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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Lost Boys: Vintage Images of Mike Henson

Lost Boys: 
Vintage Images of Mike Henson

Gravestones. Oh, the tales they tell.

These hunks of marble, as we know them, are rapidly becoming, in this day and age, a thing of the past. Pity. They hold so much information: a person's date of birth and death and their full name, of course. And sometimes... much more. 

Today, we have a juicy one. Oh, it certainly didn't start out that way. Initially, after finding just enough of an angle to work, I hit a dead end, a wall. But I kept digging. And soon, this character popped up. And that one. And then a certain timeline made no sense, but once resolved? Revealed more than I could have ever hoped for. 

Yes. Some of this remains pure conjecture on my part, but... I do believe I have enough facts to back up my theory. 

Oh, about the subject of today's post? Well, Mike Henson remains, to this day, a favorite of many a gay porn film fan. When it comes time to compile those lists of the greatest/best/hottest gay porn stars of all-time, his name is almost sure to appear. His boy-next-door accessibility, coupled with a handsome mug, beautiful body, and killer dick certainly helped. And though he only appeared in seventeen films, his legacy lives on.

Along with a bit of a mystery. 

But we'll get to that later. 

For now? Let's get to know Mike Henson. 

Mike Henson

AKA: Ken Seymour, Kenneth Seymour, Michael Henson, Mike Hansen, Mike Hanson
Birthdate: October 4, 1963
Birthplace: Salinas, CA
Death: September 6, 2002 
(Note: Widely reported as September 20, 2002 - but his gravestone says otherwise.)

Height: 5'10"
Hair: Dark Brown
Eyes: Brown
Endowment: 8"
Tattoo: Lower right bicep: Red Dragon

Years Active: 1986-2002  
Studios: HIS, Catalina Video, Huge, Bijou, GMHC

Kenneth John Seymour was born in  Salinas, CA on October 4, 1963. Raised by his mother, Betty Ann (who was 34 at the time of Seymour's birth) and his father, the family unit also included a brother (Robert) and a sister. Based on Betty Ann's age at the time of Kenneth's birth? Very likely that Kenneth was the baby of the family. Mother and son would form a special bond, one that would remain strong throughout their lives.  

Upon completing a tour of duty in the US Army, Seymour settled in the Los Angeles area. Casting about for a possible means of employment, his all-American good looks and muscular, toned body caught the attention of David Forest. 

Forest put Seymour to work for his Brad's Buddies service, an illegal escort service Forest established in 1981 after losing all his money on a television special featuring Alice Cooper. Incidentally, Forest (known as 'the gay Heidi Fleiss') was infamous for, among other things: managing a young Stevie Nicks back in 1966, working with a number of rock superstars during the 1970's, counting Elton John, David Geffen, and John Kennedy, Jr. as friends, making Ryan Idol and Ken Ryker into porn superstars, being arrested twice for pandering - and, eventually serving two years in prison. 

But we'll get to that later.

Seymour's popularity as an escort was such that it was parlayed into work in the gay porn film industry, and hence, Mike Henson was born. That last name? Henson was 'borrowed' from previous porn stars Bill and Steve Henson as a means of lending the young hopeful an air of 'legacy'. 

He quietly made his film debut in 1984's Big and Thick, an anthology film of sorts, featuring the work of four different directors (including Matt Sterling) and the talents of established names, such as Brian Hawkes, Kevin Wiles, Matt Ramsey (Peter North), Steve Hammond, Lance, and Rick Donovan. Henson's lone scene where he's topped by Brian Maxon was, more or less, tacked on at the end.

Fittingly, in the way that Henson's life constantly dovetailed back to beginnings, Maxon would prove to be his most frequent gay porn scene partner. 

After a year away from the industry, Henson returned in 1986 to work with the legendary William Higgins on a sequel, Hot Rods: Young and Hung 2. He would also appear as part of Maxon's tour de force, Two Handfuls. To this day, Henson's final scene with Maxon "is considered one of the best in the history of the industry."

Finally, in 1987, Henson would get his own starring vehicle. With the help of William Higgins, his career would skyrocket as the featured performer in the Top Gun-themed porn classic, Big Guns.

Yes. A star is 'porn'.

Big and Thick

Hot Rods: Young and Hung 2
Two Handfuls

Big Guns
In Hot Pursuit
Safer Sex: The Time is Now

Bad Boys Club
Full Load: Maximum Oversize
Man's Hand 113: A Lesson Well Learned
My Best Buddy

More Of A Man
Sailor In The Wild 2

Powertool 2
Score 10

Sex In The Can

Jacked Up 

During this time, and for the remainder of his gay porn career, Henson would frequent bars and clubs throughout Los Angeles and San Francisco where he would interface with his fans firsthand. Part of his appeal was the fact that he made himself  readily available to members of his fanbase, always treating them cordially and with respect. 

Driving all of this interest? Not only his films, but his numerous appearances on the covers and between the pages of the popular mens magazines of the time. Henson would remain a popular photo shoot model throughout his time in the industry.

INCHES September 1985
INCHES January 1986
TORSO June 1986
JOCK July 1986
MALE INSIDER August 1986
TORSO August 1986
TORSO December 1986
MANSHOTS February 1991 
MANSHOTS August 1991 
MANSHOTS April 1992 
RUMP October 1992
TORSO November 1994
RUMP November 1996
MANSHOTS April 1997
TORSO July 1997

JUST MEN v04 n04 
JUST MEN v05 n05 
JUST MEN v05 n06
STUDFLIX v05 n05, 
FRISCO v01 n18

With the shadow of the AIDS epidemic looming heavily over the industry, Henson stepped up to lend his talents to 1987's Safer Sex: The Time is Now - an informational safe sex video also featuring Eric Radford (Derek Lane) and Sheri St. Clair (237 films to her credit!)  Made by the Gay Men's Health Crisis of New York City, of which Larry Kramer was a founding member, the film was distributed to educate and inform civic and community groups about the growing crisis. 

A similar opportunity presented itself in 1991. Having witnessed firsthand the devastation HIV/AIDS had on the gay porn community, director Jerry Douglas would follow suit, creating More of a Man, a safe sex feature film starring Joey Stefano. "Not only was the film itself a plot driven piece concerning a young man coming to grips with his sexuality, it was also one of the first films to encourage the use of condoms." It was reported that Stefano, the industry's hottest ticket at the time and known for his encyclopedic knowledge of other active actors, specifically requested Henson as his co-star for the film. 

To promote More of A Man, director Jerry Douglas interviewed William Higgins for Manshots magazine's February 1991 issue. Henson's image, as one the film's stars, would appear on the cover. Higgins, who'd worked with Henson back in 1986 and 1987, spoke candidly about his relationship with the actor:

"He lived with me for a year, and I really liked that boy. He is one very sweet boy. Doesn't have enough ambition for his own good. And is really so devoted to his mother than he can't leave where he lives. And he left me because he couldn't stay away from Mother. But of all the people I have ever worked with, I'm probably in love with him the most.

He (Henson) could never get hard unless he was sucking a dick. Instead of saying, 'Okay, get hard. Let's do this,' you said to him 'Okay, suck his dick.' And then he would get hard, and it would pretty much stay hard the whole rest of the shoot. But if you didn't have him suck a dick, he would never get hard. He just loved to suck dick."

So, Higgins, it seems, believes he lost one of the loves of his life to another... in this case? 

The boy's mother. 

Now, having lent his talents to not one, but two safe sex/HIV educational films, one could assume that such noble gestures would, more or less, ensure Henson a veil of good karma when it came to the disease. A bit of protection? 

But Henson was not spared. 

By the end of 1991, the young gun had come up positive, prompting him to step away from the gay porn film industry.  

And it turned out that HIV was not the only issue he had to contend with; Henson had picked up a bit of habit during his film career - and that? Would be smack, Jack. 

Dealing with HIV and his drug use, Henson took time to reassess his options. He decided to pursue a degree in computer science,  eventually enrolling in and graduating from the UCLA School of Computer Sciences. In 1994, diploma in hand, he went to work, handling computer operations for none other than... his former boss, talent agent and escort 'madam', David Forest. 

However, this arrangement didn't last for long. By 1996, Forest was behind bars, sentenced to two years for pandering and Brad's Buddies was shuttered permanently.  

But, not all was lost. Henson's association with Forest did manage to rekindle some other old associations. 

Remember that safe sex film he did with director Jerry Douglas? 1991's More of a Man? Well, in that film, drag queen Chi Chi LaRue has a non-sexual scene in a bar with Henson's 'Catholic Boy struggling with sexual identity' character, in which LaRue, in full drag, counsels the young man, setting him on a path towards emotional and sexual fulfilment (as all good drag queens should!) 

Fast forward to 1998, and LaRue was now a hot shot director at William Higgin's production company with knack for resurrecting the careers of gay porn stars of the past. A comeback plot and vehicle was hatched, but, sadly...  it was not meant to be. Seems all those years of drug use, in combination with HIV, had taken a toll on Henson's looks. Oh, his body was as fine as ever, but his face? Not so much. The public wasn't buying it and 1998's Sex In A Can died a quiet death, along with Henson's comeback hopes. 

Now, by this point in time, with effective retro-viral drugs available, Henson had his HIV under control. Something else he finally got under control? His addiction to heroin. As of September of 1998, the man got clean, and remained that way. 

With a new way of life and fresh start in mind, Henson and his longtime lover/boyfriend, Dennis (a former army buddy) relocated to Harrisburg, PA, where four, peacefully uneventful years pass by. 

And then, on September 6, 2020, Henson decided to celebrate his four year sobriety anniversary by... 

...shooting up some heroin. 

Huh. Didn't see that coming, did you? 

Of course, there's a bit of an issue regarding the truth of what transpired on that fateful day - two, very different versions. 

Version 1: Initial reports stated that he was with friends and had taken the heroin "to celebrate his long-term sobriety." Apparently, he had both miscalculated the dosage and not taken into account the enhanced toxic effect heroin can have on those who have remained clean for such a length of time. 

He'd OD'd and died.

Were emergency personnel called? Probably not. There would have been police involved. Questions. Perhaps an arrest?

Version 2: According to his brother, Bobby (Robert) Seymour of Sacramento, CA, where Henson's family still resides, his brother, 'Kenny', was at the home of his longtime army buddy and boyfriend, Dennis, who was away at work at the time of his death. Dennis came home from work to find Kenny's lifeless body with a bible still held in his hand. 

He'd OD'd and died.

The truth? Or simply a family member putting the best face possible on a tragic situation?
And what could have possibly triggered this? What could have possibly changed in Henson's life that would cause him to act out in such a manner?

I think the clue lies in Sacramento and an event that took place there one month earlier. 

Henson's beloved mother, Betty Ann Pierce, to whom he had remained very close to throughout his life, had passed away at the age of 73 on August 7, 2002... almost one month to the day before Henson would be found dead of a heroin overdose. 

They'd always been close. Perhaps his grief was too much to handle? The pain, more than he could bear? The thought of life without her? 

Remember that interview William Higgins gave back in 1991? What was it he said? Oh, yes...

"And is really so devoted to his mother than he can't leave where he lives. And he left me because he couldn't stay away from Mother." 

The bond between mother and child... a strong one. In this case? 

Perhaps unbreakable.
The Seymour Family had their brother's body flown back to Sacramento, where a private service was held. His body was buried next to his beloved mother, Betty Ann Pierce - in fact, they share a headstone.

Henson/Seymour is survived by his father, brother and sister.

He was 38 years old.

--- ---

To tell the truth, I don't remember Mike Henson at all, even though I own a copy of his first film, Big and Thick.

But something about his story spoke to me, which is why, after finishing my first draft with the simplest of facts, the barest of bones, I knew in my bones that I'd missed something. 

It didn't feel right. 

So I took a single name that had popped up and down a rabbit hole I went and what I came back up with was... another name. And it just kept going, very slowly, until the story began telling itself. 

Then, I noticed I'd missed something; a tell-tale piece of info that I'd had from almost day one... the date of Henson's death on that tombstone. You see, in my first draft, I'd bought hook line and sinker the date the gay porn industry promotes as the date of his death, September 20, 2002. It's listed that way everywhere I looked... except the headstone told a different tale. 

In fact, it turned out to be the key to the whole story. 

I can put this one to bed now. I did my due diligence. 

Until next week...

Thanks for reading.

Hurt - Johnny Cash

Hurt - Carly Simon


Jimmy said...

Excellent research! It amazes me how many 'functional' heroin addicts are out there.

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

This was fantastic. I'm forever fascinated with the lives of porn stars. This was not an exception.
And he was very handsome.


whkattk said...

So damn tragic. I have to agree with you: It's more likely that he ODed because of his mother's death than a celebration of sobriety. Kisses.

mwg1208 said...

Mike Henson was the one who did it for me. Gorgeous face, legs and ass.
Back in the day porn VHS tapes were so expensive, I had to choose
carefully and ended up with Big Guns and The Young and the Hung (pt,2).
No regrets. My go to films for years! Thanks for the bio. and pics.

SickoRicko said...

Wow, what a great bio! One scene I remember of him was blowing his wad without touching himself. Hot!

Anonymous said...

Given how close he was to his mother is it possible he committed suicide so soon after her death?