How Gay Porn Gets a Pass

Would female strippers on city-owned property go over as well as Mr. Nude Seattle?

Next Monday, the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center will play host to the Mr. Nude Seattle Contest 2008. Now in its 10th year, this "amateur" competition—sponsored by R Place and Club Z, among others—offers a $500 first prize.Which is great. Nothing I like better than people who are unashamed of their naked bodies. Who's more sex-positive than me? No one!Yet it's odd to think that such an event would be held on city property. The Langston Hughes, where Mr. Nude has been crowned for the past several years, is owned and operated by Seattle Parks and Recreation. The center "doesn't evaluate the content of the performance when giving out permits," says Parks and Recreation spokesperson Malia Langworthy. The main requirement for use of the space is that renters don't cause any damage, don't employ fire or animals in the performance, and so forth."The center is welcoming to all communities for rental as long as they're able to comply with the facility rules," says Langworthy.That word "community" is really key here. Because I have little doubt that were the city pitched on a similarly salacious event, organized not by "the gay community" but by a bunch of straight men who love wet T-shirt contests, there's no way in hell this thing would get a permit. But, of course, those guys aren't really a "community" in the way we like to use that word these days.The Mr. Nude Seattle contest is a good time, I'm sure, and relatively tame, from what I hear—at least by the standards of its audience. But it's not quite the campy clean fun you might have in mind, either. The amateurs are supplemented by "professionals"—that is, gay porn stars, who do stripteases onstage and perform lap dances for the audience. This year's guest lineup includes Brodie Newport (noted for his work in Bottom of the 9th: Little Big League 3), Damon Phoenix (Holier Than Thou), and last year's contest winner, Cole Ryan (seen above, who has gone on to work in Nailed and Arcade on Route 9). Prize money last year was supplied by, one of the leading online sellers of amateur porn, which also owns the URL That site, in turn, carries advertising for, a porn recruiter. You get the idea.I don't happen to be a big lover of porn in general, but what I find odd is the double standard that's clearly in effect here. Can you imagine what kind of outcry would go up among enlightened Seattleites if Joe Francis showed up and wanted to hold a Girls Gone Wild tryout at Langston Hughes? That's to say nothing of our city's long-running attempts to straitjacket (female) strip clubs. It's a nanny campaign that this paper has written about extensively over the years, but it only seems to touch the straights.Of course, the usual explanation for this is the social-historical one: Women in these situations are powerless, exploited, demeaned under the male gaze. Meanwhile the gays' open, public embrace of their sexuality is a political statement. But really, 40 years after Stonewall, is that what Bottom of the 9th is all about?Among sophisticated, media-wise urbanites, the culture seems to have moved to a point where straight male licentiousness is backward, in bad taste, the province of date-rape-y, roofie-dropping, leering frat boys. But homophilia is all the rage. Gay lust comes off as campy and vaguely ironical; it's spirited good fun, and your enjoyment of it marks you as up-to-date. Patronizing hookers is the province of coked-out, Sheen-family troglodytes and scuzzy politicians; but in the gay context—how cute the way they airily enjoy their "rent boys."Here, for example, is a précis from Intiman Theatre about one of its upcoming plays:The Little Dog Laughed follows the adventures of Mitchell Green, a movie star who could hit big if it weren't for one teensy-weensy problem. His agent, Diane, can't seem to keep him in the closet. Trying to help him navigate Hollywood's choppy waters, the devilish Diane is doing all she can to keep Mitchell away from the cute rent boy who's caught his eye and the rent boy's girlfriend (wait, the rent boy has a girlfriend?). Will there be a happy ending as the final credits roll?It's all just so droll and charming.But are there really no victims in the world of rent boys, Big Dick Club, and Mr. Nude Seattle? Is there really no exploitation, no abuse, no unhealthy behavior? Is a life of porn surfing, online hookups, and bathhouses really such a carefree statement of sexual freedom that any of us outside the "gay community" dare not judge it? Or is our enlightened attitude really just patronizing indifference: It doesn't threaten our daughters, so why not savor the frisson of modern tolerance and join the fun?

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