Law and Sexuality

A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests

Bareback Archives

3812528565_b6a3f145d4_bI was lucky enough to drop by the Treasure Island Media San Francisco HQ earlier today.  An amazing bunch of talented (and hot) guys seem to work there.  It was great to put faces and personalities to people you generally only see in brand positioning stuff from the past (like Nick usually seen on a plane and I seem to recall walking around LA)  or new ‘celebrity’ TIM employees like Pony or established key figures such as Matt Mason, or indeed lesser known but clear talent such as Joey Jeffers (can we please have him in front of the camera?).  Anyway, conversation got me thinking about this blog which I’ve been too busy to update recently and also the vast amount of stuff (like any writer) that’s tucked away on Dropbox, unfinished or unpublished.  For example, whilst I have posted a couple of versions of presentation slides on Treasure Island Media (one set from a Law and Society presentation, and another an edited version from a presentation to a research group at Sunderland), I have never shared what was actually delivered in the room, unpublished when I first delivered the material.  So, here for the first time, are the explicit and unedited slides.  You can’t view the embedded video but all the slides are there.  They were presented I think around 3 years ago.  The full paper that was developed from the later LSA presentation is going to have some elements utilised in a forthcoming paper I hope to publish in Sexualities so you’ll have to wait for that.

I’ve also been keen to publish in magazines/ejournals and so on in order for my research and ideas to go beyond the usual narrow academic audience.  For a variety of reasons, not all of this stuff comes out.  The following text for example was similar to another piece published one or two years ago but proved too ‘full on’ for the magazine I wrote it for.  Here -also for the first time – is the full text of a piece exploring the now abandoned Ryan Sullivan’s Island:

The Pirates of Porn

The recent screening of Ryan Sullivan’s film, Island, at the Paris Porn Film Festival made quite an impact on the blogging and gay porn world.  The 67 minute film is a re-edit of Sullivan’s video blog of updates on his journey as a film-maker seeking to document the goings on at the ‘self-styled’ ‘most controversial bareback gay porn company in the world’, Treasure Island Media (TIM).  The San Francisco-based company brands and views itself more of a cult than a porn studio with its founder, the rich and reclusive Paul Morris, cast as its twisted messianic master.

Its skull and crossbones brand image, which some TIM models and fans have tattooed upon themselves, is emotive of marauding pirates – as is the central brand name and its distribution arm, New Barbary Coast.  In the world of porn, the TIM pirates are simultaneously the bad guys and also a desirable, perhaps even, romantic ideal.  Forget the bad boys, these are the bad men.

Manly not boyish; these are men who fuck raw, whose bodies come in a range of shape and sizes, for whom body hair is not feared and removed. These are so called ‘real men’ and TIM seeks to present them in what it regards as a natural habitat.

Sullivan’s Island began in December 2008 and sought to survey this habitat of TIM.  Over the course of fifty episodes to date, the series follows Ryan’s early tentative steps within the company, his guarded reception, and his initial introduction of key TIM characters before ultimately signing a contract with TIM as a pornographer, and his own personal journey and development following the signing.  The films intercuts raw footage by Sullivan – sometimes introspective footage of local landmarks and locations in San Francisco- together with porn footage, footage of porn being shot and ‘back-story’ footage of TIM projects, model interviews and so on.   Sullivan is never heard in the films and uses the device of text on the screen to indicate moods and key story elements, reminiscent of old silent pictures.

The films also play with our own perception of truth and authenticity, with viewers questioning if what we are seeing is real.  We are introduced to Sullivan’s brother – John Sullivan.  John left home at an early age after coming out and became estranged from his family.  Ryan found a video among his belongings after he had left, a TIM video, What I Can’t See, released in 1999.  The film sparked Ryan’s interest with the company, believing that if he understood that film and what it depicted, he could in some way be closer to his brother.   The announcement in 2010 by Ryan Sullivan that Island would be an extra on What I Can’t See 3, together with earlier TIM porn footage of John wearing a blindfold suggests that Johns Sullivan will feature in the new film and this extra is part of the elaborate marketing.  That said, it may equally be nothing more than a logical point to release Island to a wider audience; providing additional value to TIM customers in much the same way that Cole’s Wild Breed features extras of Cole’s drawings, animation, and even a music track as part of furthering the TIM culture or cult.

As Island progresses we learn that John Sullivan has come to TIM to work and that he is HIV positive, and we follow Ryan as he processes these discoveries.  In one scene we see a blindfolded John being kissed by Ryan – although apparently John does not know it’s his brother.  In the most recent episode, we learn that John’s father sexually abused him as a child.  In other episodes we see Ryan playing around with depicting death on camera, whilst others feature ‘out-takes’ from porn, blood pouring from an overly fucked arse, a cock smeared with blood from a burst lip mid blowjob and in one particularly affecting scene, we witness a model breaking down and crying that he’s not sure he can continue on a porn shoot due to problems with his boyfriend and his relationship.  His apparent reluctance to take part is intercut with his arse being pounded by another guy, suggesting coercion or desperation to perform, and further cementing TIM’s reputation as twisted and fucked up.

At a time of rising HIV rates globally, the presence of a gay porn company that does not use condoms is one thing, that it revels in its presentation of raw hard fucking is another.  Its use of the language of barebackers – and sometimes that of bugchasers adds to the controversy of the brand with film titles such as Breeding Season, Knocked Up, Plantin’ Seed, and Loaded whilst many of the films also celebrate semen with titles such as Cumsloppy Buttholes and Sperm Bank.  Other films simply celebrate slutty fucking with TIM exclusives Brad McGuire, Christian and Dawson seemingly competing for how slutty they can appear in their films.  The film Dawson’s 50-Load Weekend would seem to place him in the lead.

Morris is seeking to present men as wild creatures, reflected in the title of London Director, Liam Cole’s latest work for TIM: Wild Breed.  These are men presented as authentic, raw stripped down masculine butch guys.  In contrast to the styled, trimmed and tanned scene queen twink, TIM’s films seek to present something more ‘authentic’.   Cole’s Wild Breed features men cruising on Hampstead Heath and scenes shot in London’s sex club, Playpit and thus the more private aspects of modern gay sexuality.  It seems we can admit to enjoying a Friday night orgy, but we can’t quite admit to getting fucked at Hampstead Heath.  TIM’s films therefore seek to explore and expose raw gay sexuality.

This is men as we would seemingly be if all of society’s constraints were lifted.  If we were liberated from expectation and notions of ‘correct’ behaviour and simply gave way to instinct, this is how we’d fuck.  It is founded on the belief that in our ‘natural’ state we fuck hard, fuck raw, and fuck often.

The presentation of bareback sex is itself an act of authenticity.  It challenges the fiction of most porn that features condoms.  It seeks to say “this is what you really want, and this is what many of you do”.  If rubbered-up condom sex is the ideal, it is also the fantasy.  Bareback sex is in contrast a presentation of ‘true’ sex.

The continued demand for bareback porn – outstripping its ‘safe sex’ rivals lends credibility to those who argue that bareback porn is gay men’s true desire.   Whatever our public declarations, it seems on some level we still want it raw.

Ryan Sullivan’s Island can be viewed at: http://www.ryansullivanisland.com/

2 comments on “Bareback Archives

  1. thepositivevoice
    September 9, 2013

    Reblogged this on thepositivevoice.

  2. Pingback: Bareback Archives | thepositivevoice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on August 23, 2013 by in Uncategorized.

Twitter Updates

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

%d bloggers like this: