Friday, December 5, 2014

It Gets Better II

We know that since the early silent movie days, people have come to Hollywood with their dreams for a future in which they will be happy, and that sometimes those dreams actually do come true.  But for decades and decades, it's also been a fact that oftentimes in order to pay the rent and eat, many of these aspiring starletts take available employment opportunities whenever they make themselves apparent.   In the process, they've established their mark in erotica and Hollywood history, no matter if they eventually actually "made it" in conventional movies or if they gave it their best shot and moved on to pursue other dreams.  This is the story of one young man who not only had big dreams, but also the talent and ambition to make those dreams come true.  But sometimes fate just doesn't deal fair  hands.
It's reported that he had been born in Milledgeville, Ga. and was raised by fundamental Baptists. He attended Bob Jones University (Johnny was expelled halfway through his senior year when he chose to come out) in South Carolina.  Like so many young men before him, he left behind the life he had known and moved out to Hollywood to find his dreams in the late 1980s.  It's not as easy (as that last sentence may sound) to move away from what you know and who you love for an uncertain future in a new place, and that takes real courage and drive.  In addition to retail and other jobs, he eventually found celebrity in the rapidly growing home market for porn.  But sadly, by November 24, 2004 it was reported that a Mr. Barry Thomas "J.T." Rogers had committed suicide earlier on November 7th of that same year by hanging himself with wire on the fence of the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  This is not how the story should end, right?  After all, many men before him had dropped their pants (in straight and gay smut) to make some cash, and usually if things didn't work out they would simply move on.  Why did this man decide to end things?  A suicide note is said to have complained of his frustration at not being able to receive assistance from Social Security.  He was 39.
Wait a minute, what went wrong?  It's a shame that mainstream movie or TV roles didn't follow so much (although he did find extra work there), because he was a good actor who could have made it in mainstream entertainment with the right breaks.  Big adult film studios like Catalina, All Worlds Video, and Falcon had signed him up for projects at a time when casting was easy.  He won two Adult Erotic Gay Video Awards: "Best Supporting Actor" in 1993 for the film Body Search and in 1995 for All about SteveMany credited his actual acting talents in these films as much as his quality sexual performances.  It's reported that he was twice a contestant on The Dating Game TV show (winning once).  Obviously this was not a man who was waiting for things to happen--he was working hard to create his own luck.

Barry appeared in over 35 adult films and was probably best known for playing with the stage name Johnny Rahm.   In the eyes of some, Barry had probably become just another expendable human product of a porn industry serving a mainstream audience with an insatiable desire to watch sex tapes in the privacy of their homes.  During a part of his career the gay smut market was changing and growing, thanks in part to AIDS and the risk of actual sexual relations compared to renting a tape.

After about ten years in California, it's reported that he moved to Atlanta in 1999 and tried stand-up comedy ( he had previously performed as a Jerry Lewis impersonator on the “Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon), but he struggled financially while trying to kick-start his new career in show business.   He went back to performing in smut videos for an Atlanta-based producer of hardcore and bareback adult films.  By 2004, Mr. Rogers shared a house in midtown Atlanta and sought financial assistance to find a home of his own.   It's reported that Barry suffered from chronic depression and lived with both HIV and hepatitis.  Then he evidentally decided to end it all. The organization It Gets Better is there to help with getting through not only the difficulties that life brings to us all, but especially understanding the prejudices and added burdens and suffering imposed upon gay men. 

 Johnny Rahm's gay porn films include:
All About Steve
The Best of Johnny Rahm
Body Search
Bound to Please Volume 5
Boy Crazed
The Boy Next Door
The Car Salesman
Country Buddies
Daddy Hunt
The Devil and Danny Webster
The First Time
GI Jocks: Out of the Ranks
A Heavenly Touch
In Your Face
Just Guys
Mess Hall Maneuvers
Midnight Sun
Movers & Shakers
My Cousin Danny
On the Lookout
Once in a Blue Moon
Open House
Porn Fiction
The Return of Johnny Rahm
Shockingly Shameless
Spanish Hardon
Straight to the Zone
Toilet Tramps
Trading Up
The Ultimate Orgy


  1. Porn industry columnist Dave Kinnick interviewed Johnny Rahm in the early 1990s in a restaurant in Hollywood. Rahm was so charismatic and so good looking in person that people stared at him, and the waitress was nervous. Even Kinnick felt odd interviewing him, because he was so suave, so well-spoken, so obviously intelligent, so clearly charismatic in person.

  2. Rahm's family had disowned him when he came out of the closet, and he was devastated by their rejection. He didn't have good self-esteem anyway, his brother said. He felt he was odd looking in the face, had strange pecs, was too skinny, and was too intelligent to attract anyone. Unrecognized, perhaps even by Johnny himself, was the toll that being gay in a deeply religious, deeply conservative family had on him.

    His one asset was that he had a very big penis, and he loved to be fucked. He made loud, agonizing noises while being screwed, and his co-stars seemed to love that he could take any cock, as rough as possible. And those guttural noises of lust turned them on.

    He got into adult film work at the age of 25 in 1990. Most studios (except for Falcon) had moved to condoms, and on film he used one religiously. In his private life, that was another matter. He still felt unattractive, and his two best friends at the time seemed to believe that he barebacked in his private life as a means of making himself more attractive to the men he sought.

    In 1994, his best friend died of cancer. Johnny was severely depressed for a year. His older brother later said that he believed Johnny suffered from bipolar disorder. He said that the family had seen it years earlier, but that no treatment was ever given to him.

    He learned he was HIV-positive about 1996. By then, his film career was waning heavily. The industry had moved toward body-builders and hairy men, and he was neither. He moved back to Atlanta about 1999 to try to reconnect with his family, but they continued to reject him. He worked in bars mostly, using his fame as a porn star to get him manual labor jobs. He'd done stand-up comedy in Los Angeles at small clubs, and was successful. But club owners didn't like him for some reason, and he had to work his ass off to get bookings. Atlanta wasn't any different.

    He attempted a comeback in adult film in 2001, but it flopped. He'd become a regular at The Troff, the BDSM/leather/fetish sex club that advocated bareback sex, and was well known for doing piss, bareback, and bottoming endlessly. He wasn't particularly into fisting. It did nothing for him; he wanted the feel of in-and-out, of the stimulation of his prostate, of the physical connection of two bodies against one another while fucking.

    When Dick Wadd, owner of The Troff, decided to get into adult filmmaking, Johnny asked to be in the films as a means of making money. He did two films for Wadd. They were the last films he did. One was finished just months before his death.

    His family was devastated by his death. There'd been a shift in the family's thinking, and a gradual if small move toward accepting him. But learning about his adult film work had caused that to end. Now, with their son hanging from a wire on the fence of his beloved Atlanta Botanical Garden, they realized what a horrible mistake they'd made a decade earlier.

    Rahm's brother says Johnny wasn't ill when he died. He believes Rahm just entered a deep depression trough as part of his untreated bipolar disorder, and that's what killed him. Rahm's roommate (whom I spoke with two days after Rahm's death), was inconsolable. He said Johnny was sparkling and happy the day before he died, which tends to lend creedence to the idea that Rahm's brain chemistry shifted again, and he sank into a suicidal depression.

    One of Rahm's sisters today works for an HIV prevention group. His family still struggles with the immorality of his adult film work. But they realize the error of rejecting him for being gay.

    That doesn't bring their son back, unfortunately.


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