How a Former Porn Star Found a New Life in Hot Sauce

Hillary Eaton

Danny Wylde's post-adult film career is no less spicy.

There's a lot of masochism in hot sauce. When you move beyond the relative safety of Tabasco, Sriracha, and Tapatío, much of the market is made up of small-production sauces with gimmicky names and labels promising every conceivable level of delicious pain.

Take hot sauces like the Reaper Sling Blade—made with one of the world's hottest peppers, the Carolina Reaper—or The Black Mamba, which boasts a rating of 2.5 million on the heat-rating Scoville scale. (For reference, a standard jalapeño falls somewhere between 3,500 and 10,000 Scoville units.) The problem with most of these super-hot sauces, however, is that while they effectively set your mouth on fire, they contain little in the way of real flavor.

Thankfully, a certified master of pain has taken it upon himself to create a hot sauce that pleases as much as it punishes. Say hello to Wyldefire, a new—and perhaps the only—hot sauce made by a BDSM porn star.

Over the past decade, Christopher Zeischegg, a.k.a. Danny Wylde, has made a living in the space between pleasure and pain. Like many, he fell into the adult film industry as a way to make a quick buck. A broke student at UC Santa Cruz, Zeischegg decided to respond to a Craigslist ad looking for young men for a BDSM shoot. "It seemed like it could be this crazy, one-time experience," Zeischegg tells MUNCHIES. "Something to tide me over financially until a found a 'real' job."

A romantic edition of Wyldefire. Photo courtesy of Christopher Zeischegg.

It wasn't. At the age of 19, Zeischegg fucked on camera for the first time. Fast forward a few years and Zeischegg had fully transformed into Wylde, racking up more than 315 titles to his name (one example: Occupy My Ass) and even winning an AVN award for his inspired performance in the category of "Best Group Sex ."

Despite his success, however, a common problem that many male porn performers face began to put Zeischegg's health at risk. The industry practice of using erectile dysfunction medication to perform in peak condition was threatening to leave him with irreparable damage.

"I think it's safe to say that most male porn performers use erectile dysfunction medication as a performance enhancer. I used Cialis for most of my career, and dabbled with other medications," Zeichegg says, noting that those medications had landed him in the ER with priapism on more than one occasion. "The last time I ended up in the hospital, a doctor told me that I needed to knock it off. He said that I could build up scar tissue in my penis, which could prevent me from achieving a natural erection. I quit performing in porn the next day."

But that only presented a new problem, as finding work outside of the adult film industry is notoriously difficult for ex-actors.

"Performing is something that has to end eventually," Zeichegg explains. "You can't be a porn performer forever, just like you can't be an athlete forever. The issue is that porn skills don't necessarily translate to other areas of work."

Though he dabbled in some post-production gigs, it wasn't until Zeichegg met chef Royce Burke, formerly of LA's Chimney Coffee, that the idea of making a new life in hot sauce came to mind. Burke was catering an event in Palm Springs and recognized Zeichegg, and the two got to talking. Over the course of a whirlwind weekend that involved eating hallucinogenic mushrooms and talking about the problems facing retired adult performers, Wyldfire was born.



"Chris and I had a lot of discussions around the death of career opportunities for performers past their 'expiration date' in adult entertainment. As a culture we consume a huge amount of porn, but the performers rarely cross our minds after the fact," says Burke, who recently launched LA's Secret Lasagna, a delivery-only lasagna business. "We began to wonder if there was a way we could do something small to change that pattern."

To bring Wyldefire to life, Burke took a cue from LA cult favorite hot chicken spot Howlin' Ray's.

"[The sauce] starts with a ton of mostly green Thai chillies, rosemary, thyme, garlic and salt. After 24 hours, the vinegar is added to the mix and then left to rest for a week. For the new XXXTreme version of Wyldefire, I also incorporate the infamous Carolina Reaper chile introduced to me by the great Johnny Ray Zone of Howlin' Rays," Burke says. "I can't reveal too much more—you know, trade secrets and all."

The label for the XXXTreme version of Wyldefire. Image courtesy of Christopher Zeischegg.

For now, Wyldefire is available for purchase in select quantities online, but as the brand begins to grow and spread awareness, Burke and Zeichegg hope it will generate more conversation about and more opportunities for a life after porn.

"It's important," Burke says. "Attaching the name of a star who had to retire from performing as a result of the harm he was doing to his body to live up to the pressure of performing to the male standard. Our culture still has a backwards-as-fuck attitude toward sex and sex work, but I hope that public perception is shifting."

And if that shift comes with a side of delicious hot sauce, all the better.