Being Brent Corrigan: Gay Porn’s Biggest Star Reflects On His Past, James Franco’s King Cobra, And Why Your Opinion Of Him Still Matters
Perhaps needing no introduction, Brent Corrigan is arguably the most recognizable gay porn star in the world. With the release of a mainstream Hollywood movie focused on his early years in the porn industry (and a book of his own on the horizon), Str8UpGayPorn caught up with a wiser and happier Brent Corrigan to get his take on the film, his fame, and his new life in New Mexico.
This interview has been slightly edited for clarity and length.
Str8UpGayPorn: To get people up to speed, it looks like you’re on a break from appearing in gay porn. Is that accurate?
Brent Corrigan: I haven’t filmed in a year out of choice. The industry isn’t in great shape. The market is touch and go. I’m real concerned about where things are going for all of us! I’m not sure whether I should just go down with this ship, or move on like a proper has-been. Life often feels like a series of conundrums, endeavors that leave us totally conflicted and torn between two.
The industry has found ways to rebound in the past—could that happen again?
In the end, it’s up to the fans and consumers to change things. When they pony up and start buying the sex scenes they consume, maybe I’ll return to more active work as a model. The studios need to stop selling out to Canadian conglomerates. More American porn companies that have been around for decades are owned by Canadian corporations than U.S. ones. It’s whitewashing our condom-based adult media and leaving us more bored with our porn than ever. Porn, and sex on camera, is a risk. And corporations don’t take risks because they care about one thing only: their financial assets, and not losing them. So where do you think that puts the trend in today’s gay porn media-making landscape?
Do you think the few remaining condom studios should switch to bareback?
No, I don’t think bareback is the catch-all solution it has been used as for so many years now. It used to be, something could really be shit when it came to models, production value, and performance, but so long as it was labeled “bare” it sold hand over fist better than the good stuff. I think we need to put the guts and glory back into the content. The concepts need to encourage star power again. The material needs to be more than just barebones sex. But alas, until the market gives us indication of a turn around, all of this is pointless.
Your contract with a condom studio—Falcon—has concluded, right?
I asked them to stop promoting me as an exclusive. This April marks one year since I’ve filmed with them, in the scene with Pierre [Fitch].
He’s made some news lately. How was working with him?
He was a darling, and I came away from my time with him feeling a bit like we were kindred spirits. He’s also very misunderstood. He once told you when you edited The Sword that he’d fuck me, but not be my friend. That stuck with me. I wanted to confront him at Falcon, but after spending only 30 minutes with him, it all made sense. Like me, he pushes a lot of people away. I know he’s burned fans here and there throughout his career, but I believe his heart is in the right place. It has to be to last in this world for so long.
How was your overall experience working with Falcon?
I know you have your gripes with Falcon and how they produce, but say what you will, their team and company was great with me. I was always as comfortable as possible on set at Falcon. That’s not easy for a man with a checkered past in media like me. My one regret is not filming more with them. Though, it was for the best. I hadn’t come through the dark yet while I worked at Falcon.
I’ve only heard positive things about filming with Falcon, but yes, I make fun of the fact that so many of their scenes are shot on boxes. So why did you leave?
I think they freaked when I did that bareback scene that was intended for my company. In fact, I know they did because a little birdy told me. I know that’s why I did so few scenes for them. By the time they were ready to move me to the front of their production line, I was out and done.
I’d started working on the racetrack in Albuquerque handling horses, and riding in the horse ambulance. They wanted me to do a scene with Austin Wolfe, and as bad as I wanted to, I knew my heart wasn’t in it. I am so happy with my man and I wanted him to feel respected by my choices in life and business. So, I decided to take another break. I was careful not to say much about it, though I did threaten everyone that if they didn’t boycott you and your site that I would never upload another shirtless photo of me. That sure didn’t last long.
I remember that. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years.
I still love what adult media stands for. It’s a beacon of light for so many lonely men and women, or men trying to figure out who they are. Sure, it has its pitfalls. But nothing in life can be just good.
So, a return to filming. Yes or no?
I’d like to film again sometime, but only if my partner feels content in my love for him. I need him to know that sex on camera with other men will not affect our future together. All that aside, these days it would have to be well worth it to pry myself away from my life in the country. I have responsibilities here and I can’t just jump on a plane and leave that easily anymore.
You’re in New Mexico now. What about shooting non-adult films?
Acting in non-porn films…I’m largely done with that. I left California because there was nothing left there for me. My future is with the horses. I’ve fallen in love with New Mexico and I can spend more time with the animals I love. I’m at peace here. But yeah, it’s still fun to flash my bare ass on Twitter or 2Gay4FB.
You did recently send a tweet to Brent Everett suggesting a collaboration. Any hint as to what that might be?
I’d like to! Both of us are the original “Fleshjack Boys,” and we still sell our toys with them. I’d even like to tie in Pierre. But Brent hasn’t replied. So let’s not put the cart before the horse and give him the time to return my contact attempts. I’ve always appreciated him—never had an ounce of animosity toward him whatsoever. I know the fans would like to see us reunite onscreen. He’s still the best cock I’ve ever been hammered by on camera in all these years. That has to stand for something I guess.
You’ve maintained a long-term friendship with him, which is a rarity in this business. Is it fair to say that it’s hard to trust people in the adult industry?
I honestly don’t know. Brent and I have been friends, but never close. I got to a point in my life where I just shut everyone out because no one could be trusted. Or the pain of being hurt or used was too great to bear, due to certain people in my past. Even my current fiance struggles with remnants of that. But more and more, my heart is quieted. I’ve stopped searching for something I’ll never find—mostly because I don’t think I ever really knew what I was seeking. I was just wild and restless.
What should new performers do to keep themselves from getting burned in the business?
You want friends in this business? Be one first. Draw your boundaries and keep ’em. Show your peers what you stand for and never let your causes, or them, down. People love and respect someone with strength and fortitude. But most of all, be there for them when they need you. They will be there for you when it’s their turn. Don’t worry so much about being used. Truth is, in the long run, you can’t stop someone from being underhanded or two-faced. And if you find yourself in that predicament, get outside of yourself. Take note. Listen and learn. You’ll come away from it so much better than you were if life were a bowl of peaches all the time. Instead of burning bridges, just let them drift out of your inner circle when you discover they’re not quite your “type.”
Some of your first work was with Cobra Video, and now the feature film—King Cobra—about you, that studio, and the murder of its owner Bryan Kocis has premiered. Will you see it?
Yes, I’ll see it. Likely in the independent theater with everyone else. I’m stubborn, but still curious. I have very poignant ideas about the screenplay, which was presented to me about 10 days before principle photography was slated to begin in New York. I met with the director and his agent. They were insensitive right out of the gate in our interactions with them. They wanted me to come on board without even considering what dredging all that up was really asking of me.
I can understand not wanting to be involved if they weren’t going to portray things accurately. It’s your life!
When it was all said and done, I had no dealings with Franco or his people. I chose to stay out of it because it was clear to me they were not trying to make a movie that would serve gay men, the gay adult industry, or any justice with what happened to Bryan, or what I lived through with Grant [Roy]. Grant played an integral part of the investigation, was my go-between in my limited engagement with Harlow and Joe, and he worked tirelessly in mediation with Bryan before his death to settle the civil suit out of court. He wore a wire for the feds! I was always just the bait, but Grant was the true hero. These filmmakers couldn’t even write him a part in the movie. They made it seem like I navigated it all alone, and even went so far to present their version of me as extorting Bryan. I never did that. I wanted out and away, and I hid behind Grant and the law when push came to shove. I was a kid, not a martyr.
You were just 17.
When the truth about my age came out, it happened for lots of reasons. After it did, most don’t remember my horrible attorney—he worked for “free” causing a lot of trouble for me in the end—Chad Belville, and how he was pushing inappropriately hard at Bryan. Things snowballed based on his choices. Everyone was in a hurry to get Bryan and my work at Cobra behind us because it truly was a dangerous and unhealthy situation for me. Before the truth about my age came out, I was gearing up to go to college. After it came out, well…there was no turning back. So I took Grant’s heed and agreed to move forward with my first production company. I wish I knew then what I know now, but what use it that?
You’ve been well-known in the gay community for years, but this movie makes you and your life story known to an entirely new audience. Are you concerned that they’ll depict you in an unflattering way?
Yes, I am concerned about how the film reflects on me. They already have loads wrong. But that’s how Hollywood does these things. I never expected it to be a biopic. I declined all involvement because I knew that if I endorsed the film, it would be impossible to tell the whole story, the true story, in my own book, Incorrigible.
That’s the book you’ve been writing for several years. Where are you with that?
It’s done. And now I’m on to self publishing and getting the first print done.
For the most part, finishing it has been about timing. I didn’t want to be embittered. It took me a long time to get to the right place in life to write the book without coming off the wrong way. The things in our hearts are not easily translated. I needed time. And to be honest, I did want King Cobra to be made. I was mostly upset with myself for not getting where I needed to be personally to make this movie first. I wish that I had been smarter, stronger, and less affected by the events in my life so I could get it together, so to speak, to make this film. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.
So, King Cobra’s release is a good thing?
So many people have put a spin on me and my life events throughout the years. Whether it was a book or a comment on a forum, or people right here on this blog who think I’m vain, angry, and vapid. I knew that if King Cobra came out, I could finally release Incorrigible, and let it be the successful bookend I needed.
Your accounting of events should be considered the most reliable given that it’s your life, but will it be a problem that there will sort of be two “versions” of the same story out there?
Falling on deaf ears is one of the greatest defeats in life. I just want the truth to be known. And it’s so much bigger than what people think. It’s emotional. It’s more than circumstantial. It’s truly about one young man making his way through this world. It’s also about what happens as that young person grows into a man, as he begins to try and make sense of it all. I don’t know why we feel the need to figure these things out. Most of the time there is no answer to “why.” I’ve played my part. I want everyone to know what that part truly was, without a doubt. I was not a victim, but I certainly was at a disadvantage.
You said that you were asked to be a part of King Cobra, but you declined. Do you stand by that decision?
Absolutely. These filmmakers didn’t have any respect for me or Bryan or anyone involved. I had to beg a mutual friend to prod them into even getting a copy of the screenplay before going into negotiations. Word got out that they were making this movie and a whole slew of my Hollywood friends were appalled that the filmmakers hadn’t yet even tried to approach me about it. When they did get in touch, the director’s manager told us the screenplay could be changed if things were inconsistent with how they truly were. They wanted me to play a three-scene bit part and “consult.” When it was all said and done, they were not at all willing to adequately compensate me for my time. They claimed it wasn’t in the budget. No one here will believe me, but my partner—who was acting as my manager—and I didn’t ask for much.
How much did you ask for?
We’re talking very low five figures. Most upsetting was being lied to. The actual producers came back and said the screenplay could not be changed. They said it had been locked and solidified with key talent, and that no matter how inaccurate or hurtful their choices were to the people involved, they would not change a thing. That’s when I knew where I stood.
But they were allowed to use your names—both your stage name and your legal name?
In my brief time in non-adult media, working in indie production, and the few films I directed and produced, the first thing you learn is to secure your story. Do not develop a screenplay, tack on actors, or move forward with any form of fundraising if you do not have the rights to the content. It was a rookie mistake. The filmmakers were freaking when I said “no.” Finally, I threw them a bone and leased my names to them. Like I said, I wanted the film to be made. I just didn’t want to be taken for a fool. In the end, the wrongs they commit to the story can be corrected. Those that want to know the truth will get it from my book. And I will feel better about not being a part of something that honestly only wanted to use me.
Alicia Silverstone plays your mom in the movie. Did you or your mom have any reaction to that?
I only just learned that. I’m a fan. In reality, my mother is a tough broad. A smart woman. Lord knows, she’s had her own demons, lived her own troubled story. But for the most part, she was a beautiful, strong person that held fast while the world was pointing a mean finger at her son. I was so afraid to tell her about everything I was going through. Rolling Stone did that for me in 2007. I was mortified. I didn’t even know she read Rolling Stone. I fear that the [King Cobra] filmmakers missed the opportunity to depict that with their screenplay. But again, this is not a movie about my life.
Although you didn’t appear in scenes together, you and James Franco were both in Milk, and now he’s produced and starred in this movie about you. Is that just a coincidence, or is there something more to be said for his appreciation of your work?
I have no idea. I really don’t have any opinions about James. I find his curiosity with queer culture amusing. Him being a part of this film never made it more enticing to me. When the content and screenplay are so far off base, it doesn’t matter what A-listers are attached to it. I always wondered if he knew how poorly the producers and filmmakers went about securing their connection to the material. I wondered that if he did know, if that made him a little nervous.
In the end, I did agree to lend them the use of my names for half of the amount we requested in negotiations. They didn’t get my image, and they didn’t get my knowledge of events, but they were given my blessing. That’s probably all they ever wanted, anyway.
Looking back at the past eight years, post Cobra Video, what, if anything, do you wish you would’ve done differently?
I don’t rightly even know anymore. I would’ve tried harder to feel more love more often for those around me. I would’ve thought less about myself and more about others. I definitely would’ve learned to stop taking myself so seriously sooner. I would’ve also gone straight back to having horses in my life. They are my meditation. When I am out with them, working with them, I am constantly reminded to be patient, to be observant, and to think about the world as it is, and not all the introspective things—the over thinking—that have driven me mad at times. I still have great worries. My time in media hasn’t come to pass. In all reality, I don’t think it ever will. I am drawn to the simple life, but I know all it takes is for someone to Google “Sean Lockhart” and my cover is blown irreparably. Knowing that, I am often reluctant to start new things or meet new people outside of the gay community.
What are you most grateful for in your life right now?
My partner. And my pony, Salvadora Dalí. My partner took the pictures here in this article, though he’s not a photographer. He works with horses. We took these with his iPhone, so they’re not top grade or anything. I try not to overthink the images I make these days. Go outside, get naked, take a snap, throw a filter on it, and send it out into the world. Or pull the lamp shade off a lamp in a hotel room and bam.
Both my mare and my man have taught me that in the grand scheme of happiness and the world, doing what I do for a living is merely just that. Living, eating, breathing, fucking in front of social media or the camera has never given me the peace they have. And that’s truly what a tortured soul is seeking when they wonder. They are seeking peace. Well, in a way we are seeking validation. But that can only come from within.
You were one of the first people I ever interviewed, back in 2009 with Unzipped Media, and I remember you being so motivated about your career—to keep persevering and pushing forward despite what was holding you back at the time.
I was held back tremendously by poor choices when I was younger. I put on a good face, but things were never great. Dink Flamingo [of Active Duty] was fantastic, but as I look back on that time, I know there was a glass ceiling. There’s so much I wish I could say about Dink and what it was like working with men pretending to be gay, who were also pretending to be straight, but were also totally into it all. It was a very strange environment.
I don’t want to hurt Dink, so I’ve kept mum about it all. By then my relationship with Grant had deteriorated and I was juggling a future in porn and trying to figure out how to do it while getting him to understand how his behavior was our biggest detractor after Bryan was gone. When I’d finally shed all the people and bad feelings of my past, I was just exhausted. There really wasn’t much of me left to go around. Nothing left for even just me. By then all of the demons had grown real heads. They all had their own personalities. Some of the demons had names, even. I had to work through that before I could truly be free.
Are you still as driven now as you were then? Do you have anything holding you back today?
It isn’t that I am not motivated any longer. It’s that the things I thought I once wanted, the things I thought would make me happy—turns out, go figure—are not those things. Now that I’m better than ever, the media world is so complicated that I would rather just not [partake in it] altogether.
What do you mean by media being “complicated”?
Knowing that being an actor in mainstream won’t change opinions about me. Knowing that doing porn won’t make everyone in this world think I am beautiful. Knowing that I will likely never make enough money in this porn market to buy the horse farm of my dreams. Knowing all of those things has taught me to seek the “why” factor.
The “why” factor?
Why did I think I wanted and needed those things? The answer was because I was unhappy and hurt. How to become happy and feel less hurt. The answer to that, for me, was actually a lot more simple than porn or becoming an actor ever was. The answer to that was something I’ve always known about myself: Horses. I knew I didn’t have to be rich or beautiful to be around them. So I just went for it. And somehow the rest just fell into place.
As media figures, we are expected to give everything away for free, or count on having it stolen anyway. Then, when we do release the breadwinning content, it’s only appetizing for a flash before consumers have moved on to whatever is coming up next. For someone that has always poured the best of himself into his work, that’s a tough one to swallow.
You have a public life via social media as arguably the most famous gay porn star in the world, but you also have a personal life. Will there ever come a day when you turn it all off and only live a private life as Sean Lockhart?
I grapple with this often. I go through periods where I will not open Twitter or Facebook or anything. Just leave it where it stands. It’s clear there is something about living in the public eye, being seen—and hopefully being praised—that appeals to me. I often take the chance to set the record straight when people get the wrong idea about me. It takes a special kind of person to want to be like that, even in a small way. The thing is, being Brent Corrigan never, ever truly gave me what I wanted and needed for myself. I was wayward in becoming him. I don’t regret it. But knowing what I know now, I am less and less interested in cultivating “him.” Just maintaining “him.”
Being praised is still somewhat important in maintaining the brand.
The bullshit meter is probably going through the roof right now on your site. Your readers clearly don’t like me. That’s between them and the universe. I am not a part of that. They’re right if they’re thinking: “No, you’re still here for the money.” Bills have to be paid. I have a horse to feed. And fuck, Incorrigible comes out very, very soon. I’m here talking to you because of all of those reasons.
So, you’ll always be Brent Corrigan?
When it comes to how being Brent Corrigan affects my life today, I couldn’t even start training at a new barn without them knowing that I was somewhat…infamous. I was relieved that my past was not an issue, but I was asked to not be open about things. After everything, I know one true thing: It will all, always be OK if you want it to be. My past, my media life, who I’ve been, and who I want to be—that’s as complicated as ever. But it’s worth a shot. Someday I may just be gone. I’ll move over and let someone else take my place. Then it will be their turn to learn all these lessons for themselves. I can only hope they find what they need out of it.