By now you’ve probably guessed that I love gay porn. (I make it a point to nurture my filthiness as much as possible). And most of you have heard of Bears – you know, those big, beefy lumberjack or trucker-type guys, that some gay men and straight women consider the utmost in masculinity. This is a story about bear porn and, specifically, where has the bear porn gone?
As a subculture, bears grew out of the San Francisco leather community in the mid-1980’s. This was especially due to the work of two men, Richard Bulger and Chris Nelson, who started what was to become BEAR Magazine, the first major periodical dedicated to celebrating those men who were hairy, bearded and beefy! Bulger took over as Editor-In-Chief after Issue #2 because the original editor, Bart Thomas succumbed to complications of AIDS in 1987. Nelson was an extraordinary photographer, and according to Bulger, “Chris brought about a whole new gay subculture that allowed bigger, bearded, and hairy gay men to be celebrated. Before that, the emphasis was on the lean, leather jacket and t-shirt wearing ‘Castro clones’ that dominated the San Francisco scene. Now there was room for everyone, even the more forwardly masculine, non-svelte.”
Diversity was officially sexy.
Starting with this new periodical in the mid-1980’s until about five or so years ago, Bear Porn was as ubiquitous as most other types. There were several soft core magazines dedicated to Bears, several porn companies were specializing in making bear porn, and international bear celebrations in places like Cologne Germany, Montréal and, of course, San Francisco were packed to the rafters. However, I’ve noticed – little by little – Bears have morphed into Clones!
Whereas the Castro Clone was a slim, mustachioed, youngish man who sported short hair, 501 jeans and black bomber jacket, the Modern Clone is in his late thirties/early forties, broad shouldered, hairy, gym-toned, tattooed, many of them sport piercings, usually have a shaven head or at least a receding hairline, four days’ facial scruff (if not full beard) and are always in tight fitting clothing, a jock strap or naked! Porn stars like: Hussein, Tom Vacarro, Manual Torres, the late Arpad Miklos, Alex Baresi, Carlo Masi Jesse Jackman and Jake Deckard to name just a few, would fit into the Clone category. Don’t get me wrong, I think all of these men are sexy, and if any of them propositioned me I wouldn’t say no. But what’s happened to the Bears? Has the diversity that the bear community considered sexy, now been homogenized to that of Clone status? Is there no longer room for everyone including the forwardly masculine non-svelte? If this is the case, then it is unfortunate because mainstream media seems to once again control the message, which is: only men of a certain look can be considered sexy.
The Bears that were presented in front of Chris Nelson’s camera were of various sizes including what some would call overweight or even fat; but they were confident men who were happy with their self-image. Now that is sexy! The men the porn world now calls Bears, though handsome, all look the same. We, in the general population, don’t all look the same, and we certainly don’t all like the same things, so why the clones? It must be that same mass marketing machine that sells the public designer clothes worn on skinny models. You’re afraid to hug them lest you injure them in their frailty.
I do have my “types”, and I like to look at all kinds of in shape or not / hairy or not guys who love getting naked in front of the camera. I understand and appreciate that we don’t all have the same tastes when it comes to what is sexy or not. But when you take the sexiness out of diversity you are left with nothing more than clones, and I do have a problem with that. So, this Halloween, never mind going as a zombie, forget the cost of getting a costume, and just go as a clone.
Originally featured on eroticvancouver.com Oct. 17, 2013