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July 9th, 2012

Is “Dawson’s 20 Load Weekend” the Most Important Gay Porn Film Ever Made?

The annual Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco is noted for its unbridled embrace of every star in our sexual constellation. Even the fearless leather community that founded the event can sometimes appear tame amidst the outlandish kinks and clothing – and lack thereof – on display along the city’s tilted streets.

In the middle of this rowdy bacchanalia in the fall of 2003, Paul Morris stood at the booth for Treasure Island Media (TIM), the gay porn outfit he founded that features unprotected sex (barebacking) between its actors. This particular specialty was the singular driving force behind his smashingly successful and relatively new company.

Then, like the legend of Lana Turner fortuitously cozying up to the counter at Schwab’s, a beautiful and achingly masculine young man approached the TIM booth. He liked the TIM videos, he liked them very much indeed, and he hoped to one day document a few fantasies of his own. TIM star Jesse O’Toole was on hand and someone snapped a photograph of the two of them together (right). In it, the grinning young man with a leather cap appears to have found his long lost tribe, and O’Toole looks as if he has found a seven-course meal.

The photo was sent to Max Sohl, a sometime porn actor with a theater background whom Morris had commissioned to conceive and direct what would be Sohl’s first porn film. Sohl met with the aspiring model and asked him to complete a form that included a simple question: What is one of your fantasy scenes? In response, the young man wrote simply, “me getting nailed and seeded by a gang of hot guys.”

“The Black Party was coming,” Sohl explained in a recent interview, referring to the annual New York City weekend of leather men, parties and sexual adventures, “and I thought, ‘Okay. Let’s see how many men he can take.’”

And that is how Dawson’s 20 Load Weekend was born.

Prior to the onset of AIDS, condom usage in gay pornography was nonexistent – but that was before bodily fluids became synonymous with death and disease. For well over a decade after the crisis began, gay porn videos featured not only tightly wrapped penises, but their storylines – indeed, the actors themselves – suffered from a sort of dramatic malaise, as if sleepwalking through their sexual routine while trying to pay no attention to the man with KS lesions behind the curtain. The videos mirrored our own lack of interest in gallivanting about with the pizza man or diving into an orgy with strangers, with or without condoms. Many viewers simply returned to their stash of pre-AIDS pornography, which was condom-less but “justified.”

As AIDS deaths subsided with the advent of new medications in 1996, gay male culture responded with a vengeance. Circuit parties were born of celebration (before succumbing to their own excesses), safer sex behaviors relaxed, and there was a palpable longing to escape the horrors of the previous years. Reclaiming a bold sexuality – something many gay men believed had been lost forever – was a tonic for the post-traumatic stress they suffered. Younger gay men, who had listened to stories of an earlier, sexually liberated time as if it were a lost era of paleontology, were more than willing to explore whatever modern version might await them.

Unprotected sex since the arrival of HIV is nothing new – it is, after all, the primary reason for new infections that have continued fairly steadily since AIDS began – but in the late 1990’s the gay community proved again how comically adept it is at applying a little branding to any phenomenon, and “barebacking” entered the public lexicon. The irony may be that a new word was developed for the oldest sexual activity imaginable: having sex without a barrier. It wasn’t the sex that had changed, but the meaning and judgment associated with it towards, most specifically, gay men. Or, as AIDS advocate Jim Pickett said at a recent conference for people living with HIV, “When a friend announces they are expecting a child, I feel like screaming ‘You barebacked!‘”

But while intelligent minds and passionate advocates argued about the reasons and the proper response to barebacking, no one had dared document it on videotape for the erotic pleasure of others. Yet.

In 1998, two renegade companies formed to make bareback videos exclusively: Hot Desert Knights and Treasure Island Media (links definitely NSFW). None of the leading gay pornographers would consider producing them (although they were eager to market their highly-profitable backlists of videos produced “pre-AIDS” that featured bareback sex). The cheaply made videos by the upstart porn producers brought the sexual choices of an increasing number of men out of the closet and onto DVD players and computer screens.

The videos were uniform in their low production values, the older ages of the actors, and the fact that several of them appeared to have the physical manifestations of HIV. It was as if a group of men who had literally lived through AIDS said, “oh, what the hell,” and demonstrated the kind of sex they had been having amongst themselves for some time. Their exploits were perceived as an underground fetish that would never break the surface of more mainstream gay pornography.

But then Max Sohl met that ferociously attractive man from the Folsom Street Fair who was so eager to “get seeded” by a string of strangers, and with the sexual zeitgeist now primed for their arrival, they made a film that would forever change the porn industry and quite arguably influence the sexual behavior of countless gay men.

Re-christened “Dawson,” the budding porn star was served up in a hotel room over the course of New York City’s 2004 Black Party weekend to an ongoing parade of bareback tops. Their sex was filmed in a documentary fashion, without music, scripted dialogue, or any effort to hide the many cables and cameras crowding the room. Dawson’s fantasy had been fulfilled, and Sohl had the footage to prove it.

In June of 2004, Dawson’s 20 Load Weekend was released and was precisely as advertised.

It might first strike the viewer that the video was created in an unsettling world in which HIV is utterly absent; that is, until a revamped sexual choreography is pointedly repeated again and again. While orgasms in gay porn before AIDS typically showed the top withdrawing from his partner and spilling his semen across his partner’s backside, the tops servicing Dawson had a different and very deliberate mission: to withdraw only long enough to prove their orgasm, and then re-enter Dawson immediately to show the injection of semen.

This was not a film that was made in the absence of HIV, but was created because of HIV. You can practically hear a disembodied voice whispering, “Watch closely. This is how gay men have sex now. That is where semen belongs. Fuck AIDS.”

Depending on your point of view, it is either a transgressive act of eroticism or an incredibly irresponsible act that demonstrates how to become infected with HIV. Or perhaps both.

In the center of all of this was Dawson himself, and never has bareback porn had such a virile and athletic leading man, much less one that bottomed with such disarming delight. “He was a higher quality male model that hadn’t been seen in that kind of extreme scene,” said Sohl. “The movie changed things because of Dawson. He was adorable, and actually smiles and laughs. He is joyful in that movie.”

“Bareback porn companies have blood on their hands,” became a common refrain among gay men and health advocates. Gay sex advice columnist Dan Savage equated the videos to child porn, believing they take advantage of the naïve and the vulnerable. Some accused TIM of making snuff films.

The video was wildly successful, ubiquitous wherever porn was shown. Even Sohl was surprised. “Our staff and even my friends would say ‘I go into a porn booth, a sex party, a hookup, and its playing,’” he said. “It was everywhere.”

Adult bookstores which had previously shunned TIM videos responded to customer demand and began stocking them, even creating bareback sections on their shelves. Gay porn sites that once refused to feature bareback clips began including them. Dawson and the film became the definitive symbol of a bare, wanton sexuality that eschewed condoms and refused to be denied or intimidated by the virus.

Soon, more companies produced bareback porn, and they were able to attract “collegiate jock” types who were younger, more muscular and the very picture of health and vitality. The faces and bodies in bareback videos had been transformed, erasing all evidence of HIV, much like the invisibility of HIV/AIDS in our broader culture.

When considering the legacy of his film, Sohl is more pragmatic than proud. “The concept of taking twenty loads in 2004 was beyond taboo, but to say it in 2012… it doesn’t seem as extreme today,” he said. “I’m sure someone else would have done it. It just so happened to be us.”

Neither does Sohl admit to any trepidation about the safety of his actors, then or now. “I’ve been doing this since 2004, with thousands of men, and have had only one guy claim to get an STD (on my set),” he explained. “Probably 50 percent of my casting job is being an HIV counselor,” he adds, without a hint of irony. “I spend a lot of time talking about HIV. My feeling is that people need to be responsible for their own actions and make informed decisions.”

One of the people making decisions while living with HIV is none other than the actor known as Dawson, who disclosed his HIV positive status to The Windy City Times in 2005. While his HIV status may surprise no one, something else he said in the interview was sadly revealing. “It was after turning positive that I made the decision to look into doing a movie for Treasure Island Media,” he said at the time. “I had seroconverted a few months before…”

After an HIV diagnosis, many people use it as an opportunity to re-examine their lives, make different choices, or otherwise take steps to enjoy their life in whatever ways are important to them. For the man who would be Dawson, his seroconversion was followed by the choice to be an unapologetic cum whore in front of video cameras. This may have been his fantasy, but it certainly fuels the stigmatizing belief that people with HIV are irresponsible vectors of disease, spreading infection and abandoning whatever sexual values they may have previously held.

Perhaps, then, the film was a treatise on the kind of sexual liberation available to HIV positive gay men today, demonstrating the “new normal” for those who take their meds, eliminate the viral activity in their blood, and “fuck freely and without fear,” as TIM founder Paul Morris once put it. Or did it simply portray poz men as sluts, a charge leveled by disgusted (and possibly jealous) HIV negative men?

“What a person is seeing has more to do with them than with us,” said Sohl. “The best mode of action is not to confirm or deny anything. I will see a scene online that I directed,” he says, referring to the many porn sites that pirate pieces of his work and give them new titles, “and it will be renamed ‘negative bottom takes poz loads,’ as if it were a conversion scene. We never said that. Or people think the bottom is using crystal meth. That says more about the guy watching it than what actually happened.”

That relationship, between porn and viewer, is something of particular concern to some HIV prevention advocates who believe bareback porn encourages unsafe sex in real life. This resulted in AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s recent campaign to mandate condom use on pornography sets, a move that was popular on a simplistic level but did nothing to address the myriad of factors associated with actual HIV risk and relative safety, such as an undetectable viral load, serosorting, or the precise sexual behaviors involved.

While social cognitive theory states that we make behavioral decisions based on watching others, very little research has been conducted on the causal relationship between bareback porn and real behavior. In what little has been studied, researchers can’t decide if barebackers watch a lot of bareback porn, or bareback porn makes people barebackers.

It is a riddle that Max Sohl is surprisingly happy to solve. “Absolutely” he said. “Of course it is going to influence what people do.” When asked, then, what is the responsibility of porn, Sohl would have none of it. “The responsibility of porn,” he says impishly, “is to make the guy watching it shoot a load.”

Dawson is, now and forever, committed to videotape and featured on dozens of online porn sites, happily receiving the prize he so ardently desires. He and his progeny of newer, younger porn actors have crossed a line and they’re never coming back. Their video escapades are available online everywhere and for everyone, including young gay men who are just coming out and surfing the internet for validation of their sexuality.

What those young men will almost certainly see online are depictions of unprotected sex, because bareback videos now outperform scenes of condom usage on every site that carries them – and most of them now do. It is unquestionable that bareback sex will be viewed as typical to the uninitiated, and anyone crafting safer sex messages to those young men is going to have a difficult time trumping those images. The “use a condom every time” message is officially dead, drowned in buckets of bodily fluids by Dawson and his barebacking brethren.

Dawson’s 20 Load Weekend redefined bareback porn and the men who appear in them. It influenced subsequent videos and expanded the availability of bareback films. It depicted a prevailing truth about gay sexual behavior “post AIDS,” and arguably encouraged risky sexual adventure-seeking. It led to the saturation of bareback porn online, making unprotected sex normative to whomever might be watching. To dismiss this film, to minimize its social and cultural impact, would be to demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of gay sexuality today.

“Barebacking is a right,” gay anthropologist Eric Rofes once wrote. “After all, practically every straight guy in the world gets to do it without being told they are irresponsible, foolish, or suicidal… Barebacking is liberation. Barebacking is defiance.”

How foolish, prescient, liberating, enlightening or destructive barebacking may ultimately become is something that may only be revealed in the next chapter of our gay community’s troubled history.

(Photo of Dawson and Jesse O’Toole courtesy of Max Sohl and edited for content. Other images courtesy of Treasure Island Media [NSFW].)

————————————————-

TWO MORE POSTS ON BAREBACKING and/or GAY SEX:

“Your Mother Liked it Bareback” loses all patience with the finger pointing and judgments being hurled around between gay men when it comes to choices about unprotected sex. In short, it asks us to broaden what it means to have “safer sex,” and to acknowledge there are now many prevention techniques that do not involve condoms. Check it out.

Why I Stopped Going to the Baths” is a riot, explaining my decision to stop, well, going to the baths. Any posting that begins with “The last time I went to the baths I stepped in poop,” can’t be all bad, right?

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35 Responses to “Is “Dawson’s 20 Load Weekend” the Most Important Gay Porn Film Ever Made?”

  1. victor Says:

    July 9th, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    in many years of my life even before i became positive i have so much feeling to do something like porn from Africa to celebrate our community. i read through this guy article i so much feel proud of him and such ego. this all make a statement from me that the issue of HIV and exposure lies in us, it a fact that positive people became more active when they discover their status but only few in Africa do something great to encourage others. i am so much interested in Dawson’s porn it really good super hero.

  2. Richard Says:

    July 9th, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Wow. What a thought-provoking essay. A “must-read” for the open (and not so open) minded.

  3. James Says:

    July 9th, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Great article. Thanks for this eye opening approach to distinct new ways of looking at gay life, living, and loving in our ever changing age of HIV. The possibilities are wide open.
    Gratefully;
    jt

  4. sean mcshee Says:

    July 9th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Great essay. Not all porn is viewed privately. Most research on effects of media shows it to have a rather quick effect, that then dissipates. This suggests that the porn videos shown in bathhouses, sex clubs and bars may have more of an effect than individual viewing. Context may determine the effect

    Thanks again for this article – how i miss the folsom street fair

  5. Jim Pickett Says:

    July 10th, 2012 at 8:50 am

    “Safer sex” is now not only defined by the use of condoms. It now includes PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), involving HIV negative men taking an antiretroviral drug to prevent HIV. Safer sex is POZ guys who are on treatment, have undetectable viral loads, and no other STDs – making them highly unlikely to pass on HIV. And in the future, we will have gels and lubes called rectal microbicides that will help prevent HIV as well. Of course, there is, and always will be, the fact that when two men who are HIV negative (truly HIV negative) have sex without condoms, or natural sex – HIV isn’t going to show up. Same thing with two POZ guys – lot’s of debate about superinfection and how much it occurs (or matters) – but fact is, once you are POZ, you can’t become POZ over and over. You’ve done it. All this said, we have a LOT to do in this redefining of “safer sex” – many of us are trapped in “condoms only” – even when we, ourselves, are not doing that (nor are a lot of people.) We really do need to give ppl options and not preference one over the other. If you like condoms and can use them – fantastic. If you don’t like them, can’t use them – there are other very effective ways at avoiding HIV…. And more are coming.

  6. Lobo Al Says:

    July 10th, 2012 at 8:52 am

    This was probably one of the best written articles I have read in a long time. I actually got to meet, and have sex with, Dawson in the video Loaded. He is definitely a “real” man who loves bareback sex; heck, sex of any kind. He is very passionate and a great kisser to boot! I loved working with he and Max and the TIM crew and would do it again.

    I have done both safe and bareback sex videos, with all types of guys, and too many guys out there are too uptight (sometimes so uptight that they cannot perform). My preference is bareback and I don’t want to hear all the preaching about it. I’m POZ, but healthy, and want to enjoy life while I can. After all. I only have another 100 years or so to go. :-)

    Again, great article! Keep up the great writing work.

    Hugs & Grunts,

    Lobo Al

  7. Women Sex Health » Bryan Fischer Still Eager To Criminalize Gay Sex Because It’s ‘A Menace To … Says:

    July 10th, 2012 at 9:55 am

    [...] Mark S. King noted today, the tenure “barebacking” initial seemed as a rebranding for vulnerable sex in a [...]

  8. Bill K Says:

    July 10th, 2012 at 10:26 am

    A very thought-provoking piece. I wrote about the subject of barebacking in Echo Magazine back in 2002, and my feelings have remained similar … of course it’s a person’s choice to do what they’ll do. But as you say, our behavior, when made public, has impacts beyond us.

    I recall seeing bareback behavior at the baths way back then, and feeling pulled to do the same thing. It normalized the experience for me. I figured, “Look at these normal looking guys who are doing this. Maybe I could, too.” Never mind that I’d been sexually active for 15 years and was educated on safe sex. It hit me in a place that wasn’t governed by my brain.

    God did I want to try that. It looked so freeing. It looked like so much fun.

    I’m really glad I didn’t do that, as much as I wanted to. Because once I was able to think about it, I realized what I wasn’t seeing: the bills arriving for expensive medicines that my mediocre insurance may or may not have covered; the conversations with family, friends, and future lovers about the virus I had contracted, whether or not the virus was detectable; and my own feelings about having contracted a disease that, by 2002, was entirely avoidable.

    Please know that I don’t chastise anyone for anything. I love my poz brothers (and sisters). We are all responsible for our own choices. This is entirely about me and my feelings. I am glad that I didn’t contract HIV, because I surely would have given the things I was wanting to do. And I surely wanted to do them because I was seeing them on video and in person, with alarming frequency.

  9. Gus Cairns Says:

    July 10th, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Only 20? Boy wasn’t even trying…

  10. Craig Washington Says:

    July 10th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Very thoughtful article. Thank you Mark for going there. This is an evolving complex issue. Thirty years into the epidemic and 40 years into the modern gay rights movement – our health concerns/measures and our sexual freedom are still not easily reconciled, like partially compatible partners fumbling through a passionate yet discordant relationship. Our right to sexual expression is of profound importance to us as queer men and will continue to be a core element of our sense of essential liberation. Given that it offers pleasure, intimacy, symbolic and literal bonding, condomless fucking is a focal point of sexual agency for many (yet I must emphasize not all) gay men. I appreciate Jim Pickett’s reminder and implied insistence if you will on a myriad of options that can facilitate safer condomless/raw sex. Men are not simply being irresponsible when we choose to get a load (or 4) of cum in our asses. Multiple needs and desires are being met including one’s need to exercise their human right to mutually consensual sexual expression. We are challenged to determine as prevention workers, activists, researchers, physicians, counselors, online and live discussion group participants, above all, simply as gay men achieve more reconciliation between agendas that should be/could be compatible. It is not enough to provide the tools (bio/behavioral/structural), we must also reinforce key values so that we can address these matter with each other in dialogue that is honest rigorous and civil, uphold our social responsibility (I am my brother’s keeper including those brothers I fuck), and retain our individual self-determination.

  11. Anti_Intellect Says:

    July 10th, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I’ve actually begun to consider that the appeal of raw/bareback porn for a lot of gay men is the freedom in it. I don’t think people take into consideration how stifling it can be to be a gay man. Messages come from seemingly every direction telling us to conform, to change, to hide, to be invisible, to do this or that. And with the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic our sex lives have become public conversation, and we have been smothered under the “outreach” of supposedly liberal advocates telling us how shameful and risky and unhealthy our sex lives are. For some gay men, surely not all, the specter of raw/bareback sex offers a chance to be free, to be uninhibited, to throw their cares to the wind so-to-speak. It kind of reminds me of the Toni Morrison quotes, “Either I am to live in this world on my own terms, or I will die out of it.”

  12. Buck Says:

    July 10th, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    One of the most balanced written pieces on this topic! Thanks! I will admit to being a big fan of this studio’s film.

  13. sheper00 Says:

    July 10th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I’m amazed noone has really come out against this so … here goes…

    incredible laissez-faire attitude from Americans who make the assumption that retrovirals will be available for all time and will be effective for all time, who the hell knows what the future holds re. your economy and your ability to be prescribed drugs? Your trillion dollar chinese-financed debt ticks on, but that’s a digression to be sure

    meanwhile the chances of breeding a super resistant strain hovers silently in the background … and the idea that PEP is a zero-problem response is absolutely crazy- it’s highly toxic and knocks you for six, it is not as non-impactful as taking an anti-histamine…

    i don’t agree that it’s a rebellious fuck-you to the establishment/ hetero-normative community- what? because i am hated by bigots i should go kill myself? err no, sorry, i intend to stick around you straights and be a royal pain in your ass… neither is it a liberating reclamation of one’s rights to freedom

    because i love and respect myself i take care of myself, i don’t step out in front of a speeding car for the same reason

    self destructive behaviour is not a celebration of choice and freedom, it’s an apology for confused decisions and deeply ingrained feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing

    Gnight

  14. Lark Says:

    July 10th, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    “Depending on your point of view, it is either a transgressive act of eroticism or an incredibly irresponsible act that demonstrates how to become infected with HIV. Or perhaps both.”

    This.

    I’ve stuck my neck out before, but I’ll be a bit more timid this time and leave it to someone else to write an article on why condomless anal sex is considered hotter by some *because* of the existence of HIV. And just to be clear, these “some” that find barebacking hot aren’t out to contract HIV, either, no more than a skydiver is looking to go SPLAT.

    One of the many challenges our population faces around the issue of condomless anal sex (and other completely unrelated issues) is not the diversity of dissenting opinions, but our difficulty in paradoxically acknowledging those truths simultaneously:

    Condomess anal sex amongst MSM is an eroticized transgressive act of defiant celebration (in a world with HIV) that can lead to its participants’ unwilling seroconversion.

  15. Claude Wynne Says:

    July 11th, 2012 at 2:21 am

    @sheper00 – Thank you for being a voice of sanity. I thought I was the only one. I am truly disgusted by some of the comments here. Even more so as I watch the PBS Frontline show on AIDS in the black community in the background.

    What is wrong with our community? Just as I sometimes feel as a black man that who needs the KKK anymore when we are doing their dirty work for them with all the gang violence, who needs Fred Phelps and company when we as gay men are doing their dirty work for them. As much as our enemies may wish we all get AIDS, only we can make their dreams come true.

    We tell gay teens that It gets better, but I don’t consider a future of being reliant on expensive medications with dangerous side effects getting better. An now we want to put HIV negative men on some of those same medications just so they don’t have to put on a damn condom. And who is supposed to pay for all these expensive drugs?

    I just want to know when the responsible members of the gay community are going to stand up against this self-destructive madness. We don’t need “balance” on this subject anymore than we need “balance” on whether we are entitled to equality. We need leaders who are willing to stand up for what is right, no matter how unpopular it may be at the moment. Treasure Island Media is no better than tobacco companies or fast food companies. Nobody has any problem being “judgmental” about them. If straight people had created a porn company to glamorize and fetishize unsafe gay sex we would all be outraged. Why is it any better when it’s done by gay men?

  16. Richard Says:

    July 11th, 2012 at 3:41 am

    As pointed out by some of the earlier comments, it is a very thought provoking and well written article, however…

    It comes down to the fact that if you choose bareback with a sexual partner you put your self at risk of contracting HIV or other STDs. Thank you @sheper00 and @Claude Wynne for proving there are some sane gay men out there.

    Sex education is bad enough in schools by completely excluding homosexual life meaning that, “young gay men who are just coming out [surf] the internet for validation of their sexuality.” For this reason alone, the gay porn industry should take a stance to try and educate as well as entertain. Personally, I don’t even notice the moment when a condom is applied in a porn film, it is synonymous with real life, and should be for more.

    The idea of continuing to bareback after being diagnosed is a horrifying thought, which, on reading, should encourage more to practice safe sex. ‘Serosorting’ is only as accurate as people are honest and a fantasy of keeping medicated and it will all be fine lead to the development of the MRSA infections in so many hospitals. We truly would be in a sorry state of affairs as a gay community if a new resistant strain of HIV starts to be passed around.

  17. Subversive Librarian Says:

    July 11th, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Thank you, Mark, for this wonderful article. In following your work over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about nuance. I could have sworn this was a very simple, black-white issue: Use a condom, you dumbass, period. What’s to think about?

    Well, now I know. It reminds me of the issue of sex education, and the propriety of teaching abstinence only. Yes, “abstinence only” makes for an orderly, comforting little sound bite, but it doesn’t do much to prevent STDs or pregnancy. Likewise, “always use a condom” seems like a no-brainer. It doesn’t happen to reflect reality, though, so there had better be more to it than that. It’s all terribly untidy, and there are lives at stake. I’m glad there are smart people like you starting the dialogue.

  18. NE Rich Says:

    July 11th, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    This is a tough one. I find Dawson’s videos very hot as far as porn goes, but to me it’s a fantasy, like Sex in the City for is for woman. I guess it’s naïve for me not to feel everyone would feel that way and actually go try this in “real life” … is finding them (the videos) hot condoning the reckless behavior? . Lots for me and us all to consider, very good piece.

  19. Robert Alvarez Says:

    July 12th, 2012 at 11:04 am

    I cannot thank you enough for this well-written, incredibly insightful article. I AM behind schedule and I do not care! I think it is safe to say that my fellow Gay Men may always have opposing viewpoints and various perspectives on barebacking, Gay porn, etc. Personally, I AM a big fan of Treasure Island Media’s DVDs, and have a few starring Dawson. I only found out he is HIV+ about a year ago, but his attitude is amazing. There is no question he is happy with his life, and certainly his sex life, and I have no doubt that Dawson, Max Sohl, Paul Morris have had a profound effect on both Gay porn and Gay sex.

  20. Gay Daily Hot: Jasun Mark & John Tegan Gay Porn Blog | Interwebz Pornocopia Says:

    July 13th, 2012 at 11:09 am

    [...] the cum-dump-o-rama porn film for 2005, “Dawson’s 20-Load Weekend” is the “Most Important Gay Porn Film Ever Made.” Maybe it’s my lack of sleep and only one coffee talking, but I figured that the job [...]

  21. Hugh Jorgan Says:

    July 13th, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I’m a married bisexual that has been having BB sex for years. Take the time to develop a close enough relationship with your partner that you both get tested and be true to one another about who you are fucking. Long live the wonderful world of Barebacking!!!

  22. fritz135 Says:

    July 14th, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Is Dawson still alive or deceased?

    (To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Reports of his death are greatly exaggerated.” — Mark)

  23. MikeLT Says:

    July 19th, 2012 at 7:44 am

    The idea of negative men taking pills to (help, maybe, possibly) stay negative is mind boggling to me. You’re being pawns of the pharmaceutical companies who want to MAKE MORE MONEY by selling more pills.

    My goodness, put on a condom and stay negative. I’m 48 years old and have managed to stay negative. I have no desire to take a pill that will do who-knows-what to my organs.

    I have numerous friends who are positive (and I love them dearly). Each one of them has told me that he wishes he were negative.

  24. Patrick J. Hamilton Says:

    July 25th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I waited to respond to this piece, since I, like other commenters, straddle the ages of losing friends in a painful, ugly way to a mysterious disease, and now, a time when it is not only nearly invisible and silent, but the medications have in some way helped define the Ideal Gay Male Body.

    And maybe I’m projecting, but I also can’t help thinking there is some sadness behind some of this wild abandon and te beautiful bodies and smiles.

    I fully understand the need to “take back” a life from something that limits, encumbers or damages it, but I am torn about the messages, and the potential backlash, that the idealization of barebacking and the beautiful men who seem to so openly condone it can create.

    My main reaction is “Who is paying for these men’s care?” (as some go from Negative to Positive) Correct me if I’m wrong, but HIV care is still outrageously costly, no? I feel for the men and women struggling to get care when these men treat the disease sort of as sport.

    I was also under the impression (again, correct me if I’m wrong) that continued exposure to various strains/degrees of a HIV can further jeopardize health and complicate its care and treatment, no? (And please, fellow readers, *correct* me, don’t chastize me if I’m not using the right terminology or if my information is outdated…).

    Hot as it seems, as fun as it is to watch, I don’t like bareback porn. It seems like a slap in the face of those brilliant and lovely men we’ve lost. But that’s the older me talking. The younger me, recently single, is afraid that this video, and relaxing community perception, will lure me in to irresponsible behavior, and make me someone’s (a community, a partner’s) burden.

    All these questions just mean this is a great piece.

  25. Michael Scarce Says:

    July 28th, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    For the sake of historical record, before HDK and Treasure Island Media, there were actually a series of 3 mass-produced (at the time VHS) bareback porn movies, all created and directed by the same guy. He agreed to do an audio-recorded interview with me anonymously. His perspective was fascinating, including his personal history. He had a formal professional background in directing, and was a former Emmy winner for his television work.

    The success in sales of those movies motivated some men to establish a studio solely dedicated to barebacking — Hot Desert Knights, who first began by selling wider distribution of one of the original 3 movies that were not their own.

    Paul Morris’s Treasure Island Media did not start off as a barebacking studio. For years, Paul created amateur-like movies that involved a range of unusual sexual kink with a particular style (he composed the background music) that slowly morphed into a more traditional, commercial product. Eventually, he filmed a condom-less movie that sky-rocketed, and the business was steered in that direction.

    I wrote a cover story for POZ magazine on barebacking back in 1998, and had no idea how it would explode in both gay and mainstream media, academic research, organizations releasing official statements, etc. It sent people into manic frenzies. I conducted dozens of interviews with men who self-identified as “barebackers.” Unlike now, at the time the men described their actions and intentions as a kind of social movement and political identity in resistance to public health’s “Use a condom every time” a la Nancy Reagan. They created their own flag, similar to the leather community, and even chose their own “hanky code” for those who remember that.

    I organized and participated in a podcast recording in 1999 for UCSF’s HIV INsite website. Along with Paul Morris, AIDS writer Cindy Patton, and one of the original founders of Titan Media (he died a few years later, and the studio has since taken a very public and extreme stand against bareback porn). We had an amazing discussion at the time about what the emergence and popularity of all this meant. That session was followed by 2 additional roundtable recordings. They were phenomenal, but unfortunately, someone at UCSF deemed them problematic and removed them from the site a few years ago. I still have the originals and should upload them to my own site.

    I gathered a huge amount of research back in the late 90s, with the intention to eventually write a book, tracing the current phenomenon of barebacking back to a “sexual extremist” in Texas who operated a controversial website dedicated to “seeding,” insemination, “bug-chasers,” and “gift-givers.” The logo for his site was a huge biohazard symbol that is still used as bareback iconography today.

  26. iain Says:

    August 8th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    “Barebacking is a right,” gay anthropologist Eric Rofes once wrote. “After all, practically every straight guy in the world gets to do it without being told they are irresponsible, foolish, or suicidal… Barebacking is liberation. Barebacking is defiance.”

    Once again please?
    “Barebacking is liberation. Barebacking is defiance.”

    This is self-justifying, self-rationalising nonsense (leaving aside the question of what is meant by “gay anthropologist”). HIV/AIDS is not going anywhere. It is still killing people at worst, debilitating them at best. And if all the gay population can do when offered the *possibility* of effective, minimal-side-effect-prone, curative vaccines and treatments, is quiver with neurotic excitement that they can have access to concern-free involuntary genital muscle spasms with a bunch of sweaty guys, then I am ashamed, embarassed, and horrified at the likely future awaiting us. The sex obsession is simple to understand – it is a true addiction, characterised by the same symptoms as alcoholism and drug dependency – resistance & denial, obsessive need to protect the supply, adolescent expectations of reality, and a sort of emotional infantile paralysis. Not “liberation and defiance” in any mature, thoughtful sense whatsoever. Grow up, boys, for fuck’s sake (literally).

  27. christian Says:

    August 18th, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    This film was amazing! very hot! & i myself enjoy only having bareback sex i only used a condom once then went bareback & still only having bareback sex

  28. Rae Says:

    August 23rd, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    All I can say is that if HIV NEVER arrived on the earth gay people all over the world would be able to marry or be whores just like the straight world…. we would of had our rights granted 30years ago but when AIDS came along the homophobia fucked up everything Treasure Island Media has its place in the porn world for a reason because even though condoms reduce HIV I watch & jerk off to TIM Fuck videos I watch them in a world full of HIV. Because its called FANTASY!!!!!!!!

  29. StevenX Says:

    September 1st, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    I couldn’t make it past the headine – homo please. Lots of films have been hotter without being so class-free. TIM stands for Trailer-trash In Motion.

  30. TDN Says:

    December 10th, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I can’t believe nobody is talking about what HIV actually is and the manufacturing of AIDS. There are plenty of documentaries, information, etc out their persuasively showing how the HIV theory is a hoax and compromised immune systems are the result of diet, drug use (poppers) among other things. Of course, what happens in these TIM videos are to be condemned and not praised. This kind of ‘sex’ isn’t sex at all. Everything in this world is so backwards.
    (Yes, I really do get emails like these. — Mark)

  31. Vanya Vanya Says:

    December 23rd, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Yes, I do enjoy watching porn stars fucking raw. But I want to point out that although Dawson is positive, he is still putting himself at risk for (a) STDs other than HIV, and (b) other strains of HIV that are less controllable by current HIV medications.

    Also, Dawson is not the only person who is putting himself at risk. The men topping him are at risk for becoming infected with HIV and other STDs from Dawson! Yes, tops do get infected by their bottoms. And it is not rare.

    TOP MEN: WEAR YOUR RAINCOATS!

    BOTTOM MEN: JUST SAY NO TO RAW SEX.

  32. al Says:

    December 27th, 2012 at 8:52 am

    iaian is right on. it is an addiction.

    BB sex was not as much as weakness (succumbing to pleasure) against rational behaviour (condoms/conservatism). gays have never been that conservative so naturally, we’re going to go bareback.

    rationalizing or writing eloquently to self-justify risky behaviour may help get some external validation. some people have the sense and will power to distance BB porn and BB sex. other guys won’t be able to.

    the good thing about Dawson is he’s really hot. and he’s doing it so i don’t really have to. pleasure by vicarious experience. but i do have bb sex when i do and understand the risks…. having done some research with DPH SF.

    there are no judgements either way. it is just the way things are now .And, dawson is pretty damn hot.

  33. Paul Says:

    May 7th, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    I fucked Dawson but neither HE or his boyfriend ever disclosed his status.
    They are scum! Ya and because gay men are so freakin Liberal and Fucked up it probably won’t get posted. OH and YES I’m GAY ! There is NOTHING important about possibly spreading disease!!!!! Gay society is sooooooooo FUCKED UP ! Whoever wrote that title should be hung !

    (Breath, pumpkin. I combined your three posted comments into the fabulous, unedited rant above. You see, I will allow people to post absolutely anything. Evidently. And by the way, it was ME who wrote that title, and who says I’m not hung…? — Mark)

  34. X Says:

    July 9th, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    This is an old article so maybe no one will read this, but…I did bare and I got…herpes. It’ll be freeing when you can do bareback sex and not get anything chronic or detrimental to your health. But in 2013 there are still consequences to not using protection. One reason I wanted to write this was so that gay guys would know herpes is a problem in their community.

    (This “old article” actually still gets plenty of traffic due to the, ahem, juicy subject matter. Thanks for the comment and advice, sir. — Mark)

  35. Way Says:

    August 7th, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Hey X,

    I read your comment and I appreciate that info. You’re right Herpes is severely underrepresented in our community

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