Sun, 12 Nov 95 15:30:37 PST|
I did this interview a few years ago for my final project in Human Sexuality. I'm posting this in response to Tim's request for more gay posters.
THE BUSINESS OF PLEASURE: CONFESSIONS OF A GAY PORNO STAR
I met ex gay porno star Bill Crane [his screen name] through a Bulletin Board System that was set up so gay men could communicate through their computers to each other over modems, through telephone lines. I put out the word that I was looking for a gay porno star to interview and shortly thereafter was told about him. I left him a message on the system and he responded that he would be interested in helping out, so we made an appointment to meet at his apartment when his lover (who disapproves of his past and doesn't want him to talk about it) was out. I had always been fascinated by the gay porno industry but never really talked to anyone directly connected with it. I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask.
Bill Crane is an attractive young man, deeply tanned, slim, well built and friendly. He lives in a spacious apartment with his lover in San Jose.
PN: A lot of porno stars I've seen interviewed said doing porno films had long been a fantasy of theirs before they started. Was that the case with you?
BC: It was to a point. There were sexual fantasies about the people that were doing the movies. I didn't realize what was behind the scenes, the amount of work that is really involved. But I was almost, and still am almost, a sexual obssessive. There are periods of time when, you know, masturbation is 3, 4, 5 times a day. And then there are periods where I really don't care one way or the other. This was one way to fulfill fantasies that would not hurt others in a very controlled environment.
PN: Was that very important to you, the fact that it's controlled? Because some people have fantasies but they're afraid of them getting out of control if they act them out.
BC: Right. It's a matter of trust on both parts, and you know, there are certain people that you will fantasize about sexually but, for whatever reason the relationship in trust is not there. It may be a first meeting, that you just met them, it may be half a dozen other things, so that there's not established relationship or basis for trust. So, one or the other party is not going to let you tie them up or do certain things, but when you know there are other people around then it is very controlled.
PN: How did you get started in the business of starring in porno films?
BC: I was in a bar in Los Angeles at the time called NUMBERS which is a notorious, very high priced hooker bar, and I was there with some friends who happened to be prostitutes who made $1500, $1600, $2000 an hour.
PN: Professional hustlers.
BC: Very professional. Incredibly good looking men. Some were straight, some were bisexual others were gay, most were gay. They knew they were incredibly good looking, they knew what the relationship was between the West Los Angeles crowd and money, and they were after the money. They were after sometimes fame and fortune, a bit part in a movie, what have you. It came down to this famous porno star, Kevin Williams, was sitting at the end of the bar, I'm sitting at the table and he came over and started talking to me and the next thing I know, we're going home together.
PN: Was he doing it for business at this point?
BC: Pure pleasure. And, I mean, I was excited to think, oh my god, this is one of my fantasies.
PN: Have you seen him before in films?
BC: Oh yeah. I mean, a total blonde bombshell bottom with a little round bubble butt and I'm going to be on top of it, I mean I was in heaven. And then we did it in almost every room of the house. He was at a friend's home in the Hollywood hills. Beautiful home. And, I mean, we were in the pool, in the jacuzzi, in the living room, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, on the bed, on the side of the bed, at the end of the bed, on the headboard, in the den, and we went on all night. Well, he wound up calling a friend of his. And he had asked and said, "The way you go all night, you should be in the movies". And I was like, "Welllll... I don't know", and he goes, "There's money" and I was thinking of, you know, Joshua who was in the hospital at the time.
PN: Yeah, that was your lover who was sick.
BC: Yeah, I mean, I loved Joshua very much. He had been in the hospital 9 months at that point. And Kevin, actually Ted, was the first one I had ever been in bed with outside of Joshua, in almost eight years. And, I felt very guilty, but it was an association of, 'well it could be business'. You know, I could make I don't know how much per day. So, he talked to a friend of his, John Summers whose real name is Vaughn Kinsey a famous gay porno director and Vaughn happens to be a 6'3", 320 pound black man. Illiterate. Very much an asshole, but he has some of the most incredible models--he knows what the look is, he knows what he likes and that's what he's known for. I happen to be one of Matt Sterling [another famous gay porno director] and John Summer's new finds that year.
PN: Now, how does that work, how does the grooming to become the next hot star, the next Jeff Stryker [a big gay porno star] come about?
BC: Well Jeff was literally groomed for the part. He was, you know, along with many others like Rex Chandler who was Matt Sterling's protoge for quite some time and he was groomed for the part. Now Rex, in his movie, on the box cover, he looks like he's about 25. Beautiful body. But, he was 19, but he looked like he was 25 to 28 years old. He had a very hard time on the set because he was straight. He was doing it strictly for the money and that was it, he was putting himself through school.
PN: So he had trouble getting an erection?
BC: Very much so.
PN: Is this where the fluffers come in?
BC: Not... well... at times there are fluffers that will come in. But there are magazines, there are videotapes, everything is set just to the side of where the filming will take place [where they would get an erection]. And in doing so, they would literally run out, jump into their position, try to get exactly where they were, and then start all over again. Well, he would do this eight, nine, ten times for each ten second cut, so we're talking many hours on the set.
PN: So, that was the case with him, but with others it was different?
BC: It's the case with a great many of them. From the sheer fact that if you're in a romantic situation with a man it becomes very sexually stimulating. It produces some of those fantasies. But if you're in a romantic situation, it's 95 degrees, there's fifteen people standing around, at times you're having to stand on boxes, kneel on gravel, your butt has cactus poking into it, and the positions become very uncomfortable.
PN: Well, it seems like it would be almost impossible to perform sexually under those circumstances. Do you fantasize while you're in a scene, and are there any mental or physical tricks that you do to be able to perform.
BC: The best mental trick that a lot of actors use, or porn stars, or whatever you want to call them, is getting into the person that you're with. Many times there is somebody who is physically attractive and they're very nice people. It makes it that much easier to take a certain amount of time out and become involved with this person for a short period of time and it's literally an oral petting, is what you're doing. And in doing that you're able to get into it and your oblivious to the cameras and everything, you know what you have to do, you know the positions at that point, and hopefully so do they if they're not a newcomer.
PN: As far as oral petting is concerned, are you able to draw the line, have you ever gotten involved emotionally with someone you've performed with?
BC: [Thinks for a few seconds]. Emotionally, no. Sexually, off-set, yes, many times.
PN: And I guess that's different and separate from any emotional involvement.
BC: It is, because there's very little emotion involved. But there is a great deal of sexual promiscuity off-set. My sex drive, because of doing the actual scenes themselves wasn't exactly satisfying, I would go home, shower, take anap for an hour and I would immediately go out.
PN: How much is the money? I hear gay porno stars probably make much more than straight ones.
BC: Gay porno stars make ten-fold what straight stars do. Women, because they are, unfortunately a dime a dozen, make between $200-$300 a scene and it doesn't really matter what they're doing. They pay, I think Vaughn and Jack [Matt Sterling's real first name] pay between $1800 and $2000 a scene.
PN: Per actor?
BC: Per actor. But you're on the set for sometimes 16, 18 hours. Now a scene CAN take 2-3 days such as theirs do at times. Then there are other people like INHAND STUDIOS that will literally bus or car-pool people to locations: Big Bear, Palm Springs, what have you, for a week. Rent an entire hotel, put everybody up, and pay them maybe $300 a day. It depends on the contractual agreement you make with them, and it depends on whether or not you have an agent.
PN: Did you have an agent?
BC: At that time I had an agent who was one of the best in the business. But with my agent Johnny, there were certain things that came out of it and we ended up getting into actually a business relationship later on. Most people in the industry are out for money. I'd say about 10% are out for sexual gratification.
PN: Now, how many days of shooting would you do in a typical month?
BC: If somebody had, again, a good agent, and they were able to get the bookings... see you want to get in as you possibly can in a short period of time because you're hot, you get more money. Therefore, when the agent takes his percentage HE gets more money--and then, there's always an agent referral fee. In doing so, you can do, literally, two scenes a day for months on end.
PN: And these scenes take how long to film?
BC: Anywhere, depending on how they go, from two hours to a full day. I'd say the average is about 5-6 hours.
PN: Do you have to be hard for that full time?
BC: A good four hours of it.
PN: Without getting off? I mean, do they shoot the cumshot first?
BC: Noooo. Nobody would be able to get it up then.
PN: For how long before the shooting do you have to refrain from masturbation or outside sexual activity?
BC: The nice thing, and one of the reasons I was comfortable in doing it, was, the first thing my agent did, the first thing that Johnny did, was he said, "Here's cash. Go to this doctor, you need an AIDS test". So we waited for the test results to come back and it was negative. And he said, "OK, you now have a doctor's certificate that you're clean. Here's a membership to a tanning spa, I want you to go tan. We want this particular [tan]line, Vaughn Kinsey/John Summers." They wanted a Calvin Klein underwear tanline. If you notice, every single one of his models have a Calvin Klein underwear tanline. There are trademarks each of them use. And...
PN: What about William Higgins [another famous gay porno director]? What's his? Does he have a trademark?
BC: He does. Normally, on the box covers or any kind of photo shoots, you'll notice that the models always have their arms up like this. [Bill puts his right hand on the back of his neck while lifting his right elbow to point up]
PN: Oh yes, that's right. I noticed on his screen test of Kevin Williams that he had him do that a lot. What is the reason for having that position?
BC: What it does, depending on the photographer, It makes the width of the waist thinner, the chest larger, and for people who have very little arm muscle, it will show more shoulder and arm muscle. It's just a photographic trick.
PN: Thinking back to the first time you did a scene, how did you feel? Were you nervous about it?
BC: [Rolls eyes]
PN: Ha ha. I guess that's kind of an understatement, huh?
BC: Yeah, did you ever see the movie BATDUDE?
PN: Um, I saw the box...
BC: Okay, the blonde in that, that was Batdude. Anyway, he was a stripper, from Minneapolis, straight, never been to bed with a guy before. And of course he had never bottomed [performed receptive anal intercourse] before. But the only problem was his penis was about the size of my pinkie, fully erect, it was very small. Beautiful man. I mean Chippendale beautiful man.
PN: So, penis size isn't terribly important as long as you've got other attributes.
BC: Right, and so what ended up happening is we were doing this prison scene with Rex Chandler in it, and a half a dozen other people, and they would shoot certain scenes with all of us in the room. Most them were one on ones and they were all spliced together. Well, we were doing a scene together and he had never been a bottom. And I remembered the first time I had ever been a bottom, and it was the most uncomfortable I had ever felt in my entire life. Well, I'm pushing and he's pulling and I'm pushing and he's pulling and I'm pushing and he's pulling, and we're on this bunk bed and we both fell over the bunk bed because we had both pushed and pulled so far and of course the entire set was laughing and we're just sitting there rolling because I thought it was funny because he was really trying to relax and it wasn't working. Um, and that's where, sometimes, the drugs come in.
PN: That's what I was going to say.
BC: Um, there's Dubocaine ointment...
PN: Amyl nitrate...
BC: Amyl nitrate, there's half a dozen other relaxers. John Summers and Matt Sterling really try to stay away from that, as do most of the others. Now, years ago they didn't. Zack Drummer, who I did a movie with when I was eighteen... It wasn't really a movie it was boys getting undressed and masturbating. I had never had sex on the screen. That's why I consider the Matt Sterling movie my first movie-- actually having sex with someone else.
PN: How many films have you done since then?
BC: Around fifty.
PN: Is that typical? I know there's a high turnaround rate...
BC: Uhhhh, typical I'd say is maybe five. But I made it, I was working at the time for a recording studio, and I was having fun. You know to be paid that amount of money that I didn't have to report, I thought it was wonderful. And to pay off the bills that had been accumulating was wonderful. Just the medical bills alone ate up most of it, but...
PN: How long did you continue on in the industry since when you started?
BC: A little over a year.
PN: You said you fantasized during the filming of scenes, can you say what the fantasies were about?
BC: Well, generally being a top [someone who takes the active position in anal intercourse] I would fantasize about (and this is the funny part) other people I'd seen in porno movies if I didn't find the other person attractive. And I would try to fantasize about a particular porno star and having sex or making love to them but it didn't always work so I would fantasize about positions, sexual acts with someone else that I had seen.
PN: I noticed in a lot of pictures and movies the stars will close their eyes. I take it that's sort of a concentration thing?
BC: It's a concentration thing. A lot of times, and this is probably 90% of the time, when you see from the waist up, and you see these jerking motions, and head movement, those are all after, those are filmed after the person has come. They try to do the oral stuff first, then the penetration shots, and then they'll go for the body movements and try and keep the showing of any genitals out of it and then they're all spliced together to make this one 15-20 minute scene.
PN: Was there any sort of act you would not do that was stipulated in the contract?
BC: There's generally not a problem. If you're strictly a top, and they want you to play a bottom you can say no. They will find someone else, and if they want you bad enough, they will find a bottom for you. If you're willing to do it, you can say, "Yeah, but it's an extra $500". It really depends on the producer and how needy they are and how bad they want you for that particular scene.
PN: Are there any particular types of scenes you prefer to do? I suppose being a top would be one of them.
BC: Yeah. I have bottomed a few times once for Adam Grant, he was in John Summers' movies, several others too. But it was a matter of my telling them exactly what I would and would not do, you know, no hard spanking, no nipple- twisting, you know, I'm not into any of the S&M, I'm not into any of the heavy bondage, which is illegal now. If in fact, they show any type of bondage, they must also show that the person can get out of it of their own free will. So, if a person is, let's say, tied up to a post and someone's doing them, halfway through they must be able to unleash themselves without being helped. And so, then that shows that they were not forced into the situation.
PN: You mentioned being with people in scenes that don't turn you on. Did you ever run up against someone who, because of their personal hygiene or them posing a potential health risk, that you did not want to perform with them? How do you deal with a situation like that?
BC: You just say, "I won't do it".
PN: So, they're pretty cool about that?
BC: No, they get pissed off. There were a couple people I was concerned about because they had been engaging in drug uses and dangerous sexual practices off set. And I was not comfortable with them.
PN: Who was your favorite co-star to work with?
BC: Off set it would have been Kevin Williams (laughs)
PN: Did you ever do a scene with him?
BC: No, no, but we played around many times.
PN: Does he ever come to San Jose?
BC: He does, actually, because his parents live in Los Gatos, and he comes around during the Christmas season.
PN: But he doesn't make films anymore, does he?
BC: No, I was actually able to get him into a film but he wanted $20,000.
BC: And Matt Sterling actually paid him.
PN: Really, which film was that?
BC: I don't know, he was doing 12-inchers and I saw a kid in Texas that had a massive dick like a forearm, and stupid as all get-out, but he had this huge dick and Matt wanted that in every butt that he could find. In fact, I was called on set specifically for the sheer fact that they said if anybody could do a stunt double, as far as the butt and not bitch or complain or anything else that it would be me. And then I found out how big it was and I went "GASP!" Thank god I didn't have to do it...
PN: They actually found someone to do it?
BC: Actually one of the guys that I got started, and I got several of them started, was Cal. I can't remember what we named him, Cal-something. And he had a beautiful body, blonde hair, and he was able to take it. I don't think he was able to sit down for two days, but he called me and said, "Oh, god, I'm so sore".
PN: Who was your favorite director to work with, I would think either Matt Sterling or John Summers.
BC: John Summers I hated. Matt Sterling.
PN: Why? Because he was just easier to work with?
BC: It was just the amount of professionalism. 'We're here to do this, this, this, and this. I want it done this this and this way'. He had set builders, he had editing people sitting in the background, he had sound and production design people, he had set design people, he had camera people. Every single one of these people had been taken off television shows, movies, they were professionals. They weren't somebody with a camcorder. Which in effect was like the old Nova pictures. They were very well done, and I admired the man, especially the amount of money they would put into it.
PN: What is the reason that virtually all of the porno movies are shot on videotape now? Is it cost consideration?
BC: Cost consideration, and you're able to edit easier. You're able to review the material immediately. You know, they would go into rented homes or spaces and they're able to sit down in front of monitors and view the end product, the hot spots for lighting control, etc., do they don't need as much set up time.
PN: Are there any secrets in getting the other person off, in guaging whether you're going to quick or too slow for them?
BC: In helping the other person out, literally, I'd ask them, "What do you like? What do you like me to do? What's your fantasy?" And they would sit there and tell me this short little fantasy, and I would try to act that out. Normally, it worked. But by being able to have an erection for that amount of time and fulfill this brief fantasy they had, they were actually able to do very well on film. Lots of cum, big loads...
PN: How much of a problem is premature ejaculation in shooting a scene.
BC: Fluffers generally take place, whether it's a man or a woman, when you have someone who's not into what they're doing at all, for whatever reason. They're not turned on by that type of person. You may have an incredibly beautiful boy matched up with another boy, but he's into older, hairy men. So he's not turned on with the other person.
PN: So they get a fluffer that's his type?
BC: Exactly. Whether it's somebody on set, whether they bring someone in.
PN: How do they find people to do that? You can't exactly look in the yellow pages.
BC: Normally what they do is they'll call the agent, and they'll say, "We're having a problem. We need a fluffer for Joey". And they'll go, "Okay". And hopefully the agent has spent enough time with the person to know exactly what he wants, and someone will be over there. They'll make a few hundred dollars for doing it and in doing that they're able to get up and get off.
PN: What about coming too quick, is that a problem?
BC: Not really, the hardest thing for people is keeping it up. Especially with the duration of the filming.
PN: I would think things would get rather painful after awhile.
BC: They do. They do.
PN: What's the most memorable sex scene or the best sex scene you've ever done?
BC: The best was probably this incredible blonde, I think his name was Chet, and beautiful body. He was in a relationship for quite some time and he had fantasies about having sex with other men, but it was a matter of feeling that he wasn't either working, which is literally what doing a porno is, and he wasn't necessarily cheating on his lover at the time, it was work, but he was able to enjoy the work. And there was one of the few scenes for a movie that I've ever done where there was very little direction, you know, we would move together and we literally made love on scene. It was hot! (laughs). Anyway, it was nominated years ago for one of the adult film awards in Vegas. And, he was just so cute.
PN: How is the AIDS crisis being dealt with in the industry? What concern is there about it?
BC: AIDS is foremost in people's minds in the industry because of the relationship people are having on the screen, a sexual relationship, certainly. Nonoxynol-9, vaginal spermicides, also, condoms must be used by the "upper echelon" of producers or companies. It's a responsibity that they're showing to the public. Also, if you notice, more jack off movies are coming out for that very reason. People want to feel safe even in their own home. And by showing that type of responsibility that, yes, it is okay.
PN: So, what they're doing is eroticizing safer sex.
BC: And still, they're still eroticizing it is okay, you CAN fantasize about masturbation. You don't HAVE to fantasize about having sexual intercourse. Years ago it was swallowing cum, not so much anymore. Years ago it was 'fisting' and very unsafe practices. You know, they had movies that I've taken very brief looks at where you could literally see the cum coming out of someone's ass...and it was being licked, I mean there were VERY unsafe [activities going on] that are practically non-existent today.
PN: There were even water sports movies too, that are not as common today.
PN: Talk about the people in the business who are not gay. You mentioned them. They're basically 'pay for play' I would assume.
BC: Exactly. There are varying degrees of why they're doing it. It may be they need money for school, they want a new car, they live in the midwest and you know they're a dancer. They have tendencies that they don't necessarily want to admit. That can be the case but that's not always the case.
PN: So, female fluffers would be on hand in that case?
PN: Jerry Butler who was an ex-straight porno star/actor wrote a book called RAW TALENT where he described people in the straight industry wanting to get out, wanting to quit the industry like a bad habit, but they kept coming back because they needed the money. Does this happen in the gay porno industry? I know there's a high turnaround rate.
BC: There's a very high turnaround rate in it and unfortunately the industry looks at them for that very turnaround. They don't want them out there because they'll get old and the movies won't sell. The average cost of producing a movie is about $30,000, that's from beginning to end to getting it packaged. Vaughn Kinsey, that's John Summers and Matt Sterling spend upwards of $150,000 to $500,000 for a movie. And it shows in their end product. Their models get paid more, they're better looking, better actors, you know, even if they need an acting coach.
PN: They also have the name recognition since more people would be willing to buy or rent a John Summers or Matt Sterling movie.
BC: Right. The turnaround rate is very high but, for the reason of drugs, and money. And then there are others who just enjoy it, you know, to get paid to have sex is great.
PN: Why did you eventually decide to retire?
BC: The money was getting lower because I had done so many, and my face was at that time was everywhere. I walked into a couple of bookstores to see what kind of magazine were out and I was on like 8 covers, and I was like "Oh my god..." But I never, to this day, think of myself as attractive. I've always been incredibly neurotic about it, and getting older was part of the whole thing, you know, for people to find me attractive, to me was erotic.
PN: It is for a lot of people.
BC: Because I have this insecurity about my looks, I still do. You know to see me out on the magazine covers, I was literally blown away. But it's fun.
PN: How often do you get recognized in public?
BC: Too often. I walked into The Borderline [a local adult bookstore] the other night just to pick up the B.A.R. and The Sentinal and I had two people, while I was walking out to the car, say "Are you Bill Crane?" And I went, "Yeah" and they said "Oh my God"
PN: Is that a typical reaction that stars have when they get recognized?
BC: It is when they want to be on film. I have many many movie star-real movie star-friends in Los Angeles and I think that's one of the reasons we have the friendship. I never wanted to be an actor, I never wanted to be a singer, I never wanted to be in the movie industry. I didn't suck up to them for any reason. I could care less about their money, they're not going to give it to me, and I'm not going to fuck their car, so I don't care what they drive or where they live. And, so, we had wonderful relationships, but going out it was even funnier..."Gasp! [pointing] There's so-and-so and the porno star! And I'm like, "Oh my God!"
PN: Can you mention any of the names of the stars you went out with?
BC: Um, I'd rather not.
PN: Okay. Has your attitude toward sex in general changed in any way since before you did porno until now after you've done it.
BC: [Thinks] A great deal. I notice myself now, and, I do have an admission to make here, I'm NOT 27, I'll be 31 in March. But it's a matter of... there are times when the erection is not fully hard, and I don't know why. I have a beautiful lover, we have a great sex relationship, but even on-set, I noticed that I really wasn't into it and my views on sex have changed as far as promiscuity, as far as looking at people sexually. I don't do that as much as I used to. You know, I'd drive down the street, I'd see some guy with his shirt off. Smooth, pretty body, I'd be like, "OH BABY!" And now I'm like, "He's cute", and drive on down the street.
PN: So it's kind of like the gynecologist who comes home after working hard all day and his wife wants to make love and he says, "Honey, if I see one more..."
BC: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And you know, my lover currently walks around the house nude. He hates clothing, and to me it's not sexy. Part of that I think stems from that in very few porno movies do you see them with all their clothes on for a period of time then undressing each other. Well, in petting, in fondling, cuddling, and any type of pre-sex, I'm used to literally undressing my partner, and to me that's part of the eroticism. You know whether you're fully clothed or with your pants down to your thighs, it's a matter of there's a certain amount of eroticism, but when you're walking into a fully naked person, ready to go, it's like walking onto the set. So, my views have changed a great deal.
PN: As far as what turns you on.
By the end of the interview, I was surprised to find out how extensive and elaborate was this industry that was basically producing masturbation material, and how different life in that business, which is centered around looks, money, age, drugs and sex, is from mine.
I was also intrigued by the paradoxical nature of this reluctant exhibitionist, a man who for a year made a lot of money off his beauty and sexual prowess but is, and always has been (according to him) insecure about his looks and does not consider himself attractive. Perhaps this was one of the main reasons he went into porno in the first place, to feel attractive and wanted, but still it seemed that part of himself still didn't believe it.
I was also struck with how he said 'pre-sex' (like undressing, cuddling) is now to him more erotic than actual intercourse which was, for so long, his stock and trade.
After the interview, we decided to go to the local adult bookstore to check out the magazine and video boxes in the hopes that he could tell me some more about particular people in the industry since he knew them by their real names and faces and not their screen names. We found Adam Grant, who he had once bottomed for, in a magazine. Another one named Sparky O'Toole, whom I liked, had been infected with HIV according to him. Another one that I recognized whose name was 'Chris Williams' was nice, he said, but had a bad crack habit.
Looking over the video boxes I noticed a familiar face on the cover. It was Bill. He looked quite a bit younger on the box, with a different hairstyle. He looked like a teenager, though the film had been made only 4 years ago. I showed it to him, and he blushed and said, "Oh God" embarassedly. "Why? You look good," I said. "Yes, but it's amazing what they can do with makeup. It's absolutely amazing".