When I was an undergrad, I would drift off in my Phy Sci 27 class and wonder: “Where is Keni Styles?”
Throughout my mid-20s, I would go out to various Monterrey Park- and Rosemead-area establishments with my two best girlfriends …and while Nanciful ordered and lbq planned some elaborate trick, I would look around and wonder: “Where is Keni Styles?”
In 2007, I sat across a desk from the always bemused SK and told him what adult needed was some hott Asian man meat (that’s right – I told him)… what it needed, though I didn’t know it at the time, was Keni Styles.
And then, one fine day, I found him – I remember it like it was yesterday… a screener of Miss Lucifer’s Malice in Lalaland (2010) came my way, and there was Keni Styles.
Unbeknownst to me, Keni, the self-described “lucky Asian guy” with the hott British accent, had actually been working as an adult performer around Europe since 2006. He became a denizen of the US and Porn Valley in 2009.
Sigh… I had finally found my precious on the seamy silver screen, but he was still nothing more than a Malice-ious dream, no more real in Doppelgänger (2010) and Speed (2010) than he was in Phy Sci 27 or Biochemistry 153L or… (fill in any number of UCLA undergraduate-level classes).
I met my beloved Keni Styles in Vegas this past January, and I got to delve deep inside the inner workings of his viciously hott mind soon after – it was heavenly and more stimulating than anything I ever experienced in any college course. I dare you to read on.
So Keni, I hate to say it but us US folks don’t fully comprehend distinctions between race and ethnicity; and consequently, your Asian English-ness is somewhat confounding… Can you tell me a little about where you’re from and where you grew up?
“I was born in Thailand, and I lived in Bangkok with a Madame while my mom worked. She moved to England and came back for me when I was two. I moved there with her and grew up all over South London and the south coast.
I would say that I am from London even though I lived in Prague and Budapest before I moved to LA… I’m a Londoner through and through.
Ok so I know you’ve been working as an adult performer in the UK and around Europe since 2006, but you were involved in various forms of sex work before porn right?
Right! I’ve worked in adult for a long time – before porn I was a male escort to women and a bull to cuckold couples.
Sooo how in the world did you end up getting paid to bang other men’s wives (among other things)?
Well, I got into swinging young – my girlfriend at the time and I were always the youngest people at the parties. She wanted to swing but mostly we just played with girls as she was not attracted to many of the guys. I would fuck her in front of people fairly often, and we started to get offers to perform together as ‘party starters.’ This was fun for us because we didn’t often full swap.
But eventually, I ended up getting offers from couples to fuck wives and girlfriends separately. Mostly married couples, voyeurs or cuckolds. I started out just doing it for fun, but eventually I was offered money to have meetings. That’s when things started to get crazy; that’s when I started escorting.
Through that, I did my first nude modeling and then got into porn gigs. When I left the Army in August of 2006…
(my god of hotness – Keni Styles was in the military!!)
…is when I would say I started in porn. I worked as a performer consistently in Europe until I moved to the US in January of 2010, although I had been traveling back and forth for the whole of 2009.
International man of sex mystery… But what prompted you to make the jump from escorting to adult performance? Was it just a natural progression?
My start in porn came naturally really. A couple asked if they could shoot a meeting, and I agreed. I had done it many times before, but they told me this one would be for a porn site. I didn’t mind – that was my first scene.
Literally only a few scenes after that I was in the Caribbean shooting with hot European models for Private, and then a year or so later I moved to Prague. I was contracted non-exclusively to Eromaxx and enjoying the new life… but a health scare really hurt the Prague industry for a while, and most of the talent skipped across to Budapest. I did too, and I lived there for another year. All we ever shot there was hard gonzo though because most of the girls’ English isn’t great.
Oh wow… So, how did you then make your way to the US?
My move to the US came after my first AVN nomination. I came across for the awards show and my first AEE, and off the back of that I met and worked with a few American companies. They expressed interest in having me come back out, so I returned a couple of times – once to shoot the lead in PURE and another time for Malice in LalaLand.
(pictured: Keni on set for Malice… and the back of Sasha Grey)
I also got a lot of gonzo work. Eventually, I decided to move ‘across the pond’ because of the amount of attention American companies were giving me. Brad [Armstrong] at Wicked has shown me a lot of love; and with last year’s Speed and the late release of Malice, I’ve found I’m finally doing a lot more feature movies and acting work.
I really enjoy this part of the biz – even though my grounds are in gonzo-style work and I love to fuck freely with passion, I really do enjoy the big movies. I like it here in America.
Keni, I’m gonna go ahead and speak for the rest of America when I say we like having you here!! So then, what’s your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing is being paid to do what I love – I would be doing this anyway, but I’ve just been very lucky to be where I am today. I’m very grateful every day to wake up with my morning wood and think “Wow, let’s take this to work today!”
(Keni tweets about this every morning, and every morning it distracts me from doing so many ‘more important’ things)
The most surprising, unexpected aspect of my job is the sexual adventure and exploration. I’ve explored such a variety of different sexual scenarios and situations, so many different kinks and fetishes, and I love trying them all out. It’s interesting to see what works for you, where you can find your place in that fetish or kink, and I love the challenge of putting my mind in someone else’s fantasy.
I’ve peed on girls’ faces and in their mouths; I’ve dommed and been dommed; I’ve fucked old, young, big, small, all colors, shapes, sizes, sisters, and mothers. I’ve constantly been surprised at the turn ons I can find in any woman, something that I think is sexy, and something that’s gonna get me and her off.
(pictured: no, I’m totally not jealous of this girl)
Dang – everyone is beautiful, you know… but how do you do it? Certainly there are some people and/or scenarios that you are more or less attracted to…
Well, let’s just say that the same thought process I use to be a good porn performer has helped to become a much kinder and more elevated person. I think it’s a skill – a gift even – to be able to find something good, something positive, and something sexual in any and every situation or woman.
Oh, and I also think it’s just as important, especially for a cocky bastard like me, to learn to accept what you’re just NOT into, what does not work for you sexually, and accepting that you can’t do everything – I often forget this.
…and what about you personally? Has working in the industry affected your personal life?
Of course. I mean any career in any industry, if taken seriously with high self-expectations, is going to affect your personal life. My personal life has always involved a lot of sex, so it is probably easier to marry ‘me’ with my career… but I have to say – there are aspects of this job that some people may not have considered, mainly to do with having and maintaining healthy personal relationships.
There are many things about this career that suit me perfectly. I have always been a rolling stone, and this job has taken me all over the world – I’ve lived in half a dozen countries because of it. I have always been a very physical guy, and this job gives me more than ample enough time to satisfy my fitness and sporting needs. And finally, I have always had a huge appetite for sex and pleasure; and right now I am in the candy shop with all day, everyday to play. And on or off camera, I am surrounded with like-minded sexual freedom fighters and perverts. For me, this is the closest thing I have ever had to a home.
(sexual freedom fighters!!)
Now for sure there is really no chance of me ever having what would be considered a ‘conventional’ relationship, however there was really no chance of that happening for me before porn. I deal with love in my own way, which is perhaps alternative to many minds; but I know what works for me, and I am very up front and open about everything and everyone I am involved with.
The big issue is of course a longing for a life partner, a soul mate and a special one. I do sometimes have lonely down times, or I sometimes feel completely empty and unfulfilled right in the center of an orgy… but my mentality is that we can really learn to love anyone and everyone as deeply and openly as that one special person.
So I guess I’m just going with the flow on this. Tomorrow some woman may well knock me off my feet and it will all change, but for now I am simply and honestly trying to love everybody that comes in contact with me as much as I can.
Wow – if I may say, you really seem to have an open heart about a reality that has been described to me by others. It’s almost too sweet…
…but to switch gears some within the context of the personal, you often refer to yourself the ‘Lucky Asian Guy.’ This makes me wonder: has the US’s preoccupation with race and ethnicity been an issue for you?
Well, you know, I’m learning… I mean, in Europe I never really gave it a second thought. I’m Asian and what? But yes, there is a huge difference in the US and European markets and within their respective adult industries when it comes to race.
The US seems much more geared towards capitalizing on racial and ethnic stereotypes and possibly even maintaining attitudes about interracial sex. I certainly do not see this slowing down. It’s almost as if some companies are so deeply rooted in their marketing models and have too much invested in terms of money and jobs to even risk considering the ludicrousness of what their productions might stand for.
Any business venture involves supply and demand though; and I guess that after all is said and done, these things sell. Consumers of the US adult market want to buy these things, and that I have to accept.
I’m proud of my heritage, there is no question about that; but I have always focused more on being a strong, reliable, and versatile performer and actor. I never want to be referred to as ‘Keni Styles, that token Asian guy.’ I want to be known as ‘Keni Styles, the good actor/performer.’ Period.
But the fact is I am Asian and in the US. There are some roles that I’ve gotten only because I’m Asian, and those were definitely perks. I embrace the title of ‘Only Asian [Man] in Porn,’ even though I’m not – far from it.
Ick!! It sounds like a whole bunch of really crappy cultural issues are being directed at you… Now, I know you already do this by proxy of your performance work, but do you ever feel compelled at all to speak out about this type of thing?
Well, over the past months and years I’ve been taking in a lot of information, opinions, and views regarding Asian men from US fans and media. I have to say that it has been an arduous and sometimes tedious study, but I am grasping the situation.
Asian-American men seem to have a particular issue with mainstream and adult misrepresentation. Also, American culture and society seems to be deeply rooted in and easily influenced by television… So much so that the Asian-American guys I’ve spoken to are, in no uncertain terms, angered.
Many I speak to are so oppressed and downtrodden in their personal realities. They feel they have it in the neck from all sides – from Asian women, families, whites, blacks, and everyone else under the sun. So, rather than come at them with my brash cocky attitude, I try to lend a sympathetic ear to the situations they face in work, college, and school regarding interracial relations.
I totally didn’t get it at first, but it’s finally hitting home. I get it, and I’m finally understanding why many of them are supporting me so passionately.
This all seems so complicated to me… complicated and intense!!
Yeah, but I understand that smashing negative penis, sexuality, and masculinity-related stereotypes is important to people. Consequently, I have an extra responsibility to portray a positive Asian male image.
Asian-American men now have a reference point – someone to fuck the girls they may want to, and someone they can kind of relate to. Even if it’s not necessarily important to me, I realize the importance of that for so many Asian-American men out there, porn fans and otherwise.
On every single set and in every single scene, I know that I’m repping a whole ethnic group of men. I have the weight of them looking, feeling, and being respected sexually on my shoulders… but I don’t really mind it – I know I’m capable in everything I do!!
Ahhh you cocky bastard!! But I completely agree with you – there must be a ton of pressure; however, having seen your work, I know you can handle it!!
Haha yes!! And you know, I’ve tried all my career to avoid promotion or marketing based solely on race, but I’ve found that to be a much harder task than even breaking stereotypes.
What do you mean?
Well, for example, I have always drawn the line regarding scenes involving derogatory or negative stereotypes… but not many people approach me with anything like that because they know I’ll show them exactly where they can put it!! But yeah, you won’t find me doing change skits or anything…
(pictured: challenge stereotypes, but always keep your sense of humor!!)
‘Change skits’ meaning…?
Meaning, I am very careful on the comedy aspect of some roles. I can have a good laugh at myself for creative effect, but I always have those Asian fans in my mind when I do anything. I feel like I have a responsibility to do my part to help change the way many Asian men feel they are treated and looked at by women …and even by society.
Keni, it sounds like US society has provided you with a lot of racial and ethnic bullshit to contend with… Your wiliness to engage and help deconstruct it is commendable…
So, somewhat related, you’re about to play the part of US cultural and social icon – Bruce Lee. I am so excited about this!! What have others’ reactions been? And how exactly did this project come about?
Haha I’ve been getting a lot of mixed opinions on this project…
There are some who think that this project is in bad taste and that it’s disrespectful to the late legend. I understand their opinions, but all I can say is ‘Don’t watch it’ and perhaps develop a light-hearted sense of humor regarding what we are actually doing. It’s simply porn after all… but I just know there will be a huge positive response, more so than the haters – it will certainly do a lot for positive Asian male representation!
But anyway, it came about after a conversation with Axel [Braun] on his Star Trek set. He and I actually spoke in depth about what I just talked about, you know my Asian-American male fans, and we talked about doing something big that would be mutually beneficial to him and to me, both as an actor/performer and to my ongoing cause.
We spoke about a bunch of different ideas but finally settled on Bruce Lee. He and I are both fans of martial arts and of Bruce Lee himself. It just made sense to try to do something around our hero.
The movie is not going to parody any individual film but more cover Lee’s whole career in documentary style – interviews and presentations of some of his greatest career moments, and obviously the film is going to have some of the comedy aspects that comes with any parody production.
Do you think your role in such a high-profile film – I mean, this is Axel Braun we’re talking about – might encourage other Asian men to take a stab at adult performance?
Yes, for sure! I hope it will stimulate those Asian guys out there who have toyed with the thought of becoming a performer. I mean, there must be a lot of guys out there who wanna do this and look – Yao Ming is Asian, the world needs a Yao Ming of porn!! I hope I can help him come out and jump in the game!
Well Keni, we have covered so much here – from some of your personal emotional experiences with your job to international labor markets to race and ethnicity… In the midst of all the past and the present, what about the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Well, hopefully I will be spending half the year serving cocktails and DJ’ing at my exclusive, fantastic, and yet to be built bungalow resort on a tropical island in the gulf of Thailand – a dozen high-end luxurious bungalows, all secluded, private, and fully pimped out. Each with pretty winding little foot paths that come down to the restaurant, bar, and dance floor/party area situated right on the beach. I’ll be surrounded with happy holiday makers all looking to have fun and party. What a perfect way to meet people from all walks of life and spread the love!!
The rest of the year I’ll be back in LA directing and producing porn and being around the sexiest people in the world. Oh and hopefully employing the army of Asian male performers that will be working by then!! And maybe I’ll still be performing… Maybe.”
Very rarely does the reality of folks live up to the fantasies we construct around them, but the reality of Keni Styles blows my little imaginations out of the water.
Here is a man who has embraced life’s twists and turns with a positive open heart, who has traveled the world and managed to maintain a sense of wonder and excitement about the present moment and his next adventure.
He is a citizen of the world but has taken the initiative to understand some of the most deep-seated and problematic racial inequalities plaguing US culture – and he is taking it upon himself to do his part to help eradicate them.
For so many reasons, I love me some Keni Styles. Don’t you?
(pictured: Keni Styles & Dr. Chauntelle – king and queen of the AEE/AVN Porm, 2011; photo-fantabulous stylings by Robbie Antonio)
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From performers to post-production, office workers to executives, PVVOnline Back Stories explore the lives of people who work in all aspects of the adult industry. For more industry insiders’ Back Stories, go here.
Images courtesy of Keni Styles and myself.
You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from PVVOnline/Porn Valley Vantage, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”