An Award-Winning Porn Star's Strange Path to Men's Rights Activism

A conversation with Philipp Tanzer, a.k.a. "Logan McCree."

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Aug 8 2018, 7:45pm

Photo courtesy of Philipp Tanzer

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

How does an award-winning porn star become a self-identified men's rights activist? That's the question I found myself asking after I crashed the world's biggest men's rights summit—the International Conference on Men's Issues—in London last month.

At the conference I met Philipp Tanzer—also known as Logan McCree, a German-born performer famed for all his all-over tattoos and award-winning threesomes. Having been crowned Germany's Mr. Leather in 2004, Tanzer went on to star in dozens of films, signing an exclusive deal with one of America's biggest producers of gay porn, Raging Stallion Studios.

In 2012, Tanzer left porn behind when he moved to Durness, one of the northernmost towns in the remote Scottish highlands. Since then, he's divided his time between running an art gallery and becoming more involved in the murky world of men's rights activism.

Looking back, it's hard to say what I found so unlikely about Tanzer's conversion—after all, the world of man-on-man porn is hardly known for its enlightened approach to gender relations—but I wanted to know how he had come to feel so at home in the MRA world.

When we spoke on the phone after the conference, Tanzer insisted he had always supported gender equality—the problem for him, he said, was that most modern feminists now shunned egalitarianism in favor of special privileges for women, while simultaneously labeling themselves as victims. But it was his interest in child custody that led Tanzer to make the jump to becoming a full-on MRA.

In some ways, that's no surprise. Men's rights activists have been raging about child custody since time immemorial. What's interesting about Tanzer, though, is that he didn't have children—or even a female partner to take them away.

"For a long time, I was predominantly interested in men," he told me. "I didn't identify as gay, as I didn't really fit in with gay culture. For a while, I even called myself asexual but with a preference for men.

"I had always wanted a family, and it was important for me that it would be with a female partner, so that my children would be a product of a loving relationship. When I got into my 30s I started dating women again and looking to start a family."

Perhaps predictably, the news of Tanzer's new relationship went down badly with his fans. He issued a statement, refuting accusations that his screen career had been a cynical case of "gay for pay." In fact, he had just exited a long-term relationship with another male performer and continued to sleep with men when dating women (with the consent of his then-girlfriend).

As he looked forward to starting a family, Tanzer became obsessed with the idea that he might one day lose his kids. Why that might happen he didn't say, but he added that it remained his "greatest fear." He was deeply moved by stories of men whose children had been taken away; men who insisted they'd been screwed by a system which callously neglected the rights and well-being of fathers.

Admittedly, there's a lot to unpack here (not least the regressive notion of women as walking wombs, and Tanzer's believing he needed to find a female partner to raise children in a "loving relationship"), but—to my mind—it's a good example of how the MRA ideology recruits by preying on men's fears. It was a tactic I recognized from my own time studying the movement.

For all their bluster about feminism as a "cult of victimhood," the truth is that MRAs can be pretty shameless in encouraging and exploiting men's own feelings of victimization. Listen to MRAs discuss, say, sexual assault allegations (which they usually claim are fabricated by feminists to hound men from their jobs), and you realize what they're really trying to do is engender a sense of powerlessness, and a feeling that this could happen to you. It's intended to appeal to the audience's fear and self-interest—and it can be very effective.

Photo courtesy of Philipp Tanzer

Once we'd debated the merits of family law, I asked Tanzer about pornography and whether his career had informed his view that men were mistreated by society. With the porn world still reeling from high-profile rape allegations, did he recognize the portrayal of the industry as a hotbed of exploitation, in which powerful men routinely abused their positions?

"I was lucky to have a positive experience in porn," he told me. "The team I worked with was like a family, with everyone being supportive of each other. There were, of course, some problems—actors with drug issues, for example—but the production company really tried to help people with that.

"In fact, if anything, it seemed much better than the straight world. Although I haven't made straight porn, we shared a set a couple of times and I saw men being treated like shit by women performers. They were being screamed at and told exactly what they could and couldn't do."

Perhaps what's most surprising about Tanzer's journey isn't his professional background: It's that someone in his position—aware of the masculinity issues that some men face, and struggling to reconcile his own desire for a family with his non-conformist identity—would feel the urge to support the same gender norms which, at least from my perspective, hadn't served him well.

It's a cruel irony of the anti-feminist movement that the men lured into being patriarchy's foot-soldiers are so often those badly served by it in the first place: the nerds, the outsiders, the gauche, and the lonely. In some ways, Tanzer's story is unique—in others, it's sadly normal.

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