Diary of a gay porn star
Jim Bentley tells the story of his charmed life
by David Alexander Nahmod
The Last Time I Drew a Crowd: The Autobiography of Jim Bentley ($19.95)
Jim Bentley was a gay porn superstar of the 1980s, and he's still fondly remembered for his beauty, his sexual prowess and his huge dick. Still incredibly youthful and handsome as he approaches middle age, this blonde bombshell offers us the story of his life in his self-published autobiography The Last Time I Drew a Crowd.
After reading the tragic tale of Joey Stefano and the indulgent memoir by Aiden Shaw, Bentley's book is a sheer delight. The dude actually had fun, has no regrets, and has moved on to a good life. Wow, how refreshing!
Bentley's is not the story of a hustler working in a drug-induced stupor. Though he used substances from time to time, they never controlled him. He chose porn, enjoyed the notoriety, had a healthy off-camera sex/love life, and also worked as a fig farmer throughout his porn years.
Bentley's life began 46 years ago in Fresno, CA. His was a broken, slightly dysfunctional home, yet he found great solace in the company of his step-grandparents, the Maynards. A big part of his first chapter pays tribute to this loving older couple, who provided Bentley and his two siblings with the stability they needed. Even as his parents fought tooth-and-nail over custody, they clearly loved their children, and Bentley recalls warm memories of good times with them.
For nearly 20 years, beginning in 1983, Jim Bentley was a mainstay in gay porn. He won awards and had a blast. But he also treated porn with respect, and took the job seriously. He was always on time, ready to perform, and impatient with models whose drug/partying habits held up production.
This well-written autobiography will not disappoint fans who want to hear graphic descriptions of the sex scenes Bentley performed in. His language is raw and erotic. But the book offers much more.
Particularly moving is his mid-1990s relationship with an HIV-negative man who nonetheless died of cancer at age 33. Bentley took care of his lover for months, until the man's family shut him out at the end. Bentley handled himself with great dignity throughout this trying time. Though he doesn't himself say it, this interlude is a good argument for why we need legalized gay marriage.
The self-published book is photo-illustrated from the author's personal collection. Numerous nude shots underscore Bentley's great beauty, but the pictures from his childhood, along with those wonderful memories, give him a humanity and a depth few gay porn stars have.
Now that he's retired from porn for good, I was happy to read that Bentley is pursuing writing as a full-time career. If The Last Time I Drew a Crowd is an indication of what he's capable of, James Bending, as he's now called, should go far.
The book may be hard to find. It's available at A Different Light Bookstore, or can be ordered from the author's website, JimBentleyXXX.com . Prices may vary, depending on where you go.