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Why This Gay Porn Director Doesn't Have to Fake Cum Shots

isabel dresler

*Some links in this story may be NSFW.

Jay Austin’s first suspension scene was a grueling six hours during San Francisco Pride in a sordid alley behind a Chinatown theater. There, the adult film actor was blindfolded, flogged, shackled, and manhandled by co-star Max Cameron for Kink Men’s Bound Gods series. He even had a hook plug stuck into his butt while being suspended by ropes from an outdoor stairwell — all for, according to the scene, the crime of littering. It was, in a phrase, a tough shoot, being forced to maintain a hard-on while upside down with the blood rushing from your extremities. But there, throughout the shoot, as a position of support that’s rare for the adult entertainment industry, was Isabel Dresler, a nonbinary transmasculine producer, who went on to become one of Austin’s favorite collaborators.

“Izzy was the first one that gave me arnica gel for my rope bruises after that scene,” Austin says of the producer — the gel would later soothe his pain and prevent bruising on his muscles. “They have always made me feel safe and advocated for on set. The director would suggest something like putting a butt plug hook up my ass without lubing it up; all I would have to do is look at Izzy, and they would suggest maybe letting me warm up with it first.” And that process — putting the performer first and prioritizing both their comfort as well as their limits — has made Dresler a favorite of porn stars in an industry that is re-orienting power in their favor, and they are creating award-winning work that is demanding recognition.

“I always set myself up to not be recognized for the work I’ve been doing,” Dresler says. “Especially with kink. It was all very hush-hush.” So originally, they didn’t actually plan on attending the GayVN Awards in January — an event that’s often described as the “Oscars of Gay Porn.” But, at the urging of models from CockyBoys, with whom Dresler had been recently filming, they attended, finding two of their own scenes competing against one another for Best Fetish Scene. And then JJ Knight, a CockyBoys model, was pulling them up on stage to accept their award, although they were dressed in a black Fruit of the Loom t-shirt and jeans smeared with lube from shooting over the past 72 hours. “Tie Me Up! Dick Me Down!,” their CockyBoys scene, had won.

Dresler’s career started in the adult world as a performer. After taking professional photos of a woman they met at a fetish party, the referral mill kicked in: They found themselves booked out, first with cisgender women and nonbinary femmes in photo shoots, before working in transmasculine performers like Viktor Belmont and James Darling, the latter of whom starred in Dresler’s first film.

“Isabel does what they say, they don’t push it, and they are empathetic,” Belmont says, pointing to Dresler’s navigation of boundaries as an important but often overlooked step in their set days. “That is a rare, rare quality in this industry.” And that comes in part from Dresler’s personal experience with sex work on and off camera. “I won’t ever make a model do something that I’m not willing to do myself,” they say, having been subjected to a vast majority of the most heavy BDSM they film — think suspension, anal fisting, and being poked with a cattle prod. So they can  speak from experience not only on how things will feel but also how to deal with it — thank God for arnica gel. But it’s not just about the pain: Dresler has developed a reputation with performers for shooting beautiful, high quality content in an environment where they feel cared for and that they genuinely enjoy.

Today, the performer’s voice is becoming increasingly important. Through the advent of social media where performers can not only speak directly to their admirers, but also redirect them to fan site platforms like JustFor.Fans and OnlyFans where the stars have total control, the power structure of adult entertainment is shifting. And Dresler is primed for that. “The content we collaborate on is better than most of my studio work,” Austin says. “In fact most of my fans think it is professional. We joke a lot that they have ruined me for other photographers; every time I hire someone else to shoot I’m disappointed in the quality.” And as some of these performers take the reigns over studio projects, they bring Dresler along for the ride. “There’s this very fluid, artistic, seamless, and effortless feeling when it comes to filming with Isabel,” says the multi-award-winning performer Boomer Banks.

When Banks launched his imprint BOOMBOX, he lobbied to have Dresler shoot the debut scene, jumpstarting their relationship with CockyBoys. “It felt like a genuinely queer experience; it felt like they weren’t even in the room.” Dresler’s work for CockyBoys has helped introduce kink into into the brand’s vernacular and encapsulates an intimacy the site has become known for, partially because they insist on only shooting models together who genuinely want to have sex. “I’ve been working for CockyBoys for about two years,” Dresler says. “I think I’ve done about 30 scenes, and I haven’t had to fake a cum shot yet. I’m really proud of that.” And if the awards are any indication, it’s sounding like a good time for all.

This article appears in Out's August 2019 issue celebrating the body, on stands now. The cover features South African Olympian Caster Semenya. To read more, grab your own copy of the issue on Kindle, Nook, Zinio or (newly) Apple News+ today. Preview more of the issue here and click here to subscribe.

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