As technology and society evolve, circumstances arise that simply could not have existed a few years ago. Maybe it’s long-distance relationship made possible by the jet age. Or tweeting about trying out a Mario Batali recipe and getting an immediate Twitter response back from Chef Batali.

In the case of “the Maverick Men,” Cole Maverick and Hunter, the circumstances involve a couple in love who began videotaping themselves having sex. Then uploading to XTtube, inviting others into the videos, and becoming online porn stars in the most grassroots sense. The Internet has opened media up to anyone, and that includes allowing a couple of guys with a laptop and a camera to make porn stars of themselves without any studio backing. And they’ve tapped (so to speak) some old-school tech – a book – to tell their story. (Granted, you can also get it as a 21st century e-book.)

While I started the book a couple months ago, I’ve only just finished it. Blame my day job and Youth Pride, Black Pride, Capital Pride and all the other Pride-season chores that make April through June at a gay magazine the equivalent of tax season at H&R Block. Not that it was easy to put down, mind you.

Enjoying a beer with the Maverick Men during a Frankfurt layover

 

The reason I bought Maverick Men: The True Story Behind the Videos, written by the couple jointly, in the first place is twofold. One: I’m simply fascinated by the porn industry. I’ve interviewed a few porn stars and one porn maven, Chi Chi LaRue, whom I adore and would credit with having a far more positive influence on our culture than she gets credit for. Two: Having come of age as AIDS began its macabre rampage, issues around safer sex captivate me. So, having seen some of fruits of the Maverick Men’s labor online, which is often bareback (meaning condom-free) sex with partners outside of their relationship, I wanted to know more. On one hand, the Maverick Men vids are smokin’ hot. But don’t take my word for it; they earned the bragging rights of being XTube’s most popular couple, with millions of video views.

Starting out, I’ll admit that initial references to The Secret had my snottier angels feeling judgmental and superior. It had me thinking that these guys weren’t going to get into anything substantial with their memoir. I braced myself for a read that was going to bounce between scenes of sex and maudlin relationship advice; something I’d put down about halfway through. Thankfully – for them as well as me – The Secret was not a good indicator of what was to follow.

OK, yes, it is a sex book. There are (ahem) loads of pages describing the authors’ exploits with all the salacious details some will hope for. But it is also a sober and genuinely moving love story.

Conventional wisdom dictates that we don’t hold up sex workers as relationship role models. Conventional wisdom also holds, however, that retired Rep. Anthony Weiner’s silly sexting was something worth caring about. Reading the story these two men share, it’s obvious that the choices they’ve made are healthy ones that have put their relationship on what seems to be a bedrock foundation of mutual values and a devotion to one another. (And as long as I’m mentioning sex workers as relationship models, let me add another shout out to Annie Sprinkle, whose wisdom borders on the divine.)

Beyond the sex and love, surprisingly, Maverick Men is also a sort of motivational read. You think your job sucks? You’ve got trouble paying the bills? Cole and Hunter feel your pain. At least, they did. Reading about the decisions they made regarding their day jobs, the financial risks, etc., is as enthralling as the rest.

My interest in uncovering their rationale for putting bareback sex in their videos was also answered. I’ve since seen mention of it on their blog, but the book dedicates a number of pages to this possibly life-or-death issue. While I still don’t know if I approve – not that anyone is asking – of bareback sex in a video made for a wide audience, the reasoning the couple share in the book is a worthy part of the dialogue, beyond the rather unrealistic expectation of every sex act be a safe-sex act. Approving or not, I was gratified to read that they are aware of the responsibilities they have as sexual performers; that they’re not just diving in without consideration of the consequences.

There are shortcomings, however. Granted, as a proofreader, I’m one of possible 20 or so people on the planet who would even care that they write “I” when they should be writing “me.” Or that a sentence or two go oddly unfinished because somebody got lazy when writing or editing. These are the nails on my blackboard, and this book has its fair share. I know caring about grammar and apostrophe placement is archaic, but I care.

Still, they’ve done a good job with this memoir. I certainly doubt it will ever be as popular as their videos, but it’s an intriguing addition to the cultural discourse on our collective sexual identity. And it will make a fantastic beach read for any of you joining me in Provincetown for Bear Week. You will especially appreciate the book’s opening P’town scenes – and possibly a Maverick Men sighting at the Boatslip.