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Gay-for-pay describes male or female actors, pornographic stars, or sex workers who identify as heterosexual but who are paid to act or perform as homosexual professionally. The term has also applied to other professions and even companies trying to appeal to a gay demographic. The stigma of being gay or labeled as such has steadily eroded since the Stonewall riots began the modern American gay rights movement in 1969. Through the 1990s, mainstream movie and television actors have been more willing to portray homosexuality, as the threat of any backlash against their careers has lessened and society's acceptance of gay and lesbian people has increased.
In the gay pornography industry, which uses amateurs as well as professional actors, the term gay-for-pay refers to actors who identify as straight but who engage in same-sex sexual activities for money or sexual gain. Some actors who are actually gay or bisexual will be marketed as straight to appeal to the "allure of the unattainable", because straight men (or those newly coming out) are virgins to sex with other men; scholar Camille Paglia declared that "Seduction of straight studs is a highly erotic motif in gay porn" and anthropologist William Leap has similarly written, "as in most gay male settings, the young, the muscular, and the unfamiliar are more sought."[dubious ]
In gay pornographic movies, actors who identify as straight, but who perform explicit sexual acts with other males, do not face the same stigma as their mainstream acting counterparts and indeed can rise quickly to being featured porn actors. These actors often play the "top" roles but this is not always the case, such as with Kristen Bjorn and some Bel Ami models. In some cases, a straight porn actor will shift between gay and straight porn to expand opportunities to work.
Because some gay men consider heterosexual men to be objects of fantasy, some gay porn producers have almost certainly described some actors as heterosexual to increase sales and publicity for their product. Moreover, many gay or bisexual men who star in gay porn films may wish to be identified publicly as heterosexual for personal or professional reasons.
Some straight actors[who?] have started acting in gay porn only to be accused[by whom?] of being gay while others' first step was to strictly do solo masturbation or muscle exhibition scenes. The higher pay scale and profile within a production often leads to group scenes where a straight actor only "tops". Many times a "top" actor will then be sought as a bottom and the debut is often treated as a notable event or even its own release.
Male pornographic actors are commonly paid more for homosexual work than heterosexual. There are also more opportunities to become a "star" in gay porn than in straight porn, where the attention is on female performers.
In the sex worker industry, the term may also be applied to straight and bisexual people of either gender (including "male escorts") who have sexual contact or scenes with a client or another sex worker of the same gender. Although sexual contact is often involved, sex scenes or solo scenes (like masturbating to climax) or even a BDSM scene for the client's stimulation can take place. Sexual arousal without direct sexual contact may also occur in such niche trade like muscle worship. As in porn work, a gay identity is not necessary to make money from gay clients and consumers.
Go-go dancing originated in the 1960s and was eventually appropriated by burlesque and striptease establishments, which in turn became known as "go-go bars" but many gay clubs had male go-go dancers (called go-go boys) during the period 1965–1968. After that, few gay clubs had go-go dancers until a resurgence in the late 1980s when go-go dancing again became fashionable (and has remained so ever since). "Go-go dancers" that perform at night clubs, special parties, circuit parties or rave dances in colorful bright costumes (which may include battery operated lights), with fire sticks, or with a snake can also be called performance art dancers or box dancers. Large circuit parties and gay clubs often have very attractive go-go boys of all sexualities who will allow patrons to touch and rub them but only for tips. This is typical in Thai venues, such as in Sunee Plaza, Pattaya. Some criticize the practice of employing straight dancers to perform erotically for gay audiences when gay performers are available.
A term that is derivative of "gay-for-pay" is the partly tongue-in-cheek term "straight-for-pay", which describes gay men who have sex with women for pay. The term was coined to describe the film Shifting Gears: A Bisexual Transmission, due to gay porn stars Cameron Marshall and Blake Riley being featured in heterosexual scenes. Other notable examples of gay porn stars going "straight-for-pay" are Steven Daigle and Arpad Miklos, the latter of whom received a great deal of criticism for his scene on the site Straight Guys for Gay Eyes (SG4GE). SG4GE's company principal Jake Cruise defended the scene, stating that it was a "winning idea" to portray a "masculine gay man exploring straight sex" because "I’ve always loved to push boundaries and press buttons with my work."
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- "No Law in the Arena: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality", in Paglia's Vamps and Tramps (1994, Vintage ISBN 0679751203), p.87
- William L. Leap. Public Sex/Gay Space. Columbia University Press; 1999 [cited December 30, 2011]. ISBN 978-0-231-10691-7. p. 62.
- Benton, Angel (October 2007, Volume 3 – Issue 5, page 46). "Proven Strait: Movie Review". Just Us Boys. Check date values in:
- Skoch, Iva R. (March 24, 2010). "Gay-4-Pay in Prague". GlobalPost.com. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- Benton, Angel (October 2007, Volume 3 – Issue 5, page 34). "Fabscout". Just Us Boys. Check date values in:
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- "STEVEN DAIGLE GOES STRAIGHT-FOR-PAY". Manhunt.net. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
- "Arpad Miklos Goes 'Straight for Pay' for Jake Cruise". Gay Porn Times. Retrieved 2017-09-18.
- "Arpad Miklos Goes 'Straight for Pay' for Jake Cruise". Xbiz.com. Retrieved 2017-09-18.