December 8, 1997
STORY AND PHOTOS BY VINCENT LAMBERT
The Sixth Annual Gay Erotic Video Awards were held at the Hollywood Palace in Los Angeles on Monday, December 8, 1997. More than 800 people attended the event, which raised $10,000 through donations and a silent auction for Being Alive, an L,A.–based organization of and for people with HIV/AIDS. The show, which was hosted by Ryan Idol and Chi Chi LaRue, featured some of the porn industry’s best-known performers giving and receiving awards in more than 20 categories.
When the screen studs weren’t busy vying for the coveted trophy, nicknamed “the Dickie,’ they mingled with fans and were photographed and interviewed by national TV and print journalists. Although celebrity judge Sandra Bernhard was a no-show, disco diva Stacey Q gave the crowd a blast from the past as she duetted with Karen Dior on her 1986 hit “Two of Hearts.” Boogie Nights never had it so good.
Seen (from top): Award winner Jim Buck, Max Grand and Kyle Brandon, Austin, Kurt Young and Jordan Young
Reprinted from HX magazine (1997)
July 5, 1997
BY VINCENT LAMBERT
When Jim Buck swaggered into the porn world last year in Mardi Gras Cowboy, VCRs across America went into overdrive. An updated—and relocated to New Orleans—X-rated version of the ’60s classic Midnight Cowboy, the film put this 28-year-old Southern stud on the map. With his tousled locks and bad-boy strut—not to mention his pierced penis—he caught the attention of eager porn fans and an industry that’s always in search of new faces. And although he may have had “star” written all over him, Buck is anything but your typical porn boy. This hazel-eyed Leo has two Master’s degrees—the most recent in arts administration—and is just as likely to quote Nietzsche or Camus in conversation as he is to casually reference “the theory of hybridity” or “Kinsey’s continuum of human sexuality.”
But on a recent visit to New York to film a new movie, Buck arrives looking more like a Chelsea boy than a farm boy. The strands of hair that used to dangle sexily in his eyes have been unceremoniously chopped in favor of a short military-style do. “My hair kept getting in the way,” he explains. “So I went home and took out my clippers and began cutting away. I cut off a big clump in the front by mistake, so it all had to come off. The hair was just an aesthetic of Jim Buck, anyway.”
Not that this self-imposed hair loss has affected Buck’s career. He has followed his winning performance in Mardi Gras Cowboy (All Worlds Video) with several new films. In Dr. Jerkoff & Mr. Hard (Big Video), he continues to showcase his comedic talents, playing a nerdy college professor who is transformed into a hunk after drinking a strange brew. In both A Tale of Two Brothers and Gold Diggers (both All Worlds Video), he’s been cast as a tough-talking wiseacre. He has graced the cover of Freshmen and been featured in spreads in such magazines as Obsessions and Mandate. Buck has also been nominated for Probe’s Men in Video Award as best new rising star. Not bad for a guy who’s been in the business for less than a year.
Born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi, Buck was always interested in the arts. “I’m an actor at heart,” he says. In high school, he even appeared in plays with indie film queen Parker Posey. But Buck left the small Southern town to pursue his education in New Orleans in the early ’90s. It was as an undergrad that he made his first steps toward porn stardom. At a local bar, Buck met a man who was the roommate of drag-superstar-waiting-to-happen Varla Jean Merman. Vidkid Timo, the writer and director of Mardi Gras Cowboy, was a friend of Merman’s and an aspiring pornographer with an eye for talent. He and Buck became friends, and seven years later, Timo offered Buck his first part.
“I love him deeply,” Timo says of Buck. “He's as smart as he is sexy, and I wouldn't think of doing a porn movie without him.”
But did the brainy schoolboy have any qualms about making the leap to screen stud? “I’ve found the best way to do things in life is to always say yes and never look back,” Buck says. “Don’t think about the consequences, just do it. Timo walked into the gym one day and said, ‘They want to do Mardi Gras Cowboy. Do you want to be in it?’ Sure, I’ve never done porno before. Why the hell not?”
And so Jim Buck was born—as a character in the film and as a nom de porn. “In my first interview, I actually toyed with the idea of playing out the character of Jim Buck,” the actor says. “Just like Varla created a character with an entire history. Jim Buck would have come from Louisiana and been a pig farmer and have this whole background, but about halfway through the interview I dropped it. I couldn’t keep it up. Jim Buck is just another name for me attached to my presence on video. I’m playing a role, so it’s not completely me, but it’s definitely a part of me.”
And Buck claims a part of him is actually shy. “I’ve not got the best body and I know that,” he says, “but I’m not really insecure with it. Although standing next to some of those boys, I should be. But I’m shy in other situations. In certain social situations, I’m not outgoing at all. I’m most comfortable with my friends and in situations where there’s intimacy, which may explain why I’m so comfortable on a porn set. It’s completely intimate; I mean, how much more intimate can you get than having someone’s tongue up your butt? That’s pretty intimate.”
Buck’s trademark Prince Albert–clad cock is the product of an intimate relationship—a lasting token of “the man who broke my heart.” He says that his now ex-boyfriend thought piercings were sexy. “It stuck in my mind, so when he dumped me and I was delirious, I went to a local piercing salon and said, ‘I’d like a Prince Albert.’ I’m still not sure if it was to get back at him or to get him back,” Buck shrugs.
But it has certainly provided him with a memorable gimmick and makes him stand out in the sometimes cookie-cutter world of porn. “There’s a formula out there, and everyone tries to follow it,” he says. “But there are a lot of us who are tired of the formula. Porn can become a more flexible medium. Directors like Timo, Wash West, Mike Donner and Chi Chi LaRue are changing the formula. I could theoretically be lost in the shuffle. I don’t look like the typical boy. I don’t want to have to stay tan and shave my body hair and take out my piercing. The genre is changing, so it provides space for a variety of takes on material.”
Buck describes his next film and collaboration with Timo, At Twilight Come the Flesh-eaters, as a formula-breaker. “We say its like The Women meets Night of the Living Dead,” he laughs.
When he’s not busy making porn, Buck can be found tooling around New Orleans in his pickup truck or spending time with his dog, Gaston. Although he claims that “Jim Buck doesn’t get asked out on many dates,” the actor hints that he’s recently met a special someone who he’s been “bewitched, bothered and bewildered by.”
But whether discussing relationships or career, Jim Buck makes it clear that he has no time for regrets. “I’ve reached a point in my life where I refuse to wake up when I’m 70 or 80 or 90 and say, ‘Why the fuck didn’t I do that?’ Life is way too short. I’ve had nothing but fun doing porn. I’ve met and worked with great people. It’s been a completely positive experience. I’m a performer. I consider myself to be moderately expressive, whether it’s acting or writing or doing porn, it’s a way of getting up and entertaining people and being kooky and letting it out, whatever it is.”
Reprinted from HX magazine (1997)
May 15, 1997
BY VINCENT LAMBERT
Marcelo Reeves is padding around his immaculate Midtown apartment, proudly showing off the souvenirs of his career. Casually dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, the unassuming star has made a big splash in the porn world. In the past two years, he has appeared in more than a dozen films and has steadily built a devoted following for his live shows. But his rapid rise as a screen stud was anything but planned.
Born in Brazil, Reeves is the youngest of seven brothers and sisters. As a child, he spent his time working for his father’s bakery and playing soccer. At age 18, he enlisted in the army. “It was wonderful,” says the Portuguese/Spanish model in his still thick accent. “That’s why I’m so organized now. It is where I learned discipline.”
After getting out of the service, Reeves went to college and eventually moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he worked as an interior designer for six years. In the summer of 1991, he came to New York City on vacation. “I never went back,” he says of Brazil. “I always had a big imagination. People always said I should come to New York. It was just so exciting to be here. I called the company I worked for and said, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t come back.’ ”
But that was only the beginning of Reeves’ journey. He found himself in a country where he didn’t know the language and had no working papers. He took a crash course in English, and within three months was speaking perfectly. He then applied for a work visa, and a friend got him a job at an art gallery as a custodian. It was there that he was spotted by a photographer who asked whether he’d ever considered modeling.
“I went to his studio, and he took some Polaroids,” Reeves recalls. “Two days later, he called. He had a job for me. The next thing I knew, my picture was on the cover of a trade magazine.”
More modeling jobs followed. Soon, Reeves decided to audition for a spot as a go-go boy at a local nightspot. He got that job, too, and started dancing four nights a week at some of New York’s hottest clubs, including Palladium, Tunnel and Roxy. “In two months, I was the busiest dancer in the city,” he says, “and I was making more money than at the art gallery. At first it was strange, but then I saw other guys like me, and they were supportive and friendly.”
Then the movie offers started rolling in. After turning down scripts from such major studios as Falcon and Catalina, Reeves took a fateful trip to Florida. “I was performing in South Beach,” he says, “and a man introduced himself. He said that he had a movie company, and he wanted me to be in one of his movies. I thought he was joking, so I asked for a huge amount of money that I never thought he’d pay. But he said okay. I couldn’t believe it! Then, I thought, ‘Oh my God, now I have to do it!’ ”
Within a week, he was in Los Angeles shooting his film debut, For Your Pleasure. “My first movie I didn’t know what was going on,” Reeves says, “but I just did my best. I got lucky because Karl Thomas, my scene partner, was very supportive.”
The movie got a good response, and more offers came pouring in. Reeves was chosen to star in the first gay CD-ROM, Men in Motion. He started doing photo layouts for major gay magazines and even appeared in Playgirl. He also posed for the late photographer Bill Costa’s calendar.
Other films, including Desert Train and Island Guardian, followed, and Reeves’ status in the porn industry soared. He recently completed shooting the title role in Michael Zen’s new movie for All Worlds Video, Matador.
His busy work schedule leaves little time for a personal life, Reeves says, and his career choice has made it even more difficult at times. “I’m so busy traveling that I have no time for a relationship, ” he says. “But when I did have a lover, he was jealous of my work. He wanted me to choose—him or my career. I said, ‘This is my job.’ Besides, I don’t want a man supporting me. It’s that whole macho thing; I like to pay my own bills, even if I have to work hard.”
And he has worked hard. But for now, the diminutive star is enjoying his time at home before setting out on a monthlong tour. Reeves breathes a contented sigh and smiles. “I’m happy with my life,” he says. “I’m saving up my money, and I’d like to open my own business. Maybe a coffee bar or restaurant. It would be hard for me to give up on the porn business now. I can’t just blow it off. This is my big chance.”
Reprinted from HX magazine (1997)
April 12, 1997
STORY AND BOTTOM PHOTO BY VINCENT LAMBERT
In the opening scene of the latest script that Jordan Young has written, a “proud mother” looks on as her son practices his autograph. He tells her that someday he’s going to be a big star. Eventually, he ends up making a big splash in the porn industry. Not unlike Young himself. And although his own mother isn’t quite sure what her son is doing for a living, she just might be proud of what he’s accomplished in two short years.
Originally from Montana, Young moved to Wyoming with his family when he was in fourth grade. He says that he loves the Midwest, but always felt suffocated by the small-town atmosphere there. “It’s a wonderful place to raise your children if you want them to grow up to be bigoted, hateful people,” he says. Born to a Korean mother and a Greek father, Young’s unique looks gained the attention of casting directors when he was a teenager. At 14, he began modeling for Banana Republic and Calvin Klein. “Modeling is just a higher form of pornography,” he says, “because they are sending the same message, only in a much more glossy way.”
After graduating from high school, Young relocated to Denver, where he got an agent and started dancing. He also sent some pictures to director John Rutherford at Falcon. It was through Rutherford that director Chi Chi LaRue first became aware of the 20-year-old model. “I saw his picture and thought he was cute,” LaRue recalls. “I thought, there are no Asian boys who are considered stars. So I decided that I was gonna make him a star. We hit it off immediately. I think it was fate that brought us together.”
Young soon moved to Los Angeles and became LaRue’s housemate. He was cast in his first film, Nightwatch 2, shortly after that. “The night before,” Young says, “all I could think about was, once I step in front of that camera, I can’t take it back. I can’t buy back the film. There was nothing I could do. It was scary, but I knew that I would never be president,” he laughs, “so I did it.”
He also began writing scripts, and in collaboration with LaRue, they started getting produced. Lost in Vegas (All Worlds Video) and The Taking of Jake (Falcon Studios) are just two of the films he has written. And the porn-star-is-born saga mentioned above will be LaRue’s next big-screen project, Hardcore, which will be shot in New York this month. Young also has his own monthly column in Skin Flicks magazine titled “New Kid on the Cock,” which focuses on the gay adult film industry. And he is prominently featured in director Ronnie Larsen’s documentary, Shooting Porn, which was recently shown at the Berlin Film Festival and will be released later this year.
All this multimedia work hasn’t left Young much time for a personal life, but he has managed to date such fellow porn studs as Tom Katt, Logan Reed and current beau Sam Dixon, an ex–police officer who has since gotten into the business. “When you find someone you’re comfortable with, it’s a fine line you walk,” Young says. “You don't want to mess it up, but you don't want to sacrifice who you are. I didn’t tell Sam about my work until our third date because people have preconceived notions about the way people are in the porno industry—that they’re slutty or trashy or stupid, and it does have its share of that, but so does every other job there is.”
Young’s future plans include more writing and a move into independent films. “I’d like to ‘go legit,’ ” he says, “although I don't consider what I’m doing not legit. I don't deny it. I’m comfortable with it. It’s a form of media that’s out there; it’s just not as widely accepted.”
But would he ever allow his mother to see one of his movies?
“I told my mother that I’m a model,” he says, “but I think she knows what I’m actually doing and she doesn't care. I think she knows that I’m happy. And I am happy where I am. But the bad thing about me is that I want everything, and I want it now. And that causes lots of problems because I’m not taking the time to be a kid. ’Cause I am a kid. I just can’t imagine what my life would be if I hadn't done this.”
Reprinted from HX magazine (1997)
March 3, 1997
BY VINCENT LAMBERT
In the golden days of the Hollywood studio system, movie stars were made, not born. Film actors were placed under contract and groomed for stardom with classes in diction and manners. The studios created and maintained an image for such legendary players as Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, among many others. Although the studio system fell by the wayside long ago, its spirit is still alive in the ’90s in the gay porn industry.
One case in point is Sonny Markham. This 25-year-old actor from Chicago has rapidly climbed the ladder to porn stardom under the guidance of Studio 2000. It was in early 1995 that director John Travis received photos from a calendar that Markham had posed for. Travis had struck gold in the ’80s when he brought Jeff Stryker to a gay video audience clamoring for new talent. Spotting another star-waiting-to-happen, Travis immediately signed Markham to an exclusive contract with Studio 2000 and cast him in his first film, Mavericks. And, as they say, the rest is history.
But the discovery of Markham was no less a one-in-a-million occurrence than Lana Turner being plucked from her stool at Schwab’s. He was studying to be a chiropractor when an unlikely chain of events led to his eventual stardom. “I didn’t really like what I was doing,” Markham says in his high-pitched Midwestern twang. So after studying jazz dancing for a brief time, he started performing in clubs as a go-go boy. He had wrestled in high school and competed as a bodybuilder in college, so he more than met the physical requirements of the job. “And I was making more money dancing than working at the chiropractic clinic.”
But just how did Markham break this unusual career move to his large Italian family? “I was dancing at a place called the Sugar Shack in Chicago,” he recalls. “As the featured entertainer, they put my face on their billboard on the highway. My parents drove by and saw my face up there. I told them it was just a modeling thing, but they knew something was up. All of a sudden I had a nice apartment and car. They probably thought I was selling drugs!” Markham says with a laugh.
His new career as a dancer led to modeling work, including a gig posing for a beefcake calendar. A friend submitted test shots to several studios, and Travis and Scott Masters, the owner of Studio 2000, were the first to bite.
“I was nervous about doing movies at first,” Markham says, “but it’s gotten easier.” He has gone on to star in several other films, including In Man’s Country, Trying It On for Size and Dark Side of the Moon. Markham has also toured the United States in a dance revue with Tom Katt and appeared (under a different name) in the pages of Playgirl magazine. But with stardom have come other pressures. “When Studio 2000 said that they’d put me on the box cover of every movie I did, all I could think about was whether it would sell, whether I’d let them down,” he says.
But Markham appears to be dealing with his new high-profile position. Following in the footsteps of a man he says he’d like to work with, he—like Jeff Stryker—is building his career slowly but surely, adding to his sexual repertoire with each new release. He still lives in Chicago, where he trains about three times a week. He’s single but says he’d love to have someone “to come home to. It’s just so hard to maintain a relationship in this business.” And when pressed to state his sexual orientation, he calls himself a bisexual because “I still get turned on by different people.”
But for now it seems that Markham is content with making films, dancing onstage and meeting his growing public. “I really enjoy what I’m doing,” he says. “I look forward to performing more than I get nervous about it. When you’re up there and people who are your fans and admire you are there to see you, it’s a great feeling.”
Clark Gable couldn’t have said it better.
Reprinted from HX magazine (1997)
January 3, 1997
BY VINCENT LAMBERT
“Can I get those Polaroids back at the end of the shoot?” Ryan Idol asks. “I mean, I wouldn’t want these pictures to get around.” One of the biggest names in gay porn is standing naked in a drafty photo studio in downtown Manhattan. No, the star of numerous videos and nude layouts isn’t suffering from a bout of temporary memory loss. He's simply running lines from Making Porn, the off-Broadway hit that he’s appearing in for an eight-week run. Idol is posing for the play’s ubiquitous poster in which the leading stud glares nakedly into the camera as a clapper is held in front of his privates. As the lighting is adjusted, Idol chats good-naturedly with the play's writer/director Ronnie Larsen. The topic of conversation is how cerebrally challenged some of Idol’s fellow porn stars are.
“Jeff Stryker has about two brain cells,” Idol cracks. “Lex Baldwin has three, and Rex has about four, if he's lucky.” The Rex that he’s referring to is Rex Chandler, who originated the role in the New York production of Making Porn that Idol now plays.
While Larsen may share Idol’s opinion of the show’s previous star—and for that matter, his replacement, Johnny Hanson—he’s certainly an Idol worshiper now. “I was less than thrilled with Rex and Johnny,” Larsen says. “Both ran out on their contracts; they both got bad reviews; and they both were extremely difficult backstage. Everyone told me that Ryan Idol would be the best thing for the show, but I never thought he'd be available. But when he came to audition, I was impressed with his professionalism and charm. And the irony is that Ryan has an awful reputation, but he’s been respectable and quite humble.”
Some of the bad rep that Larsen alludes to includes rumors of drug and alcohol addiction, an overdose, steroid abuse and unprofessionalism. Although Idol denies he overdosed, he does admit to battling a few of his own personal demons. “It’s like I was exorcised,” Idol says. “There was so much anger and hatred inside of me, but I found forgiveness of myself, then others. I've been through this whole spiritual, inner-growth metamorphosis. And people can balk at that, but positive things are happening in my life now.”
As Idol takes a break between shots, he sips water and talks about his life. His speech is peppered with 12-step recovery jargon, and one gets the feeling that this 30-year-old native of Worcester, Massachusetts, has been preparing for his new incarnation as a New York stage actor for quite some time. “I always wanted to be in show business,” Idol says. “I saw the movie American Gigolo as a teenager, and that’s what I wanted to be. All I ever wanted to do was be a Playgirl centerfold.”
Idol, who is of French-Canadian and Irish decent, grew up in a single-parent family that consisted of his mother, brother and sister. He remembers being “poor” and says that he didn’t have any role models growing up. After high school, he attended vocational school for two years, where he trained to be a construction worker. “I framed, roofed, installed windows and siding,” he says. “I could build a house from scratch. It was so rewarding to structure something from the ground up, even though I didn’t have that in my own life.”
So just how did these humble beginnings lead Idol to pursue a career in porn?
“Well, I was looking for love in all the wrong places,” he says with a smile. “I wanted to go to California because that was where I thought the American gigolo lived. So I joined the Navy. I knew that was my ticket to California.” But after a couple of years, Idol says, he “strayed” from his goals of having an acting career. (The cherry tattoo on his lower torso is a souvenir of his stint in the service.) “I got discouraged. I was told, ‘You bleed sex, and you’ll never go anywhere in show business.’ That stuck in my mind. It wore down my psyche, my confidence and my self-esteem.”
So Idol started dancing in clubs. One night, when he was approached to act in a porn movie for 15 times the amount he was earning, “My eyes lit up,” he recalls. “I didn’t know it was a gay porno. When I found out, I said, ‘Are you fucking crazy?’ But I thought, if real show business is going to be so tough, I might as well get paid for the bullshit. So, I went for the money.”
His first film, Idol Eyes, made a splash,and, similar to the character he plays in Making Porn, Idol found himself with a new career. “I was an instant star overnight,” he says. “What more could a person like me want at age 23? At first I took offense at my success—where it was coming from—but then I went through stages: I became an egomaniac, then I took it for granted; now, I'm appreciate. I owe a lot of my growth to the adult video industry.”
Although Idol has starred in six films—he peddles the current Idol in the Sky video nightly after the show—and hints that there may be a seventh in his future, he believes that “there are some really ruthless, gutless, heartless people in the porn industry. It has downfalls, like any other business.” One example is the recent incarceration of Idol’s former manager, David Forest, on charges of pandering. Idol characterizes the incident as unfortunate but inevitable. He also claims to have no friends in the business. “I may make jokes about the brain-cell counts of other actors, but I don’t condemn anyone. I just think totally differently from everyone else. I've never met anyone I identify with.”
However, he says that he does identify with his character in Making Porn and even sees parallels with his own life. “I think Ronnie Larsen did a really good job in the writing of this play,” Idol says. “He hit some of the fundamental issues within the porn industry. Actually, this play is like art imitating life. It all ties together. What better way to tell my story and at the same time pick up on my dream as a child.”
After building his image and making his fortune as one of porn’s notoriously straight, “gay for pay” models, Idol seems to have experienced some growth in the area of his sexuality as well. “You’re raised in a society that is heterosexual at its core,” he says, “but I would say I’ve had some of my best relationships with men. I’m still searching to find what that love means with a woman, but I’ve found a certain love with a man. I believe that we’re all here to love—whether it’s a man or a woman, it shouldn’t matter. If people need to label me, then let it be bisexual. Just say that I’m into pleasures of the flesh.”
Something else Idol is into is coming to terms with his past. While his role in Making Porn represents a shot at more legitimate, mainstream success, he says that if it doesn’t work out, “I won’t cry at night. I don’t regret anything. If I had it all to do over, I wouldn’t do it the same way, but it made me the person that I am—very strong and determined.”
Once again, talk turns to Idol’s memories of his childhood. His trademark blue eyes grow serious. “When I was a kid, they told me, ‘You’re a dreamer. Nothing comes from dreams, and you’re going to waste your life.’ I chose to rebel against that. I followed my dreams, and I got sidetracked a few times, but now I know myself a little better. I hope to attain what they used to call the unattainable: to be an actor, have a lavish life and be respected. You have to earn respect; it’s not a given. I didn’t know that before.”
And what ever became of his Richard Gere–inspired fantasy? “I’ve achieved the American gigolo dream, but in the gay world,” Idol says. “I no longer have that dream. I got in Playgirl, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I’m the gay version of the American gigolo,” he laughs. “It was a foolish childhood dream, and now I can chuckle at it. I’m on to new dreams.”
Reprinted from HX magazine (1997)