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April 11, 2016

The Helix Principle: A Decade of Diversity in California

This article originally ran in the April 2016 issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see the online edition. Ten years ago, Keith Miller and company packed up their Ft. Lauderdale offices and moved cross country in an effort to take advantage of all that California had to offer industry players. Multiple hit movies, iconic stars and awards later, it’s clear that Helix made the right choice. “The term ‘twink’ has definitely been attached to us for a long time, and I think it helped in our development,” says Miller. “Quality overall has always been our driving force, not the niche of a production. Back when Helix first began producing videos in Florida, it was with fetish videos because the competition was very limited. We expanded to sex scenes using the same models that were being neglected by other gay studios in California, resulting in our twink label.” In 2002, he debuted a line of spanking videos, followed two years later by full hardcore scenes. It was another right move, as that line has now grown into an industry leader—racking up wins just last year at the likes of the Cybersocket and Grabby Awards. Names like Tommy Anders and Mason Coxx paved the way for current-day performers like Evan Parker and Kyle Ross. “Prior to the internet, gay videos had a very limited distribution method and high barrier to entry. Studios produced a limited amount of movies per year and would work to have a balance of performers. A twink could get work at a major studio, as Sammy Case did with Raging Stallion. We filmed him with other twinks like him, they filmed him with beefy men more common to their filming,” Miller says. “One unique challenge has been overcoming stereotypes. We are not just a twink, bareback or fetish studio. We have a lot of twink performers, we also have a lot of jocks and European and such. We have bareback, but our biggest movies are all condom. Back in 2004, we had 10 movies in release and all within a narrow niche. Today, we have hundreds of movies and thousands of scenes for our members to enjoy with a great deal of variety in productions.” Miller notes that these days he has given over the directing duties “to professionals far more skilled than I.” Married team Casey and Alex Roman handle most of the directing and filming, producing award winners like The Cage and Helix Academy (whose fourth installment, Extra Credit, debuted late last year). Deniz Bilgin helps produce and guide the set design, costume and writing, and also produced last year’s Cybersocket best scene winner, “Sex A La Rouge.” “Helix Academy has become our signature series ever since the first trailer went online several years ago. The settings and roles that Helix Academy offered fit so well with our group of actors and captured the imagination of our fans, creating a response that still surprises us,” Miller says. “Scandal at the Academy was a winner at the Grabbys, and we have more episodes and storylines planned.” As the studio’s membership has grown, Miller says it has recognized that offering more options creates more value. They licensed Man’s Hand Films for its spanking fetish fans, and select Boycrush and Staxus movies for additional twink and European fans. (“The licensed movies are curated as we try to bring select movies that are of greatest interest to our members.”) Helix has also started to produce new content with French Twinks in France and BoyCrush in the United States. (“We are working to make sure these new productions meet our already high standards.”) “Our fans have continued to support us because we are able to provide them the continued, consistent, high-end productions they demand when paying for entertainment. I would like to think that we aren’t doing things so differently from other successful companies,” Miller says. “Historically, it seems to me that studios with a collection of hot models and high-end productions were all successful, and still are. We now have between 25 and 30 regular performers appearing on the site, interacting with fans on social media, building their own brands and marketing their productions.” That connection with the performers has proved just as vital within the Helix walls as it has outside of it—Coxx, for instance, also worked for four years behind the scenes. “From the beginning, we have tried to engage with our actors and not just film and kick out. Actors are an important part of the marketing of a movie. An actor proud of his work and promoting his movie, like Hollywood does, can generate revenue as an affiliate, a website, cam site or a variety of things,” Miller says. “I want to offer a platform that a performer can use for a long time. If we are serious about this industry and producing quality productions, then long-term quality performers are part of it.” A lot is in store for 2016, including a new Helix Academy chapter (which has been written and is in planning). Miller is also excited for new models, locations, sets and production equipment upgrades. “By the end of the year, we hope to have a lot more filming lined up for our exclusive models, getting even more videos out to fans.” Helix also has plans for more special projects like Man on Twink, the 2014 hit guest directed by Dominic Ford that mixed the studio’s talent with popular “outsiders” like Landon Conrad and Tommy Defendi. “I have learned to relax more, or at least try to,” says Miller. “It’s been a whirlwind ride so far. I have learned to respect my instincts, but also to seek more input from others.” Helix has increased its releases online to add something new every day for members, and purchased two studio video catalogs that will be added to the site shortly. “Our fans have placed our website among the top in the world. Our membership and DVD sales reflect a nice appreciation of our product. Perhaps there are some that would derogatorily use the ‘twink’ word, but I think that is more personal taste by them over market acceptance,” says Miller of how the studio has come to be appreciated over the years. “Our fans are fans for the quality of production and gorgeous models and real gay sex. Looking at the top five studio sites in the world, the one thing that is most consistent among all of them is their exclusive content. Helix is no different. There may be a few industry insiders that have dominated gay porn for the past five-plus years that may under-appreciate Helix, but the general public does not agree.” Pictured above, a scene from Helix Academy: Extra Credit, courtesy of Helix

 
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