Philip, Palm Springs, California
I started working in the adult film industry in my early thirties. On paper that’s a little too old to begin, but I looked like a twenty-year-old kid. In retrospect, I’m really lucky I didn’t get involved when I was ten years younger—the amount of drugs and pressure in that world is absolutely lethal. It is sad, too, because today I am regularly contacted by young guys who want to be porn stars. I tell them not to go there. I am from a macho Italian family based in Buffalo, New York. Growing up, there were no gay people around me. Or if there were, I didn’t see them. I hid my sexuality from myself. I married an older woman when I was twenty and pretended everything was fine. When I decided to lead a second life in porn, I was allowing myself into places I normally wouldn’t go. I was being courted by one of the biggest agents in that arena. I became a bit of a star. When I was trying to act in regular films, I had never felt that special. Meanwhile, my wife and family had no idea this was a part of my life—I kept it very hush-hush. I never thought it would explode the way it did. I took a random trip to England and people there recognized my face! It scared me and I tried to retire, but the industry flatly told me, “We decide when your time here is up.” When I didn’t take that seriously, I was proven otherwise—they threatened to reveal me. My father had just had quadruple bypass surgery the night I was featured on Entertainment Tonight as the person who “outed Tom Cruise.” A Spanish magazine had claimed that I’d given an interview in France admitting that Cruise and I were lovers. This wasn’t true, but I still faced a lawsuit—and, with that, complete exposure of my secret life. I knew my father was in bed that night watching television while recovering. After it aired, I thought, “Oh God, I hope I didn’t just give my father a heart attack.” Then, as if events couldn’t get more shocking, my parents were completely loving and understanding. My father, the patriarch of my tough Italian clan, even asked me why I hadn’t felt comfortable telling them sooner. His parental instinct to be there for me during a tough time dominated any judgmental impulse he may have had. In retrospect, coming out was the best thing that ever happened to me. My family and I became much closer, and I am no longer living a lie. Being a porn actor brought people into my life who were interested in me for the wrong reasons. It taught me to be a good judge of character. I believe that if you live through a career in porn, you become a very strong person. Sometimes people ask me, “Aren’t you that guy?” I don’t deny it, but I tell them that “used to be me.” Now I am a happy forty-year-old gay man in America—still figuring things out.