Totally Tyler was shocked to find out the seemingly innocent teacher he was on a date with had a secret identity.
Back when I had hair, I dated a high school science teacher who we’ll call Peter, or Mr. Burner, as his students knew him. By the third date, a deliciously sloppy dinner of BBQ ribs at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack—I was thrilled that we were effortlessly hitting it off. Peter was very easy on the eyes, and I imagined his students sitting in his classroom, blushing with the crushes they had on him. He was polite and warm, and we shared a humor both a little racy and politically incorrect. We both saw the humorous irony when a slightly disfigured waitress sang along to the Muzak version of Tracks of My Tears: “So take a good look at my face, you know my smile looks out of place…”
When Peter excused himself to go to the restroom, he passed a table of gay men. Their eyes followed his every move and they nudged one another. I smiled and boasted to myself: Yeah, stare all you want, boys! That’s my date! He’s leaving with me!
As Peter was leaving the men’s room, two of the men stood and approached him. They beamed with smiles as Peter coyly gushed. I couldn’t make out exactly what was being said, but it sounded like they were asking for Peter’s autograph. Sure enough, they handed Peter two napkins and a pen and he wrote on each napkin and handed them to the ogling boys.
I wrinkled my brow in confusion, leaned forward and looked behind me, over one shoulder then the other. What was happening? Was I on a hidden camera show? I thought I had my finger on the pulse of pop culture, and as far as I knew, Peter Burner, science teacher, was no celebrity.
My mind wondered for a second. Maybe he was a reality-show celebrity. There are so many reality shows now, who isn’t a reality-show celebrity? But wouldn’t he have mentioned that he was on a reality show? But then, I don’t have cable, how would I really know? And I hate reality television. I was in the middle of hoping that, at the very least, he was on one of the “cool” reality shows, like The Real World or something, when he wrapped up the small talk with the table of men and took his seat next to me.
I looked at him, eyebrows raised, waiting for an explanation. He smiled and giggled a bit. “Well…what was that all about?” I asked.
He took a sip of his water then cleared his throat. “Those were, uh…fans of mine.”
I smiled nervously. “You have fans? What? Are they former students?” I looked at the table of men, who were now all staring at me. They were too old to be in high school.
Peter reached over and clasped his hand around mine. “Tyler, there’s something I need to tell you.” He paused as I looked at him with wide eyes, waiting. He sat in silence, looking down at our joined hands.
“What is it?” I urged.
“I have another job on the side, in addition to the teaching.” I quickly looked at the table of men and they were still staring at me. I could tell whatever it was I was about to find out, they already knew. I hate being the last to know and I hate surprises. I scanned the room, looking at the other patrons and the restaurant staff. Were they in on this joke too? Was that a two-way mirror on the wall, hiding the camera? I thought about how I needed to get cable because I didn’t even know which C-list celebrity hosted those jokey hidden camera shows. I hoped it wasn’t Bob Saget or Kathy Lee Gifford.
I snapped back to my conversation with Peter when I saw his lips move in what seemed like slow motion, and his words resounded clear and loud in my ears. “I’m a porn star.”
I did a double take and then laughed. Quietness swept across the room and I slowly stopped laughing, catching my breath as I realized this was no joke. My face reddened after I realized the table of gay men was still
watching us. I looked down in embarrassment. I was on a date with a porn star. Under the table, I pinched my leg, cursing myself for not Googling Peter. He touched my arm and asked if I was all right. I was not.
I’m no stranger to porn. What gay man is? When I dated Adam, we thought it would be hot to make a little home movie. Turns out, it was not hot. It was a yawn-inducing dud that later found its fate in the dumpster when we broke up.
Years later, I picked up a handsome boy at Heretic. When we got back to my place, his over eagerness became a turn-off. As we made out on my sofa, he gyrated around and struck poses to display his Gumby-like flexibility. When we moved the gymnastics to the bedroom, he filled my ear with a large amount of dirty talk and embarrassing loud moans. It all seemed rather…rehearsed. Turns out, it was. A month later, while perusing the DVDs at Inserection, there, between Willy Wanker And The Fudge Packing Factory and the midget-porn classic, Three Men and a Little Lady, was the handsome boy on a DVD cover, mid-moan and legs bent like a pretzel.
And lastly, a porn-star pal of mine hooked me up with a job as a wardrobe coordinator for an adult film that was shot on location at Club Colours. What kind of wardrobe needs coordinating for an adult film, you ask? My answer to you: socks, ball caps, and blingy gold chains. As the porn stars got busy on top of the bar, I color coordinated socks with hats and kept the necklaces, uh, clean. I remember watching the actors quietly mill about between takes and I thought, It must be lonely to be a porn star. Turns out, it is.
My porn-star pal had a rough go of it in the adult film industry. He was lonely and conflicted. Although he was worshiped by thousands of adoring, horny fans, he was horribly insecure and reclusive. He once said to me that any adult-film star who says it’s “just a job” is lying through their clenched teeth. He asked me out on several dates and I always declined, not because I’m morally opposed to porn – one look at my hard drive would disprove this theory – but because, quite simply, I don’t like to share, even if it is “just a job.”
So, despite his handsome face and his chiseled arms, despite his adorable wit and appealing sensitivity, I told Peter Burner, science teacher and porn star, that I couldn’t see him again because I refuse to share. He quietly dropped me off at my apartment and later that night, when a rerun of Candid Camera came on, I cursed Allen Funt to high hell for not showing up and letting me off the hook.
—Photo Sean MacEntee/Flickr