So Long Can Be So Hard
Clockwise from left: Marc Dylan, the cover of Dangerous Liaisons, Liam Magnuson and Donnie dean from California Dreaming, the cover of Auditions 2, Roman Heart
MANUEL: Picture it: New York City, March 18, 2005. Facebook has just celebrated its first birthday, YouTube is barely a month old, and horny Internet users still have 12 months before they can “log on and get off” with Xtube. Sales of DVDs have surpassed VHS, and the best-selling cellphone is the 2G Nokia 1110, with 4MB of memory and five hours of battery life. In the gay porn world, Roman Heart is the hot newcomer and Michael Lucas has just raised the bar for big-budget porn with Dangerous Liaisons. It’s against this backdrop that Next Magazine debuts “Double Take,” a weekly porno rundown presented in Siskel-and-Ebert style by reviewers Jack Solo (my predecessor) and, briefly, Dick Hunter. Now, nearly nine years and 900-odd movies (some odder than others) later, it’s with a lump in our
pants throats and a wad of spunky tear-stained tissues clenched in our hands that Rod Steely and I offer the final “Double Take” column.
ROD: Manuel, it’s been a great ride. When “Rod Steely” came to life in April 2005, we rated movies with “lubes” (not splats), Falcon was my favorite porn studio, and Michael Lucas’ Auditions series still numbered in the single digits. (They’re now on episode #49!) As for favorite porn models, Jason Adonis was boring as fuck in most of his scenes over the years, but I loved looking at him, particularly when he got fucked by the late, great Erik Rhodes in The Farmer’s Son. Poor Adonis never adapted to the whole gay-for-pay bit, unlike Paddy O’Brien, who’d put his dick in anyone. Marc Dylan is the sweetest porn star I ever met, right up there with Tate Ryder, Trenton Ducati and Alex Graham. And I was ridiculously partial to Kennedy Carter, Connor Maguire, Riley Price and Pete Ross, for obvious ginger-related reasons.
MANUEL: Gay porn has changed a lot since October 2006, when I began reviewing porn as “Manuel Hung.” The most obvious differences can be summed up in two words: technology and Truvada. DVD porn just can’t compete with digital distribution and streaming sites. Now that anyone with a Smartphone can make decent (and indecent) porn and instantly upload it, the supply of amateur videos seems bottomless (well, not in every sense of that word). Real-life sex vids have redefined porn tastes: Increasingly, viewers aren’t aroused by scripted, produced studio porn, and they certainly don’t want to pay for it. And then there’s HIV. With better drugs to manage or avoid the virus, facials, swallowing and cumplay are back, and using condoms is as unpopular as wearing seatbelts in taxis.
ROD: Even Michael Lucas, once the king of “safe sex,” has jumped on the bareback bandwagon. Lucas is an advocate of PrEP and pairs seroconcordant partners in his raw scene. But no matter how he spins it, I am still freaked out by unsafe sex, having lost so many friends in the early days of HIV/AIDS. On the other hand, I applaud Falcon for its approach in California Dreamin’, where the condoms were removed digitally. So as we “wrap things up,” I say, have fun and lots of sex. Just play safe and be nice to each other out there!
MANUEL: “Double Take” may be finished, but gay porn, like gay men, will never stop coming. So use it to spice up the bedroom. Use it when you’re hard up. Enjoy it like candy. But remember: porn is fantasy, a world of pure impure imagination. So turn it off once in a while so you can get back to enjoying real life in the flesh. And happy splatting!