Mike De Marko isn’t interested in becoming a big porn star, despite being one of the industry’s hardest working young performers for the past two years. De Marko, who’s eagerly taken on the dicks of Boomer Banks, Trenton Ducati, Shawn Wolfe, and at last month’s Hustlaball, Aleks Buldocek, is content where he is, balancing his porn and escorting work with his legit gig as a Beverly Hills real estate agent. In person he’s well-spoken and confident, and though he seems eager to evade questions which would force him to play favorites amongst his scene partners, he’s open about the positive effects doing porn and sex work have had on his life in general. A few days after he finished shooting some scenes for Men.com, one of his favorite places to work, I sat down with De Marko over pumpkin pie and coffee to discuss real estate, fraternity life, and of course, what he’s thankful for this Thanksgiving.
You’re in New York, what brings you to town?
A combination of things. I was here filming early last week with Men.com. I did two scenes with them. I’ve also been seeing clients. It’s a work trip, all around.
You haven’t been in New York other than Hustlaball, for a really long time?
Yeah. Prior to that I hadn’t been in New York for about ten years.
What was the last time you were here?
It was in high school. I was looking at colleges. The last time I was really here I was looking at schools on the east coast. I toured NYU, Columbia, and then we went up and toured all the east coast Ivys.
Where did you end up going?
I ended up going to USC. I was very happy there. I toured all the schools on the east coast the summer after my sophomore year in high school. Then the summer after my junior year I did a summer program at USC, and I fell in love with it.
What did you major in?
Business administration. I minored in architecture, and did a second minor in international urban planning, which segued into my other career, which is real estate. I work as a real estate broker in Los Angeles.
How much time do you devote to each? Do people know about what you do?
Some people do. It’s hard to hide, especially in Los Angeles. West Hollywood in particular. I work for a brokerage based in Beverly Hills. A small firm, and I won’t say who they are. It’s interesting and it’s something that’s taken me a long time to come to terms with, or in another sense, to learn to balance. When I first started filming I didn’t want anybody to know. But that’s unrealistic in this day and age. Within six months of beginning to film, I left Los Angeles and took myself out of my social circle that I was used to. I went to Phoenix and spent six months there just removing myself from everything. After six months I was like, okay I’m bored, everybody already knows, it’s time to go home. I came back to LA about a year and a half ago, and moved right back into the thick of things in West Hollywood and got over everything. Everybody knew and I started telling everybody. I was filming and escorting. I went back to the brokerage. It’s a matter of taking it a day at a time. I have some days that are porn days and some days that are real estate days and some days that are in-between. I try not to let them overlap but it’s impossible.
So there might be a day where you’re seeing a client and then you have to go show a house?
Or vice versa. Absolutely. There are days when I sit in an open house for three hours and then I go home and get cleaned up and go see a client for an hour or two or a night. There are days when I show a house and then fly to New York and film scenes for two or three days. That’s just part of the combo. It’s interesting and it makes it fun.
Do you ever feel the temptation to steer clients to a house?
Constantly. But I think that’s the nature of a real estate broker in general. When you’re having a conversation with someone, no matter what, if they say anything about real estate — “I’m thinking about moving,” — the reality is that over the long term, my bread and butter is real estate. I have really good months from filming, really good months from escorting, but I hate to break it to people, neither one of those things is a long-term career. You might do it for a few years, you might get lucky and do it for a decade. If you have great success with it you might last for 20 years. But most people last about two years and then they find something else to do. I’m fortunate in the sense that I already know what I want to do for the rest of my life which is real estate. It’s fun for me to kind of bounce back from porn to real estate and do both.
You would be a good character for a reality show. Have you ever been approached?
Until recently I haven’t really advertised my involvement in porn and escorting. Lately I don’t care as much. It’s more of a package deal these days. I would love to do something like that. I did appear on an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker, which I don’t think has aired yet.
With that awful woman?
I love Patti.
But that’s what makes her so wonderful! She’s hilarious. A friend recommended me for that show and they cast me and initially I didn’t disclose anything about the work I do in the adult industry. I just said “I’m a real estate broker.” Then I got to set and I started freaking out. I was like, hmmm there’s a digital footprint. They’re gonna do a photo search, they’re going to Google my name and find all my porn photos. Facebook and Twitter are cross referenced in this crazy way. A lot of the Google indexed photos are matched and come from facial recognition, not just the text. So I’ve had personal Facebook photos show up on a Mike De Marko photo search before. So I got really nervous, and I told one of the girls who cast me that I didn’t write it on the paper but I do porn. She was like, “Has that affected your dating life?” I was like, in West Hollywood, not so much. Of course there are people who you meet and they don’t want to date you because you do porn. But by and large it’s not really a big deal, at least that’s my impression. She was like, “If you write it down Patti will ask you about it. So if you’re not comfortable talking about it, don’t write it down.” I knew it would make such good reality TV, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to talk about it on national broadcast. In the end I wasn’t chosen for one of the final dates, but it was still very entertaining.
If you were so uncomfortable about being so out and open initially, what made you get into porn in the first place?
I’ve worked in real estate for years and years. My first job was in real estate finance. I loved the job but I hated where I was working. I had taken a job in San Diego and I didn’t like it there. So I moved back to Los Angeles and took a pay cut. I got into property management and worked in that for about two years. But it’s one of those jobs where it’s fairly thankless. Everybody’s always mad at you about something but nothing’s really you’re fault because you’re the middleman. You field complaints from the owners and the tenants. I worked for a big company for about a year and a half and I wasn’t having a good time. I went and worked for a friend of mine, and I thought this would be better. I got to his firm and I worked for him for about six months but it still wasn’t fun. I was like, you know, there’s gotta be something else. At the time I had a roommate who was filming porn. He was like, “You should do it.” It was something I had thought about. When I was 18 years old I applied for Sean Cody, but I never heard anything back because I was this little twink from Utah.
So you always wanted to do porn?
It was always in the back of my mind. Within the first six months of working in property management, Randy Blue contacted me. I went in there and met Randy and they were like, “You’re great, fantastic, you have the body, but we just need you to have a better six pack.” I was like, “You have to understand I work 60-80 hours a week, so it’s going to be 2-3 months before I have the ripped gym body that you want.” So that didn’t work out. When I finally left property management, I had time on my hands, and everything fell into place. I met other people in the industry, and my first scene was with Cocksure Men. I had friends who worked for Men.com so I really pushed for that. Quickly I got a scene with Men.com and soon after they signed me as an exclusive. So I was with Men the whole time. I think because I was an exclusive and I had a set income structure, it was easy for me to kind of hide. That’s why I went to Phoenix. But as my contract was ending, I moved back to LA because I wanted to be in Los Angeles. I think I just realized that if I was going to do this, I had to go all in. It wasn’t something I could half-ass.
You had to own it.
For the last 18 months, that’s what I’ve tried to do.
But I don’t get the sense that you’re trying to be a big star.
I’m not. That’s not the goal because porn isn’t the long-term goal in general.
Is it money? Or is there is something you find fulfilling about it?
I enjoy it. I’ve said this from the very beginning and if you talk to anybody who knows me they’ll reiterate this, but I don’t do anything I don’t like. That’s why I don’t last long in a lot of jobs. I’ve been in porn for over two years now, so there has to be something I find fulfilling and enjoyable. Like anything you might enjoy it and have bad days and good days. As long as I have more good days than bad days, I’m fine with it. I definitely enjoy it.
What do you enjoy about it the most? Sex? Being adored? Being in people’s minds?
The sex is definitely enjoyable, but it’s funny you said being adored because I’m an exhibitionist and I’ve always been one. But I also get really uncomfortable at the point when people start to recognize me. I get a little awkward. It’s ironic, because as much as I like attention, I’m not good with compliments. Even in a casual settings with friends. If someone comes up and says, “Oh you’re so cute,” I’m like, “Uhhh, thanks.”
I’m the same way.
That part of it is interesting. The sex is fun. It’s definitely a big part of it. But I think the reason I’ve been able to meld the two industries – sex work and real estate – is that they both give me a lot of freedom with respect to my schedule. I get to decide where I work, who I work with, what I do. At the end of the day, I think the biggest factor is that I’m a control freak. I like to be in control of what I’m doing. Office jobs were not designed for me.
Growing up, were you looking at a lot of porn on the internet?
I don’t know if it was really a blog or a landing page, but when I was a teenager in high school, in the early 2000’s, there was a website, “I-Will-JO.com” and it was literally an affiliate paradise. You went on and it linked to every website in the world. I stumbled on Sean Cody and Randy Blue and all of these hunky athletic guys going at it. That was it.
The guys were hunky, jocky, but can you remember a moment when you thought, “I can do that?” Or, “I want to do that”?
Obviously I wanted to do it back then, but I feel like it was definitely reaching. As I got older and graduated from school and had been working for a while, I think it really was when I stopped working full time. I said “I’m going to go for this. I’m gonna do it. I don’t care if it’s with Sean Cody or Randy Blue. I know I can do it and I have the look for somebody at least.”
When you applied at 18 to be a Sean Cody model, were you out?
I was not out. I had a girlfriend. She found my Sean Cody subscription in my email inbox. I convinced her that I was just curious. We dated for another year and a half. When I joined the fraternity at USC I was still dating the same girl. We did the long distance thing for a year, which was funny because I cheated on her with half a dozen different girls at USC. By my sophomore year I was cheating with half a dozen different guys. Not necessarily a proud moment but somewhat comical.
What was it like being in a frat?
I was not out. Everybody knew that I was gay and didn’t have a problem with it, but I just didn’t want to admit it. After I had graduated and it had been a year or so, I called a few friends of mine in the fraternity and individually had the talk with them. I was like, “Look I’m gay.” Everybody said something along the lines of “I already knew.” Or “Cool. Are you dating anyone?” It was so not a big deal by the time I decided to come out in 2006. I kind of felt stupid, like, why did I make this into such a big thing when it really wasn’t. There weren’t any openly gay guys in my frat, but there were openly gay guys at other frats at USC in the mid-2000’s. On the one hand it was kind of fun being in the closet in college, the suspicion and sneaking, but on the other hand I look back and wonder if I had been out would I have had more fun.
Thanksgiving is coming up. What are you thankful for?
I’m thankful for a lot of things. Definitely thankful that I’m still doing this. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s gotten me through a really interesting transition in my life. I keep talking about real estate, but like I said it’s my long-term career. I’ve always wanted to be a broker and work on the agency side of things and for a long time I didn’t really had the confidence. I didn’t think I had the experience or the network, all of those kind of doubts go through your mind in any industry. I’m really thankful that I – in a sense, stepped out of my comfort zone – because as much as I wanted to do porn, I never really thought I’d be doing it for a long time, or that I’d build success in. Over the last two years I really built up my confidence and I realized that there are certain industries, anything in sales, in self-promotion, where you build yourself up, that’s where the crossover is really great for me. So porn has given me back the confidence to go out and start prospecting and build client relationships and tell people “I can do this. You don’t need somebody with thirty years’ experience. All you need is somebody who’s hungry and wants to do this.” That’s definitely a big thing I’m thankful for.
So porn is the big thing. It has helped you in a lot of ways.
Yes. The experience that it’s given me. The takeaway is the confidence-building. I’m also thankful for the freedom I have in my life to be able to film and do real estate, and not be tied to a desk. Of course I’m thankful for my family, those that know what I’m doing, especially. But even those that don’t.
Who knows what you’re doing?
My parents know. A couple of my cousins. I’m also very thankful for the network of friends in Los Angeles who have stood by me through all the different transitions. My friends from USC. My fraternity brothers. Ex-girlfriends. Other miscellaneous friends from school. I have a very eclectic group of people who stand by me. I’m thankful for all of them.
If you had to throw an orphan Thanksgiving for porn stars, who would you invite?
Questions like that are weird, it’s sort of like, “Who’s your favorite scene partner?”
I’m not asking you that.
I know. But outside of people that I know or that I’ve worked with, I don’t really follow who else is in the industry.
So you stay in a bubble?
I kind of do. That just goes back to that I don’t really advertise that this is what I do, neccessarily. Like I said, I’m not trying to be a star.
You’re not studying other porn stars.
I’m not looking and saying, “How did so-and-so become the biggest gay porn star? I want to follow his path.” I obviously want to do well in the industry because there’s a financial aspect and I want to be well-liked. But it’s not my goal to be the biggest gay porn star. My goal is for the people I work with to walk away from a scene saying, “That Mike De Marco was really great to work with.”
When you get off work, are you even sexually inclined? Or is it the last thing you want to thing about?
Yes and no. Some days I’m drained and I don’t want to. I had certain relationships that were non-sexual and I thought “Thank god you’re not horny all the time, because I just don’t have it in me right now.” But others I was like “I wanna fuck right now, all the time” and they were like, “Aren’t you tired of having sex? How do I know you really want to have sex with me? Other people pay you pretend to have sex.” I was like, “Here’s the thing, you’re not paying me. So if I’m having sex with you, I want to be doing it.” But I ask myself these questions all the time. Do I want to go out? Do I want to go to the bars? Get on Grindr? Go meet friends and maybe meet somebody? It changes and it varies with the person more than anything. I can think of the examples I was making – the people who didn’t want to have that much sex – I was actually not that into them but happy to have someone to spend time with. But the people that I really wanted to have sex with, I was really them.
So I won’t ask ask you to say who is your favorite scene partner, but whose dick feels the best? And be specific!
Some of the best, and I’m sure I’m going to leave someone out, but I have to give a shout-out to Trent Ducati. He’s big, he has a little bit of a curve and it’s really thick. One of the best was Boomer Banks.
What does that feel like? Do you lose feeling?
No. It was really great actually. I don’t think he came out of me more than twice during the entire filming. I just kind of sat on it the entire day. I felt really great.
A lot of our commenters give him shade because they say he can’t keep it hard. Did you experience that problem?
I didn’t have that problem with him. No.
Good to hear.
He’s a very nice guy. We did a very good scene. Trent also. Always great to work with. Adam Russo is always one of my favorites. I’ve done a few scenes with him. I don’t think he’d be upset to hear me say he’s not the biggest in the business. But he’s amazing to work with. Always hard. Knows what he’s doing with his penis. Always makes it enjoyable.
Last month you got fucked onstage by Aleks Buldocek. What was that like?
It was my first time performing at Hustlaball and it was exhilarating. The feeling of being onstage with everybody watching, having sex live like that, it was kind of indescribable. But what’s funny is that going into that experience, I wasn’t that nervous. I filmed so much and for so many different studios that when Boomer first approached me, and we talked about it, I was like, “Okay, where are we having sex? What does it need to be?” “He was like, “You’ve got the stage for 15 minutes. You can go softcore, hardcore, you don’t have to cum or you can if you want. It’s really up to you.” To be the first people onstage was really great, especially it being the first time that I had done something like that. We went up and went into it and kind of let it happen naturally. For the most part I tuned out the fact that the audience was there, but in the back of my head the whole time I was thinking “How does this look?” I felt like I was on set filming a scene. When I came down off of the stage, I panicked and started asking everyone “How did it look? Was it any good?” Everybody said it was great, fantastic, but I was like, “Could you see anything? How was the angle? Could you see the penetration? Did it look like a scene?” That was interesting. I was so excited going in, I wasn’t nervous, but right after I got offstage I was terrified that it hadn’t gone well. But thankfully it got good feedback. I may perform at Hustaball Vegas. I was there last year but didn’t perform.
Do you have a routine when you’re having sex off-camera? Things you like to do and don’t. When no one’s paying you?
I’m a cuddler. I’m all about good old fashioned missionary. I like to look at somebody. If I’m dating someone and seeing them, and there’s a romantic interest there, I want to feel that connection and see it and look at you while we’re having sex. Not to say that doggy is bad, but I’m very vanilla when it comes to sex off camera. I just like to keep it simple. It’s easier to ensure that things feel good when its simple.
Do you think you’ll keep doing porn for a long time?
It’s not a forever thing, but I do enjoy it. I think as long as I enjoy it I’ll be involved in the industry in some way. Whether it’s filming ocassionaly, or escorting, or doing Hustlaball, or doing things through Hook U or Rentboy. It’s not something I’m going to write off. I can’t put a deadline on it. I can in my head but my mother told me as a kid, “Never say never,” and I didn’t listen for the longest time. But after the last two years of filming porn and escorting and putting things together, never say never seems appropriate. You never know what’s around the bend.
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.