BOOK REVIEW – INFAMOUS: The Autobiography of Ta’Leon Goffney
If you’re even somewhat aware of the gay adult film industry then you’re familiar with Ta’Leon and Keyontyli Goffney, porn stars turned ex-convicts. Not only were they strikingly handsome models and criminals, they also happened to be identical twins.
Although they’d only appeared in a handful of scenes (a small drop in the bucket compared to today’s erotic actors), the men became overnight sensations in the gay community, mostly due to the novelty of their identical good looks and (erroneous) rumors of onscreen twincest.
As a matter of fact, what most didn’t know at the time is one of the twin brothers is actually very heterosexual. In hindsight, looking at the rare adult scene work they’ve filmed together, you can tell that Ta’Leon was not as “into it” as the others in the scenes. Gay for Pay.
[Editor’s Note: An entirely separate article could be written on how twin brothers like these hurt the theory that homosexuals are “born that way” since these men are genetically identical. By that rationale, they should both be gay. But I digress.]
After a long absence from porn, news broke in 2008 that the twins had been arrested for breaking into businesses by cutting holes in the rooftops to clean out the in-store ATMs. In an odd outcome, Keyontyli was sentenced to 2 days in jail and probation while his twin brother Ta’Leon faced 6 years in prison.
In a new autobiography written by Ta’Leon Goffney, “In Search For A Better Life, this is How I Became…INFAMOUS”, we not only discover his version of the events that led to the heterosexual twin (briefly) diving into the gay porn industry, we also get insight on how he became a career criminal.
Literally a career criminal. Ta’leon’s life in crime started long before he reluctantly stepped in front of a camera, first getting into The System at 18 years old for armed robbery. Reading the book broke down my own (obviously) false assumptions that “really good looking people have no worries in life.” As evidenced in the retelling of his life story, even aesthetically blessed men can make bad decisions, have hot tempers, be arrogant, be unemployable and become criminals.
On the flip side of that, the book also shows us that being attractive and having an identical twin while growing up can also be a burden. Ta’Leon and his brother faced constant teasing for their identical appearance and he struggled for acceptance in his family and the rest of society (ironically, like many gay men). Many of us don’t know what it’s like to struggle to find your own identity as a twin. Added to that, he had to face the issues that come with growing up in the projects along with inattentive/abusive parental guardians and no positive male influences in sight.
Reading many of the struggles the young man had to face makes one ask the question, “how could he NOT have ended up in prison one day?”
We have a broken social system and many broken communities that are failing so many of our straight and gay black men. It’s not just about creating more jobs or making more quality schools available, I believe that we have to fix the broken mentality that many of our brothers and sisters have.
Case in point: Even after admitting to being a teenager breaking into homes, selling drugs and stealing cars, Ta’Leon writes that using a starter pistol to attempt to rob a guy who later called the police on him, landing him in prison at 18-years-old, was “the biggest mistake of my life.”
Uhhh, no. I think its clear that he’s made bigger mistakes than just robbing the wrong guy at gunpoint. I only need to point to the paragraph before that statement that reads, “We started robbing more houses and even found a starter pistol inside one of them. It looked so real that Kel said, “Yo! We can rob people with this.” And so we did.”
There are at least three huge mistakes there. Or how about the decision to become a criminal in the first place?
Admittedly, this may not have been what the author literally meant, but this is how I interpreted it nonetheless.
While the book is a very interesting and page-turning read that feels right up there with a lot of popular Street Lit, I couldn’t help but feel slightly unsympathetic to Ta’Leon’s struggle.
While the whole story may be based on the truth of his life, much of the book felt as if the young man was pretty content with a life of crime and the streets if not for the speed bumps of needing to do porn for quick cash and doing time in prison.
Long stretches of the book detailing his female sexcapades, female one-night-stands and female lovers seemed to be shouting, “I’m not gay! I’m delivert! I like Women, Women, Women, Womenbnbngh!”
Part of me understands this. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a 100% heterosexual man having to fight off the assumption of being homosexual. However, the man did gay porn. Repeatedly.
This was not someone who just happened to be attractive and had to fight off The Gays…or even someone who briefly played a Gay character for television and had fight off The Gays…Regardless if it was for his brother (as he states in the book) or if it was supposed to only be seen by a small number of people or if it disgusted him to the point of tears. This adult man made the decision to repeatedly do gay porn.
In the book he writes:
Now those fuckers started talking about how the fans are dying to see me do a single sex scene with another man. I told Kyle, “Fuck that shit, I’d rather run up in a bank with a gun.”
Again, we need to change this kind of mentality. Not just about sex with men being disgusting, but mostly that the better option would be armed bank robbery. Why not a job at UPS or the night shift at Walmart?
Ironically, its a producer of the gay porn (on set while filming a scene) who is the only person in the autobiography that stresses the importance of Ta’Leon getting an education to advance his life.
Victor came back into the hotel room and started giving me a eulogy while Kyle did the deed with the unknown boy. He kept lecturing me on my future and furthering my education. All he kept saying was, “Having an education is the most important thing to have in life.” Little did he know I was fresh out of prison, so education was the furthest thing from my mind.
Let’s disregard the gay porn performing, I can accept that Ta’Leon was heterosexual and had zero desire to engage in gay sex but desperately needed the money. What troubled me more while reading this entire book was how quickly both twins went to the option of crime to earn a living. On top of that, robbing, thieving, crime and street life is continually boasted by the author as more “real” and noble than holding a job or even doing the legal work of porn.
That damaged mentality again.
Granted, the author was retelling the stories from a younger man’s perspective, but this only proves my point even more. Young black men who have this mentality clearly have the wrong mentality, no matter their upbringing or environmental circumstances used as excuses.
In the final pages, Ta’Leon details the events leading up the the string of ATM robberies and how/why his twin brother got off with probation while he had to serve a whopping 6 years. This final act is filled with betrayal and heartache…but very little redemption.
At the end of this tale, I had no clear indication that Ta’Leon had reformed the damaged mentality that led to the many poor decisions that got him in prison in the first place.
And these were all his decisions. No matter how much he may point to abusive parents, high school racism, or even his own influential brother as catalysts for his downfall, no guns were pointed to his head when he made his criminal and pornographic decisions (in actuality, he was pointing the guns…literally).
Lastly, Ta’Leon spends 146 pages telling us about all of his poor choices in life, then uses the final 2 1/2 pages to “sum up” why they were wrong decisions by blaming almost everyone/everything but himself for his past. There’s some personal accountability here, but not much.
This would have been a better cautionary tale for other young black men if he had actually gone into detail about that 6 year prison bid. How had he grown? How had his flawed mentality evolved? How had he healed wounds from his past? How had he reformed into the man he is today?
Or is he, deep down inside, still that man?
In interacting with Ta’Leon via email to review this book he’s been nothing but polite, humble, respectful and friendly. Are these personality traits that developed after his most recent prison stint, or was he always this way?
If he was always an overly “nice guy” that could explain why he was repeatedly convinced to do crime and porn against his will by stronger individuals in his life. However, the above traits don’t seem to match up with many of the criminal actions described in the book that he perpetually initiated himself (fights, armed robbery, purse snatching, home invasions, etc) and then bragged about.
So after reading his life story, I’m left still not knowing who the man is today. Maybe the answers to my question are in the very title of the book itself: In Search For A Better Life, this is How I Became…INFAMOUS.
After spending a fourth of his life in prison, this may only be the story of how he got off track…maybe the next book will be about how he turned that life of poor decisions (and his former way of thinking) around to overshadow the demons in his past.
Photos Courtesy of Ta’Leon Goffney and Tibo Norman
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