Tom Katt: From Porn Star to Evangelical Preacher

"From the sublime to the ridiculous, it is but a step."
-- Napoleon

Sacred Heart of Tom Katt"I didn't hit rock bottom, and I didn't turn to a particular church," says David Papaleo, better known to us as the big-muscled porn star "Tom Katt".

"I just started praying. I asked God to help me with what my life was becoming."

God told him his life "wasn't correct," the big man tells the Dallas Voice, a gay and lesbian community paper. And so the former Falcon posterboy, former "bisexual," former steroid bunny became not only a born-again evangelical, with aspirations toward the pulpit, but a born-again heterosexual, as well.

Tom Katt in the all togetherExclusively heterosexual, if we are to believe the newly corrected Papaleo, right, who admits, with admirable frankness, to having had more boyfriends in his life than girlfriends:

"I felt I had to stay away from women because, hello, I was doing gay porn; no woman was going to have anything to do with me." (An assertion the Dallas Voice let pass without comment but that we find odd -- and somewhat unobservant in light of the current data on the overwhelming number of woman turned on by man-on-man porn.)

"It just didn't click," he says of his many boyfriends. "It can't just be a physical thing. And I never really found that I could have an emotional-spiritual connection with another guy."

Of course, having an intimate connection with anyone is hard when your primary relationship is a needle full of wacky juice jammed into your arm. "I made a lot, and spent a lot," the former porn star concedes. "I thought I was having the time of my life. But I started partying with my money -- constantly altering my mood with chemicals to convince myself I was having a good time."

This, of course, didn't work -- it never does. "Deep down, I was miserable," he says.

And then along came Jesus. "I remember being on a porn set, and the guys all laughing at me because I was reading the Bible." Long story short: Papaleo got married to a Georgia woman three months ago, relocated to Florida and enrolled in a seminary.

"What I found is that so many people -- including myself at one time -- believe those crazy so-called Christians who say if you're gay or bi, God doesn't want you. That's a big piece of crap." In a bold move, Papaleo promises to feature, rather than hide, his glory days as a porn star when he becomes a preacher.

We guess this was acting"There's nothing at all wrong with sex," he says. “God made sex, too... I believe that sex is the strongest physical expression of love for another person. But porn is not an expression of love -- it's empty and cold." [An assertion Nightcharm debates in the commentary that follows.]

Papaleo will also speak in favor of gay-marriage. "The Bible says don't go against what is natural -- it means going against what's natural for yourself. If you are naturally heterosexual and you're having sex with men, well, first, you're treating that guy unfairly."

And consequently, following this rationale, gay sex is only unnatural for straight men and straight women. We doubt Sean Cody, Chi Chi LaRue and all those girl-on-girl porn producers will be genuflecting at this church any time soon.

Tom has his hands fullAs Tom Katt, Papaleo appeared on floats in gay parades -- celebrations that were heckled by contingents of Christian fundamentalists, holding signs that featured the words Hell and Sin being consumed by flames. The Dallas Voice wonders if Papaleo will make that his mission -- to refute the hate-mongers waving Bibles. A good question, and the Dallas Voice seemed satisfied by the former porn star's rather generic answer:

"So many people are shunned or feel like they've been pushed away from God -- that God doesn't want anything to do with them. I want to tell as many people as I can that that is an absolute lie. God made everyone. He loves you the way you are."


Nightcharm was impressed by Papaleo's plain-spoken honesty but wished to mull over some of his more questionable assertions. Webmaster David K. and executive editor John Calendo discuss:

John: When Tom Katt says porn is "empty and cold" -- I think he should add "for me." But why empty and cold? Is Tom Katt really talking about masturbation, porn's practical goal? Isn't masturbation one form of the sex he says is so natural. Sorry, but solo sex is not necessarily a lonely or unpleasant experience, which I think is what is meant by "empty and cold."

David K: I think I see his point though. Porn is "empty and cold" when the person performing it is empty and cold. That seems a fairly simple equation to me.

John: No, David, he made a blanket statement -- all porn is empty and cold. An opinion that will not be out of place in the most sex-phobic or politically-motivated Christian churches, which have long condemned any sex that doesn't result in the birth of future church-goers. Gotta keep those collection baskets full.

David K: Porn is like the Rorschach inkblot test. You see in it what's already in your mind.

John: Right, either you can embrace the little shocks and pleasures of being alive or you can't.

David K: I guess we shouldn't be surprised if a lot of porn stars live unexamined lives and finally learn late in the game that they dislike their work. Happens to a lot of people, in a lot of professions.

John: Once you work in any aspect of pornography, you get marginalized, typecast. You become a fantasy figure in fantasies both good and bad -- as we ourselves know from doing this site, although we're basically disembodied entities to our readers. That's how powerful pornography is. It's a commonplace to believe that porn is worthless. But really? Among the first cave drawings are wildly exaggerated female fertility figures, whose worship I'm sure involved a lot of hand jerking.

David K: John, you've uncovered the missing link! -- The connection between porn and religion.

John : The fact that pornography attracts a lot of amateurs and is notorious for cardboard dialog, bad lighting and routine action obscures the fact that occasionally a porn movie really delivers, really demonstrates what porn can do so powerfully, namely, hand you a fantasy that you would never want to bring out of Fantasyland into your real life. I'm thinking of Kansas City Trucking Co., [right], with that great suck-off scene through the springs of an upper bunk bed and the dick is just hanging there like a cluster of grapes. What is that from, the 70's, and it still takes me where I want to go. But the guy in the top bunk pushing his dick though the mattress springs ...

David K: And so much dick!

John: ... couldn't have been comfortable. You would never want to really do that -- though the vision was absolute dynamite.

David K: Thank you for reminding me of that dangling hunk of cock meat in Kansas City Trucking Co. -- truly one of queer porn's signature moments. I can't wait for the Criterion Collection to get hold of Joe Gage's oeuvre.

John: Tom Katt was pretty terrific on screen and he always gave you, as my English friends say, "good value." I wish him the best.

David K: Here's what fascinates me about this story. Why is it drug addicts, escorts, porn stars have no alternative left but to go to God? Is it because they go so far beyond the fringe of society all that's left is ... the supernatural? Take Shelly Lubben, for instance, a former porn gal who now denounces her former profession in the name of Jesus.

John: She has a wild site, with disco music and a photo gallery, all the while condemning her old life

David K: And it's not a one-way street either . We're always hearing about priests and ministers getting busted for picking up hookers, diddling choir boys, having sex with trannies -- condemning on Sunday morning what they do on Saturday night!

John: It's an old story, isn't it? Perhaps priest is the second oldest profession. Wasn't it St. Augustine who said, "Lord, make me chaste ... but not just yet."

David K: It seems very Psych 101 to me -- the notion that what you repress, what you split-off from your psyche, comes back to bite you in the ass.

John: Which is why Tom Katt -- reborn now as David Papaleo -- is such a breath of fresh air. He's going to be sex-positive and promises not to draw from that dark, shadowy well of sexual repression.

David K: We'll see how far he gets with that -- evangelical America being what it is.

©2006 Nightcharm