Mastrosimone rattles off the appeals of bareback: It feels better. Some feel more of an emotional connection. And it's a little bit taboo.

Experts say it is hard to pinpoint why individuals choose to bareback. A combination of the availability of treatment since the 1990s, safe-sex fatigue, increased substance abuse, and more complex decision-making are considered primary factors in its popularity. Also, Internet technology has allowed people prone to riskier behavior to meet their matches in a matter of minutes.

In fact, according to a study co-authored by SFDPH's Colfax in 2002, 14 percent of surveyed men said they barebacked with someone other than a primary partner — and that's before sites like BarebackRT took off.

Claude Wynne has no problem with people going to sex clubs. He just wants them to wear condoms.
J.P. Dobrin
Claude Wynne has no problem with people going to sex clubs. He just wants them to wear condoms.
Gehno Sanchez doesn’t think 
monitoring for condom use will fly at his Cockpit parties.
J.P. Dobrin
Gehno Sanchez doesn’t think monitoring for condom use will fly at his Cockpit parties.

Morris readily acknowledges that working in the bareback industry puts him in the line of fire between privacy advocates and HIV/AIDS prevention activists, including the government. "The government also says we can't get married," he says.

Mastrosimone, who is known to the bareback community mostly by his nickname, "PigMaster," met Morris in 2008 at Chicago's International Mr. Leather event. They immediately forged a friendship. Though Mastrosimone is based in Tuscon, he and Morris have teamed up to make videos and throw monthly CumUnion parties in cities such as Palm Springs, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa.

Despite barebacking's promiscuous, irreverent reputation, Mastrosimone and Morris suggest that what they do does not aid or promote the spread of HIV, but helps make the bareback lifestyle safer.

Mastrosimone says he is "totally anti-drugs," and will kick people out of his parties who appear to be under the influence. Moreover, members of his site can disclose their HIV status on their profiles. Mastrosimone says this feature sets his site apart in two ways: People with HIV don't feel they need to hide it, and it helps those who wish to serosort — choosing sex partners who have the same HIV status as they do. It is widely believed among the barebacking community that HIV-positive men who have sex only with each other are not doing further damage. But researchers say there is a possibility — albeit a small one — of incurring different, untreatable strains of the disease.

Morris reveals an interesting paradox: "I wear condoms because I'm negative. I also make barebacking movies." Factory Video originally shot porn with condoms, but then branched out to include bareback.

Morris says he sees more used condoms at his CumUnion event than at parties where condom use is enforced, citing a reverse-psychology effect: By making condoms available without requiring them, people become more open to using them because it's entirely their choice.

Whether or not that is true, the year after their meeting, Mastrosimone and Morris would not be welcomed back to Chicago's Mr. Leather. The event's organizers released a statement explaining that HIV/AIDS had not been cured, and even at a celebration of sexual diversity, it would be irresponsible not to ban bareback porn.

Demetri Moshoyannis, the executive director of Folsom Street Events, the nonprofit that hosts Folsom Street Fair, says that is not how San Francisco operates. "We feel that the fair is a reflection of the community. For better or for worse, we are not here to judge," he says. "The way we address these things is through a community dialogue. We don't address it by saying this group of people is no longer allowed to be part of the community."

One group, however, was noticeably absent from the Folsom festivities: Treasure Island Media, San Francisco's self-proclaimed first bareback porn company, founded in 1998. Gay porn without condoms existed before HIV, but TIM maintains it was first in the world to go sans condom post-HIV. It was banned from the fair because it allowed sex at its booth. Conveniently headquartered close by, TIM posted signs this year daring fairgoers to visit: "Banned. Come See Why." Those who did were treated to live sex shows.

TIM seems to revel in its risqué reputation; the company is upfront about not testing its actors for HIV, and how sex has broken out at its meet-and-greets in bars. One press release boasts of the company's hiring an HIV-positive and HIV-negative couple.

David Downs, who distributes videos for TIM, says its videos are mainstream, and more popular than any other genre of porn on sites such as the Adult Entertainment Broadcasting Network. "Our goal is to produce authentic images of men having sex. Ultimately we're not going to sacrifice the merit of our art to satisfy a minority's viewpoint on bareback."

Despite its devil-may-care attitude, TIM is forthcoming about its support for HIV/AIDS organizations that promote protected sex.

"We don't want to paint a picture that we don't support HIV/AIDS organizations. We're a part of this community," Downs says.

Mastrosimone says he also has contributed more than $100,000 to HIV/AIDS nonprofits through a private foundation he created, because he believes they will not accept the money if they know it is connected to barebacking. (For that reason, he asked that the name of his foundation remain confidential.)

Morris too declined to say whom Factory Video gives to, although he says the organizations ask him for donations. Often he donates bareback DVDs for HIV/AIDS charities to raffle off at their fundraisers, which prove to be a big hit. "More people want to watch barebacking," he says. "It's all about the money [for the organizations]."

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