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A Black gay former porn star has urged studios to cut ties with racist performers and criticized systemic racism in the adult entertainment industry.
Race Cooper spoke to PinkNews about his experience working in porn, and said that racism was “a daily constant” during his time in the industry.
He claimed that he was paid less than white costars, believed he was initially hired to help a major studio “appear less racist,” and called out the fetishization of Black people, as well as casting choices that force Black actors to portray “thug” types and other offensive stereotypes.
Cooper, now a fitness model and host of podcast Daddy Issues, began his career at Raging Stallion in 2009 and said that he became “the only full time Black person who worked as an employee, and was the only Black exclusive contract on their roster.”
“There was systemic racism at the company,” he told PinkNews. “The question of, ‘Is there anyone that you wouldn’t like to work with?’ was asked of all models and tracked with the encouragement from producers and directors to be ‘honest’ and ‘specific.’”
Cooper, who had worked in TV and film prior to porn, said actors were told to write down racial categories they wouldn’t feel comfortable working with, something which “would immediately be banned and recognized as racist” in the entertainment industry, but “not in porn, where it was commonplace.”
He said he was also made to feel that “Black people are worth less” after Cooper learned he was being paid $200 less per shoot than a new, white actor who was both younger and had no industry experience.
“I was made to feel like I was not worthy of praise, validation, and definitely less valuable than all of the white actors,” he said.
Cooper was ultimately dropped by Raging Stallion after it merged with Falcon Studios, noting that he “was the only person laid off at that time. I was also the only Black person on staff.”
He also criticized the fetishization and reduction of Black men in porn to categories such as “BBC” (big black cock), saying that fetishizing skin color was “dehumanizing that person into a thing.”
“Fetishization diminishes the person of color, uses them for only personal sexual gratification, and discards them when done,” Cooper said. “That impact stays with Black people who feel their worth is only in the sexual gratification they can provide to white people.”
He added: “A human with a soul is reduced to a Black dildo like those you buy and own, hiding it away under your bed until you’re horny and lonely.”
Cooper also urged major studios to sever ties with “known racists,” and to publicly acknowledge that white men — including straight white men in “gay for pay” roles — have been hired over gay Black men.
Earlier this month, gay porn star Billy Santoro was dropped by online platform JustForFans after he tweeted that Black Lives Matter protesters should be shot.
The fallout also led to a viral Twitter thread from user @trblingtimes, which called out gay porn stars who are alleged to have made racist or bigoted comments — including one who had used the N-word and another who had compared a Black person to a chimpanzee. One gay-for-pay porn actor, Cameron Diggs, even has white supremacy symbols tattooed on his body.
But Cooper said that studios should do more than just focus on those actors who have “espoused racism on social media.”
“It’s not enough to only care about Black people in public, but still reduce them to objects we hide under our bed at home,” Cooper told PinkNews. “We can’t claim empathy when Black people are killed in the streets, considering we currently treat them differently in the sheets. Racism takes many forms, and our thoughts on racism and sex need to change.”
In a statement, Falcon/Naked Sword president and CEO Tim Valenti said he wants to “listen and work to do better.”
Acknowledging the studio’s history of predominantly white performers, he said he doesn’t want it “to be the legacy of the Falcon brand” and said the company wants to improve “racial inequality in our industry.”
“I have taken steps to diversify the model pool at Falcon,” Valenti said. “While we have made strides in the right direction, we obviously have a lot more work to do. I am committed to continually evolving the Falcon brand to include more men of color, specifically black men, in all of our productions.”
Cooper had previously accused Valenti of “gaslighting” after Falcon/Naked Sword posted in support of Black Lives Matter.
In a Twitter thread, he said that he had seen “allies and black actors…blackballed for speaking out against racism in the industry, or pressured to remain silent.”
“I want all porn studios to examine their own racism, not defend it, not distort [it], but reflect on it,” Cooper wrote. “After that, they can take action to change. Only then, can they justly say they are working in solidarity with black communities.”
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