The adult movie industry tends to function in its own universe, on its own spectrum, and within its own particular niche. Rarely does it mix with mainstream culture or politics, let alone trigger national news headlines. However, in the past year adult film stars who typically exist in search engine obscurity, or, at best, are glammed up selling sex products at subversive conventions like the Art Entertainment Expo, have found their names splashed across mainstream headlines.
In January, Duke University freshman Miriam Weeks was recognized as being adult star Belle Knox by one of her classmates. Word spread fast, and in no time a media circus surrounded the adult-film newcomer and women’s studies major. Rolling Stone ran a feature on the 19-year old freshman, and she’s appeared on numerous television and radio shows.
On August 9, adult film star Christy Mack was brutally attacked by her ex-boyfriend Jon Koppenhaver, better known as MMA fighter “War Machine.” The assault left Mack with 18 broken bones in her face, a fractured rib, knocked out teeth, and a ruptured spleen. War Machine is being held until an October 17 court hearing. Since the attack, Mack has posted an almost daily account of her recovery on social media. The event has heightened awareness of domestic abuse, a crime that is widely underreported in the adult industry. From defeating murder charges to running for Governor of California, here are 7 other adult films stars whose stories have made national headlines.
7 Bree Olson
Mr. Tiger Blood Charlie Sheen has had more XXX queen hookups than Kid Rock and Tommy Lee combined. In the ‘90s, Sheen’s “Adonis DNA” attracted a bevy of adult film stars including Ginger Lynn and Heather Hunter. In 2012, the former star of Two and a Half Men had a stormy, on-again off-again relationship with Capri Anderson. It was during Charlie Sheen’s 2011 live-in “angels” phase that the world was introduced to Bree Olson, a small town Indiana girl who starred in over 280 adult films. Olson milked her fifteen minutes of fame to the hilt, and was interviewed by everyone from TMZ to ABC News. While Olson eventually left Sheen and gave up the adult industry, her scandalous union with the self-proclaimed “warlock” landed her a role in the upcoming sequel The Human Centipede III.
6 Mary Carey
“Politics is a dirty business.” –Booth Tarkington
Mary Carey, known for adult film titles Boobsville Sorority Girls and Cheerleader School as well as stints on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab and Sober House, ran as an independent candidate in the 2003 California recall election as part of a publicity stunt for Kick Ass Pictures. She placed tenth in a field of 135 candidates, which was good enough to briefly achieve national headlines. The inspired political showing encouraged Carey to announce her bid for the Lieutenant Governor of California as an independent in 2006. Her eleven-point platform included promises of taxing breast implants and creating a “P*rn for Pistols” exchange program. Unfortunately, Mary Carey dropped out of the California governor’s race to take care of her injured mother, and Arnold Schwarzenegger shot his way to victory.
5 Stormy Daniels
Stormy Daniels was crowned the “#1 XXX Star in The World” by Genesis Top 100, “The New Queen of X” by Girls of Penthouse magazine, and in 2004 she won the Best New Starlet award from Adult Video News. However, it was the blond bombshell’s long flirtation with entering politics that stirred up controversy and made national headlines. Sadly, in 2010, Stormy announced that would not make a run for the U.S. Senate in her home state of Louisiana against David Vitter. Daniels originally said her decision was based on the fact that Vitter had $5 million in the bank, and that she had no legitimate means of winning a Senate race under those circumstances. Later, however, she pulled out the p*rn card, saying: “To begin with, like Governor Palin, I have become a target of the cynical stalwarts of the status quo. Simply because I did not fit in their mold of what an independent working woman should be, the media and political elite have sought to relegate my sense of civic responsibility to mere sideshow antics.”
4 Cameron Bay
In 2013, XXX star Cameron Bay –and one-time cast member of the VH1 reality show Tool Academy -announced that she had tested positive for HIV, sending shock waves through the adult film industry in San Fernando Valley. "As difficult as this news is for me today, I am hopeful that no other performers have been affected," Bay said. "I plan on doing everything possible to assist the medical professionals and my fellow performers.” Bay’s announcement led to the adult film industry’s trade association placing a brief moratorium on filming. It’s unclear where or when Bay contracted HIV, but she tested positive after performing just nine sex scenes. Rod Daily, Bay’s boyfriend and fellow XXX performer, also contracted the disease. Since being diagnosed with HIV, Cameron Bay has been an outspoken advocate for STD prevention and AIDS education in the adult industry.
3 3. John Holmes
John Holmes, a.k.a. Johnny Wadd, appeared in over 2,000 adult films in the 1970s and 80s, and his legendary member was billed as the “longest, thickest, and hardest in the adult industry.” The star may have inspired Mark Wahlberg’s prosthetic-phallus shot in 1997’s Boogie Nights, but by the end of his career he was making headlines for far bigger things. In 1981, John Holmes was a suspect in a quadruple murder at a drug den in L.A. on Wonderland Avenue. The crime was the inspiration for the 2003 film Wonderland, staring Val Kilmer. Holmes was cleared of the Wonderland murders in 1982 due to lack of evidence. The “Sultan of Smut” made news once again when he passed away from AIDS in 1988. In the documentary Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes, cinematographer Bod Vosse said, “John Holmes was to the adult film industry what Elvis Presley was to rock ‘n’ roll. He simply was The King.”
2 2. Joslyn James
Josyln James made national headlines in 2009 after coming out as one of Tiger Woods’ alleged three XXX star mistresses, a triple bogey that also included Devon James and Holly Sampson. In 2010, the busty starlet blew up the back pages again by releasing graphic text messages that Woods allegedly sent her; choking games, golden showers, fantasies about having rough sex with submissive women -whether true or not, the raunchy missives shred what remained of Woods’ good guy façade. The release of the raunchy text messages led to an appearance on The Howard Stern Show. The 36-year old adult film star claimed to be pregnant by Woods not once, but twice.
1 Traci Lords
Traci Lords brought the adult film industry to its knees in 1986, when a tabloid unearthed that all but one of the starlet’s films was shot when she was underage. The troubled teen had lied about her age (Lord’s was 16 in her first film in 1984), and an X-rated witch hunt ensued; agents were rounded up and arrested; producers were prosecuted; and Traci Lord’s fame skyrocketed. The scandalous story of the underage XXX star was even covered by the crème-de-la-crème of newspapers, The New York Times. Lords later segued into television (Roseanne, Melrose Place) and B-movies (Blade, Underworld). In 2008, she had a small role in Kevin Smith’s film Zack and Miri Make a P*rno, and in a classic example of art imitating life played an aging adult film actress named Bubbles.