Porn vet Aiden Shaw’s 2nd memoir is a juicy trip through the gay underbelly
3.5 out of 5 Stars
SORDID TRUTHS by Aiden Shaw
Alyson Books; 2009. $15.95. 235 pp.
Every child dreams of being a star. One day you will wow ’em from center stage with your incredible acting abilities, bringing the audience to tears with your words. You practice air guitar, sure that fans will someday clamor for your autograph. Or maybe you sang into your hairbrush, or rehearsed your Oscar acceptance speech for that day.
But what would you really do to become famous? In Sordid Truths, gay porn star Aiden Shaw explains how far he’s gone to be in the movies.
It was 1986, and when the first phone responses came in from the local personals ads, Shaw and his flatmate, Cubus, were nervous and well beyond their comfort zones. Broke, randy and looking for excitement, the boys were planning on making big money by giving "massages" — they’d work as a team, with a "punter" paying Â£60 (about $100).
Within three years, Shaw was in high demand, working days at a gentlemen’s club and making an abundance of money giving massages and "extras." After-hours were spent at nightclubs with friends and lovers, doing drugs and dancing.
Outside the club, Shaw found his own clientele, eventually moving up to a management position at a clinique, where his physical attributes allowed him to claim the best customers for himself. And he claimed a lot.
"I was a good whore," Shaw says. "I knew my job and I knew men."
But life wasn’t all a happy bag of tricks. One of the boys Shaw loved committed suicide. Favorite punters drifted in and out of his life, as did beautiful men and boyfriends. Though money was never a problem, AIDS was a constant worry. But that didn’t stop him from moving to L.A. to work in the adult film industry.
"Sometimes, I felt as though the things I’d experienced in life had, on a profound level, soiled me," he says. Still, when asked to choose a stage name, he used his own, remaining unashamed and unapologetic about his life.
With the wonderfully understated sense of sarcasm that only a Londoner can achieve, Shaw tells a story of eccentrics, sex, parties, sex, drugs and more sex in the late 1980s, long before everyone got careful.
Though sometimes those same Britishisms can be half-confusing and half-charming, Sordid Truths is an enjoyable book because of its lack of self-consciousness and its wealth of honesty. Much like he does in his films, Shaw bares all in this memoir that starts pre-career and ends when Shaw moves to California.
Fans of My Undoing (Shaw’s prior memoir) will definitely want to add this book to their wish list. For them, Sordid Truths gets top billing.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 15, 2010.