Though he admits part of his entry into porn was to fuel his ego, daddy porn star Allen Silver doesn’t care whether you think he’s hot. “If you are into hairless slim guys, more power to you,” he says. “But don’t dislike older hairy guys just because they’re not your cup of tea.”
It’s Silver’s fearlessness in entering the notoriously critical gay porn industry in middle-age that has earned him legions of fans, young and old. But fans are also obviously into his fur, and his gift for sucking cock and making eye contact — a practice he learned in his day job as a self-described “sacred intimate.” After appearing in Pantheon’s daddy films for a few years, Silver attracted the attention of Ray Dragon and legendary director Joe Gage who cast Silver in 2008’s Chainsaw as a dad who catches his sons jerking off and decides to join in. The buzz over the incestuous scene prompted Gage to cast Silver in Dad Takes A Fishing Trip, the following year, and that film’s success led to two more incest-heavy sequels and starring roles for Silver in several other projects as well. I’ve known Silver for four years (full disclosure: we had a great night of dinner and sex when he was in New York back in 2010) and observed his experience on the set of Gage’s American Bukakke a few months ago, but we’ve never really talked at length about his life. So I called him last week to discuss his day job as a sex worker, how he handles criticism over his age and how he approaches his controversial role as an incestuous father in Gage’s films.
Adam: We’ve talked about this before so I know, but just for readers, when you’re not doing porn you have two different jobs, right?
Allen: Right. I’ve been a web designer since the early 90’s and I just love doing that. I’ve been doing it for ages. I also do erotic work and massage work, and then the occasional porn.
Your erotic work isn’t typical rentboy work, it’s more healing and sex therapy-type stuff, right?
Yes. My approach to it comes out of my training with the Body Electric School. My approach is called Sacred intimate. The intention is that you have a specific intention coming into the session with me. I’ve helped men deal with a lot of things that you could call healing. Dealing with the loss of a partner and getting their sex drive back going, dealing with prostate surgery, or just facing something scary or interesting that they’d like to try that they can’t just ask a stranger in a bar or a random rentboy to do. I’ve got quite a good reputation. I’ve been doing it for 12 years or so. Also, I want to make sure I say is that I’m not a therapist and often I will work with people who are working with therapists. Often I’m the lab that’s a safe place for people to try out things they need to try out.
How did you first get into it?
It all was part of a longer self-discovery process for me. In 1997 I had an erotic awakening, I guess you could say, where I realized there was a lot more to myself and what I’m here to do. I started to learn more about myself. The big piece of my life is that I’m very sexual. I wanted to do something that fits who I am. That involved doing a lot of exploration, taking classes and I learned about this thing called Sacred intimate and that’s how that got started.
Tell me more about the awakening. What were you like before you had this awakening?
Well I was out. I came out when I was 26. But in 1997 I was not yet 40 and I did a workshop in which there’s erotic massage, breathing, role playing, all kinds of stuff going on. Basically my body got bigger, my energetic body got bigger, my sexual awareness got bigger and then I had to decide what to do with that because prior to that, all of my energies were focused around being of service, being a good boy, and taking care of others. But I wasn’t focused on taking care of my own needs.
You became a metaphysical top?
Ha! I’ve never thought of it that way but I guess you could say that. The period before was filled with little and not very satisfying sexual behavior and then afterwards was a whole different world.
When you had this awakening did you have a partner or were you single?
My partner and I had been together for ten years at that point and it’s kind of a strange synchronicity because he was also doing some other kind of work on his own, exploring ayahuasca and seeing what awakenings and insights he could find via that. He went off and did that the same weekend I went off and did my touchy-feely workshop and we both came back different. That was basically the end of our relationship. It just was not going to work after that.
What prompted you to seek these non-traditional awakenings? Were you both deeply unhappy?
I wouldn’t say we were unhappy I would just say we weren’t as conscious as we were later. We were very supportive of each other and helping each other learn and support stuff. There were no worries about either of us doing these things. And I didn’t go in with the intention it was going to change my life. I went into it with the intention that I was curious and wanted to learn more.
Were you a sexual kid? Were you fascinated with sex from an early age? When you had this awakening was it the first time you opened yourself up?
No, I was sexual very young. I first had sex with my friend when I was ten years old. We used to do all kinds of stuff. For both of us it was very clear we weren’t supposed to be doing this. It was evil and bad. So I stopped being sexual in my early teens and I stayed like that pretty much until my mid-twenties. I had very little sex during that period. I tried very hard to be straight. It didn’t work. I finally came out at 26.
What was that like? That’s certainly not a non-traditional path, but it’s definitely different from a lot of the porn stars that I talk to.
Is it? That’s interesting. I think part of it is just my age. I’m probably the last of a generation that really felt there were no gay role models. There was nothing to show me that it might be a path that could be okay. I know there are certainly places in the U.S. where people are not allowed to express their gayness without fear of great rejection, but there are at least images of gays out in the world. When I grew up everything was just about making fun of gay people.
What time period was that?
I came out in the eighties and immediately fell in love with somebody and that was my partner for ten years. Even though we were sexual there was a lot of shame attached to it, and a lot of the things that I was curious about doing he would pooh-pooh. Later I realized how much I had been keeping suppressed by not exploring that.
What were your hang-ups? What were the things you wanted to do?
I wanted to fuck. And I had this strong message that that was wrong and it took a while to get over it. It’s just such a huge core part of myself that either it was move into that or just go into demise because I couldn’t suppress it and have any kind of vibrant life. The few times that we would screw it would be filled with shame and guilt afterwards so mainly we just masturbated. Which is hard for me to believe, that I spent that much time doing that.
We all take our path. It took me a very long time, until I was 24 and had been out for six years, before I fucked somebody. I had been with somebody I desperately wanted to fuck and they wouldn’t let me because I hadn’t done it before. They didn’t want to be my first and it took me a long time to get into that. And I didn’t really get into bottoming until last year. Before that it had always been miserable and I always waited and thought there’ll be somebody who comes along and makes it fine. It happened last year. It’s strange how everybody takes these different paths.
Yep. That’s right. And there’s a whole weird thing around bottoming. The mixed negative messages around it. Which is a shame because the ass is such a source of pleasure. I’m not saying everybody has to get fucked but if you’re not enjoying the sensual pleasures of your butt you’re missing a big piece of your life.
Do you have specialties? Traumas you’re especially good at help people deal with?
Well, a small percentage is traumas. Mostly it’s people who are inexperienced and insecure and want to try something. A great example is what we were just talking about. I help a lot of men have good first experiences enjoying their butt. As far as trauma that’s been more abut coaxing someone out of a scared place. But I’ve had a number of successes doing that. One of my favorite stories is that I had two clients who came to see me. One for a number of years. I can’t tell you details but we got him where he needed to go. And then a few years later him and another client met and fell in love and are now happily coupled. So I feel like I played a part in letting them each get to a place where they felt comfortable enough to do that.
Do you still have any sexual hang-ups? Are there things you work on?
Wow. I would have to think about that. Nothing is springing to mind. Also sometimes you don’t know things about yourself. That’s a great question.
When did you first meet Joe Gage and was he the first person who approached you about doing porn?
No. That was probably two or three years into doing porn where I finally got to do something for Joe. The first thing I did was a very soft porn kind of thing for Tom Bianchi and it was fun but it was a little stiff and awkward. The first one that was real porn was something I did for Pantheon. I was already friends with the guy who runs that company, Chris, and he asked me to do something with someone I found very attractive. That’s what I considered my first real movie. The reason I got to work with Joe was that at the urging of my previous boyfriend, not the one we talked about a minute ago, I contacted Ray Dragon and got to do a movie with him called Jonny’s Place, which was wonderful. And that’s how I appeared on Joe’s radar, when he saw the movie Ray had done.
Were you familiar with his work and what he was capable of?
Oh yeah. Like a lot of people, and this is what I run into a lot when I mention him to people, they think of all the classic movies — El Paso Wrecking Company, etc. — but they don’t know he started back up again making new stuff. That’s changed. More people know it now, but before then people would be like, “Is he still around? I remember his movies they were great.” But I definitely knew of it and when I became aware of him I checked out his newer stuff and liked it.
What motivated you to make the leap into porn and how did it change your practice? Were you worried it would change it for the worse?
Why I got into it was that in this process of getting to know myself, I realized I’m very sexual. And I have a prima donna aspect. I love to be told I’m attractive. And I also am a big believer in people having really good, connected sex. And I said wouldn’t it be great if I could do a movie, model that kind of behavior and maybe people will pick up on it and at the same time I get to have attention and whatever level of fame that comes with doing that kind of movie. To answer your second question, I was concerned about it changing my practice and my clients have changed and my approach has changed over time. When I first started doing my work as a sacred intimate it was pretty much all through recommendations. People would come to me every time because they wanted to explore bondage or had fear about their ass being touched. It was very clearly that they were coming in doing something specific. When the movies started doing well I got more people coming in because they wanted to be with Allen Silver. So I had to change my practice a bit and I put another category there I called “Erotic Play” which is just, you’re coming because you want to have fun. We’re not trying to fix anything or explore anything necessarily. And I love it. So that has worked. The challenge around it is I have had a few times where someone has come and have watched the movies a lot of times and have a certain image of me and then they’re with the real person and I’m just human and in the room with and they’re not sure how to interact with someone that they’ve spent a lot of time watching on the screen, so that’s been a challenge.
I remember when we had sex I had the same kind of reaction. Oh, yeah, he’s not Dad or whatever, he’s just a guy and we still have to vibe and get the energy together. Maybe it didn’t quite go that way.
I remember I liked it!
I liked it too but when you have a fantasy, when you think you’re going to have sex with a fictional character, nothing can live up to it.
I feel like a lot of things that sex therapists and probably sacred intimates have to deal with is the ways that people develop wrong perceptions about sex based on porn. I’m curious if you worried you were perpetuating the problem or did you decide that you would try to sort of correct it in some subtle way?
I don’t have a black and white answer for that because I think about that a lot. I can’t help think I probably do perpetuate it some, just because, I mean, we’ll film a scene over two days and then it gets edited down and multiple cameras make it look like I came four times and rested and went again, this totally unrealistic period of sex. Just going and going and going and shooting and shooting and shooting. Now I do feel like I have an opportunity to put out in those, because I do feel like I’ve gotten across eye contact and genuine connected sex, and passion. That’s what I always look for in porn and I feel like I get that across. Likewise when someone comes to see me personally, at least on that one to one basis I’m able to have an experience with them that’s just two guys getting together and doing stuff and not about performing for the camera. I always laugh when I see an ad for something that says, “Have sex like a porn star!” I don’t want you to do that! Have sex for fun and pleasure and relaxation. But don’t do it because you’re trying to show off for the camera.
Tell me about the first time you got onset for Joe, and what was that like? Was that Chainsaw?
That was Barnstorm. He interviewed me a couple of times, and then he would do things like have me walk. It was really fun because it was like, this is the real thing. I was like, “I hope this happens, but if it doesn’t it was still really cool to get to interview for him.” Then he gave me the go ahead, and then the actual filming was in connection with Titan. He’s a little different when working for Titan and working on his own. Titan has a longer, more intense working schedule. But he was a pleasure to work with. He’s like this big happy kid who loves playing around with naked boys making them do things. It’s hot and he has a very clear idea of what he wants. It’s efficient too, so I had a great experience with him right off the bat.
I think the first time you did an incest scene was Chainsaw, right? Was doing that a leap for you? I imagine in your practice that must have been something that came up with people at times.
Yeah you’re right, Chainsaw came before the Dad movies. Well I hold the dad-boy quote-unquote “incest theme” a little less literally than that. A lot of the stuff I do in my private practice, role-playing and stuff is around daddy-boy energy. I think it’s a really useful, fun and helpful archetype to play with and that the dad-boy thing doesn’t depend on age. Your boy can actually be older than you. So I kind of come at it from that perspective, rather than literal incest, even though that is what happens in his movies. But I did have to think about it a lot before I jumped into this. In the first Dad movie, Dad doesn’t have sex with his son although he helps him learn how to suck cock through a gloryhole. I just love playing with dad-boy energy. One of the things that I love about his movies is they have this kind of – they’re not literal and they are at the same time. It’s almost a comedy in some ways, what’s going on in them. But you can’t act like you’re in a comedy. You take the whole thing seriously, and yet these situations are so fantastical. These guys are just constantly throwing themselves at Dad. His boy wants him to fuck him. It’s fantasy. I look at it as fantasy and that kind of power play that most of us have fantasized about.
I remember when I did a panel with Joe at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs when I curated the gay porn for the hotel, we brought Joe and someone asked him about that, and he hadn’t yet done the Dad movies and he said I’ve done this scene where the boy jerks off looking at his father in the shower and Chainsaw, but he was like, “I won’t go that far to have them actually have sex. I don’t want to perpetuate that.” I’m curious, do you remember when you realized that things were going to go that far?
Yeah, sure Dad Goes to College. When I got the script for that, I had to decide if I wanted to go ahead with it at that point. I don’t know how to answer why I decided to go ahead, just what I said before; I hold it as a fantasy and an archetype rather than it really being actual incest.
And people forget there have been incest scenes in gay porn since the very beginning. 1983’s Men of the Midway for instance, by the great Roger Earl, features Paul Baressi having sex with his son.
Well it’s edgy and I think Joe pulled it off. You’ll notice there are certain things he does in that, it’s actually I’m pretty sure, always the younger guy instigating the scene with the older guy – that’s one piece of it. There’s also at least a mention that the younger guy is a college student. Even though you could pretend he’s younger than he is, we’re not pretending he’s 12 or something. And how many of us had wished we had an older someone to guide us and at least advise us and we were left on our own?
And so many twinks now go after daddies because of the access to porn, Scruff profiles of 18-23 guys almost always read “Daddy Chaser” now, whether they’re really equipped to handle it or not. Now I know that the Dad films were obviously successful but I’m sure you got some backlash from people over doing them?
I was braced for that actually and it kind of never really came. The only kind of complaints I got from people are from people who think I’m too old to be doing this, which is okay, people can like whatever they lake, so it didn’t really get too much criticism around it being some sort of perverse thing, oddly enough.
I feel like a lot of shit and hate is directed your way from mainstream porn fans about your age. A. Where do you think that comes from, and how do you handle that? I saw you commented on a Sword post recently where someone made a comment.
Oh yeah, that was funny. I don’t take that thing very seriously. You get to like what you like. If you are into hairless slim guys, more power to you, there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t dislike older hairy guys just because they’re not your cup of tea. That’s how I take it. It says more about them than it does about me. But I gotta say the feedback about me has been really positive. The people who like me really like me, and that’s normal. It’s fine. I try not to take it too seriously. It is dangerous to Google myself randomly. But something’s working. My schedule’s full.
Going back to the incest thing, the other thing I wanted to mention is that I know that you did a scene with James Darling for Bonus Hole Boys, which has also become controversial about the daddy-boy thing.
Yeah that one I have not seen, it just came out. I have had such wonderful experiences with FTMs in the past that when they asked me to do it I immediately said yes, because that’s one of the things I’ve always wanted to explore. That’s one that I’ve gotten the nastiest feedback on. James is 26, in the story we make it clear he’s a college student, and he’s not a relation – he’s a friend of the family. But going back and looking at the stills I can see how people think, he’s a man who used to be a woman, and so there’s a little gray area on how masculine he comes across, and he dresses and looks very young, and it may be that that’s pushing the boundary a little too much for some people. All I can say is that James reads like a grown man in person. His masculine energy. It didn’t feel like I was with a girl or a young boy in that. It felt like I was with a man.
The one thing that’s weird with the Dad stuff, I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or it’s because of you and Joe’s videos, and this is where I think your videos stand out is that you see a lot on the internet on clip sites, you see pairings of really unattractive older men with young twinks and that whole pairing is the one that feels the most disturbing, these low rent, low budget loops. I think the Dad films stand apart in some way, because it’s fantasy and the other seems like we forced this young guy to have sex with this 89 year old man to please a very tiny subset of people who want to believe this happens.
They’re taking that idea and pushing it to an extreme, and what they’re not doing is they’re not doing a good job. It comes across tacky and with poor production quality. Some of the people aren’t that attractive, and also what I see so much in that porn you’re talking to, it doesn’t look like they’re that interested in each other, or that turned on, or open, or connected. That’s what I look for. And it doesn’t mean that the people are in love, but it does mean that they care that the other person is in the room, and they have looks on their face like, “Is this almost done? I want my paycheck.”
Do you consider yourself Joe’s muse?
What a wonderful idea. I would flatter myself thinking that. Let’s say yes! (laughs) I can’t really say. You’d have to ask him that. I do know he puts a lot of care and thinking into when he did the Dad character. One thing he told me is that it made it harder for him to write for me because I’m a nice guy and he wants it to be real, so if he were to cast me as some dastardly mean guy, it just wouldn’t work. So it makes it harder for him to write to me. I just give that as an example as how deep his thinking is when he creates this stuff.
Do you have a dream plot or scenario, character, setting, milieu, genre that you’d want to take on?
I really love outdoor sex and I wish I got to do more outdoor sex in the movies I’ve done. But apart from that, quite a while back I fulfilled all my porn fantasies. I kind of really got to do everything I had fantasized about doing.
Who are your favorite co-stars?
Well, I have to mention my boyfriend Will Swagger, I got to do a scene with him and it was wonderful. Conner Habib is great. So much fun with him. Oddly there’s an obscure one I did called Rugged, and this guy only did a couple of movies, his name was Kegan Daniels and we had such a hot connection. I also had a lot of fun on the set with certain people I didn’t expect to, such as Girth Brooks who was just a blast. I’m trying to think of the guy who was – Mick Powers. We did Johnny’s Place together and afterwards we went out and went to a piano bar in New York and drank I had so much fun with him I would love to work with him again.
What’s been the most fun scene in all the porn work you’ve done?
I’ve had a lot of fun in most of these, probably the ones that stand out the most – the scene in Dad Goes To College, the scene where the student – Tommy DeLuca comes in, who is nervous about being naked on stage. I’m in there with Dale Cooper and so this kid pulls down his pants and his dick is gigantic and it was one of the funniest things and try to sit there and have a straight face because of course the scene was comedic but you can’t act that way when you’re doing it, and then I just had a beautiful time with him, having sex. And I just gotta say I feel like I had this arrival experience doing American Bukakke, because it’s just such a well-oiled machine how that whole thing works and I’m back behind this wall about to make my appearance in this scene and I just had this moment where I felt so lucky that I was there on that set about to do that with those people.
Let’s go back to your sex work – I imagine you see a lot of different types of problems from people and I’m wondering are there some that you’re seeing more and more of in recent years? Or is it pretty constant?
I can’t think of anything that’s changed in terms of the issues of people have. There’s a consistent discrepancy between what people think anal sex is supposed to be like and what it’s really like. I will tell you what happened since I’ve been seen as dad is that I’ve had very young people contact me and there’s an age below which I won’t see people, who aren’t serious about it, who are just immature and who just want the chance to talk to them on the phone and are trying to get me to jerk off with them on the phone.
That’s so funny because that’s exactly as a kid what I would have done, I remember looking up in the phone book the number for Dial-A-Stripper, calling and then hanging up really fast.
Yep. That’s exactly it!
Adam Baran is a filmmaker, blogger, former online editor of Butt Magazine and co-curator of Queer/Art/Film. His short film JACKPOT, about a porn-hunting gay teen, won Best Short Film at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and was recently featured on The Huffington Post, Queerty, and Towleroad, among others. He is a features programmer at Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival and NewFest in New York. In his spare time, he complains about things to his friends. “Fisting for Compliments”, his weekly musings about the intersection of sex, art, porn, and history, will appear every Monday on TheSword. You can contact him at Adam@TheSword.com and follow him on Twitter at @ABaran999. Check out his previous columns in the Fisting For Compliments Archive.