Inside Porn’s Scary Death-Threat Epidemic: ‘You’re Always Looking Over Your Shoulder’
BBW adult star Sofia Rose opens up to Aurora Snow about the large volume of death threats she receives—and how they only seem to be increasing as her popularity grows.
From celebrities to influencers, a successful career in the limelight requires thick skin and the ability to endure hate-spiked messages from the insecure and anonymous. Controversial celebrities, like porn stars, make particularly easy targets within a sex-obsessed culture that promotes shame in desire’s stead, vilifying what it cannot possess or police. Some porn consumers feel particularly entitled to their hate, projecting their self-gratifying guilt and moral qualms onto a person they’ve never met but will gleefully call a whore—a dehumanizing tactic to solidify their moral righteousness and justify the death threats.
Touted as one of the most-downloaded BBW stars, Sofia Rose embodies the concept of unfettered beauty, no longer handcuffed to societal pressures. As the reigning BBW XXX Performer of the Year, Rose continues to defy conventional stereotypes, collecting over a dozen awards in the last three years alone—and that’s after working in the adult industry for over a decade. As her popularity has increased, so have the death threats. “I used to get them every so often, a handful of times a year, but now I’m getting them on a weekly basis. They come on all platforms—I get emails, text messages, I have a number published on an app for messages, and on Twitter and Instagram,” says Rose.
“One of the guys went so far as to say he got my personal information from public voting records,” she continues. “And there was a photo of a gun, which obviously could have been downloaded from the internet, but it was a photo of a gun laying on a bed and he said, ‘I have your information.’ Then he talked about another performer and said, ‘just like I got hers’ and he used her real name. It was a performer I know personally so I know her legal name.”
At first, Rose did what most anyone with a substantial social-media following would do: she posted the threats on Instagram to show her over 657,000 followers what she was forced to deal with every week. However, the attention might have been exactly what these knuckle-draggers were looking for. “I’ve stopped posting about it publicly. I stopped giving them any kind of attention because I thought that was encouraging the behavior,” says Rose. “I don’t acknowledge them at all and I don’t say anything on social media about being scared. I don’t want to give them any power.”
The threats are escalating, according to Rose, growing significantly worse this year in direct correlation with her success as a top BBW performer. “I get guys that say, ‘How dare you block me,’ and then just get into some graphic violence of what they’re going to do to me,” says Rose. “I had one guy send me a message every day telling me I only had so many days to live. He was saying it like he knew I was going to be somewhere and he was going to blow up things. That one really scared me.”
Because Rose is an adult performer, reporting the death threats may feel like an exercise in futility. They come in anonymously, and until it becomes physical the authorities aren’t incentivized to dedicate resources. “I take every threat seriously because I don’t know. I save them, I don’t delete them, so if something happens there’s a record,” says Rose. “Reporting it falls on deaf ears because I’m a sex worker. It doesn’t matter that I’m someone’s mom, someone’s daughter, someone’s wife.”
Though the bulk of it is online, that hasn’t stopped some from hunting her down in person. “The threats were very fresh. I’d just gotten them days before this show in Chicago. This man had flown in from India and he would not leave the booth I was signing at. He was harassing me and following me around, he kept insisting that I take him in the back behind the curtain and give him a quick blowjob. He was being very aggressive to the point where when I had to leave, I got scared,” recalls Rose, who at that point decided to get help from the event’s security team. “I let them know this guy was following me around and wouldn’t even let me walk to the bathroom without following me. So I just stood there and wouldn’t leave until they got Exxxotica’s security to walk me out.”
After that nerve-racking experience, Rose decided to put her safety first and cut back on the public appearances: “I’m really uncomfortable going to events. I have my own bodyguard service that I hire now. They’re very comforting but it never really eases your nerves because you’re always looking over your shoulder, wondering if someone is following you. There’s no way to know who’s posing a threat.”
Sofia Rose has maintained a steady career in the adult industry since 2006. She’s a seasoned pro with years of experience to credibly differentiate between a normal and excessive amount of death threats; the latter has come with increased visibility and fame. Rose has her own theories as to why. “When people ask me in general, why do you think you get death threats? I say, because I’m confident and I’m fat. And people feel entitled,” says Rose. “Men feel entitled to me because I’m supposed to be grateful for any attention that I’m getting. I joke about it that way, but I feel like there’s a common theme. I block them on social media and they get angry about it and the common theme is rejection. They’ve been rejected, and how dare a fat woman reject you. It always leads back to my thighs.”
The deluge of “fat whore” and “fat bitch” comments aside, it’s the anger that Rose finds most disconcerting. “I never thought I’d be targeted or that people would be so angry or triggered by me or my confidence,” says Rose, who strives to promote body positivity.
“It says a lot about our society and its decline in the last few years—people have become more aggressive and race has become more of an issue,” says Rose. “It’s disheartening because I never thought people were that vile, or that angry, and that angry towards fat people! Or women of color, or people in the adult industry. I have all of those stigmatizing factors. I don’t know if it’s a combination. Maybe I’m supposed to feel low about myself because of all three of those things, but it’s the opposite. I’m empowered by it.”