Miss Lagsalot, our dearly befuddled Editor-in-Chief, recently got a huge girl-boner over Danny Wylde’s new art/porn film This is Love and gushed about it, then interviewed Danny, both on her blog. We’re reprinting the interview WHACK! cause it’s hella-interesting! And we owe her money. Enjoy, pervs!
MISS LAGSALOT Hi Danny! Thanks for taking some time to talk to me and my lil’ blog about your new film, This is Love! After my absolutely gushing review a few days ago (which I might be a tad embarrassed about but I’ll stand by), hopefully readers know who you are. But in case they don’t, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
DANNY WYLDE First off, thank you for the review! It’s always nice to hear people appreciate your work, no matter what the job. And given this project is a bit of a departure from what people normally associate me with, it’s great to hear all the positive feedback.
As far as what I can tell you about myself… Hopefully we’ll get to a bit of that with the following questions/answers.
ML You are mainly a straight adult performer, but you’ve worked with a wide variety of companies on an even wider variety of movies, from the more “vanilla” (Wicked) to the “pretty out there” kink and gonzo companies. If vanilla were a 0 and Kink.com were a 10, where would you say your average performance falls on the kink scale?
DW To be honest, my typical performances are for pretty mainstream, vanilla companies. I don’t want to knock these companies. In fact, I think they’ve given me the ability to perform in some pretty hot scenarios.
But if you’re looking at an average Danny Wylde scene, I don’t think you’re going to find anything too extreme. If Kink.com is a 10, you’re typically going to see me performing at a 5 or below.
That said, there’s a decent amount of content where I’m at a full 10. You may just have to search for it.
ML Speaking of scales, in the world of big-time porno, you’re rather far out in the middle of the Kinsey scale. You’re openly bisexual in an industry that’s regularly called out for its homophobia. Is this a difficult line to walk?
DW Well, when I first started doing porn (nearly six years ago), I wasn’t working full time at all. So I took the jobs that were available to me. Many of them came from the heavy S/M or gay sides of the industry.
It wasn’t until about a year later that I learned of the stigma attached to crossover male talent (those who work on both the gay and straight sides of the industry). The way things have panned out, I’ve developed a stronger connection to the straight side of the industry. So as a business choice, I have decided to primarily work in straight porn. There have been a few instances over the years where I have continued to do bisexual work, but it’s pretty rare these days.
In a perfect world where sexual orientation weren’t so much of an issue, things might be different. But I have to be realistic. Performing in porn is my primary source of income. Paying my bills is a priority over making a political statement.
ML You perform with other men, but seem to have so far dodged the “crossover star” bullet that takes down a lot of male performers, especially after last year’s HIV scare. How do you manage to avoid the stigma the industry often places on men who perform with men and women?
DW Well, like I said before, you can find gay/bi content of mine. But the most recent video is probably over a year old at this point.
It’s also something I don’t tend to bring up around people who might take issue with it. By the simple fact that I’m performing in heterosexual porn, I think people tend to assume that I’m purely heterosexual. I haven’t made enough of a splash in the gay world for anyone who’s not actively looking to notice.
ML Personally I think it’s fantastic that you’re open. While the gay and straight porn industries are separate for practical (testing/condoms/etc) reasons, it seems a shame to me that while women are urged and paid to perform with other women, the larger social stigma of a man who digs other men gets applied so harshly in most porn. Why can’t we all just get along? What do you think?
DW Obviously, there are practical concerns, and they’ve been brought up more than enough times. Gay porn does not have a universalized testing protocol (though most productions require condom use), and according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), men who have sex with men bear a statistically higher risk of contracting HIV.
My issue with the straight porn industry is that crossover male talent have been singled out as the only “high risk” group for disseminating HIV among the talent pool. Those who participate in prostitution, intravenous drug use, and other “high risk” activity do not seem to be taken into consideration (albeit these activities are harder to prove). Crossover talent are held to the same standards as everyone else working in straight porn. And they are just as likely, or unlikely, to participate in “high risk” behavior off-set.
So when you really look at the issue, it seems that the stigma attached to male homosexuality in general trumps the concern over HIV transmission. Getting into why that stigma exists in the first place is a bit much to handle in the context of this interview.
ML All this talk about your sexuality and performances makes me think: you’re pretty damn young and yet you seem to have a very firm grasp of your own sexuality. How did you come to be so comfortable with yourself?
DW Hah. Thank you.
I guess all I have to say in response to this is that I’m twenty-five years old and have spent the majority of my adult life as a sex worker. Doing so has probably streamlined my ability to learn about my own sexuality and grow fairly comfortable with it. There’s always room for evolution though.
ML Speaking of comfort with yourself, let’s talk about This is Love. I know you’ve read my review of it and so you know how impressed I was with the authenticity I felt it brought out of you. You’ve gotta be hella comfortable with a camera pointed at you to be able to look at it with eyes wide open and telling a story like that. You’ve gotta be hella comfortable to write, direct, and perform in your own movie. How and why did you decide to make This is Love?
DW Thank you again for the kind words.
“This is Love” is hopefully the first step in something that will continue (perhaps slowly) over time. I think what I’m trying to do is meld some of the themes I’m interested in artistically with the reality of my role as a pornographic performer.
In the case of “This is Love,” there’s a few things going on here.
First, I think that examinations of male sexuality are lacking in US media, or else they’re grossly over-simplified. I guess you could say the same thing in relation to women. But the fact is that representations of female sexuality are in your face all the time.
I’m highly aroused by women, but I don’t find anything interesting about seeing another pair of tits in a film, or watching a woman get off (unless it’s porn), or even seeing her degraded. If you watch a contemporary horror film, you almost expect to see a woman raped and brutalized. And it’s generally an attempt to demonstrate the deflowering of innocence or some other trite shit.
The fact remains, however, that a great deal of contemporary audiences get off on degradation. It’s in our films, television, and magazines all the time. But it’s also in our desire to be seen in these forms of media. People jump at the chance to be humiliated on reality television. It’s like a way to force someone’s interest in your own life.
But I think that there’s maybe something more innate going on. Like, why would you let someone beat you up in bed, or piss on you, or even seriously injure you in the name of love, or sex, or whatever? And why is it arousing?
I mean, I find it arousing to hit someone or piss on someone if I’m in the mood to fuck them, and to a lesser extent, let someone do that to me. In the context of a relationship, I think it actually makes me feel closer to that person, or more intimate. So I think there’s something about it that relates to desire and/or being desired.
However, in mainstream American culture (I can’t speak so much for other parts of the world), these types of acts — when sexualized — are often defined by gender. Simply put, men are aggressors and women just take it.
The idea of men as objects of degradation appeals to me because I don’t think it’s been explored much in contemporary society. To really deal with it as a subject matter, I think it has to be severed from any relationship with femdom, or even female sexuality in general. Because a lot of this pornography, and other media, that centers around female domination; it just continues to sexualize the woman. It’s about putting her on a pedestal and worshiping her. The male experience is almost beside the point.
So I think it was very important for me to remove women from this film. I wanted the focus to be on the male experience.
ML The story is, to put it lightly and succinctly, about sexual obsession. And it feels, to me, very, very real. While I’m totally impressed with your acting talent in some feature movies you’ve been in, I fail to believe that you are that good of an actor. Is this based on a real experience?
DW At face value, it’s very much a work of fiction. In fact, the subject matter is heavily influenced by one of my favorite authors, Dennis Cooper. His characters often have these obsessive desires to know, or understand, their love/lust objects. And those desires take on a very physical/sexual/violent process. So while I’ve never been non-consensually violent with anyone, I can relate to some of that obsession — particularly in my youth.
As a teenager, I think emotions are amplified. It can feel like the end of the world to fall in love with someone and not be able to really understand them, or get to know them in the way you’d like. So things like death and suicide can seem like very romantic ways to express unattainability.
These days, I’d say I’m less overwrought. But I still like the idea of belonging to someone, and that person belonging to me. I like to be able to obsess over them when appropriate. And I really like to know that person is completely into me. Obviously (or not), the sexual part of that is a big deal to me.
ML In your mind, what happens in between the scenes we get to see in this film?
DW I think the characters go to work, and watch movies, and read books and stuff. The details of their daily life is not that important. I mean, I guess my character might have to stay home every once in a while to physically heal. But I like to think the relationship exists in an otherwise conventional setting.
ML I think in its omissions and its rawness, this could classify as an art film. And I hear that you’re having trouble selling it through the usual internet channels because it’s pornographic. Do you think you’ll label your next film an “art” film to facilitate selling it?
DW I have been running into trouble given that it’s both pornographic and violent. It seems you need to be either one thing or the other in order to find any real distribution, even on an indie scale.
Right now, I’m just exchanging the video for Amazon.com gift cards.
But I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be doing in the future. One idea is to bypass the porn market and just start submitting these types of works to short film festivals. But I’d really like to give people access to them on the Internet.
Film festival audiences are very specific and my audience is already so small. If anyone’s going to relate to this stuff, I need to allow access for more than just festival and film buffs.
ML And speaking of selling it… you’ve decided to go about releasing your film differently than the normal porn distribution channels. Is this a way to deflect piracy?
DW Yes, it’s primarily to deflect piracy.
ML Do you think other performers could do the same thing with their independent material to protect it? Should they?
DW I think performers should do whatever they can to deflect piracy. I’m sure a lot of them have better avenues in which to distribute their product than I do. But maybe this could catch on. Who knows?
ML You’re an outspoken believer in fighting piracy and advocating for the adult industry. In these dire times of free online clips, Cal-OSHA’s interference, anti-porn activism… What do you think the industry can do stick up for itself?
DW I think the first step is just to speak up in general. Be conscious that you represent a very visible, but somewhat ostracized minority. If you like what you do and want to continue doing it, let people know you work a legitimate job and contribute something to society. You don’t have to walk around with a sign attached to your forehead. But people are interested in porn stars, so there are plenty of outlets in which to deflect negative impressions and correct flat-out fallacies. Even if it the mainstream press seems to bury this stuff, the more of it out there, the better.
If you’re really interested in sex work activism, there are a number of organizations you can become involved with like the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) and the Sex Workers Outreach Program (SWOP).
ML How can it change to make the most of new technology and changes ideas of intellectual property?
DW Good question. I’m trying to figure this out too.
ML And yet, while you support the industry vocally and openly, you’re also very candid about your reservations about it: you blog about the fine line between empowerment and degradation and ask other performers about their experiences. It’s kind of surprising that your recalcitrance hasn’t gotten you more negative attention. How do you explain your popularity in the industry and with fans despite your conflicts?
DW Look, bad stuff goes on in this industry and it’s not always a fun job. But I’m pretty sure this is the case with any line of work. Sometimes I get completely jaded and hate my fucking job. Other times, it’s the best thing in the world.
My honesty in regards to how I feel about the industry is something I think people can relate to because it is so honest. And at the end of the day, it’s not really about the industry, but about how I feel about my own life, how I treat other people, and how they treat each other. The context may be foreign, but the themes of my short stories are something most people can latch on to (I think).
No one can be positive all of the time. I think my audience understands that.
ML Ok, ok, enough with the long thinky questions. I read on your blog a revelation something similar to one I had on my own recent European vacation: the world isn’t all sex and porn. For us degenerates, it’s important to keep that in mind. So… Tell me something: when you come home at night and are finished with your performing, art films, and super-smart blogging… What do you do with yourself?
DW I like to read, I like to spend time with my girlfriend, and I like to play music. I actually have a two-man band that I started with fellow performer, Chad Alva. We put some demos up a couple months ago and are working on getting our live show together. It’s called Children. You can find some rough demos here: http://www.soundcloud.com/childrenmusic
ML What have you been reading lately?
DW I’m reading a novel called 2666 by Roberto Bolano.
ML Listening to?
DW My girlfriend has been introducing me to a lot of electronic music lately. One of the better acts I’ve seen live is a dubstep DJ called Rusko. At home, I’ve been listening to more minimal techno like Richie Hawtin.
As for the stuff I’ve discovered on my own, the new Black Dahlia Murder album is frequenting my playlist, as is a short EP by a band called Light Asylum.
DW I recently got back from a vacation, and have been actively staying away from my television. I watched half of a movie called Ex-Drummer the other night, and I plan to finish it soon. But I haven’t been watching anything really.
The last show I was really into was Ancient Aliens.
ML If the porn industry totally collapsed tomorrow, what would you do to make a living? First gut-reaction answer.
DW I would start bugging my film school friends for any leads in the mainstream world. In all likelihood, I would be a production assistant on some low-budget, Hollywood movie.
ML What if you won $5 million on the same day that aliens landed and said they’d blow up the planet in two days: what would you do with the money?
DW Give it away and run into the forest? I don’t know. It seems like not enough time to do anything really interesting with that kind of money.
ML Pop quiz: what movie is that question from?
DW I honestly have no idea. [Editorial note: It’s from Heathers.]
ML Ok, ok, I’m done. Any big movies coming our or projects you’re working on I can share with readers?
DW I’m about to start editing a movie directed by Lily LaBeau and Lou Charmelle that we shot in Ibiza.
There’s a music video project that is in the works for my band, though that may take a few months to get off the ground.
I’m still performing in a bunch of pornos. I think there’s some stuff coming out through Smitten Kitten sometime soon that was directed by Tristan Taormino. I have a feeling it turned out pretty well.
I also had a small sex role in the upcoming Star Wars XXX parody, which blows my mind in more than one way.
—Interview conducted, duh, by Miss Lagsalot. Check out Danny and his film at his blog, Trve West Coast Fiction, and all his movies all over the damn place!