Posts Tagged ‘sexual health’

Part four of my Let’s Hear It From The Boys series brings us the very lovely Mr Benedict Garrett (@benedictgarrett), aka Johnny Cockfill to those in the know! Benedict has an impressive resume, including “Sexual Activist & Radical Sex Educationalist, Founder of ‘BIRDS, BEES, PLEASE’ and the ‘GET REAL!’ Sex Ed Campaign, Erotic Award Winner 2013, Big Brother housemate 2012, Actor & Entertainer”. He has also been a stripper, male escort and porn performer, having begun his foray into the adult world 10 years ago when he started shooting porn. He has also done mainstream acting and appeared on mainstream TV chat shows! WOW!
So naturally I was very pleased when he responded to my cry for help with this little piece I’ve been working on. Accustomed as he is to public speaking I knew that the responses he would give would be succinct, well-informed and honest – he didn’t disappoint…Do you think people react differently to men in the adult industry compared to women?

Obviously, being a man, I can only speak first-hand about my own experience. Of course, I hear views being banded around about the perceptions of women in the business, but these can also, perhaps to a lesser extent, be echoed about the men too. I think views are incredibly diverse and, thankfully, changing. I think it is also probably true to say that, by and large, there is this notion that men who do adult work are to be envied, while the women are just ‘sluts’, or victims of a patriarchal system or desperate situation that has ‘forced’ them into this line of work and, therefore, to be pitied. Equally, I cannot say that I am not occasionally in receipt of, sometimes offensive, and condescending, comments from all sorts of people. However, I have noticed, that no-one ever has the audacity to say anything to my face (except in specifically staged debates and interviews). When I raise my line of work with an unsuspecting audience, they tend to be more curious and intrigued than wishing to cast any form of judgement on my choices. But, then again, I am a man. A 6ft 2in, 15 stone man, to top it off. Maybe I would be an easier target for their ‘abuse’ and ‘aspersions’ if I was female.

How very true! On to the next question then, which was: Anti-sex work people like to use the argument that porn/sex work objectifies women. Do you, as a man, feel objectified, or do you enjoy the attention?

I am objectified. When someone comes to see me strip or watches me having sex, they have no intention to see beyond the physical. And why should they? We are selling the aesthetic. If I wanted to sell my intellect, I would be writing books or speaking publicly (which, as it happens, I also do at other times). Pornography & stripping are visual performances Their main aim is to visually stimulate. This may, in turn, cause other responses within an individual, but primarily we are putting ourselves forward as objects. I see nothing wrong with that. Objectification, for as long as we are visually stimulated beings, is a fact within the human condition. We need not feel bad or guilty about that. As long as we are able to place that into a context that does not see individuals ONLY as objects. I can look at an individual and find them physically attractive. Only a complete idiot, bereft of even the most basic intellectual capabilities and social skills, would neglect the fact that, if they were ever to meet that person, the object of their affection is more than simply skin and bones. The majority of us are able to balance a physical lust or titillation with the reality that every human has feelings, emotions, intelligence, family, friends, interests and everything else that comes with being a member of the human race. Knowing all of this does not mean that we cannot deny, within a balanced lifestyle, our right to be physically aroused by another human.

I would be lying if I did not admit to enjoying the attention most of the time. It is, of course an ego boost to realise that, some people at least, enjoy your performance and are attracted to you in some way. However, while I accept that, as a male stripper, audience members will try to touch us, stroke our muscles, smack our behinds, squeeze our packages (all of which would never be permitted within a female stripping venue), I do draw the line at what I would class as ‘abuse’. On several occasions, I have had to turn ’teacher mode’ on audience members who deem it acceptable to scratch my back. THIS I find totally intolerable. Thankfully, it doesn’t often happen, but enough times for me to always now be on my guard.

On a more positive note, I often meet the people who come to see me strip after my performance and they are usually pleasantly surprised that I am able to string a sentence together.

Yikes! Interesting, though, how what would be deemed totally unacceptable to do to female strippers, is apparently ok to do to male strippers?! I’ve only ever been present at one male “stripping” before (believe it or not) and the poor girl who’s birthday it was was so mortified that the guy did very little other than wave his wanger in her face. Although she reckons she noshed him off after – again, that would be a no-no with a female stripper! Then again, maybe some people like that kinda thing. Similarly, Benedict went on to point out that what some people might see as a bad thing, others might not! Pros and cons are in the eye of the beholder, perhaps…

I think both of these can be subjective depending on what kind of personality you are. But here goes:

Pros:
– You are getting paid to have sex.
– You meet some interesting people and get to shoot, sometimes, in some fascinating places.
– You get paid a relatively decent rate for what is, for many, a dream job. At the very least, I certainly would not class it as ‘hard’ work, although many people would not be able to do it.
– If you enjoy attention, you certainly get plenty of that.

Cons:
– Working in porn obviously carries a health risk, which you minimise through regular sexual health screening (FYI, so far, I have never contracted an STI in my entire life)me neither!
– Although it is sex, it can be quite demanding and you must do what is asked of you. You are not there to simply get your rocks off. Often, I do live sex shows which last for 4.5 hours. That can be tiring!
– There are some things that even I can find hard to do on demand at times, I am not a machine!
– Work is not always regular and the British porn scene is very small.
– Thankfully, there aren’t many guys in British porn because most guys aren’t able to perform, so there’s not too much competition out there.
– Working in porn obviously carries a stigma which may be carried with you into other aspects of your life and affect your future career prospects as well as your relationship with your family and friends and your ability to maintain a lover, if you are tying to do so.
– You may have to work with people you are not attracted to.
– In stripping, the potential for physical abuse, as mentioned above.
– Finally, in stripping, tying up your cock is not necessarily the best thing to be doing regularly to your penis.

Any bad experiences in your line of work Mr. Garrett?

Stripping: aside from the scratchers, not really. I try to avoid any 1-to-1 booking requests because I know they are only inviting problems.
I was once booked to strip in a venue called ‘The Hoist’ in London, being told I was just to perform my normal routine. When I turned up, I was surrounded by sweaty men wearing little more than leather floss. I was informed that if all I was going to do was strip, that the punters would not be happy. I was told I could leave if I wished. I promptly hauled my clothed ass out of there!

Porn: Not really. On a totally shallow note, I have worked with girls I really was not attracted to and, as awful as it sounds, would rather have stayed at home eating crumpets while watching ‘Murder She Wrote’. Beyond that, no, I have never had, nor witnessed any bad experiences in porn. I have had far more worse experiences in the ‘mainstream’ world.

Haha! So Benedict Garrett is a Jessica Fletcher fan! Who knew?! Best bits about the job?

The places I go, the people I meet, pushing myself to try new things, over-coming barriers, and, mostly, I love challenging people’s perceptions of me and other people who work in the industry.

Abso-bloody-lutely. If you’ve been keeping up to date with this blog you will know full well we are all about chalenging perceptions and stereotypes here! Thank you ever so much to Benedict for contributing, I appreciate that getting annoying emails asking for your thought and opinions take time to reply to and for that I am very grateful.
Aaaand finally, you can keep up to date with all Benedict’s comings and goings via his twitter @benedictgarrett and his website, www.benedictgarrett.com

Hello dear readers and apologies for the brief hiatus between blog posts! I have been catching up on sleep and other trivial things after a series of night shifts. I also wanted to keep up momentum with the blog and find something to write about that would keep people interested! So I decided to write about good ol’ sexual health.

This is something I have always been quite paranoid about, since way before I got involved in adult work. I still remember to this day my very first trip to the clinic, convinced I had caught every STI under the sun only to be told that I had BV! Awkward… Not least for my poor boyfriend at the time who took extreme exception to being poked and prodded unnecessarily! But after that I developed something of a slight obsession with getting myself checked regularly. Not a bad thing I guess! I used to go even if (God forbid) I hadn’t actually had sex for ages, just to make sure that nothing had popped up unnoticed. The nurses in the local GUM clinic thought I was nuts.

But the fact is, SO many people are still worryingly ignorant or lax with their sexual health! I know people who have NEVER been tested. Ever. Can you imagine?!?! The only people who should have never been tested are virgins! We see it in the news all the time, STIs are on the up and people need to take responsibility for their sexual health and not just leave it to fate.

I actually even took the liberty to do some research for this blog entry, and have come up with some interesting statistics. Seeing as I have forgotten how to do my Harvard Referencing for an internet based document, here is the link to the Health Protection Report 2013: http://www.hpa.org.uk/hpr/archives/2013/hpr2313.pdf
This report states that:

The latest data show new STI diagnoses rose by five per cent in 2012 (up to 448,422 from 428,255 in 2011),mostly due to improved data collection.However, the continuing high STI rates in England suggest too many people are still putting themselves at risk through unsafe sex, especially young adults and men who have sex with men (MSM).

A breakdown of the different types of STI further showed:

Chlamydia remained the most commonly diagnosed STI (206,912; 46%), but considerable numbers of genital warts (73,893; 16%) and genital herpes (32,021; 7%) cases were also reported last year. New gonorrhoea diagnoses rose 21% overall (from 21,024 in 2011 to 25,525 in 2012), and by 37% in the MSM population (from 7,851 in 2011 to 10,754 in 2012 ).

Even more worryingly, it would appear that certain strains of gonorrhea are becoming resistant to antibiotics (my doctor at the private clinic I used to go to told me this well over a year ago – not long before I decided to quit porn for good):

High gonorrhoea transmission rates are concerning as the global threat of antibiotic resistance grows. Ensuring treatment resistant strains of gonorrhoea do not persist and spread remains a public health priority, and the Gonorrhoea Resistance Action Plan for England and Wales was launched by PHE to help tackle this threat in early 2013 [3].

A scary thought, no? An STI that has evolved to become resistant to treatment?! I know many people who are of the opinion that, as most STIs are easily treated, they aren’t too bothered whether they catch one of not. But if these infections are becoming harder to treat, this will have serious consequences and we have no idea what the long term effects will be – other than that people used to die of STIs. So it doesn’t bode well.

Interestingly, according to the report it was the under 25 age group that were experiencing the highest STI rates –

Those aged under 25 experienced the highest STI rates, contributing 64% chlamydia and 54% of genital warts diagnoses in heterosexuals in 2012.

Chlamydia is still the most common STI – 206,912 diagnoses in 2012 alone. I’m not going to go on about what it does, how it’s treated etc – that’s a job for the bloody schools in my opinion! Access to information of ANY kind is so simple and quick these days that in my opinion, ignorance is no excuse. I know that not all schools provide much of an education in this area but there are so many other places to get information – least of all, Google it! Google knows everything!

Sadly though this wealth of information doesn’t seem to be enough and I don’t know how to improve this situation. Adult performers are required to get themselves tested every 28 days (and should be more often in my opinion, after all, you’re fucking a bunch of people without protection on the regular – you don’t know what they’re doing off set! You don’t know that they’re not careful when they meet someone at the weekend! So many ASSHOLE performers think that just because they have a valid test they can fuck around off camera with all and sundry – NO!! THIS is where things get picked up and brought into the industry, putting everyone else in it at risk!) but even this is not a bulletproof solution. The fact of the matter is, the only way to totally avoid catching STIs is to not have sex. Now – that isn’t going to happen! So people need to THINK before they go around being irresponsible – and I don’t just mean performers and escorts, I mean EVERYONE. It’s your LIFE at the very crux of this, not to mention the lives of people you may inadvertently affect due to being stupid and irresponsible. Wrap it up before you slap it up boys, and girls, make sure he puts his raincoat on! You cannot rely on tests, as, like a cars’ MOT, it’s only actually valid the day you get it done – yet, as a porn star, you will fuck an indiscriminate amount of people without protection based on the so-called reliability of that “cert”. YOU may be careful and responsible outside of work, but you cannot trust that everyone else is – especially, when I know for a fact they are not.

There have been calls for all porn to be shot using condoms – indeed, Measure B in California stipulates this is a mandatory requirement – despite people being able to repeal it as an infringement of their human rights. I do think that this should be the case – you can’t police people’s sexual activity off camera, so this is the next best thing to keep people safe. After all, we encourage the general public to always wear condoms – do we care more about their sexual health than that of adult actors and actresses?! Of course, there is much opposition to this suggestion, so it seems no one can win.

I genuinely don’t know how to improve sexual health, or how to make people realise just how serious it is to look after your sexual health – any ideas?! All I do know is that is not just important for those who have sex for a living, but for ALL people, and the sooner that people realise this and start taking responsibility for their sexual health, the sooner those scarily huge STI figures may finally start to drop.