Jacen Zhu Takes Down Tina, Talks Up Diversity

It’s a rare man who can get away with emblazoning the word “Adonis” on his chest and not have it sound like a boast. But tattooed in capital letters discreetly at the center of Jacen Zhu’s smooth pecs, it’s more like a simple statement of fact.

Just above the small block of type, one finds Zhu’s luscious lips, piercing brown eyes and strong, square chin. And traveling downward, the eye caresses his smooth, well-defined six-pack. Below that? A very promising bulge.

Yes, he’s got the kind of classical beauty that evokes Greek statuary depicting the Adonis of yore.

This month, Zhu will be gracing the stage at the 2019 GayVN Awards, where he’ll serve as one of the trophy boys. “I’m excited for that,” Zhu says. “I went last year, so this year it seems to be even bigger.”

Zhu got his start in porn in his mid-twenties after decidingI was old enough to give it a tryout.” He started at Lucas Entertainment and “then from that point moved on and did a few with Dawgpound and Next Door Ebony. Then I was exclusive with CockyBoys for a year. Now I’m starting to work with Noir Male.”

He’s up for two GayVN Awards for scenes with Noir Male, and he’s in the running for Favorite Butt in the GayVN Fan Awards.

A Baltimore native who just moved to California, Zhu says, “I love L.A. and I’m completely in love with San Diego. I think it’s a great fit for me. I don’t have to deal with winter … I’m delighted not to experience that anymore.”

Another part of his past that Zhu has left behind is the party lifestyle—and he’d like to help other performers and sex workers do the same. Right now he’s spearheading a social media campaign called Takedown Tina.

“I started Takedown Tina to spread awareness regarding the crystal meth use within the queer and people of trans experience communities of color,” Zhu explains. His own struggle with addiction when he was younger sensitized him to the problem. He started seeing references to the drug—known in the community as Tina—on dating apps and was shocked to see kids as young as 19 caught up in using meth.

“When I started using … there weren’t that many people of color who were using the drug,” Zhu says. Now he seeks “to tell my truth and to be honest about my struggles with this drug, so that other 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds don’t think this is something you do recreationally and then you move on with your life. This is a life-changing substance. You start off on the weekend and you end of doing it through the week and then every day—and then you lose everything. I just wanted to spread that to people of color, especially black and Latinx, because a lot of them are living in poverty and a lot of them do sex work. Their clients are having them engage in this ‘party and play’ culture, and I wanted to [say], ‘You don’t have to do this—it’s not a requirement.’”

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Photo courtesy CockyBoys

Asked how he said no to drugs, Zhu laughs and says doing porn motivated him. “I was working with CockyBoys, and being the only black exclusive model I had to make a decision: ‘Do you want to continue using drugs, or do you want to recover?’ Because at some point people will know who you are and you will have some sort of a platform, and how do you want to use this platform moving forward?”

Listening to Zhu talk about his life, things are definitely moving forward in a positive direction. He’s going to school, working out and adding yoga to his regimen. And he went vegan more than a year ago. He’s also taking the time to “do things like roller skating, things that just don’t require me being around a bar or any type of substance.”

He continues, “We all have our ways in how we recover—as long as you’re taking a more holistic approach and actually doing the work, because in recovery it’s more about self [awareness], and not just abstinence from the drugs.”

Next he wants to create a bona fide non-profit organization and raise money for a website and a project manager and start merchandising. “People are always asking, ‘How can we get involved?’ I’ve put money into Takedown Tina, traveling and not accepting any money just to spread the word on it. Now it’s time to take it to the next step.”

That step is a website where visitors can find links to the services they need to help not only with substance use but also other mental and physical health issues. “And also to hold sober events, because I think that’s really important for kids who are 21 who are trying to be sober.”

Find the link to Zhu’s GoFundMe page here.

And on top of school and the Takedown Tina project, Zhu continues to build his career. In addition to staying busy with Cockyboys and Noir Male, he’s also hoping to work with the Falcon Studios Group and Men.com. He adds, “I haven’t worked with mr. Pam and I think that would be someone I would love to work with.”

He’s also keenly interested in doing some scriptwriting, especially to create some storylines that are “geared toward people of color, especially within the black and Latinx community.” Given the opportunity, he says, “I would love to collaborate with my friend River Wilson, who does a lot of artistic style photography and erotica,” creating something along the lines of an updated version of the TV series Queer As Folk.

Zhu also has more mainstream pop-culture obsessions. “If I’m not doing any schoolwork, I’m typically watching anime. I love anime. I am that guy. I like anything science fiction. My favorite is Doctor Who.”

But his real passion is in promoting diversity. “If we start showing the world in which we live in, then people will realize it’s okay to enjoy other people from other ethnic backgrounds. … I love a good white twink like anyone else, but there is more diversity out there.” He hopes to see more people of color in porn presented in ways that move beyond “the fetishization of people of color to where they are the main focal point and not just a big black cock.”

He adds, “People like to say that porn is a fantasy, and that is a fact, but also porn is a part of the society at large and so we have to keep representing the society that we live in. … It’s important to have everybody’s voices heard and stories told.”

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Jacen Zhu in “Family Affairs” (Noir Male/Mile High)

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Originally published on https://avn.com/business/articles/gay/jacen-zhu-takes-down-tina-talks-up-diversity-812814.html

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