Imagine you own a butcher shop and sell only hormone-free products. It’s an important issue to you, so you took a stand and sell only meat that is free of hormones and additives. You take pride in this decision and your customers respect it, too. Then, after years in the meat business, people begin to show up at your shop asking for testosterone T-bones or progesterone porterhouses or aeranol-flavoured synthetic beef tips (ask for them by name). Knowing that a portion of your business is going down the street to the butcher shop whose owner has no moral qualms about the chemical composition of his product, eventually you’re faced with the dilemma of editing morals for greater profits, or not. It would not be an easy decision, which is much like the position that all gay porn companies over the last 30 years have found themselves in, specifically as it relates to the use, visibility and promotion of condoms in their films.
Falcon Studios, one of the industry’s leading companies, recently came up with a creative solution to this dilemma: a compromise. Through California Dreamin’ 1, director Tony Dimarco has attempted to “provide the pre-condom fantasy and remain true to the safe sex philosophy of the studios focused on protecting the health of the models.” Studio president Chris Ward’s official statement claims “the goal here was to simply take the condom issue out of the viewer’s experience as much as possible while keeping our models safe.”
I was dubious about this claim as I popped in the DVD.
The first scene begins poolside, where Ryan Rose is trying to sunbathe. An attempt is made to give the scene a pre-condom feel, with vintage bathing suits and a transistor radio straight out of Beach Blanket Bingo. Rose is distracted by Ray Han’s nude dip and decides to join him. The pretence of swimming disappears immediately as these two muscular brunettes set the tone of the film. The pace is unhurried and the filming clean and crisp. Director Dimarco’s use of underwater shots is understated and a great addition. The two trade blowjobs before seeking the comfort of a chaise longue. Rose wastes little time topping Han, the more vocal of the two. Rose is unbelievable: good-looking, sexy and magnanimous. He gives until he can’t give anymore. The scene is uniformly good and ends even better than it began. Rose lays his full weight on Han and gives him a thankful kiss.
The final scene of California Dreamin’ 1 begins with gorgeous Lance Luciano tanning in his vintage swimsuit before being joined by the younger Ray Diaz. The moment Diaz spreads his towel beside Luciano, the two start making eyes as their suits get tighter. Luciano’s best feature could be his eyes, lips, body, cock or ass — it’s really a toss-up. Diaz seems to relish the entire experience and wastes no time climbing on top of him. Luciano seems as comfortable under Diaz as when he turns him over and tops him from above. Diaz and Luciano put on a remarkable show that’s nearly as sweaty as the first scene.
The topic of condoms in porn brings with it vigorous debate and occasional controversy, and it’s not going to end soon. Falcon Studios and Dimarco succeed in minimizing the visual impact of the condoms through clever filming and lighting, and also in post-production editing. It’s one of the hottest compromises I can think of.