“LEAVE IT TO LEVI”— Changing Through Porn


Changing Through Porn

Amos Lassen

“Leave It to Levi” is  emotional and highly-entertaining documentary from the creative forces behind CockyBoys, Leave it to Levi. It is  the story of Levi Karter, one of the adult entertainment industry’s biggest stars and we see how his life has changed since entering the industry.

 In 2014, Luke was a teenage adopted, only-child of a single mother growing up in a small town in Ohio. He enrolled in college but became restless, dropped out, and moved to New York City to pursue a career in gay modeling and porn. He became Levi Karter and went on to have a thriving, award-winning international career with porn house, CockyBoys. He had another fantasy and began branching out and working night and day in a second career as a drag queen, Sassy Frass. The film celebrates his determination, male beauty, porn, sass, and discovering the inner power and strength that is part of being a young gay man in the 21st century.  

The documentary begins by using some of Levi Karter’s extensive archive of self-taped camera phone and laptop recordings which the performer made available to Jaxson. Made after he turned 18, when he was still using the name Luke, the footage chronicles the young man’s journey from small-town Ohio to dropping out of college and making his way to New York City and into of professional porn as Levi Karter. The opening montage takes in some intimate sexually explicit moments, Karter sleeping, some messy nights out on the town and a relationship breakup over the phone. Karter shares that he often recorded himself so he could see what the drugs and alcohol made him forget. From what we see in the first part of the film it appears that there is enough material to make  a feature purely from his own archive. However, “Leave It to Levi” becomes a more traditionally structured documentary and very interesting.  It is “an unexpectedly nuanced and moving exploration of familial acceptance and the representation of masculinity in today’s gay adult movies. “

Having become increasingly estranged from his mother Anne, Levi does become reunited with her at the CockyBoys house in upstate New York, which appears more like an X-Mansion  for gifted youngsters. The film is at its most interesting and moving when it looks at Anne coming to terms with her son being a porn star. We see some deeply touching moments and something that is sure to resonate with any LGBTQ+ person who’s come out to a loved one, whether they’ve been accepted or not. There’s a beautiful moment where Anne tells her son that he is the master of his own destiny.

Director Jaxson, who runs CockyBoys with his husband and the studio’s cinematographer R.J. Sebastian, provides a supportive and stable surrogate family for his performers. The film shows how Levi’s repaired relationship with his mother has changed the way the studio deals with their performers, insisting that they’re open about their work to a family member. It’s also led to a reunion between Jaxson and his own mother.

Having first come out as gay and then as a porn star, we see Levi come out for a third time to his mother as a fierce drag queen, Sassy Frass Meaner. This leads to an interesting examination of representation of hyper-masculinity within gay porn, what’s seen as acceptable and desirable by its consumers, with the femininity associated with drag strongly contrasting with what’s generally expected of a gay porn star. Although there’s a long history of drag and gay porn coexisting, in today’s world it is questionable if  the world is ready for a gay porn performer to wear sequins, heels and a wig? We meet fellow CockyBoy Liam Riley who like Levi is both a drag performer (as Bambi Wadley) and porn star. There are some very funny moments as we see Levi welcome Liam as he arrives at the CockyBoy house from the West Coast.

 The film was never meant to be an exposé of the darker side of the porn industry even though  it does show  how life changing the decision to making a career out of porn can be, such as potentially alienating a family member. The film is entertaining and thought-provoking  as it gives us intimate portrait of one of today’s most popular, charismatic porn performers.

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