An Interview With Shay Michaels: Bareback, Recovery & Finding A Happy Place

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I’m always on the prowl for, among other things, guys to interview, so I was more than a little excited to come across ‘ profile on . We talked on the phone last week, and as it turns out, he’s smart, charming and very, very candid about his past mistakes and his future prospects.

Without the slightest trace of hesitation in his voice he opened up about his battles with addiction, his jump to bareback porn, which studios he likes to work with (and which ones he doesn’t), and the easiest way to have sex for the first time after you get clean.

Lawrence

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Hey! How are you?

Good. I was filming for yesterday. It went really well. I did one scene with Armond Rizzo that was really intense. The director was really happy, so job well done.

You seem to be getting around a lot these days.

Yeah, I had taken some time off. I had a drinking problem and a meth problem. I had taken some time off to dust myself off and get myself back on track, and I’ve been filming again over the past four or five months.

Was returning to porn a challenge?

Being back has been nice. I’m approaching what I’m doing more as a business now. I’m making better choices, and I’ve been able to handle my images better. Earlier this year I was up for one of the . I didn’t win, but I think it was an indication of how I’m handling myself as a product right now in the marketplace.

You’re a product, but it also seems like you like what you’re doing…

Yeah, it’s been fun. I’m going more and more into bareback, where the guys tend to be a lot more relaxed and less pretentious. I’m not actually sure how to say that without sounding bad. When I started, I was a / guy. You were required to do two cum shots and two ten-hour days for one twenty minute scene. You really don’t smile.

With the bareback studios and the more amateur studios, they aren’t interested in filming the same position from eight different angles. They knock scenes out in two to three hours max.

Why do you think that is? Are condom studios really that much more formal?

Well, it’s changing. With so much piracy, their filming models were just taking too much time. A lot of them have switched to a much faster format since DVD sales aren’t the goal anymore. directs the  shoots now and I think he does one six-hour scene.

What do your fans think about your comeback and your switch to bareback?

Most of the feedback has been positive. I’m in much better shape than I ever was before. My body had a drastic change when I got sober, so I became more of a muscular bear and less beefy. That got a big response. I just did a scene for , which meant going from bareback back to condoms.

My fans have been really excited about the bareback, most of them. You know, I didn’t really have a stated position on condoms before, so for me it’s been fairly positive. I’m not like some studios that issue formal statements about how they’d never do bareback for ethical reasons, and then they turn around later and start shooting bareback scenes.

The comments on with were pretty rough, though. That was kind of a strange interview, I thought.

The comments on there were pretty scathing. That’s really the only kind of negative press that I’ve ever had from my recovery stuff. They have a new release out called Addiction, which kind of glorifies drug use. They chose four models who had addiction stories to tell. So the premise of the interviews was a way for to produce something glorifying addiction and then in very small print have a warning about it. Like a surgeon general’s warning on cigarette packages. That way they could safeguard themselves.

I wasn’t really told the premise behind the interview, and it’s not really accurate reflection of what I said. Parts were edited out and parts were changed. I thought it was kind of a bait and switch. A few years ago I was raped and drugged by a group of guys and had to go on post-exposure HIV meds. Completely unrelated to that, at a different point in the interview, I mentioned being homeschooled when I was a kid. In the final version, there’s a joke in there about whether rape is worse than homeschooling. Nobody ever said that. That was really upsetting. The more I’m talking to you about it, the more angry I’m getting.

What made you decide to tell everybody about your addiction problems?

I came out publicly, because I wanted to be accountable for my recovery. I didn’t know a lot of other people in porn that I could look up to. There are a lot of drugs in porn. They’re not really allowed on set, unless you’re with or something, but the performers who are sober tend to keep to themselves. But you can be in porn and be sober. And whatever your addiction is, you can get help and you don’t have to be ashamed.

So do you see yourself as a role model at all? Is that something you’re even thinking about at this point?

I know other people who are in the program. Alessio Romero is sober, for instance. I’ve had other people talk to me on apps and on that want to know about how to quit. I’ve had people ask me anonymously who are not sober. Certain people are looking for answers, and even if they’re not going to listen right now, I can plant a seed for them to remember later.

Your body goes through a lot of physical changes when you quit drugs, and I know sex can be difficult at first.

I’ve had lots and lots of sex. When I partied, I never partied before filming, but my personal life was getting out of control. Near the end, it never occurred to me to have sex. I know a lot of people now who say that they haven’t had sex in years. But because I’m a porn model and an escort, I don’t have that luxury. It’s how I make a living.

When I became sober for the first six weeks or so the sex was detached, kind of like having an out of body experience. That slowly gave way, and eventually sex started to become fun and became easier. I have a boyfriend I’m engaged to now. We have sex every day and it’s amazing. It’s comparable to and even better than when I was high.

When you’re high, you think you have these real connections, but really the sex wasn’t ever that good. In my head, the events seemed so much bigger than they actually were. My advice to anyone else in recovery is to just have sex as soon as possible. Whether you’re white-knuckling it or in 12 step, just find someone else who is sober and go fuck. Just do it and get it over with. Otherwise, it’ll become a big emotional hurdle for you to jump, and it doesn’t need to.

So now you’re all about clean living and lots of sex?

I don’t want to still be doing porn when I’m fifty. I’m putting effort into the next phase. I go to the gym six times a week, and I’m not going to spend every night at a club just because my friends want a chauffeur. I’m in bed with a lot of Netflix. Yeah, everything about me is really good right now.

A lot of people might think it’s odd for somebody to combine clean healthy living with bareback porn.

You know, any sex worker needs to be aware of STDs. Even if you’re doing condom scenes, condoms break. And most of the people that bitch about bareback porn don’t know what they’re talking about. Most of the people in this industry who are positive are on a one-a-day. There’s also Truvada. There have been major medical advances just within the last five years. People need to educate themselves, and then at that point if they have a valid question, they should ask. Not before.

Consensual bareback sex is fine if everybody’s on the same page. But I feel like a lot of websites fetishize the act of barebacking itself, and that’s what I think troubles people. You’re working with , for instance. That name means something, you know?

Well, I think it depends. Barebacking in porn has really become so common. I think the fetishizing mostly happens on the part of the viewer. I only watch bareback porn now. If I see condoms, I know that the scene’s going to be heavily edited, because most of the condom porn is smoke and mirrors.

And now you have guys like Adam Russo and Michael Lucas who used to be condom-only, but who switched to doing bareback scenes. I think the fetish side of bareback is being eliminated by the marketplace. There are guys out there who will only watch bareback, but where that alone isn’t the entire premise of the scene.

When I started, a lot of studios wouldn’t use you once you went bareback. I’m pretty established now, but it’s hard now to find any models who have not done bareback. Years ago, Marc Dylan started in bareback and the bigger studios forced him to issue a public apology saying he was innocent and young and didn’t know what he was doing. But now, if you eliminate everyone who’s done bareback, there’s almost no one left.

Older studios like  still use condoms, because they think they’re doing a public service by promoting condom use, and also, they think that porn influences what viewers will do in their own lives. I think that’s a really… idealized view, to think that you can have a substantial impact on reality like that.

Your decision to use a condom comes from knowing your facts, knowing your health, and also on whether or not you are impaired at the time. Honestly, if you’re going to engage in sex, know your status and know your partner’s status. At that point, you can make a logical, sound choice.

Do you think a lot of people in porn feel this way?

I think I’m saying what most people think but aren’t willing to say. They don’t want to be pigeonholed or criticized. But I know that in this industry, being more authentic is going to get you more work than being more inauthentic, so I’m saying it. Looking at the industry as a whole. My opinions are probably somewhere in the middle.

This might be a funny time to ask this question, but are you and your boyfriend monogamous?

Yeah, now that I’m actually engaged, I’m monogamous with him outside of work. My plan is to eventually move outside of the adult industry and then be totally monogamous, but that’s a work in progress.

He’s not another porn star, then, I take it?

No. I met him in Los Angeles. He was in AA, and we kept going to the same meetings. We started to talk and became friends. We just got engaged a week and a half ago.  We’re pretty excited. We’re actually packing now to move into our new place.

He’s worked behind the camera before, but he’s never been a performer. It’s hard for the relationship. You know, I’ve been the butt of jokes. But you build a certain skin. He’s a sweet guy and really sensitive, and I don’t think doing porn would be really nurturing for that.

You, on the other hand…

I was a natural. I was a whore before I did porn. With some guys, it takes three or four scenes before they get momentum. Some guys never do. It’s not for everybody. I’ve been with scene partners where it wasn’t a good fit, and I’ve actually said afterwards, you know, maybe this isn’t the right option for you.

So anything exciting in the works?

Two scenes with . One with , who just came out of retirement. He’s hitting it pretty hard with his Cher comeback tour. And then I also did a scene with the site owner.

Awesome! I don’t actually know why but I really like that guy. I’ll have to keep an eye out.

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