Interview: Porn Star Conner Habib On His Life, Lecturing, And What Makes Him A Sexpert

The NewNowNext sexpert talks about getting into porn, his “sexual revolution” class, and the dudes he misses from high school.

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Conner Habib is one gay porn star notable for his — wait for it! — versatility. He’s a well-known adult film actor with a sinister grin, but he’s also a college lecturer, the first porn actor ever to speak at the Museum of Modern Art, a vlogging sexpert over at NewNowNext.com, and now a webinar host who wants to teach you “How to Start a (Sexual) Revolution” beginning June 19. His Twitter and blog followers (NSFW) also know him as an opinionated essayist and a naughty Vine user. In all of his endeavors, he’s determinedly honest and full of sexual zeal. You couldn’t ask for more from a devilish triple-X presence.

We interviewed Habib to discuss his life prior to porn acting, his blog feature “Guys I Wanted to F*ck in High School,” and the times when he needs advice himself.

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TheBacklot: Before you got into porn, you were a grad student who taught classes. From what I can gather on your website, you didn’t love that life. What was it like?
Conner Habib: It was just nothing surprising at all. I would go in because I was in grad school as well, and I would teach my classes, and then I’d go all hours of the night grading papers. From the outside, it seems dreadfully boring. That said, I really did love teaching. I dedicate a lot of time to my students, and I was in grad school for two different things — creative writing and organismic biology — so it was hectic. It was a super scholarly life. I liked all those aspects, but then there was all the bureaucratic bullsh*t, you know? Having meetings about what I was teaching, interacting with students who were always brushing up against the bureaucratic structure they were stuck in, like going to school. I’d have students who’d come up to me and say, “Oh, I didn’t do the assignment! I’m really sorry!” I’d always be like, “Well, that assignment was for you. It was so you could become a better writer or thinker.” I kept seeing this weird, sad attitude that people were stuck in within academia. Then there were all the papers I had to sign, the hoops I had to jump as a teacher. I hated all of that. I couldn’t stand any of it. I felt like I always losing a battle, and it felt like it was eroding all the stuff I liked doing.

TB: So, how did you get into porn?
CH: I moved to San Francisco, and as I was moving there, I knew I was going to be in porn. I’d wanted to do it since I was, like, 12 years old. I always wanted to do it. I turned a teaching job down and was looking for things to do, and I was asked to audition for a commercial. I did the audition, and the people who shot the commercial owned a porn company. They asked, “Dude, do you want to do porn for us?” Because I’d always wanted to do porn, there’d always been people who contacted me over the years in California.

TB: One thing I love about Twitter is the amount of porn stars who are out there representing themselves. It used to be rare that a porn star could establish himself/herself on self-made terms. Do you feel you have particular colleagues in porn who really relish representing themselves fully in social media?
CH: It’s hard for me to answer, because I sort of feel like it’s just everybody. Social media, if you let it, allows you to show all sides of yourself. It has a humanizing aspect for a lot of people. There are people who go on Twitter and all they do is crack jokes. If you’re a comedian, all of your tweets will be jokes. Porn stars, some of them just post naked pictures of themselves. I think one of things we’re sort of being asked to do now [thanks to] technology and culture is represent ourselves as fully human. It’s asked of a lot of people, not just porn stars, and I really like that. The backfire of it is that people who aren’t in the eye, for example, may be drunk on their Facebook and then get fired, or stupid bullsh*t like that. Because there are so many of us who represent ourselves fully instead of just one-dimensionally, and because that opportunity is available to us, we’re chipping away at the idea that we can only be one thing.

TB: On your blog, you have a recurring personal essay feature called “Guys I Wanted to F*ck in High School.” Have you heard back from any of the guys themselves?
CH: Mostly I’ve had reactions from people on the margins. I don’t have Facebook — like, I left Facebook two years ago because I f*cking hated it — but when I wrote the first [installment], people from high school reacted, and they said it was great because it was evocative of the atmosphere. I have had some people reach out, but none of the guys that I actually wanted to have sex with have said anything. The third guy [in the feature], the one I did have sex with a whole lot, he hasn’t said anything. But people on the sidelines have commented, and some of them were surprised with what was going on with me internally. If they knew me now, they probably wouldn’t be surprised. [Laughs.] But remembering what a truly difficult place it was for some of us to grow up in and how difficult that atmosphere must’ve been for people who couldn’t be themselves? I’ve had people comment about that. But nobody that I really obsessively fantasized over. I would love for one of my teachers to reply. I have no idea how he would see it, but I want him to, because I still would love to have sex with him.

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TB: You run an advice vlog for NewNowNext. What’s easy for you to give advice about and what’s harder for you to give advice about?
CH: That’s a really good question. What’s hard is when I receive really limited information. I feel like I’m a therapist, yet this isn’t somebody who’s sitting down for individualized counseling with me. God knows they shouldn’t. I would totally screw them up! Usually I get a sex question that presents very limited details. Or the other side, which I can’t discuss on the show, is really extensive details. Like I got one that was like, “I’m an FTM from Russia, I just moved here, I miss my boyfriend…” and it just went on and on and on. Everything was very specific, and I was like, “I could address any one of these issues!” It went on, “I don’t know if I made the right decision in my transition.” Sometimes if it’s super detailed, I can’t respond to it at all. The trick is getting questions that can apply to enough people so that it’s interesting for others to watch, while it’s still personal enough that it’s interesting for me to answer. Something that’s easy for me to answer is anything where I have overlapping experience. Then I can tell stories about myself or make sexy, silly jokes about things I’ve done in my life, the fiascos, foibles, and fumbles, that kind of stuff. Something that’s hard for me is answering stuff that’s intensely emotional. Like, when people ask me if they should leave their partner. I always want to answer questions like that — whether they should or shouldn’t — and sometimes I like to answer questions with more questions. “Have you asked yourself this? Have you asked yourself that?” I’m not a therapist, and I don’t really have the right to guide somebody. So it’s more like, “Maybe you should think about these things.”

TB: Sounds pretty daunting.
CH: I was getting questions like this even before I had the show, and it’s sometimes hard not to feel like you’re overstepping your bounds. Coming-out questions, I get those all the time. “What should I do? Should I come out?” Because I’m part Middle Eastern, I get questions from the Middle East all the time. “I’m feeling overwhelmed; there’s no one to talk to.” I’ve had people saying they want to kill themselves. I always want to answer — and sometimes my answer is “I’m not the person to ask” — but there are also 13-year-olds who ask me questions, and I think, “I don’t know if you should be talking to me!” You may not have the answer, but you always feel compelled to say something.

TB: Your three-part online lecture series “How to Start a (Sexual) Revolution” begins June 19. Could you give us some hints about it?
CH: I’m really excited about it. Basically what I want to do is show how attitudes about sex can change your attitudes about culture and other people in general. Sex, for me, has one of my most important teachers in life. And I don’t just mean having sex. Struggling to feel OK about sex, understanding my body, understanding other people’s sexual tastes and attitudes, those things have helped me do better work in the world and be kinder to other people. That’s part of it. It’s not just a sexual thing — that’s why “sexual” is in parentheses in the title — it’s not just about getting everyone to f*ck in the streets, though I’d like that too. It’s using sex and applying it to the rest of our lives. The first guest is Samuel Delany, a science fiction writer and cultural critic, and he writes about sex all the time. I’m going to talk to him a lot about porn, how our imaginations are pornographic, how we’re always thinking pornographic thoughts all of the time. We’re just pornographic people. He’s dealing with that all the time, expresses that and feels so free doing it. How does he feel so free doing that? I’m also going to be talking to Buck Angel, who has a series called “Sexing the Transman.” He’s this big butch guy, and he’s a trans guy, and he kept his vagina and didn’t go through the transition of having a penis. That’s what he wants. So he has plenty of interesting things to say about sexual identity and locking ourselves into categories, and how even ones as basic as “man” or “woman” are maybe partially false. Certainly the idea of being “gay” or “straight” is, you know, not totally a real thing! There’s a lot to dig into so we can become more open and accepting, and therefore we can lead by example.

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