Battle Tested: Keni Styles Leaves Military Behind for Career in Porn
The native of Thailand who grew up in South London still is relatively new to the U.S. market, but he’s a seasoned pro when it comes to performing.
“I was serving in the Army when I first got involved with the sex business,” Styles says.
“Basically, when I was in the Army I had a bunch of different girlfriends. I just liked fucking all the time you know, and I got involved in swingers parties.”
Between fulfilling his military obligations and training as a nationally ranked boxer for England, he also began to earn a reputation in the swingers community. And soon he started fielding requests for private sessions.
“What happened was I got so busy,” Styles recalls. “The breaking point was one weekend I had arranged to go to meet a couple, just a normal couple in a hotel and like bang it out. The guy’s going to film it, whatever.
“And then someone else called me, ‘Hey, we’re having a party this weekend, you have to come. I told my girlfriend about you.’
“I was like, ‘No, I can’t do it. I’ve already got another arrangement.’ And she was like, ‘No, you’ve got to come because I’ve already planned it.’
Styles declined again, “and then she was like, ‘OK, I’ll pay you.’”
Shocked by the offer, he took her up on it, “and I went to this party and I banged a lot of chicks and I got paid,” he says.
He was 21.
Now 29 and four years removed from active military service, Styles is enjoying what will be remembered as his breakout year in the adult industry despite having already established himself on the porn circuit in Budapest and Prague.
In September alone, he was among the principal cast members in three high-profile movies that were released. The charismatic performer played the brash leader of a motorcycle gang in Brad Armstrong’s “Speed” for Wicked Pictures, showed his range in Lee Roy Myers’ “The Human Sexipede” parody for Tom Byron Pictures, and also was the lead opposite Sasha Grey in Miss Lucifer Productions’ “Malice in Lalaland” that is being distributed by Vivid.
Styles, who writes a regular blog at LuckyAsianGuy.com and is developing a TV show of the same name, is well on his way to becoming the top Asian male porn star in the world.
“It’s nice. I will always stay humble,” says Styles, who began doing porn for a living in ’07. “But sometimes people are like, ‘Well how long have you been in the biz?’ … For the first two years I was doing 25 scenes a month. A month solid — every fucking month in Europe. Banging out two a day — three or four times a week. But no one really sees it I guess.”
They’re seeing it now.
In this exclusive interview, Styles talks more about his six tours of duty as a member of the British infantry and how combat changed his life forever.
XBIZ: How long did you serve?
KS: In seven years I did six operational tours, and one in Northern Ireland, so that’s three-and-a-half years I’m in active duty. That’s a lot of opportunities to come really close to the edge, right. [laughs]. And also, when I signed up, I just signed up because I didn’t want to go to jail. Because as I kid I was in Youth Offenders.
On the British Army:
So I joined the Army because I wanted to get out of trouble but it really did change my life — the structure and the discipline and the focus and drive that I learned in the Army. It was almost like it was a natural transition because in the children’s home it was very much the same as living in barracks. It’s like you don’t show your weaknesses. You have to look after yourself, and it’s competitive. You’re living in confined spaces with other people that maybe you don’t even like. So you always got your eye on your shit, right. But that’s why I excelled in the Army. I was the youngest N.C.O. (Non-Commissioned Officer, or ranked officer) in my battalion. I was promoted after a year and I got my second promotion in my second year.
On how his views on military service changed:
At the time when I first joined the Army I thought I was really doing something good. I thought we were fighting for peace and everything else. But what really changed me. I did Bosnia. I did Kosovo twice and Iraq twice, and Northern Ireland. It was Bosnia first, and then it was Kosovo. And they were both very, very active tours. The infantry in the British Army is six-month tours. It’s a long time. The second tour in Kosovo was the first time I started thinking to myself, ‘What the fuck are we doing here?’
And as well being in the infantry you don’t really see the restructuring. You don’t really see the engineers at work, or the schools being built, or the sewer systems being put back in. What you see is clearing houses, clearing villages, confiscating weapons. And firefights with rebels, you know? That’s basically what you see, so I guess it is a biased view. But by the time I finished that tour and then I went to Iraq it was exactly the same thing.
In fact, it wasn’t…the people hated you, because you represent the destruction in their lives. There’s no, ‘Oh, the saviors!’ Like in Kosovo, Albanians were like... in [the capital city] Pristina which is heavily Serb, we had old ladies with their prayer beads thanking us on patrol because they felt safe now. And they try to give you gifts and stuff. In Iraq, it’s the complete opposite. There are kids running and throwing rocks at you and spitting at you and everyone just…is waving their sandals at you.
On why he got out:
… The British Army is completely different than the American Army. We foot patrol. … We’re on the street with our berets on. And you’re like sitting ducks. So some of my friends were injured, a few killed from snatch attacks. Like basically, we are on patrol — attacks out of the blue. I just thought to myself, ‘This ain’t my life man. This ain’t for me.’
And the mark for me, the mark of a man is doing what you believe in, right. And I was in a position where I was actually giving orders too. I would receive my orders, and then also give them. And I didn’t feel like a man at all. I thought I was just like a tool, a part of the machine. And when you’re delivering orders that you don’t even believe in yourself or you’re carrying out actions, when you go on missions that you don’t even believe in — even as you’re doing it, even as you’re kicking someone’s door down and you’re seeing a distressed family. And then you find nothing. And then you’re like, ‘What the fuck am I doing?’ I’ve just taken eight men, scared the living crap out of a family, looking for someone that’s not even here.’
And I have these eight schoolboys who’ve never even been in a punch-up in their lives, running around with automatic weapons on fucking massive ego trips. It’s heartbreaking.
… We had recruits turning up that didn’t even know their drills or how to use their rifles correctly. So then basically they were liabilities in the field. And they’re just on massive power trips, like grabbing women, whacking them around, kicking people. I’m like, ‘We’re supposed to be on a peace-keeping mission.’ And yet, I’m in charge of a bunch of wanna-be tyrants. ‘Who’s the bad guys here, really?’
And I just, I had to get out of the Army. And Iraq was what turned me.
On how his life changed after the Army:
I was… Think about it. Thirteen years of boxing, that’s competing. And yes it’s a violent sport, but there’s an art to it. I still love boxing. I still love martial arts. But it’s a fight. It’s still a fight. Then I was a trained killer. So all my life, I’ve been fighting people, beating people up and killing people. When I got out of the Army, my whole life did a 180. And I was just all about love.
Another reason why I got out of the Army is a girlfriend committed suicide. And we had been together for a year, and for me and my time scale, a year in a relationship was about the most serious thing I’ve ever had.
She committed suicide and that really made me think, ‘What is my life about?’ And then I realized, ‘My life is about destruction, in every type of way.’ And so I switched it, and I took love. And I know it sounds so cheesy. But I really came out and was like, ‘OK, what is love? I don’t know it. It’s been alien to me for so long.’
And then I realized, well I love having sex and I love the honesty of swinging couples, and really the whole swinging community, no matter if they’re attractive or not. Really the whole swinging community is unified in sharing with each other. And that’s all they want to do is they just want to enjoy pleasures, free pleasures with each other. And be in love with each other. And some of the relationships and friendships that I bonded through swinging, I still email with them now. And literally, I do love them as people. Because they’re so honest and that’s it. Pure. There’s no hiding it. You’re naked. You want someone, you got it.
On living in Budapest:
That’s where I met Club Sandy and 21st Sextury and they were amazing to me. Between 21 Sextury which I think is like 40 sites — I’d say maybe 12 of them are shot in Budapest. … I was lucky enough because of Sandy. She was the one who put me into the inner circle. … I’m so lucky in a way that I really, really learned my trade under 21st Sextury.
On landing a prominent role in “Speed:”
[Brad Armstrong] called me after [the Adult Entertainment Expo in January] and said he saw [Evil Angel's] ‘Pure’ and he wanted to work with me. He said he had a role for me, a supporting role. But I would be the leader of a gang, an Asian gang and I would be the nemesis of the lead. And I would have to be an asshole. I was like, ‘Dude, I’m not really an actor, I fuck.’ He’s like, ‘You can act.’ I was like, ‘Well but I’m not a bad guy, you know.’ He was like, ‘Well come on, this is your opportunity to shine and maybe develop your acting portfolio.’
Because I never really thought about it. And I was like, ‘Whatever it is I’ll do it because you’re going to pair me up with Kaylani [Lei]. And I really want to work with her.'
On getting "on the map:"
With ‘Speed’ I really feel like that’s put me on the map with something that’s already established. It’s already out there. Wicked is a household label. Brad Armstrong is a multi-award winning director and to be given the opportunity to be a part of that. I was like, ‘OK, I want to step my game up.’ I need to. I’ve got a lot riding on this. Like if I bomb this I might as well kiss my ass back to Budapest. Not bomb it, but even if it was like below par…
There is an element of jealousy that I felt towards me. And that in itself is motivation. Because there’s a lot of whispers. There’s whispers in the dark. One, ‘He’s only got this heat because he’s Asian.’ Two, ‘Oh, he’s like a token Asian kind of thing. He’s not strong in this or that or whatever. He shouldn’t be doing that, he should earn his stripes kind of thing.’ And I’m talking about within the ‘Speed’ cast. It’s like, ‘You earn your fucking stripes boy. Do a few shitty things and then you get to bang all the hot chicks.’
… And then literally, one of the other male performers — he’s my friend — he took me over to one side and said, ‘Keni, just make sure you respect the people around you who’ve been around for a long time because if you come with bravado and arrogance you’ll be cut off in an instant.'
And I was like, ‘Well, what do you mean?’ And he was like, ‘Just be humble, as you are. Just continue exactly as you are. Because we’ve had new guys coming into the inner circle and they’ve done one or two movies and then they fucked up.’ He said, ‘I really like you. I want you to be around, so just stay as you are.’ Well, I’m always going to be like me anyway. But I knew exactly what he meant.