At the height of his career, Keith Repult was the owner of the second largest porn distribution company in the United States, and one of the biggest smut manufacturing companies in the world. A self-made millionaire, Keith was living a life of luxury, he seemingly had it all: cars, money, a wife and kids. But deep down in his heart he knew that something was missing, he was empty, addicted to alcohol, drugs, and pornography.
Just few years ago, Repult was living what appeared to be a pretty privileged life, and then, he met Jesus Christ – and his world completely changed.
“I didn’t even realize the hold pornography and drugs had on me — I didn’t even realize it was wrong, because it’s so normalized today,” Keith told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. “But when I became a born-again Christian, my eyes were opened. If there’s one thing I want people to take away from my life, it’s that there’s always hope, and that hope is only found in Jesus.”
Today, Keith is the Recovery Pastor at Mission Church in Ventura, California and with his wife, Samantha, owns Surf ‘N’ Yogurt in Ventura, California. He shares his powerful story of redemption in his book Just Breathe: All Stories Redeemable, All Brokenness Repairable, All Addictions Breakable, from BroadStreet Publishers.
Repult’s entrance into the adult industry is a long and complicated story, one that involves a difficult childhood and a life filled with addiction. It was in the 1980s that he ended up heading to California on a Greyhound bus with just $3 in his pocket. Once he arrived there, Repult worked odd construction jobs to pay the bills and eventually started selling drugs.
His struggle with addiction and desire for acceptance, he said, stemmed from the loneliness and emptiness he experienced as a child.
“Growing up, I was constantly bouncing back and forth between foster homes, I never heard the words ‘I love you,’ and I carried around a sense of not belonging, I never felt like I fit in,” he said. “I found temporary comfort in drugs and alcohol, and pretty soon I started selling drugs.
Then, something dramatically changed one day when Repult was in a bar and noticed a man wearing a fur coat and gold chains. Repult went up to the guy thinking he might be able to sell him some drugs, but what happened next was likely much more than he had bargained for.
During their conversations, Repult told the guy that he was a carpenter and was looking for work. The man, who owned a small porn store, invited Repult to hang some shelves for him the next day and Repult took him up on the offer.
Before long, Repult found himself enamored by the business.
“It was all about pipes and porn and novelty items for pleasure,” Repult said. “I thought it was alluring. I built shelves for the guy and that was my beginning into the industry.”
According to Keith entering the adult film industry was “a whole lot easier than leaving it.”
Over time, Repult went from building shelves with his newfound friend and employer to becoming a shipper and eventually taking on more and more responsibility. Over time, Repult said he was practically running the business and, when his friend wouldn’t give him a raise, he eventually moved on and started his own porn company.
Before long, Repult found financial success and became a giant of sorts in the industry. Still, addiction plagued him.
While he was able to kick drugs and alcohol at one point for a 12-year period amid these successes, he admitted that his “new addiction was making money.”
At points, he said he knew deep down inside that making a living by selling porn wasn’t right, but that didn’t stop him.
“I believe we’re all designed by God and there is a small part inside of all of us [that knows right from wrong],” he said. “A very small, small part of me … would say, ‘This isn’t right.’” Money, though, continued to flow in and overshadow that tiny voice.
“After taking over an adult film production company, I was putting out two films a week, making more money than I knew what to do with,” he shared. “I felt like, if I had these things, I believed people would like me. I bought a $60,000 watch, cars, houses – you name it, but it still wasn’t enough. The items got more and more expensive, but nothing was satisfying my soul. I had a hole in my soul and the wind blew right through. All along I was searching for happiness.”
As for Repult’s own personal reaction to his profession, he said it really differed depending on whom he was speaking with. At moments, there was shame; at other times, there was boasting, though Repult said he did try to conceal his career from many of the people around him.
“I was hiding the truth from my neighbors, from society, of course,” he said.
As his business grew, Keith abandoned drugs and alcohol and met and married his now-wife, Samantha. Together, they had three daughters and a son, and hoping to live a quieter life, moved from the valley to Ventura, a little beach community they’d grown to love. There, they decided to open a yogurt shop.
Repult still owned his porn business at the time, but he decided to also start a small yogurt shop in his local community. Before the shop’s doors opened, someone found out about his career and painted the words “Porn Producer” on the building — a painful moment that forced Repult to think deeper about the fact that he was “living a double life.”
“So, filled with shame and horror and came home and told my wife, ‘it’s time to move again. I want to sell, I want to move,’” he said. “She said, ‘no, we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to hold our heads up.’”
Still, he forged on with his plans to pursue a relatively new beginning outside of his already robust porn successes.
Through that little yogurt shop, God began bringing people into the family’s life that would forever change them. There, Keith met Pastor Jude from City Church who prayed with him and shared God’s love with him for the first time.
“The night before we opened this guy comes up, him and his son. He had this twinkle in his eye. He had this glow,” Repult said. “And he walks in and he says he wanted a cup of yogurt.”
Repult obliged and later heard from other locals that the man who had come into his shop was looking to start up a local church and, when the customer later returned, Repult asked if he wanted to grab coffee with him, to which the man obliged.
“We met down at Starbucks and I told him my whole story, and at the end I said, ‘Hey, what do you think? Do you still like me?’” Keith said. “All he said was, ‘God knew what he got when he got you.’ When he said those words, I hung onto them, I wanted to change my life, but I didn’t know how. He told me, ‘Keith, just keep looking to the cross.’”
After twelve years of sobriety, Keith had earlier started using drugs again: “Cocaine quickly became a habit for me,” he said.
Still, he wanted to start going to church, and through the witness of a friend, Samantha, too, began attending church. Soon, the couple became actively involved in a local church, and as God softened their hearts, they no longer wanted to be a part of the adult film industry.
“I knew I wanted to leave,” Keith said, “So we gave it all up, and I got baptized.”
Hoping to overcome his addictions, Keith decided to enter a 12-step program. There, he came under the counsel of godly men who helped him recover and grow in his faith.
“I saw my sin for what it was,” he said. “I had addictions I didn’t even realize I had.”
Today, Keith said he barely recognizes the broken man he once was. Now, he uses his testimony to remind others that God can save even the most broken of individuals.
“Pornography was normal, everyday life for me,” he said. “Now, I see that the adult industry is dangerous for human life. It’s a dangerous, it’s perverted, it’s taking sex and grossly missuing it. Four years later, I’m sober and abstinent from porn. My life looks completely different.”
He added, “I want to encourage others who may be struggling to find someone you really trust and let it out, you can’t keep this stuff inside. Go to counseling and talk about it, and then make amends with those you’ve hurt. I did, and it’s changed my life.”
“Run to the cross,” he said. “God is there waiting to redeem your story.”