Alex Bayer/Instagram

On March 30, Alex Bayer posted two photos to Instagram. The first showed him lying on the floor of a bathroom stall, his pants around his ankles, a belt around his neck and an Oculus Rift on his face. The second showed him giving a thumbs up in a hospital bed. In a caption, Bayer explained that he had been experimenting with virtual reality porn, threw in some autoerotic asphyxiation, and ended up in a hospital.

The tale of self-abuse gone awry was picked up and circulated by the internet press. "Man Instagrams the Dangers of Combining VR Porn and Autoerotic Asphyxiation," declared Complex. "This man claims virtual reality porn nearly killed him," wrote JOE.ie, "Ireland's first & only men's lifestyle website." VR site Inside Reality speculated that "Mr. Bayer [might be] an attention seeker, prankster, or he is actually working for PornHub as a marketing genius!"

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If Bayer's including the doctor's belittling his manhood in his Instagram caption didn't tip you off, the story is indeed a hoax. Bayer confirmed to me via Twitter that the photo and story were faked.

Though the Instagram was posted just two days before April 1, Bayer told me that it wasn't actually an elaborate April Fools' Day joke.

"April fools actually didn't even cross my mind," he said via Twitter DM. "I'm an aspiring comedian looking to make a name for myself in a world where there's a lot of noise."

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Bayer moved from Chicago to Los Angeles a few weeks ago and started living with a few friends. They'd received a VR headset, an Oculus Rift model, along with their Coachella tickets. The idea of a fake VR Porn injury story, he says, occurred to them over breakfast one morning.

"I thought the image of someone combining [VR porn] + a belt around their neck would be absolutely hysterical, so within minutes I was laying naked on the floor trying to keep a straight face," he said. "We pic stitched it next to a picture in a Chicago hospital. My family was mortified, but luckily its going semi viral and it somewhat justified the IG post."

As of this writing, the Instagram photo has over 1,000 likes.

"I've made a shit ton of people laugh throughout the process which is the most important part of it all," said Bayer.

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So no confirmed VR masturbation injuries yet, but Bayer is apparently a fan, describing VR porn as "really cool stuff."

Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at ethan.chiel@fusion.net