HORRIFYING

A Famous Porn Star Claims She Was Raped On Set. Will She Receive Justice?

The disturbing case of Nikki Benz, who alleges she was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted while shooting a porn film for Brazzers—a company she is the official face of.

One of porn’s biggest stars is calling out one of the adult industry’s biggest companies over a scene she alleges went way too far.

In a series of tweets last Tuesday, Nikki Benz described how she “went into shock on set and cried” for the first time in her 13-year career. The 35-year-old was shooting a sex scene for Brazzers, a popular porn production company, when she claims that the film’s director, Tony T, intervened and stomped on her head before violently choking her. Benz says that she begged him to “cut” and said “no,” adding that she was “not ok with this,” but her objections fell on deaf ears.

“It wasn’t supposed to be a rape scene,” she wrote, suggesting that Tony T and Brazzers were complicit in her sexual assault and bullying. (Benz could not be reached for comment.)

If that weren’t enough, Benz is the literal face of Brazzers, having served as the company’s official brand ambassador since June. “The company that should have had my back from day one, @Brazzers failed me,” she said. “What happened to me could happen [to] any girl in my industry.”

In an attempt to distance themselves from the controversial shoot, Brazzers first issued a press release on sister site Trendzz, stating: “We do not produce content ourselves but commission producers to do so on our behalf. We understand that this particular scene was an unscripted scene with the artistic direction left open to the producer’s discretion.” When this was met with considerable backlash, the company announced that they’d cut ties with Tony T. Benz subsequently labeled the canned statement and the firing a “PR stunt,” maintaining that Brazzers had yet to apologize to her.

Former Brazzers contract star Shawna Lenee, however, says she doesn’t buy into the company’s third-party producer claims, adding that she’s also had problems with Tony T on set. Lenee signed a six-month exclusive contract in 2014 with Brazzers, and says her first shoot with them after a four-and-a-half-year hiatus from porn almost made her quit altogether. “Tony T was yelling at the crew and throwing things. He has a temper problem. He was emotionally abusive,” says Lenee. “I told the production manager at Brazzers what happened and it just seemed like that was normal, that was just how Tony is. Everyone had to deal with it.”

Lenee alleges that she’s been speaking out about this for two years but no one was listening. She felt like Brazzers didn’t care about her well-being as a performer. “I never got an apology. The most I got from Tony T was, as we were leaving the set, he said, ‘I don’t think you’re ever going to speak to me again,’ and I said, ‘I probably won’t.’ He knows. I was told by a crew member he won’t stop until someone stands up to him.” (Tony T could not be reached for comment.)

Adult actress Gen Padova recalled what it was like working with Tony T back in the mid-2000s, at a time when rough scenes were “so normal I didn’t think anything about it being borderline abusive.” Padova says there was an uneasy vibe the first time she performed with Tony T, recalling his frustration as he “got more aggressive throughout the scene” when she didn’t give much of a reaction to the rough treatment. During those years, Padova says she wanted to develop a reputation for being a good, reliable performer so she’d keep getting hired. “I was being business-savvy,” she says. “I wasn’t concerned about someone being too aggressive or taking it personally, but now I’d put my foot down and say this is a no-no.”

As a former porn star, I’ve done scenes that were so brutal I could barely drive home. I’d spend the next day curled up in a ball on my couch not wanting to move, unable to eat because everything hurt so much. Some of those scenes were with Tony T. I never blamed him at the time, because I knew it’d be rough and I assumed that’s just how porn was. That’s how a lot of women thought back then: we accepted the status quo without knowing we shouldn’t. Complaining meant risking your job. We said we were empowered women having sex for money, but were we really? Sometimes, sure.

Male performers aren’t the only ones taking things too far. Certain directors have reputations for preying on unsuspecting newbies, coercing them into sex with promises of future work.

“It was a well-known director for a big company. I was only a few months in so I didn't know how to handle it,” says adult actress Tara Lynn Foxx. “It was 2009. It was on set after my scene. The director lured me into the other room. I froze up and didn’t try to stop him because I was scared I wouldn’t get paid or not get hired again.”

That was the first time something like that happened to her, but not the last. The few people Foxx confided in told her to keep quiet. Years later, one of the directors even apologized.

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As for Benz, she left her friends and fans with the following message: