An Interview With Tony Banks: Hip-Hop, Porn & The Bear Community


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A few years ago, Tony Banks was one of the few prominent black bears roaming the arctic tundra that is bear-centric media. You won’t find him doing adult scenes anymore; Tony’s now behind the camera calling the shots, creating content for , and rocking the mic from coast to coast with his own unique style hip-hop style.

I caught up with Tony and talked about black men in bear porn, representation in the bear community, how he got started in the adult industry, and of course, his music.

Karsh

Read what Tony had to say and check out his music below:

Tonk Banks Interview

Thanks for speaking with xhardxtimesx.ru, Tony! What’s been going on in your world?

Good morning. I’ve been busy balancing my professional and music life like a mad man on a mission. Hopefully, I can continue to do a great job on all levels.

Can you tell us a little about about what you’re working on?

Professionally, I’m planning a trip to Montreal this week to test some new green screen technology. We are always looking at new ways to push the envelope in the adult entertainment industry. I’m also planning some fun music ventures including a mini-concert album release to be viewed online, as well as a charity concert in NYC this January.

I’m also working with a group of men to bring a United Bears event to Las Vegas next summer, an event where all bears — no matter their color, size, shape, etc. — will feel welcomed. You can find that group on .

Damn, that is a lot! You’re like the hardest working bear in show business.

Not the hardest, but starting a music career at 33 isn’t the easiest thing, so I’m trying to work like the smartest. I’m also directing and producing the number one adult entertainment site online for the bear community, and I’m working on keeping that number one spot.

It’s not an easy task, but so far, we are doing pretty well. We just got nominated for a for two scenes I shot, as well as talent I found and worked with. And I have a music video nominated for a .

But I love what I do, and I won’t change or give it up for the world.

Tonk Banks Interview

Congratulations on your nominations! How did you get started in the adult industry, and what made you shift to doing music?

I always tell people “right place, right time.” I was cruising one night in the NYC Village, and I saw a guy on the street and followed him to an all-night magazine shop. I picked up a magazine to let him know I was into bears. Needless to say, it worked, but I decided to buy the magazine as well.

Inside, the editors’ notes talked about the WOOF factor and what it took to be a model. I decided to email him some pics. Next thing I knew, I was on set in NJ doing my first photo spread. From there, a natural progression occurred. Now, I’m the director and in charge of creating content.

Music has been a part of my life since birth. It just helped that my “musical voice” was so sexual and nasty. It was a great fit! So when other artists are talking about doing this and doing that… I’ve done it! But you won’t catch me talking about beating bitches, drugs, big cars, crazy parties, etc. I’m too grown for that.

I really liked your video for “Old School Love” — it’s definitely not the kind of thing you would see coming out of gay hip-hop these days.

Thanks! I’m very proud of that video and that song. (And it only cost me like $500 to shoot.)

It reflects a portion of my style of music. I do talk A LOT about fucking ass, but we as humans are more than one thing, and I want my music to represent all parts of me and our community. We shot it back in my hometown of NYC on a Sunday morning. All the pieces just came together.

In one of your songs, ““, you make a callback to your earlier work in the industry. “When it comes to sex, I’ve done or I’ve seen it.” You certainly don’t see a lot of black men in bear porn. Why do you think that’s the case?

I’ve had this conversation before, and I believe the stigma of the Black church has a lot to do with it. But when it comes to bear porn, you have a lot of unhealthy body image issues within our community.

I asked a friend once before about attending a black bear event where other black men of size attended and everyone in the pool has a damn t-shirt on. If everyone there is the same, then you should be empowered to feel a sense of community and love. Don’t hide. Put it on camera for the world to see.

A lot of bears of color don’t even associate themselves as bears due to the stigma that bears are white.

But that stigma is reflected in bear-centric media too. Movies, shows, bear run flyers, etc.

That it is, but there are groups that notice this is happening, and they’re including men and bears of color into their marketing efforts. Not enough are doing it, but it’s a push in the right direction.

It’s almost taboo to even be a bear of color. Like it’s a deep dark secret. But the battle of what is and isn’t a bear will forever forge on.

Tonk Banks Interview

This is true. Even the different bear terms show that division. Like you said before, a lot of black bears don’t self-identify as bears. The term “big boi” or “thick” might be used.

Yeah, and in turn, that comes with its own stigma and self-divisions. But having people such as myself, , and a number of others celebrities and activists pushing past the velvet ropes has helped expose other bears of color to the bear community.

I truly believe that if I weren’t a bear of color, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s almost a fact. When I started, not many bears of color were trying to get into the industry, or they didn’t have the right “look”. So when I came around and people saw that I was open, they jumped at the chance. I was just smart and easy to work with. That helped push me up the ranks.

Now a bear of color is creating entertainment that other bears jerk off to.

And music that they can dance to! It sounds like your experiences have been mostly positive with the bear community, both in the adult industry and the music industry.

Hehe… Yeah, there have been ups and downs, but I’m slowly walking up the hill rather than rolling down it.

Tonk Banks Interview

Let’s go back to your music. You’ve also shared the stage with Big Dipper, whom we’ve covered here on the site. Tell us about that experience.

Big Dipper is one of the influences of my music and career, and I would love to tour with him sometime soon. We have a great mutual respect for one another, and I think if we did a tour together, it would bring the most diverse crowd the bear community has ever seen. I mean two sexy, nasty bears on one stage — how could you go wrong?

Just don’t call the tour something cliché like “Ebony and Ivory” or “Dat Swirl”.

Haha, I promise that wouldn’t be the case. I would rather look at it as all bears and less “black bear, white bear.” Help crush those barriers… More like Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Kim. Bear style.

Well just to wrap things up, where can we follow you online?

You can find me on , , as well as . Check out my at as well. You can reach me through any one of those avenues for booking, and I will be releasing my latest EP Chocolate Cake later this year.

Very nice! Tony Banks, coming to a bear run near you! Thanks again for talking with us.

Thanks for having me!

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