When my first porno came out, I didn't expect it to sell on such a big scale.
As a beginner when it came to the business, I hadn't expected anything out of the gig. A roommate from my dorm threw out the idea to make one after a few drinks post-finals of my sophomore year, half-joking about how easy it would be to make bank from just fucking until the sun came up.
At that point in time, I was a broke college student, relying on cheesy noodles from the student pantry to sustain myself and utilizing public transportation for my traveling needs. Most of us in the unit didn’t come from money, so what started off as a comment for shits and giggles turned into an admittedly insane proposition. “Mixing business with pleasure doesn’t always have to be a bad thing,” I remember him proclaiming with great confidence (he was a Political Science major, so I wasn’t sure why I expected any less). “And you’re not signing any contracts, so what harm can this do?”
In my state of intoxication and sleep deprivation from the beast that is Astronomy, I set a date and popped up to a makeshift set in a garage the next week to let loose. Once I was more sober, I still followed through with my commitment to the plans, truly because I didn’t see the harm in it. I knew the prospects of me hitting it big were slim to none, so I was really just showing face for the sex and free pizza.
As a child, being an actor was always a dream of mine. I didn’t have siblings to interact with me much, so I watched TV all day, in awe at the performances actors pulled off. The dedication to the art of storytelling was clear in each line spoken and each facial expression portrayed by folks on the big screen. Drama consumed my youthful weekends off from school, and after seeing The Terminator overtake the world with his badassery for the first time, I decided I was going to pursue film in some way. I didn’t care about the risk that came with reaching for stardom or the rarity of good employment in a career field like this. Even if I needed to start off as a dude delivering coffee to some rich people, I would do it without hesitation.
Of course, my unorthodox journey to the big leagues took years to come to fruition, considering I hadn't exactly done any small acting gigs before hitting it big. I didn't start as a child star, had no famous relatives, and had no features as an extra in a television show. I had virtually no experience with auditions either.
I considered college to be my best bet to explore my prospects after high school, which resulted in more debt than I could even imagine. After giving higher education a chance and struggling with sustaining myself as I attended school, my security in my plan slowly began to fizzle out as I began losing my sense of direction. If I continued going the traditional route- taking on years of education and relying on networking- there was no chance of being Hollywood’s next big thing unless I was looking to play a sitcom dad. It was frustrating to try and pull odd jobs out of my ass to even afford tuition and essentials every single year. So I just did my thing with little inhibition to ruin a good time and in the hopes that if this were my last year at the university, at least I’d go out with a bang and a few bucks for the road.
With a low budget for the film and a sucky moaner as a co-star, I thought the production would've flopped, just like many others of its kind, and part of me was okay with that being reality. Money wouldn’t pour into an industry if producers, studios, or even audiences accepted any amateurs with little experience and a low-quality, shaky film from a low-resolution camera.
I had forgotten about the video until a few weeks later when I received news from my old roommate.
By a miracle I couldn’t even explain, I made it.
Someone, somewhere, saw something in me- probably not the potential to transform into the best in the business, but definitely the potential to be a cash cow at minimum.
Within a year of our debut, I knew of three different adult entertainment studios that were offering to scoop me up and put me on new projects. I guess my roomie had a cousin who knew a guy in the industry. He shared the file with a few people he knew, and boom- instant money haul. Calls came left and right from producers in the industry, wanting my face in their movies, my face plastered on their ads, my face sprawled across screens internationally. I got to the point where I had to completely ignore the inbox for my email address, unable to open it without being overwhelmed by countless promises of fortune and tons of invitations to grab coffee.
Of course, the opportunities were appreciated but overwhelming simultaneously. I hadn’t anticipated launching my career so soon, even if I had the dream of being a star one day. In my mind, I was fresh meat that would probably be exploited before I could even bask in the fruit of my labor. I didn’t know anything about the adult film industry, and with my next semester around the corner, I didn’t have time to invest in trying to figure everything out. So I declined the offers and waited for the right moment to branch out, which came shortly after I met Erwin Mendoza.
We met at the gym a few years before- I was prepping to audition later that week in New York in hopes that I could get called on as an extra for any role that was open. Apparently, he was trying to let off some steam after one of many failed entrepreneurial endeavors he pursued post-graduation. I complimented a tribal tattoo on his arm, and the comment was the start of a casual friendship.
As we became workout buddies and grew closer, I found out that Erwin was a Communications graduate working at a coffee shop to make ends meet- like me, the networking from our college days hadn’t prepared us much for the real world, so the man was just doing what he needed to for survival. A few months into our friendship, I had dropped out of my courses after my savings dried up, so I was in the same boat as Erwin, working as a bartender with shitty tips and hours to avoid homelessness.
I’m not sure how we got to the topic of sex, but one mention of my past experimentation sparked an idea in Erwin’s mind. He all but insisted on me trying to make another adult film, pointing out how it was one of the fastest ways for a person who didn't mind certain types of publicity to get into the acting business. As a friend that I knew to be somewhat conservative in his thinking, Erwin being the one to suggest I explore porn as a legit business venture was a shock- but money trumps morals, apparently. I began to revisit the idea of having my face on a television screen, capturing the attention of hundreds if not thousands of people across the country. And what would it matter if my dick was out the entire time? I wasn’t the only person in existence with one.
After a long chat paired with negotiations on his cut and strategy, Erwin officially became my manager. And he immediately got to work- within the first month of our partnership, I was sitting alongside producers with a pen in my hand, scribbling my signature on the dotted lines of a multimillion-dollar contract. More money continued to fill my bank account as I was on the road, and my attachment to my work kept me motivated as I fought to make my name known in a sea of sweaty bodies.
And weirdly, though it had initially been a means to an end type of deal, I fell in love with starring in porn.
I spent my free days watching others in the industry, analyzing the small things about their performances that made others enjoy their films, which became a strangely tedious task at two in the morning (you could only watch so much porn in a sitting before things become a bit repetitive). At night, I spent my time hitting the major nightclubs with my partner in crime, the one and only Erwin Mendoza.
Together, we felt like we were unstoppable. As certified chick magnets able to get any girl in the clubs we wanted with a few slick lines, Erwin and I had nothing standing in our way of taking on the world. And as young, rich, and attractive celebrities in the acting biz, everything remained at our fingertips for the taking for the right price and with the right smile.
And I, the man known as Connor Banks on camera, could finally live my dreams.