Chris Harder was Porn to Be a Star - tidbits - MyGayToronto
Chris Harder was Porn to Be a Star By DREW ROWSOME 15 February 2018.
Chris Harder has starred in a tour of Charlotte's Web, been one of New York City's most in-demand go-go boys, written wittily for the Huffington Post, been awarded "Best International Male Performer" for his boylesque work and "Best of the Naked City" by the Village Voice, and has perforned in over 52 hardcore porn films. Harder's current project, which we will be lucky enough to see April 26 to 28 at Buddies, is Porn to Be a Star, a one-man extravaganza.
"When I was writing Porn to Be a Star and certainly now that I've produced it a few times," says Harder, "I've found that the porn is the immediate hook, the gay porn, the 'We're going to see him naked!' But once you reel people in, my real goal is to surprise them and give them something unexpected which is the bigger story of the desire for fame and stardom. Gay men, and in many ways that is my target audience, should not expect just a sexy show where I take off my clothes and talk about getting double-penetrated, there's also a story and plenty of surprises built into the show."
One of my more pleasant tasks while doing background research before interviewing Harder, was to view a random selection of his porn oeuvre. What struck me, beyond the visceral appeal, was the many looks - innocent babyface to raunchy butch and everywhere in between - that Harder has donned, and how convincingly he delivers the set-up of each film. The man can act. "Directors that I work with, knew that I could memorize lines," says Harder. "Plenty of people can debate whether I did it well enough or like a real actor, but I always like doing the dialogue." T
The porn itself also demands thespian resources. "I feel like there's this generalization that anyone can do porn as long as you can get naked in front of a camera," says Harder. "After being in porn, that's a false statement and not just from the point of view that someone has to have an idealized body type. As well as being naked in front of the camera, you have to be comfortable that your body is the work tool for that amount of time. Your body is the resource. Also a good porn scene has an art just like a dramatic scene. There is of course a literal climax but there is a way to physically, vocally, build a porn scene to make it believable."
Though Harder is firmly in theatrical mode with Porn to Be a Star, it is rooted in his porn past. "Part of writing Porn to Be a Star was to put something out there that wasn't the typical porn narrative of I got into porn and it ruined my life," says Harder. "Or I did sex work but now I'm done because I'm a better person and I'm glad I left it behind. I wanted to be able to tell my story about porn in a way that was more sex-positive and also had a lot more hilarity and comedy. What I'd like people to take away from it is that there is humanity in porn and sex work. We've all been brought up on Boogie Nights and Showgirls and these other examples of really extreme sexuality in our culture that ultimately give us the idea that if we express our sexuality or give in to our sexual desires it becomes all-consuming."
If you have a favourite porn star, Harder has worked with him. And has taken mental notes. "Out of the nine characters in Porn to Be a Star, four of them are competing for the Porn Star of the Year award at the Dirty Dish Porn Awards and I play myself as one of them," says Harder. "You'd think that I'd feel closest to myself but all the characters represent either an opinion I have about the adult industry or a way that I felt myself at certain times. That's kind of the overarching theme of the show, that the characters become more identifiable as people but the world they live in is strange: the porn world. But at the end of the day, they really are people. And I become a little piece of all of them."
He also memorably portrays his mother. "People love when I play my mom because it's so unexpected," he says. "Not just that I'm doing a drag character, but because it has heart to it. That monologue is one of those places where people start to identify with Porn to Be a Star. We've all had those phone calls with our parents where they're trying to get through to us and we're trying to get through to them and there's a lack of understanding. They're full of love and compassion but there's confusion and hurt and I think people really tap into that."
The other audience favourite? "Without giving away too much of the show, people love the jokes I make about doing porn," says Harder. "There's one big kind of stylized scene where I go through what it is like to do a porn scene. There's a lot of hilarity in it that people seem to enjoy."
While Harder is juggling his multiple careers and focussed on making Porn to Be a Star a hit, he's also planning ahead. "I was just telling my boyfriend that in my fantasy world, I would, for a stage actor you think of Broadway as the final frontier. But any time I get to perform and get paid to do what I love is a gift. I know that's very cliché but it's a gift to have people trust you enough to come and see you perform. Not everyone gets that."
Part of the Porn to Be a Star experience, is Harder mingling with the crowd post-performance. "I like to make sure to thank people afterwards, it's a way to give back. To be honest sometimes it's just trying to gauge whether people liked it. If people make the effort to come support the show, I want to make the effort to be available if they want to talk about the show or even something as simple as take a selfie with me or say hello. It's a way for me to say thank you."
Harder is philosophical about his artistic progression. "I feel in many ways that my porn career has wrapped up," he says. "I never planned it this way but I started to focus in other areas so I don't get called so much for porn scenes. It's just kind of been a natural progression. I don't regret that it's winding down but I also don't feel like I have escaped something that was a trap or that I've decided to go to a more pure or sensible line of work. I've just kind of graduated to the next part of my life."