Marching To The Literal Beat Of His Own Drum: The Dirk Caber Interview

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If there's one thing you absolutely, positively cannot fake in the porn industry, it's genuineness. Many guys project a self image to the world that's very different from the one they maintain behind the scenes, but there's no doubt in my mind that Dirk Caber the pornstar and Dirk Caber the man are very much one in the same. Sure he tends to play stepdads a lot, and plays a number of very stereotypical "older men" types, but there's this true love of what he does that shines through even the most hackneyed set-up. Those that only know him for his work in front of the camera will soon discover a talented musician, activist, and educator with a zealous love of life. I recently had the pleasure of corresponding with Dirk and found him to be every bit as warm and engaging in real life as he is on screen and in his various writings, and I'm sure that after reading our interview, you will feel the same way.

 

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Vincent Thrice: Can you talk a bit about what you did in Melbourne with the Victorian AIDS Council?

Dirk Caber: My partner Jesse Jackman and I were invited to Australia by the Victorian AIDS Council, a thirty-year-old organization formed in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which provides prevention education, treatment and care, and councilling services to the gay community in Melbourne.  As part of their education and outreach, they partner with events in Melbourne to promote their services.  We were there for two weeks, bookended by one such week-long event, called DownAn’Dirty, and the start of another, Southern HiBearNation.

Jesse and I, along with the brilliant UK humorist and International Mr. Leather 2003 John Pendal and a great host of local authorities and health practitioners, participated in a series of panels and interviews covering a huge array of aspects of men’s health.  We participated in forums on drug use in porn and in everyday sex lives, hooking up in a drug-focused community and how to reduce the risk of harm, how sex in porn is similar and different from sex in the real world and the messages one might convey to the other about safety and care, and finally a really amazing discussion of non-standard relationships, open versus exclusive relationships, negotiating polyamory, sero-discordance, the evolution of relationships, and of course how to pick up the pieces when things go wrong.  Jesse, John, and I also spoke in three radio interviews on JOY 94.9, a radio station exclusively dedicated to gay-themed content and news, including being grilled live on-air by the coruscating Dean Beck, whom Jesse characterizes as the Australian-born love child of Dan Savage and Adam Carolla.  I attended some BDSM workshops, and conducted two of my own at Eagle Leather and Club 80, Sounding and Other Things You Can Do To A Cock, and Temperature Play, from Candles and Ice to Flamethrowers, focusing on safety and care as much as techniques and how to keep it hot and fun.  Finally we made a host of bar and club appearances, notably at The Laird and Sircuit, just being visible and raising awareness in the community to the services the VAC offers.  They kept us busy, but we had such a blast, hopefully did some good, still managed to cram in some fun, and definitely came home having made lots of new friends.  We can’t wait to return.

 

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VT: I’ve read quite a bit about your start in the porn industry through your various connections through the BDSM world, but I’m very curious to know what your experience coming out was like? Being from New England, I imagine you had a lot of old world values preached around you from a young age, so what was that like for you and how did you find support? 

DC: I think there’s a national perception of New England as being rather conservative and staunch, and in some ways that’s not untrue.  Admittedly the closer to the Atlantic you get, the more liberal the population sways, but even when conservatives are conservative, they tend to be more the live-and-let-live sort; it’s no surprise that Libertarianism originated in New England and still has a stronghold there.  That said, while I know my coming out experience with my family was far easier than for many gay men – my mom’s response I think sums it up best: “Well, that makes sense.  You know my uncle was gay, right?” – I still went into the rite of passage with all the apprehension that any guy of my generation who grew up in a world where being gay was akin to being some sort of flatworm in the social order would feel.

My folks were always supportive as I grew up, always pushing me and my siblings to succeed and excel, but always balancing that with some leeway for having fun and making sure we were happy.  The “old-world values” they instilled in us included to respect everyone, to respect their opinions and decisions with the understanding that it’s okay and often expected that we might disagree, to be generous with what we had in abundance and to be cautious with what was in paucity, to be passionate about what we did, to work hard and always produce our best work, to be a good friend and family member, and always to express whatever love we feel.  They had some rather lofty ambitions for us kids, engineering and architecture and medicine and such, and for us to start raising families of our own – my father once he’d raised his children couldn’t wait to have grandchildren!  Against that pressure I was always the black sheep, gay to begin with, but also the artist and musician.  As we’ve all grown older my folks have become more accustomed to my eccentricities, and even found them fascinating.  They see the drive and passion I pour into my music and have happily observed my musical successes.  They’ve come to understand that I choose friends, gay or not, well and carefully; most of my friends indeed qualify as extended family as far as my folks are concerned.  Still, even as an adult over age of 40, it was with trepidation that I broached the subject with them that I was making porn.  Again, to my surprise, their response was essentially “how interesting!”  Mom had a host of questions, mostly about on-set health and safety in the post-HIV age.  Dad got online, figured out that Jesse and I were (his word) “famous!”  His final verdict?  The only thing he didn’t like about his oldest son being a big-time pornstar was that he didn’t have anyone he could brag about it to!

 

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VT: You have a narrative that is quite different from a lot of men in the industry in that you came in with a wealth of life experience and working regular jobs and the whole lot. Knowing what you know now, do you think you would have survived in the industry had you gotten into it in your late teens or early 20s?

DC: It’s a fallacy to think that most pornstars enter the field lacking any such life experience.  Even many of my colleagues who are in their twenties I’ve found to be well rounded, usually educated, often creative, generally employed elsewhere, sometimes with military experience, and are in fact just normal guys who maybe hit the gym a bit harder and who instead of having sex behind closed doors choose to do it occasionally in front of a camera.  The truth is that, unless you have a manager or a dedicated director to shepherd you, you have to rely on your wits to stay in this industry for any length of time; if you’re immature or lack certain street smarts, you might make a big splash at first, but you simply won’t last.

Many younger guys today are growing up in a world where being gay isn’t quite the black spot that it was while I was growing up.  They hence have much more self-assurance and confidence as gay men, and have had far more opportunity to develop those skills much earlier.  Me, at twenty I was burying away my heart in my art and was expecting to live a fairly monkish, bookish, academic existence, performing old music and writing new music.  I was naïve about the way of the real world, I still entertained an excessive faith in the good will of most other adults, and I certainly wasn’t terribly versed about sex itself!  I’d never have made it past a first interview, let alone survived afterwards.

 

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VT: What do you think the secret is to maintaining a healthy relationship with someone in the industry, because it seems to bring an entirely different set of challenges? 

DC: We were warned about entering into this sort of relationship when we first started out.  It’s not sexual jealousy that gets in the way, as one might suspect, having sex with all these other hot guys.  In fact it tends to be professional envy that causes problems.  Porn work comes in ebbs and dearths; there’ll be a month when I’m working a ton and then three months where I’m not filming anything.  This happens to Jesse as well, and to pretty much everyone in the industry.  The difficulty comes when one partner starts to wonder what’s wrong with him when the other is getting all the work at a given moment, and this can only intensify if one partner’s career outlasts the other’s.

Having been thus forewarned, Jesse and I talked.  We decided that we were building a relationship not based on the fact that we share this little side career, but more on all the mutual interests and passions and relationships and humors that we obviously held in common.  We’re family guys, we have tight circles of friends, we’re TV and SciFi dorks, we both love good food, we love to travel, we’re both a bit workoholic, we both love to stay up late and sleep in, we’re both dedicated to our long-term fitness, and we fit together in bed kinda perfectly.  With those foundations in place, it’s easy to cheer each other on when in the porn world either of us is on top, and easy to help each other feel included, at least vicariously, when one is not.  And once our porn careers have run their course and becomes only a common fond memory, we’ll still have all the rest to continue building our lives around.

 

VT: The gay porn scene in Boston is burgeoning to a degree we haven’t really seen before outside of New York and San Francisco. Why do you think it’s becoming this sort of undiscovered gem for gay porn?

DC: Boston was never a city that larger studios of TitanMen or COLT magnitude would ever have found welcoming; blue laws and certain morality legislations would have hampered their existence, probably fatally.  But yes, Maverick Men and Deviant Otter and a few other good folks have recently been bubbling up from the Beantown pot and basing their operations here.  Manhunt, one of the largest gay online dating sites and occasional producers of salacious content, is based across the river in Cambridge.  The next wave of porn production these days is coming from one- or two-person studios, those that film their own content, edit their own content, post their own content, much along the Maverick Men or Deviant Otter model.  There’s no studio space to rent (Boston real estate is pricey), no employee overhead, and no substantial urban presence.  In Boston, perhaps because of the city’s conservatism and possibly because they’re not overshadowed by older, larger studios, those smaller and lither porn production companies can survive, nay even thrive.

 

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VT: What is the typical reaction you get from fans when they discover all of your musical talents and see a side of you that they perhaps were not prepared for? It’s one thing to find out that your favorite pornstar plays the guitar in their spare time, but it’s completely different to discover that your favorite pornstar is an accomplished composer and musician. 

DC: I’m still astonished to be reminded that most folks out there think that porn is my career, and that I don’t do anything else.  Realistically speaking, you can’t make a living in porn alone; to accomplish enough work to cover rent and groceries and taxes and all, you’d have to film essentially non-stop.  Not only is there really just not quite enough production going on out there to sustain a whole populace of full-time career pornstars, but with that much work any one of us would glut our own market.  If every studio has already worked with you, you’re no longer special and a hot commodity, and if you’ve worked that much, studios will have footage of you still awaiting editing for some while, and until they reduce that backlog, it doesn’t make financial sense for them to film more.  And as I’d said above, work comes in waves, with slow periods between.  The result of this is that pretty much every colleague of mine has a day job of some sort.  Usually it’s something absolutely normal along the lines of IT or graphic design, or they’re a nurse or work in sales.  I know one fellow, now retired from porn, who was (and still is) the VP of IT at a major London investment bank, and at the other pendulum swing there’s that most time-honored and venerable “dayjob” of the pornstar, escorting.  With a whole range of professions pornstars have away from this more visible career, why should it be surprising that one might turn out to be a classical musician?  I’m not the only one, I should add; just off the top of my head, I worked some years ago with Logan Stevens who is a conservatory-trained violinist.  I suspect I may be the only tuba player in porn, though.

So yes, most fans are surprised to find out what my real livelihood is.  Whether that stems from the societal misconception that pornstars do porn because they’re incapable of real work, or from the expectation that porn can’t or shouldn’t be a career for a “real” artist or an intellectual… I certainly couldn’t venture.  But when I point out that being creative in my artistic life would perhaps logically extend to being creative in my sexual life (hence also my involvement with BDSM), understanding starts to glimmer in most people’s eyes.  That said, it’s been fun to be the guy who completely perverts the expected norm; I do enjoy the shocked looks.  And then I love demonstrating just how a pornstar can be passionate about and obsessed with so many more things in life than just sex.

 

VT: What do you think is the hottest scene that you’ve done, or maybe a Top 3 if you can’t choose just one?

DC: TOUGH question!  Here are three that leap to mind:

 

First would have to go to the Titan film Loud and Nasty, notable in my corpus for being the first scene featuring me and Jesse together.  TitanMen had urged Jesse to do a BDSM-themed movie for some while, and as Jesse has no background in SM at all, he resisted.  Finally he said, okay, but only if you pair me with Dirk.  TitanMen thought that was an awesome idea, and I was given the task of thinking of something SM-wise that I could subject Jesse to but not overwhelm him.  Electro play was an easy answer to my mind, as I know how adjustable to a person’s tolerance most electrical devices are.  So we got into our leather gear, and I got to bind my incredibly sexy boyfriend to a Saint Andrew’s cross and torture him with a violet wand for a while.  Then I took him down off the cross and started to fuck him.  The final challenge was knowing that Jesse would want some sort of parity, somehow turning the tables at the end.  What better way than for him to pull a taser out of his boot and zap my legs and ass a few times with 500,000 volts?  (Yeah, that was my idea.)  He then pissed all over me and finally fucked me senseless.  Aside from our onscreen chemistry being almost incendiary, just being able to show Jesse’s first experiences walking the wilder side of sex on screen I think makes this one of my favorite scenes.

Of course, I think all four of my scenes with Jesse are hot and awesome…

 

Second choice is close between two COLT titles, but I think my scene with Bob Hagar in Armour is minutely edged out by the scene with my little brother Tony Orion in Beef ‘n’ Briefs.  Not much setup, just the two of us taking turns on each other over a pair of leather club chairs in front of a fireplace.  Romantic, rough, and again as Tony and I were already long friends, the chemistry is palpable.  We shot that scene in nearly one take, end to end; Kristofer Weston needed to do very little direction.  And at the end of it, Kristofer declared it possibly the most perfect scene he’d ever filmed, which coming from the head director of a studio of the venerability of COLT I’d consider high praise.

 

And finally for Ray Dragon’s film Men in the Sand, director Jake Deckard wanted to create a paean to the seminal 1972 gay porn Boys in the Sand.  He filmed by much the same process, basically asking a bunch of us to grow our hair and moustaches out, throwing us into a house on Fire Island together,  and filming what happened.  My good friend Josh West and I were scheduled to film a scene late one afternoon, so we curled up on a downstairs bed after lunch to get a nap in first.  About an hour later we woke up to find Jake standing on the corner of the bed, holding the camera, and saying “I’m sorry, the light was too perfect, I had to capture this.”  Jake had us roll around on the bed, make out, laugh, goof off…  No actual sex – we saved that for the actual scene – and we figured we’d just provided material for a little extra B-roll to fill the space between sex scenes.  And then the film came out.  Ray had edited that footage, in black in white, making of it a 15-minute segment choreographed to the slow movement of a Beethoven violin concerto.  It’s breathtaking, it’s affectionate, it’s sexy, it’s hot, it’s funny…  And it’s stunningly beautiful.  I’m proud of many things I’ve produced in porn, but if there’s one scene I’ll walk away from the industry still holding in my heart, it’ll be this one.

 

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VT: Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you’re dying to work with?

DC: My Christmas list is a long one.  And as fast as guys come and go in this industry, getting through that list is like slaying the Hydra; for every name I cross off the list, I’ve added two more.  However, top of my list right now for a variety of reasons and in no particular order:

Rogan Richards, a really good friend and one of the sexiest smelling men I’ve ever met.

Skippy Baxter, a sexy Aussie bloke just breaking in to the industry.

Logan McCree, it killed me to have to decline the one time I was offered a shoot with him.

Brock Rustin, though he may be retired already; I’d love to do hardcore SM with him.

Adam Ramzi, just a smart and sexy guy.

Samuel Colt, the fellow pornstar with whom I’m most often agreeably conflated.

Marcus Isaacs, also a good friend.

A threesome with Jon Galt and his partner Vic Rocco!

TitanMen also always has a few new men in the wings; I can’t say who they are yet, partly because some haven’t yet actually taken the plunge, and partly because I don’t yet know by what name to introduce them.  However, there are some HOT new guys coming to the studio in the next several months!

 

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VT: Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know or perhaps anyone who’s discovering you and your work for the first time?

DC: Jesse and I really try to dispel all the pornstar stereotypes and misconceptions, and help people understand that we’re not that dissimilar from the general public.  We do this partly by not creating personae for our stage selves; pretty much who you see on screen or on the sidewalk simply is who we are.  We’re big friendly goofballs who are utterly tickled when people randomly walk up to us someplace and say “Love your work!”, and we’re nearly always happy to shake their hand and take a selfie.  As part of this we try to document as much of our lives as we feel we can share without completely ceding all of our privacy.  Hence we have Facebook pages: facebook.com/DirkCaber and facebook.com/JesseJackman and Twitter feeds: @DirkCaber and @JesseJackmanXXX.  For my music Jesse set me up with a Soundcloud page, to which he adds new content every so often.  And finally we both have blogs.  Mine’s at DirkCaber.com, but Jesse is far more prolific a writer than am I, and most of our fans have learned that nearly all news about us is more quickly gleaned from his blog at JesseJackman.XXX.

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Tagged in: interview, skippy baxter, victorian aids council, vic rocco, adam ramzi, jon galt, logan mccree, jesse jackman, samuel colt, brock rustin, colt studios, marcus isaacs, rogan richards, dirk caber, pornstars, titan men

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