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The Rise and Fall of the Monster 

Gay porn star Michael Brandon goes from meth addict to antidrug poster boy and, tragically, back to meth addict.

Wednesday, Oct 1 2008
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It's agreed that the reporter will telephone Brandon in a couple of days to start the interviews. If he doesn't answer, just keep calling, he says. Sometimes he gets paranoid. Sometimes he just needs a few days. Sometimes he just disappears.

In the meantime, the reporter needs to learn more about Brandon's shadowy past. In the late '80s and early '90s, Brandon worked at a bar in Orange County called the Frat House, and it turns out his first boyfriend, David Leony, still works there. Through conversations with Leony and a study of Brandon's interviews with the media, a basic picture of his history comes into view.

Back then, his name was Michael Phillips. He grew up with three brothers and a sister in Santa Maria, a city in Santa Barbara County known for wine and barbecue. After graduating high school, he worked as a regional manager for Taco Bell and married his high school sweetheart. They divorced after Brandon decided he preferred the company of men.

In the four years he and Leony spent together, they liked to go out dancing at clubs, and often traveled to Hawaii and Tijuana. In 1988, Brandon quit his fast-food job and became a bartender at the Frat House. Then he started hanging out with a fast crowd of meth-using gay men.

Brandon was very private about his drug use, Leony said. He would disappear for days at a time, and eventually stopped bartending. Then things started to go missing, like Leony's leather jacket. One time, while on drugs, Brandon fell off a roof and broke an arm and both legs. Every cop in town knew who he was, Leony recalls. Eventually, meth tore the couple apart. "He's the only boyfriend I ever cried about when we broke up," Leony said. "I just couldn't do a damn thing about it."

Though he didn't tell Leony back then, Brandon entered the world of pornography in 1989 after answering an ad in Frontiers magazine and interviewing with Los Angeles agent Johnny Johnson. Brandon's Dirk Diggler–esque 10-inch cock and bright blue eyes made him a shoo-in; he quickly wound up starring in two films, Ranger Nick and Air Male.

But then the drug took over. Orange County court records reveal that Brandon was convicted in 1990 of possession of controlled substances, and again in 1997 of possession with intent to sell and served those three years in state prison.

Upon his release in 1999, Brandon found rehab, kicked the habit, and got back in touch with Johnson. He began working for a variety of porn studios, including Raging Stallion in San Francisco. At the time, one of its owners, Chris Ward, had been pondering something new and different — a more "gonzo" style of man-on-man sex. Brandon reminisces on his Web site that Ward wanted it to be "aggressive to the point of brutality," and for that, he needed dominating tops with big dicks. "I found my top in you," Ward told him.

The legend of Michael Brandon was born.


To understand Brandon's appeal, you need only consult his fans on the Internet. A quick search of various Web sites discussing Brandon, Monster, and his work revealed the following comments:

"If I could spend an hour alone with just one porn star, there's no doubt it would be Michael Brandon," one wrote. "Michael Brandon almost drips confidence. He knows his way around a cock, and he knows exactly how to talk to a man who is sucking on Monster ... He's warm, caring, kind, considerate, really down to earth guy. Plus, the sex we had will be engraved in my mind for life!"

Those fans saw a new, totally sober Brandon. The guy they knew was a career-driven rising star, but also a sweetheart who had time to answer every piece of fan e-mail. He had a fan-focused Web site, www.xxxmichaelbrandon.com, where he posted free photos and videos, and a journal seemingly written by Monster. The site received the Cybersocket Web Award for Best Porn Site in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Between 1999 and 2006, Brandon starred in more than 150 films, including Pokin' in the Boys Room, LumberJacked, and Ass Pounding Hunks II. In 2002, he became a partial owner of Raging Stallion and began producing films, and in 2003 he made his directing debut — all rare and difficult transitions for most porn stars.

Brandon's onscreen work gained recognition in 2002, when he won Performer of the Year at the GAYVN Awards (essentially the Oscars of gay porn). The next year, he tied with Colton Ford for the title, making history as the only guy to win twice in a row. In the 2002 Adult Erotic Video Awards (aka the Grabbys), he was named best performer, and the next year he made the Grabby Wall of Fame. In 2005, he received a Grabby for Hottest Cock. Finally, in 2006, he was inducted into the GAYVN Hall of Fame.

A skilled self-promoter, Brandon was also able to turn his penis into a celebrity. Monster — so named by an admirer — has its own e-mail address and video subdivision at Raging Stallion, Monster Bang, which has put out Trouser Trout, Tailpipes, and Ass Quest I and II, among others. In 2004, Brandon created the Monster dildo, which comes in four variations — fleshtone or ice-colored, and vibrating or not. On one Web site, customers have posted ecstatic reviews, complaining only that the dildo is so big that "there isn't enough alcohol in the world to loosen me up that much." Brandon has admitted in several interviews that he owns one, and is fond of saying, "I now know what it is like to get fucked by me."

About The Author

Ashley Harrell

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