Jack Smith grabs hold of Asian-American gay porn entrepreneur, fitness model and sex icon Peter Le – and has to be pried off him…
After exploding on to the scene in 2001, Peter Le has accumulated a display cabinet groaning with awards for bodybuilding, modelling, gay porn production and e-commerce. Despite having to push back against prejudice (his chosen career led to him being abruptly dropped from the cast of Asian-American Jersey Shore rip-off, K-Town), Le has gone on to become the biggest Asian gay porn star in history – and a cultural icon in China. But he insists it’s not all about him. His stated mission is much grander: to redefine the Asian male as a dominant sexual force and unleash him on the world.
Born in San Jose, California, to Vietnamese parents, Le admits that, growing up, he had never even considered modelling as a career. He speaks of a fairly typical home environment, where love and affection were communicated with restraint and modesty – possibly the reason why, in person, he is disarmingly genuine and low-key.
After abandoning a psychology degree to focus on his passion – personal training, a subject on which he has written several bestselling books – Le had his first brush with adult entertainment with an October 2001 spread in Playgirl, becoming one of the first Asian models to appear in its pages. Despite the shoot boosting his confidence, he didn’t feel embraced by the modelling industry. “I always felt that Asian models had to push themselves harder,” says Le. “I was told that I wouldn’t go far because I was Asian. So I wanted to break the Asian stereotypes – and there are a lot out there.”
These stereotypes – that Asian men are feminised, passive and non-sexual – followed him wherever he went. It was only by carving out a niche, first as a solo adult performer and then as the owner of America’s leading Asian gay porn website, that he finally created his own battleground upon which to challenge these prejudices. “Back in the 70s, when white gay men saw two Asian men having sex, they called it ‘lesbian sex’,” he says. “Talk about degrading! But PeterFever [Le’s website] features five-foot-four Asian guys topping muscular, six-foot-one Caucasians. We’re showing that this happens and that there are options out there. Asian men are sexy – and I want us in the spotlight.”
Le’s wish to change the image of Asian male sexuality led to his gay porn miniseries – The Asiancy – which follows a multi-ethnic group of implausibly attractive and relentlessly promiscuous entrepreneurs. There’s a plot, characters and cliffhanger set pieces. And lots and lots of sex. Despite his success and a string of adult industry awards, Le still struggles to find Asian models willing to be on camera. While he would like to source models from China, multiple barriers – including language and social attitudes – make this a challenge, though he constantly receives applications from Chinese men, many of whom are fans.
Actually going to China allowed Le to discover a completely new gay culture in which his race is as much an asset as his looks. Confounding aggressive government restrictions on both making and viewing porn in China, the vast majority of Le’s fanbase is in China – especially in Hong Kong. “It’s my second largest following,” says Le. On his first visit to China, he says he was overwhelmed by the response he received: “I felt really welcome,” he says, “like I was a part of something bigger. I get a lot of positive feedback from my fans there.”
The support and love shown by Le’s Chinese fans has convinced him he needs to learn Putonghua too. “A lot of guys are nervous,” he says. “They hover after a performance. Maybe they don’t see me as a real person, because I’m on the internet. But I want to be good to my fans and leave them with a good impression.”
So, is Le gay, bi or straight? Le prefers not to commit himself to one place on the spectrum. “The public wants to know whether you’re straight or gay – but they can’t define what bi is. My straight friends think I’m too gay and my gay friends think I’m too straight. Let’s leave it at that.” Spoken like a true enigma…
Peter Le’s official website is at peterfever.com. It is not even remotely safe for work.