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Is There Space for More Women in Gay Porn?

‘Right in front of my salad’ caused a shift in the industry, opening up new opportunities for women and drag queens. Porn’s rigid categories are getting blown up — but not everyone’s a fan

In January, gay porn’s stars gathered for a virtual rendition of the annual GayVN Awards, where the accolades up for grabs ranged from Best Bottom to Favorite Daddy. But among a webcam-shot sea of glistening abs and tongue-in-cheek speeches, director Mr. Pam emerged as the true star of the show, earning her place in the GayVN Hall of Fame.

A few days later, I’m on a long-distance WhatsApp call with her as she recounts the years she spent shooting close-up hole shots on the sweaty, wiped-clean floors of the world’s kinkiest gay clubs. “I’ve been where very few women have been before,” she jokes with an infectious cackle. In 2004, Pam quit her job as an interactive web designer when an invitation to a gay porn shoot on a secluded cattle ranch landed in her lap. It wasn’t her first taste of the industry — that came with a video editing internship in college — but she credits the shoot as the moment she fell in love with gay porn. Seventeen years later, she’s a bona fide superstar with her own company, the newly formed Wham Bam Pictures.

Despite her success, as a woman in the industry, Pam is a self-described outlier. The last few years have seen sites like MEN.com bring more women and drag queens into gay male porn, either to sprinkle in a star name — Manila Luzon, Farrah Moan and the Cock Destroyers have all made appearances — or to fill out storylines, usually as betrayed wives or unsuspecting stepmoms. The most memorable example is actress Nikki V, cast as a woman who watches her apron-clad husband fuck a personal chef he hired for her birthday. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she says in 2017’s Private Lessons 3, a lettuce-speared fork poised next to her shocked, open mouth. “Are you guys fucking? Right in front of my salad?!”

A legendary meme was born, which might explain why MEN.com continued to push a steady increase in the number of on-screen women in its films. In fact, a scene in 2018’s Better Than My Sister made headlines for going completely hetero and showing a straight couple fucking. Needless to say, the reception was mixed (at best), leading to boned-up gay fans to ask: What the hell are women doing in gay porn anyway?

Pam’s work may be behind-the-scenes, but especially in the early years of her career, she tells me, “I’d arrive on set and people would ask if I was the makeup artist.” Her industry alias came about similarly: A studio owner had loved a gay porn film she’d edited. “But,” she says, “nobody wanted to tell him that it was a woman who had done it, so they had to make up a name. They came up with Mr. Pam.”

Being a woman in front of the camera isn’t much easier. It’s basically impossible to track down the names of the cameo actresses usually destined to watch their faithful husband get railed by a stranger, so much so that SNL ran a hilarious skit in 2018 on the plight of “The Actress.” After skidding on a lube-covered floor and improvising a wardrobe from the “woman bin,” Emma Stone muses, misty-eyed, on the backstory of her character, known only as “the woman that gets cheated on in the gay porn.” Even in anonymity, these women sometimes inspire Reddit threads by frustrated gay guys, who describe them either as boner-killers or distractions.

“Everyone deserves to work,” a gay male redditor in one of the aforementioned threads, who asks to remain anonymous, tells me. “It does turn me off sexually, though. It can be distracting [to see a woman in the scene], and it feels like there’s an ulterior motive. A lot of gay porn is created and directed by straight men who don’t know what gay men want to see.” In his mind then, the actresses themselves aren’t the issue; instead, he sees them as emblematic of an industry that too often filters gay porn through a heterosexual lens.

Is there an uptick of women in gay porn or is it just me from askgaybros

Another issue is that porn rarely caters to bisexual viewers. “I feel like that’s just starting,” says Pam, who is bisexual, pointing to stigma around “crossover” performers, or those who fuck actors of any gender. “There are still some agencies that won’t let women work with crossover porn performers,” she continues, pointing to lingering homophobic stereotypes around HIV and misinformation around U=U, despite research that proves that HIV+ performers with undetectable loads can’t transmit even through unprotected sex. “I do think a lot of straight people are uninformed about how HIV is transmitted, which is so unfortunate. Gay porn is light years ahead in that regard.”

Pam explains that progress is being made nonetheless — from the inclusion of positive performers with undetectable HIV loads in the industry testing system to crossover star Dante Colle’s recent XBiz Award for Performer of the Year, the barriers to a thriving bisexual porn industry are slowly being eroded. This would arguably be the best-case scenario for the women toiling in gay porn: They could be more meaningfully integrated into bicurious scenes, and strictly dickly guys could get their kicks elsewhere.

Meanwhile, on the completely opposite end of the spectrum, a quick Twitter request to speak to women who prefer gay porn to straight porn flooded my inbox with replies, and their horniness for guy-on-guy action has various explanations. New York-based Amaya found herself turned off by the “‘here’s my dick, take it’ kind of vibes” of straight porn, as well as the hugely disproportionate tits-to-cock ratio. But when gay pals introduced her to their favorite scenes on Tumblr, “something clicked in my brain,” she explains. “Gay male porn can have unbelievable aesthetic value, and most importantly, everyone gets off one way or another. Orgasms all around!”

Twenty-five-year-old Lana, who shares her own content on OnlyFans, simply loves “boy butts — big butts, li’l butts, hairy butts, dirty butts. In all honesty, I don’t even care for anything around them. So for me, while ‘straight’ porn focuses on genitalia, which is cool I guess, all that I’m interested in are the butts.” Then there’s U.K.-based Tara (a pseudonym), who favors gay scenes because, “as a trans woman coming from the background of being a homosexual teenage boy, I grew up finding my sexuality through gay spaces.” She adds, “As a survivor of sexual violence as a woman, I find a lot of the content of heterosexual porn deeply triggering,” so gay porn becomes a way to “embrace my own sexuality without the risk of re-traumatizing myself.”

Sites like MEN.com might attract the ire of Reddit bros for blurring the lines of “gay” and “straight” porn, but their formula of featuring high-profile women, drag queens and even the occasional hetero scene seems to be the future blueprint. As for Pam, her studio is openly diverse, pansexual and trans-inclusive, which is important given the amount of guys whose argument against women in porn boils down solely to being disgusted by vaginas. Trans guys are often erased from porn even if they get bottom surgery, and when they are included, they risk being caught in the crossfire of online transphobia.

So in many ways, the question isn’t whether or not women should be more prevalent in gay porn; the real question is who would benefit from the rigid categories of porn being blown up entirely.

“We’re still in the 1990s with how we approach porn,” Tara says. “I look forward to being able to click ‘hot guy gets railed’ and landing on a video of a trans-masculine guy topping a cis guy while cis and trans women relax on sun loungers around the edge of the scene, sipping champagne. Is that really too much to ask?”

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