On the couch with James Darling

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Porn performer James Darling is helping to trans-form the industry.

He won the Heartthrob of the Year honor at this year's Feminist Porn Awards. He teaches workshops on porn star sex. He has a full schedule of solo masturbation and menage a trois porn shoots coming up. There’s no denying that 2012 is the year for transmale porn star James Darling. To celebrate his it-ness, I invited the very attractive, slightly shy, and oh-so-charismatic Darling over to my house to sit on my couch, eat some bacon chocolate chip cookies, and talk sex.

San Francisco Bay Guardian: Jiz Lee tweeted a quote from your acceptance speech at the Feminist Porn Awards: "Transmen being seen as erotic beings is a relatively new phenomenon, I'm proud to be a part, it's only the beginning" Why now? What’s making it possible for transmen to be seen as such erotic beings in pop culture and the mainstream sex industry? 

James Darling: Trailblazers like Buck Angel, Courtney Trouble, and Trannywood Pictures are taking risk to truly represent queer sexuality. They are really inclusive with their models. You can find transmen, transwomen, and various genderqueer individuals in their films. 

Also, celebrities like Chaz Bono are bringing attention to transmen in the mainstream. There is a cultural movement of transmale visibility. Social media forums like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr also make it easier for trans guys to communicate with each other. Factors such as these are helping to create a culture where transmen can be seen as erotic beings.

SFBG: I watched your interview on Queer Porn TV in which you talked about how making porn was another way to document your transition. In fact, you said you were “capturing the way you fuck through your transition.” Can you talk more about that process? 

JD: When I started making porn I was really early in my transition. I thought it was really important to have affirming images of people with bodies like mine, bodies before surgery. I wanted to show people that you can still be sexy and have hot sex prior to transitioning. And in fact, the last film I did before I had top surgery Brunch Bunch, a T-Wood Production, won honorable mention at the Feminist Porn Awards. 

The scene I did with Wolf Hudson for QueerPorn.TV was when I was only 2 months out of surgery. My scars were way more visible then, and when I look at myself in Buck Angel’s Sexing the Transman documentary I feel like my face looks way more different to how it looks now. 

SFBG: How do you feel about your newfound fame and popularity? 

JD: I think a lot of my popularity is due to the lack of visibility and semi-recent popularity of transmen in general, and the ability for social media to reach thousands of people quickly. I feel very grateful for the people around the world who have reached out to me to let me know that my images have positively affected their sex lives. It's the reason I do what I do.

SFBG: So you recently did a workshop at Eros entitled “How to Fuck like a Porn Star.” How does one fuck like a porn star?

JD: There are two main differences between people who do porn and people who don’t. Porn stars have to be really good at communication, and they need to be really confident. I feel like if you can include open communication and confidence into your sex life you can have some really hot sex. To really highlight this concept I screened a scene from one of my films and held a Q&A afterwards. The workshop was well attended and really well received. 

I’ll also be doing other workshops and talks at Eros in SF and Feelmore510 this June, and I’m totally open to doing more. 

SFBG: How do you identify your gender today?

JD: Well it differs from cis masculinity. I would say today I feel like a dandy, femme, and always very queer. And my gender isn’t queer simply because I’m trans.

SFBG: Talk a little bit about your own sexuality, and how it has or hasn’t changed throughout your transition.

JD: I find that my own sexual preferences have changed over time. I was first exclusively attracted to woman. I would fool around with guys in high school, but I saw that as a passing phase. I then dated other transguys for awhile. I next began to explore my fag identity. I found after being on hormones for awhile that I was really attracted to guys and really interested in getting fucked by them. 

The way I related to porn also changed. I used to be really into reading erotica, and now I’m way more visual. I used to really be into girl-on-girl porn, and now I watch tons of men jerking off. I would say my ratios for being attracted to men and women have shifted. The scale being currently tipped more on the side of men.

SFBG: What does being sex-positive mean to you?

JD: I guess it means being able to openly embrace sex and sexuality in my everyday life. Encouraging people to have the best sex lives they can possibly have and approaching sex from a non-judgemental place.