The last time Will Wikle appeared on film was in 2008's Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!. Before that, he appeared on the fifth season of CBS's Big Brother, Bravo's Battle of the Network Reality Stars, and was the host of Logo's Round Trip Ticket. Wikle diverted from the limelight over the past few years, turning his attention back to his first love, healthcare. During that time he fell in love, adopted four foster dogs (Bugsy, Theo, Orange Devil, and Babygirl), and successfully completed his collection of The View mugs (including the one they created special for Oprah's visit).
But let's not bury the lede too deep here, because Wikle is back in what will easily be his most talked about project to date, teaming up with CockyBoys to star in a film that he's co-producing with the adult entertainment company entitled The Stillest Hour.
"What have I gotten myself into?" Wikle recalls with a laugh as he surveys the calamari that sits between us on this particularly balmy winter night, as we sit in a corner at the same restaurant they film Hulu's Difficult People. He's fashioned in a Lena Duham print t-shirt splayed with various images of the Girls auteur's nude appearances on the show - "to channel her fearlessly vulnerable connection to her sexuality," he explains. It's clear Wikle does not take himself too seriously.
At 6'0" 200lbs, he's a force of... he's just like a lot of mass of person, both masc and femme (we do exist), sweet with a salty side, and above all, refreshingly self-aware.
So why this project now?
"I'd always found the conversation between myself, my own sexual identity, and the public's perception of it to be very interesting," he explains.
Plus, "I think everyone had been asking Will to do porn since the minute he took his shirt off."
That's CockyBoys director, Jake Jaxson, who, together with his partner RJ Sebastian, teamed up with Wikle to produce the film.
But why hadn't he entertained this sooner?
"I didn't want to do porn," he says bluntly, clear in his intonation that I'm not the first person to ask him this question. We both laugh. "I was always offered to do porn, but it never crossed my mind as something that was right for me with my comfort level and my sexuality. I never wanted the project to be porn."
"Okay, but how did you end up with a giant load of Colby Keller's semen strewn across your face?" I ask as our waitress refills our drinks.
Last February, Brad Callahan, founder and designer of fashion brand BCALLA, was having his spring fashion launch. During the event, large projector screens were looping video of the collaboration that he'd done with CockyBoys, a video that just so happened to feature Colby Keller (which featured Keller setting off a confetti cannon and jerking off with glitter all over him, no less.)
"It hit me like a lightning bolt. I thought to myself, 'I could do this, with them.' I went up to Jake and RJ," both of whom were in attendance, "and told them about the project Colby and I were talking about. I was so nervous, because it was a different level, and kind, of exposure than I had up to that point."
And so was immediately born in its most infantile of forms, The Stillest Hour.
Joining Wikle, are CockyBoys exclusive Levi Karter and recent Vivienne Westwood campaign star, Colby Keller. With Keller, there's a history.
"About 3 years ago, Colby and I were at a photoshoot for The Underwear Expert. After the shoot, my friend Gabe who was shooting the photos said, "I'd love to shoot some photos of the two of you for my magazine, TYPE/FACE.' Yes, I was always aware of Colby and who he was, and his history. He 100% transcends porn."
The sexual connection was immediate. But "we were in the Out Hotel where someone could have walked around the corner at any minute, so it's not like we were going to act on it even though we wanted to."
This project, all these months later, would give that built-up chemistry a place to unload.
Levi Karter was quickly brought on board. "I began thinking about the story of the project, and it would make more sense if it was about a triangle of people, and not just a duo. It would be interesting to bring a super young energy to it, who would be coming from his sexual identity from a completely different place."
Filming began in August, 2015. The budget was inflated to five times that of a typical CockyBoys feature.
"There's a different standard set because of who he is," says Adrian Armas, who served as Director of Photography on the film, "so you have the element of him being a recognizable figure on-screen yet completely new to the physical and technical demands of being filmed having sex."
"We work with a, relative to the adult space, a smaller group of exclusive performers," says Jaxson, "so they know and understand our style and process, most importantly we trust each other. They know I'm not going to put them in a harmful situation. So when someone is feeling uncertain or worried about exploring something new or unexpected, I'm able to just say 'trust me,' and we can move forward. With a project like this, I couldn't immediately go to that place with Will. I know he trusted us, but we had to continue earn it along the way, communicating with him as both a performer and a collaborator, which was great, because I wanted to make sure he was 100% proud of his choice to make this film."
They would end up shooting for 26 days, first completing the hardcore scenes before moving into the story portions.
After declining dessert in favor of another drink, we touch on critics, Internet trolls, and our very own LGBT community, where the streets talks, word travels fast, as does swift judgment.
"I feel like they've already said it. I've been in the gay public eye for 12 years, since 2004. I guess I was fortunate in some sense that my exposure on Big Brother preceded social media, so the hatred didn't have as many centralized hubs. The insults usually tend toward the superficial and once you've read 'you're ugly' in all it's varied incarnations, it loses its sting and serves to clarify your focus on the project."
"There are a lot of considerations that we have to make for any first-timer," Jaxson explains. This is not like having sex at home. You have to understand that everyone will see. You've got to be prepared to have an honest conversation with people in your life about it. That's how we would handle any performer."
"As I've evolved and tried to come to terms with my sexuality, it's continued to be a journey that has been disassociating sex from regret, fear, guilt and shame so I can allow myself to enjoy it. It was really cathartic to take ownership of this type of project specifically. I knew it was going to be difficult, public opinion aside, but personally. My past experiences have shown me that any time I've thrown myself into something I knew in my heart that I needed to do, that's when my identity becomes clearer and more connected to who I really am. I've gotten so much out of this project, but I also feel like we're only at the tip of the iceberg."
The Stillest Hour will be released exclusively on CockyBoys.com this spring.