In this blog, we try to steer clear of the salacious…to a degree. But offense may be taken at this particular post because of some of its content. If so, we apologize, and we hope we haven’t lost you as a reader. But we encourage you to read on. This is guaranteed to NOT be the post you think it is. Instead of lauding an “actor” of high acclaim within the confines of the world of adult entertainment, we are choosing to tell more of a cautionary tale. How a man can be destroyed by the image he created, and how those closest to him let it happen.
James Elliott Naughtin, a/k/a gay porn superstar Erik Rhodes, was only 30 years old when he passed away from an apparent heart attack that occurred in his sleep. But he was a man who had lived beyond his years, and for some, his usefulness. But James wasn’t a quitter in any sense of the word. He was a self admitted drug user, and was as bold enough to share his own persona recipe for steroids to those who asked. But in his short time on this earth, he not only saw the worst of what humanity had to offer, he experienced much of it first hand. Prostitution, troubled relationships, and a recent stint in a mental ward were not enough to cause the man to seek help. Rather, he chose to use his blog site as a type of therapy; answering almost any and all questions posed to him. By doing so he took on the role of patient, and allowed others to guide his “therapy.” Not the wisest choice for a man with so many demons.
Interwoven in the words he writes in his blog posts, are some clear signs that he wanted help, but was unsure how to ask for it. And even if he could ask for it, James had serious doubts that it would be granted. He writes in his post about his being held on a 72 hour “suicide watch” at New York’s Bellevue Hospital, and relaying his story to one of the on duty physicians. The doctor wouldn’t consider releasing him until after he reached someone in his life who could corroborate his story. With an extremely short list of close friends or family, he allowed the doctor to reach out to his twin brother, Jon< as a contact. After doing so, the doctor came back to his room, and patting him on the back could only utter, “It’s going to be okay.” James broke down; as this was a kindness he was unaccustomed to experiencing.
In the marketing profession, our product is a commodity. In every aspect of every business, that is the bottom line. Whatever it takes to keep our commodity bankable, we are more than willing to do; regardless of the price. James Naughtin was no exception. But to his credit, he know that was the role he was required to play, and made that very clear to those who crossed his path. He seemed to be challenging time to a race that he knew, deep down, he could not win. ANd those responsible for creating and cultivating the persona that was “Erik Rhodes” forgot somewhere along the way the he was still just a man…and a young man at that.
Naughtin began his adult film career at the age of 22, with what was probably the same starry-eyed eagerness that many fall victim of. From that point on, more of Erik Rhodes replaced what was James Naughtin; something not uncommon in an industry that is truly supplied with a never-ending stream of disposable people. But again, Naughtin/Rhodes always new his place, and played the game as best he could under the circumstances. According to an obit from the San Francisco based web site, SFist, Naughtin gave an interview with the publication The Sword, and offers some sage advice to young people looking to launch a career in the adult film industry:
“Do not expect to have a career in porn. Use porn as a platform to start a successful career as a hooker. Get your face out there through the movies—which really don’t make you shit—so you can just sell your ass for top dollar on the street (unless you think you have too much pride for that and you just wanna shake your ass for singles at the bar). Either way, just be prepared to be used, for your relationships to fail, and to lead an overall miserable life. Hugs and kisses, good luck, and look me up when you’re in New York. I know a great dealer.”
So where does the cautionary tale come into this post? It’s simple; remember that when dealing with a commodity, it’s important to take the time to understand the commodity. Don’t let the potential dollar signs dancing in your eyes cloud the fact that you need to pay attention to what you are marketing, who you are marketing to, and how you are marketing. People are not a commodity; nor are they expendable “losses” that can be tossed aside when something seemingly better comes along. Those who benefitted off the “work” of James Naughtin/Erik Rhodes may or may not mourn his passing. But one person will; his twin brother Jon. James knew that his brother lived in fear of the day the phone call would come to tell him that his brother was dead.
That call came, much too soon, earlier today. RIP James Elliott Naughtin.