Over the past few years, we've got access to adult performers in ways that were truly unheard of. Now, you aren't just watching them in their films, but you also see their photos on Instagram, read their tweets, watch them lip sync on TikTok, and do a whole lot more on OnlyFans and sites like it. A reality show was inevitable. Enter: X-Rated: NYC.
Launching today, the six-episode series on OUTtv follows four male porn performers — Boomer Banks, Dante Cole, Joey Mills, and Max Konnor — as they live their lives in New York City. They discuss everything from safe spaces to gay for pay and Sniffies — no seriously, there's a whole breakdown on Sniffies.
"Watch the show because it was made by a bunch of queer sex workers," Daddy TV (the production company that created the series) co-founder Topher Cusumano tells Out. "There's a tendency in this world — even within the queer community, especially in the capital G Gay community — that people say they want to support queer projects and marginalized groups, but they are more likely to watch a reality show not only featuring a mostly cisgender straight cast, but also made by cis straight people. So even if you have a reality show featuring some cool queer characters, chances are their narratives are being controlled by a group of straight people. And I do think it's important to step up sometimes and support community-led art."
There are a few sincere moments, a whole lot of drama, and a few moments that definitely put the acting in porn actors, but it's all-in-all an enjoyable watch, lightly getting to know some of the industry's biggest performers.
Here, we talk to Cusumano about X-Rated: NYC and how it all came about.
You're 100 percent right. We were founded as a queer, sex-positive production company. We do focus mostly on unscripted content, although that might change in the future. And I would say yes, it's sex-positive but it's also sex work positive. So really giving platforms to different kinds of performers in the adult industry. So for example, on Hot Haus, we have full-service sex workers, strippers, cam boys and girls. X-Rated really was to sort of dig a little bit more into the celebrity studio porn scene.
We do think it's interesting and important to have platforms where sex workers can expose and develop their brands in spaces that are considered "mainstream" or "safe for work." Doing that with a lot of joy and outside of trauma porn is always really important to us. When we're producing shows that might have conflicts just by nature of sort of the cast relationships, we're always making sure that it's within an equitable space with agency. So I would rather see two sex workers have a real big debate and talk about their feelings and go through their journey together, than see them having a debate with non-sex workers or cis folks over our validity.
A majority of us are sex workers and a majority of us are queer. We always try to employ people of color. Actually, 100 percent of the producing staff are queer sex workers and most of our crew is queer.
And you've been doing a ton with OUTtv?
Yeah, we're really lucky to partner with OUTtv. One, I mean, just because their audience and our audience really like the same kinds of stories. They like the same kind of structure and heightened form of comedy that we really like to apply to some of our work. Energetically the fit is right there in terms of genres we're producing and in the stories we're trying to play. But also I'll tell you the truth: it's not always easy to sell sex worker content that doesn't have sex in it, right? Usually when people are buying sex work content, they're saying, "Okay, well the audience is gonna watch because there's gonna be titty." Part of the joy of X-Rated for me is that, yes, you're gonna see sexy stuff, but I think more importantly, they really let us tell this story about these friendships, about this community, about this city.
You know, everything we do I get a kick out of our friends. I think queer people are hilarious. I think queer people are naturally effervescent and funny. In editing or in post-production, will we lean into, you know, poking a little bit of fun at Joey Mills talking about dick every two seconds? Sure. Of course we will. I do think interjecting as much joy as possible into these stories is crucial for the audience. Mostly because they want people to know that we had fun making it and that was a joyful experience from start to finish. It's probably not as campy as some of the other stuff we make in terms of the comedy. But I do think that by nature of who we cast on this show, some shit just went down that at the moment might have felt really intense and scary but looking back on camera, it's kind of camp. Like Boomer having a random dude over from Sniffies on a random day, that day it was like, "Oh, I guess I'll just sit here." But looking back, it's a funny moment.
Our plan was for the franchises to continue expanding to new talent and new stories as well. The reason that we started with these four is that they all had intersected through FleshJack as a community and the boys themselves actually do work together due to their ambassador contract. When we found that out, just through the grapevine, and people were telling us about how the FleshJack ambassadors interact — sometimes there's bickering and sometimes they hook up — on these city-specific press tours, that's where the spark from this show came from.
This is really the best of the best: Boomer Banks, Max Konnor, Dante Cole, Joey Mills. These are names that you don't have to be a big fan of porn to know in the queer community. You've heard their names. You've seen them in content. So I am excited that it is an A-List cast within our community. It is people that people want to know more about. And they were so well known that we didn't need to see them on set. So if you're seeing any sex stuff on X-Rated, it's in their personal life.
It was. We offer this holistic space for sex workers to bring in parts of themselves and their opinions to this platform and not have to engage in those conversations in a very explanatory to straight people sort of way. So when Max Konnor and Boomer Banks are talking about being queer POC performances in the porn world, or what it's like to have Black-specific spaces or safe spaces where they can engage in their queerness, those conversations have a much more intimate tambor, because they do not come with this overhead of having to explain baseline queerness to people. So it's deeply important for us to always offer that space to our performers and to be really collaborative with them on the production and in development, saying, "How would this opportunity best serve you personally? What parts of your story do you really want the audience to hear?" Because, you know, the rest of it is going to be you interacting with these guys.
I think that despite all the drama... and there is drama, right? Like, there was drama between these guys that it's going to be impossible for us to not address the fact that there was some tension between several of the guys.
But what I am proud of is that those queer conflicts were sort of addressed in really, really honest ways the entire time. So if Boomer felt some type of way, Boomer knew that he was safe enough to speak up and he had a safe space where he wasn't going to be shouted down or not listened to by anyone. I think that's really cool for queer people, especially for the queer people of color on the show. It also suggests that your favorite porn stars really do have a central, multifaceted interest in personal lives and passions and aspects of themselves that operate offscreen that really inform what you're experiencing in their scenes. I think watching the show and seeing Donte and Max starting to hit it off and getting to watch them actually progress through a relationship, or something that felt like a relationship. For me, that makes the porn better.
I hope the show makes these men hotter and more appealing to all of their fans.