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‘Broke Straight Boys’ reality show trailer examines the world of ‘gay-for-pay’ porn

Screengrab via YouTube

Are gay-for-pay porn stars actually gay?

This article contains sexually explicit material and may be NSFW.

Although the porn world has as many kinks, fetishes, and niches as there are stars in the sky, there are perhaps few as perplexing as “gay-for-pay,” an extremely lucrative and popular gay porn genre that’s exactly what it sounds like: straight men having sex with each other or other gay men for money.

From a hetero perspective, it’s a bit difficult to understand the appeal of gay-for-pay, in part because there’s really nothing analogous to it in straight porn: While straight men might have a suspicion that the two bored, long-taloned lesbian porn stars half-heartedly stroking each other’s breasts might not actually be lesbians, the fact that it’s two women having sex supersedes how convincing their performances are. For gay-for-pay fans, the appeal lies at least in part in the fact that the men’s performances aren’t convincing; they’re turned on both by the fact that they’re watching two men having sex, and by the fact that those two men aren’t actually turned on by each other.

For this reason, gay-for-pay prompts a lot of questions from people outside the industry: Why are these ostensibly straight men having sex with each other? How do these ostensibly straight men get turned on during scenes? And perhaps the most common question of all: Just how straight are these ostensibly straight guys? Are gay-for-pay porn stars actually gay?

Here TV‘s reality show Broke Straight Boys addresses these questions and more. Created by the folks behind the eponymous, hugely popular gay-for-pay porn site (if I have to type “NSFW,” you’re not doing the Internet right), Broke Straight Boys claims to deliver all the romance, intrigue, and inebriated emotional breakdowns of The Real World or The Bachelor—except instead of trying to have sex with one eligible suitor, the boys are all having sex with each other. Here’s the (mostly SFW) trailer:

Set in CEO Mark Erickson’s mansion in Colorado, where gay-for-pay performers fly out at least once a month to shoot content, Broke Straight Boys offers a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of straight men who do gay porn, as they struggle to navigate their relationships with their families, their wives and girlfriends, and each other. The SFW series—viewers watch the before-and-after of the boys shooting their scenes, but the “during” is only available on the website—was released by Erickson and supervising producer Damian McKnight in 2014. The Daily Dot caught up with McKnight and Erickson to learn more about the series, its stars, and the phenomenon of gay-for-pay porn.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

So why a reality show for straight men who do gay porn?

Well, everyone’s interested in pornography. The Internet is run on pornography. Most of the top traffic sites on the Internet are actually porn sites. So we decided to take it to the next level and show the guys making the porn, the men involved in doing the porn. The twist, for us, is that these guys are actually straight and live straight lives. They come and do porn and they come to Denver to shoot four or five days a month, and they have a lot of money to spend, more money than normal. The idea for the show really came from the incredible mix of personalities these guys in the house have.

What are their reasons for doing gay porn?

Many of these guys are married, many have girlfriends, but they do porn on the side of their straight lives, either to supplement their income in general or they have other things they have to support. A lot of them have had run-ins with the law, so they have to pay court fees. A lot of them are felons, so they can’t find a job without their criminal history being revealed. It’s actually harder for them to find a job having a criminal record than it is for them having a history in porn…

A lot of these guys come from small towns in places like Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas. It’s harder to find jobs there in that kind of rural environment, and if you’re a felon or you’ve had run-ins with the law you can’t find jobs with some of the larger companies in town. If you’re working at McDonald’s and making seven, eight bucks an hour, that’s no way to support a family or support yourself. A lot of these guys will come out and make really good money in a weekend that’ll help support them for a month.


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Can you tell me more about the monetary incentive? How much money do gay-for-pay actors make, compared to how much your average gay porn actor makes?

Gay porn [actors] in general make a lot more than straight porn. We won’t give you the numbers, but we would say straight guys and gay guys who do gay porn make significantly more than gay actors. We’re not sure why that is, but one of the ideas we have is that in straight porn, the women are the stars, and the guys are just props to pleasure them. The women get more exposure and respect in the industry, and for gay porn it’s the male stars. So they pay very well, but the straight sites, the gay-for-pay sites, pay even more. It’s not really a lure, but it’s an incentive to get these straight men to do things they wouldn’t normally do, to act outside of themselves.

broke straight boys - gay for pay porn Screengrab via Broke Straight Boys TV/YouTube

Can you give me an example? What is one of the back stories featured on your show?

One of these guys is named Denver Grant. He’s a former Marine. He did two tours in Afghanistan, and when he came back he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which limited his options as far as what he could do at that time. So he contacted us and got into porn. He’s been with us for over a year: A lot of our models have been with us over a year, and have a long shelf life. He has a girlfriend—a fiancée, actually—who’s OK with him doing porn. But the more he does it, the more he realizes that he wants to concentrate on starting a family, keeping his fiancée happy, and also getting out of porn, which he knows is going to follow him forever. But he loves women. We have a tour every summer of different Gay Prides, all over the nation. Denver has done a number of them, and we’ve heard stories of him hooking up with girls, and once he tells them he’s a porn star—not only a porn star, but a gay porn star—they eat it up. That’s pretty much his M.O. for picking up women.

One of the biggest questions we’re asked is: Are these guys really straight?  But we have guys on the site who are very straight. As far as fantasizing about men, looking at men, wanting to have a relationship with a man, they have no interest whatsoever. It’s purely, strictly, sex for money. Some of these guys’ friends will say, “Oh, you’re not really straight because you do gay porn,” but we don’t say to gay men, “Oh, just because you slept with a woman once doesn’t mean you’re straight now.” There’s a fun way we do it in the show, by getting down to proving which of these guys are straight and which ones aren’t. I won’t say how we do it, but we answer that question.

A lot of people who hear about gay-for-pay wonder, if they do self-identify as straight, how do these men become physically aroused to the extent that they can perform on screen? Do you address this in the show?

We do. There are guys who come here and once they get in that studio, they hightail it out of there. They want the money so bad but they leave before even the first kiss. Some of our guys do it and you can tell they’re uncomfortable the whole time, and we may have to stop the scene, and they never come back again. It’s a mix.

Are there any tips and tricks you employ on set to keep the guys aroused? I don’t know if you guys use a fluffer—I feel like that might be, like, a 1970s construct, but how do you ensure they stay at performance level?

The guys who do the scenes, they’re allowed to bring their cell phones into the studio for watching porn, so if they’re having problems getting sexually aroused they’ll stop the scene and watch porn on their phones or think about their girlfriends and wives. They have all sorts of different mind games they play with themselves to stay aroused throughout the scene, but some of these guys are pros at this. They get in the studio, they’re erect right away, they’re erect through the whole scene, and they know how to give a great performance and turn it on and off.

Which makes sense, because straight performers might not be attracted to their scene partner either, but if they’re good performers they can turn it on and off regardless.

Right, and it’s interesting, because we find that our gay performers on our gay sites are a bit more picky about their scene partners. If they’re not attracted to that guy, they’ll be less aroused. With a straight guy, it’s just sex. So they’re aroused no matter what.

How d0 wives and girlfriends generally feel about their partners doing gay porn?

Many of the wives are cool with it. [The way they see it, their partners are] having sex with other men and not other women, so they figure it’s not cheating. But as you’ll see in the show, one of the guy’s girlfriends is not cool with it. We have another model, Kaden Alexander, who goes on a date with a girl, and they’re having a good time, and she asks him what he does. He told her he was a model, so she was taken aback by that. He tells her he’s a porn star, and he does gay porn. So that’s the icing on the cake for her, and she leaves. It’s hard for these guys. Some of them use it as a hook to pick up women, but some of them who want to have a relationship, it’s really hard for the women involved with these guys, because of what they do.

broke straight boys - pay for gay porn Screengrab via Broke Straight Boys TV/YouTube

We’ve talked about why these guys do gay-for-pay porn, but what is the appeal of gay-for-pay from the perspective of gay audiences? Why do gay men get off on watching men who ostensibly aren’t gay, and aren’t attracted to each other, having sex?

It’s an interesting question. I think it’s that throughout life, gay men shun their gay side and keep it hidden. They don’t really come into who they really are until they’re 18, they go away to college, or they’re in an environment where they feel comfortable coming out. Sometimes they come out as bisexual early on, sort of as a way to transition into coming out as gay. But a lot of gay men’s attraction to what they like develops at an earlier age. And a lot of those guys happen to be jocks, straight guys, football players, soccer players, this really masculine ideal for what we believe is beautiful.

So with that, you start an attraction to straight men, because they’re the guys who are unreachable. If you have two men in front of you, you pick the one who’s not good for you, the forbidden fruit, over someone who’s more accessible. So that’s where we believe the appeal comes in. These are guys who live straight lives, and there’s something about seeing guys reach outside of their comfort zones and their boundaries that is so hot. They’re the guys you always wished you could get with.

I asked my friend about this once—he’s a fan of your site—and he said it’s because it’s like masturbating to the guys who used to bully him in high school.

Yeah, a lot of what you’re attracted to begins in high school, because that’s when you begin to blossom sexually. There’s always those hot football players, those hot baseball players, you’re attracted to, and then in real life, in the gay world, they’re a little bit harder to find, because I believe as gay becomes more OK I’ve seen a lot more guys not acting as masculine as what our fantasy guy may be. And then a lot of attractive gay men only become attracted to other attractive gay men, which leads the Average Joe out in the cold. So they turn to straight porn to find what they’re attracted to.

You mentioned earlier that before coming out, some gay men  will identify as bisexual, sort of as a transitional phase. How often does that happen with your models? Is it common for these guys to come out and say, “You know, I think I might enjoy having sex with men” after shooting for you?

When guys apply on our site, they have to specify what their sexuality is, and we only take guys who say they’re straight. For some of these guys, the first time they have sex with a man on camera is with us. So that’s happened a few times, the guy will come back and back and back and have sex with more guys. During a given shooting week, you could shoot anywhere between three to six scenes, so this is their chance to feel it out and see if being gay is for them, and sometimes they’ll be like, “I’m still straight, but I do enjoy having sex with men.”

Sometimes we’ll see a guy come in and through his evolution on the site come out or figure out he’s actually gay. We don’t shun that. Some of the guys on our site have come out, and we still use them, but when we cast we always cast straight guys. We see that on the show. There’s an interesting twist at the end where you see our cast members start to explore what their sexuality really is.


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What’s the dynamic like between gay performers and the gay-for-pay performers? Is there a hierarchy in the industry? Do the gay-for-pay performers look down on the gay performers, or vice versa?

The gay performers will question if the guys are really gay. There have been times where we’ve had the gay performers and the straight performers in the house at the same time, and we’ve seen our gay performers hit on our straight performers, and it just doesn’t happen for them (laughs). But the straight men actually are very supportive of the gay performers. A lot of the straight performers really look up to the gay men, because they understand the scrutiny and the homophobia they have to deal with. Once the family members find out, they undergo the same scrutiny and experience the same issues that gay men do when they’re first coming out. So they understand what it feels like to be in that situation.

There have been a number of instances of gay-for-pay performers losing their jobs or being shunned after people found out they did porn. How common is this?

It’s definitely common. We’ve had a number of our performers lose their jobs, their careers because of this. We had one guy who wanted to be a police deputy really bad, and his supervisors found out he was on Broke Straight Boys, and he was relieved of his duties, even though it was his dream job. People lose family members, partners as well. On our show, one of our characters had a problem with his girlfriend, who was from a well-connected family. She knew what her boyfriend did, but her family always asked her what he did, and when she finally came clean with them they made her break up with him.

How aware of they are the potential consequences of doing gay-for-pay porn before they shoot?

We talk with each model in the casting process, and let them know this is one of the largest gay-for-pay sites out there. We tell them it’s not a matter of if they find out, it’s when they find out, but I don’t think they’re fully aware of what could happen beforehand. That’s not to say they’re stupid. A lot of these guys are really smart. One of them who’s not with the site anymore supported himself through medical school and now he’s a surgeon. It hasn’t seemed to have affected his medical career, but who’s to say in five, 10 years it won’t?

One of our models, who’s not on the show, he lives with his family and they don’t know what he does. They think he just goes to Denver every month on vacation. We have one model who lived with a foster family, and when his mother found out she woke up at 6am and told him he had 15 minutes to get out of the house. So he immediately called us and we got him a plane ticket out here and found a place for him to live. These models spend anywhere from a week to two weeks with us every month. We become very close to them. We try to foster a sense of family with them. It’s a dysfunctional family, it’s a family that has sex with each other. But it’s a family nonetheless.   

H/T Queerty

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.