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Real Stories of Popular Porn Performers’ On-Set Sexual Assaults

Hear from popular performers who experienced sexual assault on porn sets to understand that exploitation is not rare in the porn industry.

Trigger warning: Trigger warning for graphic descriptions of abuse and sexual scenarios. Reader discretion is advised.

In the world of porn, the boundaries of performers are constantly tested and frequently crossed.

While it’s often assumed this mainly happens to inexperienced performers, the following woman’s story—and the stories of many others—show how exploitation and abuse can happen to both well-known, established performers and those new to the industry.

Experienced performer taken advantage of on set

Aurora Snow, a well-known porn performer for over a decade, recently shared her traumatic experience on a porn set with The Daily Beast—in the following, we have featured sections of her own words as they appear in the original article. Her story shines a light on exploitation and abuse in the industry.

“I’d already done everything—double this triple that—with a giggle and a smile,” she said. “I made it look easy and fun. That was my job as an adult actress but staying at the top in porn means being ready to level up. BDSM was the new trend and the next boundary to push. If you were in porn and wanted to keep working, you didn’t say no to these companies.”

“Before the #MeToo movement, consent was rarely discussed on porn sets—it was assumed. I’d show up with a fresh HIV/STD test less than 14 days old, a suitcase full of lingerie, lube, and stilettos, and that was it. My presence implied consent.”

Snow describes how consent was often more openly discussed, in some cases before booking, for niche BDSM scenes—like the objects and methods of inflicting pain, for example.

“As progressive and thoughtful as that sounds, I soon learned it wasn’t altruistic. I guess when a company wants to string you up, immobilize your arms and cane your backside before the f—ing starts, they obviously need an auditable paper trail to circle back to for consent,” Snow shared with The Daily Beast. “Unlike porn sex, where in theory (if not in practice) directors could demand to know why a performer did not just stop, toss on clothes and leave, no pretense was available when the performer finds herself bound and gagged. BDSM left no room for ambiguity. It is as if the paperwork—the more of it, the better—exonerates them. Yes, the paperwork said, we are paying to do bodily harm or to physically restrict you and you have agreed to do this. It’s an abstract form of consent that, again, is meant to exonerate them for whatever happens on set.”

Related: “The More Real The Pain, The More Views I Got”: Real Stories From Theodosia, A Former BDSM Porn Performer

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“I learned the hard way, staring at that piece of paper with words that I’d consented to—words that had a very different meaning to me than they did to a company. It wasn’t a misunderstanding. It was manipulation.”

While Snow was an established performer, she was dipping into a new segment of the market—one she wasn’t familiar with and that left her particularly vulnerable. Watch Theodosia’s story below to learn more about mistreatment on BDSM porn sets.

Snow says the director she worked with specifically wanted her naivety and genuine shock when she was hit for real. Snow says she believed the BDSM acts would be more visual than actual pain inflicted on her, she expected to act like what was happening was more painful than what was really going on.

“I was in over my head and didn’t know it,” she said. “I was no newbie. I’d done hundreds of scenes, though the things that I was agreeing to do were mostly things I’d done before on other sets. I was an experienced performer and arguably harder to trick. The director wanted to capture that edge of terror that comes with the unfamiliar, but I realized it too late. I’d already consented.”

Serially raped and abused in the middle of a scene

In this particular shoot she’s recounting, Snow describes how she’s agreed to have extras on set that day.

“Porn uses extras just like real movies do—they dance silently, fake drink or hang by the pool in the background. My BDSM nightmare was a bar scene—a speakeasy—and I had no objection to background actors. This was the part that seemed totally familiar. I’d filmed scenes in fake clubs before. Of course, extras do not have STD tests, and in porn scenes they do not touch performers. That is not what happened this time. And this time I was tied up.”

Before filming, the producer went over all the paperwork with Snow. She says she signed off on the verbal humiliation, slapping, spanking, flogging, whipping, and use of a light electric wand on the condition that the settings were low. She specified that these were to be used specifically for visuals, not actual stunts.

“What I was consenting to, this harm I was subjecting myself to, was a performance. I couldn’t do these things with just anyone. I trusted my co-worker whom I’d worked with countless times prior. He knew how to make it look brutal for the camera without inflicting the damage he appeared to be. Still, it was going to sting. And I knew it. And knowing all that, having consented to all that, I was not prepared.”

Related: Real Porn Performers Share What The Industry Is Really Like

Snow recalls being led like a chained dog onto the set as the cameras started rolling. What first made her feel uneasy was how crowded it was on set, and the overly-excited energy from the background actors.

She says the background extras seemed not only seemed really “in character” and aggressive,  but there were so many of them. Porn directors don’t often spend so much of the shoot budget on extras, so Snow was immediately surprised at the number of them.

“These guys in this scene were really in character—or so I thought. Some went too far, acting like the sort of aggressive fans large bouncer-types kept away when I did public appearances. The kind who sent weird letters that professed love and hatred in bizarre and scary combinations,” she recounts.

“As the scene progressed, the extras became alarmingly unprofessional—and handsy. I was stunned and distracted and virtually defenseless… My limbs were in various states of rope binds, and my every movement was thoughtfully executed to keep from toppling over. Of course, I was in these agreed-upon constraints, but unlike the hundreds of scenes I’d done previously, a helpless anxiety mounted as I began to realize that this was not a controlled set. The background actors were getting drunk. Strangers were slapping my bare a—, and hitting it hard. Hands that shouldn’t have been there groped my body. I yelled and screamed for it to stop, twisting and turning to and fro. But I was stuck.”

But stopping was not in her contract. Snow says someone grabbed her and tried to forcefully penetrate her anally with one of the approved devices, but she did not consent to extras utilizing them. She dodged him just in time and yelled at him, but he laughed at her.

“He was laughing like I was a joke, saying things like ‘But you’re Aurora Snow, you can take it.’ But I could not take it. I was shattered—my nerves so frayed I was entirely unable to explain how what I consented to turned into something I never imagined.”

Snow said she was not in a scene or situation she agreed to, but no one came to her defense and the cameras kept rolling.

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“I tried…to stop it. Screaming ‘No!’ or demanding to be untied or howling for it to stop—nothing helped. Did they think this was all part of the scene?.. For the first time in my successful, lengthy career I could do nothing but get tortured on camera. I was powerless.”

Later on, Snow learned that the background actors hired to play her fans actually were.

The company had intentionally advertised and recruited fans of Aurora Snow—not actors—with the lure of, Come see Porn Star Aurora Snow perform a scene, and be part of it! Free alcohol was also mentioned.

“I’d consented to having extras in the scene, to being tied up and compromised with them in close quarters, but the reality of what happened was nothing like I’d expected. Of course, before you get your check there is one more video to make: the one where you say you consented to everything as the company writes out the check you just went through hell to earn.”

Exploiting the vulnerability of inexperienced performers

The fact is Snow is not alone in her experience. The blurred lines of consent are ever prevalent in the porn industry, and it can happen to anyone—even well-recognized and award-winning porn performers. Still, inexperienced performers are particularly vulnerable.

More established performers sometimes have an agent to call if something goes wrong, or what’s been coined a “boyfriend” or “suitcase pimp” with them on set—an unofficial bodyguard who shadows the performer and carries her customary lingerie-stuffed suitcase.

However, new performers often book their own work—making them easy targets for predatory directors. That’s just the position popular performer Carmen Valentina found herself in when her career began twelve years ago. She recounts one particular scene from her early days in the industry where what transpired was shockingly different to what she thought she was agreeing to.

“I showed up to set thinking I would only have sex with one man, but I was wrong. More men showed up…I was too nervous to say no,” she says.

Valentina says she was all alone, surrounded by five naked men thrusting themselves in her face. She felt trapped and pressured to go through with it.

Related: How Porn Performers Can Be Sex Trafficked Without Realizing It

“I had no one else in the industry to call and help me. I was so new. I finished the scene and left. I never contacted them again. I felt bamboozled and preyed-upon.”

Now a well-known performer, Valentina shares her story as a warning to new women in the industry.

Despite the recent #MeToo movement, the consent problem in porn is still a significant one.

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Assault on set as a “rite of passage”

Alicia Reign began working in porn in 2021 in an effort to find pandemic-resistant income. When filming a scene for a niche website, she was pressured mid-scene by the director to do overly aggressive acts she hadn’t consented to.

Reign says before filming the director told her, “If I wasn’t okay with things I could say no or use a safe word. But when the time came and I said no, they didn’t listen.”

She was told what they were asking was part of the scene and what she’d been hired to do. How and with whom could she argue?

“I felt like I had to do that to get paid…I’ve heard that other girls will do scenes like that and quit porn.”

Snow says this is common in the industry—many performers just get to the end and deal with the trauma later.

“That is often how it works. A performer accepts the bad day at work, then never works for the company again. Others use words like assault and rape. When the work is sex, one bad day on the job can often lead to blurred lines, traumatic experiences, and a quick exit from the industry. Women like Reign, Valentina and, I guess, like me, too often accepted it as a rite of passage. I am only unique in that my worst day on set came near the end of my career, not the beginning.”

Related: If A Porn Performer Is Abused During A Scene, Where Do They Report It?

These experiences speak for themselves, and show just how commonplace manipulation and exploitation can be for porn performers—whether it’s their first scene or they’re decades established in the industry.

The prevalence of abuse in the porn industry has no place in a society that claims to stand against exploitation. These stories are just a few of the countless examples of how the porn industry perpetuates and profits from abuse and exploitation.

Click here to learn more about how the porn industry promotes sexual violence.

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