Colby Keller has described himself as “a bigger, scruffier, and more introverted variety of porn actor.” That’s perfectly apt for the thoughtful entertainer, whose latest venture is an appearance in the remake of Wakefield Poole’s 1971 classic Boys in the Sand.
I spoke with Colby in August 2012.
Mark Adnum: Mark S. King’s recent article in the Huffington Post asked if Dawson’s 20 Load Weekend was “the most important gay porn film ever made”. What’s your answer to that article’s question?
Colby Keller: This is a loaded question (pardon the pun).
I think the title of the article was actually a bit more sensational than the article itself. The article was explaining the origins and the mainstreaming of unprotected sex in gay porn. I was not surprised to learn (from the article) that companies with both bareback and safe sex scenes are seeing higher purchases/views of their bareback scenes, but I’d love to see some actual numbers. It’s definitely a fetish of the moment and I thought the article summarized the trend incredibly well.
I think the only thing the article could have addressed and didn’t were trends in amateur porn that became more readily available at about the same time as Treasure Island/Desert Knights were getting their start. Videos not unlike Dawson’s 20 Load Weekend were already available on sites like Xtube and Dudesnude among others with much lower production values and I think that could have been discussed as inspiring the trend as much as the efforts of the two main studios.
While we do have to recognize that porn is fantasy, it is also a market where people’s desires will affect what products sell. I think porn studios with both safe and raw sex scenes could do a better job at talking about HIV and other STDs as a service to their viewership. Dawson is said to have decided to film 20 Load Weekend because he had recently sero-converted and some viewers may have presumed all actors were positive, but it was never explicitly stated. I remember when JakeCruise.com started filming raw scenes, they published information about sero-sorting partners and requiring up to date HIV screenings (because the actors on their site were presumed to be HIV-negative). I think this kind of information is really helpful to all of us as we don’t discuss HIV and STDs enough. The safe-sex only model in porn is one that is understood by people who know the history AIDS and gay sex or even lived through the initial wave of infections, but assuming that knowledge of a younger generation is naïve and unfair. We are all responsible for continuing the conversation.
For many people, porn provides a safe alternative to explore desires, and everyone who’s ever hooked up with someone who has overly perfected their “Ya, suck my cock” porn voice knows that porn also inspires modelling behaviors. The responsibility lies with all of us to talk about safer sex practices and make informed choices. Much like NYC’s mandate to publish calorie information on menus, educating our community, encouraging frequent testing, knowing one’s HIV (and other STD) status and knowing as much as possible about the risk of all infections is the best way to help people make informed decisions. There are much smarter people than me working on HIV and gay public health policy and I’m not the person to be making prophetic statements about what’s right and what’s wrong and how we’re going to proceed, but I think ACT UP’s brilliant motto “Silence=Death” - used in response to government inaction on AIDS/HIV policy, treatment and prevention - should be every MSM’s (men who have sex with men) personal motto every time we choose to fuck.
MA: How much would you say your Manhunt sex advice vlog was influenced by this:
CK: I’ve never seen that before! That’s hilarious and amazing. I’ll have to blog about it and maybe use it as inspiration for a future Manhunt Sex Advice video! Thanks for sharing.
MA: What are your thoughts on Ben Provisor, member of the USA Olympic wrestling team:
CK: Uh, he looks hot to me.
MA: Are you much of a Barbra Streisand fan?
CK: I don’t really know her work to be honest. I saw Yentl and liked it.
MA: Truvada etc.: brave new world of HIV prevention or something more along the lines of Huxley’s Brave New World?
CK: I know a few people for whom it seems to have worked for a while now and I think that’s great. Obviously, I think everyone should make their own medical decisions.
As far as the medicalisation of homosexuality goes though, we’ve put our faith in HIV testing and condoms (both medical implements) for some time now and I would hope that Truvada’s approval by the FDA means that we can be certain of its effectiveness too. Additionally, the much larger problem of HIV/AIDS transmissions and deaths exists outside of the developed world. If we could find a way to protect people from infection on a larger scale (like we’ve done with Smallpox and Polio), I think that would be amazing!
Big Shoe Diaries (Colby Keller’s blog)
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