trends

Bi Roots

Tina Tyler
In 1994, I met Chi Chi La Rue in Cannes and it forever changed the course of my career. It was during that fateful first meeting that Chi Chi asked if I would be interested in performing in a bisexual scene. It took a little explaining, as I thought I had done bisexual scenes before — having performed with a man and another woman. But what Chi Chi told me sounded so much better to me. I leapt at the chance to have sex with two hot men who also happened to want each other. About a month later I was on the set of "Revenge of the Bi Dolls" for Josh Eliot at Catalina, having the time of my life.

In those days the budgets were big, the dialogue was campy, the sex was hot and so were the boys — and it was fun! I couldn't believe it took me two whole years before learning that this was out there. I had found my place in this industry.

Unfortunately, I'd learned that bisexual movies were shot a lot less frequently than any other genre. When I asked why this was, I heard for the first time that there wasn't really that big a market for them. It wasn't until a few years later when the Internet had taken hold and fans began emailing me that I came to realize that the market is bigger than the industry understands — it just isn't being marketed to.

First of all the consumer of bi-sex titles is generally not a gay man, despite the stigma some male performers who do these movies carry; the viewers of this product tend to be straight men who are sexually submissive, or want to be. They have this fantasy that the woman they're with will permit them to act out traditionally homosexual acts and still find them sexually attractive — if not more so than before. The woman is therefore the key to the scenario and not just window dressing. The consumer wants to see themselves represented in these movies, sadly, they're not being spoken to.

Most bisexual movies still focus on the campy storylines — and the ones that don't are so low budget that they're almost unwatchable. The Internet seems to be a burgeoning playground for bi-sex content; there's less stigma nowadays about going into a store and purchasing something that might raise eyebrows about one's sexuality, and there are some quality sites out there that cater directly to the bisexual market.

It's unfortunate that the word "stigma" has been used twice already in this article, but it's another topic that must be addressed when talking about bisexual movies. I've always been of the mind that if it's something I want to do, I'll do it. After that first movie in '94, I heard from quite a few people about how that decision would ruin me and how I'd never be able to work in the straight industry again. My answer was always the same: "It's fun, I get paid more and every scene is condom mandatory." It seemed so hypocritical to me that the side of the industry that was so nervous was the side that offered no condoms!

Thirteen years later, some industry insiders still consider bisexuality aberrant behavior, so how can we expect the consumer to feel confident with a public purchase?

People understand if someone is straight or gay; those are clearly defined paths. What's truly perplexing is someone who is in the middle of the Kinsey scale. I went on to perform in this industry for another decade and never stopped taking roles in bisexual movies. As a matter of fact one of my last titles as a performer was "Fine Bi Me" directed by Mike Donner for Adam & Eve. The choice never hurt my career — as a matter of fact, it gave me a whole new fan base.

But it's the stigma that hangs over the word "bisexual" in this industry that prevents the consumer from making themselves heard and, as Bill Shakespeare put it, "there's the rub."

From the days of big budgets and campy scripts, we've arrived at a point where the only reason studios even bother making a bisexual title of any quality anymore is to ensure an award in a much underrepresented category. That's no way to go into making any movie.

So, until someone who gets the attraction steps up and gives themselves over to a labor of love, I don't see this market being effectively tapped for quite some time. It's very similar to the wily and elusive women's market in that no one thought it existed until people began making movies that women wanted to see. Now you can't turn around without seeing a website devoted to porn for women — it's a bandwagon that a lot of people are jumping on.

Once a market is clearly defined it's easier to pander to. To all you budding bisexual directors out there, I suggest trying scenarios where the couple is the main focus and the second man is the fantasy for both partners; perhaps it's her idea? Cut back on the storyline and shoot sex that's more hardcore and less romantic. (Most straight male consumers don't need so much set up). Most importantly, cast performers who clearly enjoy the act and can connect with each other; no scene is hotter than watching people who are into it, no matter what the genre.

So to all of you out there who are craving more bisexuality in porn, I really hope your appetite is sated soon. Please speak up and be heard — you know what they say about the squeaky wheel?

And to any studios considering producing this product: Learn your market and talk to the people. Find out what they want. Listen to them.

Because if you build it — they will come.

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