At The Top Of His Game: A Conversation with Ty Lattimore
(Ed. note: This interview has been edited slightly for clarity.)
It's hard to overestimate exactly how iconic gay porn star and movie producer Ty Lattimore is. But in a "mainstream" gay porn world catering towards and dominated by a mostly white audience, it's easy to forget that Lattimore is one of the biggest, most recognizable names in the Adult Entertainment Industry. Ty Lattimore began his career as a model before turning to the pages of such classic adult gay male men's magazines as Black Inches (where he was also a columnist for three years). From an interview in GBMNews.com:
I was a print model and a producer approached me in San Francisco. I realized that I enjoyed it. I know the politically correct thing is to say that I do it for the money. But that bullshit, I do it because I love it and I am great at it.
From there, Ty began an upward trajectory, appearing in productions with some of the top names in the business - All Worlds, Catalina, Vivid and Bacchus - before starting his own production company in 2004: Ty Lattimore Entertainment, the studio responsible for the hugely popular "Punch You In Yo Ass" series (through Ty's Throttle Media division)" and the "Just Fuck Dat Raw Ass" titles. His site - and his own personal philosophy - inspire him to pick a variety of men who, along with their various body types, ages, skin complexions and a host of other factors, give Ty Lattimore one of the most diverse stables of black men on the Internet.
Next month at the 2010 Blatino Oasis Awards in Palm Springs, California, Ty Lattimore will be accepting the award for 'Lifetime Achievement.' After several fits and starts, I was finally able to connect with Ty and we talked about a range of issues, not the least of which was the role black men have in today's gay porn industry.
MOC: Why did you first try gay porn? Had you been asked to perform in other types? Bi? Straight? Were you reluctant? Curious? Energized? Who were your first co-stars? Director? Video?
Ty Lattimore: My first video was called "Bachelor Party" for Brush Creek Media. It co-starred Austin Black and a few other models from the San Francisco area. I was definitely curious and very nervous.
MOC: When you began what sorts of roles were black men portraying in porn? What did you like/dislike about the porn you were watching?
TL: Men were portrayed in all sorts of roles just as today. I just was not into the thug or street hustler images. Back then I liked videos that showed men of color as regular dudes like the Nubian Knight and Black Forest films. Their videos were really hot...Ryan Block and Ty Jones were among my favorite porn stars.
MOC: What makes a good gay porn movie?
TL: Well, I think a good porn movie has a mixture of guys. They should not all look alike. There should some chemistry among the models...and it should include lots of penetration shots.
MOC: How is porn different or similar – if it even is – between productions on the West and the East coasts?
TL: I have mostly worked for West coast and East coast productions. Not much difference other than the types of models. Each region has a particular type of model. I enjoyed both. I would love to do more stuff on the West coast.
MOC: As a director, how do you make a scene hot?
TL: Well that's not really my job. My job is make sure the right people are cast and that everything is in place. But it's up to the models to make the scene hot.
MOC: Talk about your company. Why did you start it?
TL: I started my company because I was not seeing the types of movies that I wanted. I did not see enough diversity in body types and age range. I also did not see anyone consistently filming in Atlanta. I also got tired of waiting on gigs, so I decided to take what I had learned and apply it to my own ideas.
MOC: Why do you think black men are having such a difficult time being cast in white owned and operated studios and websites?
TL: I am not sure how to answer that one. I was fortunate to be able to work with some of the bigger studios as a model and cross over to different audiences. But not all black models get those opportunities and other do not want to work for those studios or even with white models. So I do not think there is an easy answer. Some of it is geography, some it could be racism, and some of it could just be the audience. Personally, I enjoyed working for small and big studios. My only concern was that with the bigger studios, I just found it odd that there was rarely a person of color behind the camera or on the crew anywhere.
MOC: What do you think when you see someone like Sean Cody or Corbin Fisher feature so few black models? Does this even bother you? What studios/sites do you think are doing a good job at variety in the models they select?
TL: I really do not know enough about Sean Cody or Corbin Fisher to have any opinion on them or how they run their business. I think each studio has to know his or her audience and what they want to see. Often producers and directors shoot what it is they want to see or what they personally like. I try to shoot a good range of ethnicity and body types and ages. Some folks had a problem with me shooting white models. I just try to find whom I think is best for the particular project that I am working on. I think the models on my site - TyLattimoreXXX.com - display the diversity that I strive for.
MOC: Is there racism in Gay Porn? If so, how does it manifest itself?
TL: There is definitely racism in porn just like all areas of life. Black models are not paid the same or afforded the same opportunities. That's just fact. I have yet to see any black models with any lube endorsements. Only a few have dildo replicas on themselves. Even looking at exclusive contracts. How many black models have exclusive contracts with the major studios? How often is a black model on the cover of the industry mags? Not often. Only a few of us such as J.C Carter, Kamrun, Flex Deon, Jeremy Tucker, Joe Simmons, Jack Simmons, Diesel [Washington], myself and a few others have been utilized by the bigger studios. Fortunately, a lot more Latino models are showing up all over the scene in major studios. But there still needs to be some more color....few Indian, Asian, or even biracial models.
MOC: What features do you have planned for release in 2010?
TL: Well I just released a new video called "Grad Dorm" this week. Next up is "Just Fuck Dat Raw Ass 3". I also have a few more fisting titles in the pipeline, from my Throttle Media studio, as well as some more raw/bareback releases.
MOC: Ty, why should someone watch your movies?
TL: Someone should watch my movies because they do not conform to the norm of what is sexy. You will never see any Ty Lattimore Entertainment videos with degrading titles. I strive to portray men with sensuality and as sexual beings without being stereotypical. My DVDs feature a range of black men. I have hairy, muscular, younger, older, tattoos, black, white, Indian and Latino. I also shoot condom, bareback, fisting, watersports, and more. I was the first to shoot black men starring in the fisting/fetish arena.