CockyBoys is one of the most popular gay porn studios and content producers
CockyBoys has kicked off its milestone 15th anniversary year with a series of commemorative events. That includes the online re-release of 15 scenes that co-founder and four-time XBIZ Award-winning director Jake Jaxson feels best to define the company and its evolution. It’s a topic close to his heart. As he steers his company, its employees, and performers through the current COVID era, which seems to produce a new, unexpected change or challenge with each day’s headlines.
Jaxson is deep into post-production on the feature “Surrender: An Erotic GayDream”, starring seven of the studio’s current exclusives. He calls these young men “open, sensitive and connected.” The project exemplifies Jaxson’s relaxed, thoughtful aesthetic.
“Surrender” explores the nature of what it means to just “be in the moment,” acknowledge who you are and embrace the freedom and peace that comes with sexual self-acceptance.
“Surrender” and a second forthcoming feature, “Happy Endings,” are inspired by earlier series. Jaxson believes they were instrumental in establishing CockyBoys’ reputation. As well as his own as “a creative pornographer,” he notes.
“Happy Endings” is based on characters and situations that were painstakingly established in “Answered Prayers,” “All Saints”, and particularly “The Haunting.” Jaxson intends for “Happy Endings” to conclude that series of features.
“‘The Haunting’ was a defining project for CockyBoys as it introduced us to different types of audiences we did not know existed for what we do, and allowed me, my team and our performers to expand our thinking of what was possible in the realm of pornographic storytelling,” Jaxson recalls.
“Beyond that, it had a profound effect on me. It changed me as a person, allowing me to understand and process my past and help me accept who I was sexually, free of that past shame and guilt — I became ‘Jake Jaxson’ with that film.”
While “The Haunting” helped Jaxson deal with his traumatic upbringing, “Happy Endings,” he notes, was inspired by big changes in his life — and the fear that comes with such changes. But the theme of self-acceptance is the same.
Learning how to accept ourselves
“More and more it feels like things are out of control in the world around us, and often that collective energy manifests in our personal lives,” he says. “The first thing we can control is learning how to accept ourselves, our past and our actions, and in that acceptance comes an ability to work through the worst of it. And now more than ever, I am so grateful to work with a group of young men who are self-aware, proud and self-accepting of both their struggles and successes.”
Jaxson enjoys musing on the origins of CockyBoys, which was a moderately popular, utterly straightforward gay-for-pay membership site before he took the reigns.
Although gay-for-pay was a popular theme at the time, Jaxson immediately set about evolving CockyBoys beyond a type or vibe, to reflect the pride and confident self-awareness he saw in performers. “I was so impressed with the fearlessness of many of the guys we were working with,” he recalls. “They were proud to be gay, bi, curious and questioning.”
Over time, Jaxson has assiduously explored that theme of self-acceptance with the help of his team, which includes RJ Sebastian — studio co-founder, co-director and Jaxson’s husband of 22 years.
“Working with guys who are open and real about who they are, and not just how they look, is a whole other form of fearlessness,” Jaxson explains. “I have grown and changed every step of the way by being open to understanding and evolving the same way.”
The key discovery and lesson he has taken from his time running CockyBoys?
“Things change,” he states. “And guess what? I hate change! It always upsets and challenges me; I was always resisting it, and every time I did that I invited a lot of upset in my life and my work.”
Jaxson has found this particular piece of self-discovery to be especially challenging as the adult space is “always and forever reinventing itself — and it’s happening faster and faster.” Yet despite this sometimes unnerving fluidity, gratitude fuels his work.
“I am so fortunate to work in an industry that celebrates and prioritizes true personal freedom,” he says. “I feel that what we do now is important, necessary and has purpose, especially when the world around us is hellbent on creating unrealistic community standards that uplift division and violence, while deleting and shaming the rights of privacy, self-love and self-expression, helping to create an endless loop of self-loathing.”
Jaxson has been playing with these ideas and concepts in such recent works as “Love Happens,” the tagline of which is “Do you really want to go back to normal?” One of the key trysts in “Love Happens” is a dreamy idyll set on a large bed in the woods, featuring Avery Jones alongside a particularly magnetic Leo Louis.
“Leo is on a different plane than most artists in that he’s always deconstructing everything and then putting it back together in a way that’s comfortable for him,” Jaxson says. “Some people said, ‘Oh my God, that was so weird.’ No, he’s just organizing in a way that makes sense to him.”
Jaxson reflects on how the challenging reality of the world around him became infused into the production of that particular scene, which was filmed just as the industry was emerging from COVID-19 lockdowns.
“Yeah, ‘Love Happens’ really is what it looks like on film when someone is recovering from a nervous breakdown,” he states frankly. “It was the start of that process of acceptance and asking, ‘Do I really want to go back to normal? It was making us all fucking miserable!’ And then we all had to just stop. You can see the seeds of these things I’ve been talking about in that scene. I just prefer coloring outside the lines.”
He observes that as adult entertainment becomes more mainstream acceptable, the need for creators to push the envelope is more pressing than ever before.
“I feel like we’re in a place, as pornographers, that Hollywood found itself in the mid 1960s, where these disruptors started coming in and saying, ‘Let’s get real. Let’s get vulnerable and gritty,’” says Jaxson. “I don’t know. I think that attitude is much more fun and interesting.”
UnLucky in Love
Another recent CockyBoys release that delves into these themes is “(Un)Lucky in Love,” an XBIZ Award-nominated romantic comedy with a sparkling lead performance by Tayte Hanson. His character’s quixotic quest for genuine connection and love — which he finds through a charming meet-cute with a local drag performer played by Brock Banks — concludes in a satisfying, cozy way that feels earned and not cringey in the least.
That particular production, Jaxson notes, wasn’t originally intended as a feature, but the final result is nevertheless seeded with the same themes that would soon blossom in subsequent projects.
“It’s absolutely one of my favorite films now,” he states. “We did poke fun at that whole process of finding love, as Tayte’s character was trying to do. But it does explore how we suffer our own successes. And if we give it up and let go, despite the craziness of it all, we just might find some peace. Tayte absolutely nailed that whole question, which is, ‘What if I just stop and accept who I am and see where it takes me?’”
Now, in his company’s anniversary year, Jaxson intends to stay connected to the vital energy CockyBoys performers bring to the table, while also staying “engaged with and understanding of what our audience wants, needs and enjoys,” he promises.
“It’s so funny how people react so strongly to your work,” he muses. “Some people think it’s the downfall of Western civilization and others will just be so offended that there weren’t enough penetration shots in a scene, they threaten to cancel their membership. Sometimes I’ll think, ‘Okay, well, do we need to look into that? Should we have more penetration shots?’ We all have a very different view of what is sexually potent. And that, for me, is so exciting.”
Reactions to porn are highly individualized
Reflecting on the very personal, intimate relationship most consumers have with porn, Jaxson opines that reactions to porn are highly individualized because virtually everyone is alone when they enjoy it.
“When we are mindful of that reality, and don’t get upset or frustrated, we can also learn and evolve as creators,” he says. “For many our work is an escape, for others it’s a road map to sexual discovery — it arouses, it provokes, it provides. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be able to create and thrive doing something that I love, and hope I will still be creating in this space 15 years from now.”