Big Brother & Male Strippers unzipped

Big Brother

For the best part of a year, I had been aware that one of my former Dreamboys colleagues, Lotan Carter, was probably going to be entering this year’s Big Brother show on Channel 5.  As a former BBUK contestant myself, from the 13th series, I am frequently asked about the experience and whether I would recommend applying.  Had Lotan asked me my honest opinion about whether it was a good idea, my response would have been: absolutely not.

Male strippers are simply people.  Normal people who do, perhaps, a rather unusual job with a controversial perception and position in society.  But they are normal people nonetheless.  They have their plus sides, they have their down sides, their good days and their bad.  However, as someone who has both been a male stripper and spent a large chunk of his time in public debates and forums defending the adult entertainment industry in all its facets, I feel a certain responsibility to address some of the issues that have arisen from recent events in the Big Brother house with an honesty that few are prepared to admit.

It is not my intention to comment on the specifics of the events of last weekend nor target any one individual.  While the events that unravelled involving Lotan have prompted me to address certain issues, the observations  and experiences I share here could, and do, apply to many within the industries of which I discuss, namely male stripping and reality TV.  Plus, I don’t really watch Big Brother anyway, so am ill-equipped to focus on what either did, or did not, go down in the house.

Male strippers are normal people, but they exist in a world of hypers:  hyper-sexuality, hyper-gender and hyper-egos.  We all are affected by these subject matters in all our lives, but strippers (male and female) face them in an overly ‘in-your-face’ manner.  Some of us in the industry are able to tackle them head on, employ restraint and keep things in a certain perspective.  Others, however, are not and become victims of their own perceived ‘success’.

I am sure there are people for whom entering a reality TV show like Big Brother is a harmless social experiment and fun experience.  But such people are rarely the sort of people that producers want on their program.  They are hungry for ratings and news – placid, passive, peace-loving housemates are rarely the sort of people that hit the headlines and make for explosive and entertaining television.

This blog is meant to offer a critique and an insight into the worlds of both reality TV (through the experience of a Big Brother contestant) and male stripping and how, when the two collide, rarely result in a harmonious union.  Moreover, it is an examination into the psyches, motives and behaviours of those who become male strippers and why, unless these are all put into some level of perspective, can lead to a self-destructive path that is only amplified, often exacerbated, by the ratings-hungry reality TV producer.  I also hope to be able to offer some advice which, while focusing on my male stripper colleagues, is also applicable to men, and, to a lesser extent, women generally who are considering a dose of reality TV ‘fame’.

 

UNZIPPING MALE STRIPPERS

I love to meet people who surprise me.  Who break the mould.  Challenge stereotypes.  Butch men who are nurses, petite women who are truck drivers, white guys who can jump, black guys who can swim.  Its always refreshing to know generalisations are just that: general.  There are always those who are the exceptions and who dare to stand up to the pre-described roles that society often imposes.

No-one enters the world of male stripping thinking they will be mixing with the intelligentsia and intellectuals, but to believe that strippers are all brain-dead muscle-heads is unfair and inaccurate.  Of course, there are many who are predictably shallow, egotistical, narcissists who are stereotypically employed as personal trainers, labourers or firemen outside of their stripping hours.  But I have also worked with people who are intelligent, articulate, considerate and respectful, who have degrees, are qualified pediatricians, work in social services managing children’s homes, run cleaning businesses, are civil servants, professional actors, trained dancers and ballerinas, or, like me, have been teachers.

The role of a male stripper is a pretty simple one.  It is to entertain, to titillate, to provide laughs, smiles and a little shock value along the way.

In my opinion, the best male strippers often, though not always, come from a performance background, such as professional dancers, acrobats, actors, etc.   They are able to create a show that follows a narrative, contains ups and downs, humour, sensuality, passion and is reflective of their individual personality.  Ultimately, it should be more about the audience, making them happy, getting them involved, than catering to the ego of the performer.

Most importantly, the very best male strippers can stay grounded, keep things in perspective and maintain a level of humility at all times.

Unfortunately, many guys get swept up and caught in the trappings and temptations of the job and elements that accompany it.

To understand male strippers, you need to understand where they’ve come from, what’s motivated them to enter the industry and what makes them stay.

 

Sexuality

Human sexuality is complex.  We all have our individual journeys on the road to discovery.  Sometimes it can be confusing.

Male strippers are immersed in a world of sexual extremes, where one minute women are, sometimes literally, throwing themselves at them and begging to sleep with them, while, on the other, comparing and admiring each other’s toned, naked physiques while wanking off or pumping-up their dicks in full view in the dressing rooms.

If there are ever doubts in his mind, stripping re-enforces the notion that a male stripper already attempts to concoct in his own head, that he is appealing to the opposite sex, that women do want him, adore him and lust after him.  It demonstrates to the outside world (for public re-enforcement of a private matter is important for their public image and perception) that he must be ‘straight’ by sheer virtue of the fact that he loves working for, and around, thousands of women who pine after every ripped muscle in his oiled-up body.  This obviously ignores the fact that many male strippers also often work in gay clubs, at gay events and usually have a large male fan base too.

Some strippers are openly ‘gay’, if not with the fans, at least amongst their colleagues, but a significant number are openly dishonest (perhaps due to their own confusion or lack of security in their own sexuality), but privately curious about their sexuality.

I know of male strippers who describe themselves as ‘straight’, who have advertised on Grindr (the gay dating app), provided escort services to male clients, been sucked off by a drag queen and I have witnessed one stripper performing oral on another.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you will know my view on sexuality.  I ascribe to none, but ‘human’, as pretentious as some may deem this to be.  I do not attempt to operate under the pretence of one pigeon-holed sexual preference, while harbouring feelings that are often allotted in the other.  But strippers are not alone in society at strictly sticking to pre-described sexual identities and they are, perhaps more than most, afraid of the repercussions of admitting anything other than the heterosexual norm that the world still, by and large, expects, particularly from these ‘uber-men’ who sign up to the rigid male stripper stereotype.

 

Ego

Is it any wonder that strippers are often accused of having inflated egos?  On an almost daily occurrence, if not in person, via social media, you receive flattering comments and come-ons (some eloquent, many damn-right blunt and rude) from women, men (‘gay’, ‘straight’, ‘bi’ and ‘curious’), men pretending to be women, husbands and partners wanting you to do all manner of things with their wives and girlfriends and, on the odd occasions, even some who describe themselves as ‘lesbians’ have been known to make a move.

Most of us, in the real world, realise, it is horses for courses.  Different people like different things.  Many people find male strippers repulsive.  If not only physically, they consider it immoral and those who would do it, mentally repugnant.  For those who attend strip-shows, different people like different things.  What we as individuals find attractive is entirely subjective.  But strippers do not entirely operate in the ‘real’ world.  They exist in a world of continual flattery, where, if they are unable to put this into a perspective, can fool themselves into believing that this is how everyone thinks or, at least, should think and, if they don’t, then there must be something wrong with them.

 

Alpha male

The world of male stripping is an environment of hyper masculinity.  Where the idea of a proper ‘man’ stems more from Marvel super heroes than the real male role models around us.

It is a highly competitive and physically obsessed environment.  Brains count for little, pure brawn is king.  It is a constant battle to be the best looking, the most popular, have the biggest biceps, the tightest abs and the largest dick.

This is no place for the weak or self-conscious.  Or so you would think.  Yet, the irony is that these men are often the most self-conscious of all, hiding behind the bravado, the ego, the arrogance of a fluffed-up peacock.  The slabs of muscle create a shield, sometimes a buffer to deflect the inner conflicts between the real them and the outside world.  These ‘men’ are often little more than pumped-up boys seeking reassurance, lacking self-confidence, escaping pasts of bullying, homophobia (sometimes abuse), often lacking male role models in their own childhoods.  It is these factors that sometimes drive these men to desire for physical change, to take the first steps of entering a gym and beginning the transformation of their bodies in an attempt to mould and create what they believe is their image of a perfect man, more often influenced by childhood idols, celebrities and, of course, photo-shopped imagery from across the media.

In some ways, male strippers are men who never really grew out of the boyish perception of a what a man should be.  While most men adapt to daily life and their shifting priorities of work, family, relationships, learning to accept the limits of life in the real world, and recognising that real manhood is not defined by, and certainly not limited to, the size of any body part or appendage, or the quantity of sexual conquests.

 

Perception of women

One of the ugly sides of stripping is the attitude towards women that is frequently expressed by many.  It is often fraught with disrespectful and derogatory language about women, frequently the customers, sometimes directly abusive or harassing in nature.  Its also true that sometimes the women attending stripping shows can be pretty vile:  drunk, aggressive, occasionally even violent – the trend of scratching strippers’ backs I will never understand nor tolerate.

Indeed, some strippers lack respect for the women because they attend strip shows, seeing this as a reflection of their loose morals, as much as it is on their own for being strippers.  This is certainly not grounded in any degree of truth, as a huge range of women attend strip shows or hire strippers for a variety of reasons, and, of course, the hypocrisy is so glaringly obvious as to be offensive to anyone with with even the most limited of brain activity.  But the one rule for him and another for her is a running theme amongst male strippers (as it is amongst men generally), who extend their striving for adonis-like perfection from simply the physical to the delusion of achieving God-like status amongst their fans and ‘worshippers’.

Many strippers, just as many of their civilian male counterparts, are on a continual voyage of conquest of the opposite sex.  But being a stripper has the ability of turning what can usually be an on-going, tortuous battle to woo and commandeer the object of your infatuation, to an effortless capitulation.  The number of times I have been stuck on a minibus, on a tour coach or in a dressing room, listening to groups of male strippers going on about “pussy this” and “pussy that”, their perpetual ‘hunt for pussy’ and their gloating over the details of each victim and the pounding they endured.  A boundless lust for females, or their genitals at least, that could easily be subdued with a bit of hand relief, but usually results in sneaking girls into toilets or alleys for a quick suck or fuck.

 

Dating

Which brings me onto another relevant area of consideration… the concept of dating a male stripper.

Again, I must stress, there are male strippers who have maintained long-term and committed relationships.  Strippers are no more immune to the complications of human intimacy and relationships than anyone else, but the unique nature of their chosen area of work makes certain pit-falls more likely to occur.

As a general rule, my answer to anyone, be it a male stripper, or someone considering being with one is:  honesty is key.

If only male strippers could be completely honest about the work they do and the way they behave and that any potential ‘date’ be completely honest with themselves about what they really want from a relationship.

We all crave physical attention and close bonding with others at times.  But be honest about what, at this stage in your life, you are after and what you are able to, realistically – particularly considering the work and lifestyle you maintain, and the temptations that accompany them – provide and maintain.  In most cases, I would advise steering clear of anything resembling a traditional relationship.

If you want to sleep around and casually date, then do so.  Nothing wrong with that at all, in my opinion at least.  But be honest about it.  Don’t lie to yourself or someone else and dupe yourself into believing that you can hold down a long-term, committed, traditional relationship, while knowing full well that the distractions and attractions of the vices of the stripping world are too strong to ignore.

If it is an open relationship you seek, then perfect.  Then find someone who feels the same.  Be up-front about your desires and intentions, then they too can make up their mind.  Some women are happy to explore open relationships, to pursue a more liberal and experimental sexual and romantic lifestyle.  That’s great.  If this is the type of relationship you crave, then be pro-active in seeking out people of a similar mindset, at sex clubs, swinger’s sites and hedonistic organisations, for example.  Don’t deceive a naive hen night partygoer into the delusion of a traditional relationship, which you know, full well, you will not be able to commit to.

If its a one-night-stand you want.  Perfect.  If its a casual relationship you want.  Perfect.  If its a fuck buddy.  Perfect.  Its not the lifestyle that is the problem, its the lies that attempt to hide these intentions behind the cover of ‘romance’ and commitment that continue to perpetuate the stereotype of male strippers being womanising, disrespectful, egotistical pigs.

 

Roids and Rage

Almost all strippers have been, or are on, steroids.

I make no moral judgements about drugs.  I personally believe all drugs should be decriminalised.  While there is the argument about wasting police resources, time and prison space, I fundamentally believe that what we, as informed individuals, decide to put in our bodies, should be our own choice.

A society that accepts alcohol and tobacco (not to mention caffeine, sugar and salt) as legal, normal and taxable narcotics that are freely available to the general public, possesses no moral high ground on the question of drugs.

All drugs carry positive and negative effects.  Of course, steroids ‘improve’ (at least in the minds of those using them) your physical appearance, they can also give you more energy, increase your libido and generally make you feel more confident.  Conversely, they carry health risks, can affect your fertility, and, in certain individuals, create what is often referred to as ‘roid’ rage.  For individuals prone to conflict, anger management issues and violence, this can lead to a toxic and potentially dangerous combination.

Then there’s the fights.  One juiced-up bonehead with a criminal record going head-to-head over the most banal of things with another equally as juiced-up bag of muscle that may, or may not, have a criminal record, but certainly sports an equal array of tattoo art up the length of both arms as the jailbird.

I’ve witnessed blood, punches, threats of violence, screaming and scrapping like typical idiot Brits abroad in the middle of a Dutch city or on a crowded minibus.  I’ve seen it all, and always, without exception, I am the one attempting to resolve and calm the situation.  Without doubt, it is true to say I have witnessed worse behaviour from adult male strippers (many parents themselves!) than I ever encountered from teenage boys while I was a teacher.

 

Stripper Sensitivity

During my time with The Dreamboys, I developed the reputation of something of an ‘Agony Uncle’.  If not quite a shoulder to cry on, I was certainly someone some of the guys would turn to for support, advice and to share their problems and concerns.  After all, male strippers are just normal folk.

For the same reason I used to get great satisfaction from breaking through the tough exterior of many ‘bad boys’ when I was a high school teacher, beneath the rock-hard pecs, there usually is a heart, but sometimes its broken or breaking, and men, even the most sensitive, often have difficulties admitting it, let alone showing it.

We shouldn’t excuse the shortfalls of male strippers, but we shouldn’t throw them on the scrapheap either.

While being a stripper can sometimes help you to confront these issues, too often it can enhance and worsen them.

I am certainly a more comfortable and confident version of me.  But is stripping solely responsible for this?  I doubt it, but it certainly forced me to face some of my ‘demons’ head on.  Had I perhaps been younger when I started (I was 29), more easily led or maybe even less of a conscientious and considerate individual brought up by two wonderful, decent individuals, then maybe things might have turned out differently and gone in another direction.

 

BIG BROTHER

It can be a stressful and testing time living with anyone: parents, siblings, friends and even our lovers.  Dumping a complete load of strangers in a confined space with no access to the outside world, music, TV, books, for an undefined period and with TV cameras watching you 24/7, is bound to be challenging to almost anyone.

There are therefore very few people to whom I would genuinely say “sure, go on Big Brother, you’d be great!”.  For most people, the experience is unlikely to be the most sensible of life choices and may indeed carry detrimental outcomes, if not in the long-term, at least the short.

The idea, regularly touted, that you can ‘play the game’ or pretend to be anything other than yourself is a myth.  Eventually, the truth will out or you’ll slip up and the normal ‘you’ will always make an appearance.

For the first two weeks of my time in the Big Brother house, I was accused, by many viewers, of being bland and boring and of not taking up much air time.  If not causing arguments, creating conflict or being an airhead equates to being bland and boring, I take full ownership.

I had my own reasons for going on Big Brother.  Both Lotan and I had been approached by producers via Facebook.  This is not unusual.   I was not the first male stripper to enter the house and I doubt Lotan will be the last.   Personally, I thought being on the show would be a good platform, or platform at least, for raising debate and challenging perceptions, particularly about the sex industry, those involved in it and attitudes to sex generally.  I saw it as an extension of the work I had already been doing prior to entering the house.  Now, as much as the producers may have been enamoured by my ability to speak eloquently about the politics of sex, sexual identity or argue for the legalisation of prostitution, I’m pretty sure that the main reason they invited a male stripper/adult entertainer onto the show was for the possibility of lewd activity, if not full-blown live sex, and some potential conflict with other, perhaps more prudish, housemates.  Ratings, remember.  People want action, not talk!  Also, bearing in mind that Richard Desmond, owner of Channel 5, also had pornography channel, Television X, on his portfolio at the time, a bit of cross-promotion might not be such a bad marketing strategy.

Let’s face facts:  TV producers don’t really give one iota of a shit about you, your issues, your past or your future.  All they ultimately care about is their jobs – which is making TV shows that pull in the greatest possible numbers in order to generate the pounds from the advertisers, sponsors and telephone line revenues that pay their wages.

Endemol UK claims to be concerned about the calibre and welfare of its contestants by using the facade of psychologists, ticking the relevant boxes so as to cover their own legal arses, as part of the assessment process.  But really they pay lip service to the whole notion of maintaining the care and well-being, pre and post the show, of their numerous housemates.

In 2012, Lotan Carter entered the Big Brother house.   Yes, you read it right: in 2012.  No, not on live television, but as part of a trial house before the real series was due to air that summer.  On that trial, he was ejected from the house by security after starting a fight.  Despite this, he was asked to return as a housemate in the televised series in 2017.  Of course, people can change, mature, reform – I am certainly a slightly different person than I was 5 years ago.  But how accountable and responsible should the producers be when re-admitting someone on to a show they refused to allow in five years ago, only to see said contestant go and create the similar kind of security threat he posed the first time round?  I don’t really blame Lotan, he was simply being himself.  As I said, the real you always comes out of the woodwork at some point.

Big Brother housemates are real people.  But for several weeks and months a year, the viewer sees them as two-dimensional, almost cartoon-like, characters on their TV screens.  As viewers, we feel we have free licence to criticise, to take these people apart, to judge.   Through the lens of a camera, we bring them into our homes and lives and believe, based on 45 minutes of edited broadcast, that we know everything, and all we need to know, about them.  The contestants made the free choice to be on the show, knowing full-well its consequences, we therefore have every right, as viewers, to treat them as they deserve.  But for those who do make that decision, this is part of their real life.  Their lives will continue, whether they wish them to or not, after they have been ejected from their temporary Borehamwood residence and, in most cases, rejected, often brutally, by large numbers of the viewing public to rapturous boos, disappointment and, sometimes, hate.

This is exactly what the producers at Endemol want.  For them, its cheap and easy TV.  Where the only real cost is ultimately the lives of those who volunteer to become their victims, as no-one receives any fee for temporarily surrendering their daily existence to the whims and wills of a team of manipulative editors and producers.

 

CONCLUSION

This is not meant to be a scathing attack on anyone:  neither stripper nor even the producers of reality TV.  We are all adults.  We are all aware of our actions and those of others.  If we are not, its about bloody time we should be.

Both strippers and reality TV producers do jobs shrouded in controversy, founded on questionable moral bases.

This article is simply meant to provide an honest first-hand account of the world of stripping and reality TV for those who often have no understanding and are quick to judge, from someone who has been directly involved in both.

As a former stripper and adult entertainer, I am always the first to defend the industry and the rights of those who work within it.  This does not mean that I defend their every action and word.

Defending, articulating motives and possible explanations does not excuse misogyny, sexism, homophobia, aggression, abuse and violence.  The idea that ‘men will be men’ is predicated on the myth that all penis-owners are the same.  We are not.

Male strippers should perhaps after all, for want of a better word, be ‘admired’ for doing something that few have the balls to do.  Whether its stupidity or braveness, that is for you to decide, but, ultimately, they provide something that someone somewhere wants to see and pay for the privilege of doing do.

(On a personal note, I have never fully understood the appeal of seeing men in the ‘full monty’, watching an entirely naked man strutting around the stage is not usually the most flattering of visions.  I certainly believe that the male body can indeed be a work of art, but I tend to be of the school of thought that it is, at least, more classy and ‘sexy’ to leave something to the imagination.  Despite this, as a performer, I did, and do, go naked.  Not because I find my manhood a particularly wonderful sight to behold, but simply because I am not ashamed of it and don’t really care who sees it.  It is, after all, just a penis.)

You are probably reading this and wondering why I am so critical of strippers and reality TV contestants when I myself have been both.  Do I also ascribe some of these characteristics, motives and perceived flaws I outline to myself?  To which I respond, in all honesty, with:  of course I do.

I was bullied as a child, well into my teens, for multiple reasons, some of it with strongly homophobic-based abuse.  I have never been, and still am not, particularly confident when it comes to meeting women.  As a child I was terribly skinny and I think it is pretty obvious to admit that I probably do still suffer anxieties over my body image.  Despite what it may seem, I do frequently get nervous in social situations and meeting new people and, yes, I always get jitters before going on stage.

Nowadays, I am often perceived as being overly-confident, some say arrogant, but perception frequently conceals the reality that lurks below.  Despite (or perhaps because) of these reasons, I have been a performer for many years, acting, singing and (I use the term loosely) ‘dancing’, thereby hiding behind characters and personas, but too shy, until recent years, to simply be me.

Have I also succumbed to some of trappings and temptations of the male stripping world?  Indeed, I have.

I’ve done a range of drugs (legal and illegal), very occasionally to excess.  I’ve had casual sex with women (sometimes in multiples) from the audience, sometimes even at the club, simply because I could.  I am not perfect.  I have my vices.  I have my flaws.  I have my free-will and choices as an informed, independent adult.  It is not the fact of indulging in these behaviours that is the problem.  Male strippers can still ‘enjoy’ the indirect ‘benefits’ of the job, without allowing themselves to become deluded into believing this is how the world outside operates and thinks.  Anyone, not simply strippers, can explore the colourful sides of humanity, while still maintaining decorum, respect and humility.

There are therefore many things that I am not, or, at least, have not allowed myself to become, that I could so easily have been transformed into had I been less restrained.

I am not an aggressive person.  I have never been in a fight in my life.  In arguments, I can get a little passionate and occasionally become a somewhat more enflamed (ask my girlfriend), but generally I am calm and a pretty good listener.  I tend to be a peace-maker when conflict is threatening to arise.

I have no desire to talk endlessly about pussy and girls.  I enjoy sex.  I don’t need to go on and on about it.

I do not have a negative view of women.  On the contrary, most of my closest friends have usually been women.  I have a wonderful mother, some fantastic female cousins, an adorable niece and, to top it off, a truly amazing girlfriend.  Each of them, individually, can frustrate, irritate and annoy me at times, but not because they are women.

If you have read some of my previous posts, as stated, you will know I am pretty clear and open about my view of sexuality, including that of my own.  I have no problem in recognising the beauty and lust in and of either genders.

We are all responsible for our own behaviour.  Stripper or not.  While we might wish that TV companies produced more responsible programming or took greater care and diligence in their selection criteria and process, the fact is that they don’t and they won’t.

TV producers are amoral.

While they should be accountable for what they choose to broadcast and how they edit, they cannot fabricate something that didn’t happen.  Ultimately, the only person responsible for things that come out of your mouth or the actions and behaviours you express, is you.  If you think any TV producer is in the business of making you look good, hiding your faults and concealing your flaws, unless you’re paying them, think again.

While most of us are more than aware of our downsides and negatives, I would advise against exposing them for public consumption and in the name of entertainment in order to have them viewed, criticised and used against you, even if you have one of the most thickest of skins.

Having said that, my personal experience of appearing on Big Brother was largely positive.  Any negatives were negligible, predictable and manageable.  I found my time to be mostly enjoyable, relaxing and stress-free.  I did confront a couple of people about things that concerned or bothered me about them, their behaviour or attitude and, while voices may have become slightly raised, I think these discussions were predominantly restrained, controlled and civil, certainly not descending into the kinds of quarrels and conflicts we have frequently witnessed from other housemates in various series of Big Brother.

By and large, I believe I was far better prepared and able to adapt to life as a Big Brother contestant than most.  I had been a teacher and foster carer, dealing with conflict resolution, unsavoury attitudes and difficult personalities on an almost daily basis.  I had also already faced public condemnation from previous media appearances, appearing on TV and radio and being plastered all over the gutter press.  Perhaps, most importantly, I have never been in a fight in my entire life (excluding that one time I was asked to eject a drunkard from a party which, to my surprise, I did successfully).  I also went into Big Brother as a known stripper, porn ‘star’ and sexually open individual.  There was therefore very little the red tops could drag up against me.

None of us are perfect, we all have moments of exposing the more unsavoury sides of our personalities.  Usually, that is limited to the people around us and confined spaces and audiences.

It upsets me that anyone, particularly people I know and care for, especially younger people, would put themselves in a situation where the worst side of them gets the best of them.  Exploited by the TV channels, producers and press, desperate for ratings, readers and, in turn, advertising and sponsorship, to fund their comfortable salaries while you, the ‘non-celebrity’ contestant, are ill-equipped and inexperienced to deal with the onslaught from media and social media alike.  On top of this, Big Brother housemates receive no financial compensation, except payment of their expenses.  Not to make mention of the fact that housemates today are unlikely, these days, to benefit in any other way from their appearance.  On the contrary, some people lose their jobs, their relationships, their friends, many turn to depression, some to self-harm and even, occasionally, to suicide.

 

So, as a useful summary and in an attempt to answer the question “Should I apply for / go on Big Brother?”, whether male stripper or not, my first bit of advice would be to really think about your motives for doing so.  Is your presence there going to simply perpetuate a stereotype (yet another blond, bimbo from Essex, pumped-up arrogant male stripper or hot-headed rude boy from ‘da streets’) or will your presence attempt to change minds or create discussion?  From a personal perspective, if Big Brother is to serve any real purpose beyond being simply a vacuous, voyeuristic, soft porn, social experiment and viewer magnet for Channel 5, it should, at the very least, be a tool to offer some degree of social change, commentary and, maybe even, progress.  But maybe that is just the optimist in me speaking.

Perhaps, more importantly, if you still see yourself as next year’s Big Brother winner, please consider, very carefully, the following:

  • Are you under 30?
  • Do you have a job you don’t want to risk losing?
  • Do you have aspirations for a professional career?
  • Do you have a short temper?
  • Do you suffer anger management issues?
  • Do you have a shady past or aspects of your life you wouldn’t want exposed?
  • Do you suffer claustrophobia?
  • Do you get upset when someone is rude about, or criticises, you or any member of your family, including on social media?
  • Do you want to be famous?
  • Do you believe it will be a launchpad to a career in entertainment or the media?
  • Do you have body issues?
  • Do you harbour racist, sexist, misogynist, or homophobic views or tendencies?
  • Do you value your privacy?
  • Are you prone to depression, self harm or suicide attempts?
  • Do you worry about how your actions may affect your family or the perception of your family?

If you answered ‘YES’ to any of the above, take a long hard think about what is most important in your life and, then, perhaps, think again.

 

Does ‘LGBTI’ celebrate diversity or cement division?

Recently, I expressed a concern around the use of the term ‘Straight Ally’ in reference to people who are ‘friends’ or ‘supporters of’ the LGBTI+ ‘community’.  It worries me that we are creating an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality when sexual and gender liberalism is something we should all be campaigning for whatever our sexual or gender identities and that nobody, or group, has a monopoly on this.
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It also feels to me that, in creating the term ‘Straight Ally’, we are creating clear distinctions around all those who fight for freedom of sexual and gender expression.  Demarkations being drawn between those who are either in the fight and those who are not in the fight, but supportive of those who fight it.  But the fight is everyone’s – whether gay, straight, bi, trans, intersex, cis or otherwise.
It was pointed out to me that “if you extrapolate that logic, haven’t you just talked yourself out of a job?  Surely the existence of an LBGT radio station also contributes to the perpetuation of the very thing you want to see gone?” (i.e. the creation of distinctions between one group, particularly along sexuality/gender lines, and others).
When I first expressed my concern around the term “straight ally” I had considered that someone may raise this point and ask the questions.  Indeed, I have asked myself these sorts of questions many times, particularly in the early stages of the development of the radio station that I established in order that I clarify, in my own, mind why an I motivated to establish it and what really am I creating?
Officially, Xpress Radio Scotland identifies itself as  ‘diversity’ station. In all our literature, we make it clear that our focus is the Scottish LGBTI ‘community’, but we are not limited to that in either our output or recruitment. We exclude no-one and never ask anyone how they choose to identify themselves.  
On a personal level, I am comfortable with none of those terms – ‘diversity’, ‘LGBTI (or any of its other hybrids) , or even ‘community’ (for what constitutes it really?), but they are buzz words/terms which are current and, by and large, understood.  Although, I must say ‘diversity’ is, even in my mind, a rather generic term for simply anything and everything.  In creating a brand and a concept, it must be understood who its key target audience is and where its focus lies, but this is not to the exclusion of anyone, and nor do, just because the terms used are more easily understood, any of them really summarise what the motives of the station are or what it seeks to attempt to achieve.

initially, I wanted the station slogan to be ‘Your non-heterocentric station’, but was advised against this as it is too wordy and a confusing term for many (we’re trying to get people to tune in, not turn them off!).  But that statement summarises best the intent of the station.  
Many people who know little about me but the basics, may well assume that I am both ‘straight’ and ‘cis’.  I am not someone who adheres to labels – I class myself as neither L, nor G, nor B, nor T nor I nor even S (straight) for that matter.  Yes, I have a girlfriend now and have publicly worked in the ‘heterosexual’ adult entertainment industry.  I have also publicly worked in the ‘gay’ community as a performer and contributor for many years too and, privately, my life adheres to that more of a ‘B’ than anything else, but (as previous posts have described) I find labels unnecessary and unhelpful for the human species to recognise the complexity of its own sexuality that should not and, I would argue, cannot, simply be pigeon-holed into neatly compartmented segments that suit society for ease of its own self-understanding.  
In my arguments around the natural pliability of human sexuality, and all our capacities to fall in love, have strong physical and/or sexual feelings for anyone, irrespective of gender, I’m often accused of, through my apparent logic, claiming that homosexuality is therefore a ‘choice’ because we all have the capacity to love both genders, but they ‘choose’ to love only people of the same gender.  At no point do I ever claim there is ever a choice.  But we fall for individuals not genitals.  You fall in love with Person A because they are Person A, not because of what does, or does not, hang between their legs and, it is possible, that, one day, you may just find that you fall in love with someone that does not have something hanging between their legs.  There is no choice who you fall in love with.  But the stress on the lack of choice should be on the person with whom those feelings develop, not on the penis or vagina they may possess.  Labels do not help humanity to come to terms with this possibility.  A possibility which occurs to greater and lesser extents in some individuals, but occurs nonetheless.  Labels do create unnecessary divisions, in the minds of others and, even, in our own when attempting to self-define and find a place to fit in society.
Having said that, and despite my own belief in the counter-productiveness and lack of necessity for labels, it is not up to me to tell you what you are or what you are not.  I believe it is up to individuals to choose whatever labels they wish to identify themselves with.  This could be limited to one, spread over many or, indeed, be none.
For many years I have campaigned and spoken passionately about human sex, sexuality, sex work and related issues in the media and in academic institutions.  What drives me is a passion to change our attitude to sex, to fight for everyone’s freedom to express themselves sexually how they wish, to identify their gender however they so choose and to fall in love with whoever they desire.  My concern is not any more for the rights of LGBTI people as it is for EVERYONE to be able to live in a world where they can be who they want to be and live their lives to the fullest, regardless of who or what they are and who they love or have sex with.

Xpress Radio Scotland is about celebrating the diverse nature of human sexual and gender expression without the assumption that heterosexuality is the norm or using it as the reference point from which to refer to others. Therefore, the concept of ‘allies’ is completely irrelevant. 

But its also about recognising the status quo.  Xpress Radio Scotland exists as a response to the current social, cultural and political situation.  I would dearly wish there was not the need for a radio station like mine. Not because we are attempting in any way to create further division (because we are not), but because I wish all media did not continue to treat other sexual and gender identities that are not either heterosexual or cis as abnormal, strange or debased either in their coverage or in the opportunities they offer.
Rather than erecting walls, I would argue that this ‘LGBTI'(or whatever acronym you wish to employ to recognise EVERYONE who does not fall into the heterosexual and/or cis bracket)-focused organisation is attempting to build bridges across the sexual and gender ‘identities’ and to create a more inclusive example for the rest of the media industry (and other sectors) to take a lead from.
If you share in the aims and objectives of Xpress Radio Scotland, we could count on your support right now.  Please support our Crowdfunder Campaign by making a pledge, in return for some great rewards, at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/xpress-radio-scotland

Porn = rape? Nothing could be further from the truth

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Anti-porners claim that porn is a form of ‘rape’. That the women who ‘choose’ to be involved in it are, in essence, being raped.

Now, let’s visit reality just for a few minutes and review the stage every single performer (female and male) has to go through to be involved in a porn shoot:

1) You agree, in advance, to a date, location and shoot and you are notified, there and then, who you are working with and the nature of the shoot.

2) On the day, you travel, sometimes a long distance, to get to the location of the shoot.

3) You get ready for the shoot, which can involve quite a bit of time in make-up.

4) You produce and are photographed with TWO forms of photographic ID.

5) Prior to the shoot, you will have taken the time, effort and, often cost, to go to be tested at a GU clinic in order to produce and be photographed with a valid sexual health certificate on the day of the shoot.

6) You read, agree to and sign a model release form.

7) ONLY THEN, do you get anywhere near to having any form of sexual activity with anyone.

8) AND THEN, not forgetting the crucial part, the whole thing is filmed as video for millions of people to view, not to mention the police, lawyers and the court system, should they so wish to prosecute!

Now, on what planet, in what legal system, to any sane, sober and sound mind, is that in anyway the definition of ‘RAPE’???

If I had to go through the rigmarole of completing each of these processes every time I had a sexual liaison with anyone we would have probably lost interest! I certainly could never be accused of not trying my HARDEST to have sought consent, and being able to prove it, from the other party!!!

Women: Why Anti-Porn Feminists hate you

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Dear Anti-Porn Feminist,

No-one is denying that there are not negative ASPECTS of the porn industry that can affect SOME people.

Lets use an analogy that you, and Gail Dines, may indeed understand:

The lovely Gail Dines is a smoker despite the fact that she KNOWS that there are scientifically PROVEN direct negative effects. There is certainly a convincing argument to make that smoking should be banned because of these PROVEN negative effects, but others believe it is an affront to the choice of smokers to be able to enjoy a habit they have elected to involve themselves with. So, as a compromise, in our society, we might tackle the issues, such as smoking around children, smoking in public places, but we allow individuals the right to make the choice of actually smoking and not ban the whole thing, despite the OVERWHELMING evidence that smoking IS a massively negative habit.

Now to porn:

There are no PROVEN negative effects of porn whatsoever. Might it affect some individuals in a negative way? Absolutely, just like many industries.

You see this is the issue, every industry that exists has negative aspects to it and CAN affect individuals negatively, but that is not because it is the industry that it is, but because of actions of individuals and companies within those industries. Do we therefore, in any other instance, reach the conclusion that a whole industry should be banned because of negative aspects within it? Do we say that we should ban the manufacturing of clothes because child labour is used in Pakistan and because of shoddy factory structures that kill its workers in Bangladesh? Do we say the medical industry or farming shouldn’t exist because of the high suicide rate of doctors and farmers? Do we say food should cease to be manufactured because of the increasing rates of obesity in the world?  NO, OF COURSE WE DON’T.  We tackle the child labour, the conditions, the suicide, the fat content.  Because the problem is NOT the INDUSTRY, but aspects of it.

As a ‘porny’ man (as Gail Dines has so poetically described me), who has worked in UK porn and as an escort (i.e. PROSTITUTE) for the past ten years, I have never encountered sex-trafficking, violence or abuse and none of the other issues that you highlight, but do I sit here and deny that they might not indeed exist?  No, of course I don’t.  I don’t like the fact they exist any more than you do and we MUST do something about them.  But the problem is SEX TRAFFICKING, VIOLENCE and ABUSE not pornography.

The issue with so many Anti-Porn Feminists (APFs) is that they simply do not like pornography. If you can genuinely tell me that the principle of people watching other people having sex who CHOOSE to be watched having sex, is really the problem and are able to prove it to me, then maybe I might have some sympathy with your cause.  But it is not the problem.

I totally understand and appreciate the concerns of many APFs, but the conclusions they reach are irrational, disproportionate and disingenuous AND, might I add, do far more harm to the freedom and rights of women than the misplaced belief that they are fighting for them.

APF is bullying of women by another, poorly constructed acronymous, name.

They attempt to claim that women are bullied into their roles of paid sex objects by patriarchy and yet, use a far more aggressive form of bullying to try and TELL women how they should behave and, unless they toe that line, are doing a dis-service to themselves and to womanhood.

You see, APFs hate most women (indeed, very often they hate themselves, as most APFs are hypocrites at some point within their own lives).  They believe most women are ‘slaves’ to the patriarchy and are either too stupid to be able to understand this and, in turn, rid themselves of the ‘chains’ that men impose on them or, as is more often the case, despicable examples of women if you allow yourselves to go along with, and perpetuate, the status quo.  Unless you go along with what APFs wish to impose on you, you are not a proper women.  That is, of course, peer-pressure or bullying it its most classic form.

If you are ANTI-PORN then say it. Say “I DON’T LIKE PORN”. That is absolutely fine. I DON’T LIKE FOOTBALL. But I don’t attempt to campaign against the whole thing because there is racism, violence, hooliganism, nationalism, tribalism, associated with it.  Instead, you pressurise the industry and work WITH the industry, to sort out these things.  Where and when negativity exists (although this, of course, can be subjective), we discuss it and deal with it on a case-by-case basis. Where there is criminality (as so many APFs accuse), we deal with it straight away and get the relevant authorities involved.

We do need to get the idiots, the abusers, the irresponsible producers out of porn and prostitution and other aspects of the sex industry. We do need to make it a safe environment for all.  But APFs need to accept that many women (albeit, not the type of women they understand or like, but nonetheless, still women) DO choose to work in it and enjoy their work and should be afforded that right to do so.  APFs are perfectly entitled not to like pornography or prostitution, but do not deny that right to others based on your poor evidence and on your “well I don’t like it, therefore no-one else will” and “because there’s a few problems, ban the whole thing” attitude.

I might not speak for the whole of the sex industry, I speak for myself as an autonomous ‘porny’ man, so there will, indeed, be those in the industry who might disagree with me, indeed, I know there are. But one thing we do agree on is that pornography and prostitution SHOULD exist, but, like all industries, it may need reform from within.

Of course, I am a penis-freeholder, so you may choose to entirely disregard everything I have written because, obviously, I have NO understanding of the plight of women whatsoever.

Kind regards,

Benedict Garrett

P.S.  Here’s a video of a Cambridge Union Society debate I spoke at in opposition to Gail Dines:

 

 

Pornstars, others in the sex industries, and their supporters, will come together in London to protest against the Stop Porn Culture event that aims to censor sexual expression in the UK.  https://www.facebook.com/events/464149933684948/465962836836991/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity
Read why former pornstar Renee Richards will be protesting: http://sexandcensorship.org/2014/02/uk-pornstars-fight-back/

Please help build this event by donating to Sex & Censorship here: http://sexandcensorship.org/donate/

Shag a dog & hide your face!

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It took me a while to think whether or not I would actually write anything related to a story about a couple in North Carolina being jailed for making porn involving bestiality with a dog.  I mean, what more is there left to say?

But then I read the following comment, by someone calling themself, rather appropriately, ‘Blindman’, in response to the story:

“So while i think this act is disgusting, i honestly didnt know it was actually illegal.

You can literally by Dildos shaped like various animal dicks, machines that will pound you in every orifice, and make a video of you getting shit and pissed on while a transsexual has sex with you, and yet this is illegal? 

Maybe i don’t understand, but if these freak want to get it on with a dog and post it on a website dedicated to people having sex with animals, should it really be illegal.

Again, i feel after typing all that i need to say i find the act itself disgusting in the extreme, but i don’t find that a reason to make something illegal.”

It occurred to me that, while this person may possibly be blind, this would be no excuse for understanding that anyone/thing involved in the act of sexual intercourse with a human being must be able to demonstrate a consent that is humanly understandable.

Blind?  I think not.  Stupid?  Without a doubt.

It’s about consent.

Plain and simple.

No matter how ‘in touch’ you may be with the inner workings of your dog’s or cat’s mind, even if you were Dr. Dolittle, you are unable to demonstrate, beyond any reasonable doubt, that your pet has given consent for any sexual act YOU may CHOOSE to inflict upon it.  Even the regular humps I receive on my leg from my husky-mix are not an invitation or licence for me to do the same to her.

Bestiality is, quite rightly, illegal in the United Kingdom.  It astonishes me however, that on the shelves of sex shops on the continent, I can quite freely and legally purchase videos involving dogs, cats, horses – any animal actually – for just a few Euros.  (Although, seeing as Romania has recently decided to slaughter thousands of its own street dogs, should we be surprised that others who share the continent have similar levels of compassion for their four-legged ‘friends’?)  And yet, if these videos involved children, there would be an uproar.  Not that I support either, but there is the argument to make that, unlike animals, children are, in the vast majority of cases, able to explicitly give consent.  It is only the law that states that consent sought from minors cannot be recognised.

It is quite right, even though I am an animal lover, that we elevate the safety and well-being of children above those of beasts, but is it really so far-fetched an idea to see the hypocrisy that some are too blind or ignorant to understand if bestiality is ever deemed as acceptable?

We would be utterly horrified, and most of us are, by the idea of anyone under the age of 18 being co-erced or even, for that matter, ‘choosing’ to be involved in pornography, but force them to cover their faces in the name of religious freedom and we (or at least some) deem it acceptable.

In fact, thousands of minors in this country alone are FORCED, usually from an early enough age where they haven’t the ability, let alone the inclination, to object, to be mutilated, covered in a bizarre variety  of garb (most of which is never mentioned in any religious text whatsoever) depending on their sex and the religion, wear their hair in specific styles (men and women), be starved for certain periods of the year, to be forced to pray (or at least look like they are doing so) several times a day, and, to top it all off, be continually made to believe that if one fails to do any of these things, they run the risk of spending an eternity in the after-life in some burning pit of hell-fire.

Only this week, in a common-sense (albeit watered down, ruling) by Judge Peter Murphy at Blackfriars Crown Court, a defendant was told that she must remove her niqab if she wishes to testify.   Meanwhile, Birmingham Metropolitan College was forced (some might say ‘bullied’) to reverse a decision after over 8,000 people signed a petition against its policy to ban students from wearing the niqab.

Is religious freedom really something that deserves being fought for?  Why should something so irrational and based on nothing but myth and fairy tales and, without too much doubt, lies, be permitted the same level of freedom we bestow on things that are grounded in far more sense?  That we put religion on the same level as a race, gender, disability, age, sexuality is an utter insult to all those things.  Religion is a CHOICE.  The others are neither a choice and nor are they based on shoddy evidence and centuries of diluted chinese whispers, let alone give people a licence to involve themselves in, and co-erce others into, acts that would be otherwise intolerable in the minds of most within a sensible, evidence-based society.

We might draw the line at flying planes into skyscrapers, but it seems that, as long as its done in the name of a cult – uh-hum, my mistake – I mean, ‘religion’, then the rest of us either grin and bear it or, as is too often the case, elevate it to some level of respectability.    So, its okay to chop off your kid’s foreskin, force your little girl to conceal every portion of her head except (in some cases, including) her face , make your little boy shave off all his hair except a few strands behind his ears, deny your kids the right to access all forms of communication and access to the ‘real’ world and let them die because you refuse to allow them a blood transfusion or necessary medical treatment.   There are even cases in the USA, such as that of rastafarian, Ras Iyah Ben Makahna, who was permitted to import cannabis because, as the federal court argued, it was for religious reasons and consistent with his beliefs.  (Get this:  getting high allows people to get closer to God.  Well, there’s a f**king surprise!!!  When I’m high, I can get in touch with various fictitious beings too!)

It dawns on me that I’m missing a trick here.  I was dismissed from my teaching job for doing something that some people deem unacceptable.  If its cool to do completely irrational and abusive things, let alone the sane, sensible and legal thigs, in the name of religion, why on earth didn’t I take the time to set up a cult – sorry – a ‘religion’ and state that public displays of sexual activity were an essential part of my belief and enabled me to get in touch with a supernatural being too?  The truth is, it IS a fundamental, if not exactly an essential, part of my belief.  But my belief is in the human existence and experience and its ability to explore all avenues of its sexuality and does not hinge on the unlikely belief in a fictitious entity in the skies.  Am I being discriminated against for this?  Or is this just another example of a f**ked up society with a total inability to see the hypocrisies and double-standards of its own making?

Related articles

What a ‘tool’!

Yet again a fellow Twitterer raised the accusation that all porn degrades and is the killer of dignity.

I never deny that these things do not exist in pornography, nor that there are not pornographers who can be accused of such outcomes.  However, my first-hand experience is not reflective of this.  I have viewed all sorts of porn, including much which I may ascribe to the aforementioned descriptions.  My argument, however, is that there is nothing in the innate principle of pornography that automatically means it should necessarily adhere to any of these accusations.

The same Twitterer also made the claim that, in straight porn, women are simply ‘tools’ or ‘objects’.

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Here is my response:

“I find the ‘tool’ argument an ill-thought through one.  By the very nature of sex, the man gives ( the ‘inserter’) while the woman receives (the ‘insertee’).  Both, in that sense, are tools.  But he will forever be the giver and she the receiver.  No biology will ever change that.

Control in sex is changeable.  There is porn, like there is sex, where the woman dominates and takes control.  But being the recipient or vessel for the male organ will never change.  They both need each other.  Both are ‘tools’.

Powerplay exists in any relationship of one or more person.  But power can shift and change.  Control of power does not demean or degrade the other party (although this may also occur). Power is often voluntarily relinquished or never sought.

Too many people throw out words like ‘tool’, ‘object’ and ‘objectifying’ and ‘degrading’ without actually thinking it through.   These are knee-jerk reactions to an often complex human activity.”