Video Thrilled the Gay Porn Star

Talking with Michael Stabile, co-creator of the gay porn soap opera Wet Palms

Michael Stabile, along with his friend and writing partner Jack Shamama, won the GayVN Award for Best Screenplay for the first episodes of their 2004 gay porn soap opera Wet Palms in 2004. They serve as co-editors of the popular Gay Porn Blog (gaypornblog.com), and have since written a number of adult feature films, including this summer's hit Cross Country and the upcoming Spokes III for Falcon Video, and Master of the House for Chi Chi LaRue's Rascal Video. The latest installments of Wet Palms (7-9) were recently released by Jet Set Productions.

Was writing/creating porn something you had it in mind to do for a long time, or was this a line of work you more or less fell into? Well, I was working in PR for NakedSword.com—it's an online theater that does Video-On-Demand for the larger studios like Falcon and COLT—and I'd already seen my fair share of porn and developed a fascination with all the predetermined narratives that bracket sex scenes. You know the guys are gonna have sex, so it's really about dancing around clichés and feeble stories: the handyman, the visiting cousin, best friends with secret passions. Jack and I were like "We've gotta be able to make something more exciting than this!" Also, I was fascinated by the way digital distribution was changing the medium, making smaller, scene-based movies more readily consumed.

Do you ever find yourself longing to be a producer or director, to control more aspects of a production? There are moments when you want to be more hands-on. With porn writing, you have to be very direct because the actors are not often, um, actors. You can't write lines that require much nuance or use big words. As a director, you're on set and can lead them through it. But if you're just a writer you have to be very careful.

"I wish more people involved in porn were clever. Everything is so surprisingly EARNEST and heavy-handed in this genre."
photo: Michael Stabile
"I wish more people involved in porn were clever. Everything is so surprisingly EARNEST and heavy-handed in this genre."

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    The blog sort of makes you and Jack arbiters of taste for gay porn. What do you wish you saw more of?

    I wish more people involved in porn were clever. Everything is so surprisingly EARNEST and heavy-handed in this genre. One of the things that I loved about Deep Throat was the central joke—that she had a clitoris at the base of her throat. I mean, it's fantastical and funny and original. Ninety-five percent of the time in gay porn the subject is either a love story or some generic cruising. There are no jokes. There is no sense of danger or anxiety. I mean, you're going through all the trouble to shoot this non-sex footage, why not make it watchable?

    Who are your favorite stars? Right now? I'm crazy about Owen Hawk—he's hot and funny and making movies that are both nasty and tongue-in-cheek. And he embodies a lot of gay porn stars for me—his sexual fetish is performing on camera. In a celebrity-driven culture, isn't that the most sensible perversion? I think it's brilliant.

    How about favorite scenes from your own work? There are scenes in each project that I like, things that turned out well or funny or for some reason hot. But there are always cringe-worthy moments, too.

    "For some reason hot . . ." Well, lots of scenes turn me off because I can't participate in the fantasy. But there's so much that goes into the erotic. There's power dynamics, aesthetic pleasure, the sense of taboo. I'm actually really hot for still photography lately. You can control the image—and the fantasy—a lot more than you can with video. You can imagine doing and forget that you're watching. It's much more participatory. That said, I'm not throwing out my DVD player any time soon.

     
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