HIV Aids

The OnlyFans Porn Ban—and Reversal—Led to Our Spicy Chat With Openly HIV+ Porn Powerhouse Boomer Banks


It was a whirlwind week in mid-August for sex workers who use OnlyFans—the online platform that, since it started nearly five years ago, has earned a total of $4.5 billion for sex workers. On Aug. 19, OnlyFans announced that starting in October, it would be banning sexually explicit content at the request of its “banking partners and payout providers.”

On social media, sex workers erupted in outrage over the content policy change, charging that OnlyFans had used them to build the site’s enormous success only to throw them under the bus in the face of corporate respectability instead of standing up for them. And in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, no less, that has limited in-person work opportunities for sex workers.

But only six days later, OnlyFans, apparently floored by the backlash, reversed its position, announcing in a tweet: “Thank you to everyone for making your voices heard. We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change.”

Sadly for your hardworking TheBody writer, the reversal came just as we were about to post a story on how OnlyFans users—particularly LGBTQ and/or openly HIV-positive ones—were going to deal with the ban. Copy in the trash! Thankfully, we did manage to have two very saucy conversations with Boomer Banks, one after the ban was announced and another after it was rescinded.

Have you heard of Boomer Banks? At age 41, the heavily tattooed Mexican American—legendary for the scale of a certain key natural attribute that drives the gay porn industry—has become not only one of the biggest gay porn stars of the past decade but also one of the biggest stars of color of all time. (And that’s in an industry that has only modestly diversified its talent in recent years, much of it thanks to non-studio DIY sites like OnlyFans).

He’s also one of a handful of performers (including Alex Tikas, Jacen Zhu, and Kayden Gray) who are living openly with HIV. He appeared on the cover of HIV Plus magazine last September. In his interview, he talked about being born in Michoacán, Mexico, and how he was raised in the Los Angeles area by a single mother who died when he was just 14 years old. Banks also discussed being rejected by his family for his queerness and his struggle with his AIDS diagnosis, homelessness, and meth addiction. After getting sober in 2004, his porn career and fashion designer businesses took off. In addition to his success, Banks is an outspoken activist for the rights of queer and trans people of color.

And boy, is Banks outspoken! He’s touchy one minute, gregarious and laid back the next—and only partially inclined to go off the record when he’s taking a swipe at those who’ve angered him for how they treated him or how they’ve maintained racial or other role restrictions in the industry. Here’s our chat, both before and after OnlyFans unbanned their ban.

Tim Murphy: So Boomer, you put your stuff on OnlyFans, yes?

Boomer Banks: Yeah—I literally started using them at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. I didn’t need them before. I was doing fine with my studio career and appearances. But when COVID happened, it helped because I had these little videos here and there on my phone from behind the scenes at studio shoots, and that’s what they wanted. So OnlyFans fed me through the pandemic. I’m also a dildo and FleshJack [a device that simulates a vagina or an anus for masturbation] model, and people were sitting around putting dildos up their butts during the pandemic, so those sales helped me more than OnlyFans did.

But the first content site I used back in 2019 was 4My.Fans, which is owned by [porn star] Austin Wolf, who is my best friend.

Murphy: What is your macro thought on OnlyFans banning porn?

Banks: I’m not surprised. Yet another company has made money off sex workers, and now they’re shunning us. I don’t know how they think they’re gonna be successful without us.

Murphy: What’s the fix for this pattern? What needs to happen?

Banks: Companies like OnlyFans have to push back on bankers and lenders and say, “Sex workers are who made you all this money, bank, why are you now trying to pretend like this isn’t a thing?”

Murphy: I’ve heard they’re trying to clear the way for big pop stars like Cardi B and Ariana Grande to offer exclusive content to subscribers.

Banks: No. That wouldn’t equal the amount of revenue they bring in from sex workers. People are so obsessed with celebrity that they think a celeb is going to save OnlyFans. They don’t realize the amount of sex workers who were on there, versus just one Cardi B. Fine, they might have Cardi B right now. But you can watch Cardi B on her Instagram. Unless it’s Cardi B showing her [private parts] on OnlyFans, no one cares, and she’s not going to do that.

Murphy: So how would you describe the fallout from this?

Banks: People are psyching themselves out over this, but we’re the world’s oldest profession. We’re gonna be fine.

Murphy: I was talking to one openly HIV-positive performer who said that the DIY platforms, like OnlyFans, are better for openly poz performers than the studios. He said that a studio recently told him that they could only pair him with another HIV-positive performer, and they both had to wear condoms, which have become much less common in gay porn in the past decade between U=U [undetectable equals untransmittable] and PrEP [the HIV prevention drug]. Has that been your experience?

Banks: I’m a Brown, HIV-positive, overtly queer man, and all those studios have hired me. If you want something, you take it. It’s about your drive. Here I am doing my thing among all these not-Brown people.

Banks and I talked again after OnlyFans rescinded the ban.

Murphy: Reversal!

Banks: My comments still stand. I didn’t stop using OnlyFans after they announced the ban. My fans there didn’t run off. I think I lost like 10 of them.

Murphy: Do you think the ban was a stunt to get more attention and drive people to the platform?

Banks: Look at what happened. The mainstream media started talking about porn again.

Murphy: Do you sense that some performers won’t go back to OnlyFans after the whiplash?

Banks: No. Everyone was sad and upset that they were going to have to change [to other sites], so why would they not go back? None of them have real loyalty to anything. If it makes them money, they’re gonna go back.

Murphy: Have you been openly HIV positive in the industry since Day One?

Banks: I got into the business in 2013, before PrEP was even [widely being taken]. I worked with condom porn companies that knew exactly what my health status was. I know that [feeling of being discriminated against in the business for being positive] is some people’s story. [Longtime porn entrepreneur] Chi Chi LaRue told me I wasn’t gonna be a thing. But when you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to prove you wrong.

Murphy: So you were publicly positive since Day One in the industry?

Banks: No. Read the article in Plus [link below]. I was outed by a blog in 2013 before I could even get my feet wet. People sent me messages [like], “You’re giving your clients AIDS.” Really nasty stuff. They took the blog post down, but that kept me from talking about my status for a long time. I didn’t know how to respond to it. Nobody teaches queer people how to deal with fame. I just did my job and proved to everyone that everything was fine and created my own lane until I officially came out in Plus mag. Miguel [his birth name], me, the person—I’ve been an advocate for my HIV from the get-go. But Boomer never got an opportunity to be the first to say, “Hey, I’m HIV positive.” But it became a non-issue because I wasn’t hurting anyone. I did condom porn for many years, and you have to get tested [for HIV regularly].

Murphy: What about other performers?

Banks: Many of them are positive but aren’t open about it.

Murphy: Do you think it’s a non-issue now, between U=U and PrEP?

Banks: No, because people still ask me today what undetectable means. I don’t feel anything other than gratitude that I’m a representative for younger Brown men of color, to see that you can still be anything you want, not just a sex worker. You’re gonna be fine. I went from having full-blown AIDS to now being undetectable the past 20 years.

Murphy: You mentioned men of color in the industry, which has been so overwhelmingly white-owned and performed, at least on the traditional studio side. Has that changed in recent years?

Banks: No. Everything is still geared toward white this, white that. Every time they try to diversify, they do it for one or two performers, then they go back to a plethora of white guys. The owners of these companies aren’t people of color. Only RawFuckClub breaks that mold.

Murphy: Is the owner a person of color?

Banks: No, but I’m one of their main models and they’ve made a huge effort in that area.

Murphy: You talk like a maverick. Do you consider yourself one?

Banks: I became one, unbeknownst to me. People deem me to be an angry Mexican. I’m just pointing out people’s shortcomings and they don’t like it. [A popular site-runner] wouldn’t shoot with me unless I topped. He deemed me to be a top. But I’m not here to conform to labels. That’s just such bullshit. The same thing with race. Just get over yourself and fucking have sex. But I don’t have the power to change things—white people do. I’m just the angry Mexican. We [people of color] say these things and we’re just angry, angry, angry.

Murphy: So it sounds like you still actually do think there is stigma in the biz around being HIV [positive]?

Banks: You’re a writer for an HIV site and you’re surprised by that?

Murphy: No, I’m reflecting back to you what I think you told me.

Banks: Oh, OK. But yeah, if anything, HIV stigma is worse when it comes to sex work—people still use “clean” and other stigmatic words. This [will] only change if my white brothers and sisters [do something].

Murphy: Have you ever considered starting your own platform?

Banks: It’s so driven by white people that it’d have to take a white person to say to me, “Hey, POC [people of color], come work for me.” There needs to be more non-POC speaking up.

Murphy: But haven’t DIY sites like OnlyFans, which remove the gatekeepers and let anyone compete in the market, diversified the market somewhat?

Banks: All those platforms did was allow POC to be on the site. They don’t promote any of us. Actually, in terms of my own site, CockyBoys gave me that opportunity. I had my own studio for a whole year, BoomBox, and I demanded that it be condomless. I had full reins as a director and producer. But when CockyBoys went condomless as well, they no longer needed me.

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