‘Sense8’ Gay Porn Parody In Hot Water For Gutting Multicultural, Multi-Sexual Variety

In a spot-on critique of a new gay porn parody, Sense8: A Gay XXX Parody from Men.com, writer Charles Pulliam-Moore of Fusion succinctly deconstructs an effort by a major porn studio to tackle one of television’s most sexually diverse science-fiction shows ever: Sense8.

The show, created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, they of the Matrix franchise, have lent their talents to a show about eight people of varying sexualities, races and ethnic origins who are linked emotionally and mentally across the globe and who benefit from each other’s skills when the situations warrant. The fact that both of the show’s creators are self-described transsexual women gives the show an added element of creativity long missing from the genre.

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Despite some disappointing reviews from critics, fans have helped to elevate the show into a category normally reserved for the likes of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, Space 1999 and, although somewhat unrelated categorically, David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. This has been helped in no small part by the show’s now-famous, nearly four-minute long orgy that explores many of today’s sexual permutations.

So what’s wrong with a gay porn studio taking its cues from popular culture to make what the studio heads thought would be a sexy, playful ‘parody’ of a cultural signpost? According to Pulliam-Moore, a lot.

“Where the cast of Sense8 featured multiple men and women of color and an interracial relationship between a transgender lesbian and a cisgendered woman, Men.com’s cast predominantly consists of cisgendered men who visually read as white. Their sex scenes, then, don’t really speak to the same sort of (literal) boundary-transcending ethos that Sense8‘s do. They’re just run-of-the-mill orgies with a bit of easy FX thrown in for good measure.”

But does the writer go far enough in his legitimate criticism? As someone who covered the gay porn industry’s subtle and not-so-subtle racism in front of and behind the camera for seven years, I can say unequivocally, he does not. Pulliam-Moore does admit – although I don’t really believe he believes it – that, “To be fair, Men.com is in the business of producing and selling the kind of pornography that its customers are interested in and willing to pay for. By and large, that means conventionally attractive white men who fit into a very particular mold. But that isn’t to say that a Sense8 gay porn parody that managed to be true to the original show would be impossible to create.”

Not only would it not be impossible, it would be worth pursuing. As gay men, many of us look to gay porn to teach us about sex. It might be less true today than it was even a decade ago. But the reality is that many LGBTQ youth – white, black, Latino, Asian, cis, trans, etc. – take their cues from an industry that serves a useful purpose. But when they only see glabrous white males, it sends a powerful message that continues to be reinforced in a society that very often it doesn’t “get better” because class, gender and race have unpredictable consequences for those that don’t fit into the Men.com mold.

The old economic saw that demand creates supply is equally true in the inverse: Supply creates demand. Maybe if Men.com, and all of mainstream gay porn, would accept that, we might see the diversity Pulliam-Moore and I have been wanting to see for a very long time now. Until then, we’ll have to be content with television.

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