The question I kept tossing around in my head over and over again as I was preparing my questions for Hotrod was: Is it possible to even be a gay porn star today (and, if so, what would he look like)? I think I have a better idea now after getting to know the gay porn performer known simply as Hotrod.
The young man was born in 1988 in Washington D.C. - no relationship to Betsy "Hotrod" Ross - and in 2007 appeared in his first picture, Flava Works' "One Night With The Prince" starring another young newcomer, Breion Diamond. He has since appeared in almost 25 pictures working with such A-List studios as Pitbull Productions, Rockafellaz Studios and Latino Fan Club.
But, still, what comes across most pointedly in this entire process are Hotrod's answers to my questions and the depth of understanding this young man has about the human condition. I was frankly swept away that someone who hasn't even reach the 25 mark yet could be so voluble about what is means to be who and where you are in life and, at the same time, have such a firm grasp on it.
But you'll decide for yourself - naturally - and probably conclude, as I have, that this is what a star looks and sounds like.
Victor H: What has changed most for you in the four years you've been involved in gay porn? Is it something internal, like how you see yourself as a sex object for thousands, perhaps millions of gay men, or something external like the sheer glut of free content?
Hotrod: In the past four years (I can't believe its already been that long), A LOT has changed. First off, I'm extremely popular, even a celebrity to a lot of people, which I find somewhat humorous. I NEVER expected to be the "HotRod" that i am today. Porn was just supposed to be a fling - a desire I wanted to fulfill and move on. But long story short, here I am...four years later. I think the initial cause was finally becoming comfortable in my body and comfortable with who I was. I guess i've always had a hidden passion for porn, and almost immediately after realizing my sexuality, I dove into it. Through my initial stint in porn, i received a crash course in gay culture, which i had no prior knowledge of. Imagine that! I'm not sure what HELD my interest in doing porn, though. I didn't come into this business with a game plan. I didn't even look at it as a business. It wasn't for fame or recognition - it just needed to be done. I needed the experience. In due time, though, I began to see that I was marketable, due to the amount of attention I was receiving from both fans and producers. Porn became a business for me, allowing me to make money on my own terms, on my own time. It's also opened up many opportunities for me, my favorite being traveling the world. And I still feel like it's only the beginning.
Victor H: Describe a day when you have a shoot to film. You wake up...
Hotrod: I wake up...and it's honestly another day for me. There are no nerves or butterflies, generally no excitement, frustration or any mood stemming from going on set. I do a little extra "manscaping", which includes body hair removal, a haircut and shave. I may go to the gym, eat something VERY light, and take a good shit (TMI). There's really no mental preparation. As long as I look good, the rest will come naturally. Not being cocky, just being honest. Then i'm off to set!
Victor H: What is it about you that makes consumers go hog wild when they see a Hotrod clip?
Hotrod: That's a good question. Ummmm...I think it has a lot to do with how natural I am on set. I can become whatever is required of me, while being myself on screen. I am very talented, but one thing that I've never claimed to be is an actor. Everything you see, for the most part, is me - the real life me. I'm fully aware of my surroundings while on set and I create chemistry with my scene partners. Most importantly, it's all about what I'd wanna see as a viewer. If my performance turns me on, it'll turn my audience on - and that mentality has proven successful. Also, I have a secret weapon. I'm one of the few TRULY versatile performers, so the audience will always get something new. You never know what you're gonna see next!
Victor H: Discuss, if you would, your relationship with (boyfriend) Angyl Valentino on and off the set? Is there much of an age difference? Are you two both similarly seasoned sexually?
Hotrod: My Angyl..Our relationship is truly one to be envied. Our chemistry with each other is so strong and unmatched. We are so much alike. We actually met on set. Our connection was so strong that we ended up spending the next several days together before I went back home. Angyl is somewhat older than me. I can't be with someone my age or younger - the maturity [is often lacking]. He, being older, has definitely had a little more...activity than me. I've only been sexually active since 18, nearly 19 years of age. I'm only 23, so I'm still a "spring chicken". But everyone loves us together! They love our real life relationship, as we are often Tweeting about our whereabouts and the activities we are engaged in, and they love our on-screen relationship because of the natural chemistry that is emitted between the two of us - its really amazing. I love him.
Victor H: Does racism exist in gay porn? How? How have you personally confronted it (if you have)? Would you ever say "I won't work with a (insert race/ethnicity) model"?
Hotrod: Racism is inescapable. It takes on so many forms. There's been the debate for some time about the "lack" of black gay porn stars. Of course everyone has their theory. But porn is a job, and just like many work places, there is (whether directly or indirectly) forms of it. I, personally, haven't experienced it, but I've heard the stories, especially stemming from the stereotypes put on black guys within the porn industry. Some caucasian producers still have a very closed-minded, historic, cliche way of thinking that I feel is of the utmost ignorance, which is why at some point many black porn stars come to a stand-still, while the white stars continue to prosper. There's a clear distinction in the successes. I, personally, would never turn down someone of another culture or race simply because they don't fit the mold. Every race and culture adds diversity. I cant be a truly versatile performer if I'm not open to new, different things and people. As long as they're sexy and can perform, bring em on!!
Victor H: Victor H: Why do you think there aren't more black men in mainstream gay porn? Is it, as some have argued, because black men don't apply?
Hotrod: Obviously there are much fewer black people in this country than white people. The ratio is substantially different. In any case, I do believe the argument that black men aren't applying. But a more important question arises; 'why aren't black men applying?' Let's get something straight - black men ARE applying to porn studios. They aren't applying to MAINSTREAM studios (in case someone wants to argue that "black men are afraid to do porn"). The black community is just that - a community. They feel comfortable within themselves. Many feel like that's the only world they know. Crossing over into Mainstream aka "White" studios is a foreign concept to some African-Americans who want to do porn. Most black guys watch black (ethnic) porn, so that's what's familiar to them and that's what they'd more likely feel comfortable with. BUT, Mainstream porn companies do play a part in the lack of black performers. Most are cookie-cutter, cliche companies. Unless blacks fit the fetish they're looking for, they're generally overlooked. Sad, but true.
Victor H: Do you find 'thug' culture in gay porn offensive? Discuss.
Hotrod: Do I find the "thug" culture offensive in gay porn? Generally, no. It's a genre, just like bareback, interracial, fetish, etc...It has its place. What creates the offense is the multiple companies/producers (esp. mainstream) that ONLY see blacks as this stereotype. They ONLY see blacks as thugs used merely as the tool to abuse a "twink". THAT IS SO OLD AND PLAYED OUT!! I BEG MAINSTREAM, BE ORIGINAL!!!!! Black people are just as diverse as any other race and can do just as much. Create a new audience. Be creative. These companies want to portray blacks in one way only, while we are looking at them all as racist and close-minded, still living in the 1950's and 1960's. It can be changed. Question is, are they willing to change it?
Victor H: Why do you think HIV/AIDS rates are so much higher among black men? What do you think should/can be done?
Hotrod: I feel that HIV/AIDS rates are high amongst gay men in general. Blacks, as a small people, are just easier to single out. I think that everything that can possibly be done is being done to prevent the disease, as well as treat those with it. I'm going to compare it to smoking cigarettes. Everyone knows the dangers associated with smoking, and countless dollars are being spent to inform people about the risks associated with it. But in the end, as long as there's some form of escape route to immediate harm, people are gonna do what they wanna do. Same with HIV/AIDS. We all know how to prevent it etc, etc, etc...But in the end, it's up to each individual person to take it seriously and listen to the countless warnings that we see everyday. One thing that may be helpful, especially in the gay black community, is having more people of influence, such as porn stars, to make people aware that what we do is a fantasy. Enjoy it as such, and be safe. I personally would like to start doing PSA's giving such information, and if even one person can benefit, I'd be glad.
Victor H: Where you ever embarrassed by the size of your penis when you were coming of age?
Hotrod: Funny, I didn't recognize I had a "large" penis until I was about 18. I actually used to be self conscious about it, thinking it was small! I still at times wish it were bigger. (Sounds crazy, I know). But since I wasn't sexually active until my adulthood, I didn't know what was considered big or small. After several people commented on its size and guys (and girls) started lusting after me, it wasn't so hard to figure out.
Victor H: What does your family think of your job?
Hotrod: Interestingly, they don't know! They know I DID some work. But somehow its been mostly under the radar...for now.
Victor H: Have you always been gay? Are you gay? How does being gay inform the black experience, if at all? Why is the black community so vocally homophobic? Are they really that homophobic?
Hotrod: I'm gay, yes. Not to say that I'm not attracted to females, because I am. I've simply never had sex with one..yet. It's an occasional desire. I've always had an attraction to males. I wouldn't say I was actually gay until I became an adult, since I had no practice in the gay lifestyle prior to adulthood. It was just a feeling I kept to myself.
Being black and gay has had no immediate effect on my life. I just to me - haven't experienced too much negativity in my short years in this lifestyle thus far. For that, I'm grateful. As far as homophobia in the black community - well, black people just happen to have a little more....personality in general, which isn't always a good thing. It's not the general black community that's homophobic, though. It'll usually be in the DL community where guys still aren't comfortable with there sexuality. They'll be the one in the crowd that yells out derogatory terms to a gay passerby while the others just look or may not have even noticed him. It's just like the kindergarten boy who shoots spitballs at the pretty girl across from him. They don't know how to express their attraction, so they settle for less than pleasant ways to do it. At the same time, they think they're securing their masculinity. That's just my opinion.
Victor H: How has being black and being gay changed in the last few years? The last ten years?
Hotrod: I can only account for the past few years, if that. I'm honestly not one to pay much attention to people and things outside of what I care to concern myself with. But based on my limited observation, slowly but surely becoming more acceptable. At one point, the way a black man dressed determined his masculinity. These days, there's been a definite merge with European and gay culture influencing so much of what's being sold and worn by ALL types of black men. That's a large milestone, because what separated gay people and make them socially awkward generally was the way people viewed them. Now you never know if you're looking at a fashionable straight guy or a fashionable gay guy. So with the evolution of fashion, and the acceptance of these new fashions in the black culture, gay guys can feel more accepted into the general population. I really feel like that's a large step.
Victor H: Do you see yourself getting married? Having children?
Hotrod: I see myself happy and in love - that's where I am now and that's where I'd like to stay. Kids? Definite NO. I don't have the time or patience. They're cute for someone else. But they can keep them (smile). I'll get a dog!
Victor H: What do you want to do with the life you've been given? Who do you look up to? Why?
Hotrod: I want what everybody wants - to be happy. Love and happiness. I thrive on that. I hate negativity, and I've done a great job of keeping it away from me. I don't look up to any one person. I'm constantly inspired by something new. So who or whatever can inspire me while I'm in that mental genre is what I'm going to go for. I'm a very smart, talented person and I have so many plans for the future. This is only the beginning.