Porn for All: Damien Moreau Makes Equal Opportunity Smut

Caitlin Donohue

Caitlin Donohue

Damien Moreau's queer, feminist pornography creates a visual utopia "where everyone belongs and everyone can get off."

All photos by Maria Fernanda Molins

This article original appeared on VICE Mexico.

The model finally ejaculated, his O face perfectly framed in my viewfinder. I had pretty much killed it on my first day shooting porn.

"That's great, Caitlin," said my friend, queer feminist porn actor and producer Damien Moreau. We were in Mexico City and had just filmed the first chapter of his new jack-off series. Oh Boy is an erotic film cycle that focuses on the loosely intertwined lives of its characters. Moreau released the first chapter independently in January. It's beautiful, and ambient, and you would probably watch it even if you weren't trying to get off.

Moreau's work speaks to the future of visual eroticism: the reformulation of porn in a way that relies less on stereotypical notions of sexuality than mainstream skin flicks.

Maybe it seems strange that I've helped to record a man masturbating. While there are superlative girls who film gays, like Naked Sword's Mr. Pam and Rock Candy Films' Nica Noelle, the popular perception of male jack-off porn is that it is shot and consumed by gay men. But the porn industry doesn't always cleave to those lines, and recent surveys of sexuality have revealed that the question of who consumes what kind of porn is not so cut-and-dry. A recent survey conducted by Dazed and Confused magazine suggested that straight-identifying women watch more girl-on-girl sex—a porn genre often regarded as the purview of dudes—than straight men. And unless I'm mistaken, there's nothing particularly gay (or particularly straight) about a man getting himself off.

Plus, I like cock, and Moreau was down to help me learn how to use my new Canon. So hi, I'm Caitlin and I shoot jack-off porn.

Moreau's thoughtfulness made it easy to be a woman working on his set. I had actually signed onto the project to improve my camera skills, but I was nervous about my role as the cinematographer.

After Moreau confirmed my involvement with the film, I wondered if it was really my place to shoot the sexuality of a gay man, but he didn't have the same reservations. When it was communicated that a potential model was down to shoot for Oh Boy, with the caveat that no females be present during the shoot, Moreau made it clear that that kind of gender-based exclusion wouldn't fly on his set. The model we did find regarded me with curiosity and giggled a lot in my presence, but you could chalk that up to the fact his balls had never been filmed before.

Onscreen sex is Moreau's refuge from the pretensions of the art industry. He's told interviewers that his porn persona is, "a descendant of the symbolist painter Gustave Moreau." He's also attributed his career to a particularly gifted lover in Colorado.

After seven years trying to make it as a video artist and photographer in New York City, working at galleries to pay the bills, Moreau felt hopeless about his future in a world that seemed closed to those without independent wealth and prestigious gallery connections. So he moved back to his home state of Wyoming, started working out, and began sending sexy photos to gay porn sites.

For Moreau, acting in porn would be a way to get back to his body, he told me, back to what he really loved doing: "fucking."

BDSM site Kinkmen was the first to hire him, and soon he was on a plane to a San Francisco studio to shoot his first scene as a submissive. It was an intense setup for a first-timer.

"People ask if I was nervous to be beaten and gang-banged by six men. The answer is no," he remembers. "In that moment I knew I was right where I was supposed to be." After becoming a porn actor—he still mainly a bottom, shooting for Kinkmen, Moreau began producing his own shorts. Before Oh Boy was the devastatingly sexy Kangarou, shot on a train in Colorado.

The fact that BDSM porn served such a cleansing purpose in Moreau's life may explain his improbably calm, soft-spoken demeanor on set. He reverts to an almost submissive role on set, acting as a conduit for other people's fantasies. "[The models] have full control," he says. "The crew and I are only present to document the experience and it can be stopped at anytime."

The direction that does come from Moreau is phrased in the form of a question, as if the shooting experience is more about fulfilling the model's fantasy than capturing the most photogenic sex act. In Oh Boy, models mostly choose their characters. Sebastian (not his real name) from the film's first chapter is a contemporary dancer in real life. In his Oh Boy clip he glides across the floor in an all-white room, getting sweaty and exuding passion for his art even before the sex scene begins.

Even Mexico City plays a role in Moreau's pornography. Moreau moved to the capital this fall, and immediately fell in love with its architecture and history. The first chapter of Oh Boyopens with sensuous, loving shots of parks in La Roma, skyscrapers, and crowds moving swiftly through La Glorieta de Independencia. There is no cheat to Moreau's camera—you're getting a chance to see the actors without the veneer of theatricality (a sense that is aided by the fact Moreau's models are new to porn).

Moreau asserts that the porn he makes is intended for everyone and anyone. Although the actors he's shot for Oh Boy have been both straight and trans men, he's not opposed to getting women involved. His goal is for the series to serve as an escape from your regular perverted fare. The shorts have more to do with sentiment than gender and genitals.

"We're all looking for a way to communicate how we relate to sex and how we connect with the sex we see in porn," Damien says. "I make porn that is complex, diverse, serious, smart, and sexy. I remove the innuendo and parody that makes us feel sex is something never to be taken seriously. I make porn for people regardless of how they identify sexually. I want to be turned on not only by the beauty of the body but also stimulated by the visual and narrative. I make porn for other people out there like me."

Thanks to Damien Moreau, I've found a newfound appreciation for porn. Training a camera on an erection was actually pretty empowering, a feeling that I want for all women when they watch porn. We're so conditioned to see sex as a battlefield, a place where someone is getting turned on by taking advantage of someone else. If more pornographers removed overt gender tropes, confounded the gender hierarchy of porn production, dismantled the female body/male gaze as the basis for erotica, things would be different. (At the very least, all the anti-porn crusaders who chatter on about the way pornography "inherently" exploits women would have to shut up.)

Imagine a world in which "queers" weren't roped off from "straights." This is the world in which Moreau's characters live. He's bored of traditional coming out stories; he's more interested in everyday queer adults living their sexy, sexy lives. Moreau's inclusive philosophy could be a gateway into a new, more egalitarian vision of the porn industry.

He's not alone. Moreau told me that he looks up to queer, straight, and trans producers and sites like Lucie Blush, Bonus Hole Boys, Antonio Da Silva, James Darling, Bird and Bee Studios. They're all sources of porn that goes beyond the hard and fast, standardized categories of the erotic.

Could less rigid categorization of porn inspire less rigid categorization of human sexuality? Moreau thinks so, and after spending a day in his kingdom, I agree.

"In the end it's about removing the barriers of tired conversation that the media and government has trapped us in," he says. "It's about not only believing in a queer world but truly creating it by removing the stigma placed on all of us by capitalism. I'm creating a visual utopia here where viewers can come to purely enjoy their love of sex with out being told about their differences. A place where everyone belongs and everyone can get off."

Follow Caitlin Donohue on Twitter.

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