It's a recurrent theme among the performers who sign with Jaxson: They see him as mentor and confidant.

Some, like Montreal native Jake Bass, call him "Daddy." Says Bass: "He didn't really like it, because in the gay world it has a different connotation, but he quickly realized that I wasn't calling him Daddy 'cause of that, but because I kind of latched on to him." When he was in his teens, Bass explains, his father died. He says his mom trusts Jaxson: "She's knows I'm safe with him, that I'm not going to run out of anything or be in trouble."

Jaxson says he has met the mothers of most of his actors. ("A lot of them are my age," he notes.) At least two have visited CockyBoys' headquarters in Queens. Jaxson says they find it reassuring to see the office in person. "There's no back room, it's not some seedy guy."

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.

It's clear that the affection Jaxson's performers have for their boss is mutual. They're his employees, but also his muses. Their real lives often serve as the basis of CockyBoys films, like Road Strip, a campy road-trip flick that is memorable for a scene in which CockyBoys' most popular star, Max Ryder, speaks candidly about the difficulties of blending his career with his real life. GRAB Magazine gushed that the movie "up-ended the conventions of porn," where fantasy trumps reality.

Earlier this fall, CockyBoys released an explicit documentary, Fuck Yeah Levi Karter, featuring footage Karter shot of himself going about his daily life: "while he's cooking breakfast, while he's talking to his mom, while he's having phone sex, while he's jacking off," Jaxson explains.

Then there was A Thing of Beauty, a film that prompted a critic at Salon.com to dub Jaxson "the Walt Whitman of gay porn." The movie takes its title from a line in a Keats poem, but its plot is based on Jaxson's long-term relationship with Benny and RJ, which was also the subject of a 2012 New York magazine profile.

Giving the audience a peek behind the curtain into the performers' real lives is paying dividends for CockyBoys. Under Jaxson's direction, each performer has cultivated a devoted social media following, a surprising number of women among them. (Jaxson fondly refers to his stars' female fans as "the ladywood brigade.")

"In the '90s, in the Jeff Stryker and Ryan Idol era, these were considered gods, and [fans] didn't want to know anything off-set. They just wanted to have porn stars and idols. Now people are a lot more invested in what these people do in their off time," AVN's Timothy Ferencz says.

Jaxson has been on the forefront of the shift. Says Ferencz: "I think he's been really smart to try to merge the two."

Ferencz says Jaxon's savvy use of social media is one of the factors that propelled CockyBoys to the industry's upper echelon. But it proved to be a double-edged sword when a private dispute with one of his highest-profile performers became very public.

Hansen says he started to have doubts about his fledgling gay porn career months before the rest of the world would find out about it. It was in April, after he was expelled from school, and he was with the CockyBoys family at the Grabby Awards in Chicago.

The Grabbys are not the Oscars of gay porn — that's a title typically reserved for the GayVN Awards — but they are, at the very least, the Daytime Emmys of gay porn. This year, CockyBoys cleaned up, taking home awards for best director, best newcomer, and best movie.

That evening, speaking into a microphone shaped like a giant bronze dildo, Jaxson accepted the fan favorite award as well. "I just wanted to say thanks to the Grabbys; it's my first year, so it's been a crazy year for me," he told the audience.

Taking home so many statues at CockyBoys' first appearance at the awards show should have been a great night. Instead, upstairs, emotions boiled over.

Says Jake Bass, "After the Grabbys, shit went down."

Hansen arrived in Chicago after a Liberace-themed photo shoot with Paper magazine in upstate New York. In Bass's version of the evening, sniping about which performers were sharing rooms devolved in to vicious gossip about who was doing drugs with whom, who'd attempted suicide. There was yelling. There were tears.

Afterward, Bass says, "Basically everybody was like, done. We were ready to stop working for Jason, stop working for CockyBoys. It really got bad for some reason — it exploded so brutally."

That night, Hansen says, he decided CockyBoys was a little too much like a family. He says he expressed his misgivings to Jaxson, RJ, and Benny. "I told them that I felt terrible and I was really unhappy and, most of all, I just really wanted to go home," he says. "I just wanted to figure out who I was and what I was doing and why. I told them that I needed to reconsider all the choices that I had made for myself because I knew, artistically, that they were the right choices, but I wasn't sure that I was at the right place."

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