July 21, 1999
BY VINCENT LAMBERT
It is July 21, 1999—a steamy summer in New York City, and musclebound screen stud Billy Herrington is appropriately dressed. He saunters into a West Village restaurant dressed in a skintight, white ribbed T-shirt, denim short-shorts and work boots. Looking younger than his 30 years, he sports a scruffy goatee and an earing in his left ear. Herrington is still beaming from a sold-out dancing appearance at a Manhattan nightspot a few days earlier. He settles in, orders a turkey burger and begins tracing the path that led him to become Colt’s Man of the Year and porn’s hottest new kid on the block.
Let’s start at the beginning. Where are you from?
I’m from Long Island, but I moved to New York when I was 24 years old.
Tell us about your family background.
I have one sister, who lives in Saudi Arabia. My family is very cool, very loose.
What was your childhood like out on Long Island?
Like anybody’s childhood out on Long Island—very closeted, very suburban. I came to the city with my family a few times—Radio City Music Hall, that kind of thing—but I remember being very intimidated by the city, especially when I first moved here. I was a very small fish in a very big sea. That was the first thing that struck me about New York City—that I really had to push and hustle just to be somebody.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Certainly not a Colt model or a porn star (laughs). That’s for sure. Honestly, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I have a lot of interests. My modeling career was basically a hobby, but it started to generate a lot of income. Growing up I had a lot of interests, ranging from computer programming to international business.
Were you always athletic?
I was into karate for my whole life. My father was a sensei, which is a karate teacher. He taught a very traditional form of martial arts. He learned in Okinawa, went to Vietnam and brought it back and opened a karate school. I was always very skinny and slender, sort of a tough guy. I was my height now, which is six feet, but I weighed about 175, which is average. But right now I weigh 240, which is a big difference.
How did you first experience sex?
How every other American male did—I dated a few girls, fooled around in the backseat of the school bus and got my education that way, through dirty magazines and stuff.
How old were you?
About 14 or 15.
What was your initial exposure to porn? Did you see magazines and movies?
Sure. Of course I did.
What did you think?
I thought they were absolutely fantastic. There you are, a 15-year-old kid, and your testosterone level and hormones are going off the wall.
Did you ever think, “This is something I could do”?
Absolutely not. At 15, I had no concept or idea of who I was or where I was going or what I would do.
What was your sexual orientation at that time? When watching porn as a kid, were you attracted to the men or the women?
I think I was aware of my heterosexuality before I was aware of my bisexuality, only because it was more acceptable in my surroundings growing up. You see, I’m not entirely gay and I’m not entirely straight. I consider myself to be truly bisexual. I have a girlfriend at the moment and I have a boyfriend. They both live with me in my house, and they get along fantastically.
How does that work?
It just does. Why ask why? My boyfriend’s entirely gay; my girlfriend’s entirely straight. They both have something in common. Well, two things: a) They’re best friends, and, b) me. So, it works. There is no room for jealousy or possessiveness.
Do you three ever get together?
We do, but they’re both focusing on me and I have to keep everyone happy. It’s doubly damned or doubly blessed (laughs).
So how did you get involved in the porn industry?
I went to Jones Beach with a friend of mine and we took some photos. She sent them to Playgirl magazine, unbeknownst to me, and I won a contest called Real Men of the Month. I had just started bodybuilding. I was 24 at the time, just before I moved to New York City. And I got a check for $500, which was pretty exciting to me.
Were those pictures nudes?
Absolutely nude. And she forged my name for the model release. I guess it was a good boost for my self-esteem. I won that contest, and then Jim French from Colt saw those photos and got in touch with a friend of mine, but we never hooked up. Then about two years later, a friend of mine introduced me to Jim French and we did a calendar. Then from that, we did another and I ended up doing all the calendars for 1999.
When was that?
The tail end of ’98. All this is extremely new. After high school, I really had no focus. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so the turn of events with the photos was interesting. It was all really gradual. I did The Ricki Lake Show. I was on The Dating Game, which I won! The audience reaction to me was very welcoming. Winning the Playgirl contest, meeting Jim French and getting the results I got were all great for my self-esteem.
What kind of response did you get after appearing in Playgirl?
I got a pretty good response, believe it or not. It wasn’t like producers were knocking down my door, but a lot of my friends had seen it.
What did your family think? Did they freak out?
Absolutely not. I have a very cool family who almost have a European philosophy. Now, I don’t run home with every porno magazine and video and go, “Look, Mom!” They know what I do and that’s fine. They don’t need to know the gory details.
They know about your movies?
Yeah, absolutely, but I don’t think they’re aware of just how famous I am. But that’s fine with me. I don’t think there’s any need for it. They know enough.
How did you feel about doing those first pictures for Colt?
Very proud. I felt that being a Colt model and being photographed by Jim French was a great honor.
Let’s talk about working with Jim French. What is he like?
Fantastic. He is just simply the best. That’s all I can say. How does a magician pull off a trick? I have no idea. I asked him once how he got to be so good and he told me he made every single mistake possible.
Why do you think you were so popular with Jim French?
The reason Jim French used me so much was because he felt that I had a chameleon-like ability to change—I can shave and be Johnny USA Muscleboy, and then I can also grow in some facial hair and be hairy and be in his hairy-chest calendar. So it worked for me to have that flexibility, as opposed to just being typecast as a muscleboy or leather guy.
Who was the first director you worked with in film?
Well, Jim French directed me in The Big One, which was a Colt J/O video. After that, I did work for Ron Sexton and a company called Can-Am under the name Billy Marcus. They were wrestling videos. Then came Chi Chi LaRue. After I became Colt Man of the Year, she pursued me. I guess she realized the marketing potential and knew I could sell a lot of movies. She was the first one to direct me in a full scene.
It’s kind of unusual for a Colt model to do a gay film, isn’t it?
Yes, because most of the Colt models are straight, and also Jim French tends to be very possessive of his models. I think a good example is Jake Tanner, who was a great Colt model but as soon as he did videos, Jim French refused to do anything with him after that. Personally, I reached the pinnacle with Colt. I was Colt Man of the Year. Where am I gonna go from there? I could keep on working for Jim French and do a layout every couple of months. But I feel it was in my best interests to make a lateral move. Now, I do videos and I receive residuals. I can ask for a certain fee and receive it.
What was it like doing those first J/O scenes? Were you nervous?
Absolutely not. I felt very comfortable. Ron Sexton is the consummate professional.
What was your first scene with another guy?
That was with David Pierre in Billy Herrington’s Body Shop for All Worlds.
Now, had you had sex with guys off camera before?
Yes, about three years earlier.
How was doing that first scene different from the wrestling videos?
Well, it was more nerve-racking. It was my first full scene on video, and we performed it on the very first day of shooting. I guess Chi Chi wanted to know whether I had it in me, and apparently I did.
Is there a certain style of directing that you are most comfortable with? For example, how does Chi Chi’s style compare to other directors?
She’s more vocal—to put it nicely. Chi Chi is good at getting the results she desires.
Do you have a specific physical type that you’re attracted to?
Well, I honestly believe that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and forms. That’s probably one of the reasons why I’m bisexual. For somebody to say, “I only like dark men”—come on, if Brad Pitt walked in here right now, and if someone’s not attracted to him, come on. Gimme a break. For me, I’m very open-minded. I try not to typecast people. There are certain things I find attractive, and most of those things have nothing to do with physical beauty.
Well, intellect for one. I love to sit in front of somebody who has something to say. Confidence is another. I also love people who are in control. I like when people have established themselves, have a focus and a goal.
What was your next film? Tales From the Foxhole?
Yes, that starred Lane Fuller and was directed by Dirk Yates for All Worlds. I played a drill instructor. It’s a very hot movie. My cum shot is probably one of the hottest cum shots you’ll ever see. It’s incredible. It even left Chi Chi speechless, which is rare (laughs). I guess it could be attributed to the first time I ever tried Viagra.
Is Viagra prevalent in the industry these days? Does everyone use it now?
I believe so. I think it’s wonderful. It’s a wonderful way to improve your performance.
Is it true that you are getting your tattoos removed?
Absolutely. I got them before I got into bodybuilding. I was a different person. I probably got my tattoos when I was 18. I have four, and they are all gonna go eventually. I don’t want them anymore. We all make mistakes.
Where do you want to take your career?
Well, I certainly don’t want to be an old, burned-out porn star. What I plan on doing is making a few movies, making a few fans and then making a lateral move into some other business career. Maybe I want to get behind the camera someday.
Let’s talk about your dance tour. You are performing in clubs around the country, right?
Yes. My booking agent is David Forest. He is absolutely fantastic at what he does. I’ve gone all over the country, and it’s really weird because I guess because of Colt, I draw an older crowd and because of the films, I draw newer people. I get such a different crowd that greets me at every club.
How do your fans respond to you in person?
They’re great. I like to get onstage and have a good time while I’m out there. I feel very free. I let the DJs set the tone. They choose the music and I go with it. I’m very spontaneous and feed off the crowd’s reaction. I like for the audience to be involved. I like to strip down to as little as I possibly can according to the zoning laws of the state I’m in. I like to pull people up onstage with me.
How would you define your image?
Hunky top guy, kinda cocky and aggressive.
Would you ever bottom?
Never—in real life or the movies.
What would you say are the pitfalls of the porn industry?
Drugs, AIDS, STDs. But one of the things I find very disturbing is the back-stabbing that goes on, the little nitpicking. I think we should all come together and realize that we’d be stronger as a whole, as opposed to being so aggressively against each other. I see the competition. I’m one of the biggest names in the industry right now, but I think it has to do with the fact that I’m one of the most liked. I’m friends with everybody. I don’t play that industry bullshit. If there is something on my mind, I’ll let you know.
Who would you like to work with?
I’d like to put together a mega-mega movie with me and some of the top stars in the industry. Like me and Jeff Stryker, or me and Ryan Idol or all three of us together. A movie that would blow the shit out of everybody’s minds.
And who would direct it?
It goes without saying—probably Chi Chi.
Are you under contract to any particular studio?
I am under contract to nobody. My only loyalty is to myself. I feel that a lot of people give loyalty to companies and lose themselves. I think you have to be loyal to yourself. That’s what makes you a star and that’s what attracts people to you.
What’s the biggest difference between having sex on-screen and off-screen?
Which is better?
Ever watch your own movies?
No. I already know what I look like (laughs).
How does it feel to know guys are at home watching you and jerking off?
I believe that is the ultimate compliment. It does strike a narcissistic chord in me and helps my self-esteem. It’s one thing for somebody to say you are beautiful, but it’s another for somebody to jerk off and bring themselves to an orgasm. That’s the proof in the pudding, so to speak. It’s great that I can fulfill someone’s fantasy. Why not? Why the hell not? I had no plans on being a priest anyway (laughs). I see no sin in it.
Reprinted from Manshots magazine (1999)