With over one million subscribers, Davey Wavey is known for his shirtless videos about gay sex topics that skirt the lines of YouTube censorship. I talked to him about his journey, starting with (no kidding) Xanga and leading to his explicit gay video production company, Himeros.tv. We cover his toxic YouTube comments, why he regrets appearing in an erotic foot fetish video, and why it’s okay to fantasize about your high school bully.
The following transcripts are pulled directly from our conversation, but it’s heavily pared down for readability and—let’s be honest—to cut out all the times I said “like.” Thank you to Davey Wavey for his openness in talking with me, his sexy and educational videos, and his beautiful smile lines, whatever that means.
An Interview with Davey Wavey
Kyle Getz: I watched the very first video you did, and you talked about-
Davey Wavey: (laughs)
KG: You referenced your Xanga profile in it. So, I want to hear what you remember about your Xanga profile.
DW: I wonder if it still exists. I created it when I was probably 22. And for me, it was just kind of a journal, and I gave the link to like a few friends who I thought might care about what I was doing and the books that I was reading and what I was learning about life.
DW: And the desire for video on my little Xanga account coincided with the launch of YouTube. So I was like, “Okay, this is what I’ll do. I’ll record some quick video content, and then add that to my Xanga account.“
KG: So, was that the initial goal? Your own personal journal to share with friends, for YouTube as well?
DW: Yeah, totally. There was no part of me that was wanting people to follow along, thought that was even a possibility… it was just a way for me to reflect on what I was experiencing in life.
DW: I think it was like my eighth YouTube video that went viral, which was my masturbating neighbor video. When people started watching it, I was super put off by it. I was like, “Who are these people? Why are they commenting? Why are they looking into my life? I don’t want this.” And I remember initially turning off comments. I’m like, “I don’t care what they have to say.” You know? It took me a hot minute to realize that I had stumbled onto something.
KG: These days, we know that you shouldn’t look at YouTube comments, but we didn’t know that at the time. Are there any comments you got initially that still stick with you?
DW: Yeah, I remember someone commenting, “Oh, I think he’s really handsome, but I hate his smile lines.” And I was like, smile lines? What are smile lines? I didn’t even know I had them.
DW: It’s funny, though, because my relationship to comments has certainly evolved over the last decade and a half. I was talking about this recently on the [Himeros Live] podcast because I feel a little bit like a sociopath when I read comments. On YouTube, they’re pretty bad. On Facebook, they’re horrific. And on like a gay blog, like Queerty, they’re like unfathomably toxic.
DW: And I think it’s not even a matter of having thick skin. I think it’s just me recognizing, “Oh, okay. That person is going through some shit.” If that’s what they’re gonna write, if that’s what they have to contribute to the world, is just to spew this toxicity, it has nothing to do with me. People comment about my appearance, me being old, me being fat, me being uninteresting, me being… whatever. And if someone, you know, comments about how gray my hair is, it’s like, “Oh, they must be going through some shit about aging themselves.”
KG: You’ve read comments where people have called you old or fat?
DW: Oh, my God, and they won’t even be in like- it will be in far worse terms than that. It will be like, you know, I look like some like congressman’s withered trophy wife who got lost in a hometown buffet, or, I mean, it’s just like, people will really put a lot of creativity in it, which I can appreciate.
DW: There’s a quote that always comes to mind: what other people think of me is none of my business. And I think over the last 15 years, I’ve had ample opportunity to practice that. And so either I’ve reached a place of Zen with it, or I’m a total sociopath and completely disconnected from my feelings and emotions. I don’t know.
KG: You just said what other people think of you is none of your business. What do you think of you? Do you think you are attractive, physically?
DW: What people are attracted to is arbitrary. No one is going to be attractive to everyone, and as soon as you release that desire, there’s so much freedom in it. Right? You just have to find your audience, and some of us have bigger audiences or more niche audiences, depending on, you know, societal norms and all that. If someone thinks you’re ugly, that’s fine. There’s someone else out there. And there’s a hole for every peg, I guess.
KG: (laughs) Hot.
DW: And so, like, do I think I’m attractive? I am to some people and to some people, I’m not. Am I attracted, attracted to myself? I guess that was your question?
KG: Yeah, but not- I’m not necessarily like, “Are you attracted to yourself? Do you want to bang yourself?” Do you think of yourself, If we’re trying to get rid of what other people think of you, do you think of yourself as attractive?
DW: I think my better characteristics aren’t physical. I think I bring more to the table in other departments. And I think that stuff is attractive. Yeah, I don’t want to bang myself. I will say that. That can be on the record.
DW: But I’m not angry about the hand that I’ve been dealt.
KG: But that sounds more positive than other things I’ve heard you say about yourself.
DW: Well, it’s a journey. We’re all on it. I’m recording a video today at some point about, I’m getting salt and pepper on the side of my head. And I’ve been, I’ve been dyeing it brown. And we talked about it on the podcast. I was like, “I just don’t see myself as someone who has salt and pepper, gray hair.” And Finn [Deerhart], the podcast co-host was like, “Well, you are someone that has salt and pepper and gray hair. You might not see yourself as that, but you are because that’s what your body is doing.”
KG: Do you have daddy plans? Or are you gonna resist that label?
DW: Oh yeah, no, I’m an aspiring Daddy. I’m ready to sign some adoption papers. Totally.
KG: Lean hard into that.
DW: That’s my pickup line on Grindr.
KG: Okay, back to YouTube. You have mentioned that YouTube has, I think you said it nicely, placed limitations on gay content. Other people will say that they are outright homophobic. So how do you feel about your entire career and persona being tied so closely to YouTube?
DW: At the end of the day, to a large extent, you’re crowdsourcing the enforcement of your community guidelines. You’re relying on people to flag concepts they find objectionable. And you’re also then relying on whatever prejudices those people have. YouTube is a worldwide platform. There’s people watching my videos in places where they don’t have reference point for LGBT people, and me doing a video where my ex-boyfriend and I have sex toys up our butt, you know, while answering questions is unbelievably offensive
DW: We know that LGBT gets censored disproportionately relative to non-queer content.
And I would suspect, often the voices that we’ve lost are voices that we especially need, probably in underrepresented communities. People who you’re not seeing in, you know, The Prom on Netflix. People of color, trans voices, people who are genderqueer. I think there was a real cost to what’s been happening on YouTube. It saddens me to think about that because if you’re a young, queer kid looking for people like yourself, you search on YouTube. You want that kid to see that reflection of themselves.
KG: Would you ever move away from their platform completely?
DW: Well, my decision to launch Himeros.tv was in part recognizing that I can’t just have all my eggs in this basket. Because YouTube can make policy decisions that… they could make a decision to delete my channel, and then my livelihood is completely gone. So, for me, it was really important to at least diversify and launch Himeros.tv and have an income source that wasn’t tied so specifically to YouTube.
KG: You mention doing that for revenue, but was that why you wanted to [start Himeros]? Or were there other things that led to the idea?
DW: I think the reason that my YouTube channel was successful, at least, I guess, from a viewership perspective, was because I was always creating videos about the content that was interesting to me. So when I was 22 or 23, that was about coming out and how to talk to your family and how to navigate being gay at school. Those were the things that were on my mind. As I moved into my 30s, sex and sexuality became a lot more interesting to me. And YouTube is obviously a very restrictive platform. And as I was on this sexual journey of self discovery, I was coming up against those restrictions more and more frequently.
DW: And so it just became apparent that if I was going to keep following my heart and keep doing the content that I was really, really excited about doing, there’s no way that I could do it entirely on YouTube. I wanted to show dicks. I want to show ass. I wanted to show cum. I wanted to show fucking. That’s a hard no on YouTube. So, it was really out of a necessity to stay authentic to the stuff that I was passionate and interested about. And it’s gonna continue to evolve. I think that’s probably why my channel has had such a longevity to it is because the content that I’m making now is vastly different than the content I was making when you saw that first video.
KG: You’re in a foot fetish video for Himeros. [This link, as well as all other Himeros.tv links, are NSFW.]
DW: Yeah. Yeah.
KG: And you recently posted a YouTube video where you got fucked by someone while you’re testing out dildos. But you haven’t actually appeared naked in any videos. Would you ever show up full-on naked for a Himeros video?
DW: No, and I wouldn’t even do the foot fetish video if I were to do it all again. That was one of our first Himeros shoots. And I think one thing that I’ve learned is important in our content: we ask people to be authentic. And that requires a certain level of vulnerability. People are only going to be vulnerable if they feel safe, so we try to create a, I guess, a container that has certain boundaries. If I’m producing a shoot, then my interaction with the models on that shoot needs to be professional. And in this industry, there’s so many different kinds of people who weren’t, you know, well-intentioned. Kind of, bad actors who take advantage of their positions of power.
DW: When I’m doing a YouTube video, where it’s like, you know, a fun video with me and someone else, or someone that I like, it’s kind of a little bit of a different cup of tea because we’re trying to get something different out of it. But on erotic shoots, where, you know, we’re asking people to have real sex and to be authentic, it’s not really possible for me to be in the video, which is a nice excuse, because it’s just a nice way for me to not have to be on camera.
KG: How does your audience react to those videos versus the ones with the more traditional porn models like, Blake Mitchell or Diego Sans?
DW: We surveyed our audience pretty extensively, and one of the things that people keep telling us is they want to see more older models, more diversity in the videos. I think at some level, when you’re logging on to a site, it’s not just about getting off. It’s about connecting people with pleasure and intimacy and self-expression. It’s important to see a reflection of yourself. You want to log in, you want to see someone like you experiencing pleasure. If all see are nine-inch dicks and six packs having sex, it kind of sends the message, like, “Well, this is only available to them. They’re only the only body type that’s worthy of desire or touch or attention.”
DW: But there’s a difference between someone like telling you what they want, versus what actually causes them to sign up for the site. If you want to know what someone’s eating, don’t ask them what they’re eating. Look what’s on the end of their fork. And when we do marketing campaigns featuring everyday men, they routinely underperform. Anything that we do that features more traditional porn stars, traditional body types, traditional porn body types. So, I think for us, we try to strike a balance.
KG: That made a connection for me back to YouTube. You’ve told me before, you understand how YouTube works. You understand being shirtless gets people to view your videos, and then you keep them around with, hopefully, good quality, engaging content.
DW: I’d also say, because the overall strategy on YouTube that I had was taking a meaningful message or some sort of truth or whatever, and packaging it in a way that people want to consume. And so, it could be a silly video where a straight guy put a prostate simulator up his butt, but it’s really illustrating toxic masculinity and a message about the pleasure that we all have in our butts. And that you don’t need to get hung up on whether it’s gay to touch your prostate or not. But, you know, it’s packaged in a way that people actually want to consume it, and we do the same thing on Himeros.tv. They have really good messages at their core, and then they’re packaged in porn videos that people actually watch.
KG: Who is the hottest model you’ve worked with? And you have to give me a name.
DW: Well, Cade Maddox.
DW: I have such a crush on him. He’s also the embodiment of, like, everything I was not, you know, and everything that I hated about myself for not being in high school. Like, he’s the jock. He’s the athlete. He’s tall and masculine and has a deep voice. He’s the antithesis of me. He was the kid that beat me up in high school, you know?
KG: Did you get beat up in high school?
DW: No, no, but if I did, it would have been Cade.
KG: Yeah. (laughs) That seems like it could be a fantasy. Getting fucked by the person who you got beat up by.
“It’s your erotic mind trying to bring up your trauma so that you have an opportunity to heal.”
DW: Actually, it’s funny because I think a lot of us do have that inclination, and it’s like, “Oh, this is like… why? Why am I salivating over these hyper-masculine guys? This is so gross.” But I think a lot of people would say, it’s the reason we have a fantasy of hooking up with Cade. It’s your erotic mind trying to bring up your trauma so that you have an opportunity to heal and integrate it. So I think that’s why a lot of these events that happen in our childhood imprint on us like that.
KG: That sounds way nicer to yourself than just, “I’m fucked up.” So I like that way of thinking about it.
DW: Right. Well, why do you like backwards hats, right? You like guys with a backwards hat. I remember this coming up in a podcast that we did.
KG: Yeah… I like backwards-hat gym bros.
KG: I don’t know. That’s a good question. I’ll watch more Himeros videos and let you know if I figure it out.
Kyle is the co-host of Gayish, three-time nominee for Best LGBTQ Podcast. Kyle’s writing has been published in literary journals such as The James Franco Review, Arkana, and Cat on a Leash Review. More info available at kylegetz.com.