Talk about Thai bar boys and sooner or later someone brings up how many of them are straight. Someone else questions if that is true how is it possible they can ‘perform’. And then someone else yet weighs in on the whole gay-for-pay thing, and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Labels are always a bitch. Few people fit perfectly into the narrow confines we set when we start labeling someone as gay, straight, or bi. Even back in the repressed days of the 1950s, Kinsey’s studies showed most men fell somewhere in the middle. Guys may identify as straight, but that doesn’t stop them from having sex with a buddy. Or a stranger. Throw in some big bucks and it’s amazing what a straight guy will do. Like getting into a cage and allowing some other dude to pummel him into a bloody mess.
But that’s cool. That’s machismo at its finest. Sucking dick, not so much. But okay, a little stray dick in your mouth can possibly be overlooked. Bottoming for not one but several guys at one time, or showing off your dildo collection (with live demonstrations) might just be pushing the envelope. When you start off a porn career with a little JO scene, then a dildo butt-play scene, then fucking guys, then getting fucked, then threeways and all-out orgiastic four and then six-ways, at what point do you stop and admit you might just be a bit queer? Evidently you don’t. Not when your next career move is with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Sean Cody’s stellar star and go-to guy for all gay things sexual, Dakota Cochrane, made thousands of dollars performing naked and lubed up for the camera – and for the enjoyment of thousands of men. Now he’s doing it again, but this time he’s fighting instead of fucking; on the Ultimate Fighter Live reality series on the FX channel. Dakota, along with 31 other Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters duke it out on the network’s first season of the UFC’s full contact combat reality television show. As ‘Danny’ he already did full contact for Sean Cody’s on-line gay porn site. And his dildo won.
The 25-year-old Cochrane currently has an 11-2 pro record as an MMA fighter, including a victory over World Extreme Cagefighting champion Jamie Varner at the Titan Fighting Championship 20, which qualified him for the reality show. He fully disclosed his gay porn past to the producers of the show and has not denied his days as a porn star to the media. Though he does say his days as a gay porn star may have been a bad career move.
“It’s definitely a decision I regret,” he told MMA Fighting. “If I would have known what would happen I definitely wouldn’t have done it. But I had money issues and I needed help. I went there to do pictures, and they started throwing pretty high numbers in front of me. I didn’t really think. It was a big mistake.”
Unlike the gay porn past of a recent Real World cast member, neither the fighter or the UFC has shied away from Dakota’s guy-on-guy career. ”I think it’s a little bit courageous for both of us,” Cochrane said of the UFC’s decision to include him on the show.
Of course when thousands, if not millions, of gay guys have already seen you at your best, hiding a former life of explicit gay sex performed for internet fans is difficult these days. And if his past came out after the television series was already on-air, the resulting bomb blast would have been much bigger. Getting out in front of the headlines allowed Dakota to put his gay-for-pay life in the proper context. Which, evidently, is the ‘I-was-young-and-dumb’ tack, second most popular to the ‘boy-was-I-drunk-last-night’ excuse straight guys have used for years to explain why their ass is so sore the next morning.
”Every time I was down there, I hated it,” Cochrane says of his days performing for the camera. He earned around $80,000 overall from taping the videos, which he made while a college student at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, where he was an all-league track athlete as a pole vaulter and 4×100 meter relay runner. Dakota gives his girlfriend Lacey Sechtem credit for um, straightening him out. When he told her what he was doing she asked him to stop, and quicker than you can say, “I’m gonna cum!” his gay porn career came to an end, wadded up like a cum drenched Kleenex and tossed into a corner.
Now claiming to be completely straight, the baby-faced ultimate fighter faces the tribulations he’ll experience in the ring from opponents who will not want to lose to a guy who has spent his early years being other men’s bitch.
Meanwhile his gay fan base will grapple with the issue of what defines a gay man. According to Dakota, it’s not sucking dick or taking it up the ass. While according to gay guys, being paid $80,000 doesn’t make you straight. It’s the battle over labels again because face it, cash or not, your dick just doesn’t get hard (and stay hard while some other guy sticks his in your butt) unless you are enjoying it.
The label thingy too plays a role in the broader context of Mixed Martial Arts, the fastest growing sport in America. According to many, including the WBA’s light heavyweight Champion Bernard Hopkins, the sport is rife with homoeroticism. Or as he put it, “The UFC and MMA is gay porn.”
But then professional boxing which has seen a large share of its fan base gravitate toward MMA has always been quick to accuse their rivals of promoting gay porn masquerading as athletics. Boxing promoter Bob Arum described MMA as “guys rolling around like homosexuals on the ground.”
MMA fans disagree. Vehemently. With as much chance of being believed as Cochrane when he claims he’s 100% straight.
There have been no openly gay UFC fighters, though Nick Ring, a competitor on the last season of The Ultimate Fighter made such a point of ‘acting’ gay his sexuality was a forgone, but incorrect, conclusion. But the obvious gay undertones of two near naked studs, hot, sweaty and grabbing each other in places no straight man would dare go, while grunting loudly with equal parts of exertion and excitement are hard to miss. MMA is all about fighting for being on top. Or maybe for being a not to willing bottom. And it’s mostly a horizontal sport – one that requires multiple zoom lenses and a wide screen TV to enjoy properly. Keeping your cum towel at hand is optional.
Acknowledging MMA’s sexual appeal to gay men, Dana White, the president of the UFC, recently became the first head of a major sports league to welcome gay athletes. “I’ll tell you right now, if there’s a gay fighter in the UFC, I wish he would come out,” he said. “I could care less if there’s a gay fighter in the UFC. There probably is, and there’s probably more than one. It’s 2012. Give me a break.”
Despite homophobic slurs he has made in the past, and that many of his fighters continue to utter, White believes there is room within the sport for gay men. “Any guy involved in grappling is the furthest thing from homophobic in the world,” White said. “I honestly think it would have no impact whatsoever with not only our fighters or our fan base. The guys in the UFC, everybody is so cool, it’s great sportsmanship, everybody has respect for each other. I honestly, it wouldn’t be a big deal to me and most of the guys I know in this sport, it wouldn’t be a big deal for them either.”
Whether White is attempting to be inclusive, or stepping over a thinly drawn line into accepting that his chosen sport seems gay despite its violence and macho attitude, he can not deny that MMA is attractive to those who like to ogle fit, handsome men.
Jim Buzinski, the publisher of Outsports.com, a web site devoted to gay sports fans and athletes calls MMA “intrinsically homoerotic,” citing his site’s most viewed article A Straight Guy’s Guide to the Top MMA Hotties as proof. Buzinski says readers routinely send links of who they think are the hottest MMA fighters, so fans clearly pay attention to more than just their skills. “UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in tight trunks brings in a high number of page views,” he says.
Buzinski calls Spike TV’s Ultimate Fighter reality series, in which a group of fighters live together in a house and compete for a UFC contract “the most homoerotic show on TV.” Even the gang of skanks on New Jersey Shore hasn’t stooped as low in their run for tops in the ratings game. Last season, in episode 8, the housemates engaged in a bit of semen eating one upmanship. But that’s not gay. Spunky for sure, but evidently not gay in the world of MMA. Because afterwards they all enter the cage and beat the shit out of each other. Or at least some type of body fluid flies.
And it flies in globbing hunks thanks to the sport’s own porn spin-off, sporno, with websites like matbattle.com which is devoted to “helping homosexual grapplers explore and express their fetish in a welcoming environment.” The site features movies and photos of non-sanctioned MMA bouts in which no one hears the bell until someone has a happy ending. But then what else do you expect from a sport in which one of the ways to win is through an act called submission?
Cock fighting is how Senator John McCain described it in 1998. But back then MMA was a bit more violent, a bit more bloody, and tad less homoerotic. To make the sport more appealing to 90 year-old has been politicians, as well as the general public, rules were established to ensure the survival of MMA and keep it from being banned. The UFC replaced the previous bloodfest with an opportunity of watching near–naked men grapple and grunt, embraced in the arms of another man while locked in a cage.
The homoerotism of the sport is, perhaps, not so surprising, since MMA owes a lot to those notorious warrior ‘mos, the ancient Greeks. The roots of modern mixed martial arts can be traced back to the ancient Olympics where one of the earliest well documented systems of codified full range unarmed combat was utilized in the sport of Pankration. With deadly purity, pankration had two primary rules: no eye-gouging or biting. Fingers were often snapped off. Sometimes death, and often unconsciousness, was the end of a pankration match.
Today, the UFC has taken MMA, essentially a semi-organized barroom brawl in the ’90s, cleaned it up, introduced some rules – including no stomping, no spitting, no throat strikes, no punches to the back of the head, and no groin attacks of any kind – and turned it into an event that is rapidly replacing boring old traditional boxing, especially among young men, as the #1 fighting sport.
An omnivorous blend of boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, muay Thai, kickboxing, taekwondo, karate, and judo that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, MMA relies on Muay Thai as the fighting style for the stand-up game within the cage. Muay Thai originated in Thailand, and is known as the “art of eight limbs” which refers to the use of the legs, knees, elbows and fists. It is a very aggressive and straight forward style from which kick boxing is derived. And all would be good – and straight – except that bouts quickly dissolve into a homo-like hugging match between contestants. And MMA fans love it.
The cage-fighting craze has seen increased popularity with a pay per view business that rivals boxing and professional wrestling ever since the UFC – currently the largest MMA promotion company worldwide – brought the sport to the United States in 1993. According to Forbes magazine, its pay-per-view shows have drawn well over 2 million viewers, most of them male between ages 18 and 49, and the franchise is today valued at roughly $1 billion. That’s some big bucks for what is ultimately nothing more than gay porn for straight men. Though just how straight those men are is questionable.
A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 98.6% of all self-proclaimed hardcore MMA fans were able to identify a fighter from a picture of him that showed nothing more than his trunks-encased buttocks and the back of his meaty upper things. Fans may not acknowledge their sport’s homoerotic underpinnings, relying instead on its violence to justify the intimate, protracted, eye-popping physicality of MMA, but it’s a bit like how in gay porn ‘real’ tops never bottom – for the sake of the bottoms watching.
And the fighters themselves are often as heavily immersed in denial. War Machine, a popular combatant, was arrested for battery after an incident involving a 300 lb. doorman that occurred at a New York gay club called Krave. After his arrest made headlines on MMA blogs he explained himself via a post on his personal web page: “I want to address my recent arrest because there is a lot of B.S. information on-line. I was not out drinking, and I wasn’t hanging out in that club. I was employed there.”
Uh, that’s kind of like a Thai bar boy claiming he doesn’t samoke, he just works for a bar that provides male prostitutes to its clientele. Rather than denying that he was drinking, War Machine might have been better off using the old standby Boy-Was-I-Drunk-Last-Night. It’s an excuse many of his fans are undoubtedly familiar with.
The sport’s homophobia may well have to do more with fear than with hatred. Guilty of participating in or being a fan of an activity that barely qualifies as a sport and which even the most casual observer can not help but note is filled with homoerotism makes the straight boys nervous. And that may be the answer Dakota Cochrane needs to turn to for a successful career with the UFC. Now that it is well known that Dakota was tapping ass on a gay porn site before tapping opponents out for the UFC, he may have a psychological advantage when he steps into the ring. Because no straight boy wants to be known as a gay boy’s bitch.
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