Adult contemporary: Ex-porn star Colton Ford sings & acts
To appreciate where Colton Ford is going, it helps to know where's he's been. Yes, you may have seen him completely naked, having hot sex with other men in the rush of popular gay porn videos he made in less than a year. Since then, you may have heard his music, thinking it was a path he chose after his porn work. You'd be wrong.
If you have here!TV on your cable programs, you've seen the campy serial The Lair, where Ford plays the straight-acting gay Sheriff Trout to some over-the-top gay vampires.
But before all that, before the dance tracks and award-winning top-bottom scenes under his stage name, Pasadena-born, Mission Viejo-raised Glenn Soukesian began paying his dues in high school, performing in musical theatre as Emile de Becque in South Pacific, even, ironically, the Reverend Hale in The Crucible.
Imagine this now post-porn icon singing a cappella in a jazz quartet that frequently opened for Wayland and Madame. Commercial jingles, cruise ships, he's done it all.
"Having covered the gamut of different types of performing, singing is something I've always enjoyed," said Ford. "When you sing a cappella, you fine-tune your ear. That enabled me to do all the stuff I do; make my own back-up vocals, recreate it in a live setting."
Credit his Armenian, Italian ("and Swedish, French and English," Ford added) roots for his striking good looks. At 45, credit his rigorous gym routine with keeping his muscular frame in such terrific shape. And perhaps, credit his sense of humor for balancing the trifecta of music, acting and porn with success.
His new CD, Tug of War, produced with Quentin Harris, includes smooth and funky R&B and dance songs all co-written by Ford. He talked from New York City, where he moved from Los Angeles last year, and is working on a second CD, a collection of dance versions of classic standards.
"I'm working with different producers out there that are wonderful at what they do," said Ford. "That's the wonderful thing about collaborating. You get a blend of different influences."
What may surprise fans of Ford's other work are the delicate tenor vocals in his music.
"I tend to talk in more of a baritone," said Ford. "But growing up, I had a high voice. When I started to study with a vocal coach, I learned how to relax and 'drop down' in my throat. The bottom part of my register -- no pun intended -- gave me a bigger voice in the top part; a wider range and a fuller sound to my voice. My musical influences are Marvin Gaye; a lot of the crooners spoke to me. That's something I've always done when I had my major deals in the 90s: straight-ahead R&B."
Recent live performances have included a few dates along Cyndi Lauper's True Colors tour. For now, he's settling into Manhattan life.
"The East Coast is a lot more music-friendly to dance and house and R&B, those types of genres," he said. "The movers and shakers are out and about. I happened upon a lot of people I wouldn't have met elsewhere. Everyone's in their bubble in LA. Here in New York, the music industry is about visibility; it's relationship-driven."
Although he's put his sex life off-camera, he's not ashamed of his year in porn, as the 2004 documentary Naked Fame shows his shift out of porn and back into music.
Ford credits his then-partner, porn actor Blake Harper, and director Chi Chi LaRue with his success. "She took me under her wing. I had the best experience I could. My friends and my lover were able to tell me what to do, what not to do. I think I punched through because at that time there were a lot of pretty boys; I had hair and muscle. I didn't go in there with expectations. I had fantasized about it for years, and doing it with my partner, in a way, was more of an adventure. It took me out of a corporate gig. I wanted to have a good time with it, and I did."
Ford gets to poke fun at his past with his cameo in Another Gay Movie: Gays Gone Wild as Butch Hunk, an escort hired by lead actors who want a threeway where, unfortunately, everything goes comically wrong. "It's silly over-the-top," he said. "I just went in and had fun with it. It's definitely not Sophie's Choice."
In-between his music work in New York, Ford flew back to LA to film the second season of The Lair, which wrapped in February. At last season's finale, his character was shot and nearly died. In Season Two's opener, Trout is blind, wary, and feigns ignorance of the underground vampire coven.
"I'm glad that the character feels different than last year," said Ford, who added that he's been a fan of shows like Dark Shadows and horror films. "He's darker, more vulnerable. The fact that I don't get involved in the orgy scenes, that I don't take my clothes off, has lent itself to people looking at my acting," said Ford. "The fun challenge is to make some of these campy lines realistic. I'm looking forward to seeing this season. It's always an interesting dynamic, and it's definitely been a lot of fun to do something like this. The cast and crew are amazing. There's always a positive energy."
Those craving a fresh peek at the hunk can check out Joe Oppedisano's next book, with more revealing images of Ford that didn't make it into the CD's art.
"He really captures the male form," said Ford. "From the moment I landed in New York, Joe and I have been collaborating," Ford said. "It's like we were friends in past lives. His aesthetic is really all over my album. He directed my second video, 'That's Me.'"
Speaking of form, Ford's workout regimen may interest gym bunnies. "I've been active all my life," he said. "I'm just trying to maintain. I'm not as big as I was, I don't want to be. I train three to four times a week, fairly intensively: weight and core training. I try to just kind of combine the old school and new school.
"The short amount of time I did the porn has overshadowed my life's work, because it's such a strong thing. But over the last year, that perception has shifted a lot. There will always be people who don't want to see me any other way."
Those include naysayers who critique his hip-shaking, shirtless performance in his music videos. "There is a double standard for men being sexual and women being sexual as a marketing tool," he said. "Whether I had done porn or not, I'm a provocative person. We are sexual creatures, so get over it."
One of Ford's few complaints; he usurped the recent trend of celebrity porn videos by doing his porn first, and professionally.
"A friend of mine told my old drama teacher, this little old Armenian lady, that I had done porn and was successful at it. She replied, 'Of course he is! He's an actor!'"