Moody blues: Stephan Ferris' 'Blue Movie: Scenes from the Life of a Sexual Outlaw'

  • by Jim Piechota
  • Friday October 14, 2022
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author Stephan Ferris
author Stephan Ferris

Nothing evokes a more visceral reaction from a reader than when a memoir is written with obvious sincerity, vulnerability, and candor, regardless of the consequences, and with the kind of explicit detail that's impossible to gloss over.

That is certainly the case in San Francisco activist attorney and former adult entertainer Stephan Ferris's debut memoir that chronicles his life in 77 unflinching and graphically depicted scenes.

While Ferris considers the experiences that shaped his early years as "dangerous and potentially deadly," he owns every one of them, never makes excuses, and openly admits to being "lucky to have survived them."

The opening segment portrays the author as an out 19-year-old undergrad at San Francisco State, traveling home to Las Vegas for the summer, and "knocking out" various doctors' appointments, one that would diagnose him as HIV-positive.

Already conceding to living a life of risk where instant gratification was paramount and manifested as rampant IV-drug use and unprotected sex, Ferris' seropositivity only serves to dig the trenches of his already low self-esteem even deeper.

In his struggles to mitigate masculinity issues, he joins a fraternity, temporarily (and unsuccessfully) becomes a total top, drinks and drugs incessantly, and is accidently introduced to having sex on camera, which turns him on enough to investigate the industry further.

His subsequent on-screen persona, Blue Bailey, came into being once Ferris launched a career in porn as the self-described "original demon twink." But that career as Treasure Island Media's "Alpha Bottom" only plummeted him further down into desperation and drug-fueled despair. "I am a toxic dump of methamphetamines, semen, and emotion," Ferris reflects. "A toxic cumdump filled by men and needles. I am a wasteland."

Though the memoir is an incessantly gloomy affair of anonymous sex, "chemsex," filmed sex, drugs, and ever-wavering self-loathing, it is also buoyed by its resilient tone and fearless, unfettered content. Nothing seems held back in these pages, which makes it a true achievement for Ferris and a refreshingly honest deep-dive into a sullied life for readers bold enough to bear witness to it.

For an even more immersive reading experience, Ferris has curated a Spotify audio soundtrack (in the form of a scannable QR code) included in the book.

Ferris touts a particularly popular gang-bang video he starred in (2014's "Viral Loads"), which became available right as he started an adventurous and successful series of law school years. Though the lure and impulses of drug abuse became an ever-present specter, Ferris was able to eventually overcome the compulsion through sheer determination to create a life of his own free from destructive habits.

Among the more intensive scenes: Ferris describes the horror of repeated cases of painful priapism, the result of injections of performance-enhancing erectile medications; a racy episode of "harm justification" while meteorically high during his first Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend; and a sex scene in Europe that resulted in his apprehension on murder charges.

The memoir is composed with short, clipped, declarative sentences and fragments that, in fact, belie the book's deeper inner core of personal liberation, destigmatization of HIV, and the uplifting of one's fellow queer community. The book concludes with open-ended ambiguity; a dark, unfinished manifesto of stark desire and desperation, but also one of hope and curative possibility.

Throughout this raw, gritty, often grisly and shocking autobiography, Ferris's narrative voice is crucial and alive with a cathartic urgency to reveal his truth to a world where there are certainly those who still struggle to emerge from the gloomy prison of self-destructiveness. With strident solidarity, Ferris openly shares his life story "so that others might feel less alone and see that there is a path through the darkest passages of life."

'Blue Movie: Scenes from the Life of a Sexual Outlaw,' by Stephan Ferris; Unbound Edition Press, $29.95

Stephan Ferris will appear at Oasis to read from and discuss his new memoir Oct. 19 at 8pm, 298 11th St.

Ferris will also appear at Mr. S Leather for a signing and party Oct. 21, 5pm, 385 8th St.

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