Man of Steel: Trenton Ducati Goes From Rodeo to Gay Porn Stardom
As Trenton Ducati approached the stage to accept his award for Gay Performer of the Year at the XBIZ Awards on January 11, few in the audience knew the full story. Having just completed a whirlwind year where he turned in top-notch performances for almost all the top studios, Ducati had every reason to bask in the glory of a well-earned accolade.
But what few could have realized were the intense emotions that were going through his head as he processed the true significance of the moment — one made all the more powerful given the anniversary Ducati celebrated as the clock struck midnight, marking five years of sobriety. It was a coincidence so cosmic, these two wonderful days blending together, that you had to believe a greater power was at work.
“Obviously it means the world to me to be sober, and without sobriety I wouldn’t have anything else — the XBIZ award or any career at all. Without one I don’t have the other, so to have both land relatively on the same day basically is reassurance for me, a reminder of what we can have in sobriety,” he says. “It reassures me that through sobriety and hard work we can achieve our goals.”
But to leave it at just that is shortchanging the man and his impact on the industry — Ducati is far more than his sobriety. He might tell you that porn helped save him, but his imprint on the industry after just over a year of work is already set in stone, whether it’s his powerful presence on camera or his fight to help others reach their potential off camera. From his early years as an honest-to-goodness cowboy to the award stage a few months ago (a timeline marked by a few rough spots in between), Ducati’s story is built for a Hollywood biopic — one that travels the road through promise, temptation and redemption.
Before "Brokeback Mountain" made gay cowboys trendy, Ducati was blazing his own trail in the Southwest. But while growing up in Texas, a different pastime was his first love: “Baseball was my life. I was very dedicated. I had grown up watching Nolan Ryan, we lived right next to the Astrodome, I knew everything about baseball all the way through school. Going into high school, that was my whole passion.”
Ducati’s family moved from Houston to New Mexico when he was 8, and while the baseball dedication stuck — he considered trying to play at Arizona State — another hobby was introduced to him by his sister’s boyfriend: rodeo.
“I looked up to him, and he was a cowboy.. I was addicted to that right away. My parents were starting to get into horses, pleasure riding, that kind of thing. So bull riding was more to me like an extreme sport, kind of like bungee jumping. So I wanted to try it, and of course with the adrenaline — being the kind of person I am — I did it and never wanted to stop. That became my new life, and baseball fell to the wayside. I chose rodeo over that because of the excitement, the newness and toughness of it… the whole thing was just very exciting to me.”
His new life took off — Ducati started his own high school rodeo team (total members: 1), even getting an “R” for his letterman’s jacket by the school. He notes that initially he “was never really that good, I just kind of hung in there.” But all of a sudden he started he started having success, holding his own as he traveled around New Mexico. He went to the state finals to represent his school, and also qualified for the amateur world finals in South Carolina. He became a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association — and even had a sponsorship with Subway.
“It was my entire life. I traveled all over the Southwest by car, driving state to state, rodeo to rodeo. I saw the Dixie Chicks when they first started, I’ve seen Reba McEntire 50,000 times, I’ve seen Rick Trevino, Clay Walker, George Straight, Garth Brooks… all the way from A to Z in country music,” Ducati recalls with excitement. “From that era, I could sing pretty much every song that would come on; I would sit in the car and listen to those forever. So my addiction to rodeo was more than the riding part — it was the lifestyle part and the rebellion, now that I look back at it. I was really addicted to the travelling, the going, the doing. When the bucking chute opens, it’s you: the spotlight’s on you, so obviously it was kind of an attention sport.”
And it was during those fun-filled days that his attention was also directed elsewhere at times as his sexuality itched for an escape.
“I remember it being awkward,” he recalls. “I was a cowboy, I was rodeoing, I was getting drunk, I was fantasizing about my friends who I was driving in cars with across the country and wondering, ‘What in the hell is going on with this? I’m obviously not gay because I’m a rodeo cowboy, right?’ Yet there I was thinking that they looked very good in jeans, and having some drunk experiences where we’d end up touching or grabbing. I was so thrilled by that for months and couldn’t forget about it; I’d just be mesmerized by the thought.”
Then there was that one night with a close friend, where the two got “super drunk” and rounded home base: “We went the whole way, just did full-on everything. We remained friends, but we never talked about it again, just saying how drunk we were last night and ‘oh my God I don’t know what happened! I blacked out!’ That whole thing. And I remembering thinking it was so good, and I was mad that it was so good, you know? And during the time I was hooking up with girls all the time. Girls to me were more like a sport — there was zero emotional attachment for me. I could get with 10 girls in a day, and to me it was like a game. In fact, it was a game my friends and I had. We’d try to get as many girls as we could… big or little, ugly or cute, it didn’t matter to me.”
That life stopped by the time Ducati turned 21, when a move to Seattle marked the next stage of his life: what he calls the “rough in-between years” as the fun and drinking he picked up while rodeoing led to darker temptations.
“A lot of blurry years there, unfortunately. I caused a lot of damage,” he says. “I am wholeheartedly empathetic with people who are struggling with addiction. I feel like my calling, my anything, is to help people that are involved with it — even if it’s only one person out of the whole world — because I was really deep in it. And my history with drugs wasn’t the ‘have fun at the club, dance around all night’ kind of thing, it was the extreme opposite. So now I like to try to be an example. I’m five years clean, and after 15 years addicted, it’s very dear to me to be five years clean — not being controlled by something.”
To show his dedication, Ducati started the #KILLMETH campaign via Twitter as a message of hope — a cause that has grown and evolved into t-shirts and other apparel (available at SoldOutClothing.com) to help spread the word. That message extends to the gay community and the gay porn family in particular, two families that Ducati has been embraced by. He wants to give a big hug back, and has embraced his own past as part of the man he has become today. While going through the fire, Ducati learned one crucial lesson about finally snapping out of his downward spiral — a chain of events that started at a rare moment of clarity.
“I was in jail somewhere, and kind of mentally done. I was saying things like, ‘Please don’t let me out of here because I don’t want to use drugs again.’ I was sick, I was super cold… just horrible. I didn’t feel like I could do any more. The key part of the story is that I had to be willing to ask for help, so I did. I wrote a letter — which means that I had to have the thought of wanting to be sober for longer than two minutes, you know? So I wrote a letter to the state of Washington begging for help from jail — and not only jail, but from ‘the hole’ because I had gotten in trouble. ‘The hole’ sounds awful, but it’s like isolation for six months. I wrote the letter with a little miniature golf pencil, slid it under the door hoping the guard put it in the right letter box. And that was the start of it.”
The state sent somebody to interview Ducati, who fit the criteria to be sent to rehab. “And that gave me a whole new idea of life,” he shares. While he admits there were a few bumps along the way, he knew he was on the right path. “I had had a psychic shift…any act of asking for help shows that you are powerless over this — and I recognized that through my best thinking and best control, I had gotten myself absolutely nowhere.”
When Jimmy Durano’s personal trainer moved out of Seattle, a new trainer at Gold’s Gym took over for the successful porn star: Trenton Ducati, a name that was born out of a young crush (“I can still see his face right now”) and his favorite motorcycle (“the names just sound cool together”).
“He knew that I was doing porn, and we always talked about it. And one day he asked, ‘Do you think I could do it?’ And I was like, ‘Sure!’” recalls Durano, a fellow nominee for Performer of the Year. “So I sent his picture to Titan, and Titan liked him and invited him to work with them. His first scene was with me; it was awkward for us being friends, but it was good for him and everything was fine. And he got a contract.”
That scorching scene, Ducati’s very first, was for Incubus — the film that won Movie of the Year on that same night in January. Another cosmic coincidence? (“How cool is that?” says Ducati when it’s pointed out to him. “I’m very thankful.”)
“Among my favorite memories of Trenton is the first photo shoot I did of him for Incubus,” notes acclaimed filmmaker Brian Mills, a technical director on the set of Ducati’s first project. “He just didn't seem to know how handsome he is...when I started showing him some of the images on the little screen on the back of my camera, he was stunned: ‘That's me?’ My reply: ‘Well, this is how I see you...’ Hopefully the award will help him know just how beautiful and desirable he really is. He’s also got a delightful laugh, which he shares often on the set.”
Ducati’s career was instantly on fire, and after a successful stint at Titan (his scene in “Surveillance” earned him a Best Group Scene Grabby Award) he went on to clock in quality time at Hot House, Lucas Entertainment, Raging Stallion, Falcon and NakedSword, among many others.
Tony Dimarco, senior director for Raging Stallion and Falcon, first met Ducati in early 2012 when the model had come to Falcon to work on another movie. “He walked passed my desk and I thought, ‘Wait a minute… who is that?’ Models walk through the office all the time, so you can imagine that we see many hot guys on a daily basis — it might be considered commonplace. But every so often, a model will walk through and everyone in the office — even the female accountant — will take notice. Trenton was one of those guys. I think the thing about Trenton that makes him stand out is not only his size and his well-defined muscular frame, but his striking good looks. He's very good looking, but not in the typical porn star way. He has more of a classic Hollywood look about him: handsome, strong, masculine, someone that could have walked beside Humphrey Bogart or Tyrone Power. But besides all his physicality, he also has this dynamic personality and is a great person.”
Dimarco isn’t the only filmmaker who Ducati has made an instant impression on: mr. Pam, whose success with NakedSword’s original films has catapulted her own career, will never forget her first glimpse.
“I first met Trenton in the Castro. I was walking down the street with my mom going to brunch and ran into Spencer Reed dining outdoors with a gorgeous hunk. Spencer introduced me to his friend, Trenton Ducati, and I introduced my mom. Trenton had an amazing first impression: tall, beefy, perfect hair, very handsome and — most importantly — extremely friendly. As we walked away, my mom whispered, ‘That guy is hot! Why don't you put him in one of your movies!?’” she says with a laugh. “So of course if he is mom-approved, I must work with him!”
So she did. Ducati came into office a few weeks later, and the two went to lunch together, “which I don’t normally do — but I could just tell there was something special about him and he was going to be big. During lunch he was telling me about his… colorful past. He had been talking about his time in prison and the #KILLMETH campaign that he’s been working on, and I just thought it was an awesome story. And I love to put a little bit of realness and a little bit of political undertones in my movies.”
So she hired him for “Grindhouse,” casting him as a prisoner who came up with the idea of being a strip club manager while in jail — writing parts of his real-life story into the film. “Trenton was so committed to the project and so excited, and when you have the lead character that is that committed, it just inspires everybody. Every moment he was on the set, he was just 110 percent. He’s so fun to work with — somebody who puts so much energy and passion in what he’s doing. Plus he’s got this rockin’ body, great big hands, a gorgeous cock — his cock is just amazing. It’s huge! Plus, did I mention his hair is perfect?”
He’s also very polite, something that was reinforced after the director filmed a scorching threeway with him, Adam Killian and Jake Genesis. “They all did their cumshots and Trenton remembered at the end to get up on the microphone and say, ‘Thank you, everybody!’ It was amazing...he’s always so sweet, just checking in and saying hi. He’s very approachable. It’s just contagious being around him — he has a wonderful, contagious energy.”
Dimarco concurs, saying that despite Ducati’s size — an imposing figure at 6-foot-1 and 210 very muscular, very tattooed pounds — Ducati is a sweetheart.
“The one thing that people may not know about him is that despite his size and stature, he's not intimidating at all. He’s very approachable and just an all-around good guy. He also has a great sense of humor. We had so much fun shooting my film “The Woods,” where he plays a park ranger. His performance is great. We did this scene where Charlie Harding runs up to Trenton’s house and bangs on the door; Trenton opens the door butt-naked with a deadpan, straight face. We had to do so many takes because we all kept cracking up at Trenton's nonchalant reaction. He has great comic timing — you can't say that about too many porn actors.”
Dimarco smiles when he thinks of Ducati and all the lines he wrote for him in that movie: “I'm sure he wanted to kill me. Filming sex scene with porn actors is one thing, but give them dialogue and it's a whole other ballgame. Trenton turned out to be a great actor in the film, thank God. But getting the dialogue in one take with a straight face was almost impossible. We couldn't keep a straight face.”
The director notes that what makes Ducati such a special performer, “besides the fact that he does not have a bad angle and always looks good on camera, is that he's the consummate professional and always fun to be around. I really do enjoy working with him — no attitude and he does what is asked of him. He's a pleasure to be around, and he does everything with a smile.”
The two first worked together when Dimarco cast him opposite Erik Rhodes for Falcon's “Body Shop.” “I needed an actor that could measure up to Erik’s size and presence — not an easy task — and Trenton fit the bill perfectly. They were so great together. For me it was perfect casting and an amazing scene; unfortunately, it was also the last scene that Erik Rhodes ever appeared in, so now it's all bittersweet.”
By his own admission, Ducati has always been an exhibitionist. That might explain why his learning curve in front of the camera has been lightening fast. He knew he was a good top, but to his surprise he performs just as well when he’s bottoming.
“I like bottoming, but I didn’t know how it looked… like if the people liked it. They had to make that decision for me. I didn’t sign up and say ‘I am an extremely good top and bottom!” I just kinda said I would do both. And for some reason, people think it looks good, so I’m like… cool! So that feeds me,” he says. “I feel like I can drive the scene sometimes when I’m bottoming a little bit more, because if the bottom is into it he can use facial expressions, turns , looks… all that kind of stuff.”
Ducati is keenly aware of the camera, and in many ways has turned his performances into an art form that keeps the viewer’s pleasure as his priority — he engages in a dance with his scene partner and the cameramen in an effort to optimize angles: “I’m trying to help out whoever is filming. I can feel them moving around, so I pull my way over or something like that, and sometimes that translates to really cool stuff on the camera, especially bottoming wise,” he says, noting that he plans his body movements and timing for optimum transitions between shots.
“How can we get into the next position so it doesn’t look awkward, or they don’t have to start and stop the whole thing? How are they going to edit it all together? Those are the kinds of things that go through my head. So I just try to keep it as fluid as possible so it looks sexy, or at least be able to get to a spot where they can stop and start so it looks natural,” he says.
“During the scene, I think, ‘What is going to be fun for them to watch?’ If I’m bored, then they’re surely bored. So I’m always thinking in my head, ‘Okay, if I spit, how can I spit so that it’s a cool for the camera that’ s on my right, and if he’s not on my right, where is the light on my left? Will it see the spit or not see the spit?’ And if I drink water right before they start, I can save some of the water and then just like dribble it out and it gets sticky, and then I pull back and it makes that stream. That looks cool when the light catches it… just things like that.”
For the record, he prefers to top men smaller than he is (“People love to see that contrast between a big guy and a little guy”), and appreciates his ability to adjust to the vibe of a specific scene and set. “If it’s hardcore — like lots of spit and aggression — I can step up to that, which is really easy; kissing and the slower, more sensual stuff, that’s actually harder. I like a faster, rougher pace… it’s a little easier to pull off.”
He also likes his men smooth, and enjoys a nice set of lips and eyes. “And I’m an ass guy. I’m most interested in butt. That’s for scene partners; relationship-wise, of course, I’m a little deeper than that,” he says with a laugh. “But with scene partners… if I get to rim somebody, I don’t even need to do anything else.”
“I could see in his eyes that he was going to start in this industry at some point,” notes Hot House director Christian Owen, who has filmed Ducati in multiple projects. “He was born to be in the industry. He’s a go-getter, he’s a very powerful performer when he’s on set, and he’s one of those models that can walk into a room and work with basically anybody. He doesn’t have an ego — he gets in and he does the job like anybody else, but he goes far beyond most models. He’s got the heart of gold. He’s a very sweet person — he’s one of those models that when he leaves, he always thanks us or sends e-mails and checks in regularly to see how everybody is at Hot House. For him, it’s not just about work — it’s about the relationships that he’s created within the business. He has a kind heart — I think that’s the greatest thing about him. He’s a softie.”
Owen met Ducati when visiting boyfriend Jimmy Durano in Seattle. The two became close, and Ducati confided in Owen to get advice and be his mentor. The performer cites Owen as one of many invaluable people who has helped shape his career, along with Hot House founder Steven Scarborough, mr. Pam, Chi Chi LaRue and his close-knit group of performer friends like Durano, Killian (last year’s Performer of the Year who was with him at the awards) and Genesis (who presented the award) .
“I met all of the right people at all the right times, and I was coherent enough to realize things were happening,” Ducati says. “I feel like we all meet good people, and opportunities come all the time to everybody. It’s just that we have to be open enough to understand what’s going on.”
Ducati also came from good people: He grew up with two siblings: his brother lives in Washington state and is a longshoreman, while his sister lives in Texas with Ducati’s niece and nephew. His family knows about his career and his parents are “super supportive. They don’t want to see any pictures, but they are very supportive, and they know it’s performing…and it really is. After you have your 10 scenes with your 10 ideal guys, then it’s acting. They understand that. I was on the cover of Playgirl, and my mom bought the issue. She didn’t open it,” Ducati says with a laugh, “but she bought it. She thought that was cool.”
And it was becoming even closer with them that helped him conquer his demons. “I wanted a better life. I wanted to be able to live, travel, pay my bills enough so I didn’t feel like my life was ending. The industry has provided that for me…it has provided a way out of my past, provided a lifestyle where I could actually earn an income, eat, travel, visit my family, buy presents, be responsible, be a good uncle, be a good friend, be a better person… it’s provided a lot for me. Everything, actually — a ticket out, is what it was. And I think it’s a great story because when people hear that, it’s kind of the opposite of what they think about the adult industry. So I’m trying to repaint the image of what it is.”
And with New York, Los Angeles and London just a few of the stops along Ducati’s jet-setting journey last year (“I’ve traveled more than I ever have in my life”), he has basked in his freedom — and in the man in his life, who he met while on location in Mykonos, Greece for a Lucas Entertainment shoot: Tate Ryder, a talented Australian whose rising career has made the two a power couple in the industry.
“I was blown away by his looks. Out of all the guys there, he was like a superstar to me — straight away, without even knowing him,” Ryder says of laying eyes on Ducati for the first time, the two quickly warming up to each other while sitting side by side during a dinner with the cast and crew. “He put his hand on my lap, and then I laid down and put my head in his lap. He was stroking my hair…that’s how it started.”
The story brings a smile to Ryder’s face, as does Ducati’s success: “I’m really pleased to see that he’s done well and that he’s gotten though the industry the past year or so sober, happy, financially not struggling, doing really well for himself, has good people around him. He really deserved it… not just because he’s a great performer, but because he’s great with everyone and works wonderfully with all the studios. He’s got a really good attitude with people, and I look up to him.”
Out of the Rain, Into the Sun
As Ducati quickly came to realize, one of the many benefits of sobriety is time. With it, he had to find other outlets to fill — and fitness was one of the answers, leading to his chiseled physique and his own personal training business (Obey Fitness).
“When I gave up drugs, I was reading a book called Living Sober, and it said that I had to get active. So I chose weightlifting. Fitness to me was more of a switching addictions kind of thing. It kind of kept me sober; it was my out, and I just kind of focused on it so much and my body reacted to it well. I didn’t do it for a reason, to lose weight or gain weight… I did it because I needed something to do.”
In addition to his #KILLMETH campaign, Ducati is active on social media — including Twitter (@trentonducati) and his recently launched website (trentonducati.com). This year, he’ll continue shooting (he also has thoughts of directing at some point in his career) and hopes to branch off into more mainstream magazine modeling. He will also be relocating with Ryder from Seattle to San Diego, a move they had planned for April. (“We’re living in Seattle at the moment — he’s been there for 12 years, and beforehand I was in London,” says Ryder. “We were like, ‘What are we doing in the rain?! Let’s get out of the rain and into the sun!”)
Ducati is especially excited about an upcoming shoot with Chi Chi LaRue (“we get along so well, have great chemistry”), a close friend and director he had yet to perform for in a major release. The two met through Durano in Seattle.
“Of course my first impression was, ‘Whoa, what a big hunk of man meat!’ Genuinely one of the sweetest guys working today. He’s got a big heart, and of course the big dick doesn’t hurt either…well, for most, anyway,” LaRue says with a laugh, adding that his most memorable moment with Ducati wasn’t very sexy. “We met up for breakfast in San Francisco, and we talked about sobriety. It was very intelligent, enlightening and helped me a lot. It was pretty special.”
LaRue also notes that if the model “wasn’t so goddamn big and manly, he’d make the perfect drag sister.” And laughing is something Ducati enjoys — it has become a key part of his life (note to Kathy Griffin: He wants to meet you). Durano concurs: “He’s a goofball. He’s a really fun guy to be around, and he’s really funny… a really great guy. He loves this industry, and is in it to perform and give the fans and everybody out there a great scene. The past is water under the bridge, and he’s really proud of the person he is today. He’s not ashamed of his past, and I think his success is really great. He deserves it.”
Mr. Pam commends Ducati for his platform, particularly because meth is an especially huge problem in the gay community. “If some people have a spotty past, they try to hide it. But he’s not embarrassed about it at all — and that’s awesome,” she says. “For him to survive such a crazy situation, it’s so inspirational to me and hopefully to everybody else. He turned it around by going into porn and speaking out about it in a very positive way. It’s admirable that he’s using his past to turn it into something important that can hopefully affect a lot of people.”
It’s almost laughable to hear Ducati say it now, but when he got his very first shoot at Titan, “I just told myself I would try it one time.” That’s right…the man with that body, that cock and those eyes (!) didn’t see his obvious destiny staring him in the handsome face. Initially, it wasn’t on his mind to share his past struggles (“I didn’t want to push it on other people”) and serve as an inspiration for those that might need it. But success had a way of changing that — and the man suddenly felt he had a duty to say something. It is a message he will continue to trumpet.
“When I came into the gay community, I felt like methamphetamine and drugs were kind of a rite of passage in that you had to do that to be ‘in’ this crowd — and who ‘this crowd’ is, I don’t really know. I remember watching adult films at random places like bathhouses, and just knowing that they were doing drugs. And they weren’t, but I just thought they were. Nobody was telling me they weren’t. But to my immature brain, I just felt like I had to do it to fit in. It was just kind of my excuse, obviously.”
Fast forward to his sobriety and success, and Ducati was going to make damn sure that impressionable men (be they young or old) coming out wouldn’t make the same dangerous assumptions. And if they were already in deep and needed help, he wanted them to know there was a way out. The performer loves how he has twisted the story, having a voice on a taboo subject while working in the most unlikely and taboo of industries.
“I want people to be able to see that there’s somebody in the industry that’s not strung out on drugs, that’s not promoting drugs or living their life because of drugs. I’m not in the adult industry because I have to pay for a habit. In fact, when I decided to audition with Titan, I was clean and sober. I did a whole checklist in my head: I was clean and sober, I had a regular job, I was out of a relationship, so it was all okay. Years before that when I was going to get in the industry through another route, I didn’t allow myself to do it because the only reason I was going to do it was to pay for a habit — and I just couldn’t stand doing that. I seriously doubt my career would have lasted as long as it has now under those circumstances.
“It just took a long time to get my mind and body in the same place. My body never looked good enough to do anything when I was partying, and my mind wasn’t anywhere near having the ability to handle the emotional part of the industry — the attachments you give to people and the little porn crushes and all that stuff. So to have my mind and body in the same area so that I could physically do it, it took me this long to get there. I have always wanted to be in the industry, but I feel like a universal power — something other than myself — kind of delayed that for me so that I could be successful. And I am super thankful for it, because I would have hate to have been in the industry years ago, been accepted into it, had three good shoots and then blown it — because that’s what drug addicts do. So I am happy that I had the time. I feel like my success is based on timing, availability, willingness and being blessed with sobriety.”