By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The first time I ever saw people masturbating on video was in Betty Dodson's Selfloving: Portrait of a Women's Sexuality Seminar. The film documents one of Dodson's infamous masturbation workshops, where a group of women of all ages share, learn, and, of course, masturbate. It was educational, revolutionary, and very sexy. Masturbation movies are considered a small niche within pornfrom mainstream titles like Fucking Myself to indie-artsy fare like Orgasm! The Faces of Ecstasy. But two women with very different styles are currently shaking up the world of self-pleasure flicks.
While there are dozens of female masturbation videos in straight porn, there are hardly any solo movies featuring men and made specifically for women (most solo men's lines, even those featuring hetero guys, are marketed to gay men). For years, former adult performer turned director Tina Tyler tried to make one, but none of the companies she pitched to would bite. Then she began directing for Lexington Steele's Mercenary Pictures (lexingtonsteele.com), and Steele gave her the green light for her dream project: a male masturbation series called Handyman, which debuted last year.
"I've always loved to watch men masturbate. Even as a teenager, I used to talk my boyfriends into doing it for me. I made a series that I have wanted to see all my sexual life," says Tyler. When I think of handsome naked guys with erections jerking off, I think (unfortunately) of Playgirl magazine, so I wasn't gung ho for cheesy pictorials of men with oiled bodies come to life. Tyler was cognizant of the obvious comparison: "Yes, there are gorgeous guys stroking for the camera. But with Handyman, you get the added bonus of each guy talking directly to the viewer . . . telling her what he wants to do to her. It feels like a private session with your favorite male porn star." In fact, the first two volumes of Handyman, with their high production values and gorgeous men with personalities, are truly a departure from anything else out there.
First, Tyler has cast a diverse group of hot, sexy men of different body types, ages, ethnicities, and aesthetics, including a British guy in a pin-striped suit, a beefcake-y gym boy, a quiet romantic guy, and a porn legend; some are shy, others cocky, others playful, with some clearly more exhibitionist than others. This last element really contributes to how real the guys come off. They make lots of eye contact as they talk to the intended female viewer. You can hear Tyler's (really sexy) voice in the background as she interviews each guy, coaxes, and compliments. She knows when to talk and when to quiet down. You get the feeling that it's just the guy, Tina, and her camera, so the level of comfort and intimacy is high.
In Handyman 2, when Maui Kane shows off his gym-sculpted body, then turns around to show his ass, I knew that we had entered entirely uncharted territory for male porn stars. Tyler said that made it difficult to get her performers to interact with the camera. "The guys in porn are used to just showing up and fucking." In fact, they're often treated as second-class citizens meant to penetrate and otherwise stay quiet and out of the way. (Really.) Male performers are rarely if ever asked to address or seduce the viewer. "All of a sudden they are 100 percent of the focus. Some of the guys were very nervous having to talk and jack." Tyler was up for the challenge: "I found a creative way around it: By keeping it a two-way conversation, it gives them someone to react and talk to."
Another person blazing her way through new porno territory is Boots Boccaleone, a 36-year-old genderqueer from San Francisco who co-founded Red Handed Porn (redhandedporn.com), a "dyke-owned website of hot, radical, real masturbation alternaporn." Boccaleone started the site "because there aren't enough real bodies and real orgasms in porn," she says. "We focused on masturbation because it was an easy way for real exhibitionists to participate in porn without having to risk sexual diseases or be forced to manufacture chemistry that isn't there."
DeShaun Hayes shows off his assets in Handyman
photo: Courtesy of Mercenary Pictures
The site's sensibility is very San Francisco. It's populated by college-educated sex workers, transfolk, and tattooed, kinky, pansexual Bay Areaites for whom making porn is revolutionary. Nearly all the models identify as bisexual or queer and they come in all sizes, genders, and ethnicities. Six new episodes are posted each month, with each one split into several scenes. Each begins with a sort of "meet the masturbator" interview; the dialogue is honest and interesting, and helps connect the viewer to the person before he or she gets down to it.
In one episode, a femme dyke named Sadie wearing purple crocodile heels and crotchless panty hose flips through a collection of porn mags she's brought along. She's quiet as the Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator presses against her clit and she looks at the images. Then all of a sudden, her mouth opens wide and she's screaming her way to climaxit's totally unexpected and very real. In another one, there's a slightly shy redheaded tranny boy who jerks off with an anal bead toy up his ass. There's also a plump girl in glasses who uses clothespins and needles on her breasts and a vibrator on her clit. I can't leave out the girl who squirts whenever she comes, the one who can fist herself, or the pregnant chick who lost all her sex toys in a moving mishap. The episode with "gender traitor" Slide Seymour focuses on a scoliosis brace from childhood, a gourd, and a particular Thanksgiving memory.
Boccaleone began by recruiting people on craigslist.org, but now people are volunteering left and right. She shoots all the scenes herself along with a second camera operator and says her favorite thus far is one that hasn't been posted yet. "Despite her huge breasts and red satin nightie, Violet spent the shoot describing her gender-bending fantasy about being the boy slave for actor Christopher Meloni. She was so female in body and styling, and the contrast with her fantasy was compelling."
Both Tyler (who's getting ready to release Handyman 3 on April 5) and Boccaleone (who hopes to do a live event as part of the National Masturbate-A-Thon in May) are passionate about people getting offthe ones who do it for the camera and the ones who watch them do it.
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