Diamond In The Scruff: Colby Keller — The Nightcharm InterviewBy Shawn Baker / Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
Ask yourself this:
When you think of your favorite porn crushes, how often do you use descriptives like these?:
Brainy. Arty. Dorky. Approachable. Cuddly. Introverted. Literate. Chaplin-esque.
Meet Colby Keller, your Alterna-Gay Porn Heartthrob.
Whether you chalk up his popularity in an otherwise pretty uniform gay medium to a white collar (as in well-educated, not well-funded) labor shift or simply a big, bearded teddy bear doing what he has to in order to survive an upended Titanic of a 21st Century economy, Keller — above all else — comes off as disarmingly, sympathetically real.
A talented artist, gleeful sex hound, and unapologetic pinko sick to his dick of the myth of the all-providing Free Market, Colby Keller is as beloved for his brain as he is for his brawn, waxing intellectually on his excellent blog Big Shoe Diaries, adorning his frame with poetry, and partaking in naked drunk dance parties — complete with playful hat montage!
The scintillating and ever-candid Mr. Keller was gracious enough to allow this humble porn scribe a glimpse into his world, the culmination of which I think we can all agree has resulted in…The…Greatest…Gay…Porn…Interview…Ever!
Your segue into gay porn is unusual. We often tend to associate turning to pornography due to financial woes and a dearth of job opportunity with very young female performers. Nina Hartley once referred to it as the “porn vs. paper hat” resolution. Do you feel that it was a financial necessity rather than curiosity that led you there?
You’d catch me in a big lie if I claimed financial concerns didn’t bring me to porn. Not to beleaguer a tired metaphor, but my pants would be utter charcoal by now if I also claimed curiosity wasn’t a strong motivating factor as well. For me, it was a combo deal, a dialectic if you will (though not in the precise literal definition of the term). Necessity and curiosity aren’t necessarily opposites.
You’re the frontrunner of a new wave of brainy, educated gay porn stars following in the wake of Francois Sagat who have roots in academia and are as known for their literate blogging as their film resumes. Do you prefer being cast as a Thinking Man’s Sex Symbol than the more traditional opaque slabs of beef of yesteryear? Are audiences craving more intellectual and emotional depth out of performers?
Phew. Finally at the head of the pack! For once! First and foremost, porn is a marketplace. The desire for a “thinking man’s sex symbol” has probably always existed in some capacity . . . at least I would hope. Recent technological shifts and transformations in the marketplace encourage a radically different approach to thinking about porn (and the people who make it). I hate to talk about the relevance of social media here (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Xtube), but innovation in technology has certainly created radically new platforms to adorn the commodity fetish with significance.
There is more demand for (and a greater ability to access) the personal back-story of performers (even the not-so-thinking ones). Exploiting this technological shift may be one way traditional porn studios can counterbalance the negative realities of a (likely permanent) downturn of the general economy (coupled with a thirty-year decline in real wages for most workers) and the prevalence of torrents and free porn sites like Xtube. Damn. Listen to that. Colby Keller the boner bomb.
“Keller” as a porn surname is derived from activist Helen Keller. I get the sense that most models are branded by agents, producers or directors, but did you have a hand in coining your own alias?
Alas, I’m no different. I was indeed named after Helen Keller by director Joe Gage. . . because I’m painfully shy and quiet in person. Blind, deaf and dumb? When you really think about the analogy, I’m not so sure it was meant as a compliment. I certainly take it as one. “Keller” also has the odd effect of masculinizing a very boyish and goofy first name. Regardless, I prefer to keep the myth alive. It’s my real name OK!? And I’m very proud of my great aunt Helen.
Can a man be sexually exploited in the same way we associate with women?
What!? Women are sexually exploited? That makes no sense. Holes are meant to be filled! WITH BABIES!!! (JOKE) Of course men can be sexually exploited! If there is anything Radical Marxist Feminism should teach us, it’s that gender is just another category of capitalist exploitation — regardless of who or what that gender might actually signify.
Your appearance — somewhat rough-hewn, doe-eyed, hardscrabble, built but-not-chemically-enhanced — draws attention because it’s novel (I recall when I first saw your photo, my immediate reaction was Paul Bunyan meets Rankin-Bass’s young redheaded Santa Claus) and you often refer to yourself as “average” or “the boy next door.” Does your approachability set you apart?
This question sounds suspiciously like a compliment? One I’d rather not give myself. That said, I will say something no self-promoting porn performer should ever admit: I’m continually surprised I’ve ever been allowed to make porn. I’m convinced that a large part of my appeal resides in a wildly hypothetical, as-yet academically-undefined “avatar-sexuality”: my image on the screen allows other “average” “boy next door” types to imagine themselves in situations and with bodies they might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience. At least, that’s the best theory I have running . . .
Nightcharm’s publisher David K. hopes you never lose that small amount of ab padding that you sport. Have you been thwarted in your quest for “six-pack” abs or is that the classic “five pounds” that elude dieters?
Oh. ouch. An ab question. For realz? I always take it as a given that “abs” are the one thing about my body studios really, really, really want to critique me on, yet can’t seem to muster the moxie. I am a big motherfucker after all. Maybe they’re scared? What can I say? I like “being in my body” and part of “being in my body” means exercise . . . and “part of being in my body” means experiencing good food. I refuse to starve myself on chicken breast, months on end, simply for a 30-minute flash of abs for a porn title with a six-week shelf life. Maybe I don’t harbor the degree of narcissism this business usually requires to be successful? Maybe I’m not as professional as I could be (if professionalism means delivering a body a wider audience can sexualize)?
I would like to think neither fully appreciate the particular idiosyncrasies my storied porn career as the chunky-monkey-hunk would imply. Its important to remember that abs are really a genetic abnormality, one I unfortunately don’t suffer from. I would like to hope there is always room in the market for realism. As the increasing prevalence of bad Hollywood films (and steroid abuse across the board) make painfully clear, however, that may be a pipe dream. We should never count on Capitalism to give us exactly what we want. . . Better yet, Capitalism will always strive to offer the impossible. God forbid, our desire slacken.
Which moniker do you prefer: Porn Star, Porn Model, or Sex Worker?
Though it’s mighty hard to resist “star” and “model,” the militant Marxist in me naturally gravitates to anything with “worker” at the end.
Do you feel it’s possible to have a monogamous relationship and also remain active as a sex worker?
Hmm. I have operated in a monogamous relationship while making porn (so it IS a real possibility), but monogamy just ain’t my bag. I believe in the testimony of plural marriage given to the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. in 1843. That, you know, and I just really LOVE ass and cock. As much as I can get pleeease!
As a porn moonlighter, do you ever feel like you’re two people divided in one body? Do you have to compartmentalize worlds?
Yes, of course. I’ve got more compartments than a bad pair of cargo shorts. Lets face it, all types of work make us compartmentalize ourselves. I can’t claim any special privilege.
As a fellow paleface, I’m taken with the fact that you’re not tan. Is that a deliberate break-from-the-crowd move on your part?
Black is beautiful and white is right! Hmm? No. That doesn’t work. It’s time the Paleface Nation comes up with a slogan of our own . . . one that skirts overt racism. I think the correlation between black skin and pale skin is an interesting one. Any skin tone which deviates from the sexualized norm (in our case, sun-kissed SoCal surfer bod) automatically fills a special niche “fetish” category.
Stay tuned (and hold on to your balls) for Part 2 of our Colby Keller interview — coming soon!
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