Colby Keller

Interview by
Danny Calvi
Photography by
Miguel Villalobos


33-year-old artist Colby Keller does porn to support his art. And why shouldn't he? It's clear to Colby and everyone who knows him that art has been his true vocation since he was a kid. He grew up in Houston, Texas, has that friendly, Southern demeanor, and is obsessed with all things Native American — as a kid, he'd come to show-and-tell and do a rain dance. He studied anthropology, but eventually moved to Baltimore to do his graduate degree in art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. As he cleans house and prepares to leave Charm City, I meet up with him at his apartment and studio in Lovegrove Alley. It's a little bit like talking to the Dude from The Big Lebowski, or rather, the Gay Dude.

Danny: Have you ever considered producing your own porn?
Colby: I have, yeah. I’m currently trying to raise enough money to buy a van to travel around the country, so I can fuck hot boys and make my own amateur videos. The porn business has really changed over the last several years.
No one’s making as much money as they used to make — actors or producers. The market’s over saturated. There’s way too much competition, there’s a lot of free porn, there’s a lot of amateur sites…
Do your fans even buy DVDs anymore?
People do buy DVDs, but they’re older and that audience is slowly disappearing. DVD sales are like a dead weight on a lot of companies. When the economic collapse hit, that really hurt the business and I don’t think it rebounded since. That model of the performer who gets a job with a company and goes on to become a director is less and less likely to happen.
Have you done any camming?
I’ve done it, but it’s an incredibly emotionally demanding thing to do. You have to get some kind of enjoyment out of seducing, and, to a certain extent, you have to be an exhibitionist. Those things just don’t come naturally to me. People are mean too. They’ll be like, ‘You’re fat’.
Does one have to have a certain kind of personality to be a porn model?
Definitely… To this day, I still get nervous. I’ve become more comfortable on a porn set ’cause I know what to expect, but it took a long time to get there.
How do you overcome the nerves?
I just barrel my way through it. When I’ve been on sets that are really stressful, I’ll go in front of a big window — I love being outdoors, just engaging without the outside helps me a lot — and just kind of look at a tree and zone out for a while.
Cleanliness is obviously an issue when you’re having anal sex on a porn set, but do you guys have a special diet you follow the day before you’re expected to do a scene?
I don’t really bottom so much, but I wouldn’t eat a big bag of peanuts the night before. Or corn…
Even if you’re topping…? Like eating pineapple the night before.
If you’re doing a piss scene, that’s true. Like you want to eat a lot of sweet fruit. Pretty much every model will not eat the day of the shoot. I used to do that, but skipping meals makes it harder to perform.
What’s the benefit of not eating?
Part of it is just magical thinking, like they don’t want to make themselves look fat. For bottoms, if you clean out at eight o’clock in the morning, by two o’clock, when you’re actually getting fucked, you’re going to have to clean out again if you’ve eaten breakfast. They might have an energy bar or a Red Bull, but I would say ninety-five percent of performers have not eaten. When you see them on screen, they’re starving.
Can you cook? What’s your specialty?
Curry… I make a really good curry. I like spicy food. I make these really good pinto beans too. I love a pot roast. Of all of my friends, I’m the only one who has never gone through a vegetarian phase. I like animals, but I fuckin’ need to eat some meat.
Do you work out a lot?
I go to the gym twice a day, actually, six days a week. It ends up being about two-and-a-half hours per day.
And do you stick to a certain program?
Yeah, I do.
Do you have a personal trainer?
I wish… I can’t afford that. I bought a book at Barnes & Noble called ‘Body Sculpting’. It’s a six-week cycle, basically, where you build up sets. It becomes harder and harder and harder and by the sixth week, you’re like dead. It really helped slim me down.
Do you take supplements?
I do — I love taking pills! I love the vitamin shop. I’ll be like, I’ll have one of everything! I don’t care that some of them don’t even work, or that they might be bad for me. I just love the idea of taking them.
How many pills do you take a day?
Like five or six…
Has anyone every asked you to endorse a product?
I wish! But I would like it to be a completely non-sex-related product, like an energy drink. I drink a lot of iced tea, so if somebody had an iced tea product they wanted me to endorse… Or Chipotle — I could be the Chipotle spokesman — I eat a lot of Chipotle.
Are you a taco eater or are you more of a burrito kind of guy?
I usually get the burrito bowl.
Without the tortilla?
I will occasionally get chips, but typically, I’ll just have the bowl.
And is it with pork, chicken or beef?
I try to rotate them, but I typically just eat chicken. The sofritas, the tofu scramble, is really, really good.
And would you like mild, medium or hot salsa with that?
Hot! As hot as it goes… It’s never hot enough.
Sour cream and cheese?
A little bit of sour cream and guacamole…
No cheese?
No. Cheese is weird because I like always buy it, and then it just sits in my fridge and molds. I never eat it.
Is there some moldy cheese in your refrigerator right now?
Yeah, there’s actually a moldy rind of cheese that I found behind the kombucha.
Behind the what…?
Kombucha’s like a fermented tea. I can show it to you. It’s this big, giant, gross-looking, white, slimy mass of bacteria and yeast. Like a sugary, mildly alcoholic tea… It kinda tastes like a sweet vinegar.
Does it have health benefits?
It’s supposed to promote digestive health. People claim a lot of things, which I’m skeptical of — I just like the taste of it. It’s fun to make something on your own.

BUTT - Colby_kombucha_web
Colby's homemade kombucha... Yummy!

I saw you were also busy making your own lube…
I have yes, for a video, although I can’t say I really used it. I’ve been abstinent for several months…
Wow, I think BUTT readers would be really surprised to hear that.
You think so?
That you’ve been abstinent…?
I mean, I’ve had sex for work, so I guess…
That counts as sex.
I don’t think so. I think it counts as work. It doesn’t feel like sex when you’re having it.
You don’t enjoy it?
There are ways of enjoying it, but it’s definitely not the kind of sex you would have in your private life. I wouldn’t do it unless I was paid to do it. It’s a job.
How’s having sex on camera different?
It’s much more labor-intensive and time consuming. There’s a lot of stopping and starting, and putting your body in weird positions for the sake of the camera. You don’t come when you’d like to come.
How long does it take to film a scene?
I’ve done a scene in three hours, but that’s really fast. Typically, I’d say four or five hours. Depends… The more people you add, the scenes are longer. At Titan, for the same price you’d get for a normal scene, you were supposed to do two, full ten-hour days days. That’s like two cum shots. That was grueling.
Besides having a slim waistline or being cute, what qualities are helpful if one is interested in doing porn?
I would say a compassionate nature and patience are two really important things. A good performer is one who is concerned about their scene partner. Someone who understands we have professional job to accomplish together, so we can get out of there and get paid. Part of fulfilling that desire for myself is making sure that my scene partner is also happy and comfortable. There are a lot of performers who will just sit there on their cell phone the whole time and won’t even look at you. Those guys are horrible to work with. It’s like, I get it, dude — you don’t want to be here, you don’t have to prove it to me.
Don’t you think the camera sees that?
Oh totally… But these people still have careers.
Do you get to pick and choose who you have sex with in videos?
Typically, the producer will set a scene for such-and-such a date, and they’ll look for other people to pair you with. I used to demand that they let me know who the scene was with first, and I’d have to pre-approve it. I kind of stopped doing that. This is the weird thing about chemistry. Sometimes you go into a scene and you don’t think you’re gonna be into the person, and you have hot chemistry. Other times, you’re like damn that guy’s really hot, and you get there and he’s like a total asshole. To tell you the truth, the really, really, really hot guys are usually always assholes.
What was sex like with Arpad?
Arpad was actually a very nice guy, and very hot. He had a great sense of humor and was very easy-going. I used to fantasize about him before I actually got into porn. He was beautiful, particularly when he did his first videos for Kristen Bjorn. He had this big, but lean body. What he was good at was what he did with his clients, which is performing this like ‘big man, I fuck you hard!’ That was the way he compartmentalized his desire to be a good escort. But if you wanted someone who might be into you, there was none of that. It was confusing to me because I would talk to Arpad outside of the set, and he wanted to hook up.
Just like for fun…
Yeah. I thought there was going to be real chemistry because we’d both been talking about having sex off-scene and I knew he liked me — but when I met him on set, I didn’t pick up any of that. He had obviously started doing a lot of steroids, which for me personally, is a turn-off. I also felt like he put up a ton of emotional distance. Our last scene together was not long before he killed himself. He came up to me after we had finished, pulled me aside and was like, ‘Do you have any steroids?’ And I actually started laughing ’cause this is not a steroided body. I don’t do steroids. I think his dealer got arrested, and he’d been out for quite a while. His whole life had become about his body and his sexuality. Maybe he didn’t nurture the other parts of his life. I don’t know.
Do you watch a lot of porn yourself?
I watch a little bit. But for maybe two years now, I’ve kind of stopped masturbating regularly. I’d go weeks without masturbating, not even think about it, and then, all the sudden, it’s like, oh shit, this is affecting my hormone levels. Like, I can’t do this. So I’ve tried to be much more deliberate about it. I could fantasize about something, and I do, but it’s so easy to pop in a video and in twenty minutes, you’re done. It almost feels like medical.
What about watching one of your own films?
It would be hard for me to eroticize porn made by one of the studios I’ve worked for because I would be thinking about the logistics of how they made the scene.
Is there something specific you’re looking for in a porn video?
A big ol’ butt doesn’t hurt. I also want to envision that people are actually enjoying themselves. Like wow, they’re so into it. There are some studios that are better at capturing that than others. I’ve watched videos where maybe I’m not that into the guys, but if they’re really into it, that makes a huge difference.
Has acting in porn made it harder for you to enjoy sex in your private life?
There are a few scenarios that will happen. One is people will assume it’s not really me trying to hook up with them on Scruff or whatever, and give me attitude. Or, they will believe it’s me and be grossed out that I’m a sex worker. Or they’ll just want to tick you off of their list so that they can tell all of their friends they had sex with a porn star.
So you’re either untouchable or…
Touchable for all the wrong reasons.
Don’t you ever want to like look into the camera and say, ‘Turn off this video and go have sex!’?
I do want to say that, but there are some people who can’t have those relationships for whatever reason, or find it difficult. Porn is way to access that erotic potential. Even though I’ve had very satisfying interpersonal sexual relationships, because it’s so much easier when I’m in control of it, oftentimes I have better orgasms by watching porn than I would with someone else. That’s the part that disturbs me. That’s why I stopped masturbating. I want to learn how to have better, consistent orgasms with another person.

BUTT - Colby_intext-ref_web
Colby's pits and Chief Sitting Bull. Miguel Villalobos has shot basically every inch of Colby's hot bod. The entire portfolio of photos can be seen over yonder.

When you’re not busy making porn, do you have a day job?
I have done a lot of different jobs to make money… I’ve been a nanny. I watched my first child from when she was about six months old until she was about three.
Do you have a special talent for working with children?
Well, I feel like I am a three year old. We understand each other. I really identified with her, she felt almost like a smaller version of myself.
Would you like to raise your own children?
I don’t think so. Just having been a nanny, knowing how much work goes into a kid — and how much money! Like I don’t ever see myself as being in the position financially where I’d feel comfortable taking care of a kid. I’m glad that I’m gay, and I’m not going to knock up some girl.
Has anyone ever asked to donate sperm?
No one has, and I totally would. At the drop of a hat, I’d give my jizz. A lesbian couple here in Baltimore asked my ex-boyfriend, and he took a long time to think about it and he was really unsure — I was just like, ‘Ask me! I’ll give it to you right away!
So many gay guys are having kids these days…
I think it’s really irresponsible. Get a dog. Gay guys are good with dogs.
Baltimore seems like an unlikely home base for a porn actor.
There are definitely a lot in Washington D.C. It’s a big escorting town. There’s a big client base there.
Have you ever worked as an escort?
No, I never have.
I guess if one wanted to get a top rate, one wouldn’t present oneself on You’d play hard to get.
I do occasionally get asked, and you’d be surprised at how cheap people are. It’s actually kind of insulting. Like, you want me to do that for what? People are always looking for a deal.
When do you think you might be ready to retire from porn?
There’s a lot of career paths that don’t have much in the way of longevity. Like a ballet dancer… But no one asks the ballet dancer, ‘What are you going to do after ballet?’ Part of that question is about, ‘When are you going to start your real job?’, or not respecting it as labor. You can be a fifty-year-old man and still do porn.
Of course! Um, hello Allen Silver…
I don’t know when that moment will come, and I’m not really concerned about it. If I can’t do porn anymore, I’ll go work at Home Depot. Doing porn can also open up a world of opportunities. I used to have job in D.C. where I worked for a lobbyist. I would have never had a job like that if it wasn’t for my porn personality.
What kind of lobbyist?
I shouldn’t say any more about it.
Were you a lobbyist for the porn industry?
No, no, no… It was a lobbyist for a territorial government. The person who hired me, his concern — I was still doing a little porn while I was working there — he was worried it was going to ruin him. I was like, dude, I’ve already done porn, and you’ve already hired me. Like if the ruining is gonna happen, you’ve already let it happen. In government, in D.C., people are ridiculously paranoid. I did get a secret pleasure from having to go to some senator’s office to drop off paperwork. Little did they know…
In your art making practice, what is your medium of choice?
I’d say I’m a painter. I’m also interested in objects and materiality, but I’m a horrible sculptor. I would say I’m good at painting. There are pleasures in painting.
Does your porn career inform your art?
It does now. I couldn’t ignore Colby. Colby is a big part of who I am. But does that mean I have to be the guy who makes work about sex? I’m not even that sexual of a person, and to be honest, sex really doesn’t interest me that much. It particularly doesn’t interest me as an artist. So how do I reconcile Colby with an art practice I don’t necessarily want to be about dildos? Or maybe I do want it to be about dildos, but I have to be able to justify the dildo.
Is there a Colby Keller dildo coming soon?
I say I don’t want to be the porn star that makes dildo art, and then I thought about it and I’m like, well actually, there are a couple dildos I could make that would be funny, and play off of this idea of porn stars having their own dildos. Like unusable art dildos… So I’m working with a bonafide sculptor who is teaching me about mold-making.
Certainly studios have approached you about manufacturing a replica of your cock.
Nobody has…
I’m surprised.
I just did a scene with Pierre Fitch, and he brought not just his dildo, but also his Fleshjack butthole and mouth. He has like three of them! In our scene, he’s fucking his Fleshjack butt while I’m fucking him. I don’t have a remarkable penis, but you would think somebody would ask.
That’s when you know you’ve made it.
To be the star with your own dildo, yeah that’s great, but being the star also presents it’s own limitations. I have been very fortunate actually to not be the star. I sort of fall into the background. Viewers identify with me and see themselves in my body, almost like an avatar. That’s allowed me to keep making films.
Because you’re more like the normal dude…
Just like a normal schlub, yeah.
Has being a porn actor hindered your art practice?
To tell you the truth, it has actually been a strength.
Do you think maybe people don’t take you seriously as an artist because of your porn career?
Oh, totally. But, because of my porn work, a lot more people know about me than if I was just some random art student at MICA.
I recently got a press release from a porn star who was selling erotic ringtones.
That’s a good one.
What other ways could one commodify oneself as a porn actor? You’re own scent perhaps…?
Oh yeah, totally! But would anyone want to wear that cologne? When I get back from the gym, I stink. You want to know what a big, sweaty man smells like when he’s fucking you? It might not be what you want.
You wear tank tops a lot. Would you say that’s your signature look?
I don’t know this…
Like a T-shirt you customized into a tank top…
Oh yeah, I’m recycling my old shirts — that’s just ’cause I’m cheap. It used to be the case that I never wore anything that didn’t come from a thrift store. It’s a little bit harder to do now. I mean, pants are hard to find, you gotta spend all day at the thrift store to find a decent pair of pants. There are lots of pleats or weird baggy cuts. In high school or college I was kind of okay with that, but I’m in my thirties now, I have to be a little bit more adult.

As part of his ‘Everything But Lenin’ project, Colby’s giving away everything he owns, including all of his clothing and beloved Native American blankets, before he leaves Baltimore for good at the end of the month. More about that on his excellent blog, Big Shoe Diaries. Come back to the BUTT blog tomorrow when photographer Miguel Villalobos gets up close and personal with everybody’s favorite artfag porn god.

Published on 16 May 2014