My Friend, The Porn Stud

By Catherine Gigante-Brown

Few stereotypes are as durable as that of the “sleazy male porn star.” Say those words, and the visual snaps quickly into focus: lascivious macho man with a shirt buttoned three buttons too low, leering after the women he entered the industry to pursue.

It’s certainly true that misogyny and gender-based abuse exist in the adult-film industry (see: James Deen, who’s been accused of raping and/or drugging eight women and counting). But this stereotype, like so many that dominate our understanding of the adult-film business, does a disservice to the many hard-working, decent individuals whose job happens to be in porn.

Indeed, many of the men in the industry are respectful, kind, and altogether nothing like that persistent stereotype of the douchey male porn star. Take, for instance, one of my dearest friends in the world: porn icon Rick Savage.

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More than 25 years ago, when I first met adult-film stud Savage at a media event, I was struck by his captivating, deep-set eyes, wiry good looks, and commanding presence — the very qualities that helped him become a star in the first place.

In a sea of male meat, Savage stood out as a rare combination: handsome, a solid actor, and an able cocksmith. If you don’t believe me, check him out for yourself in sexvids like Awakening in Blue, The Scarlet Bride, and The Erotic Adventures of Bedman and Throbbin. (In the last one, Savage’s whacked-out portrayal of “The Jokester” is especially memorable.) Industry starlets like Christy Canyon consistently name Savage as one of their favorite male costars.

Many might assume that Savage entered the jizz bizz for, well, the sex. But in reality, he got into the industry at age 32 as a struggling single dad who discovered that he could make more boffing onscreen for a few hours than he could waitering for a week.

rick as single dad
Rick Savage, porn star and single dad

Over the years, I’ve worked as a production assistant on many of Savage’s low-budget masterpieces, and have come to know him as the antithesis to the mainstream’s prevailing porn stud stereotypes.

First off, he’s humble — though he’s appeared in about 250 porn films and 300 fetish films, and directed about 20 porn flicks and 350 fetish films, he rarely touts his achievements (though when asked, he’ll happily tell you all the dirty details you desire).

Rick in the film Street Walkers of New York
Rick in the film Street Walkers of New York

He’s also respectful — when directing, Savage often asks female performers who they like to “work with” (industry slang for “fuck”) and complies as best he can. In fact, it’s the women in the adult industry who call most of the shots — they make more money because they have legions of fans (and thus, bring in the profits), and often, they give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to those they might work with.

Most of all, he’s kind. With his own son now 35 years old, Savage has become close to my 16-year-old son David. Not only do they have deep talks about his time in the Navy, avant garde comedy shows, and other things that, as his mother, I’m not privy to, but when Savage visits upstate, he and David often stay up late watching goofy cartoons like Archer.

Savage has been a solid friend through thick and thin, as steadfast as any galpal. He’s there for our family Thanksgiving and birthday celebrations (wowing even Grandma Rachel with his killer cheesecake), he’s there when my plays premiere, he’s there at my book readings.

And when I battled breast cancer a couple of years ago, Savage was one of the few people I felt comfortable enough with to bare my bald head in front of — something I couldn’t even do with my own sister. When I confessed this to him, Savage climbed off his motorcycle, hugged me, then grabbed my shiny pate in his hands and covered it with kisses. He offered helpful advice on nutrition and even offered to hook me up with a friend’s wife who’d beaten late-stage breast cancer homeopathically.

Rick with Christy Canyon
Rick with porn star Christy Canyon

Oh, and did I mention that Savage also had a scholarship at the Boston Conservatory and performed with the Oregon Dance Theatre in the 1970s?

When I asked Savage about how he works to bash people’s preconceived notions of porn stars, he was thoughtful. “I really don’t think I do anything in the way of consciously working to defy how people perceive male porn stars or how they perceive me,” he said. “We’re all as different as everyone else. I just go about my life.” Savage leads a quiet, almost monastic existence, taking simple pleasure in nature, good food, and good friends.

And he’s hardly alone in being a “good guy” in the industry; in my own circle, I know many, like Jerry Butler, whose Raw Talent I helped write, Richard Pacheco, Jean Valjean, Jose Duvall, and Eric Monte, to name a few.

When my husband Peter told his mom that Savage was an adult film performer, my mother-in-law took it in stride — but was a bit surprised. “He doesn’t seem the type,” she commented.

Like so many in the adult-film industry, Savage sheds light on a question worth asking: what “type” is that?

Me and Rick
Me and Rick
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