A Gentleman's Guide

AUGUST | 2018

AUGUST | 2018 | BLACK, GAY & GIFTED

JACEN ZHU

THE CRYSTAL GEM

Photo: JSR Photography

Photo: JSR Photography

Porn stars, models and adult entertainers are an important part of many of our lives. They fulfill our fantasies, set our standards and are there for us when we get that *cough* itch that needs to be scratched. They come in all shapes, sizes, and shades and, depending on who you ask, they are a very important part of society.

As important as these beloved individuals are, thanks to the internet they are fairly common. And there’s no shade in that at all. Onlyfans, Twitter, Tumblr and the like are filled with pictures and videos of hopeful amateurs and professionals either doing their thing or trying to build a following by allowing us to watch as others do their thing- and trust, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. However common these assets to society are, there are those among them who are as rare as a Bismuth crystal.

It is among this class that we find this month’s Black, Gay & Gifted feature, Jacen Zhu (JAY-sin Zoo). God only knows where this five-foot-seven inch bronzed adonis came from, but since his arrival he’s worked with Lucas Entertainment, CocyBoys, Dawgpound USA and Nextdoor Studios and we’d be the worst kind of lair to say that we haven’t enjoyed each and every scene. From his million dollar, mega watt smile to the way that he rolls those dark brown eyes into the back of his head in ecstasy, Jacen is it. You couldn’t possibly look at this man and not see sex, because even if he didn’t do porn, you’d wish he did.

The odds were ever in our favor with Jacen because he definitely gives a performance. Unlike many of his film star colleagues, he’s using his platform in more ways than one, which is why we were motivated to feature him.

Photo: Aligiance

Photo: Aligiance

Crystal meth has almost always been a thing among the white SGL community but rarely was it considered a “black” thing. Let’s be honest here, there was once a time when we were known to only indulge in a little weed and maybe (just maybe) we found ourselves in the position to partake in an occasional bump (or two) of cocaine. Crystal meth just wasn’t our thing. Somehow that changed, and while we initially wanted to give our readers an in-depth explanation of how this happened, it wouldn't add to, take away from, or change the what.  

If you’ve logged onto any dating site or app geared towards same gender loving men, you’ve probably noticed profiles consisting of sentences where many, if not all of the “t’s” are capitalized. This indicates that the operator of the profile is either selling and/or using methamphetamine. Again, we don’t know the why or the how but what we do know is that neither change the what of the increased use of meth within SGL communities of color.

Jacen is no stranger to this and has been extremely open with sharing his experiences with the meth. He was introduced to meth by a couple at a hookup group. “They were [people] I thought I could trust and I was [under] the assumption that we were friends. I can imagine many of us assume friendship after being intimate through sex”. Hindsight, which is almost always 20/20 can be attributed to the lesson Jacen learned from that experience. “I can understand now that it's a falsehood.” 

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Meth is but one of many drugs people become addicted to in their efforts to escape reality and to cope with psychological pain. Some are drawn to meth for the same reasons that others are lulled by the siren songs of  weed, alcohol and cigarettes. And once addiction of any kind has you, it's tough to break the hold. Addiction locks its victims into inescapable patterns of behavior and one thing that any conscious addict will tell you is that overcoming an addiction is no small feat.

“I always wanted to stop using Meth, but I went about it the wrong way”, Jacen says when questioned about what it was that fueled his decision to kick meth to the curb. The Lucas Entertainment model stated that anime (Naruto), of all things, helped him realize what it was he was doing to himself.

“I watched as the character Kabuto was in an infinite loop." Jacen says as he references the effect of the Izanami, one of the Uchiha clan's ultimate visual jitsus. In one arc of the anime Kabuto finds himself trapped within the effects of the Izanami which causes certain situations to replay in the victim’s mind.

According to lore, the victim, despite possessing some modicum of awareness about their situation, as well as having the ability to act differently while in their situation, is unable to escape until they acknowledge the real results of their actions. (We had some serious help with that so please don’t berate us if we’re wrong).

Photo: Tarrice Love

Photo: Tarrice Love

“It struck a chord with me. If I was to get out of this infinite loop I [had] to accept myself and try something new.” Jacen admits that he wasn’t always honest with himself and those around him and that he convinced himself he’d have to hide any relapse he experienced, but that was until he learned that relapse was a part of recovery.

The road to recovery from any addiction can be a rocky one and there are very rare instances of addicts traveling forward down that road without taking a few steps backwards. Relapse is perfectly normal. And if you don’t believe that, feel free to ask the 40 to 60 percent of addicts who experience it.

“Addiction isn’t something that is curable” says Zhu. “We have to acknowledge that we will always be addicts, even within recovery.” According to Jacen, its important for addicts, especially those who don’t believe that they are addicts is to examine their behaviors. He’s not without insight on this, either.

“For instance, dating apps! Why are you there? What do you want to accomplish? Are you accomplishing that or are you doing the same thing expecting different results?” Jacen continues with his analogy by pointing out how we turn to these apps with the expectations of finding our forever Beaux, but that we often find ourselves falling into the hookup culture. “We are engaging in addictive behaviors without any substance use. In my experience, the best way to stay strong in recovery is to take it literally one day at a time”.

There are at least five steps to recovery from addiction. Awareness and early acknowledgement is the first of these five steps because after all, admitting you have a problem is where the journey begins. This acknowledgement doesn’t mean that the addiction magically disappears as much as it means that the addict is aware of the hold his addiction is having on his life. Acknowledging the problem may take some time, but according to Jacen, “recovery isn’t a race”.

The second step on the road to recovery is to for the addict to move and start taking action. Its at this point when the addict starts to look beyond himself to understand the impact the addiction is having on his family and friends. In the best scenarios, the addict will be able to reach out to them for help. “I say this over and over, you can’t recover alone!”

From there the addict will begin exploring recovery options, which is the third step. If all goes well, he’ll achieve the fourth step of attaining sobriety and consistently work the exist within the fifth step, which is to maintain it. “ It’s a lifestyle adjustment that affords you healing and we can’t rush that healing.”

Jacen recommends having a strong support system. “You didn’t start using alone and recovery requires a strong and loving support system.” This support system is crucial during the final stages of maintaining recovery. “Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk about things you feel people will find dumb, worthless or stupid. It’s not! You are healing and deserve the right to feel and heal on your terms.”

As we mentioned earlier, we chose Jacen as this month's feature for reasons outside of porn. We chose him because he’s got guts. Zhu, in his work with D.C.’s PrEP Squad released a video to give his fans and fellow addicts some very personal and motivational words of encouragement. He’s also used his platform to launch #takedowntina a movement that envisions a world bursting with self-acceptance that the appetency of exchanging one’s life for substance use becomes undesirable. The movement’s mission is to increase awareness of crystal meth use within queer and trans communities of color through education, by fighting stigma and by taking a holistic approach to reducing addiction rates in at-risk communities.

“In the beginning the responses were mixed because many people of color, especially black men didn’t believe we were using crystal meth. However, I’ve noticed that a lot of us have been engaging more with this topic because we know people who are active in their addiction.” Jacen believes that his actions, along with the actions of others are helping to bring about an awareness so loud that no amount of silence could survive in its wake.

“We are getting our people to be more aware of the risk of engaging in sex with crystal meth (Chemsex, PNP, ParTy). In my opinion, it is up to us to reach out to our brothers and sisters in support. We have to remove stigma/shade from our interactions and express love and compassion.” Zhu encourages the use of the hashtag #takedowntina to facilitate to conversations to lead to awareness and recovery. “I also encourage those to follow @takedowntina on twitter to get more information about this epidemic.

“I urge us to utilize #TakedownTina to start conversations that could lead to awareness and recovery. I also encourage those to follow @takedowntina on Twitter to get more information about this epidemic."

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Now of course you all know that we couldn’t let Jacen out of our grasp without asking him about porn. This is our hot sex issue, after all! Our first inquiry was about whether or not his family knew about his work and if so, how they handled it.

“My family was shocked at first” he says, “I would assume it’s not the line of work they would prefer for me. I know they support me because of the work I do with being in adult entertainment, such as activism for Takedown Tina and being an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention (PrEP) and treatment (TASP).” Despite the fact that Jacen’s parents are religious, so it should come to no surprise that his profession doesn’t align with their faith. However, what's important is that “They do understand my journey and the message I have to provide. They always believe I have an anointing over my life that guides me to be able to “preach” the gospel.”

And if you’ve ever been curious as to what it's like to date while engaged in the field of adult entertainment, Jacen’s the guy to ask. “When I first started being featured in pornography I was interested in dating. I was still lost and full of excuses. After being in this industry I started to take a journey that brought me to the now, which is being open to dating.”

Sadly what Jacen initially discovered left a lot to be desired as many of the Beauxs he was interested in only saw him as a sexual object and weren’t interested in actually dating him. “I’ve heard many promises and unwillingness to visit me. I eventually caught on and started to disengage because I noticed I needed to work on myself and not live in a fantasy of possibilities.” Jacen admits that he’s currently in a better state of mind and not only knows what love is but how it should be shown. “My current boyfriend..."

HIS CURRENT BOYFRIEND
HIS CURRENT BOYFRIEND
HIS CURRENT BOYFRIEND

"...provides me with love and support. This wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t start trying something new in my recovery.” With regard to what he would like to see more of in the ever-entertaining world of porn, Jacen states that he’d like to see more diversity. “What I mean is more people of color, especially black men.”

Those of us who spend our days pushing papers from 9 to 5 know how important a work/life balance is. According to Jacen, porn is no different. “I tell those interested in adult entertainment that it’s work and you have to be mindful of that. We are actors playing a role and providing a fantasy. You have to acknowledge that you will make a few real friends and many pseudo friends. You have to be strong in real life to keep you humble and present.”

Jacen radiates sex, sincerity and commitment in the same way bismuth radiates its white, silver-pink hue. He’s not concerned with the popularity as much as he’s concerned with people developing an appreciation for the inside. This is illustrated in the work he does with TDT, and the PrEP Squad, in his commitment to his craft and in his willingness to share his experiences with those who will benefit from them the most. “What works for me might not work for you and that is okay. You don’t have to beat yourself up because that thing doesn’t work for you."

If you or anyone you know are ready to take the first steps toward kicking meth to the curb, you may follow this link which will connect you to a list of valuable resources. For more information on Jacen, and his work with D.C.'s PrEP Squad, click here. You can follow him on Instagram here and drool up and down his timeline on twitter here, which will also link you to @takedowntina.

Jeremy Carter