Slick move

Sex god Michael Brandon extends his porn empire

adult

NAUGHTY SANTA | Michael Brandon returns to Dallas for the third time this year to launch his new lube line at Tapelenders.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Michael Brandon has been a big name in sex for decades. One of gay porn’s iconic stars, his DVDs, website and live performances have kept him in the public eye since the early 1990s — and his legendary prowess (and size) have kept young hearts fluttering for this now-46-year-old performer.

But lately, Brandon jokes, he’s feeling more like a vacuum cleaner salesman than a sex object. That’s because wherever he goes, Brandon always has his sample bag handy. It’s not Willie Loman, but big man’s Willie.

Michael Brandon has gone from porn star to lube seller.

Don’t feel too bad for him. It’s actually a good gig.

The gay-owned company Product 54 produces a wide variety of silicone-based consumer products, from a cuticle treatment to one that helps divers put on and take off their SCUBA suits. The latter is also popular in the fetish community, “helping men and women put on their rubber gear,” Brandon says. “But my expertise is lube.”

Of course it is. And the signature product of the company is its 9×6 Lube — a name that, while it sounds like it might have been named after Brandon specifically, was actually already in place before he became associated with it.

After 9×6 came into being, Brandon was approached about an endorsement deal for the start-up company. He rejected the idea.

“I was with ID Millennium and told them, I’m really not looking for anything new [to endorse]. But someone slipped a bottle in my pocket. I tried it and I liked it. And I loved the stain-free aspect — very few silicone based lubes that offer that.”

That’s when he agreed to help market the lube — mentioning it in his tweets, giving away the product at his shows, etc. But Brandon saw great potential in the product and took a bold move.

“I saw some opportunities there, so I came home from a trip and told the president I wanted to invest and benefit from what I saw as a company about to explode,” he says.

“That means I am both a vested partner and the face of the brand.”

That has its downsides, as he knows from years as a celebrity spokesperson.

“When you become the brand, any and all questions start coming to you — whether it be a shipping problem or uses or whatever,” he says. “Of course, when they have any positive feedback, I receive that, too. Usually you have to say [to fans], ‘I’m just endorsing it — you need to direct your questions to the inner office of the company.’ I can’t do that anymore. I’m the vice president… I have everything to do with the inner office!”

This isn’t the first time Brandon has made a foray into the business world. In addition to running his own career — including the brand that is his reputation and his marketable appeal — Brandon was a partner in the Raging Stallion adult video company, which produced his Monster Bang line of DVDs (named for his sizeable member).

“It’s a very similar situation: Everywhere Michael Brandon goes, so does my product. It’s a win-win,” he says.

Of course, it helps that Brandon makes for a great salesman in the gay market.

“When I walk into a store, there’s a 50-50 chance they’ll recognize me — that’s my foot in the door. Then I tell them, ‘I want to offer them a sample of my 9×6 — that’s my second foot in the door.” He laughs. “Then I come do launch parties in sexy get-ups. In West Hollywood, I dressed down in a construction belt.”

Brandon will host his launch party Saturday at Tapelenders, the first retail outlet in the Dallas market to carry 9×6, with a holiday themed costume: Naughty Santa, a sexified bit of fur and red that Brandon tried out last week at an event and turned out the be a huge hit.

He’s happy to be back in Dallas for the third time since the summer. Before this year, Brandon admits, he had written off Texas as a forum for his talents; he could never get a club to book his live show and thought he had priced himself out of the market. But he’s already thinking of Big D as a second home — he loves visiting.

So what accounts for his sudden popularity here?

“Dallas needs love!” he exclaims.

And love usually comes with a little lube.

Michael Brandon will be signing autographs and running a stocking-stuffer special (buy an 8 oz. bottle, received six 1 oz. bottles as gifts), but a “naughty and nice” gift bag with $75 purchase.   

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Sunny and sharing: Chaz Bono is a new man

Transitions

Transition by Chaz Bono (with Billie Fitzpatrick), (2011, Dutton), $26; 245 pp.

The face in the mirror is instantly recognizable: The chin, the eyes that droop when fatigued, the mouth that’s etched parentheses around itself. The hair, they eyes, the nose. But what the little girl America knew as Chastity Bono saw on the outside was not what she felt inside.

In Transition, the biological daughter of pop icons Sonny and Cher explains what it’s like to feel like you’re in the wrong body, and how a tiny Hollywood darling went from daughter to son.

On the wall of his home, Chaz Bono has a picture of himself and his parents, taken when he was a toddler. They all look happy, though Chaz says he doesn’t remember the day it was  taken —or much else of his childhood, for that matter. What he does remember is that he always felt like a boy.

As a kid, he dressed in boy duds as often as possible and answered to a male nickname. He played with boys at school, including his best friend. Nobody thought much about it, he says — that’s just how it was.

Puberty was rough; eventually, Bono came out as lesbian, but something still wasn’t quite right. He didn’t identify with women, gay or otherwise, and distant feelings of masculinity colored his relationships with them and with his family. Still, he lived his life as a woman: falling in love, starting a band, buying a house and trying to stay out of the public eye.

Bono’s father seemed supportive of his lesbianism; his mother had trouble with it.  Happiness eluded Bono so he turned to drugs to cope with the frustration. By then, though, he thought he knew what he needed to do.

On March 20, 2009, he “drove myself to the doctor’s office… I felt only confident that what I was doing was right. … After all the years of fear, ambivalence, doubts and emotional torture, the day had finally come. I was on testosterone, and I have never looked back — not once.”

Chaz says he was never very good at transitions, though he did a pretty good job at this one (with a few bumps along the way).

Transition is filled with angst, anger, sadness and pain, but topped off with wonderment and joy. It’s also repetitious, contains a few delicately squirmy moments, and its occasional bogginess is a challenge for wandering minds.

For wondering minds, however, Chaz is quick to defend and explain away his family’s reluctance to accept his gender reassignment, but he’s also willing to admit to being hurt by it. Still, contentment and awe shine forth at the end of this book, and readers will breathe a sigh of relief for it.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas