Introverted young reporter Garrett Kowalski is unprepared for the reality of his weekend assignment at the Folsom Street Fair, where he’s assigned to interview porn stars, including Justin. Garrett has no choice but to come out of his shell when Justin and his co-worker tease him up onto the stage for a live demonstration. That might have been that—just a one-off job—but Garrett takes advantage of follow-up fact checking for his article to get to know Justin better… and it leads to an unexpected friendship and flirtation that just might grow into something more.
As a reporter for Queer America Garrett was excited to land a prime assignment to interview porn stars, producers, directors etc. for a special issue of his magazine. The location of the interviews was the Folsom Street Fair in L.A, the most notable porn entertainment show around. He couldn’t believe his luck. This was his naughtiest fantasy come to life – debauchery everywhere. Despite his best intentions Garrett became one of the star attractions of the Fair when Justin, his favourite porn star crush, persuaded him to go up on stage and participate in a live demonstration. 😀 Garrett had had the hots for Justin since the first time he saw him on DVD, so when the star seemed attracted to him and suggested that they hang out the next day he was estatic.
The guys found out that they really liked each other, although Garrett was a bit put off when Justin adopted his porn star personality whenever they were out together and seemed to soak up the attention lavished on him by his adoring public. I did like the fact that once Garrett got over being star struck and was able to see behind Justin’s public persona how much he liked the real person. I also thought that Justin was rather sweet and seemed to be as much into Garrett and treated him with care and showed a lot of tenderness.
The author, Alix Bekins, did a good job of trying to make a relationship between a porn star and his lover who is not in the business, seem normal. Both Justin and Garrett were very good together, their personalities were complementary and the characterizations were well done. Justin was warm and caring towards Garrett who was struggling with the concept of dating a porn star and totally at sea about how to deal with his feelings. I liked the dynamics between the couple as they explored their budding relationship – very difficult waters to navigate. Clearly this is not a conventional romance and the reader has to be prepared for a lot of information about the porn industry and there is obviously mucho sex in the book. You may be surprised at how casual porn stars are about their day job and that their partners are not jealous of their occupation, particularly if they are also in the business.
I did have a few issues with with this story. The main one was I thought that the complexities of the relationship were smoothed over too quickly since the issue of whether your lover is unfaithful if he has sex every day with other men in his day job was never really addressed in the book. The problem was obvious; Justin’s “office” was a porn studio, and when he talked about his day, the discussion centered around how sore he was if he bottomed too many times in one day. If your boyfriend is in the porn business, what’s the probable answer to this question: Did you have a hard day at work today honey? 😀 I had another issue which was that while Garrett wanted to go slow initially in the sex department and they had phone and oral sex and played, they never did the deed during the 6 weeks they were dating, even when Garrett indicated he was ready. Some might find it romantic that Justin wanted to treat Garrett as if he were a delicate flower, but in real life two horny gay men into each other would want to have real sex sooner rather than later.
I had other questions that were not answered and I did think that this book might have benefited from being a novel rather than a novella because there were a few threads left dangling at the end of the story. While the couple’s relationship was very romantic I found some aspects unrealistic. Perhaps there’s a sequel in the making.
It was clear that Alix Bekins did her homework before she wrote this book and she must have had a lot of fun with the research. I loved the Folsom Street Fair seen through her eyes, and aspects of the porn industry that I had no idea about.
The pacing moved the story along and the protagonists were definitely three dimensional, as well as some of the secondary characters. I think you will enjoy When Work is a Pleasure if you can suspend disbelief. Alix Bekins is a good writer and the dialogue between Julian and Garrett was at times sparkling as well as funny. Recommended!