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July 9, 2017

MY INTERVIEW WITH FORMER PORN STAR ADDISON GRAHAM


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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

Luv,
Me

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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.

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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.

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About Paulo Murillo,

Paulo has been writing for the gay media for over 16 years. He made his debut as a columnist for FAB! Newspaper. He has written for LA Health News, IN Los Angeles, Frontiers and The Fight Magazine. He has been featured in The Bay Area Reporter, XY Magazine, Bay Windows, Windy Times, and Press Pass Q, He has been quoted in the pages of Edge Magazine, Gay & Lesbian Times, Seattle Gay News, Fuges, and in a shitload of online news outlets and blogs, thanks in large part to Rex Wocker’s Quote on Quote – Wockner Wire.

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