In late 2014, professional boxer Yusaf Mack did something no one else in his sport, active or retired, had ever done: He performed in porn. Gay porn. The scene he shot as “Philly” with DawgPoundUSA existed quietly on the internet for about 10 months, amazingly, until word of the video began to circulate around his hometown of Philadelphia and local reporter Jenice Armstrong interviewed him about it. He claimed to be straight, and said the sex he had with the men in the video resulted from him being drugged. After DawgPoundUSA issued a strongly worded rebuttal that threatened legal action, Mack revealed his initial story was “all a lie.” Mack issued a press release in which he called himself bisexual, and then he went on Philadelphia Fox 29 to say he’s gay. Later, he said he was attracted to trans women (“I’m attracted to trannies...I don’t like nobody muscle like me,” is how he put it). Mack told Broadly he hooked up with trans model Sidney Starr in January.
When I talked to Mack via Skype yesterday, he told me he’s “try-sexual” (meaning he’s open to experimenting). He moved back to Philadelphia after a brief stint in Los Angeles, earlier this year, he’s now attempting a gay-porn “comeback.” He recently filmed some scenes for the gay porn company Reality Dudes (link NSFW) under its “Reality Thugs” imprint. He points out that he’s the first professional boxer to come out, though what that means in this case, for today at least, is that he is out as someone who will have sex with whomever he wants for whatever reason he wants, including to make money. (Note: Mack is mistaken about being the first: Boxer Orlando Cruz came out in 2012.)
Mack answered whatever question I threw at him, generally in three sentences or less, and acknowledged that his speech has been affected by his time in the ring. A lightly edited and condensed transcript of our conversation is below.
Gawker: You went from attempting to hide your sexuality, or at least your sexual behavior, to talking about it in public all the time. How is that?
Yusaf Mack: I feel like I’m back in the light again. I was boxing. I was on top. Now I’m a little down right now, but I’m getting my shine back.
What do you mean you’re a little down?
I ain’t fought for like a year and a half. I was one of the top light heavyweights in the world. Now I’m doing my thing and getting back in the light.
How’s this new Reality Dudes project? What’s it like being on set?
It’s something new for me. I’m just getting used to it as I go. I got good people around me and they telling me to do my thing. At the end of the day, I got 10 kids. Nobody’s helping me get nothing. I gotta do what I gotta do for my children and myself.
Are you doing these videos entirely for money?
Naw, I’m doing it because I like it.
What do you like?
I’m a person that likes to have sex—as long as I’m clean, my health is right, I’m happy.
Is filming awkward?
Very, very awkward. I gotta go into my killer mode.
How do you do that?
I go into the bathroom. I look at myself in the mirror and I turn into a beast.
Do you consider yourself to be hot?
What’s it like being back in Philly?
It’s been rough, man. It’s very rough. People saying stuff about me, putting stuff on Facebook and Instagram. They won’t say it to my face. It bothers me when other people tell me about it.
How do you deal with it?
My kids. My kids keep me strong. “Dad, don’t worry about that.” “You gotta do what you gotta do to take care of us.” “Ain’t nobody putting money in your pocket.”
If people are saying stuff like that, do you ever wish this all never happened? Do you wish you remained closeted?
Not really. I wouldn’t be myself. That’s like faking. I’m myself, I can do what I want to do, and I’m comfortable.
Have you gotten support in Philly?
Yes. Older people. You got the young people that’s, “I ain’t doin’ this,” “I ain’t doin’ that,” but they’d do it themselves. If the chance came in for them to make some money, they would do it. If nobody knew about it they would do it.
You have had quite a coming-out journey. First you said you were straight, then a statement was released saying you’re bi, then you said on TV that you’re gay, then you said you’re into trans women, and now you’re having sex with men on camera. What is it today?
It sounds like you’re liberated in that you do what you want sexually when you feel like it.
Yes, I’m try-sexual. I’m a grown man. I ain’t got to answer to nobody but the man up top.
I haven’t talked to her yet.
What about your youngest daughter? You told Broadly you were estranged. Have you seen her?
I’ve seen her, yes.
Is that situation better?
Not really. Her mom’s like, “Don’t kiss him. Don’t hug him.” It hurts me, but I’ll get over it.
What about your other kids?
They love me. One of my youngest sons and my next-to-oldest son, they be with me everyday.
How aware are they of what happened to you in the past 10 months?
They don’t care. When we was coming up, we would be very judgmental. Nowadays kids are like, “It is what it is.” I got about three nieces and they’re gay.
The series you’re doing is called Reality Thugs. Do you have any opinion about that name? Do you feel like you’re a thug?
I can be whatever I gotta be at any time. I can be a thug, superhero, a nerd. Whatever y’all want me to be I’ll do.
Do you have any limitations as to what you will do on camera?
Yes, everybody got limits. I would never let a man pound me again. I gotta do all the pounding.
I feel...I don’t like it.
You did seem uncomfortable in the DawgPoundUSA video.
I didn’t like it.
Watching that video, it seemed you were inexperienced.
I didn’t know what I was doing. It was something I did for the money.
At that point, you hadn’t had much experience with men?
And then after that, you said you liked trans women. Have you had sex with men off camera in the past few months since you came out?
Do you think you would?
Uh...I can’t really say right now. I don’t know.
Who is your ideal mate, then?
Whatever, I’m asking you.
I’m happy with my life right now, I don’t want to settle down with anybody.
I’m just trying to get a grasp on your life, beyond the sex...
It would be a woman.
A trans woman?
A woman. I told you I’m a try-sexual. She would have to be open, though. She would have to know what I like, and if you ain’t acting right, I’m outta here.
Is it harder or easier to meet people now?
I believe it’s easier. When I first came back from L.A., I was in a bar in Philly. There were two girls in there. They kept looking at me like, “Ain’t you that boxer guy?” I said, “Yeah, that’s me.” “Can we buy you some drinks?” “Sure.” They bought me some drinks, two hours later we was at my mom’s house.
Is that something happens frequently? You’re sleeping with women?
Yes, yes. They all want to be around the Mack Attack now.
But you do enjoy having sex with men when you’re on camera?
It’s business. It’s my job. It’s what I’m here for.
Are you into it, though? Do you get turned on? Are you enjoying yourself?
Yes, you have to. It makes the scenes good. I gotta be into it.
Why did you move back from L.A. to Philly?
Everybody’s too bourgie in L.A. Everybody want to be better than the next person.
You said that you contemplated suicide after the initial news of the video broke. When did you become OK with it?
When close friends and family told me, “Live your life, we’re going to love you regardless.” So, I live my life.
Were there any close friends or family that rejected you?
Probably just my daughter.
Are you happy?
Yes, I’m happy.
Do you have your sights set on anything besides doing porn?
It’s my new career! I boxed all my life. Now boxer-slash-porn star?
Until the man upstairs call me, you know?
You’ll do porn for the rest of your life?
Yes. If it works out and I can make that Gawker money. [Snickers]
Do you ever watch your scenes?
No, I never watched them.
You’re not curious?
Nah, but when I was younger, I always wanted to be a porn star. All my life.
Did you ever think that you’d be achieving it like this, though?
No. Never. My life was boxing. All I was doing was boxing. Then I woke up one day like, “Oh man.” Boxing can’t be all I know. I gotta know something else. So porn is my next thing.
Do you feel the effects of boxing?
Yes. I get bad headaches. I’m on medicine now. Sometimes it’s hard for me to talk. My speech is slippin’.
When you’re not filming what are you doing?
I’m with my big sis, chilling with my kids, or partying.
What is the life you want to have? What do you want to achieve?
I just want to be able to take my kids places when they ask. I don’t want to be rich, I don’t want to be poor, I just want to be comfortable.
What don’t people understand about you?
I’m still Yusaf Mack, the United States Light Heavyweight Champion and I will break you up if you get out of line. To all the people out there who know me and love me, love me for me. I’m still me... Can I ask you something? How do you feel about me?
I think you’re fascinating and I’m glad you got to the point where you could speak about your sexuality openly.