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"You go camp that long without sex," he says with an odd, straight-faced chortle. "No, no, no, it does not happen."
His first sexual encounter came during A school, which is the schooling that follows boot camp. He met a sailor who sensed his sexual preferences. "So my first time was in the study room while the petty officer looked the other way."
Valentino started stripping while stationed in Maryland. He won an amateur go-go night in New York. "You'd win $200 if you're the top one there that night," he says. "I won that four times. It was in a gay bar, but nobody knew. In the Navy, you get really good at [stealing time]. You just don't say anything. I never mentioned anything about homosexuality. I always did what I had to do."
He says he did his first amateur porno while stationed in Florida. "I just did it. It was fun."
So Valentino was booted from the Navy, and now he says he misses it. He explains this in such a way that suggests he was on the receiving end of a raw deal. But where's the bias when you've stripped, made amateur porn, and had homosexual trysts with other servicemen?
In more candid moments, even Valentino admits his complaints about the Navy are only a pose. "I can't talk bad about the military. I can only talk about their exiting process. The fact of the matter is that the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy really is not real. I had so much fun in the military. Including when I was in A school. I thought, 'My God, I'm never gonna have sex. I have never had more sex in my entire life than when I was in A school, in the study rooms."
If nothing else, the Navy represented certain latitude, if not liberation, for Valentino. Home life had unraveled, as it tends to do when one comes up gay in a strict Christian household. "I wanted to spread my wings," he says. "My stepfather and I were fighting all the time. I thought I was a big shot. But I was always a good kid. I wasn't in much trouble or anything. My stepdad kicked me out. As far as I'm concerned, I'm a normal guy, I grew up in a normal house."
Valentino says his real dad is an Air Force vet who later became a Phoenix cop, and now lives on a ranch in Arkansas. His parents divorced before he was 10. He says he was born and raised in Manhattan and moved to Phoenix when he was 6. Dad is Sicilian and mom is Filipino. He describes his family only as large and says that he is close to one of his sisters who lives in the Valley. He says his family totally disapproves of his lifestyle and porno career. His parents were unavailable for comment.
"After my father left the military, he wound up a cop here in Phoenix," Valentino explains. "My father and I are not on speaking terms. He disowned me. He did not like my sexuality; he did not approve of my life. He told me I wouldn't make it through, and I did.
"My mother is the most perfect person in the world. I mean literally, I do have the most perfect mom in the world. My most fond memories are of dancing with my mom, throwing my mom around the kitchen, and she'd be doing it too. And times we would sit on the kitchen floor coloring on that big butcher paper. I did have the Brady Bunch mom. My mother doesn't think I'm evil; she thinks that I am just sinning right now.
"According to my stepfather," he continues, "I am going to hell. My mom doesn't believe I am going to hell, but everybody else in my family does, except, surprisingly enough, my grandmother and grandfather."
He says his grandparents are green to certain aspects of his life; for instance, they are unaware that he's been romping around on sweaty porno sets for money.
"I don't care what they think, really," he says, in a tone edging toward spite. "It's my life; I don't give a shit anymore. My friends are the only ones that help me."
On one hand, he claims his was an upbringing of privilege, yet a few sentences later he'll complain that his dad wasn't forthcoming with ample child support to allow his mother to purchase enough milk for the family. He calls it a "normal" upbringing, but his family loathes his sexuality or believes he is living in sin. His grandparents have no idea he is hustling and making gay porn.
Modern porn is such that many of its players define their self-worth by how famous they think they can be, how much cash they figure they can earn. Valentino is entering that scene with a seemingly similar mindset. When he flies into L.A. for a porn shoot, he is chauffeured about in a limo. He stays in killer digs. There is an easy illusion at play, one that celebrates a particularly facile and dismal hue of celebrity.