In my last column, In Search of the Eternal Porn, I explored my relationship with the Cockyboys films as an attempt at freezing time, escaping the self and an addiction to fantasy. My first exposure to Cockyboys was when I stumbled onto the performer Tayte Hanson on a 3 AM Pornhub bender. Not only did I want to have a sexual experience with Tayte, I wanted to be Tayte. I identified with the often-romantic nature of his performances: the kindness, eye-gazing, and mouth-kissing while pounding away at a hole. I identified with his versatility and fluidity, both "top" and "bottom." But mostly, I felt that if I could be as beautiful and big-dicked as he, then somehow I could escape the itch of being alive—the ache of being me.
But nobody is safe from life, or the doubts of the self. And immediately following the column, Tayte wrote to me to let me know that he identified with my desire to be someone else and have something more, and the struggle to love oneself in spite of external context. "Everything we idealize is just as lost and wanting as we are," he said.
So I asked Tayte if I could interview him about the relationship between external adoration, fantasy, and the sating of our existential holes, and he said yes.
So Sad Today: When I watch porn, I don't think about the effort that went on behind the scenes to create an aesthetic. But I think I read somewhere that you are compulsively disciplined regarding all you consume, and I was like, Oh God, he suffers just like I suffer (with feeling good enough, beautiful enough, body dysmorphia, and then the question of "am I too focused on beauty?"). When we look at a physically beautiful person from the outside, we see someone who "has it" or "has arrived." But is this how you feel?
Tayte Hanson: No one is perfect. I am sure we have all heard this from a loved one when feeling down; however, in the age of falsified and inflated personalities and realities on the internet it is so hard to see where some people are not perfect. Let us first address that fact, though it is hard, that EVERYONE has a struggle that keeps them up at night. Mine, for instance (OK, one of my many), is my fear of connecting with people too closely and letting them go when times get tough. I don't feel that humans are disposable in the least, nor does this mean I do not love the person with whom I break ties. I just have an extreme fear of making the wrong decisions and hurting someone else and, therefore, letting them go is easier. The second thing, which is probably the most relevant, that keeps me up at night is the success of people with whom I see myself comparable to. Maybe we have had the same jobs or same general life and, when I see them succeed, get strong, "hotter," better, I often take it out on myself. This is completely insane when looking at it from an outside perspective, and I realize that; however, late at night when scrolling through the Instagram land, evil Nancy (she's my jealous emotional construct) enters the room and I sit feeling ashamed that I didn't "work harder," etc.
Yes, that fear that there are limited slices of the pie to go around. As if there can't be multiple pies. But OMG tell us who. Take us to Instagram with you and show us some links that make you feel less than!
To preface this, I must say that these are people I admire so fucking much and that is why I feel the "gosh I wish I had that or was that" bug. Gotta step back always and remember that they are dealing with their own shit too! In no particular order:
@troyesivan — I don't get star struck; however, Troye, while being so young, is so incredibly well put together, talented, and beautiful and he is definitely one that makes me think "i wish!"
@ryanjamescaruthers — In terms of photo jealousy and inspiration Ryan has to be the one who makes me feel the "Nancy" coming on while at the same time filling me with admiration. Wow, talent.
@mattxiv — At 18 years old, Matt is not only one of the most naturally gifted photographers I have ever met, but he is also wise beyond his years, and through our recent friendship he has opened my eyes to things I have yet to think. I find myself enthralled with his works and yearning, at times, to be him.
@augustgonet — If I could be born again and choose to look like someone it would be August. He is a good friend of mine and is just so fucking pretty (and a great human being so like, grrr)
There are MANY more, but there are the mains.
Down to the root of it, we are all desired. The magic is in finding ourselves desirable.
Oh God. There seem to be infinite sources for longing, pining. I mean, the sources are infinite, because we want that feeling. If someone else is magic, then perhaps there is magic in the world. Have you ever longed for someone who had a public presence and then done a scene with them?
It truly is a curse—to always seek something that seems "greater" than self, and it is really remarkable to note that EVERYONE has that draw to someone or a group of people. Down to the root of it, we are all desired. The magic is in finding ourselves desirable.
Yes, every single person I have done a scene with has been someone I fantasized about, looked up to, or desired in some form. I have been fortunate to work with Cockyboys and men.com, who both are really direct about wanting scenes to be as comfortable as possible and, in my opinion, the greatest work comes when both parties are drawn to each other. You cannot fake chemistry.
The biggest case of this was my very first scene, possibly most notable in this way because it was my first, with Levi Karter. I met him months before it happened, knew his online presence, masturbated to him countless times and, genuinely, fell in the crazy middle ground of physical and mental attraction.
Yes, I've only seen a shorter clip from this scene but it's beautiful. The consummation of longing—you discussing how you felt about him before the scene. Does doing a scene with someone you've desired sate that desire, or leave you wanting more? For me, it depends how good the sex is. Sometimes, with someone I'm really into, I hope the sex is bad so I don't have to get obsessed. I feel that I have room in my heart / mind to be obsessed with multiple people at once. But I wonder if it's actually about the individuals themselves or more about me and my addiction to that feeling?
Absolutely not and, honestly, I think it created more desire. Most of us can agree that there is a great separation between sex and physical intimacy—I suppose some people would argue against this; however, in my opinion there is a difference. Had I simply picked, in this case Levi, out of a profile on Grindr, fucked him, and left that would be one thing. In reality I got to know him, desired him for more than a moment, and the moment was intimate and not simply animalistic.
If you can see that your effort daily helps you grow 1 percent better then you will find moments of happiness and contentment with where you have come instead of seeing where you are going.
I recently went through (am going through) a break-up and it is tearing me apart because of the realization of your last point. I have an addiction to love. I don't know where it comes from in my past, but it is a severe problem. I can go without sex forever (surprising, yes) but I am terrified of being alone and not being loved. I am currently taking a very intentional break from dating or any form of intimacy to try and evaluate these habits of mine, but I know that when I become attached to someone it is not because the sex is good or bad or secondary circumstances it is genuinely because I see them as someone I can spend a portion of my life with (or, even crazier, my entire life with as I felt with my last ex) and I develop a complete need to be loved by them. The healthier version of this is what I am working toward and that is loving myself and needing to love myself and, at that point, being able to find someone with whom I can share love with and not develop a requirement from them.
I can't relate to that at all. Not one bit. Can you talk a little more about beauty in the context of never being enough or the fear of losing it?
Personally, one of the most sublime feelings in the world is seeing or knowing a direct achievement that is desired and being able to work toward being such for yourself. The problem; however, is that, as humans, once we have arrived at a destination (and often before arrival) there are multiple other things that have caught our attention and we switch gears to pursue them and are in a constant stream of swimming against the current. A groundhog day of failed perfection and accomplishments if you will.
I am no expert as I suffer from all of this regularly, but I find the moments where I see glimmers of sunshine is in the remembrance that at one point (yesterday, a month ago, ten years ago) I was not nearly as remarkable as I am today (that is not hyperbole, we are all REMARKABLE and it is important you recognize it). If you can see that your effort daily helps you grow 1 percent better then you will find moments of happiness and contentment with where you have come instead of seeing where you are going.
What about the aspects of self that time does not improve, but instead—like a building—physically ravages. Do you feel immune to time, afraid of it, neutral toward it? I, personally, don't like it at all.
Time is the greatest gift and the worst enemy for all of us for different reasons.
It is the greatest gift for me because, over time, I grow mentally stronger, more humble, more kind, more giving, wiser. What I was ten years ago mentally I am now incredibly more, and in ten years, I will grow even further. Time allows possibility and growth. Time also heals and is directly related to happiness based on experiences. Without time you could not quantify happiness of prior experiences and, therefore, could not live them again in your mind.
On the flip side, physically, time is a fucking dirty evil whore (I love most whores, but not time). I am terrified of time because I, like many people of this day and age, have been obsessed with my mirrored self, and when things change on me (usually for the worse), I freak out. Let's just talk science for a moment. Muscles can begin to atrophy in as little as 72 hours. For someone like me who is obsessive enough, that is three days of not working out before that process can begin. Ever taken a vacation and enjoyed laying out on the beach and forgetting about working out for a week? NOT I. If I skip a 24-hour period without working out, I feel bad mentally. I tell myself I failed, I fast if I feel necessary, and do really stupid destructive things because of that one little scientific tidbit. Information should not terrify us, and our goals should not be dictated by fear; however, as a human, I see my flaws in my fear of time directly related to things such as this. Muscle is just one of the many physical things that time effects; however, for me that is the main culprit.
It's funny, a little while back I was shopping for a new therapist. I went to one of my screening appointments after a run. My run was the third I had taken in three days, in the hot LA sun, without having eaten enough: unnecessary and torturous, but to me, compulsively necessary. And I don't even work on camera. The therapist was like, "Oh that's such good self-care to move your body like that." I was like, "Bitch, no. Self-care would have been not running."
There is a "safe feeling" for me in doing what I feel I need to do to look a certain way, no matter how distorted my self-image or painful the process. The results are not permanent. I will always be pushing the boulder up the mountain. But it somehow feels safer than letting go or loosening up, which feels terrifying and dangerous. Can you talk a little about beauty and safety?
We have reached the very fine line here between healthy living and obsessively living. The former is what your therapist was referring to that suggested you are not over training to the point of hospitalization, starvation, or workout anorexia (at least by her/him looking at you) and were using physical training to overwhelm your dopamine imbalances to cover up pain/negativity and prevent it in the future.
From a scientific and clinical standpoint, I would argue that, as long as the individual has an awareness of why they are doing what they are doing and continues it to a point of non destructive behavior then they are living a "healthy" lifestyle; that were, one that is meant to keep themselves mentally happy by fitting into the box they have so neatly constructed for their life.
The dangerous aspects are when this fine line is crossed and health becomes an obsessive habit. You start going on runs not to clear your head or to reach a goal but instead because your body needs a run to feel "full," diet pills become a routine instead of a situational substance, you google tapeworms because some skinny fucking model said she used them. When your intent fades into compulsion and you habitually sink into an abyss of self doubt and need to be "better" without seeing where "better" is for yourself then you must must must recognize at least that and seek help. This fine line is a serious issue and it needs to be talked about more.
Damn, you're positive. I agree that the line is fine and that it isn't talked about so much. Like, I'll be in a spin class and the teacher is like, "Why did you come here today? Remember that!" And I'm like, um, because I hate myself? Like, it's so obvious to me. But I could easily just say, "To be my best self!"
Funny, isn't it? That we choose a negative thought to drive forward positive action.
I want to address your statement above—"Damn, you're positive"—and say that I am like millions of other people who have all the answers when speaking to others or giving advice. When I am working with clients or helping friends with their relationship issues I have every answer in the book and usually the answers are "right." The downfall is when the finger is pointed back to me to "fix" my own shit I, too, am often a lost, negativity biased individual who makes all the "wrong" decisions. This does not mean that what I tell people is a lie or that I am hypocritical in my lack of following my own advice, it simply goes back to the thought that when you are too close to the problem you will never answer it. Which leads me to my 2017 suggestion for all: Find good friends, love them, don't be afraid to ask for advice, and listen to them when you do.