Plenty of men would think Leo Embers, a male porn star working here in Australia, is living the dream.
And granted, his day job of having sex with beautiful women on camera, though it surely has its drawbacks, beats spreadsheets and Zoom calls.
The difference between him and us regular mortals, however, is that Embers is something of an expert on sex. I know, I know—nobody is better in the sack than you, at least according to your lovingly reassuring wife or girlfriend.
But the reality is the reason Leo’s on set making love to beautiful women for a paycheque is that he's probably better at it than you are, at least while there's a camera rolling.
With that in mind, in Leo’s world, the typical issues around performance for men in the bedroom—coming too early, not at all, or failing to get a rise downstairs—go from embarrassing private moments with a loved one to full-blown professional catastrophes which won’t just disappoint, but could potentially prevent him from paying his bills.
So it stands to reason that Embers has a few ideas when it comes to techniques, mindsets and perspectives on sexual performance from which we could all perhaps glean some insight.
Lights, camera, action
“Take solace in the fact that even professional lovers like me get performance anxiety every now and then but still manage to have great sex in spite of these difficulties, and that means that you can too,” Embers begins.
He tells me the best advice he can give is to “free yourself from expectations”, to live in the moment and take time to explore everything sex can be with your partner, without trying to race to an orgasm.
“Remember when you were a teenager, and you could lose yourself to the all-encompassing thrill of simply making out for hours on end?” he asks.
“Try to recapture that feeling and forget about the endgame.”
Thinking fast and slow
The money shot is probably the most recognisable and pervasive porn trope of all time.
It should come as no surprise, then, that getting it right is very closely connected with Embers being paid in the end (that’s why it’s called the money shot, duh).
That means he absolutely cannot come too quickly—nor can he take too long. And if he starts losing an erection, that can put an indefinite hold on the whole production, which also means he walks home empty-handed.
It’s a lot of pressure for one penis.
He tells me how you can train yourself to last longer or get there faster – depending on what your issue might be.
“Find what turns you on, learn to recognise the signs of your orgasm, and control it,” he says.
“The good news is that the best way to do this is a lot of fun. You get to experiment with jerking off!
“Feel your orgasm coming too quick? Experiment with different strokes and pressures to hold it at bay without losing your rhythm. Feel it takes too long to come? Find that sweet spot and hit it.”
Tools of the trade
“If you have a physical or even a mental limitation, such as an injury or uncooperative penis, focus on what you can do, what you can feel, and explore what makes you feel best,” says Embers.
“Normalise the use of tools in the bedroom. Sex doesn’t have to end when you come, and vibrators (when properly charged) aren't limited by our hydraulics or the ticking countdown of our orgasm.
"Don’t see this as an attack, but more as a boon. You no longer have to stress and can simply enjoy yourself.
“There are many other ways for you to please your partner if you come too early or fail to rise to the occasion.”
I ask Embers if he’s struggled with staying hard—he admits it has happened before.
“When it has happened to me, it's been on set because I'm under pressure. I'm being paid to be hard if it's not happening, everyone's day stops,” Embers tells me.
“The difficulties you face might be age or health-related. Regardless of the why, it doesn't make you any less of a man.
“I’ll sometimes overcome this with medication while on a professional set, but if this were to happen with a partner, or even during an amateur shoot with a friend, I prefer to simply slow down.
"Kiss for a little longer. Grind your bodies together. Run your fingertips over their body and appreciate the moment ... it gets me ready to go in no time.”
Embers explains he and his colleagues regularly use lubricant, and they always have something on hand to help maintain their flags at full mast.
“Lubricant does not mean she is not attracted to you,” he tells me, before stating the use of little blue pills don't make you any less of a man.
“Trust me, porn stars use both on set regularly.
“If you’re having trouble with your erection, approach medication cautiously after speaking to your doctor so that you understand and respect it,” he tells me.
Sex-ed doesn’t end in school
“Due to the taboo of talking about sex, the myth is that when it comes time to get down and dirty you are meant to instinctively know what to do, and if you don’t, then you must have something wrong with you,” says Embers.
“Which is ridiculous, because if to want to get good at anything else, it takes study and practice. So why should sex be any different?
Even though Embers makes his bread and butter in the porn industry, he acknowledges that unrealistic depictions of sex can lead young men astray in the bedroom.
“A lot of people get their sex education from porn, which is troubling because porn often doesn't portray real sex or positions that are easy or feel good.
“Trust me, I once spent 15 minutes on my tippy toes trying to mentally force blood to my penis, which was struggling to stay at full mast even with medicinal help.
“That being said, I find this is less prevalent in amateur porn, and I’m personally experimenting more with ‘real sex’ on tape.”
He encourages me to read widely, keep experimenting and find what works for me.
“There's a lot of information and more importantly misinformation on the internet regarding sex.
“The best advice I can give is to take everything you read or watch with a grain of salt, experiment in a safe environment, keep what works for you, and discard the rest.
"The best part about learning about sex is practice.”