Walt Whitman begins his famous poem “Song of Myself” with the line, “I celebrate myself, I sing myself.” These words are on my mind as I sit across from Davie, a handsome, muscular, tan young man in his early 30s, who is lying in bed, naked and aroused, celebrating himself for thousands of horny fans all over the world. A small tattoo of Whitman’s bearded visage rests on his left ankle.
Davie is a homespun exhibitionist, who uses the still-wildly popular app Vine to make dozens of six-second clips of himself jerking off, staring sexily into the camera, and rarely, spurting out a few drops of creamy jizz. “For a cumshot to look sexy you have to shoot far, and I’m not a big shooter,” he explains, while stroking and pressing the screen to make the fast cuts that have become his video’s trademark.
Yes, it is possible to apply auteur theory even to something as short as Vines, which make three-minute preview clips on RedTube seem like epics. The majority of “dirty Viners,” as Davie calls them, use the entirety of their six-seconds uninterrupted. A Latin-American user named “Burro” posts six, seven, sometimes 12 clips in succession: 1. Pants or shorts are removed 2. The underwear comes off 3. Flaccid but still growing cock 4. Jerking furiously 5. The tip of the cockhead, mid-stroke, with a tantalizing bit of pre-cum oozing out, and 6. The cumshot. You could call it a mini-series. True Dick-tective. Cock of the Lake.
Another user named “Cocksucker,” sadly banned from the app in the March when Vine tried to purge itself of X-rated users, was more of a documentarian. Clearly addicted to giving head, Cocksucker did just that all day. During his lunch breaks he’d sneak out and document himself sucking cocks in seedy bathrooms or porn stores. One after the other after the other. Some Viners are more experimental, using the cuts to magically undress themselves, or animate their cocks growing like one of those time-lapse flower videos you used to see on PBS back in the day.
Davie’s aesthetic is more simple, more personal. He uses quick cuts because he finds them sexier. “I like the idea of giving the audience little peeks,” he explains. In a typical video, you may find up to twenty cuts. An establishing shot of him standing, his right leg raised in an exaggerated contrapposto, stroking his 8-inch uncut cock, followed by a series of extreme close-ups in rapid succession — cock, nipple, face, lips being licked, feet, legs, then shots of him suddenly without any clothes, then suddenly his shirt’s back on, then it’s off, then there are two cocks pressed up against each other — a simple but disorienting trick with a mirror. Think Bergman’s Persona if it were about a horny stoner in Brooklyn instead of two dour Swedish kvinnor.
Davie and I discuss his process. “Normally I would just be lying in bed jerking off looking at other people’s Vines, most likely. And then I’d want to tape myself,” he explains.
“Are you studying the work of other users the way a budding filmmaker might study a tracking shot in a Scorsese film?” I ask. “No,” he insists, “I’m just doing it because it turns me on watching other people. But there’s another level when I’m exposing myself to other people. I don’t know if that makes sense. Not to be a total narcissist, but it’s thrilling to see yourself onscreen jerking off as you are jerking off.”
Weed plays a big part, as does laziness, which is why Davie’s more recent videos feature him lying in bed, against vibrant red sheets, and filming himself with a flattering overhead angle. He is extremely picky about what he posts, and over the course of my observation he shoots several versions of a video then deletes each one before I even have a chance to see what’s wrong with them. “There’s a lot someone can do with camera angles to make someone feel sexy,” he explains, moving the camera to a profile of his chest and stomach to demonstrate his point. “Really unflattering angles like this, make me look fat. It’s a matter of playing around and seeing from which angle you look sexiest.”
After a few abortive attempts, I’m finally allowed to see one of his rough cuts. I notice an unflattering angle on his face that makes him look more sad than sexy. The video also seems almost identical to the past 7 or 8 videos he’s posted over the past few weeks during this latest “Bed Period.” Davie confirms my assessment, before the muse calls him back to work and he motions for me to hand back his iPhone.
This is one of Davie’s fans.
Even when he finally likes a video and posts it, there’s no telling if it’ll remain there for more than a few minutes. “I’ll post a lot of videos in succession and then, like, quickly delete the earlier ones because I decide I like one of the later ones better. Practice makes perfect, you could say. The posted video quickly racks up 158 likes and 31 revines. “Looks very tasy (sic) love to eat that cum,” comments one user. “Do u have skype?” asks another. My legs are briefly visible in one of the shots of his cock. “Wish I was that guy there sittin watchin you hah,” someone comments.
Yet it’s precisely my presence in the room that makes Davie’s Vine session not quite a typical one. As the observer effect states, any time you study an object, you change it. I ask how turned on Davie is. “About 50 percent,” he says. The charge he gets from being watched by the global masses is diluted by the charge he feels from me being in the room watching him. “It’s a little weird,” he admits, trying not to offend, “because when you’re jerking off normally you lose yourself in erotic reverie and it’s more difficult to do that when there’s another person there. Which is why I love masturbating so much, more than sex, because it’s more fun, you can absolutely lose yourself in fantasies. It’s hard to engage in fantasy if another person is there watching.” I offer to help him get in that headspace and stare at him intensely while he jerks off. This seems to work. His cock shoots up and he starts filming again.
After he posts a few more videos, Davie looks up at me and asks if I’d like to direct one. There’s no time for storyboarding. I’ve got to improvise. I ask him to stand, since that’s my favorite way of seeing him in the videos. I place him in front of a plain white wall and have him jerk off. I lean down and film his cock from three different angles, then his smile. I show it to Davie. He considers it for a minute, then frowns. No dice. “I think I look really good there but my penis isn’t very sexy looking.” I’ve suddenly gone from being the director to just the cinematographer.
My second try is more successful. I tell him to grip his cock and slap it against his hand. I’ve got my first shot. I go in for a medium angle from the left side on his shoulders, chest and head, looking down at his cock. Then I put the camera over his cock and capture his POV of his cock sliding in and out of his foreskin. My foot appears slightly in frame. Then I get two shots: his cock from a side angle, and the classic porn under-the-cock shot. I pull back, still staying under, to get the rest of his body, looking down at the cock. Normally this might be an unflattering angle, but it’s actually quite sexy. The last frame is an extreme close-up of pre-cum oozing out of the tip. I hand the phone back to him and he smiles. “That’s cute.” This video gets 276 likes and 62 revines, twice what his previous video received. The comments are even more effusive. “Amazing!! I like it!” “So damn hot and sexy.” “Your dick is sexy!”
Davie gets back in bed and keeps at it, while I ask him a few final questions. Who are his favorite Viners? “Usually it’s new people. Someone I’ve never seen before.” Before the March purge, Maverick Men Hunter and Cole were his favorite people to watch. Now there are fewer and fewer couples on there, most people just stick to solo videos. He’d love a boyfriend who was also into making dirty Vines so they could make them together, but it’s not a high priority. And no, he doesn’t want to do porn. He doesn’t want to come up in a Google search when he’s applying for a job, which is also why he insists I don’t use his real name or Vine handle.
He’s about to get dressed and head to the gym, when I ask a final question: does he think he’ll keep doing Vine for a long time? His reply is immediate. “Vine’s something I would like to delete, and have deleted several times and that’s why most of my videos are a couple of weeks old, because I keep on deleting them after a couple of weeks with the hopes of eventually shaking off an addiction, this need to jerk off on Vine. But I keep on finding my way back to it during horny moments jerking off in bed. Hopefully soon I’lll delete it but I don’t know if that will happen. I’ll probably keep coming back to it. We’ll see.” In the words of Walt Whitman, “The future is no more uncertain than the present.”
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.