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April 05, 2019

Renaissance Man: Max Konnor Shows Off His Range

A shorter version of this article ran in AVN Men magazine. Click here to see the digital edition, with more photos of Max Konnor. They say the camera adds 10 pounds. In the case of Max Konnor, it adds about a foot. Maybe his massive muscles are what make him appear 6-foot-5 on screen. “Everybody I meet says that! Every time I meet someone, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know you were so short!’ I must photograph very tall. But then when I took a picture next to Austin Wolf, everybody was like, ‘Oh … okay,’” laughs Konnor. “In front of the camera, I like short guys, I like petite guys. One thing that also turns me on about people that might be really weird is I like smooth skin. And a tiny waist. Armond Rizzo is totally my type because I’m not a giant, and so I love tiny guys.” But Konnor does have something else giant: his backstory, which reads like a fictional Hollywood script that finessed the facts to sell more tickets. But it’s a life that the performer has actually lived, both in front of and behind the camera. It all began in Albany, Georgia, in an unlikely place. “I came from a very religious family. My life basically consisted of school and church. I was ordained as a pastor when I was 14 years old … it was very unusual. I think there was one other person from my town who maybe was a few years older than me that was also ordained as well. By 16, I was pastoring my own church. It was…,” pauses Konnor as he ponders the past, then laughs. “It was a massive undertaking. A lot of responsibility, but I liked it. That’s what I figured I was supposed to be doing at the time.” That experience gave him a taste of something he wanted more of. And when he made the decision to go to theater school, Konnor went to New York to be part of the spring semester of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. “It was a very big culture shock. Prior to me moving to New York, my parents were very protective. I lived a very sheltered lifestyle; there were a lot of things about the world in general I just didn’t understand,” he recalls. “Where I’m from—everybody lives in this bubble, and everything’s pretty much black and white. And anything that doesn’t fit in that bubble, we just become ignorant to. So moving to New York was a very big culture shock. It forced me to grow up very quickly.” The environment also accelerated Konnor’s own sexual awakening. “It was difficult in the fact that going to theater school, I was surrounded by nothing but gay men, and so it forced me to deal with some skeletons I had deep inside my closet,” he says. “I started experimenting when I was in school, and then I went through a whole bi phase, and then I finally came to terms with myself that I was gay. I told my parents—but didn’t tell them the way that they probably would have wanted me to. I kind of wrote them an email and sent it to them. It all really opened my eyes to who I wanted to be with.” Konnor focused on musical theater in AMDA’s Integrated Program. Shortly after he graduated, he did a few tours and then lived in Harlem. “When I first decided to do porn, it was a little over 10 years ago, and I only did it for a brief amount of time. And at that time, it was solely just to pay my rent.” Konnor began his adult journey with a few films at Lucas Entertainment in 2009, then continued to perform as Isaiah Foxx over the next few years. He appeared in shoots for Flava Works, Treasure Island and more, but then stopped. His last three movies at that time came out in 2012. That’s when he decided to focus on his clothed career. A member of the Actor’s Equity Association for Stage and also the SAG-AFTRA union for film and television, he went on to do a lot of television work. “I kind of buit a career around acting, and in the past couple years I’ve done a lot of television work. I’ve done a lot of pilots,” says Konnor, noting he has appeared on the likes of Gotham on Fox, Broad City on Comedy Central, Madam Secretary on CBS and Masters of None on Netflix. Those experiences would serve him well on the adult side. “That career has taught me a lot about responsibility, about being a professional. It taught me how to interact with people that I work with. One of the biggest things about being on set—and even being in an off-Broadway or Broadway show—is you have to treat everybody with respect, because you never know whether that person is going to be behind the table when you walk into an audition room, or whether that person is going to be bringing you tea in between takes, whether that person is going to be your dresser. You don’t want to ever mess with people because they can really fuck you up. It starts when you’re in school. There’s a lot of people I went to school with who treated me like dirt, and then they’d walk into an audition room and I’m standing behind the table looking at them like, ‘You know you’re not getting this job, right?’” Konnor laughs. In 2017, he got to a point where he slowed down, stopped and looked around. “I was like, ‘You know what, I’ve achieved everything that I came to New York to achieve, and I’m not sure I’m happy,’” Konnor says. “So I had a talk with my partner and I talked to some of my closet friends, and I told them, ‘You guys, I think I want to go back into porn, but it’s going to be different this time because I have a plan, I have a strategy, and I really think I can make this work in my favor.’ And of course, everybody went crazy. ‘No! Why would you go back into porn?! You’re doing so well, you’re on television and all this stuff!’ And I was like, ‘I think I can make this work.’ And I created Max Konnor.” The Second ActAt first, Konnor stuck to his “home videos,” which got very popular very fast. “When I started out, it was with OnlyFans and amateur things like that. And Austin Wolf was saying to me that most performers start in studio porn and moved to OnlyFans, whereas I did it the opposite way. So sometimes, it’s hard to make that distinction between being a very famous online Twitter performer and actually being a porn model or a porn star or whatever you want to call it.” Konnor then had the luxury of studios jockeying for position, giving him offers trying to be the first one that got him to come back to studio work. “And it all really took off from there. I had a plan, but I never thought it would happen as fast as everything happened. Initially I was nervous, but then when everything stated to pick up, I was like, ‘Okay, this is what I wanted, this is what I needed to happen.’ I ended up shooting for Black Rayne Productions, and it was with a model who had retired from the industry but decided he would come back to film with me. His name is Tae (the) Doug, so it was a good company to make a studio comeback with.” That started a whirlwind comeback year in 2018, where Konnor shot for a wide range of studios big and small. “The last year has been crazy. I’ve worked with a lot of people,” he laughs. “One of the highlights would be Noir Male and Chi Chi [LaRue] really just taking a chance on me. I filmed the first scene for Noir Male, and out of all the studios that I’ve worked for, it kind of felt like home for me—especially because they are trying to represent what I feel like my brand kind of represents, which is diversity and inclusiveness.” Konnor adds that he got to work for companies “that I never would have thought I would work for. I worked for Raging Stallion, Falcon Studios … it just keeps growing, and any time I think it’s going to die down, it picks back up again. I never thought I was their aesthetic, to be honest. But then not too many black models get to where I’m at in mainstream porn, which I’m very, very grateful for. And it makes me feel good when I meet other black models in the business who I look up to, and I find out that they look up to me as some sort of pioneer or something. It’s just really cool.” Konnor sees progress for men of color in the industry, but notes there is still a long way to go. “I think it’s slowly getting better—very slowly. There are companies who only hire models of color for shock factor, or if they cast a black person, they have to make it known: ‘Hey look, we cast black people!’ So the movie or the scene has to be entitled something with ‘black’ instead of it just being a scene. At the same time, I think there are companies that are trying to evolve and make it better, but just don’t necessarily know the correct way to go about doing it. That’s why I also applaud Noir Male, because they are actually talking to black models and getting advice on ‘How should we proceed with this? What’s the best way to do this?’ Because I think there’s a lot of people who have great intentions, but don’t necessarily know how to execute it, if that makes sense.” That dedication is paying off. Konnor’s Noir Male scene with Rizzo won Best Duo Sex Scene at the 2019 GayVN Awards, where Konnor also received a nomination for Performer of the Year and Best Group Scene (for Fuck Champ Robinson’s Fuck the Police). The win surprised both of the performers. “I did not prepare any speeches whatsoever because I was not expecting to win,” said a shocked Konnor on stage. Rizzo soon praised him: “It is truly an honor to have won it with this incredible man … I‘ve never worked with someone whose heart and whose energy was just as similar as mine. And we hit it off. It was magic. We had fun.” Both Konnor and Rizzo used the chance to call for continued progress, and Konnor also reflected offstage on the studio’s potential. “If they continue down the track that they’re going and if they continue to listen, I think they can really make a big difference. There was a lot of concern when Noir Male first launched, and I really respect them because they really listened to people and really tried to improve things based on the feedback they were getting from people. There are a lot more black-on-black scenes being made, there’s a lot more diversity as far as Asian and Latino and a broad spectrum, so they’re actually listening to what people are saying.” Having an ImpactBeing part of that movement is fueling Konnor to grow his own career and brand—which he is taking to the next level by starting Haus of Konnor, a home/studio of exceptional and diverse adult performers and built on the pillars of respect, dignity and pride. “It’s a safe place for up-and-coming new models to get advice and guidance that’s not tainted or bitter, where they can just be themselves and not try to fit into a mold of what the industry says they should be. And some of those guys actually take on my last name—you have Benji and Austin and Ezra and all these guys coming up in the industry. Basically, it’s an extension of my brand. I want people to understand, if they see somebody with the last name Konnor, what that represents,” he says, noting he helped come up with the concept earlier last summer. “The studio is one owned and created by models, geared toward the development of models. It’s a place that provides inclusivity and diversity … we’re trying to bring sex back to simply that—just sex. Also, a lot more benefits for our models—payout systems and other systems that will entice models to come and work for a company that takes the time to figure out what works best for them. It will give more normalcy to being in this industry. If there’s somebody sitting in a high school math class that says, ‘I want to be a porn model and I want to make that a career,’ giving them the message to know that they can make it a career and not have to have a second, third or fourth job. It’s awesome to give models a way to continuously make money for themselves, and it’s not going to be just about sex scenes. There’s going to be a lot more content, too.” Konnor promises that the website launch will be “a month-and-a-half-long event that no studio has ever done before … it is extremely different. It’s really going to make people stop and pay attention.” Its hashtag is #daretobedifferent, and Konnor estimates a summer studio launch after they shoot the first production (Konnor notes he has his mind on directing). Talent representation is also possible in the future. But all of this progress comes at a potential cost—especially for Konnor’s fans. “Once the studio launches, I was going to slowly phase out from being in front of the camera,” he says. “It will happen slowly. That was the entire goal for me—to create a brand, and I wanted that brand to extend beyond just me having sex, if that makes sense. I’m very excited. I think I started off the year with a good bang.” He started off 2019 with yet another bang—being named Noir Male’s Mr. January, the first ever Noir Male of the Month. “I was very shocked and excited when Chi Chi informed me about that … that’s a great way to start the year, and it’s also good to receive that recognition and love from a company that I really enjoy working for.” Konnor cites LaRue as one of the people he is thrilled to have in his corner. “Let me put it this way—there were some people I did look up to who in this past year have disappointed me, so people like Chi Chi and companies like Noir Male, and people like Que Santiago over at Black Rayne and Breed it Raw and Raw City Twinks, who have consistently been there for me and had my back and that I’ve looked up to for so long, really helped me. I have had some disappointing moments with people who I did look up to. There’s one person in particular who I’m not going to name who I really looked up to, and we started growing a wonderful relationship. And long story short, they used that relationship to get and use whatever they could out of me, and it really hurt. But people like Chi Chi and Que Santiago really have been my backbone.” Konnor was recently part of a project for Black Rayne called the FuckHouse2018, a five-part series that premiered late last year. “They get a group of the most popular models of that year and they put us all in one house, and you can imagine the craziness that happens. It’s really hot, it got really great reviews last year. The first year that they did it, I believe it was No. 2 or No. 3 on AEBN. It’s going to be amazing.” Also upcoming is a scene with Skyy Knox (“Falcon Studios lent him to Noir Male, and I am very grateful for it … it was absolutely amazing, and it’s going to be one of my top scenes”)—a performer he would love to work with again, along with Rizzo and Jason Zhu (“always a pleasure”). On Konnor’s wish list: Mickey Taylor (“he’s so beautiful”) and Ethan Slade. In the spring, Konnor will film the second season of the web series Last Call—and has made a huge decision. “I actually went ahead and told all of the production that they can switch my real name to Max Konnor. I want to try to show and prove—though I might not succeed at it—that sex is not a bad thing and it shouldn’t be shunned, and I shouldn’t have to completely stop my acting career because I have sex on film.” As his brand builds, Konnor is also still learning the ropes on social media—a process that is at times frustrating. “It’s an ongoing learning process. Even today I had some drama on Twitter and I had to delete the tweets and stuff. Especially now, because I have almost 140,000 followers and am projected to have 160,000 by the end of the month, I sometimes forget that I cannot say everything that I would want to say on social media. It’s always a learning process, and every day I’m learning what I can do and can’t do, what I can say and can’t say. It becomes easier for me to be the enemy sometimes, which is fine, because sometimes I have some things I have to say, and everyone’s not going to like it, you know? But it’s hard transitioning between that—realizing how visible everything I do and say is, versus being a ‘normal’ human being.” And during his “normal human being” time, Konnor is just like everyone else—and is still going through a coming out process, at least as it relates to his career. He recently told his sister what he did for a living. “The only reaction I got was about one minute of pure laughter, and that was it. I told her not to discuss it with my mother,” he laughs. “She just laughed, and we haven’t really talked about it since then. She had no idea. As far as the sex stuff goes, my family is very religious, there’s really no possible way for that to get back around to them. And if it did, the person who told them would be asked, ‘Well, how did you know?’” Away from the cameras, Konnor is frequently at the gym, although “I hate doing legs. I hate it, I hate it. I always think it’s the weakest part of my body … my favorite part to work out is a split between my chest and my back. I really like working out those big major muscle groups. I love doing back rows; I hate squatting.” He also likes to write, and owns a production company with his partner (“we’re going to get back on the ball with that, producing some web series and producing different content like that”). “I’m a big weirdo. I’m a dork. I like to make people laugh. Me in real life is very different from the Max Konnor persona,” he says. “I’m a very big homebody. I love sitting on my sofa, eating food and watching Netflix, spending time with my partner, spending time with my friends. I have met a lot of great friends in the industry—and most of the people I hang out with in the industry aren’t like studio porn performers, but are amateur porn performers. I’ve kind of created a family, and a lot of people just don’t understand the connotation of it when they call me ‘Daddy Max’ on Twitter—a lot of people call me Daddy Max because I like to surround myself with good positive people, and I’ve kind of formed a family. They all just call me dad.”

 
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