My Best Friend the Rentboy
That sounds like a great title for a book, doesn’t it? What if it were true?
Over the last couple of years, I have found some of the most meaningful friendships of my life through researching gay porn models for the Little Boy Lost series. We all read the books where boy A meets boy B on set and falls madly in love, but I wanted to write the scenes as accurately as I could. So, I screwed my courage to the stripper pole, and approached a few guys on twitter. To my surprise, not only were they open and completely candid about their experiences, but some embraced me as a friend. They offer advice on writing realistic relationships, answer questions on how they would react to different things, and of course, provide me with more information than I could ever possibly use on gay sex.
But really, they’re just like everyone else – right?
I can tell you what it’s like to be their friend. You get phone calls when a guy is terrified he’s not going to pass his exam so he can finish medical school. You get texts when a guy gets his heart broken by the man he thought was the one. You get to fly across the country and be with them when their life implodes. It’s exactly the same as being friends with anyone else. They have the same dreams, the same hopes, and the same fears.
Recently, MLR Press put up a submission call for “average Joe” stories: stories about just regular guys. I talked to a bunch of friends about the call, saying that I’d been wanting to do a story about a rentboy—to which they remarked “so, then the average Joe will be the other guy”. But why? A guy that puts an ad up on a website to get business and then sells a service, how is that extraordinary? My next door neighbor could put up an ad for lawn work, get hired, mow the lawn, and he would be considered just a regular guy.
The answer is the stigma that exists around the sex worker industry—not just rent boys, but porn stars, strippers, etc. Just the other day, in conjunction with the submission call, I put up a poll asking guys what they would do if they found out the guy they were dating was a rentboy. A lot of the answers were stereotypical responses about disease, because without actually knowing a rent boy or porn model, one may not have any idea that they’re extraordinarily careful and far more likely to pick up something in their personal life than with a client or on set. Others romanticized it, while others fetishized what it might be like to have an intimate relationship with a professional escort.
So, the next time you pick up a gay romance, and you find yourself reading about a professional sex worker, or you sit down in front of your computer and start to write one—remember that they really are just average Joe’s with a more interesting side job than most. They’re trying to use the skills and talents they were given to support themselves and scratch out a living. Say hello on twitter, you’d be surprised at the beauty and adventure that may await you.
|Adult models Drake Jaden and Parker Perry with JP Barnaby at a party in Chicago.|
About JP Barnaby
Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.