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Gay Porn Biggie Talks About How The Industry Has Been Decimated

Atlas hugs: David Forest and Zeb Atlas
Christopher Green Photography

Gay porn has long been hard-hit by drugs, AIDS, and the Internet, but David Forest still wants to keep his perch polished. The 64-year-old manager/"madam" rode the crest of porn's heyday for years, then more recently saw it drop like a private part in desperate need of fluffing.

"The past 15 years have seen the dwindling of the gay erotic world as far as films and club appearances," Forest told me, sounding bereft. "In '98, when I got out of prison for 'pandering and pimping,' I reassembled. I hoped to get porn star Ryan Idol back into movies, "But he claimed he didn't think the studio had signed the deal. Since then, Ryan, unfortunately, has gone to prison, and who knows? That's probably the end of him." Is your head spinning yet? Two prison sentences in the first bit of exposition? By the way, Idol was sentenced two years ago for beating his ex-girlfriend with a toilet lid. Not sexy at all.

"We developed new stars," Forest went on, "and it was OK, but in the past five years, the studios have really clamped down on budgets. A good example would be Zeb Atlas, who came on the scene as a physique star. People liked him, but he wouldn't do any gay sex. When I finally got him a deal with Falcon Studios, he did gay sex. Money talks. He did two scenes in 2008—with Matthew Rush and Adam Killian—and got $25,000. But that was the last time anyone's gotten that kind of money!

"Things dropped so drastically between '08 and '12. Raging Stallion Studios wanted to drop him to $2,000 a scene and opted for four scenes." But Forest says they only shot two, losing interest when Atlas did scenes for other people. The proliferation of online sex has obviously hit the studios in the crotch, and everyone's getting tighter than Jeff Stryker's mouth before he finally bottomed.

Some background: California-born Forest dropped out of Stanford in the '70s to work in the music biz, and he did well with it—he booked or agented acts like Stevie Nicks and James Taylor—until a mishap led to bankruptcy and a new career handling porn gods. ("I've always had good taste in boys.") Things were good, but in 1996 came the 19-month jail stay, as he freely admits, after his arrest for being a go-between. "You cannot commission a boy for sex with a man," Forest explained. "But prison was a good place to learn patience. I needed to be slowed down a little bit. And there was some good sex there. I did more oral action than I've ever done in my life!" Is it any wonder so many gay porn movies have a prison scene?

"I'm now doing my business legally," he went on. "I've started knightsandsquires.com, using all the boys I've met through the years. They want to make a few extra bucks. But they're not hookers and don't want to be porn stars. Clients are going to contact me. They can see pictures, then I'll have the boy give them a call—I have nothing to do with what follows. In 2004, I was arrested again for pimping and pandering and found not guilty. The jury said, 'What happens after David makes a connection, he cannot be held responsible for.'" Insiders tell me all this is a long shot, but Forest has seen a way to at least try staying afloat as the bubble pops.

He also has a connection service called meetthexxxstars.com, "but the problem is people don't want to pay big money to meet stars when they can go on social media or rentboy.com and do it. And there really aren't any XXX stars that people are dying to meet anyway." (Furthermore, thesword.com—owned by the same company as Falcon and Raging Stallion—revealed that Forest's site features some stars Forest doesn't even handle. He responded that he's just offering suggestions. Seems like there's more mutual swiping in porn than there are "69" scenes.)

Meanwhile, the demise of the biz is mirroring some literal dying, as a recent rash of suicides and other deaths have shaken up a world predicated on macho artifice. Ryan Idol—the toilet-seat guy—started this awful ball rolling way back in '98 when he druggily jumped out of his third-floor apartment window. Recently, Arpad Miklos and several others were tragically successful at killing themselves. Steroids, low self-esteem, discrimination, and bad luck all seem to be factors in such losses.

"Some porn stars are troubled," Forest said. "What throws it off is when they get married, have a child, and here they are fucking guys for a living. It puts the pressure on them. They like the income, but they know it's not gonna do them any good in the future."

Before we parted, I wanted some more juice on the past. In the '80s, Forest arranged hookups for gay stars like Rock Hudson, Merv Griffin, and Versace. It was like a giant closet on the Love Boat! Forest won't name living clients, but he would say that a current music star uses his services. "But he has a man," I exclaimed. "They do it together!" he advised. Great. With their money, maybe the industry can have a comeback.

Read more Michael Musto at La Dolce Musto

musto@villagevoice.com


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