The gay porn community lost one of its last true "stars" early this morning with the passing of Erik Rhodes, a.k.a. James Elliott Naughtin. He died in his sleep, reportedly, at home in New York around 5:30 a.m. He was 30 years old. Rhodes was known as one of the last "Falcon Classics," referring to the San Francisco-based studio known for creating icons in gay adult cinema, dating back to their pioneering days in the early 1970s. Rhodes was also known as a proud, or at least very open and self-deprecating, user of steroids and various drugs. Say what you will to blame the guy for destroying himself at a young age, but never has there been a porn star who has done it so publicly and honestly, blogging about his failings, fun, and career throughout the internet age.

In his last post on his Tumblr blog, in response to a reader who said, "am about to start a roid cycle. any suggestion for a gear? i want to be as huge as you," Rhodes responded:

My cycle right now…

3000 mg of Test Enanthate a week, 2500 mg of Nandrolone Decaonate and 300 mg of Trenbolone Acetate. With 5iu of Human Growth Hormone everyday.

I’m waiting until i pop. Or my liver to fails… which ever comes first.

So, that may be a clue as to what did him in.

Rhodes was from Long Island and his porn career began eight years ago (a veritable lifetime in gay porn) in a film called Flesh from S.F.'s Studio 2000, and continued shorly thereafter when he signed an exclusive contract with Falcon, appearing in 2004's Super Soaked.

erik-rhodes-2.jpg Since then, he starred in numerous films, and became one of the only name-brand stars in an industry increasingly faltering amidst the explosion of piracy and amateur cam sites. He wrote about his life as a porn star and prostitute on various blogs over the years, never sparing the nakedly honest, articulate details of his depressions, his abuse of party drugs like GHB and meth (link NSFW), and the ups and downs of his relationships, including one with a boyfriend of four years which ended earlier this year.

Most interestingly, he was always glad to take criticism from "fans" and have public dialogues about his faults in the comments on his blogs. He tried to make people understand his dark sense of humor, his nihilism, and how the persona of 'Erik Rhodes' contrasted with his actual self. All of it felt at times like an art project, a critique of gay male norms and body image issues, in which he, himself, was the medium and the subject. In response to one such critic on his current blog, he wrote:

I understand myself really well and i understand people. I see the underbelly of the world while most the of the world floats in the clouds ...

I think regardless of how strong minded you are, you’ll always hear those people in the back of your head… its how you react that should be your personal concern… if someone insults you and you choose to throw yourself off a bridge, well, then i think you’ve taken it to far, but if somewhere in the mix you learn a life lesson and it somehow betters you… then maybe you should listen… listen and learn…

Rhodes joked often about the likelihood of his dying young, and he took hedonism and body fascism, admittedly, to the extreme. If you were a fan, or are still intrigued, you can learn more from this telling and very compelling interview on The Sword (NSFW!). In it, he admits to the fact that the majority of his income has always come from escorting, but that he had a troubled relationship with the profession. His advice for budding young porn stars is probably the most prescient, and characteristically blunt:

Do not expect to have a career in porn. Use porn as a platform to start a successful career as a hooker. Get your face out there through the movies—which really don’t make you shit—so you can just sell your ass for top dollar on the street (unless you think you have too much pride for that and you just wanna shake your ass for singles at the bar). Either way, just be prepared to be used, for your relationships to fail, and to lead an overall miserable life. Hugs and kisses, good luck, and look me up when you’re in New York. I know a great dealer.

He also had some moving words about life after death, directed at his recent ex: "All I know is that if life ends like the series finale of Six Feet Under, I will see him and our two dogs the last second before I die. If there is a God, he knows, he owes me at least that. And if he’s reading this now—and since I love to steal lines from my favorite movies—'I will find you again, in a world where we are both cats.'"

[The Sword - NSFW]
Celebrating Erik Rhodes [Falcon Studios - NSFW]