Even though Colton Ford has been making music for over 27 years, has had roles in films like Another Gay Sequel and on television in here! TV's The Lair, he is still probably best known for his 10 month stint as a porn star. While he's no longer in the business of having sex on film, sex pervades his nearly-naked music videos. His newest collection of club anthems, Under the Covers, features covers of songs by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Brandy, Swedish pop star Robyn and is due out on August 4. We caught up with the singer just a week before he's due to play OUTmusic's Stonewall concert and benefit in Times Square to chat about Pride, his porn past, and his forthcoming album.
Out: Youre playing the Outmusic Stonewall Pride event on June 27 here in New York as well as Philadelphia Gay Pride. Do you remember your first Pride?
Colton Ford: Oh my God. Im totally going to age myself: I dont remember my first Pride. Was it Long Beach? It might have been Long Beach back in the 80s. Im 46, man. To be completely honest, I have no recollection. Ive been to so many Prides through the years and I dont remember my first Pride. I imagine I probably felt entitled because you go to these Prides and you can do your thing and represent and certainly back in the 80s -- and especially where I grew up in a suburb of Orange County -- I would imagine it felt very freeing and empowering. Obviously its a place where you can really see yourself reflected in the people around you. And Im pretty sure I probably felt pretty titillated by the whole idea.
When youre performing at a Pride event is it different than playing a regular show?
I approach each performance the same way. I think the energy is different for every gig and thats not really specific to or contingent upon the Pride vibe. Its really about the energy of the audience -- whatever that energy is. It changes from venue to venue and place to place. Certainly theres a sense of community and obviously a sense of pride that I definitely convey when Im doing Pride gigs but I try and do that with every gig I do that is an event within our community. One of the things Im really trying to promote is for our community to support its gay artists and thats not contingent upon whether its a Pride event or not. Its like, Hey, were out here, and we really need to get behind each other if we want to do this. The music business is difficult enough as it is and if someone is brave enough [to be an out artist] then it can be even more difficult. So we need to get out there and support one another.
Youve worked in everything from film to music to TV to porn but it seems like youre often pegged as with the "porn star turned actor" or "porn star turned musician" label. Is that frustrating for you?
I went into the whole porn experience with my eyes wide open. I did it for 10 months -- Ive been a recording artist for 27 years. But all the porn imagery and its dynamic has a huge impact. For some its still a moral issue, for some its curiosity, so, I would stupid to think that wouldnt be something that would be a part of what Im doing now. To the degree that it comes into play varies from person to person. Thats really an individual thing. But in the press that I do, for those people that dont know my history, I talk about it. I had to two deals with Virgin, I was with Denise Rich -- I tell my story in that I have always created music and Ive always been performing ever since I was a kid. The interesting thing is my porn experience is an extension of that. The different thing about it was that I was naked, but Ive never had a problem with nudity. It just seems like a continuum for me of creating and putting myself out there as a performer. Ive never stopped creating music. Its not porn star turned whatever -- Im a performer who has had various invocations and maybe took a detour that is unique. Not as unique as it was now that all these A-listers are releasing sex tapes. I thought I had a cool little angle [laughs].
Would you do porn again?
No. I really got everything out of the experience that I was going to get. Thats not to say that Im not going to be provocative. Im a little bit of an exhibitionist obviously. Im provocative by nature and thats not an offshoot of my porn experience -- thats just the way Ive always been. And I enjoy that -- I like pushing the envelope. I really dont have any need to do another film unless Im getting millions of dollars. And then maybe Ill consider it. [Laughs]
Do you still get offers?
Oh yeah. Now that its been six years, if I go to an event that has a presence with companies in the industry, then sure. But I know a lot of these people who run Hot House and Titan and all those places and theyre always like, If you ever want to come back and Im like, Thanks, man.
Its nice to still be wanted.
Especially considering the fact that Im in my mid-forties. Sure. Its definitely flattering. But theres just nothing in it for me that I didnt get out of it -- other than millions of dollars. [Laughs]
Do you get recognized a lot? Does your career history come up when guys are hitting on you?
Sure. Living in Chelsea, Im in the fishbowl. Sometimes its cool and sometimes its irritating. The other day these three guys who were visiting from France came up to me and wanted me to know that I have a lot of fans out there and they love what Im doing. That kind of stuff is really cool -- Im reaching people in such a broad manner. And then you have people who just dont have any filter. Its definitely a residual of the whole porn experience. In certain environments where people might be in a little bit of an altered state and there might more sexual energy -- in the clubs and what have you -- theres a familiarity they have with you without really knowing you and so I think sometimes they feel entitled to violate your personal space. Sometimes you just have to remove yourself from the situation and thats OK. Its part of the job. As an artist thats what you want: you want people to be aware of you and be conscious of what youre doing so theyll go out and buy your stuff.
The track listing for your new album, Under the Covers is really unusual. Often these kinds of records are filled with standards but youve chosen to remake current songs by artists like Robyn and Alicia Keys. How did you pick the songs?
It was a combination of myself and my manager Bill Coleman. Bill has been in the business for some 18-odd years. Hes the guy that discovered and managed Dee-lite and Cazwell and hes got this really hot roster of artists. He also represents some of the hottest remixers and producers in the business and hes also a DJ. So, honestly, a lot of the song suggestions came from Bill. Losing My Religion I wanted to do because Quentin Harris and I had done my last album -- he actually did a track on this one -- and he actually had a great remix track of that song and I thought, Id love to do that. He didnt do the track but he inspired me and this was before Id thought about doing a covers album. Ive always dug Show Me Love (Robin S.) and I thought Babyface would be great and By My Side (Sade) is such a fucking amazing song and Craig C. did an incredible job on the track. But some of the other songs like Ashes to Ashes (Faith No More) and You Gonna Want Me (Tiga) -- those are all Bill. He was like, Do this. Do this. Follow me. Everything he threw at me, whether I was familiar with it or not, it spoke to me. And then I went into the studio without any premeditation -- I didnt think about how I was going to arrange the vocals or the harmonies. I just let it happen organically. And every song I did enabled me to do something a little different that perhaps people havent heard from me before -- maybe didnt even expect from me.
Have any of the artists that youve covered heard their track?
Alicia Keys saw my YouTube video of No One and she totally dug it and she totally got it. Its really funny -- some people see that video and they dont get the little wink wink joke. We did a kind of an homage to the whole Larry Craig thing. I was in the bathroom stall singing through a glory hole. I was singing it a capella so that people could hear that I have a voice but I think a lot of people, because of my porn experience, were like, Its just another one of his porn videos. He should stick to sucking cock! Well, I never stopped! [Laughs] And I dont plan on stopping.
You shouldnt. You can do both.
Sometimes I even hum while Im sucking.
Colton Ford performs at the OUTmusic Presents Stonewall The 40th Anniversary Commemorative Concert and Benefit June 27 at the NOKIA Theater in Times Square. For more info, click here.
Fords new album, Under The Covers, is out on August 4. Check out his MySpace page for more details.