GayVN caught up with some talent in front of and behind the camera to see how they were handling the time off during the COVID-19 pandemicand what they see ahead for their industry and community. In this installment, we talk with GayVN Award nominee Dallas Steele. BJ: Where are you right now? In general, how do you think the people in your area are exhibiting safe behaviors? DS: Short of prison, Palm Springs is about as locked down as it can get. Everything is deserted. People are clearly staying home in mass numbers. It was among the first cities in the country to issue a shelter-in-place order. They are even trying to discourage us from walking our neighborhoods and hiking our trails by blocking all the parking at trailheads with no parking signs. If you read the local Facebook groups, the level of fear and paranoia is off the charts, with people even scared to go out into their yards. Particularly irritating are the people who feel its now their job to be the social distancing police, calling 911, wasting resources to report they saw their neighbor walking by alone on the street not wearing a mask. I frequently say, You do you. Ill do me. How have you personally been adjusting during COVID-19? How has life changed for you and your loved ones? What have been the biggest adjustments? One of my partners (I have two) works from home, the other is a grocery store worker; and of course, doing porn and escorting, my job is home-based as well. Because boy Steele works around hundreds if not thousands of people each day, were also exposed to the same number of people. It is what it is. We decided from the start we were not going to isolate him, or from him, and weve held to that. We are staying at home for the most part. I still walk or run the neighborhood an hour each day. We still go hiking in the mountains above Palm Springs on weekends. All of that is in the open air with few, if any, people around. What has been the hardest thing for you, and what do you miss the most? I miss the gym the most. In the last 27 years, I had missed a total of 52 days, now were up to almost 120though one could argue working out at home is the gym. I love my new machine, but it still is not like my gym or working at the same level as with my trainer. After the gym, Id say I miss Happy Hour every Friday with my friends. Pool parties with my friends. Miss going out to dinner two to three times per week. And I sure do miss traveling. How have you had to adjust your exercise routine? How creative have you had to get? It has totally altered everything. I competed in Classic Physique in December, took the first couple weeks of January off to recover, and had only been back at it at the gym for about six weeks when all this started. My first day back with my trainer was the day they ordered the gyms be closed. We started off at home with just our rubber resistance bands and two sets of dumbbells. I thought this would last two weeks, maybe three, but then when our governor ordered bars and restaurants be closed, I realized wed need a full-size gym station. I quickly ordered a Bowflex machine from Amazon. It took about seven days to arriveand $700 laterbut it was well worth it. We use the Bowflex every day, and then once per week we visit a friends very well-equipped home gym that hes renting out to people for $60 an hour to use alone or with those they live with. The home workouts are not optimal, but theyre much better than nothing. When do you think the porn industry can get back to creating content, and how will this affect how things are done in the near-term and longer-term? (testing, travel, etc.) If youve chosen to do porn, there is an inherent risk. If you do construction, you know you might be killed by a falling beam. I think most guys who do movies have accepted there is always the risk of HIV and other STDs, and arent terribly panicked about COVID-19. I may be wrong, but most of the other porn stars Im friends with are ready to go back to work any time. Looking forward, I cant imagine how studios would possibly test for this. Given the current cost of testing, it would seem an onerous requirement to impose on an already challenged business. I know Ill be scorned for saying this, but I can think of 20 things more likely to kill me before COVID. Were a country of 327 million people. In the U.S., 1.45 million people are positive, 90,000 have died. Its horrific. It’s awful. Someone loved each of those people, and all of them had an impact in this world somehow. Palm Springs is pretty isolated from the crisis. Nine weeks in, I still dont know a single person sick or even infected, not to say that all of us aren’t concerned about those in our community who are elderly or immune compromised. But if you’re asking about my own personal risk level, Im okay with the odds. And quite frankly, Ive lived a very full life, maybe two or three lives. If its time for me to go, then Im good with that, Im good with God, and I know where Im going. I hear people say How selfish or What if one of those dying was your mom or dad? Everyone in my family is already dead. But if my dad were alive, Im 100% confident hed have the same outlook I do. Yes, we as a country mourn all of those who have died, but the great majority of us will not become sick, will not have anything more than mild symptoms according to Dr. Fauci. As concerned as I am about COVID, I’m even more concerned about what happens when more than 40 million Americans are out of work and the human suffering that’s going to mean in terms job loss, home loss, businesses folding, domestic violence, suicide, murder and crime in general. The people making the argument to open up America should not be diminished to “just wanting to have a beer at the bar.” These are people fighting to hang on to the family home they’ve worked their lives for. Fighting to keep a roof over their children’s heads. Struggling to afford the cost of caring for an elderly relative in a rest home. We can make compelling arguments to stay home, and we can make equally meaningful statements about why we should reopen our country. Good men can and will disagree. But it’s clear both paths will involve considerable human suffering no matter what we do. How can performers on platforms like JustFor.Fans and OnlyFans get creative during this time and still provide new content? I think this is a great opportunity to get creative with solo JO videos, dildo play, fuck machines, electricity play or maybe something as simple as changing the setting where you do all of this. If its warm where you are, like Palm Springs in my case, go outside by the pool and do your video. Maybe use the hot tub. Shoot something with your partneror in my case, partners. I think we also forget that not all content has to be sex. Your fans will love a naked workout video or even you cooking or cleaning naked. I was lucky in that I had foot surgery in February, so in preparation for this, I shot 12 commercial movies and nine OnlyFans/JustFor.Fans knowing Id be down awhile. I never knew that all that content would actually be used to carry me through this period. Thank you, God! Secondly, there are plenty of guys out thereporn stars or notready to accept the risk of shooting something. I am not here to judge anyone for that. Everyone has to make their own decisions about how to protect themselves and others during this crisis. Ive seen firsthand how many gay men on the hookup aps dont seem to care about social distancing and are more than ready to still hook up with a stranger. How do you feel about that, and what would you say to them? I am not on any of the hook-up apps and never have been, so I cant really address that. But as I said above, Im not here to judge anyone. If you feel safe hooking up and accept the risk, then go for it. And yes, you can argue that two guys hooking up might infect each other, but thats their decision, isnt it? If I am at home in isolation, their decision isnt my business. And some will extrapolate suggesting that they could go to the store and infect others, but if youre at the store wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, the chances are pretty damn low. You are statistically 100 times more likely to die in an auto accident on the way to store than from COVID-19. Realistically, how long do you think it will be until gay men can feel comfortable hooking up on the apps? I think this is going to split. Probably half of gay men out there will be right back to business as soon as shelter-in-place orders are lifted; the other half is going to remain in fear for a much longer period. Much of how people view this crisis is framed by their politics, their spiritual relationship (if any), their experiences with death and dying, and with their general willingness to embrace the unknown. The media would have you believe that all Americans frame their views of this in the same way. They do not. From how the government is handling this down to the steps imposed to keep us safe, there are diverse views. If youre left wing, you think the government has failed and didnt do enough. If youre right wing, you believe the government has way overreacted in shutting down our economy. I would hope that people would use logic and reason to evaluate both claims and decide for themselves. But way too many people are content to let the media tell them what they should do, what they shouldnt do, and how they should think. Talk about the importance of porn during this time for people, who need safe ways to get off, relieve stress. Now more than ever it seems porn is proving how much of a purpose it has. If there was ever time that porn was important, its now. People are bored out of their minds. People are beyond stressed. Theyve got to have something to do, some kind of release. Masturbation provides all of that. If youve chosen to isolate and social distance, then watching your favorite movie is going to be one of your primary outlets. Even if youre partnered, it may be a primary outlet. And let me take this opportunity to remind people that if youre watching porn and not paying for it, thats called stealing. I would encourage people to support their favorite studio by subscribing directly to their website or visiting one of the many AEBN sites where studios get paid for the product. If you want to keep seeing top-quality porn, someone has to pay for it. If everyone is watching for free, eventually there will be no incentive to create new content. What lessons about life should this pandemic be teaching us? I would hope the lesson is to slow down and take time to care about each other. I know there is lots of speculation that this is Mother Nature telling us she needs a break or a lesson about overpopulation, etc. It could be all of those things. I do think this has been a very humbling, unifying experience. Rarely does the entire world experience something at once. The question will be whether all the bad stuff comes back when we get going again or will people really change how we do things in terms of climate change, international relations, politics, etc. Given human nature, I have my doubts about how changed people will be, but lets try to be optimistic.
written by: Brady Jansen