I want to thank everyone who commented on the first part of this interview with such awesome enthusiasm and lovely support of Jake, R.J. and Benny. I have to be honest in saying I wasn't sure what sort of reaction the interview would garner at all for this Hop because it's not a post specifically written to address homophobia. I also didn't know what to expect when I asked Jake, R.J. and Benny to do this for me, and I couldn't have been more delighted when I discovered just how far they allowed me to delve into their backgrounds and personal thoughts.
I believe the honesty and candidness of these three men, and others like them, is what will help bring homophobia into a new light. I think the feelings and experiences of those who have felt the sting of homophobia, and suffered through it in one capacity or another, is what this hop and the International Day of Homophobia are all about.
With that in mind, I want to thank Jake, R.J. and Benny for making me - someone who believed she was up on the incomprehensible attitudes of homophobia - understand its effects in a more personal way. I also want to thank them for bringing a little hope into a subject that can be all about the unfairness and sadness of a subject that shouldn't be an issue in our society at all. (yes, that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it) Jake, R.J. and Benny's stories are ones of strength, survival and love. Thanks, boys - it's been a sweet ride, and I love you all.
The first part of the interview is here --> CockyBoys are in the House
There's a stereotypical slur that gay men cannot be monogamous. I know that's simply an unsubstantiated falsehood, but I'm wondering if being in a relationship between three men has brought any additional homophobic remarks or prejudices your way. Do people judge you and your partners because you don't have a common living arrangement? Because they don't understand that you're a family?
Some people are skeptical when they hear about it. They think it’s some progressive gay "trend". When people actually see us together and how we interact, I think they immediately understand how it works, and that it’s actually an extremely stable and fulfilling family unit that we’ve created. Anyone that has a small enough view of the world to adhere to some arbitrary, contrived view of what a relationship should be has no place in my reality.
My mom doesn’t get it and I didn’t get it for the first two years, but today I can't imagine my life without either one of them. It's not the normal, but it works because there is always someone there to love, support, laugh with you. There is no jealousy (anymore) between the three of us. I think that is key.
I used to get jealous that Ben and Jake had their own experiences. I wanted to be included, but being with Ben and Jake the last five years, there is no jealousy anymore. Jake is very supportive and patient, which is why I think our relationship has lasted so long. He's the one who worked very hard, and though I've put him through some crazy shit, he has remained strong for all of us. I am very lucky to have found him, and am very lucky and grateful to have had his continued support and love.
Jake, your bio says you're a hopeless romantic—tell me about that. Are you the only one in the family who has that romantic side? Do you cry at old romantic movies? Buy your loves flowers or cards just because?
I cry at everything.
I come home at night and every one of my four dogs all fight to sit on my lap and kiss me all over…and I cry.
I sobbed at the new Man of Steel movie trailer.
I look at Ben, always with a new hairstyle and looking so perfect and open…and I cry.
I cry when my performers have success or reach an unexpected goal.
And I cry when I'm with R.J. and he holds my hand when we remember a special memory from our past.
I cry because I am so grateful. My tears are filled with pride. I can't believe that a skinny little thrown-away queer boy like me now has a life worth living and a life surrounded by so much love!
I will always think the best of people even if wronged. And all I ask is that others trust me until I give them a reason not to.
And that's my idea of a hopeless romantic—a life not lived in fear, but in celebration.
I would say I am a romantic. I cry during movies, but then again I cry during dog food commercials, too. I guess as I get older, I just cry more—lol.
How about telling me about your current occupations? I know you've revamped a business from the ground up in a short amount of time, an accomplishment that needs to be shared in my opinion. How did you get started? And what sort of work do your jobs entail?
I do a lot of the website operations management, web design, programming, technology development. I also give my two cents on this and that when it comes to production.
We started as wholesalers and distributors for gay adult DVDs, and we also ran an online retail DVD store. We bought CockyBoys from the original owner about four years ago, and that was our first foray into managing a production website. We spent the first year or so just figuring out how to run and manage a successful membership website. It was in the second year that we really felt confident enough to relaunch it and really take the vision and creative direction of the site into a whole new direction that was entirely our own.
I still do some acting and modeling, but since there is so much downtime in my business, I started to help around the office, everything from booking models' flights, to ordering lunch, and driving them to the airport. I've always loved taking pictures, and when Jake bought me a camera and encouraged me to shoot some candid behind the scenes photos of the models, I hesitated. I thought, I wasn't any good, and these guys were professional models. What did I know about taking models pictures?
Well, 2 years later, I am now very confident when I shoot, I know exactly who and what I want to shoot, and if I don’t know then once I'm in the room and I get a feel for the model, I know how to shoot them.
I am very grateful to Jake for getting me started in photography. I feel like I am continually growing and improving and am so excited when I see the comments on the website about what the fans think of the work.
Currently, I am the CEO and lead director at CockyBoys.com—a gay adult entertainment company dedicated to the healthy, creative, and erotic exploration of gay sex. Through CockyBoys, I have produced, written, and directed four feature films—Name of the Game, Project GoGo Boy, The Haunting, and Max & Jake's RoadStrip.
My nom de plume is Jake Jaxson, but I began my career at a young age creating elaborate stage plays with my vast collection of stuffed animals and Disney records. My crowning achievement was a one-man show in which I performed all the parts to the Disney soundtrack album, Pinocchio, and I won particular praise for my crafty and nimble performance of the Sly Fox.
Since then, I have produced numerous "mainstream" award-winning documentaries, TV shows, and independent films, highlighted by an Emmy Award win for a made-for-TV special produced as a love letter to my beloved New Orleans.
I got into the Adult Business by accident. I was a partner in a marketing company that was on the forefront of developing online "street" and viral marketing, and we had taken on a few adult clients. The online adult space at the time was going through a bit of a transformation, with a new entrepreneurial mindset that wanted to create marketing strategies that were customer service friendly—not that bait-and-switch mentality it was known for. I really enjoyed being able to work in a strategic space that had no boundaries, where we could see immediately what worked and what did not work—not the long tail approach to more traditional marketing. It was only a matter of time before my partners and I saw that running our own customer friendly adult sites—built on customer satisfaction and loyalty—was a lucrative business. So we began acquiring properties in the adult space and CockyBoys.com is now the crown jewel.
Can I just say I adore your blog, Jake, because of all the beautiful men, the photos you take yourself, and of course your adorable gaybies (whose pictures are all over this post). You seem like you know your way around a camera, have you had any professional instruction or just learned it on your own? Any dreams of doing professional still photography? Do you also film some of the scenes for Cockyboys?
Thank you for the kind words. I love the process of social media—Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. I give all the credit to Benny for getting me started. I am usually hopeless with anything technical and have no patience for it. But once I started, there was no stopping me. In fact, I consider it part of my creative process and my art. I did study film and broadcast journalism at Loyola University in New Orleans, and spent two summers in London at BFI studying the work of Peter Greenaway.
I never studied or worked as a photographer. My partner, R.J., is a photographer and the Director of Photography for all of my current work. In fact, I don't think what I'm doing now would be possible without him and his eye. I can direct a scene now with a few words or a hand movement and he knows what I'm thinking. The best representative of our work is in our soon-to-be-released series, A Thing of Beauty. http://jakejaxson.com/post/49399188664/a-thing-of-beauty-is-a-joy-forever-john-keats
Every time I work on that project, my love for him expands. I'm blessed to be able to create with the most important person in my life.
Also, my current set of photos for Doorways & Windows, and even my recent set of drawings and watercolor paintings are because of Benny. He saw I was bogged down in the business part of our company, and I was dying—the stress of the day-to-day grind was making "me" disappear. He had seen my creative process from the past, before we knew each other, and he was always encouraging me to get back to what I loved. But I always had an excuse. Then one Christmas, he bought me a paint set and an easel, and that was the start of a kind of reawakening. Plus, he is one of the most curious and "in the now" people I've ever met—he would never let me escape to routine, day-to-day mediocrity.
And Benny, I've seen some of your beautiful woodwork on Twitter. How long have you been creating these wonderful pieces? Are you selling them or are they just for yourself?
Thanks. I’ve been making furniture for about half a year. I got into it because I’d see something that I wanted to buy, and I realized that I could make it myself. Plus, I always enjoy trying out new projects or skills. I started selling my furniture in November of last year, and it’s turned into a thriving little business. I’m working on growing that business in my free time.
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom or just plain words to offer on the subject of homophobia? Anything you'd like to say to young men who haven't come out yet or are struggling with doing so?
It’s cliché to say, but it gets better. It’s hard when you’re young, because you can’t exactly break free of unhealthy atmospheres the way you can when you’re an adult. Some kids don’t have the option to get away from unsupportive parents, or escape from schools where they’re bullied. But once you’re an adult, you have endless possibility to do anything you’d like, and sculpt your world into anything you can imagine. Till then, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you.
The only important thing is what you think of you, and that you accept yourself. And when you think you’re completely alone and detached, know that the world that the homophobes have created is tiny, small and limited. When you break free of their world, there will be endless possibility for you to sculpt reality into anything you want.
We’re lucky enough to live at a time where the tides are really changing in favor of gays. The ignorant, small-minded folk are slowly dying off, and taking their archaic ideas with them. Good riddance.
My advice—surround yourself with people who love and support you. Come out when you are ready. And know that it does get better. One thing I've learned is that most of us are self-centered and selfish, so when you believe someone might be thinking negatively toward you or saying negative things about you, the reality is, that person is really scared and worried about what "you" are thinking of them.
First of all, thank you for allowing us to share our experiences. I am grateful because this process has connected me to some thoughts from my past I needed to re-acknowledge.
It's important to always be grateful, even when things seem bad or are bad. I have experienced the deepest, darkest pits of hopelessness, and I work very hard to never go back there. And that's a daily activity. I have trained myself to wake up each morning and immediately think about or write down what I am grateful for. The FIRST thought in my day is always a positive one—this helps me battle the inevitable negative energy that will come my way every day. In fact, Benny found me a "gratitude app" which I'm still getting used to, but it's an amazing application so check it out!
My advice—don't live your life as a victim. So many strong, heroic individuals have fought, lived, loved, and bled for all of us to be standing here in an increasingly more accepting world. We must celebrate and acknowledge their fights and sacrifices. There is still more that needs to be done for all of us to enjoy full equality, but that will only happen if we stand tall and proud—as people and not victims!
Before I let you off the hook, I like to ask my guest a few multiple choice questions to lighten the mood a little at the end of an interview.
Here we go.
Beach or mountains?
Jake: Beach with mountain view (very tricky, Jake)
Coffee or tea?
Jake: Coffee in the morning—Tea in the afternoon—Me at night. (lol)
Apple or orange?
R.J.: Apple (Honeycrisp) (I've never heard of those, will have to try them)
Long-stemmed roses or wildflowers?
R.J.: Wildflowers (all agreed - fabulous)
Pecs or abs?
Smile or eyes?
Jake: Smile with eye contact (always causing trouble, Jake)
Socks or bare feet?
Benny: Bare feet
R.J.: Bare feet
Top or bottom? ;)
Jake: I'm a top but love both!
R.J.: Always (Lol, I think RJ won that question)
I hope you all enjoyed this interview and the lovely photos that went with it. How freaking cute are those puppies? Again, it's been a pleasure, guys. Thanks so much for stopping by. Your answers were inspirational and thought-provoking to me, and I think others will agree. I hope you have a very successful and puppy-filled rest of the year.
In honor of the International Day Against Homophobia, I will be making a donation to The Trevor Project, and in an awesome gesture, Jake, R.J. and Benny will be making a donation, as well, on behalf of CockyBoys. As for my giveaway, leave your name and email address in a comment and I will be drawing for three books on my backlist once the HAHAT is over.
Leave your name and email address in a comment, (and say something nice, of course) and I will be drawing for two books from my backlist, as well as a $15.00 gift certificate for All Romance Ebooks, once the HAHAT is over on May 27.