Last year, Instinct Magazine proclaimed popular adult performer and entrepreneur Rocco Steele to be "the daddy of all daddies."
Washington, D.C.-based Steele said that "daddy" is a label he actually takes very seriously.
"Guys who are 46-years-old grow a beard and call themselves 'daddy,'" he added. "I don't take the term lightly. When [my generation] was coming of age, we went to bars and didn't know who was ever going to be there again when we went back the following week, who was going to make it from one week to the next. We lost a huge chunk of our community."
Steele, 49, is active on social media and said he hopes to be a role model for men in his age range, additionally noting that, "In the community, I'd like to think that I'm an influencer and that people look up to me. Even though I do porn, I discuss things publicly, and people like to hear what I have to say."
He came to adult entertainment and escorting later in life, while in his forties, than most performers do. Steele has a law degree as well a background in merchandising. Indeed, just as he was breaking into adult films, Steele also resolved to be in business for himself.
"I used to work in a corporate environment in New York City, and I always wanted to be my own boss," he explained. "My dad was a working-class guy who left his job to open up a restaurant and a bar many, many years ago. I always just loved the idea of being my own boss like he was. But I was always tied to a nine-to-five job. I didn't know how to do it, and I didn't have the capital to do it."
He was on anti-depressants and "miserable" in his last corporate job, he said. "I kept thinking, 'There has to be something better than this.' I was working and taking the subway every day with this girl from my office. She said, 'I'm starting on online business.' I was intrigued and asked her how she was doing it."
Ultimately that led to an online underwear business, 10seven, that he coupled with his then-burgeoning Rocco Steele name. He's acutely aware of the need to smartly leverage his adult industry persona: "There's some staying power in my brand, and I won't be here today and gone tomorrow."
Steele recently partnered with the Florida-based Perfect Fit sexual health products company for a line of items they branded as "ROCCO," scheduled to launch this spring.
"I get a lot of fan inquiries, but the kinds of questions are repeated over and over again," he said. "They're mostly about sex, obviouslywhat do I think about this or that? What do I think about that dildo? It seemed like something I'd be interested in getting intothere are countless products for gay men out there."
Steele is up front that he's long been in recovery since even before he entered adult entertainment and escorting. That's helped him to stay grounded in an industry that's notoriously fickle and unstable.
"I had a really solid program of recovery when I came into this industry," he said. "I just recently celebrated 20 years being clean and sober in December. I had 15 years clean and sober when I started porn. I was able early on to kind of compartmentalize my work in porn and realize that it was a job and not to have it become a social life. I would shoot my moves and go home. I would do appearances to promote movies and go home. … I worked really closely with my support network. I was living in New York City at the time, and had a really strong network of sober friends."
He's directing some films now, and is pickier about what he appears in.
"I pretty much stopped all studio work and the only place I'm appearing is OnlyFans [a subscription-based adult platform]. The only reason I'm on OnlyFans is, you can't pass up the moneyit's so good, and it's a no-brainer. My husband and I were looking at all my 1099s, and I thought, I'd love to hang all this up and stop doing all kinds of porn, but you can't turn your back on it. … With ROCCO launching, it's important for me to stay 'sexual' in the eyes of my followers and anyone interested in purchasing the toys."