In a wide ranging interview with Pink News, retired gay adult film star, Race Cooper, pulls the curtain on what he describes as pervasive and systemic racism within the adult entertainment industry; from unequal pay, to racist porn categories, to a shocking request from studio heads to performers to create a list of racial categories they would be uncomfortable appearing on screen with.
“I came to the industry with mainstream television and film experience, where such questions would immediately be banned and recognised as racist. But not in porn, where it was commonplace," said Cooper.
He also says he was paid less than his white counterparts when he worked as a porn actor. On one occasion, a white man was brought on board, 15 years his junior, who had never shot a porn scene before. He was paid $200 more per shoot than Cooper right from the beginning.
Cooper started off as a casting director for major porn studio Raging Stallion and went on to perform in front of the camera too – but his time working in the industry was cut short," writes Patrick Kelleher.
The fetishisation of Black people in the gay porn industry is a persistent problem.
He also notes that Black men are still fetishised in degrading ways within the industry, and the impact on the actor is severe.
“When you fetishize a person, you are dehumanizing that person into a thing,” he says. “Fetishes like fist play or sling play have nothing to do with race or skin colour. Anyone can participate. But when your fetish is any interchangeable ‘Black guy’, you are taking the human component out of it, and just treating them as objects based on their skin colour.”
He says that Black men in the porn industry are often reduced to nothing more than a body part – as is the case with the degrading porn category “BBC” or “Big Black C**k”.
“A human with a soul is reduced to a Black dildo like those you buy and own, hiding it away under your bed until you’re horny and lonely.”
He also notes the pervasive description of Black men in the industry as being like “chocolate”.
“Chocolate is a delicious treat, a guilty pleasure we are all expected to renounce in public and enjoy in private. It’s another example of fetishisation.”
Cooper also says Black men in the gay porn industry are frequently cast in “thug” roles, which play into offensive racial stereotypes.
“Fetishisation diminishes the person of colour, uses them for only personal sexual gratification, and discards them when done. That impact stays with Black people who feel their worth is only in the sexual gratification they can provide to white people.”
Race Cooper wants to see gay porn studios sever ties with ‘racist’ stars.
Many major gay porn studios have responded to Black Lives Matter protests by releasing supportive statements – but for Cooper, it’s not enough.
He wants porn studios to do more than release blanket statements about diversity. Instead, he wants to see companies sever ties with “known racists” – something many have been reluctant to do.
Race Cooper also wants companies to acknowledge that many have cast white men – and, in some cases, straight men – over Black and gay men.
For Cooper, there is a clear path forward. He would like to see porn studios hire diversity mentors to help with casting, and says these mentors could help to advance the careers of porn actors of colour.
He would also like to see the gay porn industry end the preferential treatment of “gay for pay” actors and stop shunning HIV-positive porn stars.
“What I’ve come to understand is this: it’s easy to say racism is only elsewhere, such as police brutality, or in actors who have espoused racism on social media,” Cooper says.
“However, as a gay community that wants to truly be anti-racist, and support all of our brothers, sisters and cousins, we have to clean house. While Black Lives Matter focuses on police brutality, how we view and treat others sexually and engage with them, must also be addressed.
“It’s not enough to only care about Black people in public, but still reduce them to objects we hide under our bed at home. We can’t claim empathy when Black people are killed in the streets, considering we currently treat them differently in the sheets.
“Racism takes many forms, and our thoughts on racism and sex need to change.”
Living Out Loud 2.0 encourages you to read the full interview along with a statement from Tim Valenti, President/CEO of Falcon/Naked Sword Studios here.