4 min

Great expectations for performance sex

Etiquette for watching a live porn shoot

Nine boys are crammed into the tiny dressing room backstage. A handful of twinks and a couple gay-for-pay guys are getting ready for their live stage porn shoot. Mandy Goodhandy introduces the models to the stage, and they walk out fully nude. My videographer Hunter starts filming, and I start taking photos with my camera.

There are a couple of tourists from Regina sitting in the front row, with two locals. The tourists are talking loudly, so I go over to them and politely say, “If you could just keep your voices down during the shoot, only because you are sitting so close, it would really help the models out in terms of their concentration.” The two visitors are courteous and friendly. They thank me for letting them know about the etiquette. No problem.

Seven minutes into the shoot I start hearing loud chatter from the two locals. I’m not sure what they are saying, but it seems to be directed at the stage, and it seems negative. The older of the two, a guy who I later refer to as a “Botox Fag” once I get a good look at him, is sighing loudly and calls out, “For fuck’s sake, will someone please give these guys Viagra!”

He continues running off at the mouth about hard-ons and his obvious disappointment, so I lean into him and tell him, “If you keep talking about erections and Viagra, it’s not going to help matters. Could you just trust me on this one and please keep your voice down?” I am firm, but not rude in my first exchange with him.

To my surprise, he starts arguing with me. “No Todd, I disagree,” he says. “This is a show. They should be hard.”

I’m taken aback — I did not expect anything other than an apology. I start to get pissed off. “These guys are people, you know, not machines, and no, this is not a ‘show,’ we are inviting you in to watch us shoot porn,” I tell him. “This is reality.”

But he continues to disagree, talking more about the lack of erections. I try to explain the reality of human anatomy and porn shoots. “Have you ever seen a Falcon video or any glossy mainstream video?” I ask. “Do you think those guys are hard on the set for the entire shoot? It’s called fucking editing!” But to my surprise, the guy continues. I’m trying to take photos, so I tell him, “Listen, we’re going to have to agree to disagree here, I think you are being really inconsiderate and unrealistic, but I need to do my shoot, so just keep your voice down, or move to another area of the club.”

At this point, I’m fuming mad, and I check to see if the boys have noticed anything. Luckily they have not — they have tuned out the audience, which is the smart thing to do when having sex in front of people. A couple minutes later, I hear the guy start up again, so I tell him, “Listen, you are really pissing me off, you are obviously not happy here, so I need you to do one of two things — move to another area of the club, or leave. Period.”

I refocus on the shoot, which is starting to heat up as the nine boys find their rhythm and figure out who is going to do what with who. I notice out of my peripheral vision that the guy still has not moved, so I ask my security guard to keep an eye on him. As I approach the stage again, I hear the guy chattering, but I only hear one loud word: “hard.” So I tell the security guy to get them to move or leave. The noisy guy chooses to leave with his friends, but of course they can’t go quietly. The other local says his partner is an attorney, and he threatens they’ll be back the next day. Botox Fag also brings up legalities and threats of police action. (Later on, my security guy, who is straight, says, “Todd, I don’t understand why your gay clientele always say the exact same thing if they are asked to leave — every one of them seems to have an attorney for a partner.” I tell him, “They are just pretentious, it’s part of our culture.”)

All of this has happened within the first 12 minutes of the shoot. By this point, all the models are rock hard and doing an amazing live sex performance. To me, nine guys of various compatibilities getting hard in front of a live audience only 12 minutes into a shoot is pretty damn impressive. I don’t think I could do it.

What shocked me the most about the Botox Fag was that he could not be convinced that these performers were human beings, and that they should not be expected to be rock hard, immediately, no exceptions. I can’t attribute this to someone who just had too much to drink. He had been drinking, but he was not slurring, puking, or misbehaving, in fact he was quite lucid. Up until his loud sighing, he had been the quiet one at the table, sitting in his gray sweater watching the show. But he was adamant and articulate in his convictions, his deep belief that if we are allowing people to watch us shoot porn, the models should be almost super-hero in nature.

In the June 11, 2008 issue of fab magazine, Paul Bellini coined the term “performance sex” to describe the kind of porn shoots that Mandy Goodhandy, myself and several other producers have been doing in Toronto over the past couple years. Bellini introduced the term and said he hoped that it would one day become widely used. As we continue to push this style of performance forward, I admire the models more and more. They are finding a way to throw away their inhibitions and engage in intimate sex acts, under bright lights, in front of up to 150 people. If you happen upon one of these types of performances in your travels, please remember that the models are human beings. Talking about them in earshot as if they are not present is only going to fuck with their heads, and then fuck up the performance for you and everyone else watching.