Talking Addiction, Recovery, And Lube With Rocco Steele
We sit down with the porn industry legend to chat about his many businesses, his struggles with addiction, Drag Race, and why he will never bottom on camera…
Rocco Steele calls himself an “accidental porn star” because he never wanted to work in porn. But the combination of peer pressure and dire straits paved a fateful path that would see Rocco Steele as one of the most – if not the most – recognized gay porn star on the planet.
This path was far from easy. Once upon a time in New York, Rocco worked in the retail corporate world, an industry he describes as “soul-sucking.” As an aging man in a business that values youth, his career became a daily source of stress and depression. Knowing something had to change, he took a leap of faith and quit his job.
During this transitional period, friends suggested he try porn, which Steele would decline over and over again. After enough pressure, he reluctantly agreed, and after shooting his first solo scene in 2014, his career took off and continued to ascend. Six years later, porn has become a mere fraction of the Rocco Steele brand.
IN spoke with Steele about his many businesses, his struggles with addiction, and why he will never bottom on camera.
Since starting your porn career, you’ve gotten into other business markets, including underwear, novelty sex toys, and now your own lubricant from Sliquid’s gay male brand, RIDE. How did this latest opportunity come about?
As a gay man of 55, I’ve used a lot of lube in my life and I need it to do two things: It needs to feel good for the bottom, and it needs to last so we can do it for a long time. When I first tried RIDE lubes, I loved the product. After six years of searching, I found a lubricant that I would proudly attach my name to.
RIDE ROCCO Silicone Lube contains a blend of three pharmaceutical-grade silicones, which makes it long-lasting. Our water-based lube uses seaweed extract to give it a slippery feel and help it last longer. It also has a rectal-friendly 6.0 pH level. As a top who believes in putting the bottom’s needs first, this is very important.
As a famously well-endowed top, what are some of key practices you recommend and abide by when using lube?
I’m a top who pays attention to my bottom. If he’s uncomfortable, then our session is going to be short-lived and not a good experience for either of us. I also have a bit of an ego – I want my bottoms to remember the experience and maybe even talk about it. This isn’t going to happen if the lube isn’t good or if the bottom is not properly lubed up.
My advice is pretty obvious: make sure not just the penis andthe hole are adequately lubed before insertion. I like to use a lube applicator or a syringe to squirt lube deep inside of my bottom. This usually ensures that insertion will be successful, especially for someone of my size.
After a bottom cleans out, his insides have been stripped of its natural lubricants. So it’s really important to make sure that he is lubricated properly. Trying to slide into a hole that’s not well-lubricated is going to be painful and may cause tears, which is going to take the bottom out of commission for awhile.
Has there ever been a scene where another performer can’t physically bottom for you?
Of all the scenes I’ve done over the years we’ve never had to call a scene because a bottom was unable to take me. There was one scene many years ago that I shot overseas where the bottom could only take about 1/3 of my penis. We kept going and completed the scene and now, years later, it’s often re-tweeted as being a fan favorite. I guess guys love to see the bottom struggling to take me. He was a really small guy and people love to see that difference in size, so I guess it didn’t bother people that he couldn’t take all of it.
You’re a confessed Drag Race fan, so I’m going to ask you a very difficult question: Who are your top three queens?
Oh no, this isn’t fair!I can’t possibly give you three. It’s like Sophie’s Choice. I’m going to give you my favorites but it’s going to be more than three.
I love Alaska because she’s funny AF and she put me in her music video. I love Shangela for coming back from a horrendous first attempt, almost winning All-Stars 3, and having one of the biggest mainstream careers. I love Ben de la Creme because she has integrity and I really respected what she did on All-Stars 3. I love Bob The Drag Queen because she is so true to her drag and knows who she is and doesn’t compromise. And finally, I love Trinity because of how she played the game – both her original season and in All-Stars 4. I loved watching her evolve, develop her humour and become a very funny comedy queen.
You identify as a strict top. Is there a reason you choose not to bottom?
You know, I really wish I enjoyed bottoming but I don’t. I know I’m missing out on a whole new world when it comes to sex. I have tried to bottom less than a handful of times in my life and every time I just clench my teeth and I can’t wait for it to be over. I’m not giving up on it. Maybe someday I’ll enjoy it. But one thing I will not do is bottom on film just for the sake of making some money. If I bottomed on camera, I would not enjoy it – and I don’t think that’s fair to the fans.
Rocco Steele is an uber-masculine persona. Everything from the basso profundo to the on-screen sexuality is conventionally masculine. Does the real Rocco have a more feminine side?
In this day and age, it’s hard to label what is masculine and what is feminine. I was raised by a mother and three sisters. It’s hard not to have a feminine side being around all of them in my formative years. The person everybody sees on camera and on stage is really who I am. I don’t try to turn on or turn up any masculinity. I’ve had a deep voice since I was 13-years-old. But under the exterior, I’m very sensitive – I’m a Cancer. I don’t feel comfortable saying one sex is more sensitive than another, but I am tough on the outside and sensitive on the inside. That’s all I’m going to say. I plead the fifth!
You’ve been clean and sober for over 20 years. Drug and alcohol abuse are particularly rampant among the LGBTQ+ community. Do you think your sexuality had anything to do with this excess?
People drink and use for different reasons. Some people do it strictly out of recreation. Others do it to escape or out of fear. And then there are some who do it out of an addiction. I was the latter two. I drank and did drugs to put me at ease because I was very insecure. I did not like who I was when I was younger. The alcohol and the drugs took the edge off so I can be more comfortable around people, especially gay men. Alcoholism runs in my family and I definitely have the disease of alcoholism. So when you couple that with my insecurities, I was doomed. Every time I started drinking or doing drugs, my disease kicked in and I couldn’t stop. This always got me into trouble. They always say 10 drinks is not enough and one is too many. That was definitely me. It transferred to cocaine as well, which allowed me to keep going all night and into the next day. I didn’t know how to turn it off.
What inspired your road to recovery?
I had just graduated from law school. I moved to New York City to take the bar exam and become a criminal defense lawyer. However, my alcoholism and drug addiction had something else in store for me. For the next five years it was a slow downward spiral. I was like a kid in a candy store. It was the early 90s in New York City. I was newly out of the closet as well. Towards the end, I noticed my life had stopped working for me. I wasn’t paying my bills. I almost got evicted a couple times. But I kept going. I kept drinking and doing drugs. I would wake up the next day and say “I’m never doing this again.” But I did. My life was really messy.
Then one night, it was a Monday night, a work night. I went out to the local bar in Greenwich Village, had a drink, and bought some coke off of the resident coke dealer. I closed the bar and went to the sex club after that. I got home at nine in the morning and had to be at work at 9:30 but fell asleep and missed work completely. I almost got fired. That night, I went to a 12-step meeting in my neighborhood and I’ve been sober ever since. That was 21 years ago.
What inspired me to get sober was my desire to stop drinking and have a better life. I knew my life wasn’t working anymore. I had a friend who had gotten sober two years prior and I watched his life change. I wanted that. I knew I had to stop drinking and using drugs to get it.
These days, you shoot maybe two to three scenes a year, often as a favor. As such, you get more control over what you shoot and who you shoot with. What type of qualities do you tend to look for in a shoot and in a partner?
I can confidently say in most – if not all – of my scenes, I have a connection with my partner. You will find passion in most of my scenes because I’m really into the partner. Once in a while it won’t be there but that’s because the director didn’t want it to be there. But nowadays it’s a requirement. I am a man of integrity and I won’t “phone in” a scene. I am in it 100%. I know I’m not making these scenes for me to get off. It’s for the viewer. It’s for the studio. But I have to commit in order to deliver something really amazing and to do that there has to be a spark and a passionate connection between me and my partner.
Last but not least, what does it take to please Rocco Steele sexually? Because inquiring minds want to know.
I am fairly simple when it comes to sex. Other than a little piss-play, I am not into fetishes really. I just enjoy fucking. I love an experienced bottom with a loose hole who lets me take control, and like I mentioned, there has to be passion. I love to kiss and look into the eyes of my bottom when I’m inside him. It helps me to read my bottom and know what I need to do more or less of. I am a top who puts his bottoms needs first and by doing so, sex becomes completely satisfying for me. I never have sex just to get off. I have my hand for that.