More than most, David Pevsner has spent the better part of his six decades embodying the Oprahtic suggestion that we be the change we want to see in the world.
In his first book, out this month, the actor, lyricist, sex worker and now groundbreaking senior erotica model tells the story of his life and evolution from nebbish to shtarker, the classic Joe Weider tale of the sand kickee becoming the sand kicker; except Pevsner’s been kicking his sand into the oysters of the American stage, frame and screen and getting them to cough up pearls.
That oyster metaphor a little much? If so, you may have some trouble with Pevsner’s book, because it’s a lot. He goes into a level of biographical detail some may find excessive for someone you’ve probably never heard of — although you may have seen him in “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Modern Family” or “Criminal Minds” — and quotes his own lyrics rather more than some might find tasteful. And if you’re looking for subtlety, look elsewhere; he calls himself “King of the single entendre.”
In a word, he’s a little much, but say it in Charles Nelson Reilly’s voice, or maybe Rip Taylor’s, and you’ll get closer to the feel of this memoir-cum-manifesto for that change he wants to see in the world, which is that porn, erotica and mainstream culture should get themselves into a throuple and give us all a little more sexual honesty in the culture we consume. More specifically, he thinks we should be seeing a lot more D out there, and not all of it needs to be young and pretty.
Pevsner, 62 till the end of this month, is talking to me from his home in Los Feliz, a suburb of L.A., and though the conversation is as light and entertaining as his book — which he’s called “Damn Shame” — ranging from “West Side Story” to Only Fans to “Crazy Rich Asians” to “The Next Step” (he’s a big fan), the subject is a serious one. Shame has contorted this continent’s ideas about sexuality and propriety at least since the Hays Code, and it’s been the single biggest influence on the course Pevsner’s own life has taken.
He’s overcome several stages of body shame, gay shame and sex-work shame. He’s done battle against the opinions of friends, family and the broader culture that the sort of sex-forward work he’s done onstage — in shows with titles like “Naked Boys Singing!” — and for erotic photographers such as Tom Bianchi is shlock, ridiculous, indecent or all three. And now he’s coming up against a very specific kind of shaming ageism, including his own.
In the book, he tells the story of a nude photo shoot he did about 10 years ago, when he was in his 50s, and how upset he got when he saw one candid photo of him reclining between shots, with his tummy looking all bunched up and flabby.
“I was like, ‘No, no, no! I don’t want anybody to see that!’” he told me. “I’ve come a long way since then, because I realized that not only do I have to fight for this ability to express myself this way, I have to fight for anyone’s ability to express this way.” Including people with less-than-ideal tummies, and people who are four or more decades off the TikTok-approved median.
And it’s working; the move toward general body positivity that’s been running through Gen Z has apparently made it to the silverback set. He’s got an account on Only Fans, the preferred platform for TikTok sex workers to strut whatever stuff is not allowed on a platform that requires its users to spell sex “seggs” or risk being banned. Amid a sea of hairless abs and collagen-rich faces, Pevsner says he’s making the bulk of his income blazing a trail for tomorrow’s ex-twinks.
And since he’s started, he’s noticed the ecology of the perennially youth-obsessed male-based erotosphere changing, with sites like Older4You hosting erotic videos of exclusively men in their 60s and 70s.
“I think a few years ago, I would have been like, ‘Don’t push me that far. I’m old but I’m not that old,’ but now I kind of go, ‘Oh, it’s great.’ I love that people are feeling that they can do this, that there is an outlet for it.”
So now he can add senior citizen porn clips to his long and varied artistic output.
“I’ve always had it in me to express myself this way,” he said. “I took it to one level with the photos, but now I’ve taken it even farther. I do not regret a single moment.”
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