Acting in Porn When You Have Cerebral Palsy Can be Super Fulfilling

For Daniel James, acting in alt porn was a pretty big confidence builder.

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Nov 9 2015, 6:51pm

Billy Autumn and Daniel James, being naked, having fun. Photos courtesy of 'Spit Magazine.'

Alt-porn is something most porn watchers came across at some point in their sex-surfing career, and to people who don't understand it, the genre can be a bit confusing. While fairly benign things like female body hair, piercings, and everything that's not generally associated with the world of typical adult video all fall under the category of alt-porn, it's more than just a type of porn. In many ways, alt-porn is the genre that umbrellas every perspective and narrative normally neglected in your usual Brazzers or Bangbros videos.

One of my friends from university just recently got into alt-porn. He goes by the stage name Daniel James and he just filmed his first porno, with fellow porn actor Billy Autumn, for The Spit Magazine, a website dedicated to natural and alternative sex culture.

James, who was born with cerebral palsy, grew up up in Peterborough, Ontario before moving to Toronto to pursue the path of higher education (and being paid to fuck other people). While growing up, James had to have multiple corrective and aesthetic surgeries to help him function better due to the fragile nature of his musculature, which makes it hard for him to walk and support weight without pain or discomfort.

James spoke to VICE over the phone today about his experience getting into porn with a disability, and what alt-porn really means to him.

Billy Autumn (L) and Daniel James, being nekkid, having fun. Photos courtesy of The Spit Magazine.

VICE: How has cerebral palsy affected your sex life?
Daniel James: It has always had a tremendous impact. It's not always positive, especially when it comes to finding willing participants for dating and casual sex. Realistically speaking, one of the most difficult things to do when you have a disability is convincing someone that you're desirable enough to fuck.

But because I have lived with it all my life, I have become aware of my physical limitations and know what works and what won't work in the bedroom. I know what to expect. Over time my confidence developed, not just sexually. I felt that the cerebral palsy defined me in a lesser extent than before each time I would score a kill point in the bedroom.

OK. Let's get into it. What made you decide to start porn?
I'm a pretty open-minded person, I was always kind of fascinated by the culture and media of the adult industry. I already had relationships in the sex-positive community when I started thinking about porn and it was something I was mulling over for a while. I just started to gravitate toward it and I eventually ended up [at Spit].

How would you describe alt-porn? What makes it different?
At Spit, the idea is that alt-porn is built around sex-positivity and ethical sex. Like, the shoot we we're doing was a period shoot—because [Billy] was [menstruating at the time]. A lot of what Spit is about is making sure that everyone is comfortable with what they're doing and not pressured. It's supposed to be natural and safe. We don't want people getting hurt or feeling like they're doing something they don't want to do.

There's also the part about alt-porn which is just different. There are people who have tattoos, disabilities, trans folk, and just generally people who aren't represented in regular porn. It brings it all together.

Do you think the groups you mentioned need to be represented more in porn?
I think we're moving in that direction but it's going to be slow. I never felt particularly offended by it but I know it's something that needs working on. We'll see, I think stuff like Spit will catch on more.

You said you were fascinated with the adult industry. When did you watch your first porno?
I think I was 10 or 11 and I was on [my family's computer] that had Windows XP on it. Really slow thing. I typed in something stupid like boobs.com and then it just kind of kept rolling until now.

What really turns you on, though? What gets you going?
Amateur porn or anything that seems real, that seems like it could actually happen. I was never a real fan of super over-produced porn, with the girls that look fake or prefabricated with lots of makeup on, the fake orgasms, and the super-huge bald guys that have shitty tribal tattoos. That stuff never appealed to me. But amateur porn is where it's at.

What's the most experimental you've been with your sexual habits?
[laughs] Good question. I'd say I've been pretty normal. Just like everyone else, I started off masturbating regularly and then kind of grew into dating and relationships and having sex which, for me, was quite difficult due to my condition. Back in my hometown, all the girls there were pretty average in that they didn't really look any different or try anything different. When I moved to [Toronto], things changed. There were a lot of girls that caught me eye and had different views on sex and relationships.

You've gone from watching videos on a shitty computer to being in porn. How comfortable are you with nudity and how long did it take you to get there?
I've been kind of struggling with my body for a long time [because of my disability], so it's something I've come to expose myself more to as time went on. It was very gradual and it took me a lot to get to the point where I felt comfortable in my own skin. Being naked is especially difficult, but the sex-positive community has changed things a lot for me.

You sound like you've come from a place of being insecure to not only being happy with your body but confident and proud of it. What's that like?
I wouldn't say I'm totally there yet. Like, I got performance anxiety during the first shoot because, you know, people are going to be watching the video afterwards and you're wondering how it's all going to look when it's done. I do feel like I'm becoming more comfortable though.

How did your first shoot go?
It was actually really, really good. We spent a lot of the time talking beforehand about what [me and the other star's] barriers were, what we liked, what turned us on, what kind of positions we were going to do and just a lot about trying to make it as relaxed as possible.

Walk me through what happened when you got to the place. What was the set like?
The shoot was actually done in the website photographer's apartment and he let us use the place for the sex scene, so that was cool. The environment and the sort of vibe going into it was really relaxed. The whole idea behind SPIT is to making sure all of the artists and performers feel as comfortable as possible. It was basically just a very natural set that was minimalistic. No one pressured us, they actually encouraged us to take our time and give us feedback on what we wanted included in the scene.

Did you make any suggestions?
I made a couple suggestions, mostly relating to what positions I could do or would be most comfortable in because of my disability.

What kind of positions?
Doggy-style, simple stuff like that works for me. We also did a hardcore blowjob scene so I had to kind of be in the right position so I didn't get weak.

From what I understand, Billy, the other performer, was in the middle of their period when you did the shoot, which was part of the effect. Some guys may be grossed out by that. Did you feel comfortable doing it?
Totally. In my personal sex life, I'm pretty open-minded. I don't have many limits when it comes to sex, so when someone suggests, y'know, let's include this toy, or try this fetish, I would never really say "no." I'm always open to new things. The entire scene was protected as well. The crew made me wear a condom so I didn't feel uncomfortable at all.

Let's walk through your performance. From the moment the camera started rolling, what were you feeling and what was going through your head?
Sure, well, from the moment we started I was having a lot of trouble keeping myself up—that's because you have a million different things going through your mind at once, plus the directors and the camera guy asking you to redo something, or to sit a certain way for the right angle. You're constantly judging yourself and you're thinking about what it's going to look like on camera—stuff like that. Once we got down to it, though, things just kind of evolved naturally and I was able to perform just fine.

Did you end up having to take any pills—a Viagra or something—or was this all natural?
All natural, all natural. I didn't take anything.

So if the good ol' V-pill is a no go, what'd you do to remedy going limp?
The crew had the other performer play with theirself a little bit and I just tried to think back to really exotic scenes that I had watched before, really attractive people I want to bang, and then eventually it got it up.

Is going limp a problem you have only on camera?
Definitely not. I get whiskey dick a lot and that really sucks. It's that sort of situation where you have something that is stopping you from getting it up—stress, booze, drugs—that stuff can be embarrassing and annoying and it you obviously don't want the other person thinking that it's because of them. I'm talking situations where not even best stroke can help you. It happens to everybody, I think.

What was the sex like?
It all happened like it would, y'know, naturally, in real life. Basically, the way the scene started out, we started making out, feeling each other up a little bit, and then that transitioned into us being on the bed, doing a hardcore blowjob scene, and then I grabbed a condom, slapped it on. Then, y'know, penis in the vagina, lots of sex, and then I came on their tits. Voila.

That simple, eh? What about the dirty talk? Got any go-to lines?
Nah, I'm pretty boring. [laughs] I just say a lot of things like, "Fuck yeah," and "Oooh," or I grunt and moan, you know? Also, I like to use, "Good girl."

Anything that stuck out to you during the shoot, anything weird or unusual that through you off?
Anything weird? No, but it was pretty hilarious to see how many breaks there are in porn. Like, it's not all one shoot. It's starting and stopping, things in between, talking about what does work, what doesn't, people joking about you having sex. In the video it looks so hot and intense, but in real life it's pretty funny.

How'd it feel after shooting your first porno?
It was pretty incredible, you feel awesome. Y'know, just walking home after the shoot and thinking, "I just did that." It's something I would have never imagined or believed myself doing when I was 15 or 16, yet here I am doing it for real. It's super fulfilling and I feel a lot more confident because of it.

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