This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
Alejandro Castillo is not as tall or as bulky as you might expect. Film, so they say, has a way of making an individual appear larger than life.
It was a Sunday afternoon, the middle of May, in Puerto Vallarta. The newfound heat of summer revealed itself in a few small wet spots on his royal blue cotton tank top as Castillo breezed in toward the patio at Incanto for our interview.
His outfit complete with solid gray shorts, sandals, and a sturdy black ballcap—one that he adjusted throughout our hourlong chat, from back to front and then back again—Castillo immediately seemed to me more approachable and personable than the lusty, libidinous stares that his social media channels suggest.
The adult film performer smiled and shook my hand, sat down, and dutifully we got down to business.
“I want to make a difference,” he said. “I’m regularly in touch with all my fans. What I have been noticing for the last two years is the kind of fans that contact me, it changes according to the social media platform. The guys who contact me on Instagram, they are younger, around 20s. They always ask me, ‘Does your family know what you do? Do you ever have any problem with society and how they see you?’ Of course, they want to know this because they are comparing their lives to what I’m showing.”
“Twitter is a little more aggressive media than Instagram,” he said. “There are more trolls, more hate. There are more critics about how you look, what you do, how you do it, because Twitter was made for you to follow someone that you don’t know. Instead of Facebook, which is connecting you with people that you already know. Facebook people are a little older, 40s, 50s, the messages are more kind.”
“What I try to do is explain that they shouldn’t compare with us,” he added, “because what they see on social media is just the final result. It is a product. Sometimes we are not only sharing our job but we’re sharing a little social life, some selfies, but what they see is not exactly how it is.”
It has been an enlightening experience for the 32-year-old actor, the past two years. Though his ambition to act in adult films began a decade ago, his entrance to the industry occurred when the famed Lucas Entertainment brought a production to this city and employed him as a location scout. When a performer canceled at the last moment, the company’s founder and CEO Michael Lucas asked the local if he knew of any potential replacements.
“He told me, ‘We’re looking for another model. Who do you think is the hottest guy in town?’ and I said ‘well… me!’ and he was like, ‘No!’ and I said, ‘Seriously. It’s me!’ so he told me to send some videos, some pictures.”
“He liked them.”
“It happened with that first production,” he said, “I had to do my first scene and, I don’t know, that time for the other models they didn’t do it so good as they always do. They were average. Maybe it was the weather, something different. We were filming it on the beach and different places. My scene, it was the best from all the production. The cameraman, photographers, they were happy. They said, ‘Okay, let’s give you more’ and then they offered me an exclusive contract so I’ve been working with them for two years now.”
Almost immediately he found himself dealing with inquisitive friends and family, all surprised to learn his performances were unprotected. Castillo became an unwitting educator about safe sex practises to the people who cared about him.
“I had to become someone that can let the people know that we are okay,” he said, “and we’ll be okay as long as we are informed. So I explained it to my mom, my brother, my sister. People in Mexico don’t really like to talk about AIDS because they are afraid. We have a shadow of AIDS because we grew up in that generation, so still the stigma exists but it is with us where the stigma can change. It’s a personal thing. I don’t find a lot of people talking about this, as I do, with the right information because they don’t know.”
“Older people they don’t really understand yet because they maybe lost a lot of friends during their life, or they lived for so many years they’ve lived with this fear that, for them, they cannot really understand it completely, that PrEP protects you [if you’re HIV negative] and medications make you undetectable [if you’re HIV positive]. They cannot understand that, of course, it’s not a cure, but it’s a way to live healthy. You just need to know it. Young people don’t really know either but when you explain it, it’s easier for them to understand it.”
And so began a journey of educating people, particularly gay Mexicans, about risks and consequences, sexual liberation and responsible protection. Alejandro Castillo feels a responsibility now to bring this enlightenment to as many people as possible.
“I would love to work with a hospital or an organization that can provide information,” he said. “I cannot change my country so that it will provide all the medication or give PrEP to everyone. I wish, but I can’t. What I can do is to go to them and tell them: use me. Use me to explain why everyone should use condoms if they are not on PrEP. Or use me to tell them that if they are positive that they will be okay and they’ll live with HIV and they will be happy and healthy. I don’t think there is even one person in Mexico who is talking that way openly.”
The need for this awareness, according to the actor, is unique to Mexico and he believes it is therefore incumbent upon him, as arguably the industry’s biggest Mexican star, to share the information he’s learned. Are there no other performers who do the same thing?
“I don’t think so and I’ll tell you why,” he said. “They live in other countries where there is less stigma and maybe more information and they live with different societal rules. In this case, I’m in the middle. I’m not living in Europe or the United States. I live in a Catholic country that has a lot of guilt about sexual life.”
“I looked for YouTubers in Mexico who talk about HIV because I had to know everything about it so I can explain to people who come to me and ask me,” he said. “I like to tell people, relax, just live your life, enjoy your sexual life, just know that everything has consequence and also to have a porn star sexual life you have to take those precautions. I always tell the people around me, doctors must be your friends. If you don’t feel that you have a doctor who is your friend, then you need another doctor. If you are gay, try to find a gay doctor so you feel that you can tell him exactly how is your behavior and you don’t feel that he is judging you.”
And in the meantime, Alejandro Castillo is building a career that he intends will span many more years. Along with sexual health, he’s learning the business of adult films. In an era of social media, and in a city filled with businesses relentlessly promoting themselves to the visiting masses, he understands the role he plays in the promotion of his star. As with mainstream film, book publishing, and recorded music, gone are the days when an exclusive contract with a major distributor leads directly to a lifelong ticket to the big time.
“Being exclusive means that the beginning [of a career] can be a benefit for you because they can boost your career. They will promote your name and you will be part of that team. Eventually if you want to grow you will be looking for your independence, when your name is super big then you can do whatever you want and people will come with you wherever you go, if you have onlyfans or justforfans sites, they will pay, or if you have a live show they will go and see you. But in the beginning you have to work very hard and you won’t see results very quick. It takes time.”
“I want to have my own club,” he added. “My own dance club. I want to write about how you can live your life with your own rules. Maybe in three or four years it will be a good idea to share my experience as a gay man doing gay porn and living in a society that most of the time they call themselves straight.”
“I’m in contact with different activists,” he said. “A lot of people follow me on social media who are not gay. They follow me because they like what I say and what I think. They are finding an ally. We are in the middle.”
“We are making the change everyday.”