@JackRyanXXX: Porn models as role models

Jack Ryan has been involved in modeling and/or video projects since 1998, so far as I can tell. He started modeling the same time I started dancing. We’ve had extraordinarily different paths in the same industry, but we’re both still here. Also, we’ve both been called role models recently. And that is something I want to address, because although I agree with that sentiment, it is with a sense of reluctance.

About a week ago Jack Ryan wrote an important article for The Advocate that you can see here. In it he talks about his experience with bareback porn and drug abuse. He also talks about his renaissance as a person who wants to own his past, take responsibility for his actions, and grow toward wisdom and happiness. Jack has had to tolerate a great deal of cynicism from cynical people who cynically (and naïvely) scoff at the notion that adult entertainers could be role models (and that it is, in fact, a sign of the degeneration of people in general that this notion would even be expressed). Well, I’m here to express support for Jack Ryan.

I was a little put off at first when I read that someone would call Jack a role model; however, after reading his story and conversing with him just a tad, I have to admit that I embrace completely what he is trying to do. And although he has already agreed to do an interview for this blog, I wanted to take a moment to weigh in on WHY he needs his story to be discussed.

There is no denying that media informs our behaviors. It is the reason that corporations are willing to spend $1M/minute during the Super Bowl for commercials. It’s the reason there are ads EVERYWHERE. It’s the reason celebrity brands are so important. We are a herd species that needs to belong, and we learn by example as we go along. And that need to learn, belong, and emulate is very often manipulated or exploited.

Is anyone going to deny my assertion in this? Is anyone going to deny that people blamed Marylin Mason for the Columbine High School Massacre; or that people blamed Sarah Palin for the shooting in Arizona; or that Elizabeth Taylor sells hundreds of millions of dollars in perfume every year; or that the news media apply spin to stories to meld public opinion (or artfully exclude information they deem “unimportant”); or that Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired an entire paradigm shift in the United States by way of his speeches on TV, radio, and newsprint?

Bear with me, I have a reason for taking my time here.

This morning on the cover of USA Today, there was a story about a series of studies that show that amongst 18- to 24-year-old college students that committed relationships are down, hooking up is common, and that premarital virginity is on the rise. I invite you to read this before you go on. Okay, did you get all that?

What is the resource people turn to when they don’t feel like bothering to hook up? What is the resource virgins are using? Because virgins aren’t learning with partners, what is teaching them what they know about fucking? What has become so common that young people are “blasé toward sex?”

Pornography.

Whether the fine, upstanding people who have been trashing Jack Ryan on Queerty like it or not, Jack and I are definitely role models. Whether we are modeling behavior worth emulating is the question at hand, not whether or not we have an audience that we influence. Have you ever heard someone make the claim that anyone subject to any degree of public scrutiny is a role model? Well, that applies to adult entertainers, too (for better or worse).

It is inconsistent to blame Marylin Manson or Sarah Palin for mass shootings (or to empower Barney the Dinorsaur to raise polite children) and then say that porn models are “just” porn models and that pornography is “just” pornography. When Jack Ryan admits an error and seeks to reverse it; when I do or say whatever it is I do or say to make @MayckoTheGenius call me “an inspirational person for so many youth;” when @RoccoGiovanni does his annual activities to raise funds for sick kids; when David-SF (my partner from “Morning Wood”) takes his annual bike ride to raise money for HIV/AIDS charities; when your local female impersonators give shows at local bars to raise money for local charities… all of that represents moments when we as adult entertainers are modeling positive behavior and seeking to influence our audiences to join in.

Does it mean we’re always perfect? No. But it doesn’t change the fact that pornography and the people in it, just like any other form of media, influence consumers, and that we have a responsibility to that audience to nudge them toward happiness, not destruction.

Author: Devon Hunter

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8 Comments

  1. I try to avoid all internet comments, they put me in a place…like the one the commentators are in. Jaded and stupid.
    Besides, its the self-hating who feel the need to bring everyone down to their level.
    Keep doing what your doing, the public needs to see that people in the adult industry are human, not human shaped props to get off to.

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  2. My quick thoughts: Porn models aren’t anonymous models anymore. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, they are actually interacting with fans, sharing random thoughts, and talking about their day to day lives. So, why not applaud actors who take responsibility for their actions and hope the message catches on? Do I expect everyone to be saints? Of course not. But knocking someone for NOT being a hot mess is oddly cynical…

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  3. You all need to grow balls – this is the point – Jack to me is wonderful. If you put yourself especially your arse being filled with cock onscreen, it affects your reputation forever. But…….you have to put that behind when you get on with the rest of your life.

    Why? Because society and I would say mostly all that consume sex, have sex and worship sex are the first to condemm those that have sex in porn or are sex workers. That annoys me hugely. The same people that think you are not credible for a political position because you slide a fist inside you are the same ones usually using hookers for sex then going back to their wives and preaching about chastity and monogamy. Give me a break. Jack should just tell the queens to get lost it is his life and if he has turned it around and the queens that criticise him are still bitching, let them waste their time energy and karma and let us all get on with our lives. Good on you Jack.

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  4. Good points, Devon, congratulations!

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  5. What got my blood boiling on that site was one comment about Jack that was something like sex should be within the confines of love only. Someone using a blog to push an agenda that is for them ok but they expected the rest of the world to obey.

    Actions speak louder than words it is up to Jack to prove only to himself and those that care about him he will be safe and heal up, but there comes a point that no matter what one has done, and that includes very bad things, if one reforms than it is best to leave behind those that won’t trust or believe you or worse try to get you back to the place where you will do the things that got you there.

    Humans – they will drag you down.

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  6. Devon are you ok? You have not posted in weeks.

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  7. Years ago, back in the early 90’s, I was just coming out. I used to go to what were called “youth rap groups”, which were events for young gay people to go to to meet other young gay folks. This was all well before we had Interwebs and this lovely discussion we had here.

    And there was this boy, named Steven. Steven was beautiful. Although I never told him this, and never got a chance to, he was definitely on my list. I’d seen him at some of the groups from time to time, and to be honest (I’ve never told a soul this, before today) I worshiped the ground he walked on.

    I wound up doing the very thing we’re urged not to do in here: do adult work in desperation. However, I was in school, it was the middle of a recession (though I didn’t know that), my parents were poor, and honestly I didn’t know what else to do.

    So I called up this guy named Johnny Johnston, within a week I did my first series of videos, and the rest is history.

    One night, about three weeks after my first two shoots, I went to the group and found to my very unpleasant surprise that everyone had found out I’d been doing videos to make ends meet. Most of my friends wouldn’t speak to me. I didn’t understand this, not at all, and wouldn’t until later. Steven was one of those, and in some ways that hurt more than anything.

    After that day, about four months passed, and I didn’t see Steven at all. Then, one day, someone told he he’d gotten himself into porn, and that on his second video, he’d gotten infected with HIV. I only saw him one more time, before he died about six weeks later. During that hellish hour, he told me how he’d felt about me…and had tried to emulate me. Not knowing what he was doing, and believing the lies the producers had spun for him, he did an unprotected shoot…

    To this day, I have people tell me that they’ve done porn because they saw me do it. Some of them have had the same result Steven did: they got in, they were misled, and they paid the price for that. Some of them have been just fine, gone on to be stars in their own right.

    But I have never forgotten Steven, nor the eerie power we seem to have over the people who watch us do what we do. I suppose the old maxim is true, after all:

    With great power comes great responsibility.

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    • Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful reply. I do appreciate your candor, and I wish your story had a happier ending. Thank you for sharing something this personal. xoxo

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