Daniel James and I have been mutual social media buds since I started blogging, and I’ve always been in awe of his killer confidence and absolute swag when it comes to Tindering and getting laid. Daniel, who was born with cerebral palsy, is an amateur porn creator based out of Toronto, and I had some questions for him regarding his career and personal dating/sex life…
Suz Ellis: Just like myself, you’re an avid Tinder user. What is your opinion on current dating and sex culture? What is your best tip for turning Tinder matches into Tinder dates?
Daniel James: Tinder has completely changed the definition of dating. It’s almost like a drug; It can provide a positive solution when used correctly and with moderation, but once you overindulge and begin to use it excessively, that’s when it becomes addictive, and I can speak from personal experience. The mechanics of Tinder psychologically condition us to expect immediate gratification.
It sets off ego trips because our brains crave pleasure and Tinder feeds that to us in the form of match notifications, messages from potential suitors telling us we’re cute or handsome, and obviously, eventually, easy sex. Then, we rinse and repeat. it’s getting to a point now where we just pass it off as routine behaviour because the app opens this gateway to easily access intimacy. You don’t need to put in as much work as you did back in the day. I can remember always feeling overwhelmed having to fill out a huge profile and answer endless survey questions on traditional dating websites. Now, all we have to do is type a couple sentences and it’s off to the races with your fingertips. Tinder is a blessing and a curse.
If you’re someone who’s obsessed with the app like me, (constantly swiping when you’re riding transit or sitting in class bored) then you probably have plenty of options to go pick and choose from. Now, I’ll be real with you, it’s not always fun and games to me, because yeah, I get hit on, but it can still feel depressing at times because I just don’t always feel a connection with matches, which happens pretty frequently, or they’re just not my type and we have nothing in common. It can be exhausting as well because you’re sifting through profiles and going on endless meetups only to go home disappointed because they’re nothing like you envisioned. It’s a lot of lust, and not a lot of love.
The best tip to finesse a Tinder match, as fucking cliché as it sounds, is to just be yourself and have a normal conversation. Don’t be a creeper who begins the chat talking about your dick. It won’t work. I can’t tell you how many times I hear my girlfriends complaining about how guys follow and DM them on their Instagram account because they had it connected to the app. You know, the typical “Hey! We didn’t match but I found your account on IG and decided to message you here instead.” Don’t do that shit either. It’s awkward as fuck. If you REALLY care enough about starting a conversation with your match, then invest 10 seconds into reading their description. For example, I care a whole lot about music, so, if I notice that a match mentions that they like going to concerts or has a specific artist I regularly listen to attached to their Spotify list on Tinder, I’ll bring that up as an icebreaker in my opening message. Simple, yet effective. Having a professional, high-quality set of photos always helps too in the online dating game. Know your angles; It doesn’t matter what your gender is. Show off those… assets. Angles are everything. Shirtless mirror selfies and photos of you holding up dead animals are boring, played out, and are a guaranteed way to get left swiped. So, call up a friend who owns a Canon camera and knows how to use Photoshop and pay them to take a few pics for you. It’s worth it, trust me.
Still struggling? Then invest in the premium Tinder “Boost” function. It basically manipulates the app’s logarithm for a set period of time so that your profile gets pushed ahead and more people will see you when swiping.
SE: Sex work stigma is still a thing (unfortunately). How has your work as an amateur pornographer and performer impacted your personal sex and dating life?
DJ: My sex life is great! But my dating life is… complicated, for the lack of a better word.
Dates are usually pretty receptive when I tell them that I create sex clips and do webcam shows. They’re always curious and want to ask questions, but I’m used to it at this point, so I don’t mind. The most common thing I hear is “how often do you get tested?” and right after they say that I literally pull out my wallet and show them the little yellow slip of paper they give you with your name and appointment time at the hassle-free clinic that I received from my last test the month prior. I never feel a tremendous negative impact because I don’t really have a “sex work persona” that I have to hide from my relationships because I act the same way and say the same stupid shit online that I do when I’m with my friends. I’ve always been open about my sex life, so I don’t feel like it’s a surprise to anyone. I refuse to ever put on a façade and pretend to be something I’m not on the internet or in person. If someone thinks I’m too outspoken, then that’s their problem.
In all honesty, the way I express my sexuality on social media isn’t the biggest burden that impacts dating for me. It’s always something that I lack physically, whether it’s because I’m too short, too skinny or my mobility limitations, but I get it. I don’t blame people; We fear what we don’t understand. We all have a preference when it comes to the qualities that we want our ideal partner to have. I’m still searching for my ride or die; the Bonnie to my Clyde, the Halsey to my G-Eazy, the Beyoncé to my Jay-Z. She’s out there, somewhere.
Despite any shortcomings, I always try to remind my friends that you should never attempt to lock the first person who gives you attention into a relationship out of boredom because you’re sick of being single. Most of those obviously incompatible couples who jump the gun eventually transform into completely different people and end up fighting or just drift apart. Wait it out for as long as it takes until you meet the perfect match, and when you do, you’ll be able to tell right away. Trust your instincts. You’ll be happy you did in the end.
SE: Since you’re a self-described thot, and always seem to have a babe on your arm, your whole brand breaks the mainstream assumption that “all people with disabilities are asexual.” What advice would you give to people with disabilities looking to move past those stereotypes and to own their sexuality?
DJ: If someone can tell you don’t give a fuck about your shortcomings, they won’t either. Stop lying in bed feeling sorry for yourself all the damn time, because at the end of the day, the only person who is going to change things and make shit happen, is you – Not your parents, not your friends, not your therapist, just you. As the old saying goes “practice makes perfect” and I sure as fuck had to crash and burn multiple times before I started feeling confident showing up to a date. Now, I’ve honestly lost count when it comes to how many people I’ve slept with, but it’s definitely in the triple digits by now (I lost my virginity to a nursing student studying at the local community college while I was still a 17-year-old kid in high school.) It’s almost become a routine thing where, shortly after the weekend ends, I and my friends will regroup at the bar and they’re just sitting there waiting for me to talk about who I had over to “Netflix and chill” with on the previous Friday or Saturday night. I still think back to when I was a teenager and had extremely limited mobility, way worse than my current physical state, like, we’re talking wheelchair bound before I had all the surgeries and stuff that gave me the ability to walk and thinking that I would never get laid. Now look at what’s happened. However, I still have that fear in the back of my mind about what people will think when they see me walk in to meet up for the first time on a date. I know that anxiety will never leave me.
When my friends ask me about it, I always say: If someone in my position can get laid, anyone can. Sexuality and your dating profile are a lot like trying to sell something in business– It’s all marketing. Do you have a sense of humour? Are you adventurous and like the outdoors? Do you like working out and want to date someone who lives a similar lifestyle? Then make it obvious. Don’t sell people the negative parts about you. Just lightly mention that “Yeah, I’m a little fucked up BUT let’s not dwell on that, because here are ten other redeeming qualities and interests I have that you mentioned you have / like too.” and see where things go.
Don’t ever let any form of rejection get you down, just pretend like it never happened and move on to the next person or opportunity. It’s all about having that “fuck you” mentality and not caring what other people think. There’s nothing I hate more than when people feel sorry for me. If anything, it empowers me to work harder just so I can prove a motherfucker wrong.
SE: Representation in porn is a really important conversation happening in the sex industry right now. As a performer with a disability, how have you been influenced by the slowly growing sector of inclusive porn?
DJ: That’s exactly why I decided to jump into this game given the current landscape of how inclusive the talent pool is, and I feel like independent content creators are to thank for a lot of that. Your look doesn’t have to fit into a conventional box, and performers no longer need to rely on a big studio to come knocking in order to shoot anymore. You can turn on your own camera and start filming or broadcasting from your space, regardless of what you look like and I think that’s amazing. It definitely inspires me to work harder, reach out to others and collaborate. These days I’m operating independently. I involve my friends in every element of the production, people I went to university with; they studied photography and media production academically. I know it might sound messed up to openly ask your friends to look at your peen behind a camera lens, or on Final Cut while it slams into a vagina/butthole, but you have to make use of your surroundings. Nothing feels better than creating something with your best friends and being able to pay them for it in the process. Shooting independently means I have total control over the editing and artistic direction. In all my photos and videos, you’ll notice I have my cameras angled on purpose so that you see less of my legs and more of my upper body, close ups of the genitals and penetration (obviously). I’m also well aware of the fact that certain websites or performers will second guess—or won’t even look twice—because they think my limitations will tarnish their “brand”, but I take all that with a grain of salt. They just need to know that I’m going to continue creating content with or without them on board.
SE: Within the last year, you started making content with the gay sector of streaming website CAM4. What motivated you to diversify into making gay-specific content?
DJ: I really felt like I could work the cam stuff because, in the past, I remember lurking the male cams, and all some of these dudes do is sit there, grainy quality webcam facing their junk, not showing their face with a flaccid dick in hand doing absolutely nothing. I thought to myself… I could actually put on a fun show with better lighting, props, and actually use what little personality I have to make conversation with the viewers. That’s the whole point of webcamming; to pull viewers into this online fantasy world for short-term entertainment. What I saw coming from other broadcasts certainly wasn’t entertaining. That’s when I knew I could do better, so I decided to give it a shot.
When you’re a guy who posts naked material of himself on the internet, it is inevitable that gay fans will find your content and follow you, and that’s awesome. I never wanted to segment my shows so that they’re only viewable by the female consumer, I want everyone with access to an internet connection to enjoy it. I specifically went with CAM4 because they reached out and asked if I would be interested in broadcasting on their site shortly after I met one of their reps at a photo shoot who was there filming promo material. To clear up any confusion, just because their social media pages are labelled as “CAM4 gay” does not mean you have to identify with a specific gender or sexuality in order to stream on the “gay” designated pages. You can be a straight guy, gay, trans, host solo jerk off shows, or jerk off with a partner. It’s labelled and marketed like that to let fans know that this site also caters to guys who like to watch guys and not just guys who like to watch girls as most of the other cam sites operate.
Just the fact they’re that strategic with the marketing and give enough of a fuck to put effort into advertising each category (women, gay, trans, couples, etc.) individually on social media was enough to convince me to sign up, because in my mind it’s a smart business move. Their model support is one of the most responsive and helpful in the industry in my opinion. They’re always retweeting, promoting and responding to comments and complaints on social media. CAM4 is also one of the first sites to integrate virtual reality technology into their broadcasts.
SE: What can fans expect when they sign up for your OnlyFans account?
DJ: A little bit of everything. Close up ass shots, jerk off clips, blow job videos, hardcore boy/girl videos, and much more. I also accept custom video requests. I try my hardest to post an array of content that will appeal to everyone. I’ve finally upgraded all of my equipment, so things will be getting intensely more HD and graphic. My inbox is always open to negotiate content trade shoots as well with other professional talent.