Hi there! I’m Sen King and this is my story…
Born July 21st 1981 (Sean Gordon)
Ever since elementary school whenever anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my speedy and confident reply was always “an artist”.
I would draw comic book characters in exchange for other kids’ pizza or peach cobbler at lunchtime. I guess I was also a little bit of a business man, even in those days. My 4th grade teacher asked me to illustrate our yearbook and I even won the school-wide art competition to be featured in the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio Texas. I was thrilled!
I would eventually begin to play around with lifelike color pencil drawings. This is what taught me lighting, shading, and color.
Once I made it to middle school, I was ready to explore physicality. I took up skateboarding, rollerblading, martial arts, and break dancing. I just loved seeing what was possible with my body, so I pushed myself to see how much I could achieve.
I continued my active lifestyle throughout high school and into my early 20’s. Me and my dance crew would go to clubs and skating rinks and battle every dance crew in town. We thought we were hot stuff, and for a time we were!
In my freshman year of high school I picked up a guitar for the very first time. I fell in love instantly! Somehow I was able to balance going to school, skating, breakdancing, having a girlfriend, and practicing guitar. Now that I think about it, it doesn’t even seem possible, but when I’m interested in something, I kind of obsess!
Many years later I recorded myself playing the Simpsons theme on my guitar and posted it on the internet. YouTube was barely a thing so I think I posted to Ebaum’s World or something like that. Someone downloaded it and uploaded to YouTube where it ended up on the home page! Back then the YT staff would pick their favorite videos to feature on the homepage. And so I went viral!
I came up with the name Shonsta and started posting guitar videos every week! This breath of fresh air would soon be smothered when I logged in one day and ALL my content had been erased. All the video views gone! I re-uploaded everything but it just didn’t gain the same traction that it had before, and so I became less and less motivated to continue down that road as the days went by.
At some point in the early 2000’s my brother Jesse got his hands on a mini dv handycam and we would film our own Saturday Night Live style skits with friends. We called ourselves “Colossal Theatre”.
We would all spitball ideas and whatever was the funniest concept would then be what we filmed. No scripts, just the basic idea of what it’s about and then we would roll the camera.
My brother would film us since he preferred to be behind the camera and honestly, he came up with most of the ideas since he was a writer.
After we would finish filming, Jesse would edit the skits together and we would show all our friends and families. YouTube wasn’t around yet so we had no audience or platform to put them on, but that was okay, we did it for the sheer fun of it.
I remember in my senior year of high school they held a “Career Day” where different companies representing many different trades came to talk about their respective fields. You could only pick two fields to attend so all my friends were pumped to check out the Marines and Army… But I had zero interest in that line of work. So I attended the acting and modeling lectures by myself.
I ended up taking a great interest in the modeling opportunity because I was way too shy to consider “actual” acting at this point. I figured I already had a good body from all my constant physical activity and getting my picture taken seemed easy enough. So I ended up getting an agent and did some cool stuff for Paul Mitchel, Tilly’s and a handful of other things. It was really fun!
Near the end of my modeling era, I got booked as an extra on the MXG Beach Countdown show. I didn’t really know what extra work was but it payed, so I went. The Olsen twins were there, along with a handful of other celebrities.
I was chatting with one of the other extras and he told me that this is all he does for a living. I was dumbfounded! So there is a job where you don’t have to act, but can be in big-time productions with celebrities, and you get free food/refreshments and get paid on top of it all? Sign me up!
This is how I earned my money for the next few years. I even got to be a red coat (marine) in the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie!
Burning Tree Projekt
After high school I played in several bands but once I joined Burning Tree Projekt, it would become my focus for the next 5 years. We had several albums and EP’s and played a LOT of shows! This was during the emo era when every band had jeans and a black t-shirt lol.
We went on a few small U.S. tours and even found ourselves on MTV Chi. During this time I landed a really cool sponsorship from RKS Guitars (now Master Craftsmen Guitars). I couldn’t believe it, these were the coolest guitars I had ever seen!
Although our music was edgy, we were all devout Christians, and this was like a ministry to us. So we never messed around with girls and tried to be an example for others. I would discover later how damaging this would be on my psyche, but at the time I was having a blast doing what I thought I was “supposed” to be doing.
Over the years we recorded at every type of studio there was, ranging from $100/day to $1,200/day. But no matter how much we paid, it NEVER sounded good! It always sounded lame and not like something you would hear on the radio. Because of this I would finally take matters into my own hands and learn to produce music myself. I opened my own recording studio in North Hollywood called “Digital Dungeon” and taught myself to produce music.
Since I had a recording studio now, my good friend Claude (from Colossal Theatre) and I formed a studio band called CLAWN.
He had moved away after high school so we didn’t get to see each other very often. So Clawn was a project where he would come to the studio for the day, and we would literally write a song on the spot and record it. One song completely written and recoded in one day. No mixing allowed once the day was over. That’s just what our “thing” was.
We would continue like this every other weekend until we had an album.
Since I was on stage every weekend and working on big Hollywood sets during the week, I finally mustered the courage to give acting a shot. I had avoided it for long enough!
I ended up in a dozen indie films, most of which never got released, and some cool things like the Goo Goo Dolls music video for “Here Is Gone”.
I actually auditioned for Jacob from the Twilight series but as you can guess, didn’t get the part. I also audition for a Bill and Ted movie where it was going to be two NEW young guys instead of the original cast. I got 4 callbacks and was in the final 5 but the project got canned, and years later they would release the latest Bill and Ted flick with the original cast. Good move Hollywood hahaha!
During most of this time my actual income came from producing random artists in my recording studio. I’ve recorded it all! Rock, country, pop, hip-hop, metal. I also had to write music and beats for half of the people that came in there.
I was the best deal in town! I did excellent work and all for $100 a song! I know, that’s pretty sad. I had no idea what my worth was at this point. I just loved making art.
Eventually I started charging more and finally landed a big gig which was to produce a song for the upcoming Underworld 3 movie.
Right around this time, Alf Claussen (Composer for The Simpsons) saw my Simpsons Unplugged guitar video on YouTube and invited me to a few of the Simpsons music scoring sessions. This was so inspiring that I knew I wanted to take a crack at film scoring. I already had my own studio so it just made sense as the next logical step to take in my career.
After about three or four indie films I knew this was not for me. Too many long hours and so much music to be created. I just couldn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life. But it taught me a lot about making music for narrative.
After 5 years of being in a windowless studio all day every day, I was finally burned out on music. I didn’t even want to listen to music for my own pleasure anymore.
Being an actor on film sets was cool, but I started taking note of what the crew was doing. Where certain lights would be placed, the use of colored gels, markers, directing, cinematography etc. I couldn’t help but become interested in the world that existed “behind the camera”.
So I finally got myself a still camera and started shooting headshots for friends. But after a while that was just too boring for me, I wanted to make interesting things! So I started to play around with Photoshop and turning models into fantasy art.
As you can tell I have a certain love for the female form. I see girls as Goddesses and absolutely love presenting their beauty to the world through imagery. It didn’t make me any money but I just loved to do it.
Years later I would release my favorites in my first NFT collection under the name Aaron Abke on www.Crypto.com
Now that I was “behind” the camera, I was itching to try video out. I hadn’t seen my best friends Claude and Sal (from Colossal Theatre) in a while since we were all grown up and had gone our separate ways, so my brother Jesse wrote a script for a cheesy horror film that we could film. It was our way of getting the old gang back together for one last hurrah! And of course, I could mix in my love of beautiful girls.
It took a stressful 6 years to complete post production because I knew nothing about video editing or film making. I watched countless tutorials every step of the way to get the job done myself since there was no budget. It was so much work to learn this process but I pushed forward despite wanting to give up at many points during the process.
Making this film was tough because it was before the DSLR days, but it would teach me EVERY department of film making.
No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the movie distributed because we drop the F-bomb every five seconds and it’s a pretty rough looking movie. There was no success or money pulling me forward so I didn’t pursue film-making as a career.
Up to this point I had been a part of some really cool projects but I never really made much money. I was poor and would take the bus or train everywhere I went. It was a really crappy feeling to have worked so hard on so many cool things but not have anything to really show for it. Mentally, I felt a bit defeated and worthless, like I just couldn’t catch a break.
Then out of the blue my friend who was in the commercial business needed a piece of music for a new spot they were working on. I remember being at a laundromat when I got the call. He gave me the general brief and I told him I’d give it a go.
As I was folding my clothes a piece of music appeared in my head. This was just prior to the phone app craze so I had no way of recording my idea. I kept the song on loop in my head until I got home and recorded it.
His clients absolutely loved it and he told me the budget they were working with. $10,000 for this 30 second piece of music! Okay, time for a new career in commercial composing!
After a good run making music for some of the top brands in the world I found myself in a weird spot. I had moved to San Francisco away from all my family and friends, because that’s where all my business was. I was finally making money beyond my wildest dreams but I was burning out from doing music all day every day… Again! And I simply couldn’t continue down this path any longer.
It wasn’t an easy choice but I felt in my soul that I was finally done with music once and for all. It was the first time I would walk away from big money for the sake of my mental health.
I didn’t want to just throw away YEARS of hard work so I finally came up with the idea of “passing the torch”. I would show other people how to make money with their music, just like I did!
So I wrote two handbooks about commercial composing. The main book “Money 4 Music” hit #1 on Amazon for a week straight! It was a bittersweet ending to my composing career.
I of course had my next move lined up, which was to become a commercial and music video director. I figured I could make even more money and flex ALL my artistic muscles!
I worked with some pretty well known brands and won a handful of awards. Things were going well and I was rising quickly!
I brought my new girlfriend on board because she was an incredible artist! I figured this was heaven, making art and lots of money with the girl I wanted to marry. It couldn’t get any better!
As fate would have it my girlfriend and I broke up…
Then, something completely unexpected happened… I had what I thought was a heart attack. I was short of breath, sweating, and my face and hands went numb as my heart fluttered. I had to fight to NOT pass out and was rushed to the E.R.
It turned out to be anxiety. It hit me extremely hard and I couldn’t do anything or go anywhere for nine months. I gained weight and couldn’t work or socialize. I was borderline agoraphobic, which is not like me at all.
Luckily my music royalties kept me afloat during this time but I was a miserable overworked shell of a man. Needless to say, the directing career came to a screeching hault.
It was so bad that I couldn’t even wear black because of how depressing it felt. And I had to cut out horror movies and anything “intense” because I could just feel the stressful energy emanating from it. Sounds crazy but that’s what happened.
I eventually decided to try and solve the real issues rather than masking it with prescription drugs. I start taking half a pill instead of a full one whenever I had an attack. Then a quarter. And finally, just never renewed my prescription as an act of faith in myself.
This was the first time I started to become self-aware and prioritize my own well-being over achievement and money. There was still a long road of self discovery ahead but this is what slapped me in the face and sort of forced me to start looking inward.
Real Estate Photography
Soon after I was off the prescriptions I was finally able to go outside and function in the world again. I wasn’t 100% yet but I could do most things normally again. I knew I had worked too hard and pushed myself WAY too far. But I needed to do something since my royalties could only take me so far.
That’s when real estate photography found me. Somehow a realtor who specialized in the Hollywood Hills area found my info and contacted me. He asked if I knew how to shoot houses. I said yes, which was a complete lie, but I figured it couldn’t be any harder than shooting humans. I would just build the plane as I flew it.
To my surprise I would continue on this path for the next 10 years. It was a way of doing art and making a TON of money all with no stress. I needed this cooldown period to gain my sanity back.
I ended up becoming one of the BEST, working for the top realtors and shooting some of the most spectacular properties in Los Angeles and Orange County!
It was an incredible time. I was living the life and throwing parties every weekend at my decked-out loft in Studio City California. But I was TOO successful. I was burning out because everyone was hiring me and I could only shoot and edit so many houses. I was at that point again… Well-off and overworked.
In typical Sean fashion I was strategizing my next move. What would I do? Maybe I could become a realtor and make WAY more money and only shoot my own listings. I’d definitely stand out, and I’m really good with people.
But because I had already been through a mental breakdown, I had to catch myself and notice my circular behavior. I had no interest in becoming a realtor, it would just be for the money. And I already knew that doing things just for the money would not satisfy my soul.
It was tough but I had to be TRULY honest with myself. What is this all for? This life I mean… I knew that money was not the answer, but what was? Does anything satisfy?
Because of the anxiety attack I knew how precious my time on Earth was. My whole life I had been serving OTHERS and the almighty dollar with my entire being, and neither led to my happiness. So what about me? What does Sean want? What would make me truly happy and fulfilled in this life?
After being completely honest with myself and not considering the judgement of others, the TRUTH finally surfaced. I needed to become completely authentic with my choices. What I REALLY wanted to explore next was sexuality. I never considered this earlier because like most people, I adopted whatever society set as acceptable. I wasn’t being me, I was being THEM.
I got in touch with some friends who were models in the adult industry and started filming with them. I never in a million years would have guessed that this is how things would end up. And bearing it all in front of the world was actually easier than I thought. It’s really quite liberating!
Finally, I can say that I have found my passion in this life. Not a single moment of it feels like work. I get to shoot, direct, perform, make music, and use all my artistry to just have fun and ENJOY myself. I’m finally doing things authentically, and it feels soooo good (pun intended)!
I am no longer trying to be taken seriously, or gain the approval of others. I’m just doing what I love, making art, and living for ME. And whoever digs my stuff, great! Whoever doesn’t can simply click away…
As a final touch to my new life I changed my name to Sen King because I feel like a new person. Reborn! The phoenix has risen from the ashes and has finally taken flight!
I know now that my greatest work of art, is my own life!