Review of Shooting Porn
REVIEW OF SHOOTING PORN
A film directed by Ronnie Larsen, (c) 1997
Shooting Porn is a fascinating and sympathetic look inside today's
gay porn industry. It follows a small set of actors and technicians
throughout several shoots, all with the same director (Chi Chi LaRue), and
it sheds light on most aspects of the business. Overall, I was most struck
by the sense of cooperation, and often friendship, that seemed to exist
between everyone involved in the film shoots.
All of the people interviewed or featured in this documentary seemed
genuine, and seemed to be speaking honestly about the industry,
themselves, and about how their work has impacted their lives.
Although the specific video company they worked for was never identified,
it was implied several times that it was one of the largest, if not the
My criticisms are relatively minor: I wish this film had shed more light
on the financial side of this industry (i.e. what it's like above the
level of the director), and I also wish it had commented a bit more on how
the gay porn industry is perceived within the straight porn industry.
Here's what I learned from watching this film, in no particular order:
On the whole, I give this film a thumbs-up, and if you're a gay porn
enthusiast it's probably a must-see. If you can't find Shooting
Porn at your local video rental shop, you can purchase it at: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00004BYY4/ref=nosim/societyforhumans
- Particularly if you're a technician on the shoot, your day starts early,
maybe at 7am.
- In the interest of getting the best performance during filming, actors
are urged not to ejaculate the night before a shoot.
- The makeup artist is responsible for any necessary butthole shaving, and
will also artistically shave any hair near the penis to make it look
- A lot of the script writing goes on minutes before the shoot.
- One issue that actors and directors frequently have to deal with is
erectile difficulties (i.e. an actor having trouble getting an erection
for their scene). This was discussed at length by both the director and
many of the actors. Apparently, it is most commonly an issue with new
talent: new actors, on their first shoot, have trouble getting an erection
about half the time. Experienced actors tend to be able to call up
personal fantasies more easily (which is almost certainly easier to do the
less self-conscious you feel).
- While a scene is being filmed, the director tends to give PLENTY of
explicit and specific direction to the actors; these behind-the-scenes
glimpses of the industry were particularly fascinating (actually, they
were pretty hot...)
- Using "stunt dicks" is not a good idea for the actors: if word gets out
that a stunt dick was used for an actor's scenes, for whatever reason,
and word gets around the industry it can hinder their career.
- Another topic which was discussed at length was the issue of straight
men in the gay porn industry (i.e. "gay for pay"). One of the featured
actors self-identified as straight, as apparently do many others actors in
the industry (it's apparently not unheard of to film a sex scene where all
of the actors involved personally identify as straight). Many of the gay
actors in Shooting Porn had mixed feelings about what "straight" really
means in this context, and one was pretty skeptical that any gay porn
actors are REALLY straight. His frank summary of the matter: "I don't buy
it at all - I've worked with so many guys who claim they're striaght, and
stress they're straight, and frankly they're the best cocksuckers around."
- Apparently, as a male actor, you're treated much better in gay
porn than in straight porn. You're also paid much better (there
was complete concensus on this).
- It didn't seem uncommon for the actors on the set to help each other get
an erection before an upcoming scene, even when the cameras weren't
rolling (the industry term for this is "fluffing"). There was a sense of
practicality about this, and it wasn't treated as any big deal. On this
subject, I have to say that it was fun watching the star who identified as
staight go off with his co-star for a blow-job, despite the fact that as
far as I could tell they had plenty of time before their next scene :)
- There was quite a bit of discussion on the issue of coming out to your
parents about your work. Consensus seemed to be that it's better to be
honest whenever you can.
- I probably found this to be the most fascinating part of the film...
Apparently, at least for this particular company, guidelines for the
director are very strict as to what the actors can or cannot do.
Specifically, they were working under many company rules that were
designed to prevent anything that might look even remotely non-consensual
from making it into the finished film, including "giving orders", holding
the back of someone's head while they're giving you a blow-job, etc. One
director shared that he couldn't have the actors say (for example) "Eat my
butt!", because that would be too close to giving an order. Instead, the
actors had to phrase this as: "Would you like to eat my butt?" The actors
also couldn't use four-letter words or slap another actor's ass, out of
fear of this looking like abuse. There were also rules against using
- At least for this particular company, all the films are reviewed by
a psychologist after they're finished.
- One director interviewed in this film also directed straight porn, and
shared his shocking opinion that standards for fellatio in in gay porn are
apparently much higher than in straight porn :)
- Orgasms are sometimes faked :)
- The actors are paid per come shot ($500-$1000 each, perhaps two per day
over a film shoot that might take two days). However, no actors have
gotten fabulously wealthy from the industry, though they indicated it's
certainly possible to earn a comfortable living.
- The shift from theatres to video rental meant that more attention
started being paid to the box art, sometimes more so than to the film
itself. The consensus seemed to be that consumers only care about the box,
and whether they recognize the company name; they don't care whether the
film has (for example) won awards or gotten positive reviews.
- Nobody who was interviewed in Shooting Porn had ever seen drugs
tolerated on the set.
- Condoms are always used. Actually, this is an issue that I wish had
been discussed more in Shooting Porn. I find it just amazing that,
apparently, actors can be stigmatized in the straight porn industry (as
being an HIV risk) if they've done gay porn, even though (unlike most
straight porn) the sex in gay porn is always safer sex.
- Many of the actors (perhaps most) also do escort work, which they
characterize as being MUCH more lucrative than the movies. Also, several
commented that making it in movies means you can make lots more money on
the strip circuit.
- There was a VERY touching part at end of this film, concerning fan mail
to the actors. Apparently, the actors don't always realize how much they
mean to some people, particularly closeted guys for whom watching gay porn
may be as far out of the closet as they get.
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