Mason Wyler talks exclusively to The Sword about his future in porn, the only way to really prevent HIV, and why there’s no such thing as safe sex.
He was arguably one of the most prolific, popular, and controversial young performers for over five years, but when a gay porn gossip blog published that he was HIV-positive last August, Mason Wyler became more known for the last thing audiences want to think about while watching porn: HIV. He’s unwittingly become the poster child for HIV in the adult industry, the go-to “example” in mainstream news stories that tackle the debate over mandatory condom usage in porn, the slutty scapegoat for safe sex zealots looking to blame someone for the spread of HIV, and the hero to fans and co-stars who don’t see his status as detrimental to his physical appeal in any way. So, Mason Wyler still is arguably one of the most prolific, popular and controversial young performers today. His first post-HIV scene came out last week, and in an exclusive interview below, Mason talks about going bareback, condoms and HIV in porn, and how his life has changed since last August.
The Sword: Before I ask you about your new scene, what happened with your contract at Next Door Studios and your membership site?
Mason Wyler: They’re going to re-write it so that I can work with other studios. I’ll still do my live shows for my site. Three per week.
Do you get paid a salary in your contract? That’s a sort of financial security then, considering the nature of being a free agent and having to book individual scenes with other studios.
Yeah, I get paid weekly, and I get a bonus for every new member that joins. If I wanted to do more than three shows per week and if I tried to get people to go into private chats there’d be more, but the three weekly shows are enough.
And how did the work with Dark Alley come about?
I’ve been talking to [Dark Alley producer/performer] Owen Hawk off and on for a while, and out of all the offers I was getting from the bareback studios, he offered the best deal all around. I felt like his studio was higher quality, and his productions were higher quality than the others. Another offer involved a gangbang where everyone just fucks me and dumps their cum in me. But I didn’t want that. It’s like, I’m not gonna put a blindfold on and just lay there. To me, that’s just not good porn. That’s not attractive. And contrary to belief, bareback pays way less than mainsteam porn. I don’t know where people get the idea that bareback pays more. All the offers I was getting were like $300 a scene, and I was like, really? That’s almost more in line with amateur twink porn.
Having done a bareback scene now, is that the side of the industry where you’re going to stay, or would you still like to do mainstream porn?
I’m open to doing either bareback or condom. I contacted all the mainstream studios but didn’t hear back from them. Now, I’m not going to pin that solely on my status being made public, because I also think I might have kind of run my course. I mean, I’ve been at this for six years, I’ve worked with too many studios to count, and this is a business where exclusivity is coveted. And even before the HIV, I was making headlines for the worst things.
Right. People have had opinions of you for years. Mostly from topics you covered on your blog.
Yeah, like when I wrote that thing about Zane from Chaos Men, and people assumed that I was some sort of drug addict and all I did was party. That I was a circuit boy addicted to meth. I don’t have a problem with people doing drugs, but it’s not something I do, other than marijuana, and I don’t see marijuana as a drug.
I take it you’re still with your boyfriend, Marcus, whom you’ve had an open relationship with. Are you still sexually active with other guys?
I’m still with Marcus, but sex with other guys isn’t as active as it used to be. I live in a suburb of Houston, and there are no gay people here. When I travel, I can usually find people. The good thing is that sex is more enjoyable now because it happens less frequently.
Do you disclose your status to them?
Always, yes. It’s funny though. I go on hookup sites like Grindr and make it as obvious as I can. I write things like “positively positive man looking for another positive man for a positive time,” and people don’t get it! They think I’m being funny or something and don’t comprehend the use of the word “positive.”
Is the sex only with other positive guys?
My options are limited now. In porn there are some models who are negative who are OK with working with someone who is positive, but in real life, the negative people are like, “You’re really hot, but I don’t feel comfortable with it.”
In porn, does it make a difference to you if you work with a negative or a positive performer?
I’ve gotten feedback from other models who’ve shown that they wanted to work with me in the past, but now they’re too nervous. It’s understandable. And that fear actually turns me off. If I work with someone who’s negative, it’s in the back of my head that I could infect them, so I’d rather work with people who are positive. The point is though, you don’t know other people’s statuses. The rule is to assume that everyone is positive even if they say they’re negative, but if I’m with someone who says that they’re negative, I automatically assume that they really are negative, because I don’t want to infect them.
Is there such a thing as safe sex?
Absolutely not. No. There is no way to be 100% safe. Even having everyone tested and sorting people, there are still flaws because the tests don’t give instant results. What if you got tested and went on some bareback rampage the day before you went and did your shoot? That’s why there’s no point in policing or regulating the safety precautions in porn. I mean, yes, there are ways to miniminze the risks and everything should be done to keep people safe, but there’s always risks.
Whose job is it to keep people safe though? The government’s? The studios’? The performers’?
It’s a little of everybody, I guess. It’s up to the studios to protect the models to a certain degree, but we’re all adults. We know the risks. And that goes for the people watching porn, too. They’re adults who should know the risks. I don’t think it’s the porn industry’s place to educate the community. If a porn model wants to take the extra step to do something educational, that’s great. But I don’t think it’s our responsibility. It’s like violent movies. It’s not Hollywood’s job to teach right from wrong. It’s entertainment.
The debate over condoms in porn and barebacking and everything else–it’s not going to stop is it?
I doubt it. Look, the only solution, the only real solution in stopping HIV would be a police state where everyone would be tested every week. Everyone would have to be quarantined. Negative people would not be allowed to be with positive people in any way. Or, someone could find a cure.
We actually keep hearing that a cure is not too far off. Are you on any medication now?
No. Right now I’m not, because according to my doctor my viral load is low to undetectable. We monitor it once a month, and once the viral load gets to a certain point, or once my T-cells drop to a certain amount, that’s when I have to go on medicine.
That has to be kind of nerve wracking, not knowing when or if things will change?
Not really. Before I found out the specifics of my viral load and my T-cells, I was sure that I already had AIDS because I’m such a pessimist. Then after I went to the doctor and the first few blood counts came back, he told me my T-cells were way above average. I stopped worrying about it and just got into the routine of getting my blood drawn every month. And I live a pretty healthy, lazy lifestyle, so I’m hoping to stay healthy for quite some time.
Do you have health insurance through Next Door or is it your own?
I have my own, but it doesn’t cover all that much. I found my HIV doctor on my own and I pay for most everything myself.
After everything that’s happened, I don’t get the sense that you want people to feel sorry for you at all.
I don’t want that. I take personal responsibility for everything. And I think it’s kind of bitter sweet. It’s flattering that the things that happen in my life get blown out of proportion and get written about on different websites and blogs and in magazines. And at the same time it’s annoying. They use my story and my face to promote news stories that aren’t even about me, but rather about safe sex or HIV or the industry as a whole.
You’re the poster child.
It’s kinda weird, and it kinda sucks. Whenever I venture to go out and meet gay people or go to gay events, I don’t know if people know who I am, and if they do, do they know everything that’s been written about me? I don’t know if they know my status off the bat, so I don’t know how to approach people. But let’s be honest, it’s not like I ever really knew how to approach people before.
But you seem happy and almost content. Are you?
Happy? I don’t know. It ebbs and flows. This sounds pathetic, but I just really love making porn. That makes me happy. I don’t have any desire to do anything else with my time. The one thing I do know is that I’ll never get to that point where I’ll do absolutely anything to be in porn, like being blindfolded and gangbanged. That’s just not me, despite what you might have read.
Like things you’ve written about yourself on your blog? People shouldn’t believe everything they read there?
I find it annoying when people assume that they know who I am or what I do in my life. And everybody has something to say. That I’m ugly, a racist, a liar, stupid, slutty. But it doesn’t bother me. It’s great that people have such strong opinions of me. That’s part of the job. It’s part of my job to create this character that I play. Last week, I actually took down all the posts on my blog and was toying with the idea of creating a new character. It was going to be as if I cleaned myself up and became this sort of goodie two shoes, that I became devoted to Jesus Christ. But I don’t think that’s gonna work. I don’t think I can pull that off.