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John Mercer - Birmingham City University. Birmingham, , GB

John Mercer John Mercer

Professor of Gender and Sexuality | Birmingham City University


John Mercer is recognised as one of the leading voices in the study of gay pornography and gay culture.


John Mercer leads the research degree programmes within the School of Media and is the leader of the Screen Cultures research cluster and the award leader (with Dr Inger Lise Bore) of the Screen Studies masters awards.

His research interests include film and television genres, celebrity and stardom, the pornography debate, the sexualisation of contemporary media culture and contemporary cultural theory.

John is co-editor of the Journal of Gender Studies, one of the editorial founders of Porn Studies and reviews editor for this new journal. He is also a member of the editorial board of Cine-Excess (and the guest editor of the inaugural issue), editorial board member of Sexualities and is a peer reviewer and guest editor for Celebrity Studies.

He has previously been external examiner at Wolverhampton University and is currently external examiner for Roehampton University, Southampton Solent University and Brighton University. His current and past research students investigate cult cinema audiences, lesbian television, anarcho-punk fandom and community radio.


Areas of Expertise (6)


1950s Hollywood Cinema



Pornography Representations

Film and Television Studies

Selected Articles (3)

Popperbate: video collage, vernacular creativity and the scripting of the gay pornographic body

Porn Studies

John Mercer

2017 In this article I explore the contemporary amateur practice of making ‘popper training’ videos. These examples of amateur gay porn, usually circulated via porn aggregators such as Xtube, constitute what might be described as video collages that repurpose a range of found sources including commercial moving-image gay porn, still images, text and music. The resulting videos are designed for the express purpose of aiding a form of masturbation often described as ‘edging’, fuelled by amyl nitrate use, into a pursuit that is elevated to the status of a competitive training activity, known by its practitioners as ‘popperbating’. I argue that these popperbate videos, which function as examples of what Jean Burgess has described as ‘vernacular creativity’, construct masturbation as an activity that might be regarded as ‘productive leisure’. The intention of this article is to contextualize this creative practice and to provide some tentative conceptual orientations to situate popperbate videos and for the analysis of the textual qualities of the videos, and to discuss the sexual scripting that they produce.

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The enigma of the male sex symbol

Celebrities Studies

John Mercer

2013 When Daniel Craig emerged from the sea as the new James Bond in Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006), his appearance (and his physique) created a media furore. For the first time since the days of Sean Connery, James Bond was once again a sex symbol. Starting with the many examples offered by the James Bond franchise, this essay identifies the sex symbol as a ubiquitous but essentially ill-defined category of celebrity status. Challenging a ‘common-sense’ understanding of the sex symbol, this essay emphasises the importance of the sex symbol as a way into understanding the complexity and mutability of attitudes towards sex and sexuality. The intention of this article is to bring the category of sex symbol into critical view, to make some provisional suggestions as to the ways in which this phenomenon might be interrogated and to consider what the specific issues might be in relation to an understanding of the male sex symbol in particular.

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Coming of age: Problematizing gay porn and the eroticized older man

Journal of Gender Studies

John Mercer

2012 This essay discusses the author's experience of researching gay pornography over a 20-year period between 1992 and 2012 alongside an analysis of the contemporary re-emergence of the mature male as figure of sexual interest in gay pornography. One of the functions that gay pornography performs has been to articulate ideals of sexual desire, and alternative bodies and modes of representation have often been relegated from view or situated as abject. The advent of the Internet has created conditions in which a diversity of types and modes of representation can proliferate alongside an exponential expansion (and bifurcation) of the market. Recent years have seen the increased popularity of so-called ‘Daddy porn’ catering for (and creating) an interest in the older man and the mature body as a site of erotic fascination. The essay discusses the implications of this development by focusing on the narrative, discursive, and representational strategies of texts that present the older male as a sexual figure. The essay assesses the extent to which Daddy porn might be regarded as a progressive turn or whether this mode of representation is a reassertion of patriarchal masculinity and a problematic eroticization of abusive power dynamics.

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