Every rose has its porn

This blog post was a tough one to write. All too often, what we see or post online suffers from the “Facebook Effect”: we only share the good things in our lives, and at the same time we get the false impression that everyone else’s world is nothing short of perfect. I confess, I’ve fallen into that trap as well. You’ve probably noticed that most of what I post is happy, upbeat, optimistic. I believe there’s value in doing that: not only does it send positive energy out into the world, but it also forces me to focus on at least one positive thing every day, even if my day is shit.

There is, of course, a darker side… one that I don’t usually show.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Manhattan Digest to talk about life, liberty, and the pursuit of good porn. (You can read the entire interview here.) One of the questions that came up concerned the hurdles that Dirk and I face in our rather unique relationship. I answered as follows:

We have our share of trials, successes, and failures, just like all couples do. I’d say that the biggest challenge so far has been adjusting to living together. I’ve never lived with a partner before, and Dirk only did so very briefly when he lived in New York, so it’s a big change for both of us.

But that, my friends, is only the tiniest fraction of the story.

It’s been said that there are three issues that can and do cause major strife in any relationship: money, sex, and trust (or, in any of those three cases, lack thereof). I like to think that Dirk and I have got the sex part covered, and when you take our One Rule — “never bring home anything you don’t want to share” — into account, the same goes for trust. I also know that whatever each of us does, we do for the benefit of the relationship… not just ourselves. So the only thing left is money. And money is a big problem.

I’ll be brutally honest with you: Dirk and I are going through a very difficult time. It’s not that we’re on the verge of being homeless or anything; I’m financially solvent and have been all my life, and have enough banked to keep us both afloat (though not indefinitely). Dirk, on the other hand, is struggling mightily. He actually did quite well for himself in New York for over 10 years as an orchestra librarian and freelance musician, but then the recession hit and he found himself out of work. That was almost four years ago. Since then, he’s been scraping by on whatever consulting work he can find, mostly editing other people’s music and (rarely) picking up the odd performance gig either as a tuba player or low bass singer. The porn work has been a decent stop-gap measure, but as I’ve said many times, porn is not a career. It’s not guaranteed work, and besides, eventually our bodies will fail us and that resource will be no more.

The effect this has had on my husband has been nothing short of devastating. I have never seen Dirk happier or more focused than when he is listening to music, performing it, talking about it with others, or — especially — creating new works of his own. The last few years have almost completely deprived him of the one thing he loves most. It’s almost like he’s devoid of nourishment. His creative output is a fraction of what it once was. When I listen to some of the pieces he composed back in his twenties and thirties, I often laugh out loud at their creative playfulness or cry at their sublime beauty. That was in the past, though. He’s barely composed anything since I’ve known him, and I’ve seen him perform just three times in almost three years. He’s started to lose faith in himself, his abilities, and his incredible gift for music… and it’s left him with an increasingly dark and empty void where an amazing soul once dared to flourish and shine.

Moreover, the toll that all this has taken on our relationship has been grave. Dirk and I place great importance upon egalitarianism: we believe that, as partners and companions, each of us should contribute equally to building the life we now share. This financial imbalance has thrown a big, fat, ugly spanner into those works. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve actually managed to do quite well for myself: I own my house (a beautiful early 19th century colonial in a quiet Boston suburb), have worked in IT at the same supportive, progressive company for over 20 years, and have even built up a modest but significant savings. Dirk, on the other hand, has been living hand-to-mouth for the better part of four years as he struggles to pay off the substantial debt he amassed during the recession just so he could put food on his table and a roof over his head. (He marked a major milestone last month in paying off his credit card debt, but he still has a long way to go before he can finally declare himself entirely debt-free.) As such, I have been paying the vast majority of expenses for both of us, killing any hope we might have had for financial equality. And on top of that, the imbalance has put tremendous strain on his innate and, at times, stubbornly strong sense of pride. As if the erosion of his artistic passion wasn’t enough, the thought that he might be a burden to me has further scorched that place in his heart which was once so bright. And, empathic as I am, it has started to blacken my heart as well. I’ve been no saint about it, either: Dirk and I have gotten into some really awful arguments, fanned by my fears for our future and, when things seem especially bleak, my irrational doubts about his commitment to “making this work.”

One bright spot is that, throughout all this, the porn studios have been absolutely wonderful to us. Dirk has been working tirelessly — he once filmed four scenes in five days! — to pull himself up by his black leather bootstraps. As he wrote in a recent blog post, “I’ve been dealing with coming to the end of a long dark tunnel in my life, finally pushing through to the end of the debt I started to accrue when the economy tanked.” Thankfully, all of the studios have stuck by Dirk and provided him with much-needed work during his greatest time of need. Without the help of studios like TitanMen, COLT, MEN.com, Kink.com, and all of the other companies that have continued to work with Dirk despite his heavy heart and daunting financial woes, I fear that he (and, by extension, we) would be in an even darker place than he is now. Our good friends at Titan in particular have really gone out out of their way to give Dirk as many opportunities as practically possible, and for that we are eternally, enduringly grateful.

I’ve done what little I can as well. Shouldering more than my share of the financial burden, while perhaps necessary in the short term, is something that neither of us wants, so I’ve been trying to help in other ways. As you may know, in addition to getting paid for actual performances, porn actors have the opportunity to join what are called “affiliate programs”: for every website membership or physical DVD that we sell through our blogs or social media using special link codes, we claim a share of the profits (usually in 50-60% range). To that end, over the last few weeks I’ve set up affiliate accounts for Dirk with every studio he’s ever worked with. Now whenever anyone buys a website membership or DVD through his blog, he gets to claim a commission. (This is why I’ve been working so diligently on completing his videography, by the way.)

You may also have noticed that I’ve been posting a lot about his musical endeavors lately. It’s been an absolute joy for me to be able to share some of his beautiful compositions with you, even if they were created during a happier time in his life. I’m immensely proud of my husband for what he has created, and it’s my hope that your responses to his music, which have been overwhelmingly positive (nay… downright glowing), will help buoy him and encourage him to continue creating such magnificent art. While he hasn’t written much lately, I’m so dearly wishing that, someday soon, the impressive spirit that I know lies deep with him — wounded, perhaps, but still there — will triumphantly surface once again. And who knows… maybe someone will happen across this post and recommend him to an ensemble or even commission one of his gorgeous creations. (If you haven’t heard Dirk’s music, you can listen to it here and here. I’m also hoping to find a way to make his music available for purchase, but there are certain logistical hurdles that need to be addressed first.)

So why am I writing all this? First of all, I find writing cathartic. It lends a certain concreteness to these abstract concepts of friction and loss, and once those problems are visible to me, either on paper on on a computer screen, I can begin to address them systematically. (It’s the engineer in me.) Also, for whatever reason you guys have expressed an interest in learning about the inner workings of our somewhat unconventional relationship. With that in mind, I think it’s only fair that you see a balanced glimpse of out reality… not just the “Facebook Effect” good stuff.

Where do Dirk and I go from here? I’m honestly not sure. Dirk is making progress, however slowly; due to the somewhat steady stream of income he’s received through the porn work, he’s working hard to pay off his creditors. But, as I mentioned, porn can only carry him so far. He’s been struggling to break into Boston’s classical music scene, but his new home is somewhat notorious for looking after its own and being wary of “outsiders.” He’s not quite ready to give up on his dream of spinning his love of music into a sustainable career — after all, he accomplished that in New York for eleven years before he was forced to give it up — but that road tilts far more uphill now than it ever has before.

That said, I don’t believe that money — despite the tremendous strain it’s putting on our relationship — is going to break us. What I believe will get us through this is, ironically, one of the other make-or-break issues in any relationship: trust. And what goes hand-in-hand with trust, of course, is faith. I’m not going to sit here and lob platitudes at you like “faith is all we need” or whatever. All I can tell you is that I have faith in Dirk and in myself, and I believe that we’ll each do whatever we can to overcome this economic turmoil and accompanying discord, no matter how bleak the outlook may seem. Mine is not a loud faith, nor is there an associated ounce of bluster or bravado. It is, rather, a quiet but strong belief. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I do know this: this can, this can’t not, get better… because every night, as they say, has its dawn.
 


 

Dirk Goes Down… East

As you may already know, my hubby Dirk is an accomplished classical musician. He plays tuba, he sings (low bass, of course!), and he labels himself a badly-out-of-practice piano player… though I’m not so sure I agree with that last assessment. And he also writes some stunningly beautiful music. He’s already shared some of his compositions on his SoundCloud page, but here’s a new one… the Mount Desert Island Suite, written about the island home of Acadia National Park in Maine. In Dirk’s words:

openquoteThe MDI Suite was written by commission for the sadly now defunct Penobscot Bay Chamber Music Festival in Bar Harbor, Maine. The music is simpler than much of what I write, partly because I anticipated very little rehearsal time and I wanted something easy for busy musicians to grasp. The four movements reflect four quatrains of a poem by Cora Millay (mother of Edna St. Vincent Millay) reflecting on different aspects of Mount Desert Island in her home state of Maine; the first depicts the gulls wheeling over the rocks and spray at the coast; the second, the owls in the quiet old-growth pine forests. This third is of sandpipers dodging the ripples on the sand at the water’s edge, and the last conveys the bustle of downtown Bar Harbor. This piece remains close to my heart as an impression of the sort of Maine coastline I grew up on and which is still home to me in many ways.”

I’ve shared Dirk’s third movement, Beach and Sandpipers — my personal favorite — at the top of this post. Every Monday for the next three weeks I’ll be introducing another of Dirk’s works; hopefully it’ll help brighten the start of your work week. Dirk and I hope you enjoy them!

By the way, “Down East” (referred to in the title of this blog post) is a common nickname for Maine. You can read about the history of the term here.
 
sandpiper_beach

Johnny Parker, J.P. Barnaby, Dirk Caber, and Me at Hamburger Mary's in Kansas City

This one’s for the ladies

Happy International Women’s Day! IWD, which has been observed since 1908, is a global celebration of women everywhere, their achievements, and the strides that nations and cultures the world over have made towards equality for women. (This year’s theme, in fact, is “Equality for Women is Progress for All.”) In the spirit of this holiday, I’d just like to extend a hearty and heart-felt THANK YOU to all my lady fans. And there are a lot of you.

One of my fans, Andrea B. from California, recently asked me the following question:

Out of curiosity, how common is it for a woman to be a fan of man on man porn? I seem to be a rare find in my immediate world. My man is bi, and I like it more than he does! lol Straight porn usually bores me. Double the men double the fun!!

Believe it or not, it’s not uncommon at all. In fact, according to Facebook Insights — which tracks the demographics of my fan base — 13% of my Facebook fans are women. That’s over 21,000 of you! And I’ve found that they’re some of my most loyal, interesting fans too. (No slight on the guys… there are tons of loyal, interesting men out there as well!)

Inside Out (Smaller)Interestingly, my female fan base jumped from about 6% to a whopping 11% back in October of 2013 with the release of Andrew Grey’s gay romance novel, Inside Out. J.P. Barnaby, a famous author of gay romance fiction herself, suggested to Mr. Grey that I could be a good model for the cover of his new book; he then reached out to me and I happily agreed, not realizing that it would introduce me to an amazing new fan base. I hadn’t been very familiar with the world of gay romance literature (“GayRomLit”) before then, but I’ve since learned that a large percentage of GayRomLit fans are women. Thank you, Mr. Grey, for introducing me to all of these wonderful women whom I’m ever so proud to call my fans!

So, once again, I’d like to express my eternal gratitude for all those amazing ladies out there whom I’ve chatted with at events and appearances, on the Facebook page, on Twitter, or here on the blog. I’m so, so grateful for your support! And finally… if, like Andrea, you think you’re a “rare find” because you like gay porn, trust me: while you’re definitely a gem of a find, you’re most certainly not alone. But don’t just take my word for it… over 21,000 of you can’t be wrong.

Johnny Parker, J.P. Barnaby, Dirk Caber, and Me at Hamburger Mary's in Kansas City

Johnny Parker, J.P. Barnaby, Dirk Caber, and me at Hamburger Mary’s in Kansas City