As we mentioned yesterday we opened our inbox and discovered, much to our delight, that retirement for Dink Flamingo was a bit of a premature (verbal) ejaculation so to speak. Dink has staying power and he still has quite a few tales left to tell. The founder of Active Duty, and to a degree the genre of military porn, could only stay away from porn for so long. Dink realized from the get go that authentic porn was the way to go. He was stationed near a military base and the isolation and male bonding on base produced a pressure cooker of horniness; a fuse that was always easy to light in some. Active Duty, and later Amateur Straight Guys featured real guys just hanging out, letting off some steam, and getting into some new adventures. Dink always had an eye for the everyday man, no twinks or twunks. Dink’s eye and tastes were for the virile, not quite the guy next door and yet the guy we fantasized DID live next door. Drinking a beer and washing his truck before watching the game on televeision.
In this modern age, some won’t recall the state of digital porn in the Nineties. Floppy discs were still a thing and internet access was via phone line. Land line. If you wanted to get your porn fix you couldn’t use the phone. The internet was in it’s early days, learning how to walk. Dink was there. Active Duty was part of the fabric of online porn. It’s almost impossible to describe how (r)evolutionary things were. There was no Only Fans, no sexting, no PornHub….just the sound of that dial up modem, which to this day if I hear my dick starts to get hard. It’s Pavlovian. That sound meant porn!
Dink was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, he is a natural storyteller cottoning to telling his story with a twinkle in his eye. Both his charm and natural effusiveness were, and are, quite effective, we imagine, with his models. The interview Starts after the jump!
Dink, thanks for stopping by to talk with us and share with our readers the news of your return to the adult industry. For those who aren’t familiar with your work, you helped create the military porn genre with Active Duty and spent 16 years behind the camera there. Active Duty introduces gay porn fans to some of the most amazing model’s amateur gay porn has seen. With the 20th Anniversary of Active Duty coming next month, and that chapter now behind you, can you reflect a little on that experience before we dive into what you’re up to now at your new home, Amateur Straight Guys?
Active Duty was an amazing success that I never dreamed would happen. I was simply doing what I loved. When I started AD back in 1998 there were only a handful of real sites out there of any kind. Most gay paysites were made up of the content shot by larger mainstream studios and stolen by someone operating out of a basement who would either scan in the images from magazines to make galleries or take screen grabs directly from VHS. At that time, Internet speeds were still so slow that 2-minute videos clips would take a few hours to download. So, most paysites were made up mostly of galleries and a few clips and VHS tapes for sale. I had just bought a used computer from a local pawn shop and joined AOL. I found a lot of sites by following links on Men OnThe Net which is still a directory of gay porn sites just like it was then. I’m sure many gay men found their first gay porn back then by following links on that site. Just like Queerclick now does. I’m sure many of your readers had their first experience with gay porn by finding Queerclick first. Men on The Net was a great source for finding what was popular. Up until this point, I had been filming as both a hobby and a guest-director for the Dirk Yates Private Collection for a couple of years already.
Once online, I quickly realized that there was no military-themed gay website that featured the real thing. All the military sites were thrown together using content with civilians in camo caps and dog tags and hair too long to pass any military regulations. And with most of the content being cobbled together from several different sources, there was no real theme or rhyme or reason behind these collections. No stories about the men themselves, nothing that set them apart as anything special or real. None of these fake knockoffs featured anything close to the type of men I had been filming. Right in my backyard was the Army base, Ft. Bragg, NC. with over 80,000 hot horny soldiers and I had long been chasing and bedding them. I was in my mid-twenties and constantly picking them up from the straight strip clubs, seedy adult bookstores and hole-in-the-wall dive bars that lined the main strip leading into the base. I had rented a house just off the boulevard close enough so that at closing time for the bars, I could see the hitch-hiking soldiers heading back to base and would often jump in my truck, pick them up and ask them back to my place to meet my female roommate who conveniently was never home (laughs). I always kept a good supply of ice-cold beer and pussy porn. I was young enough to have a lot in common with most of them so I didn’t come off as an old creeper and was good at engaging them in conversation while we waited for the roommate that never came home.
After a few cold ones and an accidental flip of the remote the porn would suddenly be blasting on the TV and I’d usually find myself on my knees in front of them. giving them the closest thing to pussy that they would ever get at my house. I became fast friends with many of them and my house was a convenient party pad they could crash at after the bars closed. Not to mention the fact that they could also count on getting off whenever they stopped by, it just worked. It wasn’t long before I had more soldiers hanging around than I could keep all to myself, so the next logical step was to share them with the rest of the horny gay world. I had gotten so good at my hobby that Dirk Yates couldn’t keep up with buying all I was producing but thanks to my used computer, AOL, Men On The Net and a great idea I had found a place that would gobble up all I could offer and so Active Duty was born.
Did you find it hard or expensive to get Active Duty started with the online porn industry being so new yet already pretty saturated? How did you go about getting Active Duty live on the web? From building a site, accepting credit cards and most importantly getting it in front of all the horny gay web surfers that would eventually become fans? How did not having the recognizable brand of a mainstream gay studio help or hurt you?
It was a real turning point for porn in general. Much like VHS had been a decade earlier. Suddenly anyone with a camcorder, a few willing models and the ability to see the opportunity ahead of its explosion stood to do well. Once I did my research and had a plan in place, I went to my mother who had run an escort service for almost 20 years in the same military town so I had been around the sex industry for a good part of my life. She was aware of the potential of the Internet and had been looking to get her own website up for her escort service. She agreed to loan me the $3,000 I needed to make it happen if I would help her get a good price on her website through the same woman who was going to build Active Duty. Luckily one of the soldiers that hung around my house and who would eventually become one of the first models on the site had been fucking this older married woman who was going through a divorce and needed extra money. Her day job was working for a local ISP (Internet Service Provider) building business websites around town and although she had never built an adult website before, I was paying and she was willing. Since she had a day job and three young children, we were forced to work on Active Duty at night after the kiddo’s had gone to bed. But that was fine with the two of us as the wine flowed freely. From early June until late August we worked and built a nice collection of cheap wine bottles and what would be Active Duty. I kept a big sketch pad handy and I would draw out each page of the site the way I envisioned it prior to us working on it to give her a visual example to work from. It’s funny because you can still see a lot of that original gaudy site on the Internet Archive Way Back Machine.
In 1998, the World Wide Web was much like the Wild Wild West had been a hundred and fifty years before. Everyone was staking their claim, digging in and searching for their gold mine. Most of the large mainstream gay porn studios hadn’t begun to take advantage of this new revenue stream. Most of them had gone as far as registering their URL’s and maybe throwing up a simple splash page, but not many were actually monetizing on this new form of media. That was just fine with the small guys like me who didn’t have the brick and mortar presence they had already perfected and made their main business model and source of revenue. While I was sending out thousands of free emails and some of the models were going into AOL M4M chatrooms with their own profile and Instant Messaging other chatters about who they were and how they could see them in all their glory at ActiveDuty.com, most of the mainstream studios were still working their mail order business and reluctant to make a serious plunge into this new territory. A few years later, after all the smoke had settled from us little guys blazing our trails and building our following on the WWW, it seemed that we and the big guys kinda switched places. Finally, the big mainstream players were starting to feel the dent from the chunk of change all of us well-positioned Internet start-up studios were beginning to take from their wallets. They were late to the party and unfortunately for many, their online success would be a long time coming. In fact, most of them who did eventually build their online presence to rival their brick and mortar success would spend tons of money and several years to do so. Meanwhile, those of us whose work had previously been only available on the Internet would begin building our brick and mortar retail business and face similar obstacles. But there was no question that the Internet would prove to be the ultimate destination.
So what has your time away from the gay adult industry been like for you, what have you been up to? And what made you decide to turn your camera back on and start capturing new stuff for Amateur Straight Guys? When was that moment like when you realized you were going to return?
Well, to be honest, I’ve stayed very busy since hanging up the camera. I kidnapped a willing Marine from Camp Pendleton, fell in love and bought a largely undeveloped but lovely farm back home in the Carolina’s. Once his obligation to the Marine Corps was finished, we hightailed it for the hills and started developing the farm. I traded in my Tommy Bahama leisure wear for Carhartt coveralls and learned to operate heavy equipment all over again (laughs). The next four years would be spent building roads, a cabin, and a small campground while getting the farm exactly like we wanted it. The project was energizing and it gave me a long needed break from porn. I rarely got online or looked at porn for a long time and just engrossed myself in what I was doing. Nature is a great place to rediscover yourself and I had plenty of time away from what had consumed my life for so many years. But as the farm started to become more and more complete, I became more and more restless. The honeymoon had been over for awhile and honestly, we both realized we made much better friends that fucked than head over heels lovers. My mother’s health had started to decline and rather than continuing to spend most of my time at the farm, I returned to my home where her and my dad had lived since I moved west to San Diego back in 2006. I spent a lot of time with my mother before she passed away and I am thankful for that opportunity. Had I still been running Active Duty I’d not have nearly as many fond memories as I do today. I was her sole caretaker. My mother and I were very close. I remember asking her what she thought about me starting to film again. By this time she was long out of the escort service but I knew at times she still missed it. Her response still rings in my head today! “Son, do what you love as long as it isn’t hurting those that love you.” When I asked her if it would hurt her for me to return to making porn she raised her eyebrows, gave a dignified southern ladies look and said, “Absolutely not. Not in the least. You were good at what you did and you were good to those boys. I for one saw the love that you had for them and it was mutual.” Funny thing is, I had seen the same type of mutual love and respect between her and the girls she had worked with over the years. And from there, I had the blessing I needed to eventually pick up the camera again and press record!
Why did you choose Amateur Straight Guys to focus on?
Dink Flamingo: While I was toying with the idea of starting to produce new content, I was thinking about a revival of Amateur Straight Guys which I still owned but it hadn’t seen an update in nearly four years. I started watching the videos on the site again and discovered why, after 4 years without any updates, it still did pretty darn well. There was still plenty of loyal followers of the brand that maintained their memberships off and on and a whole new generation who were still discovering what had long been one of the most sought after sites in its genre. As I continued watching, I saw so much of the same ingredients that had gone into the early Active Duty videos. Porn with personality and people filming it who loved what they were doing. It was inspiring compared to so much of the same ol’ same. Doug and Jay had built an awesome brand that would stand the test of time. If it could keep this old pro beating off, there was no wonder it was still doing the same for so many others. The more I watched of the catalog which has over 500 videos, the more I began to get an itch. Amateur Straight Guys and Active Duty are both sites that focus on getting straight guys to push their boundaries and while Active Duty focuses on straight military guys, Amateur Straight Guys had a lot more freedom to go after all types of straight guys. To me, that freedom had a lot of appeal and potential and since I still owned it. I thought I’d give it the love it deserves.
What are you looking forward to most about turning your focus and creative energy to Amateur Straight Guys?
Dink Flamingo: Not being locked into the military genre anymore for one. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my military guys and I’m sure you’ll see one or two or half a dozen over at Amateur Straight Guys as time goes on but the fact that it no longer has to be the focus really gives me a lot of creative freedom. Not to mention that as I’ve gotten older, my tastes have changed. Maybe matured is a better way to put it. I’ve always found all types of guys hot but in recent years a military uniform or a crew cut is no longer required to get my attention. Maybe its more about keeping your options open (laughs) than anything else but it’s certainly nice to be able to feature all types of hot guys rather than just those who fit a certain mold. Now, when I stroll through the local Walmart, I’m no longer wearing blinders and every hot guy I spot is fair game! I’m also excited about starting from scratch and adding to the brand as I go. Eventually, there are several things I’d like to see happen with the site that I think will get the attention of a lot of folks looking for something completely different. Short of giving away any of my secrets, let’s just say it will also involve enabling fans to become directors themselves. There’s a lot of very astute fans out there who spend a lot of time watching a lot of different porn. They have ideas of their own and giving them a platform to share those ideas is definitely going to be something the site eventually focuses on.
The industry has changed in the last few years and it continues to change rapidly. What do you think the state of the industry is now?
Dink Flamingo: I think it’s gone in so many directions but there will always be fans for every type of porn. The Netflix type series porn has gained popularity in recent years and a lot of it is very well done. At the same time, there’s been a big explosion of self-shot, self-made porn and there’s an audience for that as well. The biggest thing I’ve seen in gay online porn is a return to amateur and the overwhelming preference for less polished studio porn. When I started back in 1998 that’s pretty much all there was online. The boutique sites reigned supreme and I think we are seeing a definite resurgence of that. At the same time, people’s tastes have diversified and I think everyone likes a little bit of everything now. As long as it’s hot and not akin to throwing two plastic wind-up sex dolls on the floor left to gyrate around in circles until they’re all out of wind then I think it’ll find an audience. I see the state of the industry as being in the midst of rediscovering itself and for me that’s both fitting and exciting as I return to the fold and likewise rediscover myself in a sense, too.
And what about social media and sites like Snapchat and Only Fans? Do you see those as a deterrent to the ‘studio model’?
Dink Flamingo: Absolutely not. In fact, I feel kind of the opposite. I think social media and those sites can actually be beneficial to the studio. If you have a very popular model out there promoting himself and your brand as well you aren’t doing all the work yourself. I’m already making agreements with new ASG models to have an Only Fans account and for us to cross-promote each other. It also gives your more popular models another way to earn some extra cash and anytime you allow them to do that and help them do it, their loyalty to your brand will grow even stronger. It also allows fans to see another side of your models and experience their own style of creativity. I see Only Fans as a “behind-the-scenes” addition to what the model is doing with the studio.
Do you see your return as a response to those changes? And if so what is your ultimate goal with Amateur Straight Guys?
Dink Flamingo: My return is definitely a response in a lot of ways to these changes but it’s really more about having fun. Without the need to feed the monster of anything too specific I can pick and choose what I think fans will view as hot, share it with the audience and engage with them. My biggest goal is to bring back two things that I think is missing in today’s corporate, buttoned-up porn and that is a less rigid amateur feel and personality. So much of that raw appeal and even humor has been replaced by a serious need to retain members which is every porn companies job, but not to take yourself so seriously, to be able to laugh at yourself at times and realize when you’ve missed the mark. There’s a poem that I kept on my desk when I was running Active Duty and without quoting it word-for-word, it went something like this: ‘We may not always create a masterpiece, but we get out there and we really try. Sometimes it really happens. Other times we were just stretching our souls.’ For those that will be watching they’ll have my commitment that every time I pick up the camera and press record I’ll be trying my best to make a masterpiece!
We want to thank Dink for his time AND for returning! We have missed his guys!
See more at Amateur Straight Guys.