“I knew at the end of the day I wanted to be a man, but I just didn’t want to be myself. I don’t like authority or being under someone, so I thought of ways to get easy money.” After leaving high school in 2008, Branden moved to Florida with his adoptive mom and started dating Xavier.I felt like everything was a lie.” Branden’s never held down a conventional job. He started doing porn not long after the move, signing up for a cam site after a one-off XXX video he posted got a bunch of attention.On my dad’s side it was just like, ‘Black and tall.’” “I went to an all-black school, and people would say, ‘Branden, you’re black,’ or ‘Branden, you’re adopted,’” he says. One hand is on his hip, and the other held high in the air, like a pint-sized homecoming queen waving from atop a parade float.
The card in his hand is scratched up, ancient-looking, and literally held together with tape. Our next stop is Volusia Mall, a 93-acre, by-the-books shopping center.
As we cross the hot asphalt toward Dillard's, Branden tells me that buying fragrances makes him feel powerful.
He finds Spicebomb straight away, then eyes a Gucci scent he doesn’t have yet. Branden grew up in Hopewell, a small city in Virginia.
He was adopted as a baby by an older white couple: Buddy, who died of cancer when Branden was 12, and Veronica, a stay-at-home mom.
“I read my adoption papers when I found out,” he says. That’s really awkward.” Once, he asked his mom why she hadn’t told him the truth. Branden says he was always interested in entertaining, and good at determining what worked.
“It said a lot about my mom, but not her name, nothing I could contact. In one old photo, where he can’t be older than 9, he wears an unkempt black wig.
Branden didn’t learn he was adopted until age 17, when a family friend broke the news.
He doesn’t know much about his biological parents, except that they were black and Puerto Rican.
It’s populated with endlessly clever missives, both video and text-based, about ripping people off, robbing, cheating, and lying.
Some posts are outrageous, but others are strangely empowering.
He started doing porn when he was 18, and it paid his bills until recently.