What to know about UW-La Crosse chancellor Joe Gow who was fired for porn with wife Carmen Wilson

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Joe Gow has just one regret about the recent sex videos that ended his 17-year career this week as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

He wishes he hadn’t kept that part of his life so secret for so long, fearing being open about it would lead to his being shunned by the higher education community.

After years of hearing university leaders profess the importance of free speech, Gow told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY Network, that he decided to test that commitment since he had planned to leave the chancellorship soon anyway. “I felt a little bit more open about ‘let’s raise these free speech issues and see how the board responds,’ and now we know,” he said.

The UW Board of Regents unanimously fired him Wednesday night after discovering videos of him and his wife, Carmen Wilson, posted to porn websites in recent months. Gow, 63, said he and Wilson talked it over before deciding to be “more open” about the lives they’d previously kept hidden.

Here’s what we know about Joe Gow, his wife, and their work.

Who is Carmen Wilson, the wife of fired UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow?

Wilson, 56, worked at UW-La Crosse for about 15 years, beginning in 1996, mostly in the psychology department, according to a résumé posted online. She has a doctoral degree in counseling psychology from Iowa State University.

In 2006, when Wilson was an associate professor of psychology, she chaired the search committee for a new chancellor to lead the university. The committee ended up picking Gow – her future husband.

She was Gow’s chief of staff in the chancellor’s office from 2008 to 2011. After that she led UW-Rock County from 2011 to 2016, when her position was eliminated in budget cuts. She then became provost and vice president for academic affairs at Dickinson State University in North Dakota from 2016 to 2019.

Wilson and Gow married in June 2014 on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, an event featured in a UW-La Crosse news roundup.

“Both enjoy running, said Gow, so they decided to run from opposite sides of the famous San Francisco bridge and meet their officiant for the ceremony in the middle.”

During Gow’s tenure as chancellor, Wilson served as an “associate to the chancellor” under the terms of his contract. The formal appointment is unpaid and complements the chancellor’s public-facing role leading the university.

Wilson played keyboard and sang vocals in The FurLow Riders, a blues-rock band led by Gow. The group performed at free “Chillin’ With the Chancellor” events at UW-La Crosse.

Carmen Wilson and her husband Joe Gow appear in videos with adult film stars cooking vegan dishes

Wilson and Gow appear in videos on several porn websites using “Sexy Happy Couple” as the account name, a moniker also used on at least two social media accounts promoting their videos.

The videos feature the couple cooking vegan dishes with adult film stars. The couple’s account on X, formerly Twitter, notes: “Visit our LoyalFans and OnlyFans sites for fully explicit scenes!”

The couple also published two books under pseudonyms detailing their experiences in the adult film industry. Both books and the social media accounts feature photos clearly showing Gow and Wilson.

Books Carmen Wilson and Joe Gow published address tension between their public status and private lives

The couple published two books together under the names Geri and Jay Hart. The author bio on Amazon states the names are pseudonyms for “a married woman and man who serve in executive positions at two well-known organizations in the U.S.” An author photo shows Gow and Wilson.

The books don’t reference La Crosse, Wisconsin, or any work for a university. But they do allude to the couple’s status in the community and the tension they felt between the expectations of their “establishment” careers and their desires to be more open about their sex lives.

“You see, we couldn’t be more entrenched in the local establishment,” they wrote in “Monogamy with Benefits: How Porn Enriches Our Relationship,” published in 2015. “Not only do we serve as executives at two of the better-known organizations in the city where we live, but we are also highly active in charitable and civic activities. We hold seats on non-profit boards, and we’re fixtures at a very traditional ‘downtown’ public service club. All this has made us rather visible public figures in our city.”

The couple noted they were “fairly certain a scandal would ensue if our peers were to know about what we’ve been doing. … Our careers likely would be ruined.”

That book ends with the couple’s first experience being in a “professionally produced sex video” just before they got married. Their 2018 book, “Married with Benefits: Our Real-life Adult Industry Adventures,” describes additional experiences creating pornographic videos and collaborating with other adult performers.

Joe Gow, Carmen Wilson discussed ‘being more open’ in recent months

In the videos, the couple introduce themselves as Joe and Carmen. All appear to have been uploaded since Nov. 1, a couple of months after Gow announced he would step down as chancellor and return next fall as a faculty member.

It was an apt time to test UW leaders’ commitment to free speech, Gow said

“My wife, we talked about it and what the future holds,” he said.

They decided: “Let’s be more open.”

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What to know about UW-La Crosse chancellor Joe Gow who was fired for porn with wife Carmen Wilson

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