Book of Landon: All-Time Great Eyes End of Remarkable Career
His is a unique story in the gay porn world — one that at first glance seems too tempting to actually be true. Well-raised Mormon son grows up in the suburbs of Salt Lake City and spends an inquisitive childhood frolicking in the fields exploring his love of nature. He grows up and explores a different curiosity, many of the men he ends up dating having been students at nearby Brigham Young University. Before long, and without any friends or connections in the industry, our dashing leading man — who sports the striking, angular features of a comic book hero — hits it big as a gay porn superstar in the big cities of California, enjoying a lengthy career marked by an increasingly loyal and dedicated fan base. Some six years into the business, he wins the XBIZ Award for Gay Performer of the Year — an honor many would say was long overdue.
But guess what? That’s all true. And even more remarkably, despite what may seem like a history destined to produce a wild and crazy party boy, Landon Conrad is perhaps one of the most down-to-earth people you will ever meet — porn star or otherwise. In fact, the more you speak with him, the more surprised you may be at just how “normal” he is in an industry filled with decidedly eccentric personalities.
“Utah is a great place to raise kids and to raise a family. We lived on the edge of the city. There were cornfields that surrounded my parents neighborhood, and I was kind of a kid that would be running through the fields, building tree huts, I was kind of like a tomboy, I guess. I was kind of like a wild kid. I would swim in the canals, catch frogs and snakes. I had a really good childhood,” he says.
“I was never really that big into the Mormon Church; my family wasn’t that religious. I don’t know if there was really a time I ever left it, but I knew from a very, very young age that I was gay. I knew probably when I was in elementary school. And I knew that I didn’t really fit in with the Church; I didn’t really realize that that was a large part of what it was, but I knew I didn’t fit in. As I got older, I knew that they weren’t accepting of that kind of lifestyle, so I kind of distanced myself from it before I even really go too involved in it. My parents were religious, but not to the point where we went to church every Sunday; we never prayed or anything. My family was fine with me being gay.”
Unhappy with his successful career as a buyer with a big-name department store, Conrad switched career paths into personal training…and eventually his desire to see what this whole porn thing was about proved too big to ignore anymore.
“The personal training wasn’t paying what I wanted it to, and this was the time to do it, I guess. I had lived in L.A. back in 2002, and on my days off — which would be during the week — I would go to The Abbey, and I would sit and have my coffee or lunch. Back then, they had scouts that would go around and hand out cards to guys they thought were could be good in the films, and I got approached a couple times while I was there. I didn’t do it until almost eight years later, but that’s how it first kind of popped into my head that maybe this is something I really wanted to do. It was kind of a fantasy of mine. I never did it out of desperation or anything, I did it because I wanted to change my life a little, and just fulfill a fantasy,” he says.
“I had kind of always wanted to do porn. I was always kind of a little bit of an exhibitionist, growing up I was watching it, and I always thought all the guys in it were so beautiful, and they were so lucky to be doing what they were doing. So I was always kind of intrigued by it, and I decided to go for it.”
Playing with Fire
Conrad first vocalized his desire to a performer he could only dream of emulating: Adam Killian, who was performing at a club in Salt Lake City (“I thought he was so cute”). A little later, he got to meet any prospective porn star’s dream brain to pick: Chi Chi LaRue, who talked with Conrad at a Starbucks in Salt Lake City while visiting for a club gig.
“I went and told her, ‘I’m thinking about doing this…what do you think?’ And she kind of gave me her advice and her opinion, and the rest kind of just happened.”
After a Skype interview snagged Falcon’s attention, Conrad was flown out to San Francisco to perform in a few web scenes for the studio’s now defunct Falcon Str8Men (“I wasn’t straight,” he laughs). He was then cast in his first main feature in 2009: LaRue’s “Playing with Fire: 4 Alarm” for Channel 1 Releasing’s All Worlds Video.
“You had Johnny Hazzard, Matthew Rush, all these really big, established guys…and then me,” Conrad recalls. “It was pretty surreal, having Chi Chi screaming directions, and here I am — my first time, with all these big names. Matthew Rush was someone I had looked up to, so it was very intimidating, surreal, crazy. The whole time throughout the scene, I’m like, ‘What the fuck am I doing? Am I really doing this?!’ And you have Chi Chi yelling, ‘Slap that cock!’ It was fun, but it was kind of scary.”
LaRue recalls the nerves: “I remember him being very scared, and he was very intimidated because here he is, this new kid on the block being thrown in with Johnny Hazzard and Mitchell Rock…it was a lot of big, strong performers, and I think he got a little psyched out,” the director recalls. But he was still impressed: “I wanted to sign him to a contract, but that ended up not happening because he got signed to a contract by Falcon. Oh well…I can’t have everything.”
Right after Conrad did “Morning Wood” — his first feature at Falcon — the studio asked to sign him.
“I was a little hesitant, because I wasn’t really sure. When I started this, I kind of thought I’d do a couple little movies and then that would be it. But it just kind of blew up. They wanted me, and we came to an agreement on the scenes and how much I would make, and so I decided to do it. I ended up being with them for about three years.”
Conrad signed a multi-year contract and quickly became a fan favorite at Falcon.
“My first encounter with Landon Conrad was way back when I was first negotiating our merger with Falcon Studios,” says Chris Ward, at the time President of Raging Stallion Studios. “The Falcon team had just received this hot photo from a new guy in Utah… I told them flat out hire that man now as an exclusive and don't look back.”
The merger with Raging Stallion got delayed for another year and a half, so Ward had to watch Conrad from afar as he launched his career. But once he took over Falcon, Ward was thrilled to cast him in his first Falcon movie — “The Other Side of Aspen VI”, released in early 2011.
“It was great…you really feel like part of the family when you’re with them,” Conrad says of his Falcon days. “But at the same time, I kind of felt like it was holding me back a little, because I was getting offers from pretty much every studio to work with…so eventually I asked them if they would let me out of my contact, and they said yes. They understood. And then the first two years after was crazy. In my first month I think I did about 14 scenes.”
And that’s a workload Conrad soon discovered was too much: “I did so much physically, my body couldn’t take it towards the end. So I kind of figured out a balance of what I could do, and I worked quite a bit for the first two years. It was good; the majority of the work I did at that time was with Men.com.”
Since then Conrad has worked with virtually every major studio — and was welcome back home with open arms. “After a while, Falcon started to have me back again. Even just last year with Falcon and Raging, I probably think I did more scenes with them then I did when I was under my contract. It’s cool I left on good terms and they still liked me, and I can still always go back.”
For Ward, it was a no-brainer. “Landon is probably one of the top performers I have ever worked with. He not only has stunning good looks and a great body, but he is a really nice, cooperative guy who is easy to work with. All producers prefer to work with guys who come in with a smile and a can-do attitude. And customers respond to the positive energy as well,” he says. “I would argue that Landon is one of the ‘greats’ and that he will go down as one of the top 10 gay porn stars of all time, perhaps even in the top five.”
And it was Ward who was responsible for initiating a shift in Conrad’s image, one that helped extend his already impressive career.
“I was 33 when I started, but I basically looked a lot different. About two years into my career, Chris Ward asked me if I would be willing to do a Raging Stallion shoot, and he wanted me to grow my chest hair and to grow a beard — kind of look more dirty,” Conrad says. “And I had never grown facial hair in my life. I mean, I could, I just always shaved it. And I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do that.’ And he was like, ‘I would really like it if you did it.’ And I did it. And seriously, doing that, I got so much attention and exposure that it really kind of brought me to a different fan base. It was received so well that I’ve kept that look. I think that definitely helped.”
Looking at stills he shot for “Playing with Fire: 4 Alarm” in 2009, LaRue also marvels at the transformation Conrad has made.
“He’s matured so much, and he looks better now than he did then, but he still looks cute then! He looked like a young jock with no body hair and not a lot of muscles, fresh off the porn train. He looks like a little Mormon boy that I snatched out of Utah! He certainly does not look like he does now, now that he looks like a bull. Like, big! He doesn’t look like that in these older photos…maybe a baby deer?” LaRue laughs. “I think it’s interesting to see what he looks like when he started. I’ll never forget the day I met him at that Starbucks. I thought, ‘My God, he’s so cute and he’s so funny!’ And we both loved Madonna. He was perfect for Falcon, and for me for Channel 1.”
The two have remained close friends throughout Conrad’s whole time in the business, and live right around the corner from each other in West Hollywood.
“We go to Starbucks together, we honk at each other in our cars and we wave at each other, we hug each other on the street,” LaRue says. “He’s an amazing performer. He knows how to work a scene. He can work with anybody, and he’s really, really super easy on the eyes. He’s got a very unusual look. He’s not your stereotypical looking guy, he’s very super hero-ish. I say the same thing about Trenton Ducati and Adam Killian… they’re just interesting to look at because they look almost like fake people. That sounds awful, but it’s almost like, holy shit!
“Any time I walk anywhere with Landon or Trenton or people like that…I walked into Starbucks with Rocco Steele the other day, and I think every queen in there dropped their coffee. It’s almost like urban legends, but they are real.”
The Company He Keeps
Yes, Trenton Ducati is real…and so is the connection he has with Conrad. Their friendship is highly valued by both men — inside the industry and away from it.
“Landon is one of my favorite people in the industry — one of the most genuine, real people. We’ve been friends since the start of my career,” says Ducati, who entered the industry a few years after Conrad. “I’ve always kind of admired and looked up to him because he’s been successful, and what I mean with that is when he’s not around, people are always saying nice things about him.”
The two crossed paths as scene partners a few times (“we always had great scenes”), and Ducati says he always had great respect for him long before they met.
“I definitely looked up to him as a performer, and having worked with him, he’s a professional. The respect he has for his scene partner and trying to do a good job — he understands that we are performers, so he’s really, really good at making the scene look good. There’s not a boring section of a scene with him,” Ducati says. “Sometimes you have to pull a good performance out of a scene partner, and in his case, you don’t.”
And that’s a trait that Ducati — who won Gay Performer of the Year two years ago — says is extremely rare in the industry.
“On the performer level, he’s top tier; on a friendship level, golden. He’s always been golden to me. When I started and he was already really popular, he never treated me different than he does today, as friends. His success has never changed him,” Ducati says. “I’m glad he won… being XBIZ Performer of the Year is more than just having one or two good scenes, it’s more of a consistent overall performance — performing with different people, people you are not attracted to, people you are attracted to, different guys, tall guys, big guys, hairy guys… he is able to pull that off with different people. Everybody, including people that aren’t in the industry, can have a good scene with people they’re really attracted to. But to be a good performer you often have to do a scene with someone you’re not really into. I know how difficult it is, and that’s why I respect him so much. I understand what he has to go through. He always pulls it off.”
But it’s the Landon Conrad away from the camera that Ducati has come to appreciate even more, whether through a shared meal or shared workout at the gym.
“He is very sweet and kind, very appreciative of friendship. He’s a very cool person to hang out with, and nice to other people — he’s kind when people come up and want to take his picture, or they notice him from the industry. He’s not dismissive, and that can be difficult sometimes. I’ve seen that when people are trying to get his pictures, he’s always genuine to people. He’s very caring by nature. He’s a relationship kinda guy that isn’t in a relationship right now. I know he longs for that, I know that’s where he feels comfortable. And I think that’s very cute, because I’m the same way. I like to appreciate somebody and help care for them…I just see a lot of myself in him. I know we’re the same in relationships,” Ducati says.
“He also — and I don’t know if people know this — he has a really good sense of humor. He’s really funny. And it’s hard to believe that big porn stars would be really shy, but he’s very shy. You’d have to be really close to him I think to know that he’s funny. He’s super funny. And I think a person’s sense of humor is like a direct connection to God. I think that’s amazing. He’s so fun and easy to be around.”
And Ducati isn’t the only Performer of the Year to think that. Jessy Ares, who won last year, was paired with Conrad on multiple occasions during his career. Both men cite their scenes together as career highlights, and the chemistry between the two delighted the fans.
“Both of us are very career driven and professional in every way. When I heard that he was nominated this year, I knew he just had to get it. There was no one who deserved it as much as Landon this year. I am so happy to see that he joined the list of XBIZ winners in gay porn; he definitely is one of the best. Landon and I always got along very well, really enjoyed shooting with each other and actually we have quite a few things in common.”
Ares notes that both come from a very conservative background (“Him: Mormon and from the countryside. Me: military and super Roman Catholic. So both of us came a looong way”); both are very sexual but have other goals outside of the industry (“I hope his clothing line will be of great success,” says the singer); and both are crazy about Madonna (“See? If you have her as a role model, you always make it to the very top!”).
“Landon is also very laid back...no star allures, and values the real things in life. Not only is he a good performer, but also someone who you can count on, has his head on his shoulders and who speaks after he thinks,” Ares says. “Landon is definitely one of the sexiest performers out there with a unique and unmistakable look, body and face, plus the brains and a valuable moral as a porn star. What more could you ask for? I wish that after I took my break from porn we could have been able to keep more contact as friends, but with my relationship and our work, our routes just went different ways. Maybe we´ll bump into each other again someday. Until then, we have great memories, whether from San Francisco, New York or London.”
LaRue and Ward aren’t the only ones Conrad has made a positive impression on. Both Steve Cruz and Bruno Bond — former performers who now have successful careers behind the cameras at Falcon Studios Group — consider themselves lucky to have directed him.
“I remember when Landon was a newbie, I really wanted to have a scene with him,” Cruz recalls. “I was still a performer, but there just was no way. He was exclusive for one studio, I was exclusive for another — despite the sexy tweets back and forth. To add complication, I was also directing for the studio he just signed with, but for a different line. It seemed doomed. When our studios merged a year or so later, I was so happy to get to work him finally. I’m glad it got past the initial infatuation of a horny performer, because the relationship has been so much sweeter as it endures. I’m so happy for Landon’s continued success because no one deserves it more.”
Cruz adds that Conrad has been able to stand the test of time due to his superstar spark (“He’s always had it, from day one”), his perfect body (“He seems to never age”), his versatility (“He can be the guy next door or get gritty”) and that “very nice” dick.
“I’ve never seen him give a bad performance. Your time is up when the audience gets bored. He comes to set and pushes himself harder each time. The fans can see that, they can feel that in a scene. You can edit parts out of a scene, but you can’t put that magic into a scene if it’s not there. Landon brings the magic. That’s likely why he’s a lasting favorite,” Cruz says.
“Landon is one of the greatest guys I’ve worked with. Not because he allows me to push him hard, although I respect his hard work attitude on a set. As a person, he gets along with pretty much everyone. He’s not a diva, he’s not selfish. His body may be superior, his attitude is not. He’s down to earth for a porn star — he treats this like a job not a lifestyle. From day one, Landon has been very special to me. Few guys get under my skin and to the soul in that way. He always will be.”
Bond is equally impressed with Conrad’s work ethic and performance level — and was there for Conrad when the performer was struggling with getting older in a profession that always wants new young blood.
“I was talking to Bruno and I was like, ‘This is really hard on me. I’m getting older and these guys are younger, and I’m trying so hard to maintain this youthful look and as you get older it’s much harder.’ And he said to me, ‘Listen, your fans like you because you’re not that 19-year-old boy. They like you because you are this 30-plus-year-old man, so embrace it.’ And when I kind of thought about it, I was like, ‘You’re right, that is my thing now. I’m gonna run with it.’ I was coloring my beard for a while, and I’m like, ‘Fuck that, I’m not gonna color it!’ It grows in grey, it’s gonna be grey.”
Adds Bond: “I tell models to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. For Landon, his fans have seen him mature and evolve physically from lean and smooth to more muscular and hairy. My advice to him came from my own experience of being a performer in my early 40s. I learned that there are a lot of fans who like older guys, and another group of guys who will imagine themselves in his place having naked adventures. Both are good reasons to keep on performing. Our culture's perception of aging is evolving, and Landon is showing the sexy way to do it.”
Bond calls Conrad the “iconic All-American guy” and part of the Falcon legacy: the blond, tan, muscular, hung boy-next-door who is classic and modern as the same time.
“Landon has worked in so many scenes because he is a pleasure to work with on set. He is always prepared, professional and ready to give a great performance. He is kind to the crew and respectful of his scene partners even in difficult situations. As a director, I would often put him in the more challenging locations because I know that he would always make it great. It is a very unusual talent to give a superior performance every single time. I think the fans can see that special quality when they watch his scenes,” Bond says.
“My favorite memories of Landon are more behind the scenes than on set. When we are snowed into a house in Tahoe or trapped in a remote location, I always wanted Landon to be in the cast so I would have someone to talk to when we were not working. He has a brooding sexual intensity on camera, but behind the scenes he is actually cheerful, funny, intelligent and very worldly.”
Fellow Falcon Studios Group director Tony Dimarco has shot Conrad in a horde of hits for different studios, like Raging Stallion’s “The Woods 2”, Falcon’s “California Dreamin’ 2” and NakedSword’s “Golden Gate” series.
“Landon is great guy and an even better performer. He's very easy going and looks amazing on film. I've worked with Landon for the last four to five years, and I don't know how he does it but he keeps getting more sexy each year. With his performances he does what all the great performers do — he shows you what he's feeling when he's having sex. When you can exude what you are feeling, people can feel it too — and that’s what makes him great,” Dimarco says.
“Landon's very easygoing, almost shy at times, but in the same breath he's sexually voracious…and one thing I can tell you, when we work together we always have fun and laugh our asses off.”
Conrad’s good will extends beyond the Falcon Studio Group walls to Titan Media, where director Jasun Mark has shot him numerous times — and notes that the performer is a lot more soft-spoken and modest than people might think.
“Landon is one of those guys who shows up on set ready to go — very professional, great to work with. I’ve asked him to do some odd stuff like getting blown through a wall in ‘Hard At Work’ and letting me get Hunter Marx to dump a mug of coffee in his crotch for ‘Working Stiffs’. He’s always just gone right to it and done a great job. When his scene partners start to lose energy — and they do, making porn ain’t for sissies — he’s always there to step up and help them out. There was one shoot where we didn’t get a good cum shot on camera, and Landon didn’t even blink when I asked if he could come back the next day so we could get it again. That’s the kind of dedication to a good final product that makes him such an asset to any studio.”
Mark adds that a great body and a big dick only gets performers so far in the industry — something that has never been a problem with Conrad.
“We’ve all seen those beautiful guys who look great until you see them on video and it’s like watching a mannequin. Landon’s best asset isn’t just a handsome face, a big dick and a great body — although those sure do help — it’s his facial expressions. His personality and the character all comes out there. That’s what makes him so hot to watch. And those eyes? Just beautiful. There’s a shot in ‘Hardly Working’ where I got an extreme close-up on his face, and his eyes look like blue lasers. They’re amazing.”
(Blue) Laser Focus
2015 has been a light year so far for Conrad, who has been focused on getting his new men’s sportswear line launched (“Hopefully we’ll have that out probably by this summer; that’s kind of more my focus now”) — as well as “buying a house, and throwing down some roots, and growing up,” he says with another laugh, eager to fully experience life outside the industry.
“I feel like sometimes in the past I was trying to hit up everywhere I could make some money, and now I’m not as concerned about that. I’m more interested in working with the good studios, and working with who I want to work with. If it’s not a good fit for me now, I’m not gonna do it. A lot of the gay industry has turned into bareback, and I don’t do that,” he says. “2015 is probably my last year, so I want to go out on a high note with stuff that I can be proud of that I did.”
That includes a reunion with LaRue, who recently filmed Conrad in “It All Cums Down to Cock” — the first time they have worked together since his 2009 debut. And through it all, LaRue notes how humble the man is.
“Super quiet, super shy, loves a Chihuahua…he’s very sexual, even though he’s quiet about it. He’s not overtly or constantly looking for attention. Landon is just very quiet and humble and just lives his life, takes care of and loves his dogs, and goes to the occasional White Party or something — but not as Landon Conrad. He goes to enjoy himself. That’s pretty rare in the entertainment business in general,” LaRue says.
“We all — a drag queen, a porn star, a singer or whatever — we’re always searching for attention. We want to be the most popular person that’s walked into the room, we want to turn heads, we want to make people look. Landon doesn’t want that. He’s not searching that out. And that’s rare. There’s only a few like that, and I’m lucky to be friends with him.”
LaRue draws a parallel to Conrad and another gay porn stalwart he has directed on numerous occasions: Johnny Hazzard, who “wears a hood over his head when he walks down the street. He just doesn’t want the attention. In West Hollywood, you see porn stars all the time, but there are certain ones that you don’t. Landon keeps very private. He doesn’t throw himself into the opening of a letter in the porn industry, and doesn’t really hang out with the porn crowd. So when he’s around, it’s kind of exciting.”
And that’s the same word Conrad used to describe his experience at the XBIZ awards in January, an event he sees as potential bookend to his long and successful career.
“I’ve experienced so much. I really feel like I’ve got as much out of it as possible. I don’t really know what else I would need to accomplish, and now after winning an XBIZ award, what really is there?” he says with a laugh, adding that going to the January ceremony was initially a strange experience.
“I was excited! It was a little weird going, because in other award shows that are all gay, everyone knows who I am, and everyone’s coming up for pictures, ‘Sign this! Sign that!’ This one was a little different, because while I kinda felt I did have people that knew me, for the most part I felt like no one really knew who I was. But then when we went into the banquet room, right next to me was CockyBoys. I was like, ‘Wow, they have the gay performers right up front and center.’ It was cool…I was excited when I won. It was definitely was a highlight of my career; I had a really good time.”
Sex and the Single Man
Even though it has been off the air for more than 11 years, the HBO show “Sex and the City” still finds a place in Conrad’s regular viewing rotation. But a funny thing has happened with his outlook.
“I watch them all the time and I still laugh. But how I view them all as I’ve gotten older has totally changed. When I used to watch, I totally agreed with Carrie Bradshaw. Now when I watch, I’m like, ‘You are a fucking crazy bitch.’ I still love it, but it’s funny — as I get older my opinion of them has changed.”
For now, Conrad is slowing down and sees the end of his on-camera days may be more numbered than before. He’s reluctant to use the word “retire” (“You never know what life is going to hand you, and I don’t want to go back on my word”), but knows he wants to focus on other things.
“I’ve lost relationships because of being in the industry, and it’s hard,” Conrad says. “I am single, I’ve been single for over a year now. I’m trying to stay that way because it’s really hard to date someone and be in this industry. I don’t date other porn stars. For someone who’s not in this industry, it’s really hard for them to understand. I’ve had so many guys in the past that I’ve dated, and they want to understand, they think they understand, they say they do, but when it comes down to it, they don’t. And it’s hard on them, and then I feel bad — like I’m disappointing them, or I can’t offer them everything they want.”
He is now eyeing other goals in life, and “once I am out of the industry and have achieved those other things, then I really feel like I’ll be at a place where I can offer myself and find someone to date or whatever. I come from Utah, so even though we weren’t that active in the church, I have been raised that, you know, that is pretty much the ultimate goal — having a home and a partner, so those are things that I do strive for. I do want that, and I usually do have a boyfriend, but I’m kind of a notorious dater. But right now in my life, I just want to just get finished with this, not drag another guy through all this crap.”
Instead, he’s happy to shower kisses on his two dogs. “It’s funny when people come up and they’ll say, ‘How’s Rocky? How’s Rico?’ and I’m like, ‘Who are you?!’ I think I have a Wikipedia page or something where they might be mentioned. They’re getting older. It’s funny to actually see them age — their little faces are turning grey, but they’re great.”
Conrad also channels his energy into working out. While he isn’t officially a trainer anymore, he’ll help out friends — when he isn’t busy on his own physique (just don’t talk about legs…)
“I don’t like doing my legs. That’s why they are small and skinny, but I have been working on them a little bit lately. I like to do my upper body — I love to do my chest and my arms, I need that. It’s kind of my strong points on my body, so I love to work them out. I love to do my arms, like do my triceps so hard that it feels like the muscle is just gonna bust right out of the skin because it’s so tight and swollen. I love that feeling,” he laughs (and notes that as soon as this interview is done, that’s exactly what he is going to go do).
If you ask him, it’s a necessary ritual to help him deal with his biggest temptation in life.
“Eating has always been a struggle for me. Growing up Mormon, you’re not allowed alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. So what do most Mormons like? Sugar, ice cream…and I am totally a product of that. I love ice cream and anything sweet, and that has always been a struggle for me. Nothing really compares to Häagen-Dazs. Let’s be honest…it’s amazing.”
Have a pint, Landon…you’ve earned it.