The archetypal image of the male porn star is being upended.
Last October, porn studio Reality Kings released a scene with the nondescript title "Rock Hard," in which Phoenix Marie—a ten-year industry veteran in her mid-30s—decompresses after a workout only to be distracted by her "stepson" loudly jamming on his guitar in the garage. She stomps off to chew him out—a seemingly by-the-numbers MILF porn premise.
There we find Conor Coxxx (link NSFW)—a shaggy-haired, extremely pale, rail-thin 20-something—standing about a head shorter than the five-foot-nine-inch Phoenix. After berating the compliant Coxxx, Phoenix realizes he's turned on by her verbal abuse and strips him down, manhandling him and whipping his body around like a rag doll while—in an inspired, athletic bout of role reversal—holding him upside down in a standing 69 position. It's an attention grabber.
Coxxx doesn't look like the typical male porn star, something he readily admits: "I knew I didn't have the height or the looks that other guys had, and I've always looked several years younger than my actual age," he says.
Indeed, his tiny body implicitly breaks age-old porn tropes: He doesn't tower over his co-star, he doesn't exude normative masculinity, and he's dominated because he's a tiny man in the arms of a woman of average stature. He's not alone, either: male porn stars with similar frames have grown increasingly popular in the industry of late—there's Jordi "El Nino" Polla, Sam Bourne, Buddy Hollywood, and a fair number of lesser known actors who spring up often on BBM and MILF specialty sites. This is thanks in part to the changing economics of porn production, which as of late favors featuring more diverse body types.
There's never been absolute homogeneity in male body types in porn—but an archetypal image of the male porn star still exists in American culture, enough so that academics have cited it as a cause of poor self-image amongst men. Logan Pierce, a fairly popular contemporary male porn star, acknowledges that because mainstream porn caters to mainstream male fantasies, "Male performers are usually there to embody the male projection of 'masculinity.'" He tells me that the ideal has shifted over the years from 'roid-raging muscle men to slimmer but still well-defined and conventionally handsome men like himself.
Coxxx first considered entering the porn industry after six years playing guitar in a band called the Last Relapse. Facing yet another impending rent check, he decided to give porn a shot. He went in knowing full well the ideal he was up against, but says that "I was hoping that my endowment could draw enough interest to get steady work." His Hail Mary pass at solvency turned into a career—partially because he started in Atlanta, Georgia, where male talent is relatively scarce. But even in talent-saturated Los Angeles, where he's now based, Coxxx and those with his body type have been able to find a ton of work in recent years.
Stella Cox—one of the biggest female performers of the moment—has performed with a few of these smaller male porn stars; she says the emerging trend comes down to producers searching for new, shocking scenarios. As the ability to profit off of traditional porn plummets in a rapidly changing x-economy, the industry is especially open to twisting norms or shocking sensibilities.
MILF porn, especially, has created an entrenched and reliable market for skinny, non-traditionally masculine men like Coxxx. He's heard from many male fans who tell him they find scenes featuring a non-idealized body type like his more relatable and engaging. Cox adds that she's personally not a huge fan of traditional ideal masculine types, and is confident diversifying bodies and the scenarios ushering them in will engage more women too.
Dr. Roberto Olivardia, a Harvard psychologist who studies male body image in relation to cultural norms, agrees the average male consumer finds porn featuring non-ideal bodies like Coxxx's more appealing—as it's easier to project themselves into. "It benefits the porn industry to feature a diversity of men," he says. "You want as many men to project themselves into the fantasy and see themselves as more similar to them" as you possibly can.
Even if traditional male body types continue to dominate mainstream porn, or at least it's major scenes, performers like Coxxx and Polla and the like have let the genie out of the bottle. Scrawny dudes are now just as sexualizable as the ideal masculine form in the pornographic world. The fact that they can exist alongside the traditional masculine ideal as a regular facet of mainstream studio productions bodes well for a more diverse and interesting porn world.
"I am pretty sure this is only the tip of the iceberg," adds Cox of this shift and the diverse porn future to come.
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