Why do male pornography performers use erectile dysfunction medication?

The vast majority of pornography lasts the duration of a penis’ erection – almost always ending shortly after the men ejaculate.* For the porn industry, these erections are the framework on which most scenes are built; if there is no erection then there is no penetration, and without penetration there is no scene. Therefore, it is a financial imperative that male performers remain ready to perform.** To maintain an erection-on-demand lifestyle, many male pornography performers use erectile dysfunction medications (EDM), taken orally or by needle injection directly into the penis. These medications require prescription, but there are numerous accounts of stagehands and pornography producers passing out pills or assisting with the injections themselves. The usage of EDMs has become ubiquitous in the pornography industry; per testimony, it’s believed that almost every male performer habitually uses or is psychologically dependent on drugs to maintain erections, regardless of their not actually suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED).

For men, performing sexually on camera is not as simple as conjuring an erection.*** For whatever reasons, sometimes they are not capable of being aroused. In the gay-for-pay industry, in which straight men appear in gay pornography (and straight women, lesbian pornography), straight males report having extreme difficulty getting aroused.**** Beyond general performance anxiety, many male performers turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with life in the sex industry (frequently reported as being incredibly abusive, racist, sexist, homophobic, and so on). Frequent or even casual use of most intoxicants can cause decreased blood flow to the penis, impotence, or ED. For a male porn performer, of course, not having an erection is not an option; there is no financial incentive in waiting for any semblance of a more naturally-occurring erection (or, for that matter, organic arousal of the performer[s]). For a man without an erection, the simplest choice is to synthetically enhance the blood flow to the penis and simulate male sexual excitement. This is a common choice in the pornography industry.*****

Regular usage of oral EDMs among young men (a large percentage of the porn performers), such as Cialis and Viagra, is associated with adverse effects, such as psychological dependence and decreased confidence in pharmacologically unaided erections. EDMs that inject directly into the penis, such as Caverject or Bi-Mix, function independent of the brain (and sexual arouse) and will give erections no matter what. Famous porn performers Danny Wylde and Axel Braun have both spoken at length for their trips to the emergency room for having persistent erections for a number of hours (in Wylde’s case, he had taken Cialis, and in Braun’s, Caverject). In both cases, they suffered from priapism, a painful medical condition that prevents blood from flowing back into the body, and from oxygen to flow to the penis. To prevent damaged or destroyed tissue in the penis, blood is drained from the penis via a needle. During his third trip to the ER for priapism, Wylde was told that he was at high risk for losing the ability to achieve naturally-occurring erections. Upon hearing this, he quit the porn industry. “I don’t think that most people should get into porn to be honest,” he said in an interview. “It’s not what people think.”

Beyond the immediate physical consequences of EDMs, there are other ramifications of its usage in pornography that are worth exploring. Many male consumers of pornography testify to having severe difficulties performing as the performers do in the videos they watch, leading to significantly increased prescriptions and usage of EDMs. There are endless accounts of women being subject to pornified sex, wherein the men pump-and-grind like automatons and end their sexual interaction alongside the deflation of their penises. Men are emulating porn-sex en masse, their mechanical sexuality baring no likeness to the warmth, connection, excitement and compassion that is possible when two people desire each other.

It does not matter to the porn industry what is going on in the minds and bodies of the men who perform in pornography. The penises just have to be erect. It does not matter how.

* In as far as I am aware, in heterosexual pornography the extent to which women control the ending of any scene is dependent on how quickly they consume the semen.

** There is no financial imperative as to whether women are ready to perform or not. As female genitalia is not hydraulic in appearance, the preparedness of women does not matter to the pornographers.

*** There is much to be said about women and their own myriad of challenges performing in sexually explicit acts on camera. This will all be explored at length and in scope throughout Pornography FAQ over time. For the sake of staying on point, the remainder of this writing will focus explicitly on men and their unique challenges in pornography.

**** Straight people are paid more money for performing in gay pornography – especially in their first appearance. Economic destitution or financial coercion is often cited as the main reason for these appearances.

***** I am not suggesting that the men in pornography are not aroused by their sexual perpetrations against women and other men. I have zero doubt that they are. Rather, I find it telling that the condition of sexual arousal requires so much work.