JC Adams Has Spent ‘Roughly 300 Years’ in Gay Porn… And Counting

The longtime adult industry reporter on the glory days of porn, the rise of fan platform sites, and why we all need to stop participating in gay baiting.

 As L.P. Hartley once noted, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” J.C. Adams tends to agree, when he recalls his career in the porn industry.

“We had premiere parties!” he says, looking back at the world of gay porn just 15 years ago. “We had red carpets! We rented out nightclubs, we packed them with fans and industry. The industry took out billboards!”

“I just wish gay guys who want to consume porn would stop falling for the queer baiting.” —JC Adams

Adams, currently the news desk manager at XBIZ Magazine, jokes that he’s been in porn for “roughly 300 years.” Actually, he began in 1995, when he met a magazine editor at a party. Not knowing the type of magazine, Adams inquired if they were looking for freelancers. “Yes,” came the reply. “How do you feel about reviewing porn movies?” 

“And I said, ‘Does it pay?’” Adams ends with a laugh. That gig led to work with the now-defunct Gay Erotic Video Awards as well as more writing assignments. Adams dryly points out that the field is a small one, and the pool of writers with journalism training and an understanding of deadlines even smaller, but he was and remains deeply interested in the industry. 

“When you look at how much money the industry makes and put it together with pleasure products—when you take those two together, it’s probably the biggest industry in the world apart from maybe war,” he says. “And it’s a little strange that there are only two trade publications and a handful of good blogs.”

That puzzlement has been a career-long phenomenon for Adams, who has never understood why there is no seriousness of intent when it comes to coverage. 

“I’m fascinated by why people do what they do. Armchair historian,” he says. “The more I looked into the origin stories of the porn industry, the more interested I became. And it baffled me that these stories weren’t being recorded. Most of the founders of this industry are dead… It really made me angry that nobody thought these stories were worth chronicling.”

It’s probably the biggest industry in the world apart from maybe war.” —JC Adams

He points out that porn, despite its ubiquity, is fairly ephemeral: It serves its function and then the viewer moves on. But nothing else chronicles the shifting tastes and attitudes of gay erotic life with such clarity and exactness. And for a long time, “if gay men wanted to see their stories told, if they wanted to see gay men falling in love and having sex, porn was the only place to find it,” Adams points out. “The only place to get safer sex information was porn! There was a trailer in front that said, ‘Everyone here wears a condom.’ And that always got my fur up, that this big part of my community is considered disposable and not worth chronicling in a serious way.”

Adams was delighted when Jerry Douglas’ collections of interviews with actors and directors were published last year, but for the most part porn remains in the present tense, even as performers now have more resources to leverage their popularity into careers.

After a shrug from the studios regarding fan platforms like OnlyFans and Just.ForFans, the soaring popularity of both have led to a radical rethinking of the power of social media, and the ways in which studios can utilize it to maximize their exposure,

“For studio owners it was a harsh learning curve, but they’ve adapted,” Adams says. “Consumers may have been interested, but they didn’t want to go to what they perceived to be some seedy bookstore. And they didn’t want to give their credit card info. But now they really love Devin Franco, and all they need to do is go to Only Fans. It broadened the audience tremendously, but it’s like asking people to cut the cord for cable bundles and subscribe to 20 different services. It may force fans to prioritize.”

Just as tube sites like Xvideos and PornHub prompted a radical restructuring of the industry, Adams sees the same thing happening thanks to OnlyFans. “Self-generated content is kind of driving tube sites out of business because fans like knowing they can support their favorite stars,” he says. “[Now] a lot of people are willing to say, ‘Yes, I’m happy to give Austin Wolfe $5 or $10 a month to see his content.’ That’s been a side effect of this power shift away from studios and to models. Clearly there’s plenty of consumers willing to shell out their money if they know it’s mostly going to the model.”

“For studio owners it was a harsh learning curve, but they’ve adapted.” —JC Adams

Add it to the long line of dramatic overhauls the industry has withstood since Adams first began as a freelancer. One of the biggest, and one from which the industry is still not fully recovered, was the abrupt demise of VHS and rise of DVD, coinciding with the popularity of tube sites.

“The money went out of the industry,” Adams says simply. “The industry pretty radically changed in 2008, 2009, 2010. You could make a living as a freelancer in adult. I’ve done everything but work in front of the camera, and you could bounce from crew to crew to crew. That all dried up. I did an article about how VHS was still viable, and it was gone within the year.”

The world is also vastly different. Twenty years ago, the adult industry’s economic ecosystem was finite: The audience could only purchase VHS tapes from certain retailers, and they’d have to buy the trade publications to find out when their favorite star would next release a film. Now, the audience isn’t just no longer captive, they’re spoiled for choice. “It became about just keeping the lights on,” Adams says. 

One thing, though, remains consistent for Adams: “I just wish gay guys who want to consume porn would stop falling for the queer baiting and give their money to the guys having sex with other guys!” he says. “I don’t care if you’re straight and you’re doing gay porn. If you decide to work in gay porn, you deserve support.” 

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