Bruce Jennings is not your typical gay porn star. He lives in Portland, after all, and commutes to San Francisco to make his films. On top of that, he has a disabled right arm.

You'd be hard-pressed to tell that this Oregon native--who has appeared in such homo-core porn flicks as Jacked Up, Nexus and the soon-to-be-released Chute--has any problems with his lean, muscled-up body. "They edit around it," says Jennings, referring to the fact that, on or off screen, he has trouble moving the right side of his body.

What makes Jennings' unusual life story interesting particularly now, at the holidays, is that it's about a transformation. Working in porn hasn't made him rich or famous, but it has led him on a path to overcoming personal tragedy. That seems unusual for an industry that most people assume leads to nothing but exploitation.

Jennings asked not to be identified by his real last name--"my family knows I've made some movies, but they're not for Warner Bros."--but he openly offers the vital stats most actors might gloss over: He's 5 foot 8 inches tall, 160 pounds, with dark hair and green eyes. Oh, yeah, and there's this: He's a 7-inch cut, bottom boy.

To understand Jennings' story, you have to flash back nearly two decades, to a day when robbers broke into his apartment in Northeast Portland. The thugs beat in Jennings' head with the blunt end of a gun, then left him for dead. Jennings suffered a coma and subsequently underwent two brain surgeries, but it was the lasting damage to his motor skills that lodged a major blow to his self-esteem.

Before the beating, he was a Grant High varsity gymnast who liked playing guitar and collecting muscle cars. After the attack, though, he says he felt like a worthless human being.

Until a few years ago, when a friend took Jennings to a sex party in San Francisco. That night, he realized he loved having people watch him screw. "I felt accepted," Jennings says. "I was bare naked. People weren't looking at my arm. They were looking at me."

The friend also introduced him to the porn scene. "It's hard to break into," Jennings says. "I applied for a year and a half. No one would interview me."

He's blunt when talking about his debut performance in the film Jacked Up: "I fucked my way in." By chance, he slept with an ex-boyfriend of a porn director, which led to his first movie job. For the work, he received a $600 paycheck--plus a $300 bonus because he had allowed some guy to piss on him.

With three years of experience, now Jennings earns about $1,000 per scene, but he likes the work so much that he's willing to do a few scenes for free. "It's not about the money," he says. "I love the people. It makes me feel like I'm not alone, like I'm one of the crowd."

Jennings supports his part-time porn career by working in the luxury auto industry. He also moonlights as an escort, charging up to $600 a night. "That's where porn stars make their money," he says. Most of his clients are middle-aged married business travelers who make him feel more like a sex therapist than a sex slave.

A late bloomer in a field where appearance is everything, Jennings hopes to continue acting for a couple more years. Which is why he claims he's only 35 years old, even though he's really 41. Like every actor, he's hoping for fame. He hopes soon to star in a porn flick that features his image on the box cover.

Maybe his story could seem sad. A beating. A permanent disability. Years wasted. And then falling into an industry where success is measured in inches.

Jennings says he has never felt exploited or humiliated; rather, he's proud of the work. Proud that porn has helped him become--he claims--a better person.

"I like who I came out to be," the porn actor says.

Is this the Greatest Story Ever Told? Probably not. But at the holidays, more than ever, what we need is another kind of inspiration.

Check out Bruce Jennings on film at www.ragingstallion.com .