wesley woods teaser

Ho With a Heart-On: Gay Porn Star Wesley Woods Wants to Use Sex to Spread Love

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If you had told George W. Bush-voting, Christian college-attending, 18-year-old me that in 13 years I would be driving to a rural North Texas town to hang out with award-winning gay porn performer Wesley Woods on his family’s horse ranch two days before Christmas, I probably would have said a prayer for myself.

Despite being well-acquainted with an array of porn personalities from an early age thanks to a fifth grade, Batman & Robin-inspired internet search for “Chris O’Donnell naked” that led me to some pretty exciting photos of Lukas Ridgeston, porn — and it’s “stars” — have been relegated to the darkened closet of incognito browser tabs.

But after seeing Wesley Woods compete in a stand-up competition at a comedy club — and subsequently enduring an obnoxious panel of judges that included Kato Kaelin for some reason — I was forced to do something that porn never asks us to do: consider the full story of the human being baring themselves for our pleasure.

This is mostly because of the way Wes incorporates his family into his material. The rural Texan, athletic, Christian, straight, predominantly male family he describes defies stereotypes in their acceptance of Wes and the work he does.

“When I told my mom I was going to start doing porn, she said, ‘Just keep it classy,'” Wes recalls with a laugh. “I’m not really sure what that means.”

Wes is so earnest and excited when he talks about his work and why it matters to him and to his fans, and he clearly loves his mom so much, that if he were to tell me he’d figured out what “classy porn” is, I’d have no choice but to believe him.

When I get to the ranch, a black lab saunters over to check me out. Wes isn’t far behind in all black himself, sweat shorts and a hoodie, calling after his dog, Boudreaux, not to jump up on me. But he doesn’t. Boudreaux is a polite guy, just like his owner, who proceeds to introduce me to his exceedingly polite family.

I’ve barely got a foot in the door when his step-dad, Jimmie, who is basically a taller, more rugged, real-life cowboy Martin Sheen on his way out to tend to the horses, gives me his hand. Wes’s mom, Tisha, is waiting to give me a big hug before walking me back to the kitchen, pouring me a cup of coffee in a snowman mug and getting the low-down on my family and our holiday plans.

Tisha asks me if I know her son as Wesley Woods or by the name she gave him at birth. Wes manages to find a joke about “gaping holes” in the conversation, which his mom is completely unfazed by. Instead, she tells me that her three most important principles have always been love, peace and respect.

It’s a refrain I’ve heard from Wes as well. In fact, that first one is so important it’s tattooed on his chest in Greek, because he learned in church that the Greek language is more expressive than English.

A pornstar in his natural habitat…

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“At a very young age I started praying that I would be a vessel of love in the world,” he says. I think it’s safe to say this is something most porn performers might not say, but he’s very serious about it. Wes sees his work as a porn and comedy performer as an opportunity to promote love and self-acceptance, body positivity and diversity, and a healthy view of sex.

It’s a combination of work and values that didn’t come accidentally to Wes. A relative newcomer to both industries, just a few years ago he was working in sales for sports and media companies in Chicago. Eager for a change and work that allowed him to be more fully himself, he moved to Las Vegas, where a friend offered to get him a job in nightlife. It wasn’t long before he saw an opportunity to pursue a longstanding interest in comedy, which paid off quickly with a spot in the finals of a stand-up competition.

It also wasn’t long before he tired of poor-paying nightlife gigs. “I started searching for what else I could do to make money and also build a following to talk about the things I think are important,” he says.

When a porn performer friend suggested he capitalize on his looks and get in touch with some studios, his imagination started going. “I was like, well, porn stars are kind of in the realm of drag queens in the gay culture, and I thought it would be funny if I could create a sex-positive persona that not only talks the talk but walks the walk,” says Wes. Soon he was stripping and auditioning over Skype for some of the biggest gay porn studios.

Poolside in my panties

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Wesley Woods made a strong entry into the business, and over the course of the last two years he has racked up roughly 20 award nominations. In 2017 he won the Grabby Award for performer of the year. This year he won Best Pornstar at the Cybersocket Web Awards and was nominated for an XBIZ award and five GayVN awards, all of which makes his step-dad proud.

“Jimmie always said, just be the best at whatever you do,” Wes tells me.

Wes credits his mom and step-dad for teaching him a strong work ethic. “I learned to weld at the age of 11, I built fences, learned about horses and had to clean their stalls,” he tells me as we look at the stretch of land before us on a walk to the barn to meet the horses.

“Work is work,” I say.

“Exactly!” Wes says. “So if I’m going to suck dick on camera, I’m going to suck dick on camera real good!”

But for all his accolades and acceptance in the industry, he’s got his fair share of qualms with it, too. Whether it’s the number of homophobic and racist directors who work in the business, the lack of residual payments for performers or some of the unhealthy habits and mindsets he experiences on set and at industry events, Wesley Woods is eager to be a transformational figure in the world of gay porn.

“I know there are problems in the industry that have an impact on the performers and on the audience: bodies that all look the same, a lack of diversity, alcohol and drug misuse. I want to do what I can to be a different example,” he says. Wes’s sensitivity to these issues is rooted in that “love, peace, respect” mantra his mom taught him, but also in his own recent journey to be healthier and support others to do the same.

“I gave most of my 20s to excessive drinking, and it led to a lot of trouble,” he says. Wes recalls a scene familiar to many gay guys — nightlife-heavy weekends (or even weeknights) out dancing and drinking. “The idea of just a few drinks was lost on me. Eventually I had too many shots and my shirt was off and spinning around my head and I’m trying to do a death drop on the bar and then I’m being escorted out — or worse.”

That's #sofetch #mansbestfriend #puppy #labrador #pup #ranch #texas

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For Wes, it all got old and made him wonder what he was missing out on. He remembered his always-drunk Grandpa who came across happy and carefree at the time, but now that seemed sad to him. He thought about his religious upbringing, the magic of the land he ran across in bare feet and the ponds he dove into headfirst.

“I wanted to get back to my spirituality, and drinking was disconnecting me from the light,” Wes says. “Alcohol, for me, truly pulled out my evil Gemini twin — cute and cuddly one minute and a deranged country critter the next. I was tired of going around the same mountain top trying to learn the same damn thing.”

So he quit drinking for 15 months and credits it with helping him to see what’s going on around him with greater clarity. “A sober life has really made me more aware of all aspects of my life, including the porn industry,” he says. “I’m paying attention to what happens on and off the set and how it all connects to the audience and culture.”

Wesley Woods is earnest. But I can’t help but point out that in the world of body- and sex-positivity, Wes is the epitome of the some of the standards he wants to work against. He’s a white guy with a “perfect” body from head to toe to dick to ass, and he works for major commercial studios that reinforce body image standards on the regular.

“To some I might be part of the problem, but I’m also on the frontlines,” Wes says. I get it, in theory, but it’s still not enough for me. I get the sex-positivity angle — porn performers can be powerful emissaries for breaking taboos around sex and sexuality. But the body-positivity angle is hard for me.

Maybe it’s my own hang-ups and sensitivities, but if we are working toward all bodies being portrayed desirable and worthy of being eroticized, it seems to me that promoting and encouraging norms the way major commercial porn studios (like the ones Wes works for) do is contrary to the goals of the body positivity movement until they represent more diverse body types.

“I know that I’m privileged in many ways, but I hope to use that privilege to change things,” Wes tells me. He sees that playing out in big and small ways. At a recent industry event, another model launched into a monologue about how it should be mandatory for new models to work with a personal trainer to get into better shape. “No, it should be mandatory to be comfortable and confident with how you look and who you are to shoot porn,” Wes shot back.

Red carpet @xbizofficial RISE Talent Appreciation Gala— Sponsored by @iwantempire

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In a bigger way, Wesley Woods has recently started consulting with I Want Empire, a new company that seeks to put money back into the pockets of performers by offering residuals. Wes sees this as a first step in the next phase of his career — one that will afford him new opportunities to make a difference. Eventually he sees himself becoming more involved with producing porn that is queer-driven and body-positive.

Even though he’s offered me pizza, a ride on a horse, company beside the fireplace, a round of pool and a joint, Wes is concerned that I’ve not been given the full ranch experience, so he offers a ride around the property on the Polaris ATV.

As he gives me the tour, I catch a glimpse of the little boy who used to run around on this land, inspired by its wonder, shaped by the people who lived on it and the lives they led. That little boy is a lot like the little boy I once was.

There’s a Kurt Vonnegut short story from the ’50s that I love. It’s about a man named Henry who is being investigated for assaulting a co-worker with a telephone. The co-worker got the personal number of a centerfold model and called her up at home. When he caught a glimpse of her troubled life beyond the glossy pages, he had completely lost interest in her and wished he hadn’t made the call. When Henry is asked why this troubled him enough to assault his coworker, he replies that his coworker is what’s wrong with the world: Everyone pays attention to pictures of things. Nobody pays attention to things themselves.

Wesley Woods reminds me that we should all pay more attention to the things themselves.

  • Well that was a puff piece…