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April 04, 2019

The Greatest Showman: Woody Fox's Acrobatic Moves

A shorter version of this article ran in AVN Men magazine. Click here to see the digital edition, with more photos of Woody Fox. Above, Woody Fox on the red carpet at the 2019 GayVN Awards; photo by Rick Garcia. Not too far from Sydney, Australia, in a “beach boy kind of town,” Woody Fox—who, fittingly for a while, sported beach boy kind of hair—grew up. He left when he was 19 and has been traveling ever since to cities much bigger and flashier, such as Toronto, London and Las Vegas. Through it all, Fox—who has lived one of gay porn’s most unique and exciting lives—has kept an affable, approachable attitude that finds its roots in that coastal town. But growing up, gay porn remained a taboo (yet essential) outlet. “Like a lot of young teenagers, I used it as my education. Back then, schools didn’t really talk about gay sex, HIV or anything that we deal with in our community. So porn kind of talked a little bit about the sex we were having and the things that we were doing, like cruising and what that means. Through that, I adventured and I found other community sources as well.” Unfortunately, the climate then in Australia wasn’t nearly as open and accepting as it is now. “Coming out? It was horrible and amazing,” Fox recalls. “I came out to kids at school when I was 13, and I was like super severely bully bashed, and moved to five different high schools ... Australia was very anti-gay when I was growing up. So that was the coming-out experience. And coming out to my parents? My mom’s dad is actually a super big gay homo—like, scandalously. He used to own a lot of gay bars back in the days when it was illegal. He used to run and help Les Girls, which is like a like a trans-cabaret … and then my brother’s gay, too. So we’re like a big gay family.” Fox came out when he was 13; his brother, who is three years older, is younger in “gay years.” “When I was about 17, I started looking at my brother when he would say some things. You know when people are very uncomfortable about homosexuality, but it’s a little bit different then the kind of uncomfortable from someone that’s straight? He kind of started saying little things where I was like, ‘Hmm … maybe.’” And then came the clincher: Fox caught him in his room. “I busted him and his first boyfriend, so that’s when we knew about each other. And we ended up being the best of friends … I was happy, he was mortified. I feel like he was mortified for about two years, because when I came out, I really came out—joined every gay community and anything I could, like gay sports teams and gay everything. And so then in his brain, he was like, ‘Eh, I don’t want to do all that, I’m not ready.’ So it was like a two-year process,” Fox says. “It’s a bit interesting because we came from two very different sides of brains ... I can’t say it’s that I’m open-minded and he’s close-minded; that’s not true. I’m very … what’s the word? I guess liberal. I was very open with my sexuality and the sex I would have, and talking about sex openly and porn openly and being gay openly. And for him, that was very difficult. So when he found out that his brother was a porn star … all of a sudden we had to talk about. It was funny for me, but I don’t think it was so funny for him.” It also initially created an awkward situation for Fox’s brother, who had to carefully navigate his web surfing when the need arose. “Now recently, he has sort of got into the mindset of, ‘Fuck it, we don’t care!’ So he’ll message me and be like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe you fucked so-and-so, one of my favorite porn stars!’ So, we’ve come to be those kinds of brothers,” Fox laughs. The two have no other siblings. “The end of the line … no babies for my parents. Actually, my parents are really good about it. When I first got into porn, I decided that if I’m going to do this, people are going to find out, so I may as well just really be out about it. So after my first porn, I contacted my parents and said, ‘Look, this is what I’m doing, this is the kind of money I’m going to be making, and this is why.’ I talked to them about my goals ... they said, ‘You know what, as long as you use condoms, we are fine.’ This was obviously before PrEP days. It was super great. I think they were so used to how radically queer I was, that porn was simply the next step.” Coming to AmericaFox got into performing arts school when he was in his late teens. “I really wanted to be an actor. And then I got into the school and I realized that for me, acting was really fun—but the acting school was very serious, and acting became a very serious thing. I think that’s why I really enjoy porn acting, because there’s no seriousness about it.” But it was another passion that initially had him travel far away from home. When he was 19, Fox left Australia to help with a summer camp for special needs kids in the United States. It was a natural path for him to take. “I just knew I would be good at it. My family had a lot of special needs people around, because my brother actually can’t walk. We had been meeting a whole bunch of people with various special needs, and in my brain I was like, ‘Well, that’s kind of my education. That’s what I know, so that’s what I’ll be doing.’ But it’s a very, very difficult job. I did like three summer camps, and I bow down to the people that do that work full time, because it’s just so difficult,” Fox says, adding that his brother has cerebral palsy. “CP has a wide range—it’s such a big spectrum. My brother is to the point where you could be sitting down having coffee with him and wouldn’t be able to tell at all.” It was meant to be a three-month stint, after which he would return to Australia and live his life. But things didn’t quite go according to plan. “I met another gay baby in the camp. We had about 10 days before we had to leave, and he talked about this Canadian visa.” They Googled “gay Canada.” They were happy with the results. “Obviously, Canada is super gay, so everywhere popped up,” Fox laughs. “We ended up living in Toronto for two years, and that’s where I started discovering physical performing art.” He started by performing at Medieval Times, a dinner theatre where knights engage in games, sword fighting and jousting for a family audience. Fox did that for almost two years before going back to America for another summer camp. “At that point I thought, ‘Okay, I guess I’m going home.’ I was kind of falling into a very depressed head space at that time, so I went and visited home. I fell into this deep depression because I had kind of been told my whole life that I was a failure, but it wasn’t in the way of, ‘You’re a failure and that’s bad!’ It was like, ‘Well, you’re not smart and you’re not good at sports, but you’re a nice person and that’s okay, so we’ll just keep you around and you just probably won’t be anything special.’ So I was like beating myself up and thinking, that’s it.” Fox notes he encountered many of those negative attitudes from people who weren’t necessarily projecting them in a purposefully mean way. “It was more accepting that I was the dumb child, accepting that I was the athletically challenged child. But because I was gay and young and bullied so much, I think what happened was that I just didn’t want to learn. I didn’t want to try sports, because in my head, all those things were ‘straight people things.’ And I was scared of straight people for so long. It wasn’t until later that I went, ‘I’m actually good at this stuff.’” He stayed in Australia for a few weeks, and that’s when he decided to fight the negative thoughts in his head. “I thought, ‘This can’t be it.’ And I went back to America. And that’s when all the porn and circus started happening. I started taking circus classes for fun, and porn was kind of knocking on my door. I had always said, ‘Absolutely not, no way!’ for a while. And then finally I was like, this is going to pay for all these fun circus classes. And for me, circus was the first time I was like, ‘Fuck, I’m actually good at something in life.’ So why not just jump off the cliff and see if I fly?” The Big TopTo his surprise, Fox’s family was supportive. His friends? Not so much. “When I told them that I was going to do porn and circus, every single one of my friends was like, ‘You will never be able to make a success out of this, you’re going to fuck up your life. You’re going to just destroy everything for yourself.’ And cut to seven years later when I visited, almost all of them came up to me and said, ‘We regret saying what we said, because you seem to have made such a success out of it.’ So that’s really nice.” Circus was always Fox’s main focus, with porn the means to make it happen. He was specifically set on aerial endeavors. “I’ve got super, super attention deficit disorder. I’m not diagnosed, but I’m very like, ‘…a squirrel!’ and always distracted,” he laughs. “For me, aerial circus was the one time I was so focused—because if you don’t focus when you’re holding your body weight up in the air, you’ll fall. So it was a great time for me to be able to go, ‘Focus!’ and deal with fear, and deal with those challenges of thinking, ‘I can’t do that, I’m not good enough.’ And then finally getting that trick, that’s why I always push. A lot of people think ‘I can’t’ … until you try.” Fans familiar with Fox’s physique may be surprised to hear him say he was in “no shape” when he started the process. “I was like a little string bean—no pec muscles, no ab muscles, definitely no arms. It was just for fun and to see what happens. I hated the gym; I was always someone who never enjoyed going. And then yet to watch myself, I didn’t realize it was happening. But looking back at photos from circus, I can see the change, because you’re lifting your whole body up and down. While not thinking about it, you’re doing about 100 pullups in an hour, just cause you’re having fun.” After extensive training, he moved to London for two years and continued at the National Centre for Circus Arts. “My main coach—I got too good for his classes. He was another gay guy, and ended up being my duo partner. And that’s when he was like, ‘I think you’re ready to perform.’ And we ended up winning the biggest competition in the United Kingdom. Then that led to cabarets in Europe, and corporate gigs in the U.S. and Canada.” Fox was 22 when he started the process, and “found out straight away that circus was the only thing that I was good at. So I was like, let’s put all the eggs in one basket. But it’s also a very, very expensive sport to get good at fast.” He was paying more than $100 a pop for private lessons—and had about eight of them a week. “A lot of people would ask—and still ask—me, ‘Don’t you think being a porn star will hinder your acrobatic career?’ And I always replied back that I wouldn’t have one if I didn’t do porn.” Act IThe transition wasn’t a big stretch for Fox. “I’ve always been a natural whore,” he laughs. “When I was younger, I don’t know if you know Paul Freeman—he’s a big photographer in Australia and he does nudes. I met him at party, and that was kind of my first exhibition experience being nude in front of a camera. It got addictive pretty fast. I started contacting any amateur photographer I could to get in front of the camera and be naked, and it ended up being a bit of a fetish. But porn was actually very different; porn ended up being less of a fetish and more of a job.” Fox debuted in NakedSword’s Grindhouse in 2012—when his services were already in high demand. “That week, Falcon Studios had contacted me and said, ‘We want to be your first-ever porn shoot.’ And in the same week, mr. Pam was like, ‘I really want to do a porn with you,’ and she didn’t know about like this first-ever porn shoot. I ended up shooting with Pam first, and then a day later I was in the office, and I think it was Tony (Dimarco) or someone saying, ‘Are you excited for your first shoot?’ And I was playing along going, ‘Yeah, so excited and so nervous! First time, whoo hoo!’ Then mr. Pam walks into the office and says, ‘Oh, he’s great! Everyone’s talking about his scene!’ I was mortified. So it was actually meant to be a first scene with Falcon, but mr. Pam snuck in there and got me.” For a few years, Fox shot more for both NakedSword and Falcon (including the studio’s big two-part Bucks County release in 2013), along with UK Naked Men, Men.com and Lucas Entrainment. “At the beginning, it was very much like a kid standing in the middle of Broadway with lights everywhere, because all of a sudden, people were recognizing me. I was receiving messages out the ears and my social media was bursting.” But as Fox quickly discovered, any following comes with a lot of hate as well. “That was also my first time experiencing having like 100 people message me a week saying how disgusting I am and how ugly I am, and pointing out every little feature. And I think if you take a step back and look from the outside, you think, ‘Okay, these people are just jealous.’ But I hadn’t done that yet. I was very much a young kid. And I again fell into this world of, ‘Fuck, I’m pathetic and I’m horrible and I’m ugly.’ I was just downward spiraling. And then whilst that was happening, instead of controlling myself—and I always say, if anyone’s going to get into porn, you’ve got to really own yourself and know your worth—I stopped knowing my worth and I didn’t own myself, and I started doing things in porn that I really just didn’t want to do. I started taking orders and just losing myself in porn, and I could see that in the shoots. My skin was getting paler, and I had a Britney moment and I shaved my head,” Fox laughs. “It was all a very dramatic downward hill, and so I ended up quitting pretty fast after getting into it.” Fox started to transition off social media, leaving Twitter in August of 2014 with this message: “To all my fellow porn stars I wish you all the luck and love in the world. Remember to stay true to yourself and don't let them own you.” It was toward the end of his schooling, when Fox notes he was “studying my ass off to be something.” At the time, he says he was luckily living with a very supportive boyfriend. “He was taking care of me, and so I was lucky enough that I could live with him and I didn’t have to do porn to survive. I could just finish school, and then finally when the cabarets and performances started happening, I kept thinking, ‘You don’t have to do porn.’ And I quit so aggressively and angrily. I think I pretty much called out all the people that I hated in the industry.” Intermission Fox moved to Canada and started teaching at another circus school—where someone’s attempt at sabotage got the wheels moving for his return to the industry. “This gay boy said, ‘Hey, I’d love to hang out.’ We hung out, and straight after he was like, ‘So, when are we going to have sex?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, we’re not having sex. We’re going to work together in this circus school professionally and be friends. Yay!’ And he got very obsessed within two days of me meeting him, and said, ‘You have to have sex with me, I’m in love with you.’ And I was like, ‘I’m not in love with you.’ And he said, ‘Well, I know about Woody Fox.’ And this was not when I was going by Woody Fox, I was going by my birth name. And I was like, ‘Fuck! This is it! This is where all of those friends and people said porn is going to hinder your life … it’s happening right now. I’m going to get fired, I’m never going to get a job again, because this is going to keep happening.’” Fox noted the acquaintance also spoke to people at the school. “And I said, ‘Look, this is what’s happening: I am a porn star, I’m not going to say I’m ashamed of it because I’m not. I did do this, but this is what he’s saying.’ And they ended up firing him. And the same guy ended up going to any casting I went to and kept telling all the casting directors that I was a porn star, and it wasn’t until an acrobatic coach in Cirque du Soleil who was on one of the panels came up to me and said, ‘Hey, we know you’re a porn star.’ And my heart dropped and I thought, ‘This is it, I’m never going to get into any circus show.’ And he said, ‘You need to own this Woody Fox thing, because your whole life, people are going to sabotage you unless you own it.’ So I started going by Woody Fox.” Fox decided he would take the leap again—not because he had to, but because he wanted to. “I ended up remembering Falcon and how lovely they were … and I told them that I would only do porn again if I was exclusive with them, and they were like, ‘Of course!’” Act IIAt the time, Fox had a lot of commitments, so he stayed in Canada and just dipped his feet back into the waters. He landed the box cover and three scenes in Falcon’s Pitching Tents, where he was reunited with Dimarco. But his re-entry into the industry hit high gear last year. “I moved to America earlier in 2018 because I had done a cruise ship and I was kind of over cruise ships. I thought, ‘I’ll live in Vegas because it’s the home of circus—but then conveniently, also the home of porn.’ And then it just kind of exploded.” It was also the year that he (for a second time) trimmed his signature long locks, a move met with mixed response from fans. “When I cut it the second time and went shorter, I was very much just sick of it. When you have longer hair, it seemed like every conversation you’re in—especially with gay men, and especially on Grindr—is about your hair. It’s like, ‘Oh, you’re sexy … but your hair.’ Or, ‘You can pull off long hair.’ Or, ‘I still find you sexy even though you’ve got long hair!’ And all these long hair comments. I’m like, why is it always about my hair? That’s when I wanted to just like get rid of it and conform to the masculine ideal,” Fox laughs. “With fans, the reaction is half and half. You can definitely never please everybody. I think there’s a stereotype of that whole ‘straight-acting butch feel’ that guys like, and I think short hair kind of matches that; but the long hair for people … it was different. I think it made me stand out in porn a little bit.” Last year was his busiest by far, highlighted by appearances in multiple films nominated for 2019 GayVN Awards—including Three Wishes (for which he was up for Best Group Scene), Breaking Mr. Hart and Zack & Jack Make A Porno (for which he earned a Best Actor nod, with the win going to co-star Wesley Woods, who brought Fox up on stage to share in the accolade). “The acting part, that’s always something that I’ve loved but I’ve never been willing to take myself really seriously. And when it came to porn dialogue, what’s really good is that a porn writer will be like, ‘Okay, this is the script, but say what you would say in this situation.’ And for me, I’m very good at just going with it and feeling out the other actor and just making up stuff, so it’s a lot more relaxed. For me, the porn dialogue is that moment where you can just have fun and feel like you’re Marilyn Monroe,” Fox laughs. “2018 was probably been the year of my life. It was the year that I was like, ‘It’s time to hardcore dive into both things.’ So circus wise, now I’m going to do all the castings I can and really creating the best act I can, and that’s already happening; and with porn…I’d always been using porn as a means for money for something. Then in 2018, it was very much like, ‘I’m actually going to get to know these people.’ And Zack & Jack was kind of the moment for me where I was like, ‘This is my family, and these people—even if you’d think they wouldn’t give a shit about you, they actually do.’” The Final Curtain?About a month after the GayVN Awards, Fox surprised many when he took to Twitter to announce his upcoming (second) exit from the industry at the end of May. “It is official: I am leaving porn … so if you guys know anyone you want me to work with, or any scenes or any fetishes that you want me to do, please send a message to Falcon Studios, or Raging Stallion or NakedSword … get me in there, get me casted before I say goodbye. I’d love to leave with a bang … literally. I hope you guys have enjoyed my scenes.” Fox promised a more official goodbye in a few months, and the likes of Woods, Pierce Paris, Grayson Lange, Drew Dixon, Ricky Larkin and more raised their hands on social media to offer their services. (Even Andrew Stark, suggested by Falcon as a dream pairing, said “Don’t tease me…”) “It’s true I am leaving porn at the end of May,” Fox later shared. “Last time I quit porn was because of the horror stories in the U.K. porn industry I experienced working with some companies … I said if I ever got back in, it would have to be with Falcon as they treated me so amazingly. When Falcon called and offered me to be exclusive, I was over the moon. It’s been an amazing couple of years being back, and I have had next to no horror stories. This time coming back, I really dove in and got to know the ‘porn family.’ The directors, actors, set people became friends, and I really felt like I was somebody in the industry.” Fox notes that the decision isn’t really his choice: His visa will expire in the States, and he’s looking to get into Cirque. “As most people know, being a porn star was never the main goal. Circus was always the goal, and porn was the money. However, like everything I do, I like to do it to the best of my ability, and I feel I did.” Fox had previously stated he wanted two things out of 2019. One was to win an award. That didn’t happen for him in January, but his turn in the new Raging Stallion feature The Night Riders—in which he plays a priest with a secret—could change that. He is paired with Dante Colle, the two also returning for a four-man finale. The film has the likes of co-directors Steve Cruz and Chi Chi LaRue behind the camera, along with mr. Pam. “It was all cooks in the kitchen, and it worked very well. mr. Pam is kind of like my giggle button, so whenever she’s in the room, I’m always really, really happy with a million miles of energy. So she was there poking me and making me laugh all the time. It was great. … I’m fingers- and toes-crossing that my last films, especially Night Riders, will get me an award to leave with.” Fox’s other hope was to work with some A-listers: “I really want to work with Pierce Paris at some point. I have no idea how that’s going to work. I kind of want to bottom for him, because I feel like if anyone is going to top me in porn, Pierce Paris has to be that person,” he says. (Paris even got a shout-out on Fox’s Twitter message: “Make it happen!”) “Along with Wesley, I hope we get our final scenes together, but it’s really not up to me. So, fingers crossed. I’ve also said I’m willing to bottom my last scenes, so that will be a fun surprise to see who fucks me.” Fox spent most of last year creating an act and showing it off to companies, working the ropes and “throwing around my girl” before getting feedback from another big top: Cirque du Soleil, which is knocking on his door. “Honestly, I love the industry and the platform it’s given me, but I am ready for the next thing … one day I might be back, so it might not be a goodbye forever, but I am pretty sure it will,” Fox says, noting he’s moving to Montreal as it’s closer to the Cirque HQ. “I’ve decided to do a push for that, and if it does not work out, to go and live in Sydney. Porn has been amazing fun, but I got out of it everything I wanted to already. In saying that, who knows … maybe I’ll come back in a few years looking all beast daddy like Austin Wolf.”

 
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