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Why One of the World’s Most Popular Porn Performers Announced She’s Retiring from the Industry

By December 11, 2020No Comments
Cover photo Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images, retrieved from IBTimes.

One of the porn world’s most popular performers announced her desire to retire from the industry.

In a recent YouTube video on her channel, Ashley Mathews—better known as “Riley Reid” in the porn world—answered questions from fans on a range of topics, including how long she would remain in porn. The 29-year-old performer woman who was the third most searched for performer on Pornhub in 2019 confirmed that she wants to exit the industry, saying:

“I’ve been sharing my body with you guys for 10 years, I’ve been doing porn officially for 10 years, so I’m kind of ready to start savoring myself for me. I want to have sex with people that I want to have sex with.”

Previously, Reid opened up to fans about the struggles of dating while working as a porn performer, saying she has only had two “normal” boyfriends, but those relationships ended in ultimatums between a relationship and her career. Reid says she always chose porn, but sometimes wonders if she missed out on a chance at love and happiness.

“Knowing I carry the weight of shame around me I find it hard to believe that someday someone will accept me and love me for all of me,” Reid said. “But I can hope. So this is me hoping that one day someone will be proud to call me theirs.”

Reid has not followed up her desire to retire with plans of how she will exit or when, but her yearning for a genuine relationship exposes the desires porn just cannot fulfill—like real love.

Related: How The Porn Industry Affects Performers Long After Their Careers End

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Troubled relationships and cyberbullying 

Despite her announcement to retire, Riley Reid has still been nominated for six different awards (link trigger warning) for 2021 at the AVN awards (the porn industry’s version of the Oscars), adding to her numerous awards and titles, including Pornhub’s “most searched for” female performer (link trigger warning). We mention Reid’s successes to point out how rare it is for a young performer to express a desire to leave a career at the peak of popularity, but that is exactly what she’s doing and the world should take notice.

While porn does not show reality within intimate relationships, Reid seems to be having a moment as a realist. After a decade in the industry, she is aware of the challenges that accompany her porn career. For this reason, she does not recommend the porn industry to others.

In one YouTube video, Reid said the adult industry can “make life hard” because of shaming and cyberbullying. She also mentions the emotional toll the industry takes on performers.

“A lot of times when people ask me if they should do porn, I tell them no,” Reid said. “It makes life really hard—it makes dating really hard, it makes your family life really hard, it makes intimacy hard. You’re putting yourself out there and the world is now judging you. You have to be OK with being shamed for every day of your life…it’s a lot and it takes a toll on you emotionally.”

Related: This Is The One Thing That Stopped Me From Becoming A Porn Performer

Dealing with daily online harassment is enough to make most people think twice about this kind of career. Yet, some may believe they can remain anonymous or that their video will not be seen by many people, but that is rarely the case. Mia Khalifa only spent a few months in the porn industry, performed in a handful of videos, and yet is regularly searched for on tube sites and still considered a popular performer (and harassed and shamed for that title) despite her efforts to leave the industry behind.

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Add to the weight of online shaming, relationships can become a challenge for performers. Family, friends, and of course, intimate relationships are all difficult with the porn performer stigma hanging over their heads.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down productions for the porn industry, and Reid said she has not filmed in over four months. In her YouTube video, she shook her head when thinking about returning to work, meaning she would be required to perform with other partners.

“It doesn’t sit well with me,” Reid said. “At this point in my mental state, I don’t want to have sex with a boy until it’s someone I care about.”

Related: What It Really Costs (And Pays) To Be A Porn Performer Today

Although Reid has taken a break from porn production sets, she has adapted like many other performers (link trigger warning) to supplement income through webcam live shows. In June she noted that she has seen an increase in viewers and her business is booming. It is unclear if her recent retirement announcement will also include webcamming.

Other reports support the trend that as productions have shut down, alternative porn platforms have increased in demand. One webcammer said her clients come to her for a distraction from the “doom and gloom” and some are seeking connection or relief from loneliness.

We know that it’s been a difficult year for so many people, but we also know that lasting connection cannot be found in porn based on science and research. Not for consumers, and not for performers.

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Choose real love

Riley Reid’s accounts of cyberbullying and relationship challenges are devastating to hear from any person.

No matter a person’s background or career, everyone deserves a shot at real love, but that takes effort with real people. It is not a click away on a porn site. Reid’s desire to “savor herself” and be intimate with a partner she cares for exposes how short porn falls in meeting the very human need for connection.

Even one of the world’s most popular porn performers isn’t satisfied by porn itself. This should send a message to anyone who turns to porn when they’re lonely, seeking connection, or hoping to escape from life’s difficulties—porn will not give you more than it will take from you.

Related: How Shaming And Victim-Blaming Porn Performers Adds To Their Mistreatment

Reid’s videos and comments also shine a light on some hypocrisy in our culture. Porn has become normalized and increasingly popular, yet the performers who feature in that porn are stigmatized and treated as lesser humans. Unlike other careers, the porn world becomes all-consuming and the people in it struggle to be seen as anything else but porn performers. As a movement for love, we maintain that it is never acceptable to shame, victim-blame, or dehumanize another person, even and especially if they are a porn performer.

Not only is the industry tough, as Reid said, it is clearly not all fame and fortune and glamor. Porn is a performance, not reality, and as it turns out it can leave both consumers and performers feeling empty. The world’s “sexiest” industry is really the world’s loneliest.

To learn more about the realities of the industry and how porn is harmful to individuals, relationships, and society, watch our three-part documentary series for free.

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