Treasure Island Media has been generating more and more controversy as the fledgling porn film production continues to grow in fame and—depending on your point of view—infamy. It's fair to say that this little San Francisco-based company, for better or worse, has become the leading force in the rapidly growing porn sub-genre of gay bareback porn. The company, founded and headed up by Paul Morris, is attracting legions of fans for their hardcore sex videos, which push male-on-male sexual gratification to the limit and concerns about safe sex to the background, so far in the background, in fact, as to be invisible. That's what the many guys who are buying titles like Plantin' Seed, Slurpin' Jizz, Plowed, and others ( complete catalog at www.treasureislandmedia.com ) love about the films: the hot sex, the unbridled passion, and the complete lack of pretense for even the simplest of storylines. In fact, the company's slogan is 'Documenting Male Sexuality for the 21st Century.'
The very things that have been causing the company's sales to soar are the same things detractors deplore. In a March story in the New York Gay Blade, writer Mike Lavers quotes Jon Winkleman, a member of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, as saying that Treasure Island eroticizes HIV and AIDS. At a premiere of a recent feature starring Treasure Island Media star, Dawson, Winkleman passed out fliers that screamed, 'Treasure Island Media makes snuff films.' The film, Meat Rack, shows the handsome and vital Dawson ( whose picture should appear in the gay dictionary next to the term, 'power bottom' ) on a weekend sojourn to Fire Island. Dawson takes on what seems like dozens of tops.
Recently I had a chance to talk with Dawson. I found him to be a surprisingly frank, gentle young man who knows exactly what he's doing. His previous two movies, Dawson's 20-Load Weekend and the subtly titled, Cum Sloppy Buttholes ( filmed on location at last year's IML ) have garnered him a legion of fans and made him a stand out among Treasure Island's stable of comely male stars. I wanted to know more about this man, who was willing to take the semen of nearly 30 men in one weekend and put it on film and try to see if I could find out what made him tick. The surprising thing about him is that he seems very down to earth … and maybe even a little naïve about the controversy of his on-screen dalliances.
Dawson was born and grew up in small town Maine, where his father worked hard to support Dawson and his eight siblings and his mother stayed home. Dawson was the baby and says even though there were nine children, his parents spoiled all of them. 'Being the baby I got spoiled the most.' He attended college after leaving home, then moved on to Boston, but visits home frequently. 'Family is very important to me.'
Dawson's life off-camera bears little resemblance to the wanton persona he portrays on DVD. But, when not filming, Dawson is a regular member of the work force in Boston, handling sales for a biotech company. In his spare time, he loves 'to be outdoors, playing tennis and hanging with friends.'
I wondered too about Dawson's love life. Dawson says he has 'No significant other at this point. Not many people can handle the porn thing, let alone that it's bareback. It'll take a special person to see past that.' What about his family and friends? 'My family doesn't know and I'd like to keep it that way. My true friends see beyond their personal opinions but I have lost some friends. I didn't expect anyone to even know I did a movie! I was naïve and thought only me and a small circle of people would ever know but then it hit the local paper here in Boston. People that used to say hi around town were no longer talking to me. But I don't have regrets.'
So how did a small town boy end up in some of the nastiest porn going? It started with a fantasy. 'I had always been a huge fan of TIM movies so I sent an e-mail letting the company know I was interested and the rest is history. I got to meet Max Sohl ( director for Dawson's videos ) and we hit it off. He is an incredible guy with a great visual sense; the fact that we share a piggy mindset was a big bonus.'
What about critics who decry his choices as a roadblock to the fight against AIDS? 'They need to get off their soap boxes. People are adults and if they decide to watch a bareback movie, that's their choice. Living in the U.S. means you have freedom. I couldn't care less what someone who doesn't know me has to say about my decisions. It's my choice to have bareback sex and it is someone else's choice to watch it. I know many guys who have watched my movies and get off on it but don't bareback. If watching my movies fulfills a fantasy and gets them off, then it's worked.'
I wondered if Treasure Island takes any measures to protect its actors against AIDS and STDs. 'They take steps to have the men checked out ( for STDs ) before a shoot and if a guy has anything they are encouraged to not perform. As for HIV, I have been positive for a while. It was after turning positive that I made the decision to look into doing a movie for TIM. I had seroconverted a few months before I contacted them and put things in motion that wound up being Dawson's 20-Load Weekend. I don't make a point to ask what the other performers' ( HIV ) status is but TIM does and informs someone if they want to know if they are going to do a scene with them so they can make an informed decision.'
Dawson enjoys his new fame, but is still a little surprised at the attention. 'It has been very strange getting recognized, especially outside of Boston. I'm just shocked at how many people have approached me and said they've seen my movies. But most of them have been complimentary.'
What lies ahead for Dawson? 'I just finished up the sequel to Dawson's 20-Load Weekend. I'm disappointed that I won't be in Chicago this year for IML, as I had so much fun last year. But I will make a point to be there next year.' Treasure Island will be filming their third video in a row at this year's IML. Hit 'em up at their booth in the leather mart and maybe you can be the next Dawson.
Or maybe not.