July 19, 2010
STRANGER: Malachi Marx
LOCATION: Los Angeles, California
THEME: An afternoon with a gay for pay porn actor/escort
Caution: This interview contains explicit sexual language
“I’m not gay and I don’t like pornography.”
Not the words you’d expect from someone who has made thousands of dollars from performing in gay porn videos and escorting with a mostly male clientele, often with sex involved. But it’s exactly how Malachi Marx (not his real name) describes his career being gay for pay.
Malachi, 25, doesn’t necessarily look at gay porn as a bad thing; rather, he sees it as work. Hard work that he sometimes struggles to get through, but work nonetheless. His primary focus appears to be on using his career in the sex industry as a means to providing a solid future for his female partner and children.
I knew nothing about the gay for pay industry so wanted to find out more, and Malachi agreed to an interview while I was in California. We’d planned on meeting at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant for dinner, but at the last minute Malachi suggested lunch at his place, where he said he could talk more freely. After a short train ride, I was at our arranged meeting spot and he picked me up from the station. Before starting the interview we swung by a delicatessen to pick up some lunch. The site is called Dining With Strangers, after all. We got panini, mine with pesto chicken and Malachi’s a turkey artichoke concoction. With something to sate my never-ending appetite, it was off to the interview.
When we first arrived at our place to eat and talk, I met Malachi’s female partner (I neglected to ask whether they were just dating or married), tending to one of their young children, so I refrained from asking any porn or escorting questions while I said my hello to the Marx family. Malachi and I had our lunch while we chatted with his partner.
The chicken pesto panino was delicious, tender cuts of meat with a heart attack-inducing amount of mozzarella cheese and an excellent pesto to finish it off. I had some fruit on the side to try and provide something healthy to counteract the massive panini. Great stuff.
Malachi similarly enjoyed his turkey artichoke panini with a pesto salad. I refrained from snatching a taste of his food. But his son got to try some of his dad’s panino, and seemed to enjoy it.
The words “doting father” might sound trite, but they could easily be used to describe the way Malachi interacts with his son; very playful, keeping a watchful eye on the kid as he wandered around. Similarly, he’s very affectionate with his partner. I’m not a huge fan of public displays of affection, but I can say their relationship seemed natural, full of humor, and unforced.
But Malachi’s partner wasn’t going to stick around for the interview. By design, the couple keep the world of gay porn and escorting separate from their home life. She left to take their child off to play, and I was able to start the tape recorder.
Even though the two don’t talk about his current career, Malachi’s partner and her first pregnancy is the reason he started doing adult videos for the gay porn website Randy Blue. But escorting came first, a world in which people pay for companionship with typically very attractive men or women, with sex considered by mutual consent and not included in the price of an escort — a legal loophole making it a quasi-legal profession. It was primarily crippling debt that pushed him into that industry.
“I was struggling to get above water while waiting tables and doing small time modeling gigs, and it was creating a lot of stress in my life,” Malachi said. He spoke with a gay friend named Carl, a guy who was a former male for male escort turned successful photographer. Carl told Malachi that the “quickest way you can get money is drugs, dancing or escorting and porn.” Malachi had already tried some low-level drug dealing before realizing the risks of jail time far outweighed the financial benefits, and so he started to consider escorting. One thing was certain — he didn’t want to enter the higher profile world of porn.
“It’s just a dick”
The market just wasn’t there to be a heterosexual escort, so if he was going to enter the profession; he’d have to do it with men. One big problem: Malachi’s not gay.
“If I was gay, I would be a lesbian,” he joked. I didn’t just jump into it. I was going through a lot of emotions mixed with stress and extreme motivation to make something of myself,” Malachi said. So he turned to his friend Carl for advice on what to do.
Carl said that Malachi could probably get by initially offering nude massages to clients, but that some clients would be expecting more.
“It’s just a dick,” Carl told Malachi to try and make him comfortable with jerking a guy off. “When you masturbate you’re touching a dick, it’s just another guy’s dick.” Adopting this mentality — combined with debt problems and using a substantial amount of pot — was enough for Malachi to get over his strong reluctance to doing anything sexual with men.
Carl “coerced me into it and taught me the ropes,” Malachi said, first with a profile on a site called Rentboy on which male escorts can advertise their, well, companionship for sale.
And the name Malachi? He chose it because “I heard it in my dreams, it’s different and Malachi was a prophet, I guess I feel like I’ve got something to say.” A quick Google search confirms the religious background of the name, but the conversation was about gay sex for money and not worship, so the questions went back to his life as an escort.
Through Rentboy, Malachi got several clients for massages, and eventually got raunchier when some of the clients offered more money to perform oral sex on him. “It gave me a weird gut feeling and I couldn’t believe I was doing it,” he said. But the financial benefit — $800 a client — was too much to pass up. “While I was working, in my mind I had to just keep saying the amount of money I’d make. That got me through it.”
After what he described as a long, rough season of learning and accepting all clientele, including women and lesbian couples, Malachi developed a strategy of taking on submissive non-dominating clients that wouldn’t try to force him into doing anything he wasn’t comfortable with. “I would only go after the easy clients, that ones that just want to suck my dick or give me a hand-job or a massage. I’m kind of spoiled in a way because I can really use my looks and my body” to filter out the more dominant clients that might want to push him beyond his comfort level, he said.
One surprise for Malachi was the high number of straight men with families who would hire him. “I started finding out the truth about people and relationships when I started having sex for money,” he said.
For example, there was the ex-KGB Russian client, a 6 foot 3 inch tall man who would show up to Malachi’s place with a gun strapped to his belt. “He was a modern day gangster and I kept thinking ‘what the fuck did I get myself into?’” But the guy — who was married with two children — wasn’t threatening. He just wanted companionship of various forms.
“I had no life, no freedom, no girl”
Other clients were gay, including a male couple in New York who made Malachi their houseboy in Manhattan. That involved hanging around their place, spending time with them and once a day giving erotic massages to the duo. They even took him to the Hamptons out in Long Island for a gay tea party. That’s where Malachi met other potential clients, one who offered to pay him twice what the duo were providing. He politely turned the guy down that night — “I was with the couple and I respected them” — but he took the man’s business card and saw him the following week.
That didn’t sit too well with the gay duo from Manhattan, who wanted Malachi to be exclusive to them. “But how do you expect a professional sex worker to be exclusive? I’m here to make money and being a houseboy was 100 percent of the time. After a month I couldn’t do it anymore. I had no life, no freedom, no girl, I was just bored.” So that’s when he switched to one-off meetings with clients.
Malachi’s escorting got bigger and progressed, and his comfort level with the work increased to the point where he was having full-on sex with men with money. All the time though he saw it as a means to an end, a way to make money to pay off debts.
Then his partner got pregnant and moved in with him. “I told her not to work, I wanted her to be a stay-at-home mom. After she got pregnant I realized I needed to make more money.”
He started scouting around for other ways to bring home cash. Straight porn offered relatively low wages for men, roughly $200 for six hours’ work. But Malachi saw a Craigslist advert from Randy Blue asking for performers to do solo masturbation scenes. He learned that the take-home pay for a few hours of pleasuring himself in front of a camera would be $2,000. “It was the only way to control my situation with an unplanned pregnancy and stressful debt, and I was already programmed to perform” from escorting.
Malachi performed for a solo video. After it aired, Randy Blue liked what they saw, and offered Malachi $3,500 for a guy to perform oral sex on him for a video on their site the following month. “They saw lots of money in me and I saw lots of money in them.” So this mutually financially beneficial relationship blossomed, leading into gay porn magazine covers and photo shoots and pushing his earnings into a previously unachievable category.
“I’ve never done anything gay if I haven’t been paid for it”
Being a Randy Blue actor gave him “leverage” as an escort. Now clients weren’t just going after his looks, they were also paying to enjoy the apparent fantasy of being with a gay porn star. From a few hundred dollars per session, Malachi was now able to charge much higher prices including $2,500 for an overnight stay or $1,000 for an out-visit.
The money was good and he certainly hustled. But there was one thought that returned. “There were times where I asked myself, am I gay? Is this just something that I’m using as an excuse? And I spent a lot of time exploring that in my mind,” he said.
This was in the thick of his career when he was making close to $25,000 a month, filming scenes for Randy Blue and hitting five major cities in a week to see clients all over the country (and sometimes the world). That’s a lot of sex. “So I explored if I could actually get turned on by a guy. I tried. But I couldn’t. The curiosity was answered and I knew I was heterosexual,” he said.
“I appreciate guys, I appreciate male camaraderie. I know what to appreciate out of males but I have no desire to have sex with them for pleasure. I’ve never done anything gay if I haven’t been paid for it. I put on a game face, a facade, a character, and I make money” being gay for pay, he added.
I asked Malachi how much longer he intends to stay in the gay for pay world, especially with the money being so bountiful. “It’s great money and a fast lifestyle if your mind and body can handle it. But I’ll be so glad to get out of it,” he said.
Malachi wants to make enough money to start some non-porn businesses, and when he hits that fiscal goal he’s gone. In the meantime, he’s writing a book telling stories about the highs and lows and twists and turns of being a sex worker. And there are stories.
For example, there was a Middle East oil prince who offered Malachi $50,000 to be a personal assistant for a three month period. He’d have a paid car and be completely taken care of. Good deal, right? Well, Malachi thought there was something a little off about it. From escorting, he’d developed a wide range of contacts so he asked one of his clients for a second opinion. The client read over the prince’s e-mails and warned him that it was an attempt to trap Malachi in a sex slavery ring, in which royalty from another country ensnares someone for a year or two — or potentially forever.
“Money turns me on”
Malachi suspected what might happen if he went with the prince, so he devised a plan. The prince’s assistant picked him up one day in Los Angeles and they went out to Beverly Hills for suit shopping on Rodeo Drive. The assistant even gave Malachi $8,000 in cash, stuffed inside an envelope. He was meant to meet the prince after that for dinner, but the assistant said there had been a last-minute change of plan and that they’d have to drive straight to the airport and fly out to the Middle East.
This is where Malachi’s plan kicked in. The car doors were locked, so he asked the driver to wind down the window so he could have a cigarette. The driver complied and the car rolled along toward the airport. Then it stopped at a red light. Not wasting a second, Malachi stuffed the envelope of cash in his pants, threw the burning cigarette on the assistant’s lap, jumped out the window, and ran.
He kept on running. He could hear tires screeching on the pavement as the driver frantically tried to turn around and catch the runaway sex worker. Malachi rushed to find a hiding spot, climbing a hotel stairwell and staying out of sight on the building’s rooftop for three hours, shaking with adrenaline and fear. Eventually he thought it would be safe to take a peek to see if the prince’s men were gone. They were. After deleting his email account and changing phone numbers Malachi gratefully realized he got away from what he said was one of the most dangerous escort situations he faced.
That story might make it into his book, which is still in the works — although he originally intended to have the book out by December last year after announcing his retirement from the gay porn and escorting world one month earlier. But problems ensued. Writing the book was much harder than he anticipated, and money woes meant he had to step back in front of the camera in January. After that, he once again announced his retirement and was focused on finishing off the book.
That’s when he found out his partner was pregnant again. So money and other needs pulled him back into the escorting and gay porn industry, just as they first got him into it.
Malachi has apparently received some criticism for claiming he “retired” from Randy Blue and the escorting life once or twice before in the past few months. And he notes there is frustration from people who had pre-paid for his book expecting to have read it by now. Malachi is fine with giving refunds to anyone who asks him for one — and there have been two such requests — but he said most of the people who have paid are willing to wait a little longer, and he wants to deliver.
“I should have waited to announce it later on, I shouldn’t have got so excited about it. But I know there’s a fun story to write, and it is coming.” He’s fixated on finishing the book by September for two reasons; one, it’s a contractual deadline to have it out by then, and two — more importantly for Malachi — “it’ll be a healing process for myself to get it all out there.”
Given his general dislike for the work that he does and his declarations of quitting, he acknowledged that it looks odd to retire and return, retire and return. But he said each time he finds himself back in front of the camera it’s because of bills to pay and the need for a quick and easy funding source. It’s never because of boredom or a desire to be adored by gay men, he said.
Instead, it’s just a job for Malachi, who never treated his life in the gay porn world as that of an artistic statement or creative endeavor, and instead looked on it strictly as work.
“Money turns me on, and life without it is off,” he said.
To his critics, Malachi has a simple response. “Fuck yourself.” His more elaborate response, “Everyone has a background, everyone has had problems and everyone has bills to pay.
“You have an expiration date”
“For every one that has some debate or that dislikes me there are 100 that like me. People ask me, ‘How can you be straight’? You can. It’s just like anybody who worked a job they didn’t enjoy. It’s like being a laborer. I was not a laborer in my mind when I was working construction jobs. I didn’t enjoy it. Who enjoys 10 hours of construction in the blistering heat and you’re burned out? I did gay for pay for money. It pays a heck of a lot more and it’s a job. I can program myself to do a j-o-b, especially in these hard economic times.”
Malachi filmed his most recent scene for Randy Blue earlier in July, and he says this one will really be his last for them — barring the need for more funds.
He said it was stressful getting back in front of the camera, surrounded by blinding fluorescent lights while getting it on with another man. “It was difficult. There’s this intense heat from the lights shining on you, and four crew people are watching you, and it’s stop-go, stop-go. I had the biggest headache and I came home and I threw up. It fucked me up.”
For Malachi, the experience brought back the lowest points about being gay for pay. “There were times when I’d come home sick, I didn’t know who I was.” He said he managed to clear his thoughts up and stay focused by concentrating on the money he’d make from a client or video. During those sessions, he’d mentally fixate on the various girlfriends he had (which his partner allowed and had often participated with) and earnings in order to get through it.
Still, he had some positive experiences from his career, meeting people from all walks of life and professions and learning a lot about being a businessman because many of his clients were self-made millionaires. “It was so beneficial to listen to their successes and mistakes,” he said.
Now he’s focused on getting the book out the way and putting the gay for pay world behind him for good — and not as another temporary retirement.
He’s been offered thousands of dollars from a well-known porn producer (not Randy Blue) to do a scene, and an even more substantial sum to do a video that would involve urinating on guys. Apparently that pays well. But not well enough to keep him doing it forever. He’s ready to get out, ready to finish his book and be done with the world of gay for pay. From the start, he made a conscious decision to make an “extreme separation” between his home life and his work life. He also devoted a lot of his time to his family whenever he was off-camera or not with a client.
“A lot of guys that get into gay for pay don’t have an outlet like a family, and they get off on people really liking them and/or they have a vice or addiction they need to fund, but you need to have a plan of action,” he said. “You’re going to hit 40 and your sexy looks won’t sell. You have an expiration date.”
Malachi is keenly aware that the sex industry is superficial and that once his book is done and he’s permanently retired, people will soon forget him. “In a few years nobody is going to know who I am. There will be a fresh face, a new great looking guy, a new kid in town. Yeah, there will still be Malachi videos, but that will be in the past. Nobody will know where I am or what I’m doing.”
What about his family? Suppose one day the Marx children are browsing the Internet and stumble upon information that leads them to discover what they dad did for work?
He sought advice from other escorts and porn actors on how to prevent his children from finding out, and one of those tips was to make a clear separation between his home and work. Even so, most of Malachi’s family knows what he does even if they’re not too comfortable with it. And if his children find out, he said it’s kismet and he will explain that he did it as a way to make money for them. “If it happens, it’s supposed to happen, I love them so much and that’s why I do everything I do” he said.
It was time to wrap things up. I thanked Malachi for the interview and said goodbye to his partner, who had since returned. As I was leaving Malachi told me one of his favorite phrases, “Money comes easily and frequently.” It seems like being gay for pay brings money frequently, but not necessarily easily. Still, it appears that the lucrative side wins out.
“Sex sells, that’s the truth,” Malachi said.