the rise of bareback porn: interview with antonio biaggi

interview. nivardo valenzuela

Antonio Biaggi is in demand and it's not by chance. Over the past few years, there has been a rise in production and consumption of bareback porn, a genre of gay porn in which actors have sex without condoms, alongside a growing, more public and voiceful barebacking movement outside of the realm of porn. Over the last few months, there have been some studies and polls (see here, here and here) that seem to indicate a rise in HIV/AIDS cases in correlation with a rise in barebacking. In this conversation, Biaggi shares with us some of this thoughts on barebacking and his experience in the gay porn industry.

Vaffanculo Magazine (VM): From what I read in your blog, you're into opera and the arts. What is your favorite opera(s)? Musical(s)?

Antonio Biaggi (AB): Opera, I would say, La Traviata. Musical, it would have to be Wicked.

VM: What's the last piece of art that inspired you or that you appreciated?

AB: A painting of two Flamenco dancers. I got it for my house. It is so nice to see it every day.

VM: What do you find in a man sexy?

AB: I would say [masculinity], hair in his body and facial hair, but overall [humility].

VM: So, what has been your relationship to porn? When did you start watching it?

AB: I started to watch porn when I was about 10, but my parents talked to us about sex since when we were younger, to protect ourselves from predators or any abuse. So we never had problems like that in my house.

I don't like porn. I just do it. I got to say I don't think I've even seen more than five of my videos. I really don't like to see myself and once I know models, I don't like to see them in action. I started in the industry as a model when I was 29. I was old for the industry, but its been great. It has opened many doors for me. Now I'm a producer/director and I'm doing my own website.

VM: You've topped several bottoms in the course of your career. What attributes make up a good bottom? With whom would you say you have had the best chemistry?

AB: Being a good bottom is not about been able to take a big dick. It has to be clean, it has to know how to perform. Not everyone is a good actor, that's why they call us porn actors. A lot of it is fake. Also the model has to know what he is doing.

One of my favorite bottoms was a bisexual model. It was his first time as bottom. For some reason he was great. Chemistry wise, several, like Kriss Aston and Bo Matthews, but I've had quite a few great scene partners.

VM: In one of your blog posts you pose the question if gays are more conservative than heterosexuals when it came to barebacking. I would say that more than being conservative, there is history of fear, shame and guilt in relation to HIV/AIDS. You've done some scenes with condoms, however, your body of work is predominantly bareback, what made you decide to shoot bareback? Do you approach barebacking differently outside of work?

AB: I use condoms with my boyfriend all the time. I started doing condom movies but the industry was slow and I was not making money. After my life in the industry started to fade away I chose to do bareback. I knew the risks and of all the scandal that was coming to my way, but I'm a grown man and I wanted to do it. So I started doing bareback scenes and I got 3 times more work than I did with condoms. By the time I started doing bareback films, I already had done 30 movies with condoms, but I did over 100 bareback in less time. That's because people see more of the bareback stuff, but even today, I still film condom videos once in awhile.

VM: There is the argument that with a condom, it just doesn't feel the same. During sexual intercourse and an orgasm, the brain releases chemicals and the brain is in sensory overload provokes loss of control, fear and anxiety. Could this feeling be purely psychological?

AB: I do think yes. [Like I said before], I use condoms with my boyfriend all the time and it's not the same mentally. I have a preference for bareback, no matter what they say; it also does not feel the same.

VM: For the most part, the straight porn industry has a well established and controlled system safeguarding against possible outbreaks of STDs and HIV (as documented in the New York Times article Unlikely Model in H.I.V. Efforts: Sex Film Industry), where performers are required to test periodically, every two weeks. Does the gay porn industry have a similar approach? How have the studios who produce bareback porn, with whom you've worked, handled this?

AB: In the condom videos they have positive and negative models together because they think that the condom protects 100% and I don't agree. In the bareback industry, they talk about status. You can see positive and positive or negative with negative. In some cases you will see the negative top and the positive bottom, but that is the only time and the models have to agree and sign papers about the risk. You will never see a positive top with a HIV negative bottom. I do get tested almost 2 times a month because I have a boyfriend and for me it's important to keep us healthy; but it's not the case with most models.

I think if there is an understanding between models, I don't see the problem. For my website, models have to bring a test to prove that they are HIV negative that is maximum a week old; but anything can happen, even the day before and that is not the studio's fault, it's about the models .

VM: Last Fall, Measure B was passed in Los Angeles County, which mandates that condoms must be used on scenes. The sponsoring organization saw the need for such measure because not using condoms poses "a public health concern and [the] actors' safety is not being respected." As noted, men who have sex with men are seemingly disregarding more the use of condoms than before. It can be argued, as with straight porn (and one of the possible reason for laws like Measure B), that bareback porn promotes "unsafe" sex. More than being concern for the performers' working condition, it seems to place responsibility on the producers of porn: porn is no longer merely entertainment, but education and awareness. Do you think that the porn industry has the responsibility to educate about sex? In the case of bareback, educate about HIV/AIDS?

AB: OMG no. I'm actually working with a sex therapist doing some educational sex videos. They are not same as porn. Porn, it's like Hollywood movies, they are to entertain not to teach.

Second, everyone that is in this industry is mature and they know what are they doing. There is HIV positive and HIV negative in both condom and bareback videos. I think we all know what we are doing and there is always the risk for anything, but that is a risk that we are taking. Same as some people who jump from an airplane or do bungee jumping: it's a risk that thrill us. But we are all adults.

Now, no one makes you do anything or everything that you see in movies. It's because we want to do it and it may not be what we do in real life, that is why they call us porn actors, because many times we do things on camera that we will never do in real life. But to do it once is fun.

To whoever criticizes bareback sex: It's weird because in the heterosexual world, that's why we are all here, because our parents had bareback sex and that is normal. People will do it, porn or not. It's nature. Once some gay guy told me that it is unnatural to do bareback. I responded actually condoms, it's unnatural. He never replied back.

Another issue that no one talks about is the HIV or STD problems. Many porn studios that use condoms are angry about the bareback industry because it's 10 times more popular than the condom videos and they keep trying to hurt those studios. I think that is one of the problems. It's more political than being worried about people's health. Please, lets be honest, most people in the porn with condom industry, they do have bareback sex off camera. But they won't do it on camera because of what people will think of them. It's a big taboo in this gay porn industry and once you do a bareback video, the condom studios will not use you for their videos. Even if the model is HIV negative or even if the model that they have is positive, they won't put a bareback model with their models. It's very complicated, but that's how it works and they will destroy your reputation in their blogs once you do bareback; they will try to crush you.

VM: If you don't talk about sex or cut programs that deal with sex in schools, porn becomes a source of sexual education. Should more resources be applied to promoting more sexual education courses in schools?

AB: I think the ones that should be responsible for teaching about sex are parents. But in the United States, it's still taboo to talk about sex to kids or teens and that's why so many of them get in trouble. I think the sex talk should start at home and then school but don't blame school or porn for whatever parents should do.

VM: Some people correlate bareback sex and drugs (such as poppers and cocaine). Please talk about these misconceptions before, during and after filming "safe sex" and bareback scenes.

AB: They both are the same, safe sex and bareback. There are models that don't do drugs and there are models that do in both sides, the only difference is the condom. I've seen models in the porn with condom industry really drugged and with STDs. I got to say that I get tested more now when I do bareback porn than when I did condom movies. They don't talk about STDs or HIV. I actually got a STD during filming some condom scene and I haven't had problems while I've done bareback. So for me I think there is not much difference, only that I'm more careful now with bareback than I was when I did condom movies; for me the condom does not make it that safe.

VM: "The Internet Is For Porn", a song from the musical Avenue Q (maybe you've heard it) humorously draws the relationship between our online browsing habits and porn. An ExtremeTech article gives insight into the amount of traffic and data storage required: "Xvideos, the largest porn site on the web with 4.4 billion page views per month, is three times the size of CNN or ESPN, and twice the size of Reddit. [It also hosts over 100TB of porn.]" Another article noted that researchers have also found that 30% of all web traffic is pornography.

AB: Well porn is big, I can see why! LOL. I haven't seen Avenue Q yet, I've been wanting to see it for a while. But I guess it's true, most people love porn and there are many fans that follow porn models.

VM: The internet also creates a problem of piracy and there has been some talk about a decline of the porn industry.

AB: There are companies that track websites that upload videos and they do get in trouble, so there's still hope. Some people download videos for free that can be tracked and they can be caught.

VM: With the profiliciation of homemade/amateur porn on sites like XTube, whose users for the most part showcase their videos for free, what role do you think studios will play in the future?

AB: Well that hurts the industry studios, they make less money and models make less due to all this free porn. But this is a big billion dollar industry, there's still money in it.

VM: You'll also be a producer for Treasure Media Island. Will you be directing as well?

AB: Yes and I also do camera work.

VM: Lastly, you're in the process of launching your own production company and website, tapping into a gamut of genres: Leather, Solo, Condom and Bareback scenes, Tranny, Straight and Gay, Fisting, Water Sports and Flagging.

AB: First of all, it's amateur. I don't want to get into big productions. I like amateur. Whatever happens, it's going to be there on film. It's going to be a bit of everything for everyone.