In my line of work, I sometimes come in contact with those who contribute their sex talents to the world of adult entertainment (there’s actually been a lot of porn people in my life as of late). I recently interviewed pretty-faced former porn actor Addison Graham for THE FIGHT mag for the month of November.
One never knows what to expect when dealing with people in skin flicks. I don’t want to say that I was surprised to hear a deep, masculine, and even keeled voice on the other end of the phone when I conducted my interview, because truth is, I didn’t know the first thing about this guy–yet like the rest of us I had my ideas simply because I’m quite familiar with this guy’s private parts.
Addison Graham is hardly the first porn actor to move to the relatively quiet desert town of Palm Springs after saying au revoir to the industry, but unlike most retired adult industry veterans who throw in the bath towel after long extensive careers, Graham was done with porn after only two years of working for some of the hottest production companies in the biz, like Lucas Entertainment and Randy Blue.
So here’s the deal with this guy: He straight up struck me as a super sweet guy. I met him during Palm Springs Pride weekend and there were no airs about him being a porn star. There was an honesty about him that maybe comes with the territory of umm…letting it all hang out in front of a camera so-to-speak.
In our interview, I gave him the opportunity to bust some caps and trash talk those in the porn industry who didn’t always give him his just value, but he passed on retaliating and he was careful not to drop names or point fingers at specific people who could have treated him better.
I also kinda/sorta admire this guy’s fearlessness. He was pretty balls out…so-to-speak, about getting into porn and equally fearless about saying fuck-it, and getting out of it. He didn’t hesitate with any of his answers and he spoke openly about the realities of the porn industry, which are not at all what they seem–no surprise there, and screw what others think.
Anyway, space is limited where print media is concerned. Below is my full Q&A with Addision Graham. Be sure to follow him on twitter: @AddyAddicted
What’s a guy like you doing, living in Palm Springs?
I came here because Los Angeles is very expensive. Palm Springs has a very strong gay community that I find appealing. I left go-go dancing when I left Los Angeles and I hoped to get a job at a bar, which I ended up doing. It’s so much easier here than LA. Traffic is easier and the gym is less crowded. In LA, I got to a point where everything stressed me out.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Colorado. I went to Valencia for college when I had just turned 17. I graduated in 2005 and moved to LA. It’s been 8 years since I lived in los Angeles, so I felt like a local.
What’s it like living in Palm Springs?
It’s definitely an older crowd. 50 is considered young. I’m 30, so I’m definitely young and I kind of enjoy that, considering the people who live in L.A. are 18-21, it’s better being the big fish. I do see some young guys around, but I don’t see them out too much. They may go out to Hunters, if they go out at all. life here is easier and a bit more accepting and more relaxed.
What are you doing to support yourself?
I work at a bar called StreetBar. It’s a great bar. All the employees and the owners and the management—we’re kind of like a family. Everyone gets along. It’s really a local bar. There’s no dance floor, or go-go dancers. It’s really a place to come have a drink and hang out. I don’t got to places like Motherlode or Gold Coast, because my idea of those places is that they’re kind of trashy. Our bar has big windows. It’s not dark or dingy. It’s nicer. Coming from LA, it’s so crazy to me, but they have a vodka special every day. Grey Goose will be $6.00. They have specials on Kettle One. No one does that in LA.
OK, let’s talk about sex. How did you land in the world gay pornography?
I always wanted to do porn. I would watch it and I thought these guys were beautiful and the fact that they were having sex in front of a camera—that turned me on. The only reason why I said no to porn at first was because I worried about how it would hurt me in the future when I was trying to do the acting thing in LA, but when I finally decided to do it all—I found it really validating.
When I started doing porn and all nudes with erections and erotic things, it was really freeing. Photographers would ask me, but I would say no because I really wanted an acting career. I really wanted to do it, because I’m an exhibitionists and I thought it was sexy, and then when I finally decided to forget it and do it all—that was a huge sense of freedom to not have boundaries—there are some things that I won’t do, just because they’re not interesting to me, but when I decided to go for it, I did start seeing myself as sexy—it’s not something I want to put out there–if you want to feel sexy, go do pornography, but it was a nice side effect. It helped me feel good about myself. I got to a point where I wanted to do what I wanted to do and to hell with the what-ifs. You only get one chance.
What’s it like seeing yourself having sex in a movie?
I think it’s sexy seeing myself in a movie with a sexy guy, but for the most part doing the videos are not sexy a lot of times. I’m trying to do the moaning sounds that they want you to make, which are totally unnatural for me and actually make me dizzy, or they’re trying to get me in terrible positions that are hard to maintain, so your legs are falling asleep more than you’re having a sexy time, but occasionally, there are some sexy stuff that happen and I’d watch a video and remember it.
What made you want to leave the biz?
There’s something about porn that I don’t like, where I feel like I’m being manipulated. I’d be on set and someone will tell me, ‘oh we need you to do this, or else we won’t pay you,’ and if the scene doesn’t work out, then you don’t get paid. I was doing a scene and it went on for a really long time and we couldn’t finish by the cutoff time. Me and my scene partner had been having sex for hours, but because we didn’t finish by 5 o’clock, we didn’t get paid. That really opened my eyes. The porn industry is always telling us that business is suffering because of piracy, but I don’t think they’re suffering as much as they say they are. It didn’t feel like there was an even playing field. It always felt like they try to make the performer feel smaller and less important.
What was the money like?
I thought if I did this, that I would be able to support myself into retirement, but as I got into it, the shoots were further and further apart and I was working less frequently, and the paychecks would get smaller, because they sort of argued that I wasn’t new anymore. The idea is that they’ll pay big for the new guy that’s never worked before and then it just goes away.
The money is not nearly what I thought it would be going in. The amount always got smaller. Like in my first scene I was paid around $4,000 for a scene. And by the time it was two years later, I was getting offered $1,000 per scene, which is good because there are guys out there who are doing it for $500. Still, it’s so not worth it.
What was the breaking point for you?
The last shoot I did was great. Nothing bad happened. I did three scenes and on my last one, it was an orgy scene with four people, and I found that really exhausting. It wasn’t sexy or fun and I thought: I don’t want to do this anymore.
I was offered to do a scene in September and I found it very hard to do. There are things about porn that are sexy and fun, but there are things that I really don’t enjoy about it. I just thought about all the things I don’t enjoy and I thought about the money and things just didn’t line up. I could say that I did porn for two years, but I only had a shoot every few months. After two years, I wasn’t into it. It was kind of cool and kind of fun and I kind of love that I did it, but I quickly saw that it wasn’t getting me anywhere. I thought maybe if I stop, it will help open me up to other things.
The company I was working with, and the scenes I was making, were never quite what I wanted to make. I think sexy can be really beautiful and I wanted to make scenes that were a little more sensual–what most people would consider vanilla, but people are more interested with raunchy scenes where there’s cum everywhere and it’s like, take it bitch, and I really had a hard time with aggressive talking. I don’t want anyone calling me a bitch, nor do I want to call someone a bitch. All that stuff is what people are paying for.
It wasn’t worth the trouble. You have to be in great shape. You have to travel, like when I had to New York, it was hell, and then being on set and there’s the douching. And what’s funny is that I got this reputation as being a big bottom. I do like to bottom, but I don’t like to bottom for huge penises for long periods of time. I didn’t like to fake the moaning and it just didn’t seem worth it.
I also didn’t realize in the beginning, that the real money in porn is in escorting, which I never did. I thought about it, but I never actually did it. A lot of the guys that I met who do porn are escorts also. It was really disappointing to me to figure that out, of course.
What’s the upside of making porn
Occasional people will recognize me and that’s fun, I like that. It’s not very often. Telling people I did porn is really easy. They find it very interesting. One thing that’s fun about it, is people’s curiosity around porn. When I decided to do porn, I wanted to be super honest about it. Dating also became so much more interesting, but the one thing I loved about doing it is when I did the AIDS/Lifecycle and I used my name to raise a little over $10,000. I could not have done that without the people I have through Twitter, which I got through porn. That was cool.
Dating became so much more interesting after I did porn. I was kind of like a shy guy, so when I go out, I don’t mingle, I don’t dance. I find a spot and stay there and I don’t really approach people much, so when I’m go-go dancing people notice, which was wonderful for me. Instead of being this…I guess attractive, but dorky guy, I was a sex object now. People assume that I’m arrogant, or loaded with confidence, but that’s because I’m shy. I was a nerd with no confidence.
What do your fans think about you leaving the industry?
I never made a formal announcement, because who knows what can happen. There are a few fans that I keep in email contact with, and they’re really supportive to whatever I decide to do next. When I did porn, I wanted to be super honest about it. I wanted to be a different kind of guy in porn, because I’m sort of on the shy side, but I don’t feel I’m what people think about when they think about a porn actor. I thought it’d be exciting, but I don’t think it worked out that way.
I still make these gay erotica movies that have plenty of nudity just no sex in them. I’m shooting a movie that’s being distributed by TLA video, just like I’ve done before, but right now I’m really focused on becoming a bartender. Being in Palm Springs, there are photographers that I can work with, so it’s not over. The photo shoots are easy. A photographer has a camera. I show up and there we go.
There are people who like my movies, but the ones who talk to me on Twitter are really friendly. It helps me to keep going. It’s very valuing to do something that people appreciate. A lot of times people will give me praise about being beautiful and all that stuff, which is really hard to take a compliment, but I’m really just another guy. I wish I could tell the people who put me on a pedestal that they’re great too. I’ve never found the right words to tell them that, but I always wanted to communicate that I always felt, ugly, unsexy, uninteresting, and on the low end of the totem pole, and the boys that I liked, didn’t like me back ,and all that crap, so just because I’m in photos that have been Photoshoped and whatnot, doesn’t mean that there’s some sort of hierarchy where I’m above and their below. I wish I had the words to lift people up, instead of keeping them down. Maybe one day I’ll find the right words that can convey that message.
What do you think the future holds for you?
I’m trying to figure that out. There is a person in town who is talking about shooting a movie of his own and having me involved. I thought about trying to act in the local theater. I thought about getting into production with video and maybe doing work behind the camera. I haven’t settled on one thing, which kind of opens me up. I’m not done doing things, but I think I’m done doing sex things.
You can follow Addison Graham’s next move on Twitter under @AddyAddicted.
You know how some people say they’re big in Japan? It turns out I’m HUGE in Palm Springs!
My ass was at the desert this past weekend for my very first Palm Springs Pride. I was there manning a booth for THE FIGHT magazine where I’m currently a featured writer/photographer/promoter/social media operator, and go-to point person extraordinaire, so it was more work than actual play where Pride festivities were concerned, but the weekend had its prideful moments.
I could not believe the number of people who approached me to say nice things about my work in reference to the hateful kerazy years, when I wrote a certain column. People remembering me is one thing, but people taking the time to say they like me–they really, REALLY like me–was proof in the pudding that my ass was not in WeHo no mo’.
They say they only say nice things about you when you’re dead. It kinda felt like people were paying their respects to a part of me that is exactly that–dead, dead, DEAD! But I had to destroy certain parts of myself (the hateful cunty parts, for the most part), so I could live, live, LIVE dammit!!!
It’s so weird. I used to get the slit-side-eye wherever I went in West Hollywood–not to mention the few occasions when I had ice flung at me from across the room at a bar. There was also the time a demented fucker physically attacked me on the street–and all because of my poisoned pen, but in Palm Springs, I received nothing but love, love, LOVE!!!
One guy told me he had to say hello and express his adoration for my writing. Then he said he has been following my journey since the early 90s, and I was like, really bitch? The early 90s, bitch? How old does this bitch think I am??? OK, so I wrote that first column in 1999, which is technically the tail-end of the 90s, but the column ran until 2006. I fail to see how that 99 clumps me in with C&C Music Factory–but no matter, I took the compliment and jammed that shit into my sequin coin purse to horde for a rainy day.
One guy was so excited to see me, he said he wanted a photo with me, which made me nervous, because one never knows where such photos end up and under what context—Cut to a photo caption on Instagram that reads: “Look what I found in Palm Springs! #tragicqueendom.”
I had a another guy tell me he and his boyfriend were huge fans and that I had not aged one bit (blush). Then he said I looked exactly the same as I did…in the early 90s (GGGRRR). Never you mind that he was so plastered, he could barely walk. I still ate that shit up. I glanced at him all dreamy-like, and did my damndest not to show him my grill, which is all brackets and sprockets and wires and kinda looks like heap of mangled railroad tracks at the moment.
I didn’t just feel the love in relation to my writing that weekend. The men in Palm Springs are waaaayyyy nicer than the uppity muscle powder puffs one encounters in L.A. (oh, you know who you are), but that goes without saying.
And speaking of what-once-was: Can we talk about Gay Pride in Greater Palm Springs for a moment? I could not get over the fact that Gay Pride took place in the heart of downtown Palm Springs! This desert town gets a bad rap for being God’s waiting room for the old and decrepit, but man…talk about change; talk about progress; talk about new and improved. The city even has an openly gay mayor, which is a far cry from the days of Sonny Bono.
The last time I thought I could get away with being so blatantly gay in Downtown Palm Springs, I almost got my friend and me KILLED!!! It was during White Party Spring Break weekend, umm…in the early 90s (gulp). I decided to walk out to Palm Canyon Drive in a see-through mesh crop top and a skimpy x-skinny bikini, courtesy of International Male, and my bold gayness was so offensive to some of these college hetero fucks, that I thought they were gonna mow down the two homos with their fancy convertibles, right out in the open street–“Faggots!” They screamed. “Fuck you faggots,” the hetero yell echoed from all directions. I’m not kidding you, we barely made it around the block alive.
It took several decades, but there I was on that very same street, completely floored by the pride flags, rainbow colored signage, and the gay inspired balloons in the shape of two grooms, two brides, a leather bear, and they even have a balloon in the likeness of Palm Springs drag queen hostess with the moistest–err, I mean, mostest–Bella Da Ball, who was in her element during pride weekend.
Shirtless guys groped each other right out in public, and I saw some scandalous getups that made my mesh crop top and x-skinny bikini look all modest and demure—seriously, who knew gay would take over Palm Springs one day?
I looked up and down Canyon Road and I took it all in. I saw young gays mixed with the not-so-young, same-sex families pushed strollers, high school kids marched in the parade school band and thousands upon thousands of people showed up to celebrate Pride in Downtown Palm Springs. The whole thing was huge, huge, HUGE!!!
I took it all in.
And I laughed.
It all began with the Material Girl for yours truly, many, many moons ago–back when the video was in heavy rotation on MTV, during a time when the M in MTV stood for actual “music” in a video format.
I hopped on the Madonna train late in the game, but the instant I discovered the beauty-marked blond bombshell dressed like boy toy present in a pink satin dress with a bow on her butt and diamond bracelets up to her elbows–a lifelong obsession began.
Marilyn Monroe? Never heard of her.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? Never seen it.
The Material Girl record is the first 45 single I ever bought and I beat that shit to death back when I was a kid. I remember I’d sprint to the living room whenever the video came on during a video countdown program called Video 101 (I wanted my MTV, but we couldn’t afford it). It gave me pure joy. I absolutely love, LOVE Material Girl.
Last night, I pounced at the opportunity to get a preview of the Material Girl dress and other Madonna gems that are on the auction block this week at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills. Rare Madonna memorabilia include the costume jewelry and mink stole she wore with the Material Girl dress, the actual wedding dress she wore to marry Sean Penn (who she met on the set of the Material Girl video shoot, in case you weren’t in the know), the iconic Desperately Seeking Susan jacket, one of the Egyptian earrings from the same film, and a bunch of other collectible stuff from the movie Evita, items from photo shoots, different awards, props, shoes, jewelry, letters and much more.
I rarely use my press card to get me into events, but in this case, I dropped names and used every credential possible to RSVP for a special preview of the Icons & Idols of Rock N Roll gallery showing. I went nuts with my camera and planted myself in front of that pink satin dress, with no form of shame.
Below is only a small gallery of all the photos I took. Only those who are Madonna freaks like yours truly, can understand and appreciate how elated I was to behold these Madonna items face to fabric. I mean, I got all up in there and rubbed up against it. Truly amazing.
They removed the mink stole for a few minutes, so a woman could try it on for whatever reason. I elbowed people out of the way to get the following shots.
Into the Groove was the second record I ever bought as a kid, even though it was packaged as a B-side to the single Angel. I never thought I’d stand so close the the Desperately Seeking Susan Coat one day. The back of that coat was EVERYTHING to me when I was a kid.
The wedding dress she wore to marry Sean Penn is also one of those very rare gems that blew me away, just because it was RIGHT THERE!!! I could brush up against it. It was INSANE!!!
The collection of dresses from the movie Evita was extensive. The dresses were beautiful, but they didn’t blow me away like I the earlier more iconic items.
And the list goes on and on from the True Blue dress she wore at the Who’s That Girl Tour, to the tank and jeans she worked for the American Pie video, to the frumpy Peaches uniform from A League of their Own, to the coat and cowboy hat she wore in the Music video and the adrenaline rush was too much. I barely got any sleep last night.
It was a great night. My pics did these Madonna gems no kind of just, noway, nohow.