LOS ANGELES — Telling how he survived as a gay porn star in light of the rash of recent deaths and the often not-so-glamorous challenges that come with the job, former performer Johnny Hazzard penned a recent column for the Huffington Post.
Although Hazzard (real name Frankie Valenti) said he had reached fame and made a substantial amount of money, chronicling how he became the face and brand of Chi Chi LaRue's Channel 1 Releasing soon after shooting his first scene, he cautioned would-be stars about the personal pitfalls of the life.
He said there’s no "Porn Star 101" course to prepare a person to become a "porn star."
Hazzard's own porn career wasn’t planned. He said he tried it because he was bored and he wanted to do it for fun, but the decision ultimately changed his life and the way he fits in the gay world — often making it tough to get a date.
“Things change that are permanent and not always for the best. Not that I walk around feeling all ‘poor me, but, yeah, it isn't all great and glorious,” Hazzard wrote. “Men think that I will sleep with anybody, including them, that I have no tastes of my own and fuck as much as I breathe. Autonomy is a thing of the past. I cannot go to clubs or bars alone, because there's always somebody wanting to talk to me about this movie, this actor or this scene,” Hazzard wrote.
Although he said he does appreciate his notoriety and fans, he laments the loss of the “big guys” in gay porn and noted that stars that are paid big money no longer exist as they once did — a possible reason why some spiraled into despair once the money dried out.
Hazzard said that many of the lost stars had no options once their short-lived fame died out. “You have this title, this crown that acts like currency, like armor. When the money stops, that diminished title is all you have left.”
Being forced to wait tables may be the only avenue left to hundreds of today’s displaced performers, jobs that that Hazzard said can be belittling, painfully humbling and possibly life-threatening.
The star had no real answer to why he’s survived. He suggested it could be luck or simply support from family and friends. Nevertheless, he's grateful.
But Hazzard had this warning for newcomers, "Aspiring porn stars often ask me if I have any advice for them. I tell them, ‘If you're looking to scratch something off your bucket list, do it. If you're looking to make tons of money or be 'the next big thing,' keep your day job or go back to school, because those days are done, son."