It’s no secret the adult film industry shells out big bucks for intimate celebrity videos and photographs, even for D-list reality TV stars. Some celebs even started their careers this way, including superstars Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. Not everyone believes that the leaking of Hilton’s tape, One Night in Paris, was a coincidence. It seemed perfectly timed to coincide with the upcoming release of her reality television show, The Simple Life. Kim Kardashian’s tape leaked in 2003, and she’s gone on to star in 12 highly successful seasons of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Both women have capitalized on their adult entertainment popularity, and have gone on to very admirable mainstream careers, which proves transitioning to-and-from the adult entertainment industry can be very good for one’s popularity.
Adult entertainment can be a launching pad for successful reality television careers, but it’s also a way to leverage additional publicity for already established reality stars. The following 15 reality TV stars started their careers with mainstream reality TV shows, but ended up in the adult entertainment industry. They understood that controversy and sex-appeal would solidify them as household names, and it doesn’t hurt that the adult film industry pays really well too.
Depending on the reality star’s level of fame, they can make up to six-figures in the other industry. Even if they don’t command a six-figure payday, a video or nude photo can lead to other high paying opportunities. For example, feature dancing or nightclub appearances. The adult entertainment industry can be a lucrative springboard for additional reality TV roles, additional roles in adult entertainment, and unlimited earning potential via ongoing royalty payments.
15. Brandi Cunningham Rock of Love
Her first mainstream reality role was on VH1’s Rock of Love where she competed to win the affections of Poison’s lead singer, Bret Michaels. Cunningham was an obvious wild child, and she revealed a lot on her season of Rock of Love. Not only did she admit that her parents bought her breast implants for her birthday, she also was the first woman to spend the night with Michaels’ in his suite. He actually sent her packing the next day. Her antics and friendship with costar Megan Hauserman led to other roles on popular VH1 reality shows, including Rock of Love: Charm School, I love Money, and Megan Wants a Millionaire.
Cunningham has expressed interest in posing for Playboy, but to date hasn’t been offered a spread in the adult magazine. She has posed nude for other magazines and acted in more than 30 adult films under the alias “Brittany Burke.” Of all the reality show stars to work in both industries, Cunningham has done the most work in the other industry. She hasn’t acted in any recent adult films and seems to be keeping a relatively low profile on social media. Cunningham, aka Brittany Burke, may be retired.
14. Tonya Cooley The Real World: Chicago
Tonya Cooley was MTV’s darling in the early 2000s, and the network seemed keen to put her in everything Real World/Road Rules related. Not only did she star in season 11 of The Real World, she also starred in eight seasons of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Although her off MTV appearances are few, she’s had roles on the reality shows, Kill Reality and Celebrity Paranormal Project. She’s also an actress with a role in the made-for-TV film, The Scorned.
Cooley did not shy from adult entertainment offers. She was a celebrity interviewer for numerous Girls Gone Wild commercials, and she posed for Playboy in a feature called “Cyber Girl of the Week.” She also appeared in an episode of Erotic Traveler, a show which airs on the Cinemax network. The episode is titled “Lost in Ecstasy” and Cooley plays a title character with two names: “Nikki” and “Luisa” according to her IMDB page. Today, she owns a salon and hasn’t made any recent television appearances.
13. Aubrey O’Day Making the Band
Singer-songwriter Aubrey O’Day got her start in 2005 when she won the third season of P. Diddy’s Making the Band 3. She’s a former member of the pop group, Danity Kane, and a current singer in the duo, Dumblonde. She went on to do another season of Making the Band, and she had a turn on Celebrity Apprentice. More recently, she has starred in Celebrity Big Brother 18 and Famously Single, where she met current boyfriend Pauly D.
Perhaps you know her best from her March 2009 spread in Playboy, which was so hot it landed her on the cover. O’Day was super comfortable during the shoot. She called being nude in front of cameras “empowering,” and said, “Nudity is a beautiful thing.” She’s yet to do another Playboy spread, so she’s really only dipped her toe in the other industry; however, she joked with ET that she and Pauly D have already made “a few” sex tapes, so maybe those will be leaked, aka sold to Vivid for a million bucks, someday.
12. Farrah Abraham Teen Mom
Farrah Abraham joined the cast of 16 and Pregnant, then she went on to star in the hit MTV series, Teen Mom OG. She’s the New York Time’s bestselling author of My Teenage Dream Ended. She also continues to nab roles on popular reality TV shows, including past roles on Million Dollar Matchmaker and Celebrity Big Brother. More importantly, she’s the star of Backdoor Teen Mom, a sex tape she produced herself with adult film actor, James Deen. At first, she claimed that she and Deen were dating and the tape was leaked, but later admitted to paying the popular adult film star to act beside her in the aptly titled film.
It’s rumored that Abraham made seven-figures for her adult film foray, and she continues to bring in high five-figure quarterly royalty earnings. Vivid Entertainment bought the film and the sequel, Farrah 2: Backdoor and More, which includes this press release statement: “It’s no fake or leak – it’s the real, raw, ridiculous deal and it suits Farrah’s underhanded personality well.” Farrah has gone on to capitalize on her adult film popularity. She sells molds of her body parts, has a line of erotic novels, and gets paid for feature dancing roles and nightclub promotion deals. She may be in talks to do a third adult entertainment film, this one with an all-girl cast.
11. Arissa Hill Real World: Las Vegas
Arissa Hill was one of seven strangers to arrive in Las Vegas and have one of the wildest Real World seasons ever. The housemates resided in a penthouse suite at the Palms Resort, and donned barely-there outfits to promote the hotel’s nightclub, Rain in the Desert. Although Hill had a temper on the show, she was most memorable for the heart she wore on her sleeve and the emotional connection she made with cast mates and viewers.
In 2003, Hill bared it all for Playboy Magazine. She also went on to star as herself, alongside eight other reality stars, in the Playboy DVD, Playboy: Girls of Reality TV. She and Real World: Las Vegas alumni, Trishelle, received top billing for the DVD. Five years after the wrap of her season of The Real World, Hill was asked to return to Las Vegas and film a second season with the same roommates. It was called Reunited. She also made it to the Finals on a season of MTV’s The Challenge: Battle of the Sexes II.
10. Dustin Diamond Celebrity Fit Club
Although most popular for his delightful role as Screech on Saved by the Bell, it is because of his stints on reality television that viewers learned Dustin Diamond has a dark side. Unable to score any meaty acting roles, Diamond agreed to embarrass himself on Celebrity Boxing. He also did a season of Celebrity Fit Club, which proved he had a mean streak. He frequently started explosive arguments with his cast mates on the VH1 reality weight loss series. He told fellow dieter, Kimberly Locke of American Idol fame, that he wanted to get her a mold of his member and use it on her because “she needs one.”
His foray into the world of adult film acting isn’t exactly worth watching… Let’s just say he didn’t take home any AVN Awards. The film mostly lives in infamy because of its content. Not to get into gross detail, but the film is titled: Screeched: Saved by the Smell. You get the hint. Anyway, since then, Diamond led a somewhat quiet existence until his arrest in 2014 for stabbing a man during a bar fight on Christmas Day. He was ordered to spend 120 days in jail and pay $1000 in restitution.
9. Michele Noonan Big Brother 11
Michele Noonan earned herself a huge fan base after competing on season 11 of Big Brother. She was rooted for as an underdog because her housemates found her threatening and frequently accused her of villainy. Her audience saw that she was misrepresented by the other houseguests, so they rooted for her to win. She didn’t win, but she did find a following. People seemed to love her geekiness, including the fact that she had a PhD in neuroscience. She also bravely owned her bisexuality mid-season, a bombshell that may have earned her offers from the adult entertainment industry.
When asked to star in an episode of Playboy’s Foursome series, Noonan said yes and joined four other singles in a mansion for a weekend of uninhibited intimacy. She bared it all for cameras, but never returned for subsequent episodes. Her single episode, number 22, remains a fan favorite, just as she was a fan favorite on Big Brother.
8. Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag The Hills
Heidi Montag is most famous for her role on MTV’s The Hills. She starred alongside fashion icon, Lauren Conrad. Although the two women started as friends, the show eventually focused on an ongoing feud between them. Spencer Pratt, Montag’s husband, proved himself to be an ultimate creeper when he spread a rumor, later proved false, that Conrad had a sex tape. Turns out, he’s the one with the sex tape.
Pratt shopped around two sex tapes to adult production companies. One starring him and his wife, the other starring Montag and Playboy Playmate Karissa Shannon. Although Shannon has confirmed to getting down with Montag on-camera, it’s unlikely this tape will ever see the light of day. Shannon told Radar Online, “Spencer had no right to steal my camera. There are other things on there that I don’t want to come out, including the video of me and Heidi.” If you have to see Montag in action, you could always settle for the tape she and Pratt sold in 2010. To date, Pratt and Montag are the only The Hills stars with careers in the adult film industry; however, Audrina Patridge has posed topless.
7. Adrianne Curry America’s Next Top Model
Beautiful and statuesque Adrianne Curry won the very first season of America’s Next Top Model. She modeled for some of the country’s most recognizable brands and magazines, including Maxim magazine. On the set of VH1’s The Surreal Life, Curry met Christopher Knight, who she later married. Together, they starred in the reality shows, My Fair Brady and Chris & Adrianne Do Russia.
Although Curry was already a huge success (it’s reported VH1 paid her $450,000 for My Fair Brady), she didn’t shy from the other industry. She posed for Playboy a few times, earned herself the cover, and was named one of 2008’s top 25 sexiest women. She also earned a spot in that year’s Playboy top 100 spreads. Curry is hugely popular in the world of cosplay and has been known to show up to events dressed as popular video game and film characters, including sporting the iconic Slave Leia costume on Gentle Giant Studios’ Leia’s Metal Bikini Day.
6. Kendra Wilkinson The Girls Next Door
Kendra Wilkinson is no stranger to the other industry. She was Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend, one of many, for a period of approximately five years. During that time, she posed for Playboy and starred alongside Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt in the E! reality show, The Girls Next Door. That doesn’t mean she was prepared for her ex-boyfriend to release an intimate video of them that was filmed in 2005. Wilkinson called the tape, released in 2010, “extremely embarrassing.”
She has another adult video, one which she seems to find less embarrassing. The second video is a girl’s only scene with her best friend Taryn Ryan. Although their releases coincided with the release of her book, Sliding into Home, the release of Wilkinson’s sex tape seems less like a publicity stunt than others on this list; however, that hasn’t stopped Wilkinson from cashing the paychecks. Wilkinson received an initial payment of $680,000 and continues to receive royalty checks for video sales.
5. Jenelle Evans Teen Mom
Troubled Teen Mom star, Jenelle Evans, is frequently caught on-camera arguing with her mom or whoever she happens to be dating at the moment. Her volatile relationships are fodder for Teen Mom fans, but it’s her intimate photographs that earned her a place on this list. Janelle claims she never meant for the nude photos to end up online, but she’s posing in all of them and she never sued the photographer who was blamed for the leak. It seemed more strategic than stealing, and more publicity than painful.
Although there are rumored sex tapes of Janelle with two of her former boyfriends, Keefer Delp and Nathan Griffith respectively, a sex tape has yet to be released. So far, she’s only posed nude online and not for any adult industry magazines. Based on her wild behavior, it’s highly likely Evans will do more in the adult industry, especially since she’s been offered more than a million dollars to produce a video with Vivid Entertainment.
4. Trishelle Cannatella Real World: Las Vegas
Trishelle Cannatella is one of the more successful Real World cast members, if success is measured in subsequent reality shows, films, and “Hollyweird” gigs. A successful poker player, she was third runner up in 2010’s World Poker Tour’s Invitational Tournament. She took home $20,000 for placing in the tournament. As far as reality TV goes, she’s appeared on The Challenge, The Surreal Life, Kill Reality, Punk’d, and Fear Factor. She’s also an actress and had a role in the made-for-TV film, The Scorned, as well as The Hillz, The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, 33 Griffin Lane, Ninja Cheerleaders, Melvin Smarty, and The Martini Shot.
Another Real World: Las Vegas alum, Trishelle Cannatella starred alongside Arissa Hill in the Girls of Reality TV DVD where she stripped down and posed for pictures while discussing her life in the limelight. She also posed for pictures in Playboy magazine and Playboy’s Cyber Club. Allegedly, there’s also an amateur sex tape floating around starring Cannatella, but it’s difficult to find.
3. Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander Flavor Of Love
Nicole Alexander won the first season of VH1’s Flavor of Love. She competed against other girls to win Public Enemy rapper Flavor Flav’s affections. She didn’t have a lasting relationship with Flav, but she did go on to star in another VH1 reality series, I Love Money. She won that contest too, taking home $250,000 in prize money. She’s been engaged to the one-and-only basketball legend, Shaquille O’Neal. She and Shaq didn’t work out, but that has nothing to do with her 2009 sex tape release. The two broke up in 2012.
Hoopz was quick to identify herself in the sex tape, but there’s no information about how much she was paid (if anything at all). The video is poor quality, so it wasn’t picked up by Vivid or another recognizable adult entertainment studio. The video was brokered by a man named Mr. Zzee, but beyond that, financial details are unknown.
2. Danielle Staub The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Danielle Staub only lasted two seasons on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey. At one point during filming Teresa Giudice was so angry at Staub she flipped over a table. She also referred to Staub as a “prostitution wh—re.” There’s no real evidence to back up the rumors that Staub is a former sex worker, but she does have a very revealing sex tape available for download.
Staub denied having any part in the release of her sex tape; however, text messages and emails from her former lover and costar reveal otherwise. Stephen Zalewski, her partner in the film, sued her for defamation of character and harassment because she made on-camera accusations that he hid cameras to film her having sex with him. His attorney told RadarOnline.com, “Any sex tape with Stephen in it was made with her bidding.” Too bad for Zalewski, Staub’s bankruptcy filings excused the $100k he’d won in his suit against her, so he’s never getting paid.
1. Brooke “Pumkin” Thompson Flavor of Love
Another Flavor of Love alum, Brooke Thompson (nicknamed “Pumkin” by Flav), released a sex tape shortly after losing the competition. Pumkin was quick to capitalize on her fame by releasing nude photos and videos. She also appeared in Foursome, the short-lived Playboy channel reality series that starred a number of popular reality television stars, including MTV’s The Real World: Sydney’s Dunbar Merrill.
Thompson had a somewhat successful run on a number of VH1 reality shows, including I Love Money! and Charm School. As of February 2016, she was working at an accounting firm. When asked if she’d do reality television again, she told VH1 that it wasn’t her idea to leave the business and that she’d return to reality TV if there were roles available to her. She also said, “I’m not gonna come out with a perfume line and do s—t like that because that was back then. I guess I’m just centered.” Centered, or there’s just no one lining up to buy her perfume? You be the judge.