About That Time I Got Asked To Be In A Gay Porn

In college I wrote my senior essay on this genre of French gay ethnic pornography called Citébeur. Leave it to a horny yet entrepreneurial undergraduate to turn a late night/whenever-the-roommate-was-out activity into research. Citébeur is less a genre of porn than it is a website that’s basically the place to go if you’re a French gay dude with a fetish for ethnic guys. But not just any ethnic guys — these bros play the role of hip-hop tongued ghetto street gangsters (or “racaille” in French) with absolutely HUGE cocks.

Hip hop porn is nothing new, but it is certainly interesting to think about in terms of racial stereotyping and desire. Having an ethnic fetish is one thing, and I suppose that most of us do have ethnic preferences, some more problematic than others, but expanding that to include racial stereotypes is a whole other danger.

When I heard about Citébeur I was so fascinated by the way even the promotional material for the videos was focused on highlighting ridiculous thug stereotypes. Almost all the videos make reference to the “HLM” or the “cité,” the French version of the “hood” or the “projects.” I wish somebody told me that sex in the “projects” is better than the sex I am having in the gentrified oasis of North Brooklyn. In the thug videos, guys whip their D’s out and bang in front of decayed graffitied walls, they do it wearing backwards hats and gold chains. You would think that after hours and hours of scripted pounding that the bling around their necks would start to get just a little bit awkward.

This is the kind of research where you have to get your hands, um, dirty. To find out more, I went to different porn shops in Paris to see how the Citébeur videos were marketed. Who was buying them? How were they classified? How did they differ visually from the mainstream videos up for sale?

I walked into French Art, a bougie name for this one sleazy but very nice seeming porn shop near the Gare St.Lazare, feeling slightly shy if not ashamed about doing so. As soon as I walked in, this fabulous old guy at the register took interest in me. He looked like an actor playing the role of a porn shop owner in a 1990s Bret Easton Ellis movie about porn directors — the smooth hair (implants?), combed to the side. Gold rings on every finger, gi-freaking-normous gold glasses. A few minutes later I made the connection. This wasn’t just some old guy. It was Jean-Daniel Cadinot himself, the godfather of ethnic porn, the first, perhaps, to mainstream the idea of interracial gay porn.

“Do you need any help?” he asked me in French which, OK, seems like a really strange question to ask in a person in a porn shop. Just let me find what I’m looking for, OK?

Anyway, Cadinot comes up to me and he’s like, Have you ever thought about being in porn? I sort of laughed in his face because No I haven’t, but he was absolutely serious. He told me I had a face and body for porn, which is not something the Career Center at your college will tell you, unless maybe you go to some weird liberal arts place, like Vassar.

He told me I would get to pick my own guys and we could do whatever I wanted, taking it slow. Good, because I like it slow. At 21 years old, living it up in France, I was just as horny as the next guy, so this was super tempting. And let’s be real, studying abroad is really for having sex with as many foreign people as possible — that’s how you learn the language! I took the forms he gave me and I actually got very close to going through with the whole thing. I don’t think I’m the best looking person but I’m not ashamed of my body, so this was an opportunity to do something completely ridiculous and fun that I could laugh about in my 40s, just so long as it never came up in my tenure review, in which case, whoops.

If there’s one thing you should know about France, and Paris in particular, it’s this: if you are a black American, you will get laid, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You can get laid on your way to Monoprix, you can get laid asking for directions, you can get laid at FNAC, and the taxi driver will tell you that you don’t have to pay him if he can get it in. In my literature classes I read all about how black Americans like Josephine Baker, Richard Wright, and James Baldwin, crushed by American racism, all moved to France where people just couldn’t keep their hands off of black people. These people were getting laid left and right, and it brings up interesting questions about what kinds of things are desired where. Not to idolize France because it has it’s own complicated racial and colonialist history, but I never thought I was attractive until I moved to France. Nobody ever hit on me when I was Stateside, but in France? Forget it.

We still fetishize ethnic people, whether that’s a porn company like Citébeur actively promoting stereotypes of Arabs, Blacks and other ethnic guys as dangerous thugs who will fuck you to death and then steal all your stuff after. But why? What does the ethnic other have for us that we want so badly? TC mark

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