Mouths Wide Shut: A Raw Oral Blast From The PastBy Shawn Baker / Sunday, November 16th, 2008
© 2006 Popboys. All Rights Reserved.
Existential profundities can on occasion arise from the most shallow of sources.
During my sophomore year of college I struck up a ridiculously improbable relationship with the resident borderline retarded BMOC that merged the platonic with the romantic. The nearest he ever came to exhibiting what could be termed an actual idiosyncrasy is when he would utter (apropos of nothing) musings like “If you get hard in a headlock, it doesn’t really count,” or “Octopussy was a really great movie,” causing me to pat him on the head or jiggle my keys in order to bring him out of his thought stupor.
His most defining rumination — on that remains with me to this day — came when he queried about the exact point in history when human beings officially became perverts; i.e., when did sex cease to be a base biological imperative and shift to the theatrical romp full of meaning and menace that we know today? At the time I couldn’t answer him, and even today I’m hard-pressed to isolate the wafting of the butterfly’s wings that let loose the tempest. Somewhere down the ages between One Million Years B.C. and Deep Throat, we as a specifies developed the luxury of being able to confuse our holes when it’s time to deliver the hot shot.
Michael Brandon and John Galt © 2005 Titan Media. All Rights Reserved.
The reality is that every one of has three sexual orifices, and if we could use our ears we would. The mouth is as much a pleasure center as any other; fitting that it should fall into contention when it comes to proper usage. Since porn is in many senses an all-purpose touchstone for how gay men relate not only to the world, but to their own bodies, the second, um, coming of the oral pop shot appears to be upon us. Dormant — but never moribund — since the mid-80s (now designated as the “Pre-Condom” Era), oral ejaculation is now not only a mainstay of low budget bareback productions, but has even started turning up in powerhouse studio gay porn during the last six years.
New to the ongoing bareback debate is the question of whether oral cum shots themselves qualify as bareback. Though oral sex carries significantly less risk of HIV infection that anal intercourse, the hazard is still present. Let’s not forget that blow jobs are condom-exempt when it comes to gay porn, and pre-ejaculate (the undoing of straight sex’s pull-out technique and believed by some experts to contain a more pronounced presence of HIV than actual semen) can in theory transmit the virus, though the role saliva plays in decreasing the virulence of the virus remains nebulous. The lining of the mouth is protective, but not invincible. Near-imperceptible abrasions or burns in the gums, cheeks, or lips can prove vulnerable. Swallowing only heightens the risk due to the porous membranes of the throat, tonsils, esophagus, and even the stomach itself.
This admittedly presupposes that gay porn could ever be completely safe to begin with. The face-basting cum shots we all love — the compromise filmmakers and audiences tacitly agreed upon when oral blasts fell out of favor — aren’t necessarily peril-free either. Infection through the ocular and nasal membranes (even just a shaving nick) is highly unlikely but not out of the realm of possibility. The wincing, stone-faced affect many a model exhibits as if he were anticipating being sprayed in the face with rattler venom when his partner fires off gives tell to many porn players’ latent dread.
Tristan Jaxx and Josh Weston. © 2008 Falcon Studios. All Rights Reserved.
The contention long-associated with bareback porn is now rearing its head now that oral cum shots are in demand: one side encourages porn to be socially responsible and aware of its role in our lives, while the other deems porn merely a fantasy product that has no place mothering consumers who can distinguish onscreen antics from their own practices. Oral cum shots continued to be furtively rare but nevertheless still-prime selling points well after most studios sent them into retirement, often turning up unexpectedly and adding a dash of cavalier nonchalance to otherwise boundary-conscious offerings.
Actor/Director Gino Colbert, arguably the king of the peri-and post-eruption nob shining from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, seemed to never meet a dick he didn’t lip-cling to when it let loose. Witness his punch-drunk-on-dick back alley gorge-fest in Jeff Stryker’s Big Time or his still-extreme coerced-at-gunpoint suck-off in Men In Blue.
Prolific ’90s fave Rob Cryston still inspires adoration years after performing a greedy (and apparently spontaneous) eclair-siphoning — which some argue was faked — in one of those otherwise-generic “Gosh, I’ve never done it with a guy before” gonzo videos, the title of which has failed to outlive the scene’s notoriety. Blue Blake took an entire cast’s money shots in the pie hole in Red, White & Blue, later making oral cops with a hint of coercion a calling card for his cavalcade of mercenary muscle sluts when he turned to directing.
Now known in industry vernacular as “Raw Oral,” there’s yet to be a firm consensus among producers and audiences as to whether fellatio-orgasms are allowing studios to hypocritically have it both ways as they encourage safe sex practices superficially, only to then exploit the new “Unsafer Sex” trend for all its worth. There’s no denying that the higher-end studios are feeling the heat; it’s estimated that amateur and cut-rate production houses have taken 35-40% out of their mainstream competitors’ profits and comprise upwards of 60% of the market’s production.
Each year more established porn players are poached by condom-free companies. The once-impervious barrier between the two worlds has now grown permeable with productions houses no longer barring models who’ve appeared in bareback from being re-hired, and with HIV testing never having been mandatory in the gay side of business, hackles are being raised by industry insiders who view the encroachment of bareback into condom-only porn as cause for alarm.
For many, Raw Oral is just the first baby step toward bareback becoming a porn fixture, rather than an industry-shunned ghetto. Ten years ago it would have been unheard of for recognizable covermen like Edu Boxer, Hans Ebson, Robert Van Damme, and Carlos Morales to open wide for their close-ups, much more perform post-coital fellatio.
This year Falcon drew much publicity (and a lion’s share of public scorn) by producing two explicit Raw Oral-themed features, both starring the company’s trouble-prone discovery Erik Rhodes and one headlined by former exclusive Josh Weston, who had just previously made a segue into bareback work that left many stunned. Speculation ran rampant that Falcon was on the cusp of going condom-free. Chastised by public outcry, Falcon promptly balked and announced it would forgo any future Raw Oral productions. Still, studios are performing end-runs by releasing pre-condom features under the bareback banner.
Mainstream production companies will go on record with the mitigation that while they may encourage performers to take one for the team, oral cum shots aren’t a deal breaker when it comes to hiring a model. Models are unwilling to acquiesce, leaving those who’ve already performed in bareback productions open to the prospect. Pressure — not to mention financial incentive — may be upon stars especially thanks to the influx of Eastern European male starlets being imported for stateside productions and arriving from a market where the Raw Oral trend is much more in vogue.
And while a star can’t be guaranteed that his fan base will follow him into condom-free productions, unsafe oral play doesn’t require the same leap, nor does it generate the same level of audience polarization or (as of yet) trade in the same morbid fetishization of likely infection that full-on bareback releases often do. Time will tell if the pendulum may swing backwards, with rising HIV infection rates and possible audience backlash resulting in an adoption of the Hetero Industry’s Cafe Flesh-style mandate that allows only “Sex Positives” (those not stricken by the film’s prescient post-apocalyptic sexual plague) to perform.
Weirdly, the gay porn industry is now facing the very same crisis of self that Hollywood once suffered when the Sexploitation/Grindhouse circuit began luring away audiences from cinemas and into the drive-ins. Unable to compete with the Studio System’s roster of name talent and financial resources, Grindhouse turned to prurient subject matter like drug use, violence, gore, and sex as its hallmarks. The exploitation market met its demise when Hollywood had to begin absorbing its motifs in order to stay relevant with changing audience tastes, and more fittingly, when its unrulier sibling Hardcore Porn set up stakes in Hollywood’s back yard and became its downmarket doppelganger.
The production values and superstar faces that put Titan, Falcon, and Raging Stallion at the top of the heap may no longer be enough to contend with less-polished productions full of flash-in-the-pan performers and more extreme sex play. Mainstream studios consolidating in order to stay relevant may be a dire harbinger for the industry’s future. Channel 1 Releasing’s recent acquisition of both Catalina and All Worlds — two top-tier bulwarks just five years ago — may prove to be the bareback industry’s opening salvo against both the sunny, well-scrubbed signatures the former traded in and the latex-slick output produced by the latter.
In the end, there is no one single impetus for the safe-sex fatigue that’s set into gay porn, and indeed, into American culture beyond. Certainly the burgeoning and dubious philosophy of gay sex as an inherently boundary-defying experience that’s meant to dangerous, risky, and protection-free has played a role. Herein, the virus becomes the “gift” that absolves many young men of the fear and responsibility of contraction. Too much faith placed in the potency of antiretroviral drugs and the notion of HIV becoming a manageable ailment akin to diabetes or high blood pressure has been key in domesticating the virus. Bush Presidency-sponsored abstinence-only sex ed and its disingenuous misinformation regarding ineffectiveness of condoms has undermined years of teaching.
Even an unspoken double standard within our own relationships has taken root; not only are we asking porn stars to engage in boundary-pushing sex we might shy away from ourselves, but many a health-conscious man will confess to climaxing in willing partner’s open mouth, only to then say nix when asked to return the favor.
Such is the strange, almost morose penchant humanity displays when our desires override even our own most primal survival instincts and cause us to seek out looming destruction in the arms of another. Whether it be first-hand experience or the vicarious thrill of viewing them, raw oral climaxes seem to be something of a stutter step that allows us to walk the line without leaping over it. With profits in the balance and upstart bareback studios happy to flout industry convention, we may be bearing witness to our porn fantasy men — not just our hyper-idealized DVD boyfriends and husbands, but ultimately our own blue movie alter-egos — flirting (and spurting) with disaster.
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