As gay porn stars go, few know how to raise eyebrows quite like Mason Wyler. The 26-year-old self-described “sex fiend” is known for being more graphic than your average porn star — in January he detailed a sexual relationship with an Internet porn star who was a “roid-raged, drug-addicted, racist asshole.” His ads on sites like Adam4Adam and Manhunt in 2009 declared he was trying to see how much sex a slut could have online and that “anything goes.” And in 2008 he made headlines when he posted on his blog that he’d been raped — when he followed it up with a series of posts about enjoying rough sex and ultimately decided against pressing charges, several bloggers suggested he’d made the entire thing up.
Now Wyler is making headlines again — this time for coming out as HIV-positive. In a post on his official website, Wyler says he tested positive in May and has “only myself to blame.” And as it has before, response has been all over the map — from supportive to indifferent to the suggestion it’s all just a publicity stunt.
Wyler talks to The Advocate about his decision to disclose his status, what this means for his porn career and how he feels about the mixed response to his announcement.
The Advocate: What made you decide to come forward and tell people you’d tested positive?
Mason Wyler:Well, a former housemate of mine tweeted about it, trying to smear me in a negative light and suggest I was out there spreading disease. And then one of the industry bloggers picked it up and tried to smear me in a similar light. Since it was already out there that I had tested positive, I thought I should say something.
In your blog post, you said you have only yourself to blame.
I take responsibility for my own actions.
What have you learned? Would you go back and do anything differently?
I’d like to say I would — that I’d be 100% safe, that I wouldn’t be as promiscuous. But that’s really hard to say. It’s not like I learned anything new because I never thought I was invincible, I never thought it couldn’t happen to me. I knew all the risks. I knew each time I participated in unsafe sex it was a good possibility I might get something. It’s like saying after you get shit-faced drunk and you wake up the next day with the worst hangover ever that you’re never going to drink again. It’s very difficult to actually adhere to that.
You say there were moments when you had unsafe sex, and you knew the risks going in. Ever professionally?
I did do two very small bareback scenes probably two or three years ago, but I never really thought of that as risky because we did get tested beforehand and I kind of knew the guys.
You frequently hear people say that if you’re doing porn or you’re sleeping with a porn star, you should assume that person is HIV-positive. What’s your take on that?
It kind of bothers me. I love the industry. I love a lot of the people I’ve met. There are a lot of people who have drug issues and personality issues. But there are also a lot of really great people.
I didn’t mean to suggest porn performers are positive and lying about it. I think it’s the assumption that there are a lot of people who may be positive and don’t know.
I think that’s a generalization as well. You know what you’re getting into, and as long as you have safe sex, the risk isn’t any higher than if you were sleeping around in your private life and using condoms. Every situation is different. Everybody has a different sex life, a sex drive.
When you posted on your blog that you are HIV-positive, the response initially was fairly negative. You even got some comments from people suggesting this was a publicity stunt. Were you expecting that?
Yeah. It’s expected a fair amount of comments will be “What do you expect? He’s a slut. He did porn.” A good amount are going to be these “Oh, don’t worry. You’ll get through this.” So, it was kind of “eh” for me.
What has surprised you most since you put it out there?
That so many people in the industry have rallied to my side. I love the industry, but I’ve never really felt like I was a part of it since I don’t live in California. I live in the suburbs of Houston. So the only time I see people in the industry is when I’m shooting. So it was touching that a number of people actually showed me their support.
What do you hope people take from your experience?
I honestly don’t know. What I take from it is that I should learn to be more careful in my private life. I shared a little bit with my former roommate, and I suppose he was trying to gain more attention, get more traffic for his blog. Being in porn, our job is to keep people entertained, and the more fans you have, the more likely you are to get work. But you should have a bottom line you don’t cross, and he obviously didn’t.
Now that it’s out there and you’re in a position to become an advocate for HIV prevention, is that something you see yourself doing?
If the opportunity were to present itself, sure. I wouldn’t mind doing it. But I think the education’s there. I think there should be better education when it comes to testing and what the different types of tests mean. I think there are kids who will automatically assume that just because you have a test that says HIV-negative, you are, and they don’t understand the window periods.
How do you imagine this will affect your career?
My career, in my opinion, was slowing down. I’d worked for practically every studio there was to work for — I’d done 200 to 300 scenes. The e-mails were slowing down, the phone calls were slowing down. I just figured this contract I had with Next Door Studios was a good deal and that eventually people would get tired of me and my career would kind of come to an end and I’d have to go off and do something else.
Any idea what that might be?
I went to school to be a teacher, so I was thinking of going back to school, getting a master’s degree, and becoming a professor. I figured it would be easier to be a professor if my background came back to bite me in the ass. Colleges and universities are much more liberal when it comes to things like that, as opposed to being a high school, where it actually would be a big problem.
Do you imagine you’ll ever perform again?
If the offer’s there. I know there are other porn models who are HIV-positive. The difference with me is I feel I’ve become kind of the face of HIV in the porn world for this moment in time. Now I feel like my name, my face, and my body will be associated with that, but I don’t know how it would affect sales. It’s all up to the studios and what they think and, I mean, as long as my scene partners know my status and hopefully are positive themselves. Condom porn, I would go for it.