Friday, January 17, 1997

Kelso Talks: More of the Exclusive Twin Cities Interview with Steve Kelso

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #43, January 17, 1997)

“I don’t get the star-struck thing. That’s why I don’t understand this.”

(Continued from the previous issue) After baring everything else, Steve Kelso bares his soul on everything from shaving to his World Wide Web site:

Your modeling work has been always solo, always “physique,” and mostly in print. You’ll be photographed hard, but you’ll never go any further than that. And there are no Colt group scenes featuring you. Why has it worked out that way?

Well, basically, that was one of my choices. And I can probably attribute it to the AIDS crisis and the fact that there are unnecessary risks that I don’t feel need to be taken. I do have a film out with Colt—it was supposed to be part of the “legendary body” series, which is basically that they film the guys walking around nude. Mine got a little more erotic and they didn’t quite know what to do with it. It was shot in Hawaii, and it’s a beautiful film. But it looks like it’s missing the last reel, which it is because it was never intended to be a jerk-off film. I’m entertaining the thought now of doing a full film because it will generate a lot more cash to help out.

This film you’re making, this is a porn film with other people?

No, it won’t be with other people, it will be a full solo with a cum scene at the end. And I want it shot very nice. I did the music to the other video, by the way.

I remember reading in another interview that you have a full recording studio.

I’m a musician, too, and music is one of my biggest loves.

Who inspires you musically?

I like a wide range, from jazz to dance music. I have a real love for all kinds of music.

Any plans to branch out into acting or performing?

Acting, yes. I played a small part in a “straight” movie made by the “regular industry.” I played a cop in a film called “Garage Sale” that was going around to film festivals all over the world. I’ve been taking acting classes in New York City for commercials. And the people who make commercials, they’re real particular. I mean, if you’ve done porn, 90% of ’em are real reluctant to work with somebody like that. The loophole I use is, I shave my mustache and then I can work, because I look nothing like my Colt photos.

Tell us about “Hairway to Steven,” the Official Kelso Web Site. Who came up with that wonderful name, first of all?

I had no idea, I didn’t know anything about it. Computers are pretty new to me, but I recently got on line and someone had told me that someone has a site on me. Well, he was using pictures from Colt. Now Colt doesn’t want people using their images without authorization—for good reason. People will use them for everything; they’ll make their bar advertisements out of them, they’ll be selling butt creams and things like that, and you don’t want that because producing the pictures costs a lot of money. So I can understand why they don’t want people using them. But, the Hairway had started a year or two ago . . .

You mean it was started before you knew about it?


Then it was NOT the Official Kelso Web Site at that point.

No, it wasn’t. I kind of turned it into my offical Web site by supplying him with the pictures. The gentleman’s name is Darrin, and he’s from Toronto. He’s a young guy and we met him when I did the tour and benefits up in Toronto. Nice kid, and he just started it up and it was one of those things he started up as a hobby. Well, normally a Web charge should be about $100 to have a very active site. But when you start getting 30,000 hits on it a month, it goes up to $1000 very quickly, very quickly. So, one, he couldn’t afford it, and two, Colt had sent him a cease-and-desist letter, which they generally send to anyone who uses their images without permission. Now, if he had checked with them, I don’t know, they may have worked something out. But they sent him a lawyer-letter that told him not to use the photographs. So, when I got wind of this, I started supplying him with the photos, which were now images done by and owned by Eagle Studios. And people can download the pictures, the pictures are there free for them to use. [The web address is—Ed.] But again, I will go after someone if my face is advertised for a bar or for something else without my permission, because I don’t want to be representing something in which I have no say or no involvement.

Anything more to say about hairy models versus shaved one?

Well I think the trend right now is definitely to the bear and leather and the more masculine look. The shaved, LA, smooth bodybuilder type is still attractive to a lot of people, but I think the majority now are starting to swing towards hair. Which is nice, because I’m hairy. I looked like a shaved rat when I tried to cut it off. One time, and never again.

It itches.

Oh, yeah. And still, a model may send Colt a picture, and the model’s hairy in the picture, and Rip will tell them “Do not shave.” But they’ll shave anyway—they’ll show up the day of the shoot and they’ll be shaved. And once it’s gone, it’s gone for a month or so.

There were a few pictures on the Hairway without the mustache.

That was for shock value. I feel if people are talking, that’s a good thing; when they stop talking is when you have to worry. And that was an intentional thing—I posted those pictures, and they got a very mixed reaction. Some people said, “I will delete my hard drive if you ever do that again” in their very gayest voice. Which is great, because it means they’re paying attention, and I know there’s a reaction. Did you see the new calendar? There’s one in the calendar without the mustache, and it sets people off.

We LIKE your mustache!

I know. But it creates controversry, and you have to push people’s buttons to make sure they’re paying attention. And when they’re not, then you stop, it’s time to go away.

How political are you? You only do personal appearances in connection with an AIDS charity and you’re doing lots of other AIDS fundraising. Want to talk about that?

Political things I stay out of. I’m very bad at politics and I don’t trust any of them, really.

So you’re not political in that sense, but you’re doing something active, you aren’t sitting on the sidelines.

Oh no, our community is having a problem right now with AIDS, and I feel that my best contribution is to try to raise money to help organizations that care for people with HIV and AIDS. That’s a rough job. What I do is not rough at all. When you give your time like that on an everyday basis, that’s commitment.

You’re getting fabulously wealthy doing this, right?

I wish. I live on a farm with cows—how wealthy do you think that is?

How much money is there to be made in this industry, and who’s making it?

The people who are doing the movies don’t get paid a high salary, anywhere from $300 to $500 a film. But if you look at the quantity, how many times they do a movie, there’s a lot of money that can be generated. And a lot of them use ’em to promote other things. They have massages and things that they offer. I’m assuming sexual things—if you look in local magazines in major areas, there are a lot of provocative ads. From the way the ads are worded, you can’t assume that it’s just gonna be a massage. So that’s where the money is to be made.

We talked a little bit about you being in the middle of dinner and somebody comes over and asks for an autograph. Do you ever get embarrassed? Has anything embarrassing ever happened, or are you beyond that?

I’ve signed penises, I’ve signed butts, it’s fun. I figure if they’re willing to flag it I’m willing to sign it.

Do you care to comment on society’s hangups with nudity and sexuality?

They’re getting better, they’re getting much better. Madonna helped quite a bit with her shock value with the “Sex” book and the other provocative things that she does.

Any advice for someone who wants to do this kind of modeling?

Absolutely go into it with your eyes open. Make sure you know where the photographs are going to be published, that you’re not going to be in an ad holding a bottle of lube in your hand. A lot of people sell the rights to the pictures—a photographer pays them a certain amount of money for those photographs. And then he publishes them in twenty or thirty magazines, runs ads with the person, and if they become popular, you know, you kinda lose control over them.

You have been photographed in leather, and you wear it VERY well. Are you into leather or any other form of alternative sexuality or kink?

I LOVE leather! Kink? Sure, everybody’s into some kind of kink. Never with pets, or I’ve never been caught, anyway. But, I mean, sex is very interesting, all kinds.

I’ve never seen you talk about this in other interviews.

They’ve never asked. If you ask I’ll tell you. I have nothing to hide.

Okay, so what do you like?

I like a romantic kind of thing, but I like to get down and dirty when it comes into the bedroom.

What would be a good evening for you?

Well, after coffee and chocolate fingers—just kidding. Nice conversation, and finding someone who’s, you know, who’s nice. It’s very difficult on the road, being in and out of cities, and I don’t feel it’s fair to sleep with somebody and then say “Thanks a lot, bye-bye now.”

You don’t have people throwing themselves at you? You will tonight!

I do, I do, and it’s very flattering. And a lot of times I’d love to do it, and I’ve fooled around with people on occasion, but it’s one of those things. You know, I keep in contact with people, I’m just not the type to have sex and say goodbye. But, um, yeah, I like sex.

I’ve talked to other people, mostly international leather title holders, who can walk into a bar and have anybody they want, and a lot of times they go home alone.

That’s the rough thing about becoming popular. You don’t want to go home with someone who’s coming up to you saying “I’m your biggest fan” because you lose something there. All of a sudden you’re not on the same basis, they’re looking at you in a much higher light. I don’t look at myself that way, I just want to be treated like a normal person. That’s why a lot of times I’ll shave my mustache when I go out after all the work is done. And people will treat me normally until they see my tattoo and realize who I am.

What exactly does the tattoo say? Does it say, “Hi, this is Steve Kelso,” or do they just recognize the eagle?

The tattoo and the bracelet have become predominant symbols. The bracelet, I never took it off in like eight or nine years. I just forgot, it’s not a fashion trend, I JUST FORGOT. And the eagle, it started out as an eagle, but I’m older now, so it’s a chicken hawk.

Have you ever been to Minneapolis/St. Paul before?

No, I haven’t. It’s a very SNOWY city.

Yes . . .

So I guess everyone just stays in and fucks all winter. I’ll have to move here, won’t I?

Who do you think is hot right now? Who turns your crank?

I don’t know. I really don’t have any one person who I think is hot. I mean, I see a lot of people, and in different states I could pick 20 or 30 people that I’d drop kick in a minute. But there’s really no one person. Like with actors, I don’t get the star-struck thing. That’s why I don’t understand this, really. When people are shaking when I’m signing or having a photograph taken with them, it amazes me, because I don’t get that way. I used to think Mel Gibson was real hot, until I found out about his dislike for gays. I blew that right out of the water! THAT can drop an erection really fast! That and bad conversation.

What’s your most favorite feature, and what’s your least favorite feature?

I like my mustache, and I think I got a pretty swell ass. My least favorite? I guess my feet.

Let’s get your vital statistics. Age?



6” in heels, 5’10” without.


It varies from 160 to 170.

Hair color?


And that’s natural?

Natural. On occasion. I have nothing against Miss Clairol. I’ll fight age any way I can.

Eye color?

Hazel, unless I’m drinking, then bloodshot.


I’ve never measured it. I’ve had people hang off it and they’ve said they could do a nice swing, but I couldn’t tell you the exact inches.

And the final vital statistics question is “cut or uncut,” but we’ve already seen it so what else is there to say?

Cut. And I kind of feel like I lost something, which wasn’t my choice.

Last question: I have been told by people that I resemble you. Care to comment?

You could. Trim the beard a little bit, you might look like me. Part your hair on the side, get a bigger penis maybe.

No, a smaller tummy. The second part of this question is: How often do you hear that? How often do people come up to you and say, “So-and-so said that I look like you”?

Sometimes I’ve run into people who look very similar to me, and their friends will drag them up and obviously they’re terrified to come over and say, “I look like you,” but there’s quite a few people who do. I’ve had a guy in San Francisco that had a tattoo with my face from the 1993 calendar. That was the most interesting thing.

Where was the tattoo?

It was on his arm. And it was the cover of the 1993 calendar, and I mean, it was me. He was waiting in line and everyone in line was staring at it, and when the guy got up to me, all I could think to say to him was, “I hope I never piss you off!”

Photo captions:

The eagle tattoo: “It started out as an eagle, but I’m older now, so it’s a chicken hawk.”

Autographing one of two original portraits by local artist Damon Thrift: “I felt if I’m going to have this fame and people are going to come out to see me, I might as well use it for something good, which is something I’d like to see a lot more of the porn industry do.”

On cameras and photographers: “It’s real weird, I get very friendly with the camera. You don’t look at it as a piece of machinery, you just look at it as if you’re looking at somebody or you’re speaking with somebody, and you want to get a reaction from them.”

Signing a calendar for a fan: “I’ve signed penises, I’ve signed butts, it’s fun. I figure if they’re willing to flag it I’m willing to sign it.”

In the spotlight at Town House Country: “I just kinda felt posing with my clothes off would be cool to do. I never thought it would turn into what it’s turned into.”

Upcoming Leather Events

The Atons present “The Leather Bowl”

Sunday, January 26, 5-9 pm, Gay 90’s Dance Annex
Come out for the first leather event of the new year. The Super Bowl will be playing in the background on the big-screen TV, but the real action will definitely be live (including a “Tight-End Contest”). $8 admission ($5 if wearing leather or athletic apparel) includes keg beer, food and soda.

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