This Helix Studios review contains sexually explicit language.
Helix Studios certainly knows its lane. The popular gay adult entertainment site bills itself as a destination for those seeking “twink, jock, and college” guys, but you can pretty much strike those latter descriptors from the list. Helix is twinkier than a Glee/Degrassi crossover episode in which they perform a medley of hits by the artist formerly known as L. Gaga. Oh, and everyone in the cast is played by Timothee Chalamet’s gay brother “Tomothy.”
Branding is important in a market as oversaturated as the gay porn industry. But if you like your porn more of the beardy persuasion, caveat emptor.
How much does a Helix Studios membership cost?
Helix Studios is moderately priced compared to its competition. Compared to the first two studios that popped into my mind, a Helix Studios membership proves pricier than CockyBoys but generally more reasonable than Lucas Entertainment. Generally.
Oddly enough, the best bargain at Helix is the three-day pass, which is half the price of a similar package at Lucas. Like the arranged-marriage loving parents in Fiddler on the Roof, CockyBoys doesn’t have a short-term option for those who want to browse a bit before they commit to something more serious. Meanwhile, a one-month membership at Helix is $5 cheaper than Lucas but significantly more expensive than CockyBoys—which comes in at a pocketbook-friendly $19.95 per month.
Where things begin to go wrong are the annual packages. A yearlong subscription to Helix will set you back $249.95. While $20.54 a month might not seem that bad, it’s 39 percent more costly than a similar package at Lucas and twice as expensive as CockyBoys’ annual membership.
Thus, if you plan on checking out Helix’s catalog, make it like most of my relationships in my 20s: brief and without any hint this is headed somewhere meaningful.
What are the perks of a Helix Studios membership?
1) The site knows what it is
Many porn studios try to do too much and end up just throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall: erotic tax filing! sexy root canals! thesaurus fetishes! But porn studios don’t have to make their models diddle didgeridoos to attract eyeballs (which is a real thing that happened). They just have to do what they do well, make it accessible to viewers, and not charge a small fortune for it.
Helix Studios understands that principle. Their scenes feature young, hairless-adjacent men getting rammed in bedrooms of a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. There isn’t a ton of generic variety, and that’s not what anyone is expecting. Helix has clearly tapped into a formula, and it knows how to deliver on that promise.
2) You can search by individual Helix Studios models
Porn stars are like having children: While each child is beautiful and special in its own right, you’re bound to pick favorites. And anyone who watches enough online pornography will eventually have certain adult entertainers they latch onto—people whose videos you follow no matter which site they pop up on. If someone can find Parker London for me and convince him to come back to porn, you can have both of my kidneys and my liver. Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to survive.
For those among us who grow attached, members have the ability to search through Helix’s site and instantly access the videos of all your favorites. Being a relative Helix neophyte, I liked Justin Owen on first glance. He’s got long, pullable hair like a ’90s grunge lion, and who doesn’t love a nice mane you can yank in the sack?
3) It features a catalog of over 3,000 videos
As a company that’s been producing online content for 17 years, you certainly won’t run out of videos on Helix Studios’ website. It’s kind of a hoot actually to go back and watch their early stuff, like the interchangeably named “Kyle By the Pool” and “Poolside Gay Twink Sex.” It’s a delightful stroll down memory lane to the Blu Cantrell-soundtracked days of 2002, when many of us had to watch porn videos pixel by pixel on AOL dial-up while praying our mothers didn’t wake up and ask why us why we were using her Dell at 1am. Because I’m googling Christian hymns, Mom!
In addition to historicizing the past two decades of online porn, its catalog is straightforwardly categorized by theme—meaning you don’t have to click back one page at a time to find what you want. Memorable tags include “spanking,” “jock on twink,” “brunette,” and the oddly ubiquitous “cream pie.”
4) The level of diversity is… not a total disaster?
Given that the median in the gay porn industry is basically the racial makeup of a Charlottesville rally, the fact that Helix Studios contains a sprinkling of Black models here and there isn’t necessarily anything to boast about. The bar for inclusion is really, really, really low—like internship pool at the Trump White House low.
That said, it was heartening to see that the definition of “twink” on Helix’s website isn’t exclusively white. When the categories of how gay and bisexual men are classified were drawn, they clearly weren’t made with Black, Brown, and Asian men in mind. Terms like “otters,” “bears,” and “seals” (a word I just made up referring to either a smooth man of size or a gay man who stans the Batman Forever soundtrack) more often than not describe white men. When queer men of color are arranged in the gay pantheon, their very ethnicity too often becomes their label: “The Black Guy” or “The Gaysian.”
A not insignificant number of scenes featured on Helix’s website also feature Black models both as tops and bottoms. Because of old stereotypes about Black men and size, Black actors are often boxed into a “dominant” role in porn—the aggressive top tearing up a young specimen. It’s nice to see Helix is willing to think outside the box a bit.
5) There are actual movies for sale!
If you were born after, say, 1995, this section may mean nothing to you. But as someone who was raised among the VHS racks in a video store (my mother managed it; it wasn’t an Oliver Twist thing), seeing a porn site that still sells honest-to-god DVDs warms my rapidly decomposing heart.
Some of the more memorable titles in the Helix Studios video collection include BumFuck Nowhere, Truth or Bareback, Halfway House Hoodlums 2 (back by popular demand!), and the very loosely themed porn parodies Sex, Lies, and Briefcase and Parks and Recreation. And further proving that Helix knows its audience, it has a lot of spanking videos in its catalog: Interview With a Spanker, Spanking Tutors, First-Time Spankings, and (my personal favorite) Spankings at Twink, Inc.
What was left wanting about Helix Studios?
1) Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee creativity
Look, I’m a simple guy. I don’t need much from my porn. There was a period during my early 20s where I just wanted to watch two muscle dudes wearing tight, brightly colored T-shirts kiss for a while. What I do require, though, is just a hint of invention behind the camera—a little wink showing me that someone is home back there. If not, I will assume we’re trapped in a Black Mirror episode and the porn made itself.
Let’s start with the titles of the individual scenes streaming on Helix Studios. While Helix’s DVDs boast some very enjoyable titles (see: The Big Sneaky Fuckfest, which brings me Marie Kondo-levels of infinite joy), it’s barely trying with the streaming content. Typical 20-minute videos include Raging Hard On, Huge, Shower Sex, and Stuffed, all of which sound like working titles someone forgot to workshop. Some of the names are literally just the titles of popular songs. For instance, there’s Teenage Dream and My Boo, for everyone out there who wanted to see an Alicia Keys-inspired fist-fucking.
Porn titles are one of the best things about porn, aside from the part where the hot people take off their clothes. Where would our society be without Guess Who Came at Dinner, Little Oral Annie, or Sheepless in Montana? Adult entertainment is supposed to be fun, and slapping a juicy, punny title on the cover is a nice reminder of that.
2) Mix up the scenery
From a cinematographic perspective, a lot of the content on Helix Studios is pretty top-notch. It’s not Thelma Schoonmaker, but it more than gets the job done. Anyone who has held a camera knows, however, that it’s not always how you shoot but what you choose to place in the camera’s lens. That’s why it pains me to inform the creative minds at Helix Studios that they really need to spice things up in the sack.
Like a married couple who have been together for 20 years and scheduled sex by Google Calendar, we get a lot of nookie in the exact same places over and over again. Two twinks have a romantic night on the town just to go to… the bedroom. Varsity teammates finally act on their unspoken attraction and then journey to… a bed. Literally, the preview images on Helix’s website is just a sea of mattresses, like a trip to Ashley Furniture no one asked for. You would think no one had ever heard of doing it in the car.
It’s very clear that Helix has honed in on a specific thing and producers like that thing. That’s fine. If it were bad to have a thing and stick to it, Tiffany Haddish wouldn’t be America’s sweetheart. But if every video is more or less a different version of something you’ve already seen, there’s little incentive for Helix customers to stick around after the three-day trial period.
3) The site needs some fresh blood
I’m not immune to the charms of twinkdom; I bought that Troye Sivan album just like the rest of you nerds. But something about constant twink-on-twink action with little variety in body type or even the ages of models gets a little dull. Helix Studios seems to exist in that society from The Giver where you’re murdered on your 25th birthday—y’know, like Menudo.
This may be a personal preference, but I like a little contrast in my porn models. If one is tall, the other should be shorter. Should one be white, the other actor (or actors) might be Filipino or Latino. There’s something about two or multiple people of disparate body types, ages, or life experiences coming together to worship each other’s bodies that’s inherently pretty sexy. It’s also more likely that the viewer is going to be attracted to someone in the movie if everybody looks really different from each other, rather than like a cloning experiment gone wrong.
No one is saying Helix needs to ditch the twinks. But maybe next time, the jailbait schoolboy who just needs to be spanked finds a hot older daddy willing to administer the punishment. Give me 15 years and I’ll volunteer as tribute.
4) Diversity isn’t quite so diverse
Again, I know that I’m apparently asking a lot by wanting the gay porn in my browser to look like a United Colors of Benetton ad shot by Helmut Newton. But while we noted above the refreshing presence of some Black faces on Helix Studios’ homepage, the key word here really is “some.”
Auditing the first 60 videos available on the Helix website, about a dozen had any nonwhite actors in them. While Black entertainers were the racial minority most likely to be featured in one of these scenes, there were extremely few actors who were recognizably Latino or Asian. There were no trans men, people with disabilities, or someone with a waistline over 32 inches. I don’t think I even spotted someone with facial hair. It must not get cold on those sets.
While it’s the prerogative of Helix to hire and employ any actors the studio likes and the prerogative of the audience to enjoy that content, there are so many groups of people who haven’t had the opportunity to see themselves as sexy, desirable, and worthy of love (or even a good rogering), especially in a gay community that hasn’t historically made space for them. It could mean a lot to those individuals to see themselves in the picture, too.
5) ‘American’ isn’t an ethnicity, guys
Probably the most embarrassing feature on the Helix Studios website is the racial descriptors it uses for its actors. For one, it refers to people of Latino descent as “Latin,” which is the word your grandmother might use to describe Cheech Marin. For those in the back row: Music is Latin; people are either Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx. The latter is a gender-neutral term increasingly en vogue in LGBTQ circles as a gentle pushback against the pervasive gender binary in romance languages.
The use of “Latin” as a descriptor is dense but forgivable. It’s one of those weird words that’s hung around in porn far longer than in its popular usage and is best gently retired—like Clint Eastwood.
What’s worse, however, is that Helix calls all the white actors in its models glossary “American.” The gay porn industry isn’t exactly known for being racially woke, but this is pretty bad even by the lowest of standards. It unintentionally sends the message that being Caucasian and an American citizen are synonymous when—actually—white people are slated to become a minority in the United States by the year 2045. It’s also particularly troubling at a time when people who have sacrificed everything to build a home in this country are being deported because our president thinks they aren’t “American” enough. Their children are literally being put in cages.
I don’t have anything quippy or funny to end this on. I think that this oversight is extremely disturbing and that if anyone at Helix is reading this, they should fix it ASAP.
Is a Helix membership worth it?
Until Helix Studios stops unintentionally giving credence to Trumpian ideology, absolutely fucking not.
When this matter is addressed, the section will be updated with a thorough distillation of Helix Studios’ many merits, weighed against some of its drawbacks. But until then, I cannot in good conscience recommend this site nor do I deem it worthy of proper review. It’s an extremely embarrassing reflection of the community I am a part of, and frankly, it makes me personally ashamed. As LGBTQ people who have been ourselves oppressed and fought for safe spaces in a world that too often hates us, we have to be better than this.
I liked a lot about Helix. I’m rooting for the site to turn it around.
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