareback porn is no exception to the rules; where as one guy may be able to watch it all day and night and come from a loving background where there was minimal trauma, and have a loving supportive network of friends and a great job and never in his wildest dreams consider barebacking. Another chap may be running from a life of trauma, a battered home life, feelings of insecurity and be astranged from family and friends and load up on this porn to escape and not feel loved and go out and be told by the nearest John that he is valued and bareback we never know and the rest as they say is history... Not to say that bareback porn creates disadvantaged, or disenchanted young men all I am saying is like Meth or Ecstasy some can do it occasionally and lead beautiful productive lives and some we read about on the news with no teeth and have lost everything. The human body is made up of energy everything we see is energy and spirit when you watch a porn of any sort you are inviting that energy behind the making of that porn into your spirit like it or not. If there was malice, or love that went into the making that is what you are getting and life is about balance, too much of anything is not good for us. I must admit some of the hottest, wildest most erotic porn I have ever laid eyes on was a guy sucking John Holmes huge uncut cock, and having loads of pre-cum dripping all the way down to John’s balls all over his foreskin. Then with that same cummy dong the guy bend his crack in front of John and John slowly rubs the head of his cock into the guys hole and fucks him deep until cums starts to run out at the same time another guy licks John’s ass crack while he is fucking the guy! I mean Stevie Wonder could tell you that was hot so yes it has it’s place all I am saying is maybe it should have some regulation because not everybody can handle that kind of freedom, and power of imagery it can be overwhelming. If not regulation maybe some kind of instruction or direction on how to watch this constructively and maintain a healthy sense of self at the same time. Since barebacking is definitely not going anywhere it is a lion we have to somehow learn how to tame and live with. HIV has taken it’s toll mentally and physically on far too many of our beautiful gay brothers and sisters. Whatever you decide is best for you...know that the truth of you is love and you are a beautiful part of this universe and at any moment you can choose differently if it will add even one more moment of peace in your life... Be blessed. Rocco.

  • Anonymous, 2016-02-14 21:13:38

    To the commenter referred to as "Blue" in the article: F*ck you for the small-minded, nasty, bigoted comment in which you said, "However, the most important thing is that a lot of people don’t consider that some of these sex pig bottom stars are already positive and they have chosen - consciously or not - that they’ve already lost the game so they’re just going to have fun playing it with others who have already lost the game too." What exactly is this "game" that you’re referring to? Furthermore, what makes you the arbiter to determine who is "winning" and who "has already lost the game." If this is the Game of Life (which is a ridiculous metaphor) I’m sure that I can name thousands of HIV+ people who are healthy, happy, and leading full and productive lives and who are far, far ahead of you toward "winning" the Game. I agreed with most, if not all of your other comments in the article, but that was just dismissive and hurtful.

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