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January 26, 2016

MTV Goes Gay for Pay

This article originally ran in the January 2016 issue of AVN magazine. Click here for the digital edition. How far would you go for money? In the latest episode of MTV’s series True Life, that question was asked as it followed two men in “I’m a Gay-for-Pay Porn Star.” Since its debut in 1998, the docu-series has tackled the industry before—as far back as its first season (“I’m a Porn Star”) and in 2009 (“I’m Addicted to Porn”). The hour-long entry aired Wednesday, Dec. 9, and chronicled the trials and tribulations of Ben (a.k.a. “Sean” from Sean Cody) and Luke (stage name Vadim Black, who has worked for the likes of Broke Straight Boys and Dallas Reeves) as they went about their daily lives and traveled for shoots. “I had questioned a lot…are you bisexual? No. I never had feelings for a guy,” shares the 26-year-old Ben, who lives outside Chicago in Carol Stream, Illinois. “I’ve never been sexually attracted to a guy, but having sex with a guy, it could be anything—from vegetables to fruit...it’s actually a really difficult, stressful process.” But after his first shoot five months ago, Ben notes, “it turned out to be awesome. It’s definitely cool because you start to build a fan base for something that you would never thought about even doing.” What’s more surprising is that, as presented by the show and participants, his wife, Kristal, is also cool with the arrangement: “I’m happy with it as long as you’re comfortable.” The couple have been married for two years, both with children from previous relationships. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to support my family,” says Ben. “I’m a straight guy willing to do gay acts for money. That’s just something I would never have thought I would ever do.” Ben says he used to work 14-hour days at a gym, then turned to go-go dancing at a gay club as an alternate means to make money (“What I like about dancing, I feel like a whole different person”). When that wasn’t enough, he found porn as an outlet. “I wanna be the best father I can be to my three kids,” he says, noting that growing up he was once homeless and living in a car, and wants to provide his kids what he never had. Ben has aspirations of going to college and being a business owner. “Gay porn is a short-term opportunity…don’t wanna be doing this forever.” The show follows Ben as he reveals his secret to gay friend Johnny (“You went from being a douchey bro to now being a bro who douches…wow!”) outside of gay club Minibar in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago (Johnny later questions the potential impact of the career on the couples’ children as they get older, one of the show’s most intriguing moments: “Any way to make money is a smart way, you know?”). It then follows Ben to San Diego for a shoot: “I’m just thinking about getting it done with…hopefully the shoot goes smooth, I don’t have someone who’s gonna whine and bitch about it…hopefully just sucks it up,” he says as his eyes dart to the side and he cracks a smile. “Literally.” That trip introduces us to scene mate Anthonie (“Forrest” from Sean Cody, who notes, “What I hate about modeling, you can’t eat what you want” as they share a meal before the shoot, where Ben also exclaims “Why the hell would you not do this?”), porn star assistant Ernie and director Jason—who stresses that they take STD testing very seriously, mandating every model take a full panel test. (“I didn’t have to bottom, which was awesome,” shares a happy Ben after the shoot.) A career chat with Jason later proves promising to the burgeoning porn star—Jason notes that Ben is one of the more popular models (“You’re the prettiest girl in class”), and the studio has plans for him—with a good five to six years of work easily possible if Ben wants it. At the end of the episode, Ben had done eight films and counting. He comes across as conflicted in many ways, but not nearly as much as counterpart Luke—a 20-year-old in West Palm Beach, Florida. “To me, it’s just a job, and at the end of the day when that job’s over I completely forget about it,” he says. “I don’t care what people say about gay for pay. I like women, I have always liked women, never liked guys, never will…I just wanna get my money and that’s it.” Luke shares that he was born in Russia and moved to the United States at age 8, facing increasing hardships in his teens after his parents divorced and the financial situation while living with his mom deteriorated. He was found by an agent who got him into porn. “Literally I became a quote unquote ‘gay porn sensation’ on the internet overnight…and everybody found out. Once they knew I did gay porn, I lost my whole life—literally all my friends, my family, my sports career, everything I had going for me I lost in days.” Luke has aspirations of starting his own clothing line and gym, to train people. He lives with girlfriend Katelin and her mother, who apparently don’t know of his career. Katelin thinks he’s a model, and he confesses to getting fully clothed stills from his porn shoots to trick her. “What are you modeling? You don’t even get an itinerary?” she asks him about his upcoming trip to New York for a shoot. “You really don’t like talking about New York, do you? You definitely keep your modeling life away from your life with your girlfriend.” The scenario may cause some viewers to question the full veracity of the “truth” presented in the show, as will Luke’s conversation with friend Julian—the two coincidentally confessing to each other at the same time on camera that they do gay porn (“I don’t judge you or anything about it, bro”). Porn producers Tyler and Mark later tell the pair via Skype that they will be performing together in an upcoming scene (“I don’t think it’s going to be awkward for me,” says Luke), since filmed at the time the episode aired. But the most memorable moment comes in the pre-scene ritual Luke shares before his shoot. “I have to take this medicine or else I absolutely cannot get hard,” he says, holding a bottle of pills. “These are not even legal to have in the United States.” The pills apparently have “bad ingredients” that Luke read “kill cells.” They make him nervous and give him high blood pressure and headaches (he also carries ibuprofen to shoots). He notes that he sometimes takes three or four pills (twice the apparent recommended daily dose) if they don’t initially work. He also uses poppers to “get horny” for a scene. “Today I am going to bottom, and this is one of my first bottom scenes in a long, long time…but if we don’t perform well and pretend like we like it, we don’t get paid.” After the shoot with director Marc and scene mate Diego, Luke confesses to blurry eyes and a headache. “My ass is on fire right now…I feel really tired. I feel terrible. The pills, they give you a really bad headache…yeah, just worn out.” He’s also met with a text from his girlfriend (“Katelin’s been blowing up my phone”), which he actually allows the camera to see: “Guess you don’t love me as much when you leave for your modeling jobs, or you just don’t care to talk to me. That’s okay I guess.” (Yet another moment that may have viewers questioning all of the true motives involved here.) “Do you not even get breaks during the day?” she asks later during a call, wondering why he has been so silent while away (“I feel horrible about lying to Katelin every day, but we have a great relationship”). “You’re just living…and hiding,” says a tired Luke as he sums up his mental state—and his life. “It’s like running away from the law every day, like being a convict. You’re scared to get caught by a cop, you’re scared to be seen. That’s basically what it’s like. It’s just too much, the complicated life of Luke.” MTV posted updates about the two men after the show aired, noting that Katelin discovered Luke’s secret: “She cried a lot and was really upset…we talked for a long time, and she came to understand why I do it. There was never any talk of breaking up, and we still want to be together.” Luke also noted he stopped taking his pills before scenes because of the health arisks. He has continued to shoot scenes and looks to build his brand. Ben, meanwhile, continues to work with Sean Cody, live with Kristal and is also considering getting a service job to “balance out the craziness of porn.”

 
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