Life is so good right now. My 10SEVEN brand of underwear and jockstraps is growing and I’m introducing a new style – a bikini brief – in time for summer as well as developing more jock styles currently.
Also, I was recently hired to direct for Dragon Media and will be directing my 3rd and 4th movie for them this week in Fort Lauderdale. That has been such an awesome transition for me.
I still dabble a bit in front of the camera with my OnlyFans and JustForFans page’s but I’m really trying to phase out (I know I’ve been saying that for years) and move onto other things and this seems to be a logical progression.
Having spent years working in the Corporate world, what was the turning point that made you want to leave the office environment and enter the world of porn?
I can’t be anything but real and honest so the real reason I had to get out of my corporate job was diagnosed depression and anxiety. I couldn’t sleep at night. I would literally cry at night because I didn’t want to go to work the following day.
For me, the corporate world was too toxic. I worked in the fashion and beauty aspect of retail America. I felt it was very backstabby and everybody pursuing self interests at the expense of others. That was MY experience. I’m a Cancer so I’m a bit sensitive and this environment was too much for me. My skin wasn’t thick enough.
I am also a sober person. I had to protect that serenity so I could stay sober. I used to drink and do drugs when I felt uncomfortable in my skin and my job made me feel that way. I knew I had to make a change to keep my sobriety intact.
You’ve had a lot of success in the industry in a short amount of time, what is your secret and do you have any advice for others, especially older guys who may be also thinking of a late career change?
I am very grateful for my success in porn. It was all very much an unexpected thing for me. I never intended to enter porn. Once I was in it I did have a strategy. I knew what I was bringing to the table and I leveraged it. And it’s not what everybody thinks … I knew I had a big … um … heart. So I wanted to stay true to myself and be the porn guy with a heart. I brought that to my scenes.
My scenes are full of passion and I hear over and over that fans love that. I think the passion sets me apart from the jackhammer tops out there that just pound away and are set at one speed.
My heart also came in handy when dealing with studios and other models. I’m a nice guy and people like to work with me. I know that about myself. It kept the door open for me at a lot of studios and gigs. I always got invited back.
So I would say my secret was being true to myself, being self aware and knowing what my strengths were and then playing that hand.
As for porn as a career change for others … Well I would never encourage anybody to go into porn I talk guys out of it all the time. It makes people in the industry crazy to hear me say that. I had a good run and I’m truly grateful for some of the gifts this journey has brought me. First and foremost, I met my husband because of porn. He came to an appearance I did because he wanted to meet Rocco Steele. We hit it off that night and have been together ever since. So I guess you can say I married one of my fans.
I’ve also been able to see a lot of the world because of porn. I’ve travelled Europe, the Middle East and Central and South America as a result of porn. None of this would have happened if I stayed on my previous career path. But even though I’ve received all of these gifts because of this journey, it’s not for everybody and porn is changing so dramatically with sites like OnlyFans and JustForFans, everybody can be in porn … so it’s a lot harder to stand out and be different nowadays.
Having said all that, I would definitely always encourage guys my age to pursue a chapter 2 or 3 or whatever in their life. Whatever that is … butcher, baker, candlestick maker. Never stay in a place that stifles you or makes you unhappy. We really only have today. Make the most of it. I hear of friends and acquaintances dying all the time from cancer or heart attacks or worse, suicide. I left my old career because my soul was truly dying. I never ever thought I wanted to do porn but I stayed open to the universe and now 4 years later, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
Life is crazy as shit. It throws opportunities at you. This opportunity was in front of me at the time and I was open to my life being better so I took it and it turned out to be a good decision for me.
I would tell anybody, regardless of age, to stay true to yourself and do what makes you happy Money isn’t everything. You have to be happy. And when you’re on your deathbed are you going to look back and say I’m glad I worked my ass off and sold my soul so I could afford that Louboutin wallet or are you going to say, I’m so glad I took a lesser pay grade and became a ‘fill in the blank’ because I had such a happy and healthy life. For me, that answer was always the latter. I made more money in my corporate job but I’m so much happier now. I would never ever go back.
When I first started porn there was nobody I knew of my age entering the industry. I thought “oh god if they knew my age, they would never give me work” so I started saying I was 44 or 45 or whatever I felt that day lol. I couldn’t even remember what I told people.
The truth is, when I did get the work and I had to full out a model release form etc they found out my real age anyway. And I still got more work. I always try to live my life with integrity and I always try to stay true to myself but lying about my age was going against all of that. The truth is, I started doing porn as I was turning 50 years old. I believe there are a lot of traits that I have that made Rocco Steele well, Rocco Steele. But I do believe my age also got peoples attention. There were guys in the industry that were aging in the industry and were close to my age. But I don’t think there was really anybody enterting the industry at the age of 50.
The whole daddy thing has really grown momentum over the last several years and I think I entered porn at the height of all of that … so it worked in my favour. Right place right time kind of thing.
But more than anything … the main motivating factor was something I’ve talked about before … I came out out of respect for my friends I had lost to aids many years ago .. they will never see 30 or 40 or 50.
When I came out in the 80s, it was the height of the epidemic. I don’t know how I didn’t catch it because back then I was fucking everything without a condom. I wasn’t doing anything different than my friends who contracted HIV and later died of aids.
When I think back at their vitality and their light and how it was extinguished at such a young age, it makes me profoundly sad. It also makes me grateful that I’m here and it’s my responsibility to keep their memory alive and to not let it be in vain. I have since contracted HIV myself but I was fortunate to be alive in a time where meds can prevent transmission and also keep me alive and keep my HIV manageable. I’ve decided to not be a victim and instead, I’m very vocal about my HIV status. I seize teaching moments whenever possible. I have a fan base which extends to all corners of this globe. Some countries less educated about HIV than others. When a fan or follower asks about my status and what it means, I am grateful for the opportunity to spread the knowledge.
So to sum up, I refuse to age shame myself anymore. I’m almost 54. I am lucky to be alive given my self destructive path in my younger days. I am in good shape. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. I take care of myself. I am surrounded by the love in my life. I am clean and sober almost 20 years. I feel I’m in the best place I can possibly be in.
Today, especially in the gay community there is a lot of pressure to always look good and maintain that perfect gym toned body, something I know a lot of people struggle with. As someone who will be turning 54 this month, what are some of the challenges you face or deal with as you grow older?
At my age, I am aware of my strengths and areas of opportunity as far as my body goes. I am also aware that I have an extremely busy schedule – not unique in that as I know we are all busy these days.
Given all of that, it’s important to have a realistic diet and workout regimen.
I grew up Italian-American. We ate pasta twice a week. Pasta feels like home to me. I have to have it once or twice a week all these years later. When I first came into porn 4 years ago, I desperately wanted to work for a couple of studios and I knew they would require a leaner body .. so I ate kale and chicken every meal for about 6 months. I had a much tighter body in my earlier scenes.
But that was not sustainable for me. 4 years later I eat pasta and I eat cookies and I allow myself to enjoy food. I don’t go overboard because my addictive personality would get me into trouble but I eat more of what I want these days. As a result I have a little bit of a midsection/love handles/ pasta belly etc etc.
I would say that’s my area of opportunity and my biggest challenge. I can get my shoulders and my arms and my chest bigger but those love handles don’t go anywhere … so I’ve learned to accept it about myself. I look at guys with a belly and I’m so turned on so I decided why be so hard on myself? I’m in the twilight of my porn career. I’m moving into directing and focusing on 10SEVEN so I think the fans are going to see my body become more “real” in the future.
Do you have any advice for others who may be struggling with body image and finding their place in our community?
This may sound really Pollyanna to some but my advice is simple. As long as you’re healthy – heart is good, blood sugar is good, vital organ functions are good etc etc – own the body you have. I mean REALLY own it. I meet guys at gigs all over the world. They have real bodies and they are sooooo sexy because they have confidence and swagger. Those two things makes my dick hard. I will choose a belly with swagger over muscles with insecurity anyday.
As someone who is living with HIV, what do you think it would take to break down the stigma’s that still exsist in our community (and the world) around HIV?
One word: Education.
There are so many of us on twitter with thousands of followers from all over the world. We are fairly lucky that in the United States, PrEp is so readily available and so many gay men are on it. I became HIV positive before PrEp so I watched that stigma slowly dimish. Before I started porn and I could actually have an account on a hook up app, there were so many haters out there the minute I would mention my status. I remember thinking “is this how it’s always going to be?” and I accepted it as a result of my actions. But then, a year after my diagnosis, PrEp was introduced and things started changing. Guys who would never consider having sex with me were now very open to it. So overall, because the fear of contracting was dimished due to PrEp, the stigma also dimished. I’m not saying it’s gone but in the US, things have gotten better for sure.
Now, I travel a lot to other parts of the world and it’s not the same. In some countries, it feels very “US pre-PrEp days” and understandably so. If you’ve never heard about PrEp and you’ve never been educated about all the facts surrounding HIV and transmission (undetectable = untransmittable, for example), then the fear and the stigma remains.
Why do you think it is that people have such a hard time understanding or even accepting what ‘undetectable’ means? What is your message to those people who still judge someone based on their status?
Again the answer is Education .. or lack thereof. It’s very easy for us to get aggravated when we see somebody judging – because they don’t have the facts. Regardles of where you live in the world, you now have access to all the information that exists in the universe. So if you’re spending hours on social media trolling/ hating, take 10 minutes to read any recent article on HIV transmission.
I get the occasional hater saying I kill people because I don’t wear a condom. I know I could block them or tell them to fuck off, but instead I use it as a teaching moment. If they still want to hate after I’ve schooled them on the facts of HIV, there’s nothing I can do except hope something stuck and move on. If we all used our social media platforms to educate followers who may be ignorant to the facts – rather than argue with them, we could reach a lot of people and change some minds.
To Be Continued … Read Part 2
Pic 1: Rocco Steele Pic 2: David Howe Photography Pic 3: James Franklin Official Pic 4: Edwin Pabon Photography Pic 5: Dick Mitchell Pic 6: Channel 1 Releasing Pic 7: Isauro Cairo Header: Isauro Cairo