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Meet the Only Straight Bro BFFs in the Adult Film Industry

Meet the Only Straight Bro BFFs in the Adult Film Industry: Some best friends share (almost) everything: Porn actors and BFFs Barrett Blade (L) and Eric Masterson (R)

Some best friends share (almost) everything: Porn actors and BFFs Barrett Blade (L) and Eric Masterson (R)

It was a deadly hot summer day in 2013. Barrett Blade stood waist deep in the backyard pool of a charming Spanish-style set house located deep in the San Fernando Valley. Balancing a camera high on his right shoulder, he was gearing up to capture some poolside action—his best friend Eric Masterson and a stacked English lass. I was also in the pool, hovering behind Blade, doing whatever I could to keep the camera’s extension cord from skimming the water below.

“Don’t drop that!” Blade commanded over his shoulder. “Cuz, you know, I could die.”

“And so could you!” Masterson reminded me from the dry safety of the pool deck.

My shoulders burned as I strained to keep the cord overhead. How the fuck do I get myself into these things, I wondered silently, trying desperately not to slip. Normally Masterson holds the cords, but a scheduling snafu meant his talents as a performer were needed. Since I had been standing there doing nothing… Well, now I was in the water too, playing makeshift production assistant.

“Seriously though,” Masterson added, a concerned look sweeping across his face as he realized his best friend’s life was quite literally in my hands. “Be careful.”

As a sociologist who’s studied porn for more than ten years, I’ve spent enough time around the adult entertainment industry to know that Blade and Masterson’s compassion for one another is both genuine and unusual. Porn sets are often characterized by competition and unease, particularly among men. Though few guys can rise to the occasion consistently, the ones who can are often treated as little more than a hard cock, generally paid less than women but expected to have complete control over their bodies at a moment’s notice (often with the help—or abuse—of certain performance-enhancing drugs). It’s a constant, difficult hustle. Socially speaking, the entire community is more than a little insular. Burn the wrong bridge or piss off the wrong starlet, and your career could be over before it’s begun.

Though there are no labor statistics tracking the average career-length of the typical porn performer, burnout is common and a sustainable career is rare and enviable. While women may be relegated to MILF status by age 26, a handful of guys can ride it out as long as they’re able to get it up (which is why you often see the same dudes, some of them older, over and over again). But for the vast majority, there’ll eventually come a time when their penises demand a respite; their careers generally go limp soon after.

Given this context, Blade, 41, and Masterson, 44, are a case study in a certain kind of porn success: consistent, steady work in a highly competitive industry where careers are often measured in months, not years. Combined, they’ve clocked more than three decades in porn, filming more than a thousand sex scenes along the way. They may not be crossover stars a la James Deen, but they’re not “Penis #8 in Vagina #4” either, as their induction into AVN’s Hall of Fame earlier this year attests to. These days, they’re both more likely to be behind the scenes than on camera, having cultivated careers in production and direction too. And they’ve found that in order to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of porn, a good friend is an even bigger asset than… well, you know. It’s certainly more difficult to find.

“I can best describe Barrett and Eric as ‘The Dynamic Duo,’ Batman and Robin of the porn industry. Their skills and reliability on the production end are superior,” says Mark Schechter, owner of adult talent agency ATMLA.com, who’s worked with them for four years. “Their work comes with a sense of trust, mutual respect, and a strong bond of friendship.”

It’s that bond, more than anything, that’s been at the heart of their success, allowing their work to appear seamless. That’s exactly what I saw that day in the pool, as those deadly hot and dangerous minutes dragged on. Masterson delivered his lines with perfect comedic timing, playfully arguing with the British actress about which English words are better: knickers versus panties, chips versus fries, and lift versus elevator. When she offered “wanker,” Masterson’s grin as he countered with “jackass” was priceless. Blade held the camera just above the water throughout, capturing an awkward upshot.

“Aaaaand, got it!“ yelled Blade at the end of the scene. Masterson was all business, immediately swooping down to grab the heavy camera and put a dry end to the potentially electrifying situation.

Meanwhile, I stood perfectly still, frozen in terror, awe, and amusement.


Blade (L) and Masterson (R) hang out by Blade

Blade (L) and Masterson ® hang out by Blade’s pool in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley

One could look at Masterson and Blade and easily wonder how they fit together. Blade plays the dangerous bad boy, the rock star artist with an endless cache of ladies waiting in the wings. Masterson is the clean cut and beefy DILF-next-door. Funny and sparkly when he’s around friends, he’s quieter in public and less about the limelight. But in spite of their apparent differences, whether they’re shooting a double-penetration or going on a double date, they’ve been pretty much inseparable for the past fifteen years. In fact, it’s difficult for either Masterson or Blade to remember a time when the other wasn’t there for him.

“I mean, we’re not holding each other at night or anything, but it’s good to know he’s always there,” Masterson told me this fall. “We’ve been through a lot together: crazy stuff and funny stuff that only he and I get, shitty stuff, and everything in between.”

Some of that “shitty stuff” includes a rash of disruptive changes to their industry unleashed by the internet. New technology and distribution methods have made porn ubiquitous and cheap for consumers, piracy and content theft have ravaged traditional business models, and recent regulations (including L.A. County’s murky condom requirements) have made it harder to shoot. The $800 to $900 for a “straight boy-girl” (read: vaginal, penetrative sex between two partners) scene Masterson says he earned in the mid-2000s has bottomed out at $300 for the same work. Consequently, you often see people doubling (and even tripling) their job duties—the director also does the editing; the production manager steps in as talent—which means it’s more important than ever to have collaborators you can trust to show up at a moment’s notice if you’re going to deliver.

This is where Masterson shines. “He’s the most loyal person there is. He’s always got my back, without question,” according to Blade. “I could give him $50,000 and say ‘Hold this for me’ and I know it’d be there two years later. There’s no one else like that.”

Chapman Baehler

Chapman Baehler

Things were not always so smooth for Blade, who made his way to porn the same way many others have—after an aborted career in another segment of the entertainment industry. A professional bass player working Sunset Strips clubs in the late 1990s, his band Dial-7 (pictured on right) was signed to Warner Brothers Records and on its way to the top, until the group was unceremoniously cut from the downsizing label’s roster. The group decided to keep playing gigs anyway, and a Vivid Girl approached Blade after a sold-out show at the Roxy Theatre in 1999. A hot and heavy romance ensued, and eventually she asked him to take their relationship to the next level—on camera.

“At first, I didn’t really want to do it,” Blade told me. “But I had nothing else going on. My job qualifications were zero, and I had bills to pay.”

About six months after his first scene, Blade attended a Labor Day barbecue thrown by some friends in the industry. It was small for a porn party—only twenty or so in attendance—and relatively low-key. Blade started talking with an affable couple who had just moved to Los Angeles from Orlando: Masterson and his wife Maya Divine. Masterson had been building his security-contracting firm into a successful business, and Divine was eager to bump up her rate as a feature-dancer at different strip clubs, which a few porn credits could easily accomplish. Young and wild, the couple was into having sex on camera and had already done a little porn on the side. A move to L.A. just made sense.

After a bit of small-talk, Divine decided the party needed some spicing up. She offered the guys some coke, and the trio retreated to a back room, where the couple invited Blade in on a special ritual: “Maybe it’s leftover from the stripper days, but I always do coke off my wife’s ass,” Masterson recalled. And with her approval, Masterson offered Blade a bump off the same surface. It didn’t take much. “Right off the bat, we instantly went to jokes,” Blade recalled. “We clicked right away, and the next day we started hanging out. It’s been like that ever since”—BFFs for life.

As their reputations as performers began to build, Masterson and Blade found themselves on set together more and more frequently. They both described 2003’s buddy-cop film Loaded, wherein they play detectives charged with protecting a (hot) witness from a cold-blooded killer, as one of their best collaborations. Reviewers loved this flick, and the success set the stage for them to begin moving into production.

Today, with over 450 sex scene credits to his name, Blade has moved almost completely behind the camera. His work in this arena has refined significantly since his directorial debut in 2004; some of it is even exceptional. Take, for example, 2013’s award-nominated Bikini Outlaws, a highly stylized tale of an over-the-top gang of criminal babes that you just don’t fuck with (or maybe you do…). Things like overt gun violence are generally not done in porn, which made this movie tricky. Consequently, each lady gangster’s murdering skills are showcased via implied gore happening off-screen, which is somehow still graphic enough to leave you wide-eyed. It’s a clever technique for pushing boundaries without actually pushing anything.

Masterson’s career is balanced slightly differently than Blade’s. He directs occasionally but excels on camera as a character actor (with more than 650 sex-scene credits to his name) and behind the scenes as production manager (PM) and cameraman. Often, he’s doing all-of-the-above in collaboration with Blade. In Bikini Outlaws, he was both the PM and a nasty hillbilly who gets gutted after sex by a killer stripper hottie.

But success doesn’t come without challenges. On November 20, 2014, the adult entertainment industry received some startling news—former performer and adult talent agent Shy Love had filed a slander lawsuit against Blade (and Schechter), accusing them of falsely telling business associates that she stole money from her clients. ("I am tired of being bullied, threatened and victimized by false statements,” Love told Xbiz.) Everything else aside, dealing with this development is going to cost Blade time, money, stress—and probably some friends. In business, things can change quickly—partnerships can uncouple, jokes can turn into defamations, and defamations into jokes. Most friendships are just as tenuous but theirs will certainly remain constant.

In this respect, both Blade and Masterson have got us all beat.


In many ways, as a job and as an industry, porn is just like everything else. People pay taxes, drink coffee, and put their pants on one leg at a time. But in many other ways, porn changes all the rules. The very nature of the labor doesn’t exactly gel with how the “civilian” (read: non-porn) world generally thinks about sex and interpersonal relationships. There’s a lot about Masterson’s and Blade’s friendship that would cause other men to pause—from mixing your work world with your private-friend world to ideas about (heterosexual) dudes and nudity.

Case in point: do your friends ever give you sex pointers? What about in real-time? Because Masterson and Blade do.

Blade and Masterson getting ready for a shoot (Photo by Brad Armstrong)

Blade and Masterson getting ready for a shoot (Photo by Brad Armstrong)

“In a lot of ways, it helps,” Masterson told me. “[Barrett] can tell if I’m having a bad day or something, or if [my scene partner] maybe isn’t working. Because he knows me so well, he can help me through a scene better than another director could.”

Or consider this: Like every other subculture, work-related or otherwise, people often date within their immediate social network. Consequently, it’s normal for porn actors to date others in their industry, which means sex with co-workers can happen for professional as well as romantic reasons. And while Blade says he’ll never have sex with Divine (“That’s just not something I can do, work with my [friend’s wife or girlfriend]. That’s just not me…”), Masterson sees it a bit differently. He’s worked with a handful of Blade’s significant others over the years, including his ex-wife (when she was still his wife), his fiancée, and various muses.

“And it’s not weird?” I ask him.

“Well, it’s not like I’m hooking up with them or something!” He laughs at what I already know was a stupid question. “But no honestly, it’s not weird, I actually think it helps,” he continues, humoring me. “Barrett’s always there, directing what happens and he knows I would never do anything to disrespect anyone, especially because anyone who’s ever been with Barrett is usually my friend too.”

There have even been occasions when Blade has been directing a woman he’s romantically involved with in a scene with another guy. In instances like these, Blade has asked Masterson to watch the camera while he steps out. Because even though it’s work sex (so it’s different), it’s also still sex—so it’s still sensitive.

“In some ways, it’s to help the [performers]—because who can work while someone’s guy is breathing down their neck?” Masterson asks rhetorically. “But it’s also not Barrett’s thing, watching. And he knows I’ll make sure everything goes ok, both for his [romantic partner] and so the work gets done.”

According to Masterson, working with someone who’s important to Blade versus working with someone who’s purely a professional associate is somehow different.

“Why? How?” I ask.

“That’s a good question… and it’s hard to answer.” Masterson pauses as we both ponder. “I do the same things with everyone—be nice, be respectful, make sure we’re all clear about what [the scene] calls for and what’s ok. But somehow it’s still different. I can’t really explain how, but it is.”


Chauntelle Tibbals, Ph.D., is a sociologist living in Los Angeles. Visit her at chauntelletibbals.com or on Twitter at @drchauntelle.

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