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The Camera Eye: One in a Dozen

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The fallout from the JAVA Awards usually included a flurry of posts on various web sites debating whether the awards were given to the right people, who wore it best on the red carpet (and most sites usually agreed it was Koichi), and which presenters were in various stages of intoxication when they got up to do their thing on the stage.

This year, though, things were a bit different.

Subaru pretty much expected that all the blogs would feature a picture of him holding that now-infamous blank paper over his head the morning after. He wasn't that surprised when discussion of it continued the next day – “BLANKGATE – Who Was Responsible?” “JAVA Apologizes to Subaru and Ruiza – Again.” “Is JAVA About to Change the Whole Way Awards are Given Out?”

“This has got to die down sometime – right?” Subaru said to his lovers over breakfast two days after the awards.

“Not anytime soon,” Junji said. “The press – and that includes porn bloggers – loves one thing, and that's failure. JAVA fell flat on its face with this one.”

“Subaru's right,” Mahiro said. “They're blowing it out of proportion. This thing is taking attention away from the actual winners. When people think about these awards? They're not going to remember Codomo Dragon being named Best Newcomers, or Toya winning in both the two-person and three-person scene categories, or Kobe finally getting Best Director. They're going to remember that fucking blank paper.”

“At least they're going to REMEMBER these awards,” Junji said. “Do you remember anyone who won last year?”

“Yes!” Mahiro said. “I remember Subaru won Best Actor, and MiA won Best Supporting Actor, and you and I won Best Two-Person Sex Scene!”

“Okay,” Junji said. “What do you remember that didn't involve anyone you're friends or lovers with?”

There was a long pause. Then, Mahiro said, “Okay, I see your point.”

“The statues aren't what matters in the end,” Junji said. “They're cool, and yeah, you deserved every ounce of that Supporting Actor one you got. But five years down the line? The ceremonies aren't what you remember. You remember the videos that have staying power, whether they won awards or not.”

“Um, what does that have to do with Subaru and Blankgate?” Tomoya said.

“Awards come and go, but scandals last forever?” Subaru said.

“Pretty much, yes,” Junji said.

“I just hope I'm remembered as more than the guy who got the blank envelope in the future,” Subaru said, quietly.

“You will be if I have anything to say about it,” Mahiro said.

Subaru quietly looked at the blogs again. Maybe they'll forget all about this when the next scandal comes along, he thought. Next time someone loudly accuses someone else of paying off JAVA to get awards, or of casting someone via a casting couch . . .

Little did he know that something else was, indeed, about to come along – and it wasn't something that he, or anyone, would expect.

* * *

Uruha was going over his notes for the annual kickoff meeting – the event at which he'd outline the company's plans for the next year – when he got a call from his boss. He sighed. The man had better not be looking to give him a hard time about any of these projects – not when he was going to unveil them within a manner of hours.

“I have some important news,” the boss said.

Uruha nearly yawned. “How important? It's not going to affect our lineup for next year, is it?”

“Gilded Publishing is announcing their Dirty Dozen.”

Uruha couldn't believe his ears. The boss called to tell him THAT? “Are you kidding?” he said. “For our side of the industry, that's completely non-news!”

Gilded Publishing was a well-known publisher of “classy men's magazines” – that is, a mix of softcore porn with “real” articles to give it an air of respectability. Once a year, they published a one-shot magazine, called The Dirty Dozen, naming “the movers and shakers of the adult video industry.” It featured glamour photography – fully clothed – of the twelve people profiled. Of course, since it was published by a “for straight men, by straight men” company, most of the photos were of beautiful actresses, with an occasional producer or director in there – but all on the “mainstream” side of the industry.

“This time,” the boss said, “it's NOT non-news. They're featuring one of our actors.”

“Oh?” Uruha said. “Which one?”


Uruha suddenly sat up straight. “You're serious?”

“Of course I'm serious. Would I joke about something like that?”

“You're SURE it's Mahiro?”

“Check their Twitter feed. Better yet, check with Mahiro. I'm sure they've contacted him directly – they've got to do the interview soon.”

Indeed, it was Gilded Publishing's standard practice to announce the list, then interview and photograph the subjects. Uruha reached for his phone and searched for the company's Twitter feed – it wasn't one he normally followed, given their indifference to his side of the industry.

But there it was, as clear as day. The reason they cited for Mahiro's selection was, “He has the distinction of starring in the all-time best-selling videos of two companies, Hard Candy (A Mirror for the Modern Man) and PSC Productions (Swashbucklers). Not many people can say that on either side of the business.”

“Well, damn,” Uruha said. “You're right – this is huge. The last gay porn guy they wrote about was Aoi, and that was before he came to us – about five years ago.”

“Make sure we capitalize on this,” the boss said. “I want a spotlight video for him. Get the writers on it now. Use the new guys if you have to.”

“You mean The Diamond Mine writers?” Uruha said.

“Exactly,” the boss said. “Get them on it!”

Uruha chuckled to himself as he hung up. Not that long ago, his boss had given him pushback on affiliating with both The Diamond Mine and Kiryu Video. Now, he was suddenly proud to call both of them “ours.”

Amazing, he thought, what awards and honors and the promise of money would do.

* * *

When Mahiro got the news, at first he didn't believe it.

“This is a joke,” he said. “And I don't find it funny. Guys don't get nominated for The Dirty Dozen – at least, not guys who work in the gay side of the industry. It's a total fake.”

Except that when the call from Gilded Publishing came through, he nearly hit the floor.

“We need to schedule an interview and photo session at your earliest convenience,” the voice on the other end said. “All people named to The Dirty Dozen need one.”

“This isn't a gag?” Mahiro said. “You weren't put up to it by Mitsuki and Takemasa? Because they'd probably do something like that.”

“No, sir,” the voice on the other end said. “We weren't put up to it by anybody. This is completely legitimate and serious.”

Well, damn. “All right,” he said. “Let's talk where and when.”

When he hung up, he looked stunned. He wandered into the bedroom, where Junji was getting ready for the kickoff meeting.

“I've been named to the Dirty Dozen,” he said, scarcely believing the words as they came out of his mouth.

“Oh, yeah?” Junji said, not looking away from the mirror. “They came out with a gay version?”

“No, I mean, I got named to THE Dirty Dozen,” Mahiro said. “The . . . the regular one.”

“Whoa,” Junji said. “You're serious?”

Mahiro just nodded.

“Shit, do you know what this means? You're making HISTORY! Nobody gets named to that list! Well, nobody who's not a woman, or works with women. That is AWESOME!”

“I really can't believe it,” Mahiro said, dumbfounded. “I'm going to need to be photographed! A glamour photo session! And a serious interview! And then, I'm going to have to . . .”

I'm going to have to live up to a distinction like that, he thought. The Dirty Dozen even got mainstream press attention. This was far, far bigger than winning a JAVA would be – and, in a way, far more scary.

* * *

By the time the actual interview and photo session rolled around, Mahiro thought that he'd been through about eighty events related to his selection.

First, there was the kickoff meeting. Last year, he'd gone there as the nervous noob, not knowing what to expect from this new company. This year, he was the conquering hero. Uruha announced he'd been named to the list right off the bat, and everyone had given him a standing ovation.

Indeed, the announcement ended up overshadowing the news of upcoming projects, although they were definitely good ones – Datenshi Blue 3, which would include Mahiro and Junji as an angel and demon who fell in love; Swashbucklers 2, featuring members of the Diamond Mine group; a road trip-themed film written by Hiro (which would also include Mahiro in its cast); Codomo Dragon's Ruiza vehicle and an independent project of their own; two new projects for Kiryu Video, one serious and one comic, both directed by Kobe; and finally, the biggest event of the year, the miniseries that would feature Yo-ka as a prince looking for a mate. (Mahiro actually found himself relieved to be left out of that one. He had enough on his plate this year).

Afterward, Uruha asked to speak to him alone. “We're doing a spotlight video about you,” he said. “We decided it's going to be an erotic documentary. We'll have cameras follow you to various video and photo shoots, we'll interview you, and we'll shoot fantasy sequences to be intercut with all that – you choose the men you're with in them, of course.”

“Why a spotlight video?” Mahiro said.

“There's going to be a lot of attention focused on you now,” Uruha said. “Let's just say the boss wants to strike while the iron is hot.”

He wasn't kidding about the attention part. When Mahiro turned his phone on after the meeting, there were about six messages – all bloggers and reporters requesting an interview. And the reporters weren't just from the industry, either – there was one from a mainstream news service. Well, he knew what he was doing for the rest of the day.

The kicker, though, was the engraved invitation that arrived later that day – delivered by courier, not in the mail. “Whoa,” Junji said. “This looks important.”

Mahiro took the square, buff-colored envelope in his hand, turned it over a few times – there was nothing on the front but his name, which looked like it had been hand-painted by a calligraphy artist – and broke the seal on the back. He pulled it out – wouldn't it be ironic if it were blank like Subaru's envelope – and found an invitation to the Gilded Gala, to be held at the mansion of Kiyotake Kenyu, chairman of Gilded Publishing.

“Whoa,” Junji said. “The guy's a legend! Celebrities hang out at his parties! I mean real celebrities, not industry celebrities!”

Mahiro just stared at it. “What the hell would I WEAR to something like that?” he said.

“You wear what you'd wear to the JAVAs!” Junji said. “And so would your date, of course.” He leaned heavily on Mahiro's shoulder. “It DOES say you can bring a date, right?”

Mahiro looked over at Junji. “I could take Subaru, you know.”

“I know,” Junji said. “I'm just offering my services, experienced party-goer that I am. You need someone who can help you navigate something like that.”

Mahiro tipped his head toward his lover and sighed. “Of course you're going,” he said. “Did you think you wouldn't be?”

“Yay!” Junji said. “Okay, we need to go through our outfits and pick out the fanciest ones. I think the ones we wore to the JAVAs last year might be cool.” He hugged Mahiro. “Damn. We're going to be partying with REAL actors! Not porn people! Not even horror people! REAL people!”

Mahiro shook his head. This was just getting more and more surreal. He was fully expecting an elephant to arrive in his living room next, and flying monkeys to pass by his window. Why not? It would be par for the course with everything else that was going on!

* * *

The actual interview and photo session went smoothly. It felt funny, though, to be photographed in “normal” clothes instead of in a film costume, half-naked or fully naked. The questions were also serious and straightforward, focusing on his career and his thoughts on the industry – even real-life LBGTQA+ issues – rather than the typical “Who's your favorite co-star?” “What's your favorite position?” and “Where's the wildest place you've ever done it?”

“Thank you, Mahiro,” the woman doing the interview said at the end. “The actual publication will be unveiled at the Gilded Gala and will be released to the public two days later.”

“What should I expect at the Gilded Gala, anyway?” Mahiro said. “I've, well, never been there.”

“Oh, you will love it,” the interviewer said. “The Gilded Palace is absolutely gorgeous. It goes on for miles. You'll meet all kinds of interesting people – and, yes, there will be people there from both the straight and gay porn industries, in addition to the actual Dirty Dozen. And Kiyotake-san himself is a lovely person, he'll make you feel at home.”

Bet they normally don't have gay porn people, Mahiro thought. They're only getting invited because of me.

“I will say that things do get a bit wilder in the later hours when people end up in the guest bedrooms, and occasionally, an orgy does break out in the swimming pool area.” the journalist added, “but I'm sure you've seen plenty of that at your own industry parties.”

“You have no idea,” Mahiro said. He'd been to one After-After Party, and one was enough for him.

“Oh, and there's talk that Sanzo might be taping a segment of his talk show there, interviewing the Dirty Dozen,” the interviewer added. “So wear camera-ready makeup!”

Okay, the surreal life was back again. Sanzo had an evening chat show that was watched by millions. He interviewed celebrity chefs and best-selling authors and, yes, actors promoting mainstream films. He might be on Sanzo's show? He didn't even dare dream of that when he was working in horror films!

“I'll keep it in mind,” Mahiro said, bowing. And here come the flying monkeys and stampeding elephants again, he thought. Might as well throw in some tap-dancing bears while you were at it.
Could things get any stranger?

* * *

The night of the actual Gilded Gala, Mahiro and Junji did, indeed, get dressed up in the finest finery they had in their arsenal. Yuuki did their makeup, paying attention to the request that Mahiro be camera-ready.

“Someone is really interviewing you during this thing?” he said.

“Sanzo,” Mahiro said. “He's supposedly interviewing all of the Dirty Dozen.”

“I'm surprised,” Yuuki said. “People's moms watch that show.” He finished the makeup job. “Okay, you're ready to go – is there a car picking you up?”

“They said they were sending someone,” Mahiro said. “They'll give me a call when . . .” His phone went off. “Well, that was good timing.”

“Let's go!” Junji said. “I can't wait to see this place!”

“I'll walk down with you.” Yuuki put the last of the makeup back in his case and closed it. “Think they'd mind if I tried to sneak in?”

“I wish you would,” Mahiro said. “We're not going to have very many people we know there.”

They went down the elevator and stepped outside – and froze. “Whoa,” Junji said.

“Damn,” Mahiro said. “I wasn't expecting . . . that.”

There was a full stretch limo in front of them. It was the kind of thing porn stars usually didn't ride in. You'd expect it to be used by, well, real actors.

“Now I really want to sneak in,” Yuuki said.

The driver got out, bowed and opened the door. “Kurosaki-san? Tokai-san?”

“Yes,” Mahiro said, bowing and holding out his invitation. “We're headed for . . .”

“Yes, sir,” the driver said. “The Gilded Gala, sir, I know. Won't you step into the car?”

Junji and Mahiro both jumped in. “Whoa,” Junji said. “This is amazing!” He looked around at the cavernous interior. “You could go bowling in here!”

“I never thought I'd ride in one of these things,” Mahiro said.

“Well, look around you, because you're riding in it!” Junji said. He got out his phone and flipped to video. “I'm sending this to everyone, they're not going to believe it!”

Mahiro gazed around him as the world sped by. The ride was so incredibly smooth that it was more like flying than riding. So this is how the other half lives, he thought. Would my life be like this if I'd stayed in horror films, and maybe found an opening to the mainstream side of the industry?

Then he remembered how he'd been told that he was too short to be a hero. Which is why he was in the porn industry to begin with.

The car drove out of the city proper and into the suburbs, making its way into the more affluent areas. It made a turn, went up a winding road . . .

And there was a house that went on for miles at the end of a cul-de-sac. It seemed to be shaped like a horseshoe, with a central entranceway and two long halls extending from either side. The driver opened the door with a bow.

“Welcome to the Gilded Palace, sirs,” he said.

There was a long walkway leading up to the house, lined with immaculately sculpted shrubs and flowering plants. Mahiro walked up it slowly, looking around him. “Gorgeous,” he said – and then stopped suddenly at the flash of a camera.

“Mahiro-san!” said the camera's wielder, a man from one of the blogs. “How does it feel to have made it here?”

“I can't believe it's true,” he said. Is this a red carpet? he thought.

Another reporter approached him. “You're the only guy to have made it to the Dirty Dozen in five years and only the second in the last decade,” he said. “What are your thoughts on that?”

“Well, of course I'm honored,” Mahiro said. “It really was unexpected.”

“Who was the other guy?” Junji said.

And then, a voice behind them said, “Coming through! The superstar has arrived!” Mahiro and Junji turned around, slowly – and saw Aoi, with Kazuki at his side.

“Hello!” Kazuki said. “Congratulations, Mahiro!”

“Thanks,” Mahiro said. “I didn't know you two were invited.”

“I was the last guy to be named to the Dirty Dozen!” Aoi said. “Five years ago. So they invited me back for a reunion!” He whapped Mahiro's back. “I haven't seen you since you helped me pick out Codomo Dragon in that contest!”

“More like Subaru and I found Codomo Dragon,” Mahiro muttered.

“See, this guy has taste,” Aoi told Kazuki. “He knows how to pick out a good video, and he knows a superstar when he sees one!”

Mahiro wanted to shake his head. Was he going to have to listen to this all night?

The group approached the front door, and a doorman stepped in front of them. “Invitations, please?”

Quickly, Mahiro held his up. The man nodded. “Welcome to the Guilded Palace, Mahiro-san. And congratulations.” He opened the door, and Mahiro stepped in – and instantly, he felt like Cinderella at the ball.

The hallway he stepped into seemed to be made of gold. Everything, simply everything was gleaming and glittering, from the antique end tables to the gold-framed mirrors to the crystal chandeliers. “Whoa,” Junji said. “I'm afraid to touch anything. They'll probably throw us out if we spill something.”

An older man in an elegant tuxedo approached him and bowed. “Hello, Mahiro-san. I'm Kiyotake Kenyu. It's a pleasure to meet you.”

“No, it's a pleasure to meet you,” Mahiro said. “Thank you for this honor. Really. I'm humbled. This is my significant other, Tokai Junji.”

Junji bowed low. “Hello, Kiyotake-san,” he said. “Nice place you've got here.”

“There's a lot more of it,” their host said. “You'll see it throughout the evening. There's appetizers and cocktails in the main ballroom right now, and Sanzo's producers will be meeting with you in a few minutes.”

“He's really going to have us on his show?” Mahiro said.

“Yes,” Kiyotake said. “You well deserve the honor, Mahiro-san. Having the top selling videos of all time for two companies is quite an accomplishment.”

“I didn't do it alone,” Mahiro said. “There were a lot of people helping me – especially our director, Kobe.”

“True, but you were the one they bought the videos for,” Kiyotake said. “That is the sign of a true star.”

A young woman bearing an iPad approached Kiyotake. “Excuse me,” she said. “I need to borrow Mahiro-san a moment – we're setting up the shoot.” She turned to Mahiro. “I'm Matsume Tokiko, I'm one of the directors of Sanzo's show.” She bowed.

“Pleased to meet you,” Mahiro said, bowing back. “And Kiyotake-san? It was nice to meet you, too.” But he had barely stood up all the way when the director tugged his arm and almost dragged him into the next room.

Junji turned around and quickly bowed to Kiyotake, saying, “Thanks for having us!” and rushed into the next room after his lover. He watched as Mahiro was dragged over to a dais at one end of the ballroom. It was occupied by two older men in formal wear and nine women wearing high, high heels and formal gowns that ranged from sweeping and elegant to tight and short. This must be the Dirty Eleven, he thought.

“I found him!” Matsume said, pushing Mahiro toward the platform. He nearly stumbled over it as he climbed up onto it. “We can start now, Sanzo-san!”

Mahiro looked around. He saw lights and cameras being swung into place. It was a familiar sight to him – though it felt strange to be experiencing it without either large amounts of beautiful men or fake blood nearby.

“Welcome, all!” said a voice from the side. A man with a ton of spray in his frosted hair and a purple tie with his gray suit walked onto the platform. “I'm Sanzo, and you're my special interviews!”

One of the camerapersons looked over the group and murmured to the other, “I thought there was a male porn star up there somewhere?” Mahiro bristled.

“So, there,” Sanzo said, “we're going to turn on the cameras, I'm going to give an intro, and then I'm going to ask you all to introduce yourselves, then there will be a few questions. Got it?”

“My mom watches you every night, Sanzo!” said the woman in the most long and flowing dress.

“Well, then, I hope she knows what you do for a living before she watches this!” Sanzo said, and everyone laughed. “All right, let's do this! In five, four, three, two . . .” He stepped in front of the cameras.

“Hello, everyone! I'm Sanzo, and I'm at the Gilded Palace, home of Kiyotake Kenyu. And this is a party like no other – it honors twelve people who have been picked as movers and shakers in one particular industry, which just happens to be adult videos. Why is a show like this covering an industry like that, you may ask? Because porn is part of everyday life. It's everywhere, and it appeals to everyone – men and women, gay and straight. Tonight, we have a cross-section of people from throughout the industry who will be talking about who they are and what they do. Can you introduce yourselves, from the left?”

Mahiro was on the far right. He was going to be the last one. He listened as the others gave their names, what they did and what company they were with – there was one director, one writer-director-producer, and nine actresses, one of whom started to introduce herself as a “specialist” - until Sanzo stopped her from giving the dirtiest details, saying, “Whoa, now, there's only so much we can say on this show!”

When it finally reached Mahiro, he said, simply, “I'm Mahiro, I'm an actor with Kiryu Video.”

“Now, Mahiro, you perform in gay porn, do you not?” Sanzo said.

“Yes,” Mahiro said. “Kiryu Video is a male-male only company. Our fanbase is primarily female.”

Sanzo actually looked shocked at that. “Female? Really? Women watch gay porn?”

“Well, yes,” Mahiro said. “Men watch female-female porn, right? Women watching male-male porn is pretty much the same thing.”

“Sorry,” Sanzo said, “but . . . wow, that caught me off-guard! I had no idea – don't women usually watch boy-girl romance porn?” He looked over at the actresses. “Do any of YOU watch gay porn?”

“I do!” said a woman in a snug-fitting green dress who had introduced herself as Miyu-Miyu. “And Mahiro-san is a great performer!” The audience applauded.

“Well, damn,” Sanzo said. “You learn something new every day!”

Mahiro wanted to facepalm. Why was it so difficult for people outside the industry to comprehend that women liking male-male fantasies was, well, natural?

Sanzo asked the group what they thought the role of adult entertainment was in society as a whole. The behind-the-camera men were rather philosophical, talking about how erotica had been around as long as humans could create and how it's a basic human need. One of the actresses talked about the role of exploring fantasy in female empowerment. Another said that porn was a way to explore the forbidden while staying safe in the parameters of your socially acceptable life.

When the host came down to Mahiro, he said, “Adult entertainment is liberating, actually. Both for the performers and the viewers.”

“How so?” Sanzo said.

“It inspires people to get experimental,” Mahiro said. “A lot of our fans say that watching our videos has made a difference in their own sex lives.”

“And what about the performers?” Sanzo said. “Do you get experimental with each other?”

“I know a lot of people who have taken bold moves with their own lifestyles who say they wouldn't have done that without the confidence they got from being in the industry,” Mahiro said.

“So women watching you have sex with other men is a gateway to self-esteem!” Sanzo said. “Who knew?”

“Actually?” Mahiro said. “It IS. We draw a lot of positive energy from our fans. Going to public events and fan gatherings is sometimes the best feeling in the world.”

“Wait a minute!” Sanzo said. “Women are willing to admit IN PUBLIC that they're into this stuff?”

If he was anywhere near the wall, Mahiro would have been pounding his head into it. Why couldn't Captain Clueless here absorb the concept that, yes, women were fans of this stuff, some of them were open and vocal, and there was nothing at all wrong with it?

“That's what the fan gatherings are for,” he said in a steady voice.

“Well, then, invite me to one, because that's something I need to see to believe!” Sanzo said. The audience laughed. “Okay, we're ready to wrap this segment up! I'm Sanzo, this is the Gilded Gala, and these are the Dirty Dozen, the biggest names in porn! Say goodbye, everyone!”

The group all waved and yelled, “Goodbye!” The cameras were turned off, and Sanzo moved to the side of the stage, yelling, “Someone get me a drink!”

The performer called Miyu-Miyu approached Mahiro. “Mahiro-san, I meant what I said,” she told him. “I really am a fan. You're probably the most watchable guy in gay porn. I mean, you have . . . presence.”

“Thanks,” he said. “I try.” He pointed at Sanzo, who had headed for the bar. “What was with him? He acted like I was talking in an alien language when I said we had a female fanbase.”

Miyu-Miyu shrugged. “That's the typical attitude in the industry,” she said. “A lot of people still think nobody watches porn but men. My kind of porn is for straight men, yours is for gay men.”

“Maybe Heavy Hitter's stuff is,” Mahiro said. “We've always been open about who our target audience is.”

“Kiyotake-san thinks like Sanzo, too,” Miyu-Miyu said. “In fact, I'm surprised you were named to the Dirty Dozen. The last time he had a gay porn person was Aoi, and that's because Sanzo's girlfriend at the time was a fan.”

“He goes through a lot of girlfriends?” Mahiro said.

“Like a college kid going through cans of beer,” Miyu-Miyu said. “Just about a different one every month – most of them are his own models.” She lowered her voice. “In fact, about six of these women got started by sleeping with him.” She indicated the other female members of the Dirty Dozen.

“Lovely,” Mahiro said. “A casting couch. Not that we don't have that on my side of the industry.” He rolled his eyes as he remembered some of what went on at Hard Candy. No wonder Jui and Jun fled, and Ruiza had just joined them.

“It's the same way everywhere, isn't it?” Miyu-Miyu patted his arm. “I have to talk to one of the reporters over there, I promised him an interview. It was nice meeting you.”

“Nice meeting you, too,” Mahiro said. He climbed back off the dais and wandered back into the crowd – only to nearly run face-first into his own lover.

“Hey!” Junji said. “How did it go?”

“Other than Sanzo being utterly clueless about our side of the industry?” Mahiro said. “Fine.”

“Look what I found!” Junji said, stepping aside to reveal Jui and Jun.

“Hi!” Jui said. “Fancy meeting you here!”

“Oh, my God!” Mahiro said. “How did you two get an invitation?”

“We were just sort of sent one,” Jun said. “I think the guy that runs this magazine was sort of randomly looking around for gay porn people and saw our names on a blog.”

“There's an odd assortment of industry people floating around,” Jui said. “We saw a couple of guys from Heavy Hitter, a few we used to know at Hard Candy, a couple of guys from another indie. . . it's REALLY random. I mean, they're not even the biggest names.”

“Yeah, nobody that Hayato would chase down with his selfie stick,” Junji said.

“Nobody here seems to know anything about our side of the industry, then,” Mahiro said. “Sanzo was clueless as hell.”

“Is Toya here with you, by the way?” Junji said.

Jun shook his head. “The invitation was for two people only, and we played rock-paper-scissors to see which two would go. Toya is currently consoling himself with Subaru, no doubt.”

“Too bad,” Junji said. “Okay, who's up for drinks?”

“I am!” Jui said. “I always am!”

A few drinks later, the group had spent some time wandering around the room, making conversation with people that they met. They encountered even more cluelessness about what they did. “There's GAY porn stars?” one man said.

Another woman thought they were male stars of straight porn. “You really sleep with all those women?” she said.

“We don't sleep with women,” Mahiro said. “We're in male video.”

“But how is that possible?” the woman said. “You need women for . . .” She suddenly realized what he was saying. “Oh. OOOHHH.” She backed away from them slowly.

Another man loudly asked if they were gay for pay. “No,” Mahiro said. “Our head producer/director doesn't believe in that. He wants authentic emotions on the screen.”

“Really?” the man said. “People do that kind of thing because they WANT to? Huh.”

When they settled down at a table at the edge of the ballroom, they collectively concluded that this group was even less knowledgeable about their side of the industry than they thought.

“Completely, totally and utterly clueless,” Jun sighed. “I think we need to start a public education program.”

“Why is it so hard for some people to believe that women like to watch men have sex?” Junji said. “Especially since the so-called mainstream side of the industry has been making money off men watching women have sex for years.”

“I hate that term,” Jun said. “Mainstream side of the industry, that is. Bullshit. Why are WE fringe and they're mainstream? Because our fans are women?”

“That's precisely why we're considered fringe,” Mahiro said. “And I'm going to get us all drinks. We need them at this point.”

Now, where was the bar again? He wandered back into the heart of the ballroom . . . and almost literally bumped into Aoi. “Oh, sorry about that,” he said.

“No harm!” Aoi said. “So, you enjoying the party?”

“Well, kind of,” Mahiro said. “I'd enjoy it more if there were more people from our side of the industry.”

“Hey, what does it matter?” Aoi said. “Long as people want to see you and interview you and take your picture, it's all good! People have been taking my picture, you know!”

“Really?” Mahiro said.

“He's been posing with celebrities all night!” Kazuki said.

“What can I say?” Aoi said. “I'm just the kind of guy people want in their photos. So, you gotten used to being part of the Dirty Dozen yet?”

“It still feels strange,” Mahiro said. “I feel like, well, the people who named me to the list just don't get it. They don't get what I'm about. What WE'RE about.”

“'Course they do,” Aoi said. “They named me to the list, didn't they? They know a superstar when they see one!” He patted Mahiro's shoulder. “Gotta go!”

Mahiro shook his head as he watched them go. Well, the so-called mainstream people seemed to understand and appreciate Aoi, right? Why not him?

He looked for the bar again. It was over against that wall, right? Yes, where the line was . . . He crossed the room and stood in it.

In front of him was a young woman with a piled-high hairstyle and an off-the-shoulder blue satin gown, talking into a cell phone. “Oh, yeah, I've been working for Kiyotake for nearly a decade now. It's the same crap, really. He shoots his mouth off to the wrong people, we scramble to cover up for it. This is the SECOND time he got caught saying something homophobic.”

Wait, what was that? Homophobic? Mahiro strained to hear.

“Some guy at one of the cable networks caught him saying something about how he didn't want any faggots working for him when he thought the cameras were turned off,” the woman said. “Next thing you know, the clip's on social media and about to go viral. Kiyotake panicked, called a meeting and told us to name a gay porn star, any gay porn star, to the Dirty Dozen. You know, so he could say, 'I'm not a homophobe, I named this guy to my list!' So we poked around a little and found this guy who'd just scored the top selling videos in the history of two companies. That was big enough to qualify for the list.”

Mahiro just stood there, feeling like he'd turned to ice. So . . . his honor was just to cover up for . . . Kiyotake being a homophobe?

“Oh, yeah, it happened before,” the woman said. “About five years ago. The sacrificial lamb then was that Aoi guy – I asked everyone I could who the biggest star in gay porn was, his name kept coming up. We told everyone we picked him because the boss' bimbo of the week was a fan. . . Yeah, he's the one. Apparently a bunch of people saw that Dice movie, because they kept taking pictures with him. Yeah, so they can all tell their friends, 'Look at how daring I am, I took a picture with the gay porn star.'”

Even Aoi, Mahiro thought. They even used Aoi to make themselves look politically correct. Suddenly, he felt a bit nauseous. He turned and fled back to his table, pushing through the crowds.

Once he got back there, he saw the concerned faces. “Baby?” Junji said. “What happened?”

“We're getting out of here,” Mahiro said. “Now.”

“Did someone say something mean to you?” Jui said, getting up and putting a hand on Mahiro's shoulder.

“No,” Mahiro said. “Not directly. Just . . . I'll tell you later, okay?”

“We're coming with you,” Jun said, standing up next to Jui. “If they did something to upset you, we're not going to stay.”

Junji got his phone out. “I'm getting us a car,” he said.

They made their way toward the entrance, rapidly. Mahiro still felt nauseous. When the car came, he couldn't climb in fast enough. He got in the front, the other three in the back.

Mahiro looked over his shoulder. “You two can come to our place, if you want,” he said.

“Oh, we want,” Jui said. “We're getting to the bottom of what happened.”

Mahiro was silent as the car sped through the night toward his and Junji's apartment. How could he tell Uruha about this? He was so proud of him – PSC Productions had even taken out a full-page ad in one of the trades to congratulate him. Or Kobe, who'd sent him a text before they left to say he'd fulfilled the potential Kobe had known he'd had all along?

The car pulled up in front of the apartment building. The group made their way upstairs quickly. Once Jui and Jun were settled on the couch, and Junji in the “gaming chair” by the TV, Mahiro said, “Okay. I overheard one of the Guilded employees when I was trying to get drinks. They were using me.”

The three looked at each other. “What do you mean?” Jun said.

“I mean, I was named to their list just as a coverup for Kiyotake being caught saying homophobic crap!”

He relayed the story, watching the faces of the others. Jui looked thunderstruck. Jun's face was a mask of anger. Junji suddenly stood up, ran over to Mahiro and hugged him.

“I thought this meant something,” Mahiro said. “I thought it was the real deal.”

“It IS the real deal,” Junji said. “In the eyes of the public, it still is, love. They still think you're being honored.”

“But I know it isn't,” Mahiro said. “No wonder nobody there knew about our industry. They didn't give a damn about it – or me. I was just the 'I can't be a homophobe, some of my best friends are gay.' And Aoi thought everyone was taking pictures of him because he's a superstar – they just wanted pictures of the gay porn guy who was in a mainstream action movie.”

“That explains the random selection of guests. It's because they just looked at some gay porn blogs at random,” Jun said.

“Fuck them.” Jui went over to Mahiro and hugged him from the other side. “I never liked Gilded's stuff, even when I thought I was straight.”

Mahiro frowned. “You thought you were straight at one point? Really?”

“A phase,” Jui said. “I got over it.”

“Before you met me, obviously,” Jun said, coming up to the others and joining in the group hug. “Mahiro, you're worth more than those people. You're talented as hell. Anyone who's seen one of your videos knows that. You're nobody's token gay. You're a real actor. Hell, I wish I had your talent.”

“And whatever they say about you?” Junji said. “WE know your worth.” He kissed Mahiro's forehead. “I think right now, you need to get out of this outfit, put on a yukata and have a nice, strong drink.”

“I'll take care of the drinks,” Jun said. “I don't have Kazi's skill, but I know how to make a few things.”

“Liquor cabinet's over there,” Junji said. “Knock yourself out. And I think I'm getting changed, too. We have extra yukatas if you two want to get comfortable.”

“I might take you up on that offer,” Jui said.

Half an hour later, they were sitting on the guest futons Junji had rolled out on the floor, wearing the yukatas and drinking the pitcher of saketinis that Jun had made.

“I have to say, it's been awhile since I've seen people from the other side of the industry,” Jun said. “Since they shove us off in our own room at the Expo and all.”

“I don't mind that,” Junji said. “I like our fans knowing they have a safe space.”

“That end of the industry is kind of depressing,” Jui said. “So many just-out-of-high-school girls looking to be stars.”

“I met one of them,” Mahiro said. “Well, she wasn't a young girl, she looked like she'd been around awhile. Her name was Miyu-Miyu.”

“Oh, yes, Miyu-Miyu,” Jui said. “If I were still straight, I'd go for her.”

“Are you having a relapse?” Jun said.

“I'm not relapsing,” Jui said. “Not with guys like you and Mahiro here!”

“Hey!” Junji said. “What about me? Aren't I hot enough?”

“You're plenty hot,” Jun said.

“He was asking me!” Jui said.

“Well, do you think he's hot?”

Jui suddenly leaned over, pulled Junji toward him and brought their lips together. It was a brief kiss, intense and hot, and it was over almost as soon as it began.

Jui eased away. “Does that answer your question?” he said.

“It doesn't answer mine!” Junji said. “I want more of that!” He yanked Jui back toward him and kissed him again, making the kiss long and hot, tongues sliding into each other's mouths.

Mahiro just watched in astonishment. “Damn,” he said.

“He does this,” Jun said. “Just put a few drinks in him, and, well . . .”

“I know,” Mahiro said. “I was with him at your last couple of parties.”

Jui leaned back from Junji. “Wow,” he said. “I should have done that sooner.”

“Now you have,” Junji said.

“I haven't done that enough,” Jui said. “Not yet. But then again . . . I don't want to be selfish, do I?” He pulled Mahiro toward him, and Mahiro kissed him hard, tasting liquor and Junji on the other man's mouth, suddenly feeling incredibly hot all over.

Jun sighed. “I can see where this is going,” he said.

“Well, you could get in on it, you know,” Jui said. “You're more than welcome.”

“Hell, yeah!” Junji said, and he leaned over toward Jun, pulling him into his arms and kissing him fiercely, even sliding a hand along the neckline of the yukata, teasing the skin beneath. Jun hesitated for a moment – and then pulled Junji closer, kissing him harder and reaching for the tie of the garment.

Mahiro raised his head long enough to see what was going on with the other two – and every bit of him approved, especially his cock, which hardened quickly. He reached over toward Jui, undoing the tie of the other man's garment and pushing it aside. He felt Jui start to do the same to him, and he shrugged out of the robe quickly, letting it fall around him.

Jun eased away from Junji and leaned over toward Mahiro, and Mahiro pulled the pink-haired man in toward him, unfastening his yukata as well, sliding his hand over his stomach and up to his chest.
“I haven't touched you like this yet,” Mahiro said, breathlessly.

“Well, we can make up for lost time, right?” Jun said – and Mahiro suddenly found himself tipped back onto the futon, the taller man lying on top of him, rubbing their cocks together. “Fuck, you feel good,” he murmured. “No wonder Jui can't get enough of you.”

“He can't?” Mahiro murmured, letting his hands slide down over Jun's back. He felt the firm curves of the other man's ass and squeezed.

“Oh, God, yes,” Jun said. He began to move faster, grinding against Mahiro. “He said you were the most amazing fuck he's had in eons.”

Mahiro turned his head, looking at what was going on across the futon. He saw Jui and Junji kneeling, facing each other, hands wrapped around one another's cocks, stroking rapidly as they kissed. The sight of it just enhanced the pleasure he was feeling as Jun's erection pressed and rubbed against his, faster and harder.

“What else did he say?” Mahiro murmured.

“That your mouth was a flat-out miracle,” Jun said.

“Want to find out firsthand?” Mahiro said.

Jun quickly pulled away from Mahiro, only to sit on his haunches. Mahiro leaned over, ass in the air, tongue stroking up and down Jun's hardness. He heard footsteps, dimly, as Junji quickly went into the bedroom to get supplies – condoms, lube and dental dams.

Mahiro opened his lips, wrapping them around Jun's cock, and began to suck, moving down on it and feeling it fill his mouth. He heard the other man moan loudly, tangling his fingers in his hair – and he also felt hands on his ass, caressing it.

“That's it,” Jui's voice said, breathlessly. “Suck him good. Suck him the way I know you can. And I'm going to . . .”

Mahiro felt lube being poured into his ass. The hands parted him gently, a bit more lube was poured on, and then the feel of plastic being stretched across it. Oh, God, yes, Mahiro thought. He's going to rim me while I suck his boyfriend's cock.

He felt the tongue press against him as hardness slipped through his lips. He moaned deep in his throat, moving faster as Jui wriggled against the opening, tracing the tight outer ring, and then slipping in.

“Fuck, that is HOT,” he heard Junji's voice saying. “You three need to be cast in a scene together.”

Mahiro was lost in the sensation of the tongue plunging into him, moving inside him, exploring him, then sliding out . . . while at the same time, there was a hard cock plunging into his mouth, fucking it, filling it, and he moved down on it hard and fast, taking it in deep.

He heard Junji moaning, too, but he couldn't move his head to see what was going on, he wasn't breaking this contact, this amazing intimacy of Jui's tongue deep in one end, Jun's cock deep in the other, both men moaning with pleasure . . .

The tongue slid out of him, and the plastic was pulled away – only to have something else press at his entrance. This was cool, and smooth, and hard . . .

Oh, God, Junji was using their butt plug on him. Mahiro lifted his head, moaning “Oh, fuck, YES!”

“You like playing with toys?” Jui leaned over and nibbled Mahiro's ear. “I'll remember that.”

The plug was left in him, and the men were shifting, and now Junji's cock was pressing against his lips like Jun's had done. Mahiro opened up, sliding down on the familiar, delicious length as Jui began to gently thrust the toy, opening him up with it.

“Whose cock do you want in here?” Jui said. “Mine, Junji's or Jun's? Or . . . maybe we can all take turns?”

Mahiro raised his head. “Oh, yes,” he moaned. “Please!”

“I'll take that as a yes for taking turns,” Jui said. The plug slid out, and Mahiro felt fingers enter him, gently thrusting, spreading apart, making sure he was open enough . . .

He felt Junji gently slip out of his mouth, and he heard the other three tearing condom packets, the squish of lube bottles . . . and then there were hands on his ass, parting it gently. Hardness pressed against him, entering slowly. “Oh, fuck, you always feel so good,” Jui murmured.

“Mmm,” Mahiro murmured. Yes, he could feel the shape and size of the man in him, he knew it was Jui, he remembered just how he felt when he'd fucked him on the bed at one party, in the bathroom at the next . . .

Jui started to move within him – slowly at first, then picking up speed little by little, and Mahiro moaned loudly as any pain and discomfort vanished, pure pleasure flooding his body. “Yes,” he murmured. “Oh, yes . . .”

“So good,” Jui said, as he thrust harder. “So fucking good, I may change my mind about sharing . . .”

Jun lightly smacked his partner's pumping ass. “The hell you will!” he said.

Reluctantly, Jui slowed down and pulled out. Mahiro only was disappointed for a second before a new erection pressed against him, then slid in, little by little . . .

“Fuck,” Jun murmured. “This is even better than your mouth!”

“Mmm, yes . . .” Mahiro closed his eyes, enjoying a new sensation – it was shaped a bit differently than Jui, with unique textures and ridges, stimulating him in different places than before. He thrust his hips backward, trying to take in more of him, to fuck himself fully on that cock.

“So good,” Jun murmured, thrusting faster. “Such a hot, hot ass, my God . . .” He grabbed Mahiro's hips and started to thrust rapidly, moaning loudly, and Mahiro moved back against him, matching him thrust for thrust.

Jun slowed, stopped, and eased out, and then Mahiro felt a very familiar cock press into him, one that had been in him so many times, but which he always loved.

“Junji,” he moaned. “Oh, yes, Junji . . .”

“I'm going to fuck you hard, baby,” Junji said. “Just the way you like it.”

He began to move, pushing into Mahiro, and Mahiro let out a loud groan, murmuring, “Baby, baby, yes . . .” He pushed back against Junji, knowing just what his lover liked, how he wanted him to move, after all this time they'd been together . . .

He opened his eyes to see that Jui and Jun had pulled off their condoms and had their hands wrapped around each other's cocks, stroking each other in rhythm to Junji's thrusting into Mahiro. His eyes moved over both erections, thinking of how they'd felt inside him, that he'd been fucked by three beautiful men tonight . . .

Junji was reaching down and around, his hand wrapping around Mahiro's cock, and Mahiro felt the heat within him getting wild and intense, he was going to come, he was going to come soon and hard . . .

A hard thrust against a sweet spot within him, and Mahiro let go, crying out loudly, his entire body shaking with ecstasy, feeling the come pour out of him and over Junji's fingers . . . and then Jui cried out as well, moving close to Mahiro so the come splashed on him, landing on his face and neck.

Junji thrust deep into Mahiro, then pulled out, yanking off the condom so he could stroke himself to completion, coming all over Mahiro's ass, moments before Jun let out a yell, making sure his own come splattered Mahiro in the chest.

It was a complete come bath, deliciously dirty, and yet cleaning him of all the bitterness of earlier.

He sank to the futon, and the other three men snuggled against him, kissing him and each other. Junji cleaned Mahiro gently with the baby wipes he'd brought from the bedroom.

“Was that good?” he said.

“It was miraculous,” Mahiro yawned.

Jun kissed him. “You two are welcome to come to our place and play whenever you want,” he said. “Toya won't mind, I'm sure.”

“Especially if we bring Subaru?” Junji said.

“Definitely bring Subaru,” Jun said.

Mahiro snuggled against them all. It was a spectacular ending to the evening, to be sure – and it just about redeemed what had gone before it.

* * *

Kiyotake Kenyu was in his office the Monday after the release of the Dirty Dozen. It went well as expected, and the special publication was flying off the shelves. Thank God having one of the Dozen be a gay male porn star didn't hurt sales as much as he'd feared. Well, that incident was behind him, time to move on . . .

His secretary came into the room. “Kiyotake-san, you had better take that call on line 2.”

“Aoki-san, I pay you to deal with the calls on the switchboard.” Kiyotake said. “Anyone I really want to talk to has my cell.”

“No, sir, you HAVE to take this call,” the secretary said. “Trust me.”

The publisher sighed and picked up the phone. “Kiyotake here.”

The voice on the other end said, “Sir, my name is Uruha, and I'm the head producer/director at PSC Productions. Kiryu Video is an affiliate of ours.”

“Who?” Kiyotake said. “You have to excuse me, because that sounds only vaguely familiar.”

“It should be more than vague, sir. You just named Kiryu Video's top actor to your Dirty Dozen – for very dubious reasons.”

Well, shit. “I would like to know your reasons for making charges like that, sir,” the publisher said.

“The word of Mahiro himself,” Uruha said. “He overheard a member of your staff on the phone at the party. You had him picked out at random to cover up an incident of your homophobia that was about to go viral.”

FUCK. He was going to have to have a word with his staff. A strong one. And if he found the girl in question, she'd be fired AND blacklisted. “You have only the word of that one boy, though.”

“AND the video clip in question,” Uruha said.

Kiyotake suddenly sat up straight. “How did you get that? I . . .” He was about to say he'd paid good money to have it removed from all the services it was on. “Thought it had been deleted.”

“I have ways,” Uruha said. “Just as you have your ways to try to erase it. So, we're going to make a deal here. I hold onto the clip if you agree that you will name at least one person from our side of the industry to the Dirty Dozen every year now. And SINCERELY. No just picking some at random. Not that Mahiro doesn't deserve the honor, because he does. You just got lucky by picking the right guy.”

Shit, Kiyotake thought. It seemed he'd picked the WRONG guy. “And if I don't agree to it?”

“I have the clip released. It's saved in several places.”

Goddamn it – it seems that people on the fag side of the industry were smarter than he thought. This guy could just be bluffing – but he wasn't taking any chances. That clip getting out wasn't going to do him any favors, especially since this was the second incident. His plans of taking the company mainstream, of buying up non-erotic magazines to add to his empire, could be threatened by the bad publicity.

“Fine,” he just about spat. “You've got your deal. But it's off if that clip shows up ANYWHERE, you understand?” Shit. Now he was going to have to name a fag to the Dirty Dozen every single year to shut this guy up. Shit, shit, shit.

“Understood completely,” Uruha said. “Good day, sir.”

Kiyotake slammed the phone down. Fuck. Because some asshole had a phone-camera running at the wrong time, he was stuck in a potential public relations disaster – one even worse than the one he was trying to cover up for. His image as the gracious gentleman of tasteful erotica was in danger of going down the tubes because of some canny swisher.

He sighed and buzzed his secretary again. “Aoki-san, we're going to have to create a task force of female staffers. We'll need some extra help on next year's Dirty Dozen.”

* * *

Uruha hung up the phone and took a deep breath. His converstion with Mahiro the day after the party had been enlightening. He should have known that there was some dark undercurrent to Mahiro being named to the Dirty Dozen – much as the boy did, in fact, deserve it.

Fortunately, it just took a couple of phone calls to put things right. One of the officials at JAVA had been aware of Kiyotake's attempt to cover up his homophobic tirade, and had saved a copy of the video. (As a producer of softcore videos, Kiyotake was a member of the “mainstream” side of JAVA). Uruha asked him to put a copy of it on a flash drive, then put the drive in a safety deposit box.

At least something good is going to come out of this incident, he thought. Our performers and behind-the-scenes people will finally get their due in the eyes of the general public. Part of him still wanted to expose Kiyotake as a homophobic shit, but he decided it was better to be the one who took the high road. Or, rather, high-ish.

Now he needed to get on the phone with Kobe and talk about the other thing he and Mahiro had discussed – the fantasy sequences for the spotlight video. Yes, it was still going on, because, dammit, Mahiro still deserved the honor.

“Kobe-san?” he said. “Mahiro and I talked about his fantasy sequences. It seems he requested some guys from The Diamond Mine . . .”