In Ricerche: three Sharon Hayes abruptly asks one of the nervous students gathered around her on a women’s college campus, ‘Do you feel like you have the same kind of sex or a different kind of sex from your mother?’, which is answered with a youthful hesitation, ‘uuuh… uuuh…what?’1. If I were to straightforwardly answer that question, as a gay identifying man, then yes, of course I have a different kind of sex from my mum. But those differences, in the kinds of sex and the relationship with sex, I (and many other gay men) possess feel so vast to me when compared with each other that I’ll allow myself a more indulged response.
I do have to admit that sometimes I’m not quite at home in myself; that really it might not matter where I might be or how I ended up there. This is a trait I share with my mum, a sort of disconnection that’s hardwired in, or perhaps it’s because we both spend too much time comparing ourselves to others.
It’s a Monday afternoon, I’m sitting at the living room table and I’m waiting to be interrupted, but the interruption isn’t coming. Maybe I’ll meditate, but I’m looking to get away from myself, not closer. So, my thumbs open TikTok instinctively, although even here all the content has changed, every other video some tech-employee evangelising about six figures and PTO. I see one guy making out that WFH was like some kind of utopia expressed, but then there’s this girl and she’s using a sound from Grey’s Anatomy; Sandra Oh wailing ‘Somebody Sedate Me!’
SLAMRUSH are a gay porn production company. They make films about twinks getting gang banged while smoking T. ‘I look for vulnerable young men. End of the road type. I find ‘em, slam ‘em, and breed ‘em. You don’t like it…go fuck yourself. Plenty of us wanna see this’2. SLAMRUSH have racked up almost nine million views across 89 videos on pornhub alone. Taking into consideration other porn sharing sites, and the brand’s own subscribers, the viewing figures are definitely much higher. They are part of a larger group of gay porn productions called MaleRevenue who, across eleven brands, have a market hold on a realist style of porn which has emerged in response to the growth and popularity of amateur porn. These videos all have a similar set of production parameters: filmed handheld on phones; bareback; usually group scenes. They each attempt to portray these scenarios as reality, something which actually happened, a documentation rather than a production. Never mind that every guy in the scene happens to be a porn actor. And now I see it, I see it in your eyes / The things you said to me / were really nothing but lies.3
‘…the innovations of disco mirrored the ethos of gay liberation regarding the expansion of affectional possibility.’4. A living room, it’s approaching midday and the daylight is cutting through those blinds that are cut vertically, the ones that are always a pale blue which turn left or right, pastel green when the light hits. There are maybe five guys here, all naked and variously slouched over green leather sofas. Each are hot in their own way, one has particularly nice tattoos. The room is quiet though, every single one of them folded over their phones scrolling Grindr. Something is missing—there is more to come; this ain’t it. More means more.
The first time I used Grindr I was around sixteen or seventeen. I had just got my first iPhone, and this was when the adverts boasted there’s an app for that. It was always said in such a sure, nonchalant manner: yup, there’s an app for that. I used to stay awake when my mum was working night shift, amazed at what Grindr offered; a chance to explore my desires, somewhere to chat with real gay humans. Now I go on Grindr and don’t speak to anyone for a few hours and call it quits. ‘Sex is part of the universe of imprecision, of indetermination, a sphere that does not comply with connective perfection.’5
SLAMRUSH exists because of a market demand. Even if these videos are staged (and the effect does dampen the more videos one watches) they reflect a common enough setting to be believed. In the gay chemsex scene there is a shockingly cavalier attitude towards men being sexually assaulted when they have passed out after taking G. Consent is assumed, taken as a given. When significant numbers of your community sedate themselves to facilitate intimacy, this is a crisis. We are forgetting how to be with ourselves. I am forgetting how to be with myself. Maybe I never knew who I was to start with. So, I’ll continue comparing myself, try and steal some sense of others documentation, learn to be a better liar.
- Sharon Hayes, Ricerche: three. 2013, video
- 2 Slamrush. Accessed 18 July 2022 [https://www.pornhub.com/channels/slamrush]
- Changin’, Ms. (Sharon) Ridley. (Tabu Records, 1978)
- Douglas Crimp, ‘Disss-co (A Fragment)’, Criticism, Winter 2008, Vol. 50, No. 1, p 16
- Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, Breathing: chaos and poetry. (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2019) p 100