Love & Sex

When Queer People Make Straight Porn

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When Queer People Make Straight Porn

Directors and actors who are challenging what a porn scene "should" look like.

By Lux Alptraum

This week, a hardcore short called "Bed Party" appeared on adult VOD site PinkLabel.tv. In some ways, the scene isn't much different from the legion of other porn scenes that have debuted over the past week. It's about 20 minutes long, it stars a naked man and woman, and over the course of the film they enjoy each other's bodies in a variety of ways. But if you're a connoisseur of straight porn, you'll notice a few things about "Bed Party" that are just a little bit different. 

While most straight films focus almost exclusively on the female talent, "Bed Party" gives equal camera time to both Eden Alexander and Sebastian Keys, even filming Sebastian's face as he's orgasming. And while "Bed Party" does include all the porno standards – Blowjobs! Handjobs! Intercourse! – it also includes an extended sequence of Eden slipping a gloved hand inside Sebastian's butt while she sucks his cock, an act that’s rarely, if ever, depicted in mainstream straight porn. And then there's the matter of the people behind the scenes: co-directors Shine Louise Houston and Shae Voyeur are both queer women. And the company they direct for, Pink and White Productions, is best known for the award winning Crash Pad Series, an online exploration of hardcore queer sex that’s about as far from mainstream straight porn as you can get. 

The adult industry has a long and not always pretty history of straight people filming gay sex. From the oft-maligned "girl on girl" genre to the more recent example of Men.com – a hardcore gay site featuring mostly gay-for-pay stars and produced by the straight owners of sites like Brazzers and Digital Playground – straight people have rarely had qualms about producing films featuring sex acts they've never personally been a part of. But it's only been recently that the reverse situation – straight porn produced and directed by members of the LGBTQ community – has started to become more prevalent.

To a large degree, this disparity is a product of the fact that the jizz biz is, well, a business. "For a long time, filmmaking has been the domain of people with money, who tend to be white guys," Houston told me. As a result, it's only been white men who've been able to afford to commit their fantasies to film, let alone dream of distributing them to an audience of thousands (or millions). As cheaper recording technology and easy online distribution have reduced some of porn's barriers to entry, a more diverse array of directors have entered the fray, bringing new takes on old stories, and challenging some of the established tropes about what a porn scene "should" look like.

Sex educator and porn director Tristan Taormino, who also identifies as queer, was one of the first queer directors to take on straight porn. "When I came back to porn…in 2005, there was a lot of really great stuff being done by and for queer people, but I felt like on the straight side things had stalled and gotten kind of stuck in this one model of what I loosely refer to as 'porn for women' or 'couples porn.' Everyone was stuck there, and I wanted to say, 'Hold up, actually there are lots of different women and they want lots of different things.'" Furthermore, shooting heterosexual sex offered her the chance to directly challenge the misogyny and sexism that often comes bundled with ideas about straight porn. "You're contending with this history of what we see men and women constantly engaging in… It's actually more challenging for me…to work with the power dynamics when the sex is heterosexual."

Jake Cruise – who spent six and a half years directing heterosexual porn for Straight Guys for Gay Eyes (also known as SG4GE) – had more straightforward motivations when he decided to shoot hetero sex: “I wanted to create another niche site and thought that straight porn made for gay men (and [straight] women) would be a good one. I enjoy watching straight porn if the men are hot. I had talked with a lot of other gay men who also liked it.” SG4GE inverts the straight porn formula in a very simple, straightforward way: instead of focusing primarily on the scene’s female talent, SG4GE makes the man the star of the show. For viewers accustomed to scenes where male performers primarily serve as life support systems for their hard-ons, it’s a pretty significant shift. Suddenly, the automatic assumption that women are supposed to be the focus of heterosexual sex doesn’t feel so automatic anymore.

It’s this kind of shift in perspective that really makes queer straight porn stand out from more mainstream fare. "We're accustomed to looking at this set of fantasies that have been handed down from generation to generation, and the idea that this story sells," Houston offered. "If you're into these historical tropes, you're going to keep perpetuating the same story and alienate a certain audience." Despite what porn may tell you, not all straight sex starts with a blowjob and ends with a pop shot. When straight porn is shot with a queer gaze, assumptions about what straight sex scenes are "supposed" to look like often go out the window. Things that are often treated as taboo by straight male directors – eroticization of the male body, sexual acts that aren’t primarily about a rock hard penis, anything going in the vicinity of a male performer’s butt – are allowed into the picture, allowing for a scene that’s less concerned with adhering to rigid expectations of heterosexuality, and more concerned with everyone on set having a really good time.

When I spoke to her, Taormino fondly recalled a scene she shot for her "Expert Guide to Female Orgasms," starring queer porn performer Dylan Ryan and straight porn legend Mr. Marcus. Despite co-starring the very heterosexual Mr. Marcus, Taormino considers it to be an incredibly queer depiction of straight sex: "One of the queerest things about [the scene] is seeing a cisgendered man fuck a woman with a dildo. I mean I still think that that is not what people consider to be straight sex." While standard straight porn reinforces norms about what heterosexual sex looks like, queer straight porn busts the doors wide open and allows all sorts of hot new behaviors to come out and play.

The queering of straight porn also helps challenge ideas about who, exactly, is having heterosexual sex. "I think there's an assumption that everyone in straight porn is straight," Taormino told me, something readily challenged by both "Bed Party" and Taormino's oeuvre. "Bed Party" stars Eden Alexander and Sebastian Keys identify as pansexual and queer respectively, Taormino has shot heterosexual scenes featuring queer porn luminaries like Dylan Ryan and Jiz Lee. These stars may not fit into standard ideas of what straight porn performers look like – but then again, that's kind of the point. "Bed Party" and its queer straight porn compatriots serve as a nice reminder that enjoying PIV sex doesn't necessitate embracing each and every norm handed down by straight society, and that the more we allow ourselves to break away from those norms, the happier (and more sexually fulfilled) we're all likely to be.

Images via Pink Label