Features

BAREBACK PORN: FANTASY OR RISK?

Thu, 23 February 2012

It’s a business strategy that dates back to as far as 1871. Let’s face it sex sells! Sexual or erotic imagery are very persuasive tools to sell products in an extremely competitive, money driven, world market. Music videos, TV programs, magazines and movies: popular culture thrives on boosting sales with sex. Porn on the other hand pretty much sells itself.

This year the New York Times Magazine ran a cover story titled Naked Capitalists: There's No Business Like Porn Business. The author, Frank Rich, suggests that pornography is "no longer a sideshow to the mainstream...it is the mainstream… bigger than any of the major league sports and perhaps bigger than Hollywood," he says.

Annual global sales are estimated at $10 billion to $14 billion. Men are the biggest supporters of this market and gay porno sales represent a disproportionately large segment, with one third and one-half, by some estimates. These days porn studios in South Africa are not unheard of - producing films with local is ‘lekker’ flair like Kwaai Naai.

A friend’s husband? In a group? In-front of the camera, behind the camera? Maybe at work or perhaps bareback? Porn operates on fantasy which allows us to "experience" the outer limits of our imaginations safely, with no risk. Repressed sexual desire is often lived out in fantasy and for a lot of men watching porn is a way of connecting to that part of the sexual self. That which is viewed as ‘taboo’ often plays a part in sexual fantasies and is often the subject matter for many a ‘loose’ (excuse the pun) and flimsy, porn film narrative. Different strokes for different folks, each with different reasons why certain themes or genres are a turn-on for them.

Bareback porn is one of the bestselling genres in gay porn today. In bathhouses and gay saunas, the showing of bareback sex films is a favourite too. The Rec Room in Randburg, Johannesburg has a strong policy against the showing of bareback porn as they feel bareback porn encourages and eroticises high-risk sex on the perceptions of men who have sex with men (MSM). As a society bombarded with HIV messaging and condom usage, watching bareback sex could be a way to escape those realities and tap into that primal sexual state. The question is: At what point does fantasy and behaviour in reality meet?

Treasure Island Studios has always been one of the more hardcore and controversial gay porn studios in the world. Barebacking and eroticising high risk behaviour is their forte with titles like Dawson’s 100 Load Weekend and Drunk on Cum. Last year, the studio caused quite a stir when they announced porn’s first sero-discordant barebacking couple.

Brad McGuire and James Roscoe is a "long-term, promiscuous, bareback couple," according to a press release posted by The Sword. Roscoe is HIV-positive (the bottom) and McGuire is HIV-negative (the top). "As a community we have a moral and social imperative to demolish the HIV-positive closet," studio owner Paul Morris said in a statement. "James and Brad are fitting role models for young gay men.”

"Some studios ditch condoms in favour of what sells and what’s profitable..."

An (on-going) online poll on a blog site, bradbare.com, reveals some interesting results. Granted, the poll is on a barebacking site and therefor the results could reflect one sided in its outcome but well worth looking at none the less. The one question is ‘How old were you when you f*cked bareback for the first time?’ At the time I took the poll, 16% answered 13-15 years old, 16% said 22-25 years and 27% said between 18-20 years old. To the question, ‘How long have you been f*cking bareback with other guys?’, 18% said 3 – 5 years, 18% said 20 years and 24% said 6 – 10 years.

To ‘What do you like most about barebacking?’ the three highest voted answers were ‘intimacy 16%, ‘sensation’ 22% and ‘breeding’ got a staggering 37% of the votes. Most interestingly, on the question ‘Do you think bareback porn encourages bareback f*cking?’ 33% answered ‘no’ and 67% answered ‘yes’.

Victor B. Cline, a professor in psychology at University of Utah and behavioural research scientist for George Washington University, has done extensive research on the effects of pornography and the media on behaviour. He suggests that repeated exposure to pornography over a long time has the potential to alter sexual behaviour. He draws parallels reminiscent of individuals afflicted with drug addiction and it occurs in four stages. The first change is an addiction-effect. Pornographic materials provide a very powerful sexual stimulant, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation.

This imagery is frequently recalled to mind and then elaborated on in fantasies. The second phase is an escalation-effect. With the passage of time, rougher, more explicit, and "kinky" kinds of sexual material is required to get "highs" and "sexual turn-ons." Over time there is nearly always an increasing need for more of the stimulant to get the same initial effect. The third phase is that of desensitization. Material which was originally perceived as shocking, taboo, or repulsive, though still sexually arousing, in time comes to be seen as acceptable and commonplace. The fourth phase is an increased tendency to act out sexually the behaviours viewed in the pornography that the porn-consumers had been repeatedly exposed to.

This raises a lot of questions, such as should it be a porn studio’s responsibility to educate people about the risk of HIV, or are they simply an entertainment source selling their product to an audience? Are gay venues that show bareback porn perpetuating high risk behaviour?

The issue of condom use in the porn industry has been a subject of heated debate for a long time. Some studios ditch condoms in favour of what sells and what’s profitable. Some camps are of the opinion that barebacking is about freedom of expression. Others believe that HIV is no longer a life-threatening disease, due to the success of drug regimens in keeping the virus in check. What message is communicated in these instances with the consumer?

If you are going to present an audience with an image that could potentiality normalise what is presented and harmful to someone’s health, isn’t there a social responsibility for presenting some sort of disclaimer? Whose responsibility is it to inform and be informed about risks of engaging in unprotected sex? At the end of the day choice still lies with the individual.

Health4Men, an initiative of the Anova Health Institute, funded by PEPFAR through USAID, is an innovative project addressing gay and bisexual men’s diverse sexual health needs through free medical and psychosocial services specifically designed for men. For more info call: Ivan Toms Centre for Men’s Health (Cape Town) Woodstock Hospital Tel: 021 447 2844; Health4Men Green Point (Cape Town), 24 Napier Street, De Waterkant, Green Point, Tel 021 421 6127; Khayelitsha Male Clinic, Tel: 021 387 0309; or the Simon Nkoli Centre for Men’s Health (Soweto), Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Tel: 011 989 9756/9865.

by Riaan Norval

Riaan Norval is Media Coordinator for Health4Men.

    

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James 12/6/2012 8:28:43 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Hello Pals Please I seriously want to act gay porn and so I need help from all angels. please contact me on +233232988700 thank you!
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gvtWVLTvrwQFd 4/27/2012 4:36:21 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
JC0jYy Say, you got a nice article post.Much thanks again. Keep writing.
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Lies Lies Lies! 3/6/2012 7:33:24 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Gratuitous violence in movies and on TV does not make people more violent.
Promiscuity and plain adultery on the daily soapies does not encourage people to be unfaithful to their marriage mates ... Need I go on???

Bareback porn does not encourage barebacking in real life. Those who watch it and practise were already interested in bb before the sought the bb porn.

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R 2/29/2012 9:41:21 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
I love BB porno!!! Sean Cody, Chaos Men, Corbinfisher, Machofucker... I find these studios do a superb job with their vids. However most of my favourite porn actually has condom usage which is pretty much in my opinion most good porn studios. For almost 20 years of my young life I've been hearing... 'condoms condoms condoms, HIV, AIDS, The clap, Genitile warts, herpies, barbacking is risky'. The caution is programmed in me. I agree that porn studios have a social responibility to put disclaimers about Barbacking. These warnings should be before the movies start in large letters n in bright colours n in the middle of the screen to attract ppls attention They should also give them a rundown on the platoon of STD test they have to got through n even still its not enought. I feel This will deal with desensitization . There is one thing everybody left out its not just the porn industry that needs to educate people, we educated people need to do our part as well. We the marginalised must look out for one another, I know u can't make sum1 put a condom on but u can give them the info they need that could save thier lives. Remember not to seem or sound judgmental it puts people off. We who have been judged for who n what we are can easily be more harsh judging others so please be mindful of that
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observer_indi 2/28/2012 7:31:38 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
I enjoy BB porn. Would I ever engage in BBing casually? Never! Unfortunately not everyone has the same level of life experience, education, access to information and good old common sense to be able to make a good choice. I agree with the idea expressed in the article, that repeated exposure to certain behavior can lead to desensitization to it. Add that to the wrong mix of aforementioned characteristics and you have a high potential for poor decision making. I think the studios need to recognize this and play their part, taking responsibility for the type of product they're putting out there and if this means doing away with BB porn completely, then so be it. I don't think the absence of BB porn will slow the consumption of porn. The market will learn to make do and studios will have to look for some other exotic kink to draw the numbers from their competitors, and those really needing their bareback fix will still have access to it - at home.
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Mandla 2/27/2012 10:07:52 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Goodness the thought of guys bb without condoms and thinking casually that a dosage of PEP starting the next day is the way to go freaks me. Risky business - catch a reality wake up call people - HIV is real and not an illness that is easy to live with your whole life just because you made a bad mistake when you where horny, drunk or /
and high
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ashylo 2/26/2012 5:33:57 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
wow in this hiv era we living in, and people still bareback..there is something wrong with todays society. i would bareback with my long term boyfriend not some common hot stranger i meet in the club
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Derek Hougaardt 2/24/2012 2:27:43 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Love bareback sites. "Eric videos" and "Chaos men" the best. Just a pity that most of the bareback actors are not really attractive. Low budget videos as well.
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M 2/24/2012 12:43:17 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Isn't viewing hot guys doing BB porn like watching hot models and actors smoking cigarettes or drinking aclohol in adverts and movies?
Governments around the world are now banning cigarette and even alcohol consumption in public spaces to discourage young and old from ruining their health. Why should it be any different with bareback porn?

It breaks my heart to see good-looking horny young men in their twenties, at the prime of their lives, in a gay sauna on a Monday night (no towel night) barebacking for older men, some of whom are HIV+. It breaks my heart to hear some of the older patrons casually telling a youngster who has just barebacked with someone that the rumor is that the person he had sex with is HIV+. And to hear the youngster casually say that he''ll just go for PEP the next morning, as if he is going to get some strepsils for a sore throat.
For some people, all common sense flies out the window when they're horny. Some people will watch BB Porn and want to act it out. Why allow this, if we know that it is a potential health risk? I salute this Sauna in JHB for their no bb policy. If we want to watch BB porn, we can do it in private, not in spaces where people are already under the influence of alcohol, drugs or extremely horny.
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Lies Lies Lies! 2/24/2012 12:43:17 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Because we are not kids
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