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April 09, 2019

Wesley Woods' World—Part 1: Man on a Mission

In the first part of an in-depth, three-part series, the GayVN Performer of the Year reflects on his career—and coming of age. Pictured above, Woods on stage at the 2019 GayVN Awards; photo by Jeff Koga. In January 2018, Wesley Woods roamed the floor at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. On a quick break from the iWantEmpire booth, he took time out to soak in the atmosphere and pick up a “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” T-shirt—a souvenir that had him grinning from ear to ear. He suddenly turned around, and—without warning—had Josh Moore standing in front of him requesting an impromptu on-camera interview. Woods immediately smiled into the bright lights and obliged—showing off the charm, wit and accessibility that has endeared him to fans for years. It all comes naturally to the performer, who has a gift for making a complete stranger feel like a lifelong friend. Woods is at once arresting and affable, grand and gracious, handsome and humble. And he does it all without even trying, emanating an inherent warmth that has given him staying power in an industry that’s always on the prowl for something new. “I think my personality is what sells me. I don’t have to pretend to be something,” he says matter-of-factly. “I’m not a mean girl—that’s not me. I don’t want to put that into the world. I really like to have a good time with people.” Woods began his 2018 with a whirlwind—including a Cybersocket Award for Best Porn Star and five GayVN Award nominations—and never stopped. One year later, he topped it: He picked up a handful of awards this January, including two big ones at the 2019 GayVN Awards: Performer of the Year and Best Actor (for his turn in Falcon’s Zack & Jack Make a Porno). That feat made him only the second man in the history of the awards (which branched off on their own in 1998) to win both honors (Jake Deckard won both in 2008). “I’m still in shock by that, and—in some hilarious kind of way—I feel some sort of duty or responsibility to make sure that I’m doing bigger and better this year. I want to represent the award and the platform as well as possible. It was a moment.” And that speaks to his mission. For Woods, it’s not the accolades that count. It’s the sense of purpose that he has championed, one that has injected his career with a meaning that goes far beyond getting off. “I was super excited that the GayVNs came back last year … I had always been familiar with the AVNs and the production value, and that it doesn’t get bigger. Of course, selfishly, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I got important at the right time, because look at how fabulous the industry is!’” he laughs. “But it’s all so much bigger than that. Right now in society, everything is up for debate, and I kind of love it. Everything is being questioned—every ounce of existence. So the GayVNs coming back, it wasn’t just important, it was imperative. We need the sex industry to really step up to the plate and take the lead in some of these social aspects. Sexuality is everywhere in our lives, and we have some of the most forward-thinking performers, directors and people.” Speak to Woods for even a few seconds, and you instantly feel how engaging he is. He loves to laugh. He says what he wants. He isn’t afraid of what people think. And he’s been that way from the start of his career in 2015, openly sharing his opinions and life experiences in every interview, appearance and social media post. He is truly himself no matter who he is talking to. And he isn’t in it just for himself—he cheers on every single one of his peers, and tries to make every fan feel empowered. “All the performers, we like to be recognized, even with just a nomination. It’s hard work that we do. So anything where you feel special is important in anyone’s life, regardless of what they do for work,” Woods says. “Coming into the GayVNs both years has been very good for my soul. It reminded me of what I’m a part of, what I’m trying to do and the people I’m doing it with. It’s just a very beautiful experience.” That sense of inclusivity goes back to his childhood. Woods is a true “Southern Gentleman,” and it’s clear that his roots—and his family—are what ground him. Small Town, Big DreamsWhen you speak with Wesley Woods, you notice something interesting: His Southern accent isn’t always apparent. It’s stronger when he gets excited, when he speaks faster and when he talks about subjects that are close to his heart. His family and childhood are two of those subjects. “My stepdad is a real cowboy. He was a national champion bulldogger team roper for many years and grew up on small town ranch—97 people in northeast Texas. My parents own, train and show cutting horses now, and we live next door to one of the largest horse breeders in the country. And there is nothing around us … nothing,” laughs Woods. “I can remember being a little kid, going out and looking at the stars, and knowing at some point in time that I was different. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point it stuck with me where I somehow became conscious all of a sudden. It’s one of the earliest memories I have—me out in my parents’ pasture just looking up to the big Texas sky and all the stars, just wondering what else was out there. My perspective at that time was very limited.” Woods had plenty of time to himself as a child, which filled his mind with thoughts of what could be. “My parents didn’t want us in the house. They had a dinner bell they would ring to get us to come back home, and we had 300 acres—we would just roam, so I always wandered. I was always a very curious kid. I knew I was different—I didn’t know that I was going to be porn star different, but I knew that I wasn’t my brother’s kind of ‘normal,’” he laughs. “And it’s very interesting. My parents are phenomenal. My mom was born in L.A., my stepdad was born in San Francisco. Their life somehow led them to that small area in Texas, and that’s where I came into existence. And living in a very red state with very progressive parents was very eye-opening. My stepdad told me recently that I’ve opened his eyes and changed his heart—and a lot of peoples’ hearts in that community, because they didn’t know what ‘gay’ was way before me. And that’s crazy to think about, that in 2005 when I graduated high school, that that was—for some of them—the very first time they could actually think of, see, know and pinpoint someone that was gay, someone that was actually tangibly touchable!” Woods says with wide eyes, motioning his hands in the air. “And now here I am doing porn, and that’s no secret to my family. I told everyone right before I started doing it. I called every single person. At the time, I was performing comedy here in Vegas, and I said, ‘This is my idea. I want to try and create this persona … what do you think?’ My parents were kind of like, ‘It’s your life, do what you want. Just keep it classy!’ It’s a quote my mom told me that I find both hilarious and confusing as to what that would entail. They’ve always offered guidance and never stopped me from doing anything. And I got into porn!” Woods smiles. The performer also received support from those in his hometown (“They still vote for me for those award shows, I don’t know why; it’s such a small town, kind of family-friendly”), a place that is a far cry from the world he now inhabits. Long before he was piling up adult entertainment accolades, Woods learned to weld at age 11. He and his brothers had tons of chores, like feeding the horses, mowing and weeding. “We built an entire pipe-lined fence that took us two summers—we dug the holes, laid the pipe, poured the concrete, welded it together, primed it, painted it … 350 acres, me and my two brothers. We just did anything and everything. Chopped firewood, constantly cleaning—in the house, outside the house. I think our parents had us for that reason. It was a lot of land to take care of, and they had three boys—they definitely used us as much as possible,” he laughs. “We lived off well water. My parents have well water, they also have gardens—they’re very self-sufficient.” Family TiesThose memories bring a smile to Woods’ face, and it’s no wonder. His nature—and by extension, his upbringing—gave him a safe, solid foundation. “Everyone’s story is different. For me, I’ve always been a caretaker of people. And in some ways, it’s always kept me safe because people look after me in return. I knew that I was gay, but I didn’t know that gay was gay until I was much older. And at that time, it never dawned on me that gay wouldn’t be okay. I knew that it wasn’t, but I somehow just always knew that it would be for me. And I don’t know why. But that’s just kind of how I felt with some of the relationships that I’ve made with people. And I guess I was naïve to even think that it could have been an option that my parents would have disowned me. I don’t know what I would have done; I don’t know what kids do. I get emotional talking about it. So that never dawned on me. I was just living who I was,” Woods says. “I came out my senior year of high school and never looked back. I basically was like, ‘This is who I am. I don’t feel like anything’s wrong with me.’ So I just kind of explained it the best I could, and I allowed my parents space to process some of the information I told them. Because even at 18, I knew that it had taken me years to process and try to figure out on my own—so I knew that it would be unfair to try and expect my parents to be right on board at once. And we didn’t talk for the first year after I came out. We ended up becoming very close again, and I think it’s just because they saw that I stayed the same, that it didn’t define me, that I’m still ‘normal.’ Normal is never the goal and normal is different for everyone. I’ve just always remained me.” His sense of humor—one shared by his family—has helped, sometimes in unexpected (and timely) ways. “I was absolutely terrified telling my biological dad I was gay. I had my younger brother go with me to his house so he’d be there with—and for—me. I was shocked at how well it went. A few years later, and I think he assumed me being gay was ‘just a phase.’ I think he is finally passed that. My dad is a jokester— when I told him I was gay, he replied, ‘You’re my son and I’m going to love you no matter what. How do you know when you’re at a gay cookout? The wieners taste like shit.’ I’m blessed—I have three parents who have loved and supported me even when I couldn’t myself.” Whole New BallgameFor a while, it looked like Woods was on his path to sports stardom—one he could have easily pursed. It’s a passion that lights a fire in his eyes, an obvious excitement driving every word when he talks about it. “I’m an amazing athlete,” he says, and he means it. “I am. In high school, I had offers to go play basketball at college and I turned them all down because I wanted to be a homo.” At that time for him, those two options were mutually exclusive. Woods had offers from many schools with strong sports programs, and the athletic gene runs in his family: His brother played Division I football before going to the NFL, and his younger brother played Division II basketball. His uncle also played in the NFL. “We’re a bunch of athletes. For my senior year of high school, my team to this day still has the best record since 1946. It was big growing up … basketball was my life for a long time.” Woods still considers himself a sports junkie. ESPN is his most-used app (“always on it”), and he used to work for a sports media website before getting into porn and comedy (“If I could be a sports anchor, I would fucking do it in a heartbeat … just like bullshit about sports all day”). College sports—especially football (Boomer Sooner) and basketball are a passion, but one of his favorite things to do is considerably colder. “I love hockey games. That’s my dream date! I grew up loving The Mighty Ducks and the sequel … I probably annoyed my brothers as much as I wanted to watch it and re-enact it on our roller skates in the barn! That to me is the sport that I would love to go watch the most. I would pick an NHL hockey game over any Oklahoma football game, and that’s saying a lot. They’re great, and they’re rowdy.” But Woods doesn’t plop himself in front of the television often: “I want to create TV, I don’t want to watch it. I typically don’t like to sit very long, and I feel like I could be doing other things … I could be creating content, I could be taking a picture. I’ve gotten away from watching as much, but I do enjoy it if I have the opportunity to watch games.” But when the time came to make a decision on his future, Woods pursued another path. He admits that in many ways, he was lost and needed an escape. A sports scholarship wasn’t the answer. “I ran out of the town I was from to figure out who I was, and who I was supposed to be.”  It was a process the performer said he needed to go through, even if it may have been painful at times. Fast-forward a few years, “My parents come to gay softball games even Sunday Funday at gay bars. My mom wears a ‘Hoe With a Heart On’ hoodie that I made. They’ve met boyfriends. It’s normal again … but it took a long, long time—I’m almost 15 years in!” It also took a lot of education on his part. “It was me realizing how they grew up, me realizing that my parents are people. I think we forget that—kind of where they grew up, how they were taught, what they were told. If I’m not going to change their perspective, I can’t expect anyone else to. I’m the closest thing to them, and as frustrating as it is at times … I’m sure they fucking feel the same way, trust me! But my family doesn’t give up on each other. It’s crazy how it plays out. I just never really gave it much thought, like, what will people do?” says Woods, his voice starting to crack as he ponders those who struggle with acceptance. “I was just like, ‘I’m gay, and that’s how it is.’” Woods grew up with his younger brother and older stepbrother. “My older brother played football in the NFL and is now working in the oil industry, and my younger brother is very involved with his church—missionary trips and helping the homeless. And there’s me, the middle child!” Both brothers have rolled with his career path. (Yes, you heard that right—the Southern football jock and the Southern missionary love their gay porn brother.) “No one really cares. My older brother likes to call me a lot when he’s with friends, and I’m kind of like his new little trick. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, tell them what you do for work!’ So I tell them and everyone gets a laugh out of it. He loves it. He’s like, ‘I love you, brother!’ “And my younger brother is very much I guess a progressive Christian—New Age Christianity is very accepting, loving. He’s just spiritual. I think sometimes that’s the best way to describe people who believe in God instead of trying to put a different religious spin on it. We’ve always been best of friends. We’ve seen and done it all together; he’s the only one that knows everything that I do and vice-versa, as far as our lives are concerned. We’re still very close. He has two kids, and I love them like they’re my own.” Woods’ voice starts to shake again as he stops to contemplate, the words coming slower to him. “It’s hard being away because I’m very close to my family. I don’t get to see then as much as I’d like, and that’s hard. But I believe in what I’m doing—the message I’m trying to put out there—because I want to offer people a sense of pride in who they are, laughter and love. It’s hard. It’s weird. We all just kind of wake up one day, become conscious and we’re thrown into this world, trying to figure it out on our own—and none of us have the answers. And I just have a big heart, and my family’s important to me. And I want to be able to provide for them, show them things and teach them—as they’ve done for me.” Woods notes they’re all still in Texas, and they’re all extremely supportive. “I think me doing it the way I did—giving them the opportunity to have the ball in their court with the knowledge of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it—equips them with knowing that I have respect and that I care about what they’re doing, that I want them in on it, that they’re not alone. And my mom, she’s a pit bull momma. You give her enough head’s up, she’ll think of comebacks from things she thinks people are already saying. I gained a lot of respect, and I’ve been very honest in everything that I’ve done—from testing to scene partners to work days. I call my parents when I’m on set; I don’t hide anything. My journey is all my own, but I like to include people in it, too, because we’re all kind of in his process together—and it’s funny to hear different people’s perspectives.” Getting LuckyDespite all of those joys in his life, Woods has experienced the other side. “I’ve lost friends from coming out. I’ve lost friends from doing porn. I’ll continue to lose friends, but I’ll continue to gain some. I think relationships come and go. It’s important to remember that perspective, and not to hold people accountable for sticking around forever; love them in the moment, and allow them to leave—and allow yourself to leave. You don’t have to be mad at that. I think you can find a lot of forgiveness whenever you stop looking at what people are doing right or wrong, and start looking at it like that’s how they are. It allows for easier conversations to try and get to a common ground.” Told that he sounds very lucky, Woods asks “How do you mean?” Exhibit A: His big, loving family. “I’m blessed, and I really want to do something with them. I don’t know what that is yet. I have like a scripted TV series that I’ve began to write, kind of on my life; and my mom has a very dynamic story herself—her dad was murdered when she was 12, her mom was in a mental hospital, she didn’t have anyone there to guide her, to confide in. I like referring to myself and my family as ‘high-class white trash.’ She’s like, ‘No, we’re not!’ And I’m like, ‘But we are, and that’s fine!’ She has a story. My family has a very dynamic story, but the thing that’s common—and the thing we’ve held on to—is love and respect, and that’s something that’s missing right now in the world.”  Woods knows at heart that he and his family have something truly special. With all of their unique stories, successes, differences and struggles, they learn and grow from one another. “We still have conversations and we still ask questions. We’re still challenging, and we’re not getting along all the time. That’s not the goal; it never is. And if it is, then people aren’t being real. We just know that you have to have a community. Everyone needs someone. That’s kind of why I love what I do, too. It’s not about me as much as people assume that it is; I don’t do this for me, I do this for others. I do this for people who wish they could do what I do, for the people who can’t be who they want to be. I’m doing it for people that don’t believe that they look good enough to do it, or that don’t have any courage. Because for me, it’s very natural,” Woods says, his emotions—which he always wears on his sleeves—once again causing his voice to quiver. “And I like knowing that someone is on the other end receiving satisfaction from it. I’m such a fucking pleaser. It’s a curse, and there’s also beauty in it. But it has gotten me in a lot of fucking trouble, that’s for sure.” Woods is equally thankful for his fans, who have contributed to his personal growth. “I learn something every day from people that tweet at me or message me—just different things, and I feel lucky. I don’t feel it, I know I am. I’m so lucky to be conscious in this physical body. I mean, I have everything going for me … and then I throw it away by coming out gay, getting into porn and marginalizing myself a little bit,” he laughs. “I’m steps and leaps above what a lot of people get to experience in life, and I know how lucky I am. I feel lucky that people reach out and relate and connect, and I wish I could talk to as many people as I could all the time because I love that. I love knowing that they’re okay. “I think that goes back to my parents, and my mom and her sisters never really having anyone there. At a young age, when she would drop me off at school, my mom would always remind me of that every single day: ‘You never know what someone’s going through. You never know their backstory. Take care of them.’ And she would always say, ‘Be my sweet (Wesley). Take up for people. Don’t start any fights—but if anyone ever touches you, you kick ’em in the balls till there’s blood coming out of their mouth.” And that’s just kind of the mentality I’ve always been stuck with.” (“Yeah, I did say that,” confirms his mother with a laugh. “Man, I was crazy back then, wasn’t I?”) Exhibit B: When Woods was the target of an alleged anti-gay hate crime while walking down the street with a friend in West Hollywood last August, he stood up for himself and then took to social media to chronicle his ordeal—with a message to everyone to always be their true self. (“I don’t think they were prepared for us to fight like we did,” he told AVN in August. “I really truly believe that in my heart.”) “My mom’s message set a tone of being aware that not everyone is waking up in your frame of mind. Not everyone went to sleep like you, not everyone ate breakfast this morning. We’re all having different experiences. And at a young age, if I can go into my school and I’m happy, be happy; at least we can affect that moment, and you know that you’ve done your part. Be everybody’s fan—but realize that a lot of people aren’t going to be your fan in life. You’ve got to be okay with that.” A Second (and Third) FamilyLaughing at those moments in life has become essential to Woods. It was something he embraced early on as his own sense of humor developed. “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour and the Queens of Comedy changed my life. They’re so completely different, but it is so much of who I am. And I think that moment and era—probably when I was 8 to 12-ish—I really wanted to be an act-or! And growing up in East Texas, you don’t really have that as an option. I just always loved making people laugh,” he says. “Sommore had a bit about a hula hoop … that’s one of the bits I’ll never forget. It was just such a big part of my young childhood.” Woods notes he always did well in school writing courses, but he never felt that the real opportunities he was looking for were truly available to him—at least not in a way that would encourage advancement. “But as I went on later in life, I just carried a couple of stories with me and had them down,” he says, snapping his fingers, “to where I could know that people would laugh. It got to a point where I finally stated thinking, ‘I could do standup. I want to do standup.’ And it took two years of me convincing myself in my own head before I ever actually stepped foot on a stage—and the very first stage I ever stepped foot on was in Vegas. And on that very first night, I got booked at the Ontario Improv in L.A.” Woods suddenly felt more comfortable than he ever had before. “It was phenomenal, and I felt like that was a sign that I was doing what I was supposed to do. And from there, I’ve had pretty steady work.” Like the adult world, the comedy circuit also provides a family that he has grown close to. “I like to go pop into places and be involved in the community underground scenes as well. It’s kind of like going to the GayVN Awards and the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo—networking and socializing with the performers and people of porn. It’s the same thing with comedy clubs—going out, mingling and seeing people, saying hi and supporting, clapping, laughing and networking. That’s the world we live in. We all need each other.” About a year-and-a-half into comedy, porn came along—and kept Woods busier than he ever imagined. “My first year in porn, I was doing a little comedy here and there, but then I’ve kind of allowed porn to just be and do, and see where that goes. ... I like the creative aspect and process, and laughing is what I enjoy doing most. So I enjoy getting on stage, I enjoy trying to make people laugh. I love the shock value—I’ve always been that way as a kid. I love being the center of attention for the greater good. I do well at it. I like connecting to people, and I think that’s kind of what drew me to comedy and doing standup—and finally following through with it. Hearing people laugh makes me laugh.” As to what makes Woods laugh? In addition to scare cams and Queens of Comedy, he is fond of goofy animal videos (“like pigs running with dogs … I like that kinda shit”), Chris Farley movies (“Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, Beverly Hills Ninja … I love all that”) and American Dad (“If you don’t love Roger, then I’m not sure we can be friends”). Woods initially left home, then went to Dallas for a while. He headed to Vegas when he was 20, working (under age) for a nightclub (“I won’t say who”) doing promotions and VIP hosting. He was there for a year before going back to Dallas, then Austin, then back to Dallas before making his way to Houston, Chicago, Vegas and Los Angeles. He also spent time in Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa (he went to the University of Oklahoma). “I’ve been everywhere. I live a very nomadic, minimalist, gypsy lifestyle, and it’s what suits me. I think partially why I had to end my engagement over a year ago is because as much as I love routine and being, I also love to go and do and see and touch and feel. It’s that curious kid in me. I just can’t sit still very long; I get bored easily,” he says. “But that’s why I love porn and comedy—it’s constant, it’s forever, it’s changing, it’s new. With comedy, you can write about all sorts of stuff, even an everyday occurrence. My mind is always able to go. And working in the lifestyle and in the industries that I have—and being able to make a living—I don’t have to be in one place, and that’s what I love. I don’t want to be in one place, I want to be everywhere.” That’s when Woods points to a small stack of suitcases, noting that he’s trying to get his essential possessions—basically, his life—down to just that. And he wouldn’t have it any other way, as it has helped his creativity flourish. It’s a choice that has both helped and hurt his loved ones. They don’t see him as much as they would like, but they love that he is happy—and that he encourages them in return. Woods notes he has been working with his mother on an illustrated book. “It’s something that I want my mom to do before she leaves this earth. Will she do it or not? I don’t know. We’re really trying. We’re in the illustrations process right now,” Woods shares, noting that his mom hasn’t been in the best health for a while, “but she’s fine. But I also know that’s she’s such a perfectionist that if she doesn’t allow it to be created, it will never be created. I sat down and had some powwows with her because I’m trying to hold her accountable a little bit more. I think she’s really talented. “And my mom is a lot of my inspiration as far as my comedy and my wit and humor, and the world needs to see who she is. And I think she would be happy. I think her biggest achievement so far is us kids, and she loves us kids; but I know that right now, she’s longing. Like most parents, you get to an age where the kids are gone. Now she’s retired, and it’s kind of like, ‘What is this next big thing for me?’ She has her family, grandkids—but I’m trying to encourage her creativity.” And that comes in the form of a story about the birds and the bees. “We kind of start talking about it in a very comical way; it was actually the story that my mom read to me and my brothers growing up. We’re trying to soften it a little bit, but it’s cute and it doesn’t have to be the conversation—but it can be the start to a conversation, and I think it’s a fun platform. Her kid’s a gay porn star, for fuck sake! She should be able to say it and put it out there. I think it’s also a great way for her to express her acceptance with me and life—and my siblings. We’re all a little weird and different.” Trusting the ProcessBy his own admission, Woods is “weird and different” in many ways. He describes himself as “a bit socially anti-social” before stopping to consider it. “I’m not anti-social as much as I’m kind of a hermit. I hide it well. I have a lot of anxiety, I get overwhelmed really easily. I’m always in my head with things, and it’s easier sometimes just to be alone,” he says. “But I can’t. It’s one of those little dualities where I feel safe and stuff, but it also drives me crazy…I’m very much an anxious, excited person by nature.”  It's one of Woods’ many issues, and he embraces them. He also considers it his mission to help others recognize their own issues and work on them. “I get my cards read a lot—I’m a huge fan of tarot cards—and I often pull ‘The Hermit.’ And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I kind of laugh at myself that I’ve started putting into the universe this idea that I’m a hermit, like, [adopts mock whiny voice], ‘I’m never gonna be in a relationship!’ or ‘I’m always on the road alone!’ I start talking about it so much, my meemaw’s like, ‘Well, what you think about you talk about, and what you talk about you bring about…you’re just adding to it.’ I don’t know. I like my alone time, but I also know that sometimes it borders on unhealthy.” But with a low tolerance for BS, it isn’t easy for Woods to break the habit. “A lot of people deal in the world of bullshit, and I don’t have time for bullshit. I don’t want to hear you talk bad about someone and what they’re wearing or their body, because that just makes me think that you’re disgusting. I have tried to take control of my narrative in life. “My mom said something the other day about ‘when your story’s done and the closing credits are coming…’ It made me think of this narrative kind of perspective. This is my movie that I’m a part of—my life. And I want my life to be filled with happiness, joy and pleasure—and if that means that I have to be alone sometimes to do that, then that’s okay. I’ll read, I’ll do something else. But it’s hard sometimes to find people that consistently want to maintain a level of happy.” And for now, he’s happy—living out his own dreams every day. “I don’t work a typical 9-to-5, but I’m constantly creating content. That may seem crazy to some. But there’s a process and there’s an art to it. You get better as time goes, and I’m enjoying the process. So for me, I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’ve been nominated for tons of awards, I’ve met tons of really cool fucking people, I’ve dated really cool people, I have friends doing really cool shit around the world. I’m good. I don’t need an end goal to be happy. Do I have ambitions? Yeah—I’d like to have a scripted show, I’d like to do a cartoon, I’d like to do all sorts of things in entertainment and art.”  That includes a one-man show and a book, both long-time projects. “I write a lot in my free time, and I want to tell my story. I want the good, the bad and the country, but I also want the funny—and there’s a lot of funny in porn, and there’s a lot of funny in my life,” Woods says. “And I think it’s time that people stop being afraid to just talk about porn stars. It really pisses me off…why do we have to sex shame and slut shame? I want to do something mainstream that starts to bring that view more into existence—that gay’s okay, that being a slut is okay. What’s not okay is treating people like shit—hurting people emotionally and physically. Sex is good. Sex is normal. Sex is pleasurable. Why are we shunning it and not talking about it? It’s just mind-boggling. The dynamics are all screwed up right now.” That outlook and purpose have helped with his success—something that came as a surprise to him. “I think because as people we’re programmed to self-doubt. And I also play into the game as much as I can without playing into it too much. The world is a game of Big Brother. You never know what’s really going on behind closed doors; you really don’t know the alliances and deals people are making. And I’m just trying to stay in my bubble, keep my head down, stay true to who I am and let the cards fall how they may.” Being himself has worked wonders so far, including being named a brand ambassador for iWantEmpire—a duty he excelled at throughout 2018. “There are so many avenues now that I am able to create and be an artist, and that’s what I view myself as. I don’t see myself as a porn star, I don’t see myself as a comedian, I don’t see myself as gay—whatever the other terms are. I’m a spiritual being, and in some ways to me, it’s art—life is art, and I’m an artist. And they’ve given me that platform to do it, and they’ve changed my life. I’m really living my dream. I just love fucking,” he laughs. “I love filming it and I love showing it off. I love encouraging people. It’s the shock value, it’s the ‘You’re not supposed to.’ Why? Tell me I’m not supposed to. I’m going to. And I’m going to tell you that you should, too. And then I’m going to tell you how you should, because I’ve done it so many times that I know how good it is. I want to empower people. I want people to stop caring about ‘the man,’ which is this man-made idea that someone’s always watching and caring and doing. Just fuck all of it. Literally. It’s that simple.” Woods says he will do porn as long as he can. But even with his confidence higher than ever and his increasing success and workload, he can’t escape the old voices in his head. “As long as it makes sense. I try to get away from the idea of, ‘When is the rug being pulled out from under me?’ And I think that is something that we as people kind of do to ourselves. I’ve kind of worked at just being, and to just keep doing—because whatever I’m doing is working. My meemaw used to always tell me, ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.’ And I think of her a lot these past few years, because it’s so funny—I never would have imagined my life to be what it is. But its more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.” It's a realization that came to him a few years ago while celebrating his 30th birthday. “It sounds so cheesy, but I was in Orlando at Gay Days on a stage with Chi Chi LaRue DJing behind me. There’s no one around me on stage and there’s hundreds of people down below on the dance floor dancing, and I’m just spinning around hands in the air. It’s raining a little bit, and I was just bawling crying because I was looking at the same stars I used to look at as a kid and was just like, ‘This is where it’s led me.’ “So I don’t know what the future holds, but I don’t worry anymore. I trust the process, and I’m just hoping that I am around for a while because I really love what I do, and I love the people that I do it with. I see this as a career, I don’t see this as a job—and I want to start doing more. I don’t necessarily know what that is, but I want to be better and do more.” In Part 2 of our three-part series, Wesley Woods’ friends and peers reflect on his impact in their lives.

 
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