Porn: An Equal Opportunity Destroyer

Porn: An Equal Opportunity Destroyer

This past week brought the untimely but much expected early death of James Naughtin.  Better known as Erik Rhodes, he was a thirty year old gay porn star known in the industry for his legendary macho look and performances.

In the early hours of June 14th, after hitting the town in New York City, having sex with a client and doing drugs, James complained he did not feel well to a friend- went back to his Manhattan apartment- went into cardiac arrest and died in the hospital soon after.

James spent seven years in the industry and made no secret of his drug use (notably crystal meth) and steroid abuse.  He was also widely known in the more fashionable circles of New York, frequently appearing on Page Six and hanging out with the likes of designer Marc Jacobs.  Perhaps what set him apart, aside from his huge success in the porn industry, was that he came with a brain as well as a body. Clever, intelligent and from all accounts a terrific actor, James embodied a perfect package for those who did not see the dark underbelly of destruction that is the porn industry.   His blog,  Erik Rhodes: A Romance With Misery (Tumblr) detailed his forays into drug abuse, his sporadic hospitalization in psychiatric units and his painful breakups with various boyfriends. His posts are funny, sarcastic and downright painful as he fills you in on all the gory details and the toll his obvious depression and mental illness are taking on him.  His witty answers to people posting on his wall are dry yet embody someone who doesn’t really care any more.

To compound his already tumultuous life, he was diagnosed with HIV a few years ago when setting out to perform for Randy Blue (a porn company that requires testing).  They continued with the shoot none the less, making it a “solo shoot” and considering it a “success” for him that they kept him working….oh, OK.

James was born in Massapequa, New York and has a twin who is straight.  Both boys lived through a long drawn out angry divorce.  James wound up working low paying jobs before falling into the porn industry, while his brother completed college and maintained a “normal” lifestyle.  Contrary to popular belief, James’s earnings were small, even as his fame rose- perhaps the catalyst that sent him out as an escort.  A testament to an industry known for preying not promoting.   James’ popularity only subjected him to more people who constantly pushed drugs on him, and the pressure to attain the perfect Adonis figure, leading to an even more rampant abuse of steroids.  One of James’s last posts was in answer to a fan who wanted to get “as big as you” and wondered what steroid routine to adopt.  Here is James’s reply:

 My cycle right now…

3000 mg of Test Enanthate a week, 2500 mg of Nandrolone Decaonate and 300 mg of Trenbolone Acetate. With 5iu of Human Growth Hormone everyday.

I’m waiting until i pop. Or my liver to fails… which every comes first.

This amount of anabolic steroids is abuse in full swing, and very dangerous.  Truly tragic that this was his last entry before his death.

I guess here comes the argument, what came first: the angst or the industry?  No doubt that those who are troubled sometimes fall into a life where constant objectification of their bodies in the most intimate way is masked by a feeling of freedom (usually attained by drugs) and attention only to later reveal a feeling of entrapment and neglect.  The reactions to his death have been shocked (but not so shocked) as well as the cry of  “what a loss to the industry”.  Zack Sire, editor of the porn industry blog The Sword,  said not only did James “…loved what he did despite his love hate relationship with the industry.” (which makes me wonder if he read James’s blog at all).  Sire continues to say, “I’m surprised, even covering him as I have for the last four years, it’s a terrible shock.  It means something bigger for the industry too. He was one of the last true stars.  It’s a great loss.”   Mea Culpa to the “industry”.  If there was one person who wasn’t shocked about James’s death, it was James, who stated more than once on his blog about his failure to “hang onto sobriety” as well as posts of being quite surprised that he woke up the next day after being out all night popping pills or doing meth.  His own header introducing his blog reads as follows:

My name is James… I have worked in the adult entertainment industry for the last 7 years of my life under the name Erik Rhodes. I’m not sure how I ended up here, and I don’t know how i have survived this long… all i do know is that it can be a very lonely place and sometimes i need a blog to get shit off my chest. So take it or leave it… here it is

The most tragic thing about James’s story (besides the fact that quite a bit of the media got names and dates wrong on him) was that he was blatantly documenting his decent into those cramped dark places some of us sometimes go- but are lucky enough to crawl out of, and thousands witnessed as he never came back up.

The “industry”can only moan about the “loss” to their movie making- objectifying him to the bitter end- forgetting he was a human being, with a brother, with parents, and friends and lovers and a whole lifetime ahead of him to change the way things were.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Rest peacefully James Naughtin- February 8, 1982 – June 14, 2012

 

Help for escaping the sex industry:  http://www.victimassistance.info/escape-porn-industry.html

Help with steroid abuse:  http://www.steroidabusehelp.com/

Help with meth abuse:  http://www.stopmethaddiction.com/Meth_Addiction_Help.htm

Erik Rhodes, A Romance With Misery blog on Tumblr:  http://erikrhodes.tumblr.com/page/2

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The Pen Prostitute

One woman insomniac who ghostwrites for money and gifts.

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