Brody Blomqvist, a modern day Adonis of the hustler variety, a Tom of Finland drawing come to life, sits across from me on the roof of the Tillary hotel in Brooklyn, wearing a cap, jeans and a tank top. “I’ll dress masc,” he says. “How many times, as gay men, do we fetishize our oppressors?” He’s just been photographed here with his cock out—a move that’s now passé in his work as a gay porn star. On camera, the 25-year-old appears macho and charming, almost disarmingly so, before pounding a hot co-star into a headboard. Off camera, he is verbose and coy, thoughts running faster than his chiseled jaw can deliver them between puffs of smoke. He’s not ashamed of his work; it pays the bills. But boy would he prefer to be doing something—anything—else.
In September, an opportunity arose: Helmut Lang’s SS18 show.
Shayne Oliver, dismantling taboos about sex work with his fetish-driven takeover at Helmut Lang, didn’t know he’d cast a porn star in his show. Maybe he still doesn’t. Blomqvist heard about the casting through a friend. “I lied to them and said I was there for a street casting,” he admits. Next thing he knew, Blomqvist was stomping down the catwalk—between familiar faces like trans nightlife legend Sophia Lamar and OG Lang model Kirsten Owen—wearing an outfit resembling bondage straps as onlookers shouted, “I’m gagged.” Oliver’s triumphant Lang debut was met with praise from fans and critics alike. Few who witnessed it will likely ever forget the parade of models walking to a Total Freedom remix of Whitney Houston’s classic, “I Will Always Love You.”
Blomqvist comes from Iron Mountain, Michigan, a red-blooded corner of America that he says is “nothing but Indian reservations, meth labs and deep, deep woods.” How a beefcake from the butt end of Michigan ended up at the epicenter of fashion’s most exciting revamp this side of 2010 is an intense and, at times, upsetting story. Blomqvist began sex work out of necessity, having grown up in poverty. “I got into porn because I come from a really poor family,” he says. “I always wanted to be an artist and a musician and the only way I’m going to do that without having rich parents is to do sex work.”
Before I can suggest a job in the service industry, Blomqvist launches into his reasoning for choosing Boogie Nights over bussing tables. “I thought about being a hairstylist or working in a deli. With those jobs, you’re doing all this hard work, and to go back home at the end of the day to create something seemed really impossible.”
“Booking a job once a month that pays a big sum, and filling the rest of the month with painting and doing my own films and producing music—though just as soul-wrenching—gave me the time that I needed. But do I want to do porn, like would it be my choice to just do it? No…”
At age 19, he began stripping in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and then he moved to Portland, Oregon before becoming homeless and continuing to relocate around the country. “I’ve been homeless for the past five years. I’ve been backpacking and crashing at people’s houses or [having] survival sex. Like, I’ll meet someone off Grindr or meet someone at a bar…” Survival sex, for the uninitiated, is sleeping with someone exclusively for the benefit of a bed to crash on.
Blomqvist traded up—from stripping to porn—and began acting in amateur films, eventually signing a deal with popular porn production company CockyBoys. “[Stripping is] like a gateway drug, once you do it they’re like, ‘Wow, you look great with your clothes off.’ I’m also very sexually comfortable with that; I’m not a victim. It’s what I had to do to survive. So there’s no victimhood—but I definitely chose not to have a traditional 9 to 5.”
In his waking hours not spent in the buff, Blomqvist works on more creative endeavours. “I’m a musician, I’m a producer, I have 200-plus songs coming out by February and I work on them every day … I’m pushing forward.” He posts explicit images on Instagram to keep the thirst at bay, but what lies just beneath his scandalous selfies is a commentary on perceived sexuality—how we make assumptions about someone’s character based on how much skin we’re shown—and body objectification. It’s not entirely dissimilar to what his roommate, the artist Alexandra Marzella, or other skin-baring Instagram accounts like @babymorocco do.
He also nods to social media’s magnification of body issues: “Gay men have such fucked up body issues. Even I look at myself and I’m so hard on myself. I look like shit, I wish I was bigger, I wish my six pack showed more … we’ll always be in this battle.”
His account has been deleted twice already, caught in the gnashing teeth of Instagram’s censors. (It is still down at the time of publication). While he never purposely baits the social police, the content he does post—self-throttling videos in the shower, bodily examinations set to pulsing music—is certainly NSFW. And though his audience can scrutinize his images, he’s looking at himself a hell of a lot closer.
“I feel like a Marilyn Monroe type,” he continues in between drags of his cigarette, “I’m gonna show my ass, I’m going to do the whole sexually explicit thing, and it works. I’ll do a live story of me taking a shower, and in minutes I’ll have 100, 200 followers. The aesthetic of my Instagram is really artsy, really sexy … It has flare to it. It’s not like I’m just another thotty boy who’s shaking my ass on camera or anything. I’m pulling looks, I’m strangling myself, I’m trying to be a self-destructive boy…”
Being so comfortable in his skin draws ire from the haters. He doesn’t let it deter him. “People are so quick to put you into boxes,” he says. “I also don’t want to mention Cardi B, who went from being a stripper and a reality star and now she’s so fucking big. That didn’t happen overnight.”
He’s hoping to shelve porn, finances willing, to work on more creative projects. He might get into directing and has music—“experimental pop mixed with reggae and fucking trap music but also a throwback to jazz and industrial metal, all packed into one”—coming down the pipeline. Call him what you will—porn star, hard-bodied model, Instagram thot—but Blomqvist is rewriting his own narrative, and he’s going to make sure you read it.