March 13, 1998
STORY AND TOP PHOTO BY VINCENT LAMBERT
On a busy street in North Hollywood, behind a locked gate and windows draped with cloth so passersby can’t see inside, lies the headquarters for Jeff Stryker’s J.S. Grand Productions. As the morning traffic whizzes by, a black stretch limo that bears a “This vehicle is protected by Smith & Wesson” sign is being washed in the California sun. After numerous rings of the buzzer, one of the few male superstars to emerge from the gay-porn industry appears at the gate. “I didn’t hear ya,” Stryker says in the sexy drawl that has burned up movie screens for more than a decade. Dressed in motorcycle boots, gray sweatpants and a denim shirt, he leads the way into the suite of offices, where video boxes, posters and various products bearing his image line the walls.
As his assistant plunks away at a computer, Stryker peers out the window and checks on his freshly scrubbed limo then prepares to go out for breakfast. Even moving about the office, the diminutive actor displays much of the star quality that put him at the top of the porn heap, but none of the attitude that often goes with it.
“He’s still a down-to-earth country boy,” says Gino Colbert, who co-directed him in his latest film, Jeff Stryker’s Underground. “He just happens to have a humongous cock.”
Later, at an outdoor café down the road, Stryker lights up the first of many cigarettes and orders eggs Benedict. He is eager to talk about the movie that has put him back in the spotlight.
“It’s a superhot feature,” he says with pride. “I feel Underground stands out like a black sheep among white. My objective was to put out the best product I could. It’s a quality picture with major production values, and the sex is incredibly hot.” For someone who’s been making porn films since the mid-’80s, you’d think that Stryker would be jaded by now, but his enthusiasm proves that he is anything but. “I think a good fuck is always a good fuck,” he says. “You have a good fuck once and it’s good the next time, even if you do the same thing. It only gets better.”
And he should know. The superendowed superstar is world renowned for his work in the porn industry—in both gay and straight films. He was even recently presented with a lifetime achievement award by RuPaul on her VH1 show. But being recognized for his impressive body of work is a far cry from Stryker’s humble beginnings. He was born in Springfield, Illinois, a place he call “a typical, boring Midwestern town.” When asked to describe himself as a child, Stryker replies with a laugh, “I was a hellion—to the bone.”
He grew up in a large family with three brothers and four sisters. His parents divorced when he was 14, and young Jeff was sent off to an all-boys military academy in Mexico, Missouri. But any fantasies of the future screen stud in the showers with his fellow classmates can quickly be put to rest. Stryker remembers the school as a place where severe punishment awaited boys who experimented sexually and one meal a day included a liberal dose of saltpeter. “There wasn’t a whole lot of sexual appetite on campus,” Stryker deadpans.
Returning to Springfield, he viewed his two main options in life as jail or suicide. “All my friends that I hung out with are either in prison or dead,” Stryker says. “There was no opportunity. They prepped you for a life of nothing.” But his chiseled good looks and buffed physique soon offered an alternate path. He went to a photographer seeking legitimate modeling work and ended up doing some nudes. The rest is history. Director John Travis, who was at Catalina at the time, saw the pictures and decided that Stryker was a star just waiting to happen. “I was putty in his hands,” Stryker says of his early years in Los Angeles. “John Travis single-handedly created me. He saw that I had the boyish looks, the big dick and the personality to make it, and that I was going to dedicate my life to this.”
Stryker goes on to describe a “three-year building process,” in which he starred in such films as Powertool, Bigger Than Life and Stryker Force, and honed the Stryker mystique. He also learned everything he could about the porn industry. But after working for various studios and directors, Stryker found himself in a contract dispute with Matt Sterling, founder of Huge Video. “I wanted a brand-new Corvette written into my deal, and he said no,” Stryker recalls. “So I went and made my own movie, Powerfull II. They knew that at some point I’d want to take control. It was a scary thing to do, but I went from making $400 a week to $4,000. So it was worth it.”
Within a few short years, Stryker had made the leap from working in front of the camera to dealing with every aspect of running his own business. He says that it took years of study and dedication to learn about advertising, promotion, distribution and mail order, but it was all part of achieving his goal in life. “When I was a kid, I saw John Holmes,” Stryker says. “He was the big name, and I thought, ‘If a guy this ugly can get in there with just having a big dick, then I’m going to go and sweep the nation,’ and I did. At the time, it was the only avenue I felt I had. It was what I was meant to do, otherwise something else would have come up, but it never did.” He pauses to take a drag on his cigarette. “I just thank God I went for my dream.”
Back at the office, the phone rings incessantly and Stryker lights some incense and settles behind his desk. When asked about his personal life, he hesitates, then says, “I keep very hidden away.” He also hedges on the matter of his sexual orientation. “I say that I am universal. I am sex.” He does admit that he is not in a relationship at this time. “It’s kind of hard when you’re traveling all over the world. When I started in this industry, I dedicated my life to it. I basically married it.”
However, there is a relationship in his life that Stryker is dedicated to: the one with his seven-year-old son, Joe. “He’s a fabulous kid—good-looking, great personality, says, ’yes, sir,’ and ‘no, sir.’ And I’m his sole caretaker.” The actor has been in constant court battles with the boy’s mother, a woman he says he saw only four times. She has recently relinquished all parental rights, and Stryker says that she is out of their lives. Although he has few kind words for her, he doesn’t seem embittered by the experience, just happy with what it produced. “I enjoy raising my son. I just provide a normal childhood. I protect him in every way I can.”
And does Joe know what Dad does for a living?
“He thinks I’m a businessman, and that is really all I ever want him to know. By the time he’s 15 or 16, I’ll be doing something besides this is to balance it out.”
Although he declines to give his age (“If you want to use your imagination, I’m 28”), the thirtysomething actor is aware that those days of doing something else are drawing nearer. “I constantly think about aging,” he admits. “I’m okay with it, but there will come a point in time when I shouldn’t be in front of a camera. That way, everything that is documented on video will be beautiful. That is my objective—and to leave a good-looking corpse,” he laughs.
In the meantime, Stryker keeps busy with personal appearances worldwide and, of course, his business. He is planning a new version of his best-selling “Realistic” dildo, which will be truer to its name. (The original added an extra inch in length.) And there is Jeff Stryker’s Underground to promote. Occasionally, he and his son slip off to their 300-acre estate in rural Missouri to do some fishing. But the man Jeff Stryker still doesn’t seem satisfied with what the star Jeff Stryker has accomplished. “I’m still in there trying,” he says. “Sometime, at the end, I’ll look back and realize what it was like, but right now I’m still going. I’m still trying to achieve and grow. I continue to build—and for what I don’t know yet. There has to be a purpose and reason that I’ve been gifted by the world.”
Just then, the phone rings again and Stryker excuses himself to answer it. His voice shifts into a flat monotone as he dutifully answers questions about his new movie and then proceeds to take an order. When he hangs up, the world’s most gifted porn star smiles and shakes his head. “I have to disguise my voice, or my fans will freak out if they know it’s me!”
Reprinted from HX magazine (1998)