The loss of a adult film commodity: Eric Rhodes dead at 30

Adult film performer James Elliott Naughtin, a/k/a Erik Rhodes

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.

4 responses to “The loss of a adult film commodity: Eric Rhodes dead at 30

  1. How sad to read all this stuff about James/Eric. I met him in Provincetown one day on the beach and was surprised that someone so good looking and smart, not to mention that killer smile, was so lonely. But I had seen that look before in my life partner’s (35 years together) eyes the night we met. We struck up a friendship and I relayed the story to him of another “porn star” that I knew, Dirk Yates/Rick Donovan and how one summer at the Russian River in California we went to a bar and everyone was all over him and felt that it was there right since he was in porn that they could infringe on his private life. And how unfortunate it was that any Celebrity goes through that and loses their privacy some where along the road. I understood his need to numb himself with meth to get through the Escorting part of the business, some of the guys you meet you would never go near with a 10′ pole but there is that money. I also understood his using steroids, being a bodybuilder my whole life, mainly a natural one but I had used some roids in the past and understood the desire to become bigger. He like I never really saw himself in the mirror as everyone else did, he never saw that huge muscled guy that was ripping out of his clothes. All he saw was “that kid growing up”. He spoke of his love of his family and of his twin brother. I tried to talk him out of the business and to let him know that there was life after porn, case in point…me. But he could not see that all though he really wanted it to be true for him. His desire to meet someone and be happy until he was an old man with his love of animals and for life carrying him through. Unfortunately like most guys in the business it is hard to find someone to live with and share your life who will not get pissed off at the fact that you sell your body and that sex is sex and not love or the love you share with the one you are spending your private time with or the fact that your partner may want to be intimate with you and you are exhausted from having “worked” . He would say how lucky I was to have the love of an older man (18 years my senior) for 35 years who went through my alcoholism, drug use, porn career (which he hated) but understood the need at least for me of the young skinny kid with glasses and braces who was teased and harassed in my youth and know I had become “an untouchable”, my name for a hot man you see at a bar or other places that you are too afraid to approach to talk to and get to know, or even to ask to dance. He understood as I did that most “untouchables” are extremely lonely and wished people would approach them but unfortunately what people saw when they looked at him was ERIC the porn star, not James the shy twin from Long Island. It has taken me all this time to write anything about my friendship with James and how I wish I could have saved him from the whirlwind his life had become. Rest in Peace my loving friend I will forever miss your smile and that incredibly sexy laugh you had and your real lust for life.

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