Following the death of Steve ‘Titpig’ Hurley, Treasure Island Media founder Paul Morris pays tribute to the porn pioneer.
Men who love – and live for – sex are explorers of the best and bravest kind. Many of the men who have taken the leap to make sex their profession are pioneers and, occasionally, heroes.
Making anything you love your profession, your job, changes it completely. Managing to be a full-time porn model or escort while maintaining your love of sex marks you as an exceptional man.
Most endeavors that involve courage and exploration are honored by their culture. Each country, for instance, all but worships its athletes. Most cultures misguidedly worship competition. They also love their daredevils – mountain climbers, race drivers, free divers, soldiers; we admire our risk takers. And countries celebrate their business leaders – we respect the greediest among us.
But the cultural relationship to gay porn is both exceptional and exceptionally fraught. It is porn, the culture says, and therefore it’s culturally negligible and something we’re either embarrassed by or even downright ashamed of. When’s the last time you heard a politician or celebrity celebrate the pornography that represents the style of their nation? Never.
And yet there’s the undeniable fact that porn has always been perhaps the single most important element in the dialectical development of the gay identity and gay sociosexual practices and traditions. Throughout our lives, we look to the practitioners of porn to see for ourselves what men are attracted to, what they do sexually, what is extreme and what is sanctioned, and so on.
I loved Titpig and I admired him enormously. He and his wonderful life should be remembered and celebrated by all of us who aren’t quite as daring, quite as adventurous or brave as he was.
I mentioned earlier there are professionals of sex who I would call heroes. What do I mean by that? Within the broad range of porn performers and sexual explorers, there are those few men who love an uncelebrated and even obscure variant of male sex. These people see not only sex as it is, but also as it can — and perhaps should — be.
They bravely explore an unpopular and even shunned practice and, by demonstrating the pleasure, meaning and man-to-man connections that such a practice makes possible, gift the entirety of gay culture with a new arena for exploration.
Titpig was such an explorer.
You know you’re dealing with an original and a pioneer when you’re sorely tempted to ask them how their friends and their doctor react to what they do.
The first time I met Titpig, I didn’t know what he looked like. I was picking him up at San Francisco Airport and was a little worried that I’d miss him.
But there was no mistaking who he was, in part because straight folks all around him were frowning and turning away. One woman was literally shielding her little girl’s face so she couldn’t see him.
He was wearing a very skimpy tank-top, his enormous nipples jutting out proudly for the world to see. He was grinning and gave me a big warm loving hug.
He wasn’t noticing the disapproval of the straight folks all around us: he was just a big, warm, generous, happy man. Always a joy to be around, he was one of those rare men who earnestly wanted the best for everyone.
After you got over the initial sensory shock of his nipples, what impressed was his genialness, his warmth, the tone he was able to bring to any group that things were fine and would definitely work out okay. He was a pure pleasure to be around.
He taught me an enormous amount about nipple play and the profound pleasure to be had from sustained “work” on what nature gave you. There were, of course, others who were also into nipple play, but of those that I met, none came close to Titpig’s openness and generosity.
I’ll always be grateful to him for teaching me the basics of tit play and giving me what were basically lessons on how to take yourself from dead flesh nipples to points of such pleasure that they could take a man to a sustained hour-long orgasm that dwarfed anything you’ve experienced with your dick.
And despite the fact that many, many men came to do anything in their power to increase the size and sensitivity of their nipples in order to make them more like his, Titpig always insisted that he never used clamps or pumps or anything other than an almost constant tugging and twisting with his hands. Whenever he watched television, his hands were busy giving himself pleasure.
Titpig was the only guy I ever acted as a “fluffer” for. As you probably know, the idea of the porn fluffer—a guy who’s kept around to get the models hard—is entirely apocryphal. There is no such animal and never has been.
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Nevertheless, there are moments when a bit of help can come in handy. I was shooting a scene with Titpig for Brush Creek Media (in the very early days of TIM) and the big fellow was having trouble getting focused.
He came over and asked me if I could help him out a bit, knowing that by now I was a well-practiced nipple-play enthusiast. I took his mammoth fleshy nipple-buds between my fingers and within about thirty seconds, he was rock hard, focused and ready to go. He rewarded me with a big ol’ sloppy kiss — and he was a great kisser, incidentally.
I went on to shoot a couple of videos that were based on Titpig. In fact they were called Two Nights with Titpig. In between shoots, he was naked and we were chatting about how dick pleasure stood up to nipple pleasure. I asked him point blank which he would choose if he had to, his dick or his nipples. There was no hesitation at all: “I’d keep my nipples man, they’re so much better!”
I picked up my primitive camera and asked him if he could show me how a nipple orgasm looked. Always obliging, he did so. Here’s a fragment of the video:
After having been in close touch for nearly a decade, I lost touch with Titpig. Occasionally I’d hear from or about him. I know he moved to Palm Springs and that he remained a sexual explorer. I understand he fell in love at least once, a sure sign of a strong engagement with life. And then last week, I learned he’d died.
I did a cursory web search for information and confirmation. And there they were, the absurdly insulting statements by web curs who knew nothing about the man other than he’d been in porn and that he loved nipple play:
“Did his parents call him Titpig?”
“Another dead pornie. Pass the jelly.”
“Pron [sic] stars have shorter lives than alcoholic writers.”
“The porn business doesn’t exactly exude emotional and physical stability.”
“Eraser nipples are repugnant.”
“He truly was the peoples’ princess tinymeat”
“He should have left porn years earlier when he was still physically fit.”
“He was an RN [true] and decided the better option was to do gross fetish porn?”
I was reminded of the last time I saw Scott O’Hara. He’d written and produced a musical, the theme of which was ex-lovers. He’d written the play, the songs, cast and directed the entire production. When it was finally performed for a couple of weekends he was in the late stages of AIDS and clearly had very little time left.
The night that I went, the audience was all gay men. Many of them clearly took pleasure in laughing at moments that were inadvertently funny and insulting the entire production in stage whispers. O’Hara was in the audience, the theater was small, and he could obviously hear everything that was said. At the intermission, two-thirds of the gay audience walked out.
No, it wasn’t Shakespeare. But if you’ve ever tried to write or produce anything at all, you know that the amount of dedication and work required is truly Herculean. And it takes enormous courage to put anything you’ve made in front of the public. To have achieved all this while terribly ill was nothing short of astonishing. I felt shame for the people who insulted the work and left.
Scott O’Hara, much like Titpig, was to my way of thinking a heroic figure. Both men devoted their lives to the jubilant exploration of the uncharted and vast world of male Eros. That the population of gay men continues to have a large and vocal segment that exudes loathing and bitterness toward this work and these men is truly discouraging.
These are the sorts of men who vote for figures like Trump because, well, why not? To them life is a shitty joke and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t spread the misery around as thickly as possible.
I loved Titpig and I admired him enormously. He and his wonderful life should be remembered and celebrated by all of us who aren’t quite as daring, quite as adventurous or brave as he was. Believe it not, our sex is always — always — about discovering how we love. And Steve “Titpig” Hurley was one of the most loving men I’ve ever known. Our world is a lesser place without the man.