Boomer Banks Won’t Be Pinned Down

Written by: Chris Roney

Welcome to Now Loading, a column by award-winning editor and journalist Chris Roney. This week, we got up close and personal with the one and only Boomer Banks in an exclusive article.

Boomer Banks takes off his shirt; I take off my boots. It’s Wednesday afternoon, it’s hot, and we drip with sweat. Because this is an intimate conversation as much as it is an interview, we kick up our feet on the couch in his Hell’s Kitchen apartment. A box fan rattles in the window.

True to his name, Banks is explosively honest. It’s something that’s earned them the respect of many other sex workers, not to mention a global fanbase. In an industry where studios pit models of color against each other, effectively, by creating a scarcity of roles, Banks refuses to fight over crumbs. Instead, they leverage their position as a much-loved gay porn star and personality to call on gatekeepers to make the necessary space. “We can all dominate,” they insist, beyond the fetishism of porn that still centers White cis people to a fault.

Banks self-describes as a “queer sober Mexicano cabrón,” but says with a smirk: “Most of the time, I just call myself a f*ggot.” There’s no pretense with him. These days, you can find him on OUTtv’s “X-Rated: NYC,” at Ladyfag’s long-running banger, Battle Hymn, or at PIGHAUS, where he’s basically the resident DJ. Here, Banks talks about Black and Brown representation in porn, HIV/AIDS advocacy, and the redeeming power of house music.

Boomer Banks
Photographs by Greg Endries
Boomer Banks

Boomer Banks: I’m so glad I get to lay down for this.

Chris Roney: I’m so glad I get to lay down for this. Let’s jump right in. Fleshjack sells silicone reproductions of your dick and balls, and your asshole. My question is, are you ever like, let me see what all the fuss is about? Let me f*ck myself while being f*cked by myself.

BB: Have I used it? Of course I have! The very first joke I ever made was, now I can go f*ck myself.

CR: Maybe put the lips to your nipple, really get the full effect.

BB: [laughs] I don’t think I’ve ever used my dildo on me, though. I’ve used other people’s dildos, but not mine.

CR: Too meta?

BB: Maybe one day.

CR: In your studio porn career, you’ve made a point to say, no, I won’t play into your stereotypes about being Brown, like being the yard hand in a scene. You’ve said, “I’m gonna be the owner of the f*cking house.

BB: Yeah, b*tch!

CR: Or your decision not to let yourself be boxed in as a total top, which readers may not know is what’s expected of many, if not most Black and Brown guys.

BB: Being a top was intensely what [studios] wanted from me at the beginning of my career. It just felt really inauthentic, and I’m authentic.

They were peeved by the fact that I wanted to bottom; then, they leaned into it. Even when I bottom, people just don’t pay attention. Like, I have a great ass.

CR: It’s true.

BB: People just wanna see the front. It’s just consumption, I guess.

CR: Tell me why it’s important to you to push back against that one-dimensionality.

BB: It’s important because as a Brown man, I shouldn’t have to be told what to do by White people. As a queer Brown man, I shouldn’t be pigeonholed into something I’m not. This whole narrative that now that I’ve bottomed, I’m a bottom? Like, no! I enjoy topping, but I’m not gonna just top.

CR: It’s funny how the fantasy can be so binary when reality isn’t ever so black or white.

BB: I get into moods! There are certain situations where I prefer to bottom and certain situations where I’m okay with both, or just topping. Somebody tweeted, like, “I’m a Grindr top and a Sniffies bottom,” and they were coming for me! When I’m doing public stuff, I’d rather bottom because I know I’m ready to have sex in public. It’s often when I’ve decided to top in public, things happen, and my shenanigans get cut short because I have to go clean up, and that sucks. I know there’s that girl who’s like, “I know my body,” but I’m a professional: I really know my body.

CR: We’re watching porn consumption shift from studio porn to a creator economy, where models on OnlyFans and the like can enjoy not only more financial freedom, but creative freedom outside of cookie-cutter industry restraints. I’m wondering, do you think that’s accelerating progress for Black and Brown porn models across the industry itself?

BB: It’s a fact. I think the instant success is, yes, you show up, you’re pretty, you’re White, you get followers. But, what’s the retention rate of that? When they start subscribing and you’re not giving them what they want, when you’re just lazy, yeah, you were pretty once, but man, there’s another pretty person coming up: I’m gonna follow them.

But people of color, we work really hard. Our retention is very high and we give amazing content. Rhyheim Shabazz is one of, if not the most popular performer out there right now, and he is constantly putting out phenomenal content because he gives the consumer what they want. He shoots with an array of performers: body types, ethnicities, genders.

CR: I love seeing trans men finally getting their due with more mainstream gigs.

BB: I mean, I’ve been doing that… I’m not gonna say I was the first, but I was definitely on board. The first time I did [shoot with a trans man], I got intense, disgusting backlash. I was genuinely confused as to why, because I had sex with a man who happened to have a bonus hole — end of story.

CR: You’ve been a real advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness.

BB: And Monkeypox.

CR: And Monkeypox. Something that sets you apart, I think, is that not only do you encourage folks to find out their status, but also to get the care they need once they know their status.

BB: Well, that’s important! You could be like, “Get tested, please, do this, do that,” but once they get tested, who’s gonna teach you to take care of yourself?

The reality is that there was no one to teach me how to take care of myself when I found out I was HIV-positive. The gays that came before me were all wiped out. Disproportionately, the gays that were my color — and Black gays — were all wiped out. People that were supposed to guide me where to go, weren’t there. Now, I have that: I have those resources, and the ability to do that for the gays now. ‘Cause even though there’s PrEP and information is out there, [infection] still happens at a very accelerated rate.

Furthering that, what happened with Monkeypox last summer — me getting it, me having a huge interview in The New York Times about it and being completely candid about how I was treated by the [Department of Health]. It needed to be said because the DOH, again, dropped the ball. HIV was one thing because they didn’t know what it was, but Monkeypox has been around for 50 years, and you guys are acting like fools. And then later finding out that they didn’t want to do that stuff because of paperwork?

CR: It’s ridiculous. They treat us like we’re disposable.

BB: Because of paperwork, sis?

CR: When our people are in excruciating pain.

BB: It is so ridiculous, and now there’s a small resurgence of it because a lot of the gays didn’t go get their second shot! And even the girls that did get their second shot, they get Monkeypox and they don’t know what to do because they thought it was gone.

Continuing to advocate for us is always gonna be very important to me, because I’ve been given this platform that I didn’t necessarily… I wasn’t meant to have it.

CR: I wouldn’t say you were given this platform, baby — you earned it. You worked for it.

BB: The majority of the people who have a platform like this are people that don’t utilize their platform.

CR: Well, not for good, anyway.

BB: I’ve said this a million times, but Brown and Black queers work 10 times harder to get what we have. So, I want to live in that grace, and own it, and be proud of it, and give it away, because we can’t keep any of this if we’re not giving it back to our community.

I’m passionate about how much I love my community. I may not like you, I don’t have to love everyone, but I love my community and everyone in it, and I will fight for you, always.

CR: Even in dislike, there is love, because there’s still feeling: it isn’t apathy.

BB: Yes! There’s always love.

CR: On what you said about Brown and Black men having to work 10 times harder, HIV science tells us that Black and Brown queer men are literally, like, three times, five times more likely to contract HIV in their lifetimes [as compared to White queers]. They have to work that much more to stay healthy.

BB: And Monkeypox showed that! White gays brought it, gave it to Brown gays and Black gays, and then we didn’t have access to the healthcare they did, so we got sick. I didn’t, but others did — I was always very loud about what I need, and I will get what I need, I don’t care.

CR: As you should be.

BB: And as a result, the White House invited me to various forums, liaisons for the White House keep in close contact, because they found it endearing and powerful that I was so vocal about getting what I need.

CR: Speaking of, you were just at the Ali Forney Center’s “A Place at the Table” gala the other day, which was raising money to give housing, mental health services, food, and more to homeless queer youth, which is the number-one way to prevent new HIV infections: housing is crucial to HIV prevention, adherence to HIV/AIDS antiretrovirals, and ultimately, longer, better lives. The death of Jordan Neely really laid bare how interconnected these system failures are — around homelessness, lack of health services, safety in public spaces…

BB: Mmm, and mental health. My mental health isn’t that intense: I go to therapy to curb my issues and that’s all I need, but a lot of people need a lot more.

CR: Right. But, having been open about your own experience of homelessness and how it was interconnected with addiction, in your case, what was that experience like for you?

BB: It was beautiful to be invited. One of the honorees is a really good friend of mine and he thanked me from the podium. I did not expect it — he was so adamant about me going, and I realize why.

CR: Who was the honoree?

BB: Jonathan Hawkins. He’s one of the owners of the Crown and Anchor in P-Town. During the pandemic, they did an online carnival. I hosted it and it raised money for services in P-Town. I did it for free, and what else was I gonna do? I was just sitting around doing nothing anyway, so might as well help make money for health services in a town I love very much.

The gala was really nice, and I had a moment to talk to the host, Indya Moore, and she was just so graceful and sweet. I don’t usually get nervous around celebrities, but I think it was more because trans women and drag queens basically raised me, so to have her be who she is now and continue to show up? Because she was also homeless — in the foster care system, constantly let down — and if it wasn’t for “Pose,” she wouldn’t have what she has. She’s very grateful.

She came up to me and said, “I know who you are, but not for the things that everyone else does: I heard how much you appreciate the dolls, and that’s beautiful.” It was just so nice to talk to her. I just never imagined, being in the streets, this many years later, being able to show up to something like that and dress up.

CR: We’re all about Old Pros and the push to decrim sex work, so in your own words, why do you think sex work should be decriminalized?

BB: I think it would alleviate the stigma that still lingers, because if you think about it, everyone uses sex: even the people who are like, “I would never escort, I would never.” You literally teeter on showing us your bootyhole, but you would never. You already are, baby.

CR: Half an inch from it. The truth is, most of us sell sex, one way or another.

BB: Sex work doesn’t have to mean overt sex. You already prostitute. You’re already doing porn. So, just lean into it instead of yucking other people’s yum. Lean into your own grace and your own power. Step away from judgment. Even though, as f*ggots, we judge, right? But just talk to your friends about that stuff: don’t vocalize any of that. The reality is, oftentimes the thing that’s coming out of your mouth is something you don’t care for or approve of within you. So, fix that.

Like this weekend I was in Chicago, but I didn’t go to the Grabbys because I’ve made my piece. No disrespect to people who continue to go to those awards — cool! I’m also never gonna be that f*ggot who’s like, “I’m done with porn,” make a big ol’ post, and then two months later, you’re like, “Hiiieeee.”

CR: Back for one night only. [laughs]

BB: [laughs] Exactly. I’m not gonna stop doing my fan stuff, but what I have realized is that the industry proper is toxic and doesn’t create mental fitness for me in a way that I care to continue to indulge.

The people that center themselves in that industry, mainly White men, continue to act as gatekeepers. When they’re called out by a Brown or Black person, we become the angry c*nt, instead of just being accurate about what it is they’re doing. One year they’re like, “Oh, Brown and Black people!” And they forget. Then five years go by, someone calls them out, and they go, “Oh, Brown and Black people,” and then, oh, they forget again.

CR: We know a lot of so-called “support” is only ever lip service or a cash grab anyway.

BB: But the reality is, we’re always there! This weekend, a fan came up to me and said, “Are you not gonna do studio porn anymore?” And I said, I can’t be the forever representation. I need to be able to live my life, and I can’t live my life for the fans that claim that they need it. Find it in someone else.

CR: You’re hitting on something that’s been coming up a lot lately, like what Joel Kim Booster was talking about the other day re: “Fire Island”: the burden of representation and how it can be so great on a single person or production. The pressure to make right what a single piece won’t fix.

BB: At what expense? At what mental expense to us? We can’t constantly be the only ones pushing if our allies and all these people that claim to be “diverse” aren’t pushing with us. We’re just a photo op for them: an invitation to show people, “Oh look, we’re being diverse, we invited such and such.” It’s exhausting.

CR: No wonder we’re laying down. So, what’s next for you, papi?

BB: Music.

CR: So, I love Nita [Aviance], and I know she’s taken you under her wing. From my understanding, you’d worked with Nita at Westgay, Battle…

BB: Before that! The Cock, to Westgay, to Battle Hymn. Our proximity has been so loving and caring, and this past winter we got really close. My grief from losing my best friend was insurmountable. I needed to vent, and house music has always been so healing. I started practicing, got my own little system, and now I’m putting it out there. People are booking me for gigs here and there.

I know Boomer’s gonna get me in the door, but I want my music to keep me in there. I don’t just wanna be like, “I’m Boomer, hire me.” I want the music and the mentorship that’s been bestowed upon me by Nita to [inspire pride].

I’ve talked about living in grace and power, and that is my grace and power right now: it’s house music. A lot influenced by funk, R&B, hip-hop from the ’90s and early 2000s, when house music was intense.

House music was invented in Chicago by people of color! Learning the histories and internalizing all that helps with music choices. For me, storytelling while DJ-ing is something I never thought about until I started doing it. All that was something I figured out and expressed to Nita. She was like, “I don’t tell just anybody that I’m gonna help them, but you’re saying all the right things, so I have no doubt this is gonna be a good thing for you.” Because there’s a lot of porn stars who’ve wanted to do this…

CR: Anyone can be pretty and have a little thumb-drive moment, put on a hat.

BB: That’s not gonna be me.

CR: I know it isn’t. I mean, you have a fantastic mentor in Nita. It’s been fun to watch her star rise with how Good Room has blown up so much on the laurels of Carry Nation, but also the Beyoncé collab? The range! She’s blowing the f*ck up.

Where can the girls hear you? Look into that non-existent camera and tell the girls where they can hear your next set.

BB: There’s a Soundcloud now.

CR: You heard it here first.