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“I have something for you”: The Erotic Habitus and Class Situatedness of the Pizza Boy Trope in Gay Pornography


Steven Dashiell

In modern pornography, the delivery boy (or, more specifically, the pizza boy) is a common trope. Almost always cast as a hapless cisgender male, the pizza boy represents someone both expected and unexpected—bringing something that has ostensibly been ordered but possessing both a bearing and a willingness for sex that the audience is supposed to recognize as the catalyst for the sexual act. The pizza boy speaks to the convenience of the plot, a mystery guest who is not a regular partner and is thus able to break the monotony that is linked with intact couples’ sex in pornography. In addition, the pizza boy allows the customer to breach the taboo of anonymous sex without venturing out for it. Overall, the delivery boy might exist as one of the most cliched and expected plots in a pop culture understanding of pornography and is therefore easily recognized. This is true in both heterosexual and homosexual porn. However, the role of the pizza boy represents a specific social space in terms of class and gender, which situates any erotics that are associated with the use of the imagery.


This article examines that class–gender intersection in the portrayal of the pizza boy in gay porn. I use the concept of erotic habitus to analyze ways the pizza boy is expected to behave and be configured in a sexual scene (Green 2008). To investigate this, I examine four separate scenes centering on the pizza boy and use critical discourse analysis to consider how the character trope demonstrates an erotic habitus in four distinct ways: embodiment, transgression, negotiation, and submission. The role of the pizza boy as a working-class man who places himself in unknown situations creates the need for a “tough” masculinity that must still be submissive to the customer who is his economic superior and employer for the presumed delivery act. To investigate the presence of erotic habitus, I use a critical thematic analysis of actions and behaviors that are present in multiple depictions of the pizza boy. To consider discourses and visual presentations in the videos, I use thematic analysis to articulate the emergence and analysis of erotic practices (Braun and Clarke 2013). This article’s methodology is inherently critical because it interrogates both the disarming superficiality of the pornographic scenes and the positioning of gender and class tropes in the portrayal of gayness. In short, this article identifies how the pizza boy in gay porn represents a power relationship that highlights masculine-centric beliefs about power and authority because differences in class status shape the scenarios.

The Pizza Boy in Porn


Pornography represents a media space where fantasy, desire, and visualization meet. In porn, the viewer gets to see sex acted out by others, and the utilization of multiple camera angles allows the watcher to choose to be either a voyeur or an imagined participant. As Cain Todd notes, pornography with a storyline allows the watcher “to imagine that some situation or other is taking place and to view the actors as fictional characters in the drama” (2012, 104). Pornography tends to follow a “traditional narrative structure” that includes a setup of circumstance and an act of sexual behavior leading to both a literal and physical climax (Church Gibson and Kirkham 2014, 48). Interestingly, the narrative and fantasy allow for a very specific scene conclusion with the end of the sex; there does not need to be a resolution of the delivery transaction if there is a fantastical reason for the sex. For example, if a plumber arrives to repair a sink and is then seduced by the homeowner, there is no need to dwell on whether the sink is eventually fixed. Thereby, the insertion of a random stranger, as a subject for anonymous sex, becomes plausible and common. Thus, we have the trope of the pizza boy.


The pizza boy serves as an easy explanation for the introduction of a sexy, and willing, sexual partner. Notably, “occurrences like a pizza delivery provide an instant and uncomplicated occasion for intercourse” (Fleishman 2021, 276). Zwicky speaks to the significance of the pizza boy:

The figure is a package of symbolic content and associations, among them: the desirable youth; the delivery figure, someone who comes to your door bearing pleasurable goods for money; pizza as an American cultural emblem of warm informal social associations; and a cluster of associations of food with sex. (2017)

He goes on to point out that there are four characteristics that speak to the allure of the pizza boy: (1) they are young, sexually desirable men, (2) they deliver things, which can be a proxy for sex work, (3) pizza is seen as a clearly American food, and its delivery represents the all-American man, and (4) they create a connection between food and sex. Regardless of sexual orientation, the pizza boy (almost always a cisgender male) is placed into the space of a customer who is at home. Given the power relations between customer and server, this scenario puts the individual at home in more of a position to initiate sex. This is notable in cases where the pizza boy visits a woman, as it bucks expected norms of sexual congress, as “he would be expected to make the first move. But the situation—he’s delivering a pizza, not chatting to a woman at a bar—makes it inappropriate for him to do so” (Heck 2021, 15).


In the case of women in pornography, the introduction of the pizza boy allows for a plausible rationale for the sexual voraciousness of women. The sexual setup can be distilled down to a story in which “a pizza delivery boy arrives at a house where an older lady proceeds to take advantage of him” (Todd 2012, 104). She has the agency to do so because, as a woman in pornography, she is understood to desire sex, something that is not readily acknowledged in mainstream society (Heck 2021, 18). Men do not suffer this strange double standard; in gay pornography, men will engage in having sex with the pizza boy because they are sexually aroused (“horny”) and the arrival of the delivery boy is fortuitous (“convenient”). The setup does not have to lean on the nymphomaniac stereotype that is hailed in heterosexual porn.


However, while convenient and ever-present, the sexual hook of the pizza boy is not roundly loved or appreciated. Indeed, common mockery of pornography or its threadbare plots leading to sex is punctuated by the pizza boy trope (Marks 2018, 20). Comedians have used the pizza boy imagery in pornography spoofs as a symbol of the ridiculousness of the plots. There is also the notion that storylines involving pizza boys and characters in other servile roles are “breaking the conventions of class” when sex involves parties of different social standings (Cusak 2017, 50). After all, those who are employed in delivery jobs are assumed to be working class, while the customer can be of any social standing. These delivery personnel are present at the locations to get paid, and they are getting sexually involved with the person who is paying. Is this then some form of latent prostitution? The thrill for some who consider the motivations of the pizza boy—is he doing it for the money or for sexual satisfaction—makes the circumstance murky, complex, and all the more sexually provocative.


Gay Pornography and Constructs of Desire

Pornography has a complicated history in the gay community. Jeffrey Escoffier notes that for most of the twentieth century, gay porn “was produced and distributed under ‘black market’ conditions … Only after the gay movement had gained momentum were companies formed explicitly to produce gay male pornography” (Escoffier 2003, 534). Not only did this mean that finding copies of gay pornography was difficult, but being an actor in the industry was potentially harmful to one’s social connections, if not one’s legal status. In recent years, the growth of the gay porn industry has led to an explosion of content, with digital offerings subsuming the formerly popular videotapes and DVDs. Today, the gay porn industry is a “highly developed infrastructure of production companies, distribution networks and technical services” (Escoffier 2003, 535). This growth has only continued with the creation of actor-produced content, such as OnlyFans (Wang 2021). No longer do actors need studios or production companies to reap the rewards of what has become a lucrative media field. Moreover, since actor-produced content focuses on sex, there is no need for the setup (a scenario to draw the viewer in), but because certain scenarios are so engrained in the minds of viewers and creators, common tropes (like the pizza boy) regularly appear.
Additionally, there is the particular importance of gay pornography in the social development of many gay and bisexual men.


“Pornography probably has a more significant role in the life of gay men than it does among comparable groups of heterosexual men. Gay men often turn to gay pornography for cultural and sexual validation” (Escoffier 2003, 535). Because many young gay men live cloistered lives when they are in the closet (or others around them are), they lack positive or affirming sexual imagery. As such, “gay pornography is recognized as serving a more instructive role for gay and bisexual men, given that they lack positive and non-stereotypical presentations in most of popular culture” (Dashiell 2023, 29). Gay pornography can create a place where the desire for other men is supported, or at least not demonized. However, porn is still evocative to the point of absurdity, as “a fundamental tenet of the porn is that desire cannot ever be fully satisfied” (Mercer 2017, 84). 


There is a notion that men need sex, which is why that idea is ever-present in gay pornography. Additionally, “the ‘naturalness’ of gay sex and gay desire, in part by reframing ostensibly heterosexual discourses of romance and the romantic,” implies that the potential sex act could occur anywhere but is more comfortably expressed in traditional spaces where intercourse might occur (Mercer 2017, 89). Thereby, gay pornography is hamstrung to heterosexual desire and heterosexual pornography, and there is a connection between the tropes even though masculinity takes a different role in gay sexual media. Gay pornography borrows heavily from what is seen as “popular” in heterosexual pornography, using similar plot conceptualizations that are often simply gender-swapped, lest the creators lean into themes that are highly associated with gay sex, such as glory holes. The strategic appropriation of heterosexual pornography themes, however, is done in a manner that allows men to express masculine desire, and it often conveys the power differentials associated with gender difference in heterosexual porn in alternative ways. This distinction is commonly done through physical difference such as size but can be accomplished through clear distinctions in the occupations, and thus social class, of the sexual partners (Young 2017, 181).


Masculinity and the Working-Class Man


At the center of this conversation about erotic placement is masculinity, given the tendency of pornography to appeal to the male gaze. While there is much discussion and debate about the definitions of masculinity, the most common consensus is around the definition provided by Raewyn Connell, seeing masculinity as a configuration of practices that are directly associated with gender and embodied considerations (1999): thus, the things that society recognizes as what physically men do, or are expected to do, adhere to a general expectation of masculinity. As many others have discussed, these practices are not always positive, nor are they universal, but norms associated with manhood are useful in deconstructing the erotic sense of the pizza boy in gay pornography specifically. After all, gay pornography is a space where “the signifiers of dominant, patriarchal and heterosexual masculinity have been reappropriated, hybridised and eroticised” (Mercer 2017, 108). A polarization between types of men is often linked to their sexual positioning, so a value for what is stereotyped as a straight man (assertive, unemotional, sports-crazy, and goal-oriented) pervades gay pornography (Escoffier 2003). The more rugged and dominant the man, the more he can capture the desired aggressiveness of the insertive partner, or top, in gay pornography.


While seen as sexually appealing and sexually virile, the straight man is not presented as intellectually or emotionally astute. Indeed, “the figure of the foolish straight man in gay porn constructs a straight masculinity that is rather brittle and unstable; the … straight man is subjected … to mockery, humiliation and even in some cases contempt” (Mercer 2017, 119). This can be seen in a common pornographic trope of the gay porn site, which depicts straight men who succumb to gay sex, clumsily, while their wives or girlfriends are nearby and could easily discover the sexual act. When confronted by the women during their involvement in this “situational homosexuality,” as Escoffier calls it, the men feign ignorance and then continue the act once the woman leaves the room (2003). Hence, the level of gullibility associated with the straight man in gay porn defies believability (Kiss, Morrison, and Parker 2019).
Along with straight masculinity, pornography essentializes working-class masculinity. In gay pornography specifically, “a version of white working-class masculinity is produced as an object of erotic investment for viewers that is culturally very specific … irrespective of their class origin” (Mercer 2017, 158). The working-class man has several aspects that, while not ideal, tend to be directly associated with masculinity. The category of employment known as “gig work” or delivery is often connected to working-class men, given “its dominance by (often young) men, in which some of the stereotypical virtues of embodied masculinity—speed, endurance, risk-taking and geographical orientation skills” are deemed important (McDowell 2020, 977). Further, there is a level of danger involved in delivering to strangers, in their space, which can reinforce the masculinity of the delivery boy. It delineates from other low-skilled industries, like retail, which are commonly seen as “servicing” the customer, which feminizes the work (Nixon 2009, 306–309). The erotic habitus surrounding the pizza boy as a working-class delivery boy serves to insulate the masculinity of the actor, so he can always be seen as “manly.” While the job is servile, the inherent threat of danger represented by delivering to unknown customers, which creates the potential of the sexual situation in pornography, affirms the manliness of the worker.


Erotic Habitus


The concept of erotic habitus clarifies ways in which individuals in pornographic media communicate aspects of class and gender in a sexualized manner. Erotic habitus is based on the original work of Pierre Bourdieu, with habitus representing “the way society becomes deposited in persons in the form of lasting dispositions, or trained capacities and structured propensities to think, feel and act in determinant ways, which then guide them” (Waquant 2005, 316). Erotic habitus applies the original concept of habitus in a manner that can illuminate sexual selves and culture:

Erotic habitus is a socially constituted complex of dispositions, appreciations, and inclinations arising from objective historical conditions that mediate the formation and selection of sexual scripts. The concept rests on the principle that sexual desire is oriented to the social world through historically specific erotic habitus that differentially invest particular objects with erotic meaning, while rendering other objects neuter. (Green 2008, 614) 


Erotic habitus, then, encompasses beliefs, actions, norms, and ideas that societies have regarding sexual activity, all heavily based on ideas that have existed for generations concerning what is “right” in terms of sexual congress. Erotic habitus represents both the performance of these actions and the sense that these sexual actions are what the average person would see as normal. Erotic habitus sets an expectation for how sexual situations will go; for example, foreplay will precede any sexual penetration. As Green notes, the idea of erotic habitus results because, while humans have sexual desire, what that desire looks like is determined by the social world. Therefore, an individual in a certain society would “read” certain situations as sexual because of the erotic habitus. In Green’s view, an understanding of erotic habitus is critical because there are very few scenarios in which one will simply indicate a desire to have sex or what role they would play in sexual circumstances. Components of erotic habitus provide this information.


The embodied pizza-boy concept reflects how men cast in this role engage in sex. Habitus investigated in instances of taking the role of pizza boy involves dispositions and behaviors that are unconsciously done or realized. For example, in a gay porn video, a performer dropping their towel (which would likely initiate sex) reflects contemporary erotic habitus, enacted in the film as it would seem plausible. Gay pornography creates erotic spaces that men use to resolve a tough, working-class masculinity with the oftentimes submissive role required by the pizza boy in gay pornography. The erotic habitus themes of embodiment, transgression, negotiation, and submission play into the presentation of the pizza boy, and these examples of erotic habitus are mediated by class-related expectations of the man in that role, to varying degrees in each performance.


Pizza Boy Scenes


I selected four scenes that actively use the pizza boy theme and were longer than ten minutes.

The Pizza Boy: He Delivers was produced by Catalina Video, which was eventually bought by Falcon Studios. It was released in 1986 and directed by William Higgins, one of the most famous gay porn directors. Only one scene in this video follows the “pizza boy delivering” concept. It stars customer Steve Henson and pizza boy Troy Ramsey. Henson invites Ramsey in to eat pizza. (Ramsey’s character already knew the customer would want sex due to a prior conversation about Henson’s character at the pizza parlor between the boys.) During the meal, Henson “accidentally” spills wine on Ramsey, which moves their interaction to the bathroom and leads to sex. This is recognized as the first “pizza boy” film in gay porn.

Just the Tip was produced by Next Door Studios and released in August of 2015. The film was directed by Rocco Fallon and stars Mark Long and James Dickson. The premise involves Long starring as himself and Dickson as the pizza delivery boy who is shocked that his newest customer is one of his favorite porn actors. Long takes in the adulation and, given the attractive pizza boy, engages in sex with him. Of the four films investigated, it is the only one that uses condoms.

Pizza Delivery was produced by Next Door Studios and released in February 2020. The film was directed by Walden Woods and stars Anthony Moore and Jackson Cooper. The film features Moore as the sexually forward pizza delivery boy, who is met at the door by a barely clothed Cooper. Moore makes a provocative approach to Cooper, which leads to them having sex. 

Str8 Chaser: Pizza Delivery was produced by Reality Dudes, a studio owned by MindGeek (a company that owns the well-known The film was released in 2021 and stars Nic Sahara and Paul Wagner. This POV (point of view) porn film has an unseen customer (Wagner) invite Sahara, the pizza delivery boy, into his place under the pretense of his wallet being inside. Finding out that the pizza boy needs money, Wagner proceeds to get Sahara to take off various pieces of clothing (for cash) and, finally, perform sexually.



One aspect of erotic habitus that is evident is embodiment, which is the form or “total package” of the pizza boy that can be examined in two ways. First, to be a “pizza boy,” one must be a cisgender male who is younger, which conforms to Western societal and heterosexist norms about who is in a delivery role. Second, the actors who are portraying a pizza boy must have some type of cultural artifacts to mark them as pizza boys. Someone coming to a door and saying to a customer, “I have a delivery,” is not enough to convey the image and therefore meet the erotic habitus related to the role. For a customer (or audience member) to be enticed by the pizza boy, the embodiment of that trope must be convincing. It is a performance—not of acting skills, but of the markers audiences expect of someone who is delivering the goods to the customer, to further the fantasy.


To effectively embody the role, the first requirement involves gender and age. In all four case studies, the men who play the role of pizza boy appear to be cisgender males, and they tend to be younger. This is not to say they are younger (or physically smaller) than their customers, but in the scene from The Pizza Boy: He Delivers, there is a clear size difference (and implied age difference) between the customer and the delivery boy. Pizza boy Troy Ramsey is smaller, shorter, and more boyish than customer Steve Henson, even though Henson is by no means “old.” As the paying customer, Henson is someone who, through physical differences, is clearly the person who is going to take charge of the sexual situation. Similarly, in Pizza Delivery, customer Jackson Cooper is taller than pizza boy Anthony Moore, although they seem closer in age. However, Moore has distinctly boyish features, which he can use to entice the equally sexual Cooper. In Str8 Chaser: Pizza Delivery, audiences never fully see Wagner, but they are encouraged to believe he is older due to his commanding presence and control over the more submissive and boyish Nic Sahara. Lastly, the contrast between pizza boy James Dickson and Troy Ramsey in Just the Tip is like the physical contrast in The Pizza Boy: He Delivers: a smaller, more youthful pizza boy with a buff customer. It is necessary to mark the boy as a “boy” to make his service role in the film scenario more believable.

Additionally, there need to be cultural artifacts that visibly mark the person delivering as a pizza boy. In all four cases, there are indicators of their pizza boy role. The pizza boys wear uniforms—shirts that mark them as employees. While it is a striped polo for Ramsey in The Pizza Boy: He Delivers, audiences are informed by previous scenes of other pizza boys that this is indeed the uniform of the pizzeria where they work. For both Anthony Moore in Pizza Delivery and Dickson in Just the Tip, they wear shirts that mark them as employees of “Next Door Pizza,” a fictional company that shares the name of the production company. In Str8 Chaser, Nic Sahara wears a red shirt and matching hat; while not labeled as a pizza company, it is a close approximation to the uniform viewers can associate with the company Pizza Hut. The other artifact all four have is a pizza, or at least a pizza box, to complete the imagery of the pizza boy. The presence of the pizza box primarily fulfills a theatrical need to make the situation more reminiscent of a delivery. In all of the case studies, there is only one pizza, meaning that the residence will only have one person, or at most two people. This sets the stage for a more intimate, and less guarded, potential interaction. However, by itself, the presence of the pizza boy does not constitute enough to start a sexual scene. Contrary to spoofs and parodies, there must be some agentic act—a transgression—that creates the circumstance for sex.



Transgression involves something more than the normal plot twist that would occur in pornography. Commonly in movies, some circumstance occurs to indicate sexual interest or desire, often with the chance meeting of two perfect strangers or two people who know each other “trying something different.” In terms of the pizza boy trope, the transgression is a circumstance that changes what would be a normal transactional circumstance into a sexual one. With delivery services, encounters occur at the door; the people who deliver rarely come in. Ultimately, there needs to be some reason, usually not sexual, that brings the pizza boy into the residence to create the possibility of sex. Often, this circumstance will be unbelievable, suggesting a hapless, gullible pizza boy who enters a situation that turns into sex. However, it still must occur and, if not believable, it must be plausible enough to allow the viewer to accept that sex is about to commence.

The transgression differs in all four case studies. In Just the Tip, the transgression involves the pizza boy James Dickson knowing customer Mark Long and recognizing him as a porn actor. Because of this, and the way Dickson is fawning, audiences can believe that sex will indeed occur. In Pizza Delivery, the fact that pizza boy Anthony Moore is being provocative at the door is enough of a transgression; in the scene, he plucks a pepperoni off the pizza and seductively eats it in front of Jackson Cooper. This demonstration of sexual attraction and willingness creates the belief that he would enter the house. Troy Ramsey in The Pizza Boy: He Delivers already knows that customer Steve Henson is interested in sex; Ramsey and a fellow pizza boy had discussed Henson offering one of the pizza boys money for a blowjob. Thus, when Ramsey delivers the pizza and is invited in on a threadbare reason to share the pizza, Ramsey cannot get in quick enough. Therefore, Henson’s clumsy spilling of wine on Ramsey’s pants is all that is necessary to instigate the sex that soon occurs. In all three of these scenes (The Pizza Boy: He Delivers, Pizza Delivery, and Just the Tip), there is sexual interest already, and the prelude to sex is met before the pizza boys ever cross the threshold.

The fourth case is a bit less believable, but it involves what could be seen as transgression in stages. In Str8 Chaser: Pizza Delivery, unseen customer Paul Wagner meets pizza boy Nic Sahara at the door. He then complains that he has left his wallet in the apartment and invites Sahara to come in. This leads to Sahara sitting down and discussing his low pay and how he needs more money. Wagner convinces the pizza boy to eventually engage in sex for various amounts of money. Here, the initial transgression (a forgotten wallet) does not quite meet the metric for a transgression, but as soon as customer Paul Wagner determines the pizza boy’s financial need, it is only a matter of time before sex work becomes a point of discussion. Notably, in this film, just like The Pizza Boy: He Delivers, money seems to be an initial motivator. The gig-work dimension of pizza delivery and the characters’ differing class-related economic statuses are instigators to breaking norms.



Given the topic of pizza boys and the transactional practice of tipping, it might seem natural that negotiation is a topic of discussion. However, negotiation serves as a proxy for sexual discussion of position. Without ever truly discussing the sex act, the dialogue that occurs between the two individuals in the scene cements that something will occur and the roles that will be served. Negotiation in the pizza boy scenario is like the transgression in that there needs to be a concrete, believable reason as to why negotiation would occur. Moreover, what is not discussed in the negotiation is what makes the dialogue more erotically enticing and less transactional. In Pizza Delivery, pizza boy Anthony Moore asks if Cooper needs help “putting the pizza in [his] kitchen.” This phrasing serves as the sexually discursive transaction in which putting a pizza in the kitchen can be seen as a metaphor for Moore’s insertive role in the sex about to happen. It is clear that Moore and Cooper already know they are going to have sex, but this statement implies a sexual coupling in which Moore will be the top. 


In The Pizza Boy: He Delivers, pizza boy Troy Ramsey and customer Steve Henson know sex will occur. However, once Henson spills wine on Ramsey and leads him to the bathroom, the taller Henson enters into a more submissive, caretaking role, undressing the pizza boy and helping him shower. It is smaller pizza boy Ramsey who invites Henson into the shower, demonstrating a dominant role, which plays out in the sexual experience that occurs. As the bathroom scene commences, Ramsey seems unsure about being undressed by Steve Henson. However, Henson’s submissive acts overshadow the other factors that might indicate dominance (such as it being Henson’s house and Henson being the paying customer).

With Str8 Chaser: Pizza Delivery, a great deal of verbal negotiation occurs, but the first interplay, in which customer Paul Wagner indicates he left his wallet in the residence and invites pizza boy Nic Sahara in, is indicative. Notably, Sahara is pensive, and points out he has a lot of work to do. Wagner is insistent, and with the barest of prodding, Sahara relents. This short interchange indicates that Wagner will be in charge and that Sahara, with little convincing, will be a willing participant. In Just the Tip, it is clear that sex will occur from the moment pizza boy James Dickson tells Mark Long he used to “whack off” to his videos all day. Therefore, when Dickson enters the house and Long says that since Dickson “is a fan,” he can offer a different tip, it becomes clear who will be the dominant individual. Offering a “tip” can suggest insertive anal sex or symbolize the head of the penis, as some verbal cues can be sociolinguistic indicators of who will fill sexual roles. While a formal negotiation, or at least a conversation, for actual sexual partners, pornography demands some type of indication, lest audiences assume smaller or less physically imposing individuals will automatically be the receptive partner in gay sex.  

Moreover, because working-class masculinity implies heteronormativity, there must be indicators to trigger the transaction, and not only indicators of interest, but indicators of shared same-sex desire. For Anthony Moore in Pizza Delivery, he makes a sexualized reference that serves to open the negotiation and suggest his sexual interest in customer Jackson Cooper. In Just the Tip, pizza boy James Dickson recognizing Mark Long as a porn actor and volunteering information about his masturbatory practices is enough. However, the pizza boy must situate his working-class masculinity in a way that retains the heteronormative assumptions associated with his role that feed into his attractiveness but suggest his willingness to engage in sexual acts. Exactly how this is done, and the amount of control or agency expressed by the pizza boy in their revelation to initiate negotiation, plays into how submission is performed.


One interesting element is how the negotiation leads to sexual positioning and how this either juxtaposes or affirms the expectations of the pizza boy’s role in terms of submission. As in heterosexual porn, though the woman is the initiator of the sexual encounter in many ways (making the order, inviting the pizza boy in, desiring sexual intercourse), she will be the receptive partner and the pizza boy will be the insertive partner. This dynamic is disconnected from contemporary senses of power, because the woman in these scenes is the customer, and customers are perceived to have some measure of control in transactions. She is the one who summoned the pizza boy, she is the one who let him into her house, and she is the one who, at any time, can tell him to leave. She can choose to give him money (which then transforms the pizza boy into a gigolo), or she can choose to not pay him, and he leaves sexually satisfied (due to his sexual conquest or “trick”). Regardless, while the pizza boy is the insertive partner, he is, in heterosexual porn, submissive because of the explicit and subtle authority of the woman.


The situation is not as simple in gay porn, particularly because, as indicated in the four films, the pizza boy is not always the bottom. Therefore, in terms of erotic habitus in gay porn, roles are intermittent and leave some question about control and power. Of course, in some cases it is obvious. Take Str8 Chaser: Pizza Delivery. In this film, Paul Wagner negotiates sexual activity for money and, in various parts of the video, literally throws money down to pizza boy Nic Sahara. This morphs into a relationship akin to a stripper and a patron; Sahara does what he is asked to do, and Wagner is clearly in control. Sahara (as the pizza boy) is almost totally compliant, while Wagner (as the customer) overcomes all the boy’s apprehensions with the promise of money. Subsequently, Sahara as pizza boy is both the bottom and the submissive.

Similarly, in Just the Tip, the fawning that pizza boy James Dickson offers to customer Mark Long sets the stage that he will be both the bottom and the submissive partner. Pizza boy Dickson sees Long as a porn star, and his worship is something customer Long can utilize, either explicitly or subtly, to control the sexual situation. Whereas the scene from Str8 Chaser: Pizza Delivery shifted to a stripper–patron submissive relationship, the erotic habitus setup in Just the Tip changes the relationship between James Dickson and Mark Long from pizza boy– customer to fanboy–celebrity. Regardless, the submission is the same, in that the patron and the celebrity generate the same awe, which can be used to dictate the sexual scenario.

The other two scenes contain inverse circumstances, because in the scene from The Pizza Boy: He Delivers and Pizza Delivery, the two pizza boys are the insertive sexual partner. The attentive nature that Steve Henson provides Troy Ramsey outlines a more submissive relationship. He makes a mistake by spilling wine, no matter how it was planned. This sets up an obligation, both situational and sexual, to “make things right.” This act subtly puts pizza boy Ramsey in control and alludes to the fact that Henson will do whatever is necessary to make the situation right. Therefore, when Troy Ramsey invites Henson into the shower, it is clear he will take a dominant role. Consequently, Ramsey and Henson shift from a relationship of pizza boy–customer to victim–guilty party, meaning that any other social circumstances (Henson ordering the pizza, Henson providing a free meal in his house, and so on) become secondary to the social faux pas that forces Steve Henson into the role of supplicant. However, when the scenario is tied into the past conversation that pizza boy Ramsey had with other pizza boys prior to the scene, it becomes clear that Henson wants to be in a submissive position. Thus, while it might seem like a juxtaposition of class power and roles, it is more akin to an individual with power who wants to be taken advantage of and be submissive in a given situation. When viewed under this lens, it becomes clear that Henson might be submissive but still retains control because his economic comfort allows him to create scenarios in which he achieves his desired submission. Accordingly, Henson can engineer these sexual scenarios only because he has the money to pay, and as word spreads to the pizza boys, a working-class group who subsist on tips and gratuity, there is the possibility that Henson could have a steady supply of paid dominators. Their rough, working-class masculinity is then an added boon, only reinforcing the submission.

The scene in Pizza Delivery differs, because the shift has as much to do with racial tropes as circumstances of power. Pizza boy Anthony Moore is Black, while customer Jackson Cooper is white. There is existing erotic capital surrounding the Black body, and while the profession of pizza boy might be a submissive role, Moore embodies a muscular Black man. His forwardness at the door augments the fact that, as a Black man, he is not going to be the receptive partner. Cooper, who is taller and just as muscular, could be understood as being “taken” by a Black man. The reality of Anthony Moore being a pizza boy is that he is a Black pizza boy, and the moment he offers to put the “pizza” in Cooper’s “kitchen,” it is clear he is taking control of the circumstance. Like the situation in The Pizza Boy: He Delivers, all other trappings of control disappear, because the assertive Black pizza boy negates the assumed financial superiority that Cooper would have (being both the customer and a white man). Therefore, morphing occurs, from pizza boy–customer to Black man–white man, and stereotypes of the Black man as an aggressive top take over. As Kimmel notes, in dominant white society, there is a historical fear of the manhood represented by Black men, both conceptually and physically (1997). The reinforcement of the “black buck” trope in sexual situations is popular, with sexual situations featuring Black men in gay porn having a designation (BBC or “big black cock” porn), which no other racial group in gay pornography has (Goss 2021). In the sexual situation, customer Jackson Cooper can cede sexual control to Anthony Moore given his race, but the circumstance, like the one in The Pizza Boy: He Delivers, is transactional and represents Jackson Cooper’s ability to create these scenarios at his choosing. Thus, while Cooper sexually submits to pizza boy Anthony Moore, systemic racism and class distinction makes such submission temporary, and the scenario works only to further classism and racism surrounding those financially or racially different. 

Erotic Habitus and Class Placement of the Pizza Boy in Porn

While the pizza boy trope has been seen as farcical and is the butt of pop culture jokes, it is one of the most enduring porn plot lines. Its continued relevance has to do with the circumstance of the pizza boy and the sexually needy customer. The pizza boy represents many images of the working class: someone in a job that is low paying and precarious, with no guarantee of payment or how much one might receive as a gratuity. Like imagery associated with the working class, the pizza boy is at the bidding of a more monied class. There are forces he cannot control (product, traffic, or directions) and for which he will be blamed. He is, in all his imagery, submissive to the system. Therefore, if he is encouraged by a customer to engage in sexual activity, what is the consequence, that he loses his job? The working-class imagery already suggests that the job is not worth saving. His willingness to participate in an extended sexual situation indicates that he is not devoted to his delivery job. Additionally, he may get something out of the new arrangement, but the pizza boy’s sexual exploitation becomes just another precarious job with no guarantee of payment or gratuity.


The work of the pizza boy is very much the definition of gig work, which must navigate the mystery of the customer and what their reaction might be. Those who engage in contingent work are subject to the whims of those in power. However, in some ways, the job of a delivery person provides a level of freedom. One is away from the institution that has directed the delivery, and the delivery person has agency in terms of choosing direction and intention. For example, a pizza delivery driver could request that the customer meet them at a public entrance, or they might leave the items in a location and never meet the customer face to face. Consequently, while gig work is oppressive and restricting, it hides a great deal of autonomy and agency that the pizza delivery driver might employ. The work of pizza delivery is tied to freedoms and autonomy associated with several other male-oriented working-class jobs (e.g., truck drivers, plumbers) in which individuals have some flexibility concerning their schedules and work tempo. Thus, in these scenes, the pizza boy arrives when he wants and stays if he chooses.


In addition, contemporary sensibilities of sex foreground a discussion of consent, confirming that all parties are willing participants. With distinctions in participants’ social class, there comes the question of any sexual transaction being coercive. However, in porn, the introduction of a pizza boy sets aside questions of consent, or whether the delivery person is a willing participant, because of the freewheeling associations surrounding the plot device. Given that agency, the pizza delivery driver could say no. They could simply do their job and leave. The fact that the pizza boys in the four films enter the space indicates their desire to do so, despite the possibility of the sex not occurring. Even in Str8 Chaser: Pizza Delivery, in which the customer lures the pizza boy to sexual congress involving money, the initial invitation concerns a wallet inside the apartment; the pizza boy Sahara provides consent by entering the residence, when he could have easily waited at the door. Still, the pizza boys and their customers are impacted by the erotic habitus involving embodiment, transgression, negotiation, and submission. In all of these situations, there needs to be a process of resolving tensions between the working-class pizza boy and the customer with money. This needs to be done in a way that preserves his working-class masculinity, while identifying him as a willing and consenting participant in the sex act. In contemporary times, when people are sensitive to power differentials and consent, the transactional relationship, which is bounded by the erotic habitus, provides a plausible argument for consent when sex occurs.


While issues of agency and consent speak to a level of masculine power, the circumstance of the pizza boy highlights working-class men and problems of opportunity. Lower-middle-class men have fewer opportunities compared to men in higher socioeconomic positions. The idea that men are pizza boys not because they want to be but because they need to be is suggested in all the films. After all, they are good-looking men and could conceivably be doing something else. There is, then, the suggestion that these pizza boys are waiting for an opportunity that is shaped by the erotic habitus of the situation. The men fall into roles that reflect the erotic habitus of embodiment, transgression, negotiation, and submission due to their pizza-boy role. Their embodied self, required for the erotic idea of the pizza boy, indicates their working-class identity. The transgressions in the scenes are tied to class differences, whether those involve cultural status (stardom) or economic status. The negotiations are explicitly related to the degree the customer either affirms or displaces the class difference, meaning the pizza boy is an insertive partner in some situations and the receptive partner in others. Likewise, the shifting relationships of submission modify into categories roughly associated with class difference. In short, the gendered power afforded the pizza boys in erotic situations allows them to, in some instances, overcome the limitations of class inequality. While the pizza boys are bound by the erotic habitus of embodiment, transgression, negotiation, and submission, they are able to use this habitus to benefit from the circumstance. That both scene partners are men implies there might be some question of who holds the power in the sexual circumstance.

Much of the history of gay pornography has involved liberatory elements, as homosexuality was deemed morally incorrect, and early gay porn had to be both produced and consumed in secret. However, gay liberation movements have made porn more available, and it is a key component of socialization for gay and bisexual men. Granted, all pornography sets fantastical standards for sexual activity regarding physical endowment, prowess, endurance, and ease, but consumers come to understand that this is part of the fantasy. However, pornography can reinforce stratifying conditions in society; for example, discourse in gay pornography has affirmed heterosexist notions for the sexual partners (Dashiell 2023). These discourse patterns are so engrained in the social consciousness that they play out in pornographic scenes. 


Similarly, the pizza boy highlights class difference and the mutability of the working class. While working-class men are under the thumb of the more monied classes, they are also stereotypically believed to “take back the reins of power” in situations where they can wrest control, such as sex. The erotic habitus elements in gay porn suggest how power can be taken back, or at least be called into question. However, one must wonder, does the possibility of a power shift involve men exclusively? Is there an audience for porn films in which a woman is a delivery person who changes the power dynamic in her erotic customer interaction? This analysis suggests no, because the transgression in the gay pornography scenes is centered around the agency associated with a working-class masculinity. However, that power is fleeting. At the end of the day, the pizza boy is still a part of the working class and trying to exist in the gig economy. Thus, the end of every sex scene, which is never shown but remains implied, is the pizza boy leaving and going back to his working-class reality, to toil away and provide the next delivery. 


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