Celebrities and performers have become the icons of a culture driven by the projections of the viewer unto those considered ‘gifted’ and Bryan Slater certainly is in a big way, but there are other great qualities that aroused our curiosity.
TP. You work as a nude model contains striking images from several photographers. How were you introduced to modelling?
BS. I grew up with the self-hatred which is common in so many gay children. My poor self-esteem manifested itself in a variety of ways including dysmorphia. As RuPaul is fond of saying “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” So, in 2004, I started working diligently on changing my attitude and my body by learning about diet and exercise. In a pretty short time, I saw some dramatic results. Occasionally, I was approached (usually at the gym) by people wanting to photograph me. Since I wasn’t accustomed to being seen as attractive in any way, I was uncomfortable with that kind of attention. Plus, I am the son of a photojournalist and have strong opinions about photography, so I was a difficult subject to convince. In December 2004, I was approached by Walter Kurtz, whose work I found to be exceptional. After a lot of discussion with my partner and also with Walter, I finally agreed and did my first shoot in January 2005.
For me, that shoot was transformative. Although I was pleased with my hard work at the gym, I still thought of myself as a skinny, unattractive adolescent. Seeing Walter Kurtz’s photos of me was shocking and profound. Through his lens, I saw myself in a way I’d never imagined: masculine, sexy and, in a manner of speaking, beautiful. Was I still me? Yes. I was/am still a slightly awkward, self-depricating nerd. But he showed me that I was that and more.
After shooting with Walter from time to time over the course of a couple of years, he suggested that I work with other photographers as well. I’d never considered that other skilled photographers might be interested in shooting me. Following his advice, I shot with Kim Hanson, Thomas Synnamon and Kelly Grider. One shoot led to another… one photographer led to another… which finally led to my shoot for Dylan Rosser in April 2008. Thanks to my work with Dylan, I started getting offers for paid shoots.
TP. How do you stay fit?
BS. I follow the Body For Life diet and exercise program. The diet in that program is essentially the same as a diabetic diet, which is consuming an average of 6 small, but balanced meals a day. Since I have a sensitive blood sugar issue, it really is important to me to maintain a careful watch on my diet. In terms of exercise, I am typically at the gym 6 days a week, doing a mix of weight training and cardio.
TP. You are also a rising star of adult films. Which of the two satisfies you more, the modelling or the acting?
BS. I enjoy the process of creating fantasy, which applies to both mediums. Working as a nude model for artists and photographers unearthed my exhibitionist side and porn certainly satisfies that side of me as well. Plus, as odd is it might sound, both mediums offer me the opportunity to celebrate what I used to hate about myself: my sexuality and my self-image. While I enjoy both, there is a certain satisfaction I get from working with artists and photographers that I don’t necessarily get from the film work. For me, the collaboration between artist and model to inspire and capture a single moment is intoxicating. When the final image transcends both model and artist, it’s art.
TP. As for your entry into the world of adult films, how did it all begin?
BS. I met former Raging Stallion exclusive, Victor Steele, during a photo shoot on Fire Island in the Summer of 2007. Some sexy photos were taken of the two of us together and ended up in the hands of porn legend, Michael Brandon. At the time, Michael was directing for Raging Stallion and was looking for a screen partner for Victor. He offered me a scene. I thought it sounded fun and said yes. Unfortunately, the scene never happened, but that photo was passed around and a few months later, I was on a set being directed by Owen Hawk.
TP. What is the first thing you do when you walk on the set?
BS. Ha! Take off my shirt. Just kidding… kind of. The first time I worked at Titan, I arrived in San Francisco the day before the shoot. I’d had to be on a very early flight out of NYC that morning and was definitely not looking my best. I was wearing many layers of clothing and a heavy coat (it was winter in NYC already). I’d pulled a baseball cap over my hair and needed to wash my face and brush my teeth. I was driven directly to the studio to meet director, Brian Mills, who looked understandably horrified when he saw me. I thought he was going to send me home right then and there. He said, “I’m sorry to do this to you, but would you mind taking off your shirt?” I laughed knowing exactly what he was thinking. My body is very lean, so clothing usually doesn’t give any indication of what kind of shape I’m in. So, I took off my shirt and Brian said, “Oh, thank god!” which I thought was hilarious. I’m used to it. It’s kind of a Clark Kent/Superman thing.
But I digress. If I haven’t met the director or my scene partner before I walk onto the set, I begin by introducing myself. Usually, the first thing I tell my scene partner what triggers arousal in me and I follow it up by asking him what stimulates him.
TP. Does the Director decide who gets penetrated in the scenes?
BS. Sort of. Those things are usually discussed prior to signing a contract. Every studio I’ve worked for has been very professional and communicative about what they need for the scene. Then it’s up to the actor to decide if they are willing to do what is required. For instance, when Brian Mills offered me a scene in their newest release, Distraction, he suggested Scott Alexander as my scene partner and asked if I was willing to flip (that is, penetrating and being penetrated). Well, Scott is gorgeous! I couldn’t say yes fast enough!
TP. The ‘fluffer’ is a popular figure in the imagination of porn aficionados. Do the production companies hire one?
BS. Pharmaceuticals have almost rendered fluffers obsolete. Sometimes, for solo photo shoots, a photographer will arrange for a fluffer.
TP. How do you handle guys who cannot perform well?
BS. I have only worked with very professional directors. They make sure that everyone – performers and crew – understands that they have been hired to make the best scene possible. If a performer is struggling (for whatever reason), every reasonable effort is made to help him achieve the performance required.
TP. Have you met any performers you dislike?
BS. Worse, I have been intensely disliked upon first sight. No control over that!
TP. What happens during scenes where you must have sex together?
BS. Fortunately, I trained as an actor in college, so I have technique and also quite a bit of experience performing with different personality types in many different situations. The studios don’t hire actors to become friends and/or lovers. They hire actors to play friends and/or lovers. Usually, everyone involved knows that and remains professional enough to deliver the scene.
TP. Have you had funny moments during one of your recent productions?
BS. Enough for a book, or at least a screenplay. The first story which comes to mind was during a photo shoot for Kim Hanson. He was finishing a series of photos for an upcoming exhibit and had a very specific idea of what he wanted. He arranged for me to pose with an attractive, young man who I’d never met. The guy (I’ll call him “John”) was very nervous, so Kim left us to chat while he continued setting up his equipment for the shoot. After several minutes, it became obvious to me that John was no less nervous. I told Kim that I was going to go ahead and get undressed so I wouldn’t have any creases on my skin from clothing. John followed my lead, giggling nervously, trying his best to cover his rather large, erect penis. I said “John, I’m not sure what Kim has in mind for this shoot, but I think it’s safe to assume we’ll be touching each other. Are you comfortable with that?” John said yes. I said “Good. So, let’s get the awkward first touch out of the way.” I took my hands and patted him down from the top of his head to his feet. It was a totally non-sexual, non-sensual act. Then I took him by his wrists and made him pat me down from head to toe as well. Afterward, he had this slightly amused look on his face, but was still trembling with nerves and his dick was even larger and harder than before. So, I thought “What the hell…” and pulled his head toward me and kissed him hard on the mouth. It worked! He stopped trembling and kissed me back. When Kim finally returned from setting up his equipment, John and I were making out like teenagers. Kim said “Boys, I’m not going to interrupt you at all. Just keep doing what you’re doing and pretend I’m not here. We did. I never did find out what Kim originally had in mind, but he got a really beautiful, erotic photo to complete his series and John and I got a beautiful documentation of our first meeting!
TP. Can you detect specific differences between established and new performers in the industry?
BS. Yes. Generally, new performers tend to be very self-conscious. Experienced performers are able to be simultaneously aware of the camera, take direction, and continue performing while remaining in the world of the scene.
TP. I would be delighted to have a great tip on how to achieve mutual orgasm.
BS. Mutual? You mean people sometimes have sex where not everyone involved gets off?
TP. Your fan page and your website showcase your activism for gay rights and other causes. Do you find support for them from your colleagues?
BS. I think the entertainment industry (and porn is definitely part of that industry) is generally very supportive of human rights and humanitarian causes. Studios like Titan, Hot House and Channel 1 Releasing, to name a few, are very active in gay rights and affiliated causes. My friend, Will Clark, hosts an event here in NYC every Wednesday night called Porno Bingo, where he recruits a different porn star to co-host several rounds of bingo at a bar in the Village. All the proceeds raised are donated to a different LGBT organization every week. He alone continues to raise thousands of dollars and increase awareness about so many different causes supporting our community.
TP. What are your thoughts on the rising trend of bareback (unprotected) sex in the industry?
BS. I have been asked this question quite a lot lately, and I have to say I am conflicted on the subject. Personally, I don’t bareback on film because I don’t think it sends the right message. It has been argued, the basis of porn is selling a fantasy, not a message. I’ve talked to many people who only practice safer sex in their personal lives, but prefer watching bareback porn. They tell me that they enjoy watching the bareback porn because it offers them something different from their own sex lives. I can certainly see both sides of the argument. The studios I’ve chosen to work with, however, feel they have a social responsibility not to deal in bareback porn and most of them make regular and significant contributions to support AIDS prevention and awareness.
TP. Are you partnered?
TP. How does he feel about your work?
BS. While that question would be better answered by him, I will share a quick story with you. When I got my first offer, I told my partner that it was something I’d like to do, but didn’t feel it was worth serious consideration unless he was 100% okay with me doing it. At that point, we’d been together for 12 years and his comfort with it meant more to me than actually doing the scene. Plus, I honestly never thought I’d be asked to do – let alone want to do – more than one scene. “So…” I asked him. “What do you think?” He said “How much does it pay?” I knew everything was fine. And now, 20 scenes and almost 2 years later, it’s still fine. I do, however, grant my partner full veto power over this unexpected adventure. If, at any point, he were to ask me to stop, I would. No questions asked.
TP. What are your career goals?
BS. I never seriously imagined myself as a model or porn actor, so I’ve not really had any goal beyond enjoying the journey. That goal, as simple as it sounds, is one I continue to work toward. I have developed a short list of studios (including Channel 1, Falcon, Men At Play and Lucas Kazan) and photographers (including Ethan James, Justin Monroe, Tom Bianchi, David Vance, Mike Ruiz and Rick Day to name a few) I’d like to work with before I’m finished. I do have a couple of projects on the horizon which excite me. It’s too early in the planning stages to reveal exactly what those are, but I can tell you both projects involve my passion for the visual arts. Stay tuned!
Text: © The Pandorian, 2010
Images: Kelly Grider © (B & W) and Thomas Synnamon © (colour)
Courtesy of Bryan Slater