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From Modern Family to OnlyFans, actor and sex worker David Pevsner has had a career unlike any other.
If you’re a gay man with a TV, chances are you’ve seen David Pevsner before. He’s had parts on Modern Family, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy, to name a few, and has appeared in films including Lindsay Lohan’s Liz & Dick.
Throughout his life, David has performed in musicals and plays. He’s also worked as an escort, and most recently, he has carved out a new niche for himself as an OnlyFans star. Now 63, David is determined to show the world that older guys can be sexy too.
For David, exploring sex, his body, and what it could mean to bring pleasure to other people has helped him overcome the shame he once felt about his sexuality.
He’d been followed by a dark shadow ever since he was a scrawny gay boy growing up in Chicago in the 1960s – feeling overcome with self-loathing when he realised he had the hots for the handsome, hairy men on television; enduring homophobic bullying throughout his youth and experiencing, like every other gay man did, the stigma of AIDS epidemic, which hit just as he moved to New York to kickstart his theatre career.
His journey to healing began in the bathhouse. (Graphic descriptions follow.)
“I knew inside of me that I wasn’t just a ‘missionary position’ kind of guy,” David says. “I knew I wasn’t like, ‘I want to fall in love with somebody and then be with them my whole life.’ I knew there was something else, but if you thought that way, you were a slut. When I started going to bathhouses, I just kept thinking: ‘If my parents knew what I do in a bathhouse…’ I’m a good Jewish boy who’s got this dirty streak inside.”
David is quick to point out that he doesn’t use the word “dirty” in a negative way – he sees it as an empowering way to describe somebody “who’s not afraid to explore pleasure and erotica”.
“The bathhouse helped me do just that,” David explains. “They were the first essence of, I’m doing something that I’m told I shouldn’t do – wandering the hallway, finding a guy, f**king him, leaving, and finding another one… It helped me explore the deeper, darker stuff that I don’t know I would have explored had I not been able to go and do it anonymously.”
Escorting taught David Pevsner ‘a lot about himself’
That experience primed David for his escorting career. As the years went by, he found himself feeling increasingly attracted to the idea of sex work. In his memoir, Damn Shame, he writes about feeling aroused by the very idea of having sex with men as part of his job. After years of exploring his sexuality through bathhouses and leather bars, David decided to try out his ultimate fantasy – and it was everything he could have dreamed of.
“I know plenty of guys who have done it, and everybody has a different experience,” he says. “My experience was very pleasurable. It taught me a lot about myself, it taught me a lot about men. When I was escorting, it wasn’t just about, ‘I show up, I f**k and I make money’ – it was so not just that, because I was dealing with individual people.
“Everybody had different needs, everybody had different ways of asking for their needs. As an actor, I found it fascinating the characters that I met – some really sweet people who were either lonely or needy or hungry – whatever it was, I always tapped into it. It turns out, I enjoyed it. Sorry everybody who wants to take sex work and put shame on it – my personal experience of it was great.”
Escorting wasn’t the only way David expressed his sexuality – he also did numerous erotic photoshoots over the years with a wide variety of photographers. That led to him curating his own Tumblr account where he shared his pictures with fans all across the world. Later, after Tumblr banned adult content, he moved to OnlyFans.
“OnlyFans is a great place, because it’s very much the case that you are there because you want to be there,” David says. “You pay to be there, so it’s not like it’s going on XTube where just anybody can click on it and have an opinion. I’m not interested in your opinion, I just want to do my work.
When I shoot a video, sometimes it has a story to it. Sometimes it’s a role play, and sometimes it’s just me shoving a dildo up my ass.
“I started posting those videos and I started shooting more and more stuff, and I found that I can approach the videos I shoot the same way I approach the photoshoots, the same way I approach my acting work, the same way I approach escorting – there’s lots of layers to everything. When I shoot a video, sometimes it has a story to it. Sometimes it’s a role play, and sometimes it’s just me shoving a dildo up my ass. But I’m not going to post it if it’s just a one layer thing.”
The main thing, of course, is that David is enjoying exploring his sexuality with the world on OnlyFans. But it’s about more than just enjoyment – he also thinks it’s important that men his age show the world that they can still turn people on.
“Doing this, to me, feels like activism,” he says. “A 60-something year old guy filming these videos, putting them up shamelessly, and saying: ‘This is what I do at home.’”
He wants the next generation to explore their bodies and to feel free
Sharing videos and pictures on OnlyFans makes David feels free – but he’s increasingly concerned that there’s an entire generation of young queer people are stifling themselves sexually and hiding their innermost desires.
“If you feel like you want to do it, you should do it too,” he says. “You don’t have to show anybody, you don’t have to film it – open your mind to expanding your sex life to not feeling shame about it.
“If there’s something like, ‘I could never use a dildo – I’d be afraid to go in and even buy one’ – go f**king buy a dildo and use it. Take photos of yourself if you’ve always wanted to. You don’t have to keep them – get rid of them afterwards, but the act of doing it can be so freeing. We’re so f**king closed off about sex in America.”
In Damn Shame, David writes that sex is “inherently amusing and sometimes hilarious”. He thinks that, as a society, we take sex too seriously because we’re all so nervous about it.
“If you’re nervous, you can’t automatically become un-nervous,” he points out. “Start with being nervous. If you’re having sex with somebody and you’re like, ‘I don’t want to show him I’m nervous’ – show him you’re nervous! And then it kind of moves naturally into what it’s going to be.
“Sometimes, you’re having sex and the bed breaks – ‘Oh no, how embarrassing!’ – no! Laugh about it! It’s hilarious. It happened to me, I have a little thing holding up my bed because I was f**king this guy and the bed broke. To me it’s a funny story I don’t mind saying out loud. Let sex be what it’s going to be.”
David is deeply aware that it’s not always that easy for queer people to cast off nervousness and shame when having sex. For many, insecurities about their body image prevent them from properly enjoying the experience. David isn’t afraid to call his younger self out for judging other men because of their bodies. At that time, he was spending hours at the gym every week, working tirelessly to get the “ideal” body so many gay men have been conditioned to desire.
Escorting really changed how I looked at men’s bodies.
In Damn Shame, David recounts going home for the night with a man called Gus. In the name of honesty, he decided to tell Gus that he was disappointed when he saw his body for the first time. Writing in his memoir, David firmly rebukes himself for that moment. When I mention it in our interview, I can see him visibly recoil at the mere mention of it. Decades have passed, but he is still mortified by the way he behaved.
“The word that comes to mind is ‘cringe’ when I think about how exclusive I was,” David says. “I see it now – I see it with guys when they kind of judge you and go, ‘ugh, the tits aren’t big enough,’ or ‘is that a paunch I see?’ We’re so body oriented when you’re exploring your sexuality – not everybody, but I was, I admit it.”
It wasn’t until David started escorting that he was forced to challenge all of those preconceptions he had about what makes a man sexy.
“Escorting really changed how I looked at men’s bodies,” David says. “In that moment [with Gus], I was trying to deal with my struggle about how I felt about his body, which I think about now and I just go, that’s ridiculous. But it’s what happened as part of my journey. And then came escorting, where I was having sex with a lot of guys whose bodies were not ‘the ideal’, but I still had to perform sexually. How do you do that? You start to look at a guy differently. It made me look at personality and brains and humour. I had to because I was being paid, but what it was doing was it changed my aesthetic when it came to men. I was much more open about the physicality of men, and from that point on it really changed me.”
As the years have gone by, David Pevsner has embraced being a daddy
Anyone who has spent any time on the gay scene today will know that the focus on body image is still intense and often suffocating. David has felt that sting himself as a gay man in his sixties. Still, he has hope for the future. For example, he’s been heartened to see the rise of the “daddy” in gay culture – and he has embraced the label. Descriptors like “daddy” and “bear” help queer men feel seen and feel sexy, and they prove that there’s room for every body type on the scene.
“Back when I was finishing escorting and I was in my forties, I didn’t know that I was a ‘daddy’ – at the time I don’t remember anyone calling me daddy. But now we have the daddies, and a lot of younger guys like daddies. And a lot of daddies like daddies,” he says, laughing: “I’m like granddaddy!”
David hopes Damn Shame resonates with queer people right across the spectrum, from younger LGBT+ people right up to those in later middle age.
“I want this to resonate. I think it’s relatable to anyone – as long as they have an open mind,” he says. “But if you read a fisting joke and it makes you put the book down, that’s a problem.”
Damn Shame is published by Penguin Random House Canada on 11 January.