By Daniel A. Kusner
In the 1990s, gay porn was invaluable.
When AIDS was in full-blown holocaust mode, VHS technology placed erotica in the privacy of one’s own home. Porn also safely relieved pent-up stress when dudes were terrified of hooking up with other dudes. But it also vividly celebrated same-sex love.
And those elements translated into big-business. The payoff was that studios could afford to transform beefcake studs like Lex Baldwin into supernovas.
On March 27, 1993, Lex and I met at a San Antonio nightclub where he drew a crush of fans.
Lex didn’t disappoint.
The six-foot burlesque hunk hit the stage in a leather mask and black cape. Crotch-thrusting to Prince’s churning-funk classic “Get Off,” Lex slowly peeled off garments until his herculean physique was clad in only a G-string.
Lex was surprisingly friendly toward frisky fans who worshipped him with thong dollars.
For his denouement, Lex covered his waist with a white towel, and his G-string magically vanished. Then the towel kept clumsily falling off his waist.
We met backstage where Lex agreed to an interview and told me to call his hotel the following morning. (He even gave me his room number.)
Lex isn’t much of a talker.
But speaking with him illuminated a salient point: The strands of sexuality can be woven into complex patterns. And even gay-for-pay porn stars can be progressive members of the gay community.
This brief conversation captures Lex in his prime — before he radically transformed his distinctive nose and went by the names Eric Conte, Keith Rivera, Talon and Dillon Boy.
Two years later, third-wave feminist Susan Faludi wrote “The Money Shot,” an exhaustive piece in the New Yorker about male porn stars where she profiled jackhammer hetero stud T. T. Boy. Faludi’s fact-checkers confirmed that TT Boy was Lex’s biological brother. Her research also unearthed that the brothers endured a harsh, hardworking rural life under the influence of a demanding father.
Good morning, Lex. Morning.
Did you start your career by dancing in nightclubs? Before I did movies, I danced at a West Hollywood gay club called Studio One. I wanted to see if I liked the scene. Just to check it out a few times.
How old are you? 23.
Where’d you grow up? In the desert. Just say Los Angeles because I was born in L.A..
Do your parents and family know about your career? No.
What were you like in high school? A troublemaker. I was obnoxious and got expelled for fighting. School bored me. In class, I couldn’t control myself. I’d just go crazy.
What was the last album you bought? Queensryche’s “Empire.” I like rock.
If you weren't in porn, what other line of work would you pursue? Gym business. Fitness.
Do you consider yourself gay? I don't like titles. I like whatever feels good.
Do you have a partner? Nope.
How competitive is your line of work? For me? I'm not trying to compete against anybody.
Is it tough getting work for the kind of money you want? I haven't done many movies. And my manager helps me negotiate pay. Anyway, I haven't done a movie in about a year, but my last one was just released.
Are you gonna be doing any more? I'm not sure.
What are your thoughts about people who protest porn? They have the right to say whatever they want to say -- freedom of speech. I don't have nothing against them. Everybody's gotta put in their two cents.
Who do you admire? Ted Turner. Because he's a billionaire. I like the diversity of his business interests
What are porn scripts like? They’re stupid. Filled with little cheesy stuff you have to say. The scenes are stupid. One movie I did had a decent script. They had it written up because it was a higher budget movie. Scripts aren’t a big deal.
Are you glad President Clinton is in office? I'm not into politics. I'm glad Clinton is in office for the gays... ya know, the gay community. Because he can help the economy and everything, and that'll help me.
How is safe sex handled in the industry? I work for Catalina. They don’t mess around. They only promote safe sex. You don't have a choice. Other companies risk practicing unsafe sex.
What won't you do in your films? I won't get fucked, and I won't suck dick.
Do you have any hobbies? I like waterskiing and riding bikes.
How often do you work out? About four days a week?
Do you see this career as a stepping stone? I do.
Toward what? It's a good way to meet very interesting people.
Do fans hassle you in your private life? Yeah, sometimes they bother me.
Do you watch your own movies? Naah.
If you were to die tomorrow, what would you do today? Umm... [laughs] Fuck 10 girls? Awww, I'm joking. I don't know. I guess spend time with my family. Whoever's important to me.
LADY BUNNY, OUR NEXT LENNY BRUCE: In new show, drag comedian hops from salty punchlines to challenging queer America’s greatest frontier — freedom of speech
BY DANIEL KUSNER
Funny, filthy and infamous, Lady Bunny has aimed for low-hanging fruit since starring in “Wigstock: The Movie.” And in “Trans-Jester,” her new comedy show at Stonewall Inn, Bunny certainly hits her target — especially when spoofing Katy Perry’s “Roar” with lyrics like “Because my vagina / Is bigger than China / And both Carolinas / And boy is it ever sore.”
In between punchlines about diarrhea being a water-based lubricant and the newsflash that Adele lost 100 pounds — in a British casino — Bunny launches into the noisy debate about language police. Her material straddles the invisible divides that separate our puritanical zeal for abolishing homophobia and what GLAAD hopes never airs on daytime TV.
Radical and revolting, Bunny reminds her audience that Stonewall was the backdrop that incited a revolution.
“Most of you were not old enough to be here during the 1969 riots. And it is not lightly that I tell you that it all began here. The Stonewall was ground zero for LGBT — or as they were known back then — ‘gay rights.’ This is where our gay, lesbian, trans and a few hustlers spilled their blood to fight anti-gay tyranny.
“So I want you — on the next Gay Pride Day — to remember that. And when you see an old skinny man well past 60 with a tattered dress, a matted wig and smeared makeup in all the crevices of his wrinkled face, don’t you dare avert your eyes. Don’t you dare pass by without acknowledging him. Walk right up to him. Give him a great big hug and say, ‘Thank you for our rights, Lypsinka.’”
The evening I attended “Trans-Jester,” drag legend John Epperson (aka Lypsinka) was in the audience.
Most of “Trans-Jester” is a bitch-fest against prissy political correctness and how the word police can appear fascist. When she chimes in on sensitive collegians who need “trigger warnings,” Bunny explains her “safe place” is just past the “no refund” sign.
While dissecting Caitlyn Jenner winning Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year, Bunny points out, “She hasn’t even been a woman for a year.”
She also responds to Monica Lewisnsky’s TED Talk about being the first victim of online “slut-shaming.”
“I know that enemies of the Clintons used that affair to smear the president and Monica. I know that. But from where I stand — as a proud card-carrying slut — [Monica] did suck the married president’s dick in the White House and march out with a cum-covered dress. To me, that’s a slut. Did you enjoy it? Then where’s the shame? But this slut would have licked the cum right off of that dress.”
When it comes to online political campaigns, Lady Bunny is a shameless slut. But in case you were wondering, “Trans-Jester” is not a Bernie Sanders stump speech.
Bunny really hits her stride when throwing bombs about how we walk on eggshells when pronouncing words like “heteronormative,” “cisgender” and the queer N-word, “tranny.”
She also dives into the intricacies how the term “gay community” has been stretched out to the acronym mouthful known as LGBTQIA. Highlights include:
“Lesbians wanted their own letter, which I thought divided the gay community. The phrase ‘lesbian and gay’ is redundant. Like saying ‘apples and fruit.’
“I stands for ‘intersex.’ Formerly formerly known as hermaphrodite. You’ll never meet one.
“Q stands for ‘questioning.’ Okay, come by the gay center. Come for the counseling. Get tested for AIDS. But if you are questioning whether or not you are part of the community, I’m questioning our community’s sanity that we’ve got to add a letter to reflect you.
Bunny asked her audience, “What does A stand for?”
“Asshole? Yes, I am. Alcoholic? Yes, that too. But A stands for ‘asexual.’ They don’t want to fuck anybody! And in the immortal words of transsexual punk icon goddess Jayne County, ‘If you don’t want to fuck me, baby, baby, baby, fuck off!’”
With her iconoclastic edginess, Lady Bunny emerges as a trans-punk icon herself — one who’s effectively exploring community standards through obscenity and laughter.
Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m.
at Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher St, NYC.