Tonight at the 2019 GayVN Awards Show, presented by ManyVids, industry veteran Keith Miller is being inducted into the GayVN Hall of Fame. As the founder of Helix Studios, Keith Miller has done more than create a gay adult entertainment studio. He’s created a lifestyle. Call it Helix World—a universe in which everyone is beautiful, charming and free from the hang-ups of the sex-negative society around them. This accomplishment makes the industry veteran a more-than-deserving candidate for the GayVN Hall of Fame.
Miller got his start in 1997 as one of the founding partners of Internet Billing Company LLC, better known as iBill. Miller departed in 2000, but within two years he was back on the other side of the industry as a producer of gay adult entertainment. His inaugural title was First Time Spankings in 2002. “Spanking was the first thing we started with because there was less competition, and I saw a market niche that wasn’t being filled,” he says. “It just kind of gradually evolved from there, from doing spanking videos to filming sex. And then in 2004 we started releasing full hardcore scenes.”
Over the years as the head of Helix, Miller has been based in three different iconic locales. Helix started off in Fort Lauderdale, building a reputation for high production values and drop-dead-gorgeous stars.
In 2006, Miller decided it was time to head west. He wanted to be closer to the adult industry—not only to the performers but also to the leading distributors, duplicators and marketing companies. Helix’s new home was another iconic beach city: San Diego. For 11 years, the California tourist mecca was a happy home. Miller shared directorial duties with other creative individuals, including Max Carter, Casey Roman and Alex Roman.
Miller points to the release of the 2013 movie Helix Academy as a watershed moment in the studio’s evolution, calling it “our first really major breakthrough movie … when the whole thing started to coalesce.” His stars became bona fide celebrities: “athletic, charming, good-looking, enjoying life, dealing with sexual issues in a positive light, not a shameful way, and being able to be open.”
Miller muses, “Porn used to be hidden away in the corner—you’d run away to Vegas or L.A. to do it. Now people come seek it out because of the potential for celebrity. … It’s not that dirty stuff anymore. It can be fun and positive.”
In 2018, Helix moved to another tourist hot spot, setting up shop in Las Vegas. “Vegas just seemed to call us.” Miller explained. “And we’re just very happy with what this offers us on a whole different level and a whole different stage.” One thing in particular is the recently released Vegas Nights, which Miller describes as “a huge, incredible piece of work that encompasses so much real filmmaking with lots of storylines and drama and development.”
Calling the movie “truly something that hasn’t been done or seen in a long time in the industry,” Miller says Helix wants to release two versions: an R-rated 90-minute cut that would be “viewable by anybody” and also an X-rated version. “It should be interesting. We’re very excited about the possibilities of what we can do in Vegas.”
But perhaps the biggest factor in Helix’s rise is Miller’s keen understanding of star power and social media. Helix attracts fans and members, he says, “because we have stars, because we have people who have huge social media followings and reach millions and millions of people.”
Another new thing for Helix in Las Vegas is the company’s move into book publishing. “We’re actually publishing books from gay authors. Historical novels, gay fiction. We also have the young adult series, Rise Up. Since we have been in Vegas I’ve hired a writer who writes our scripts and also writes books. We’ve released two books so far that are basically the fictional backstory of the models. And they’re not erotic. They are young adult fiction, actually sold at Barnes & Noble and online at Amazon. This is a whole different area of marketing our stars and social media celebrities. Blake Mitchell has a book, and Kyle Ross has a book. Joey Mills’ book will be released in February. We’ll have a national tour [for Mills] from New York to Chicago and L.A. and then to St. Louis, his hometown, to release the book and do a book tour for him.”
Miller sees the books as a way to help his stars build and monetize their mainstream celebrity. “We’re looking at doing tours, bringing our models and our stars to the fans, doing more appearances this year, and introducing the world to the wonderful guys who are performing for us.”
Miller sees making connections between fans and stars as key to Helix’s success—and key to giving the modern-day consumer what they demand. “This is the digital age of celebrity and stars and direct connects to your customers. And so everything we create we sell direct to our customers the same as everyone else in the world does. It’s a matter of simply finding our fans and keeping them entertained. It’s a whole different world, a whole different philosophy. And that encompasses content on any platform, across any system. Be it print, be it video, be it spoken work—it’s all entertainment and it can all contribute to everything that we do. We’re not a DVD company, we’re not a VHS company—we’re a gay adult entertainment company, and that encompasses everything.”
To keep those consumers happy, Miller says, “we have to provide [fans] with the best options, we have to give them the best models, we have to give them the best productions, we have to give them the best site, the easiest to use. … They want to feel associated with the brand; they want to be part of it—and those are very good things. It’s the way it should be.”
Written by:8teenboyHelix StudiosKeith MillerSharan Street