There's Drama on Both Sides of the Camera at NYC Porn Powerhouse CockyBoys

There's Drama on Both Sides of the Camera at NYC Porn Powerhouse CockyBoys
Santiago Felipe

New York's gay film scene is (and this in no way should be confused with its performers) quite small. Following a 1988 California Supreme Court decision that decriminalized pornography, the adult industry, which until that time had been split among Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, decamped to the sunny San Fernando Valley.

"People call us a cult. We're not a cult, but I could definitely see why people would say that, just because we're so close."

Today, only four gay film companies are New York–based. Two minor outlets cater to niche markets: Dark Alley Media, which specializes in bareback (i.e., condom-free) fare; and Dog Pound U.S.A., for gentlemen who prefer black and Latino performers. The other two, CockyBoys and Lucas Entertainment, control major shares of the gay adult market.

Timothy Ferencz is a senior account executive and resident expert on the gay industry at Adult Video News, the industry's trade publication. He calls Lucas's productions "probably the highest-quality in the industry. Lucas has been around longer, but I think CockyBoys has really come on in the last couple of years."

Jake Jaxson, center, flanked by CockyBoys' Bravo Delta, Dillon Rossi, 
and Levi Karter.
Santiago Felipe
Jake Jaxson, center, flanked by CockyBoys' Bravo Delta, Dillon Rossi, and Levi Karter.
Ricky Roman and Jake Bass shooting Answered Prayers on location in Montreal.
RJ Sebastian
Ricky Roman and Jake Bass shooting Answered Prayers on location in Montreal.

In part that's due to the companies' business models. CockyBoys relies on its website, which users access for $39 per month or $200 per year, for 60 percent of its revenue. (The remainder of the business is split between DVD sales and licensing its films to other companies.) Lucas Entertainment, by contrast, owes its revenue base chiefly to DVD sales, which have been on the wane in recent years.

In another respect, though, CockyBoys and Lucas Entertainment are very similar. Like most of their competitors — and like the mainstream movie giants of old — they sign their performers to exclusive contracts.

"Most of the gay companies have exclusives," Ferencz explains. "It's something that used to be really big in the straight market. Now there are only maybe one or two companies in the straight market that have exclusives. It's almost like a gay thing right now."

Ten years ago, when exclusive contracts were more prevalent in straight porn, a so-called Vivid Girl could earn $100,000 a year for appearing in an average of nine movies for L.A.–based Vivid Entertainment. Today, the hetero side of the adult industry favors a free-agent system, meaning a popular actress like Lisa Ann (star of Who's Nailin' Paylin?) is in a position to work with any number of studios.

On the gay side of the industry, a star will commit to a particular studio for a fixed term — anywhere from six months to three years — during which that actor doesn't shoot with anyone else.

"Gay customers are very loyal to their product," Ferencz says. "If people fall in love with an exclusive model, they will exclusively buy that person's movies who works for that company, and that company has a monopoly on that customer."

But like in old Hollywood, where stars like Olivia de Havilland chafed under the control of studio executives and ultimately rebelled, there are signs of discontent.

Last month, performer Vito Gallo was arrested for assaulting his boss, Lucas Entertainment owner Michael Lucas. Lucas told the New York Post that Gallo, who had signed a three-year contract with the studio, was upset that the company wasn't putting him in more scenes. "You had to see his eyes; the veins bulging on his forehead," Lucas said. "It was scary."

CockyBoys faced its own high-profile contract dispute earlier this year, when an angelic ballet dancer who goes by the name Jett Black publicly spurned his employer. CockyBoys CEO Jake Jaxson returned the disfavor, accusing his now ex-star of stealing proprietary information on his way out the door with plans to offer it to rival Lucas Entertainment.

It was a level of drama fit for the art-imitates-life adult films Jake Jaxson is gaining a reputation for producing.

So, naturally, he's making a movie about it.

In a high-ceilinged, hardwood-floored apartment near the Williamsburg Bridge, the long, midnight-blue drapes are pulled back to let the sunlight filter in. An assortment of sex toys clutters the windowsill: seven dildos (various sizes), a cock ring, and something called Fetish Fantasy Series Shock Therapy Pleasure Probe.

Jake Jaxson is pulling stuffed animals out of a plastic shopping bag and scattering them around the room. Three performers await their cues while the cameraman, one of Jaxson's two longtime boyfriends, assembles his tripod. Dillon Rossi is playing with the long tail that dangles from his furry tiger-striped G-string. Bravo Delta, clad in white briefs and latex-coated work gloves, perches on a Plexiglas chair, holding a Ronald Reagan biography. Levi Karter, in white Calvin Klein briefs and a cropped leather vest embellished with gold studs and bits of the American flag, is rolling from one side of the room to the other, like slow-moving human pinball, on a pair of glittery gold roller skates. A statue of a dog, wearing a bejeweled gas mask and a feathered headdress, looks on passively from the corner.

Answered Prayers is inspired by the events that transpired over the summer, but it's not a re-creation. It's an interpretive take on the feelings of betrayal, misrepresentation, secrets, and lies Jaxson says he experienced when he became convinced Jeppe Hansen, aka Jett Black, was stealing from his company.

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