SEX BUSINESS

Porn in the Age of Trump: Fear and Loathing at AVN in Las Vegas

The GOP branded porn a “public health crisis” and Trump himself signed an anti-porn pledge. So what will happen to the XXX biz under President Trump?

Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Spend four days surrounded by porn stars, immersed in a culture that could whet almost any sexual appetite, and it’s easy to forget about the rest of the world. But that wasn’t possible during this year’s AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, the largest annual adult industry trade show held in Las Vegas. With President Donald Trump, a wild card of a candidate voted into office and inaugurated during the convention, performers and business owners alike were concerned about the future of the industry from a President who, as a candidate, signed an anti-porn pledge.

Despite Donald Trump’s alleged sexual assault of a porn star, his appearance in several softcore films, and his confessing to watching family friend Paris Hilton’s sex tape with his then-girlfriend (now first lady) Melania, his inauguration, which took place three days into AEE, had most of the adult industry on edge. No one at the convention forgot that his party’s platform has singled out the porn industry, branding it a “public health crisis,” and now that the GOP is in power that could pose a serious problem.

“Trump was put in office by religious groups and now he’s gotta pay them back, his hands are tied. He might love to watch porn every day, but he can’t defend it,” says porn legend Ron Jeremy, who once shook hands with Donald Trump backstage at a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live! but voted for Hilary. “He’s the most unequipped, unprepared president in the history of America.”

Worried about a loss of rights for sex workers, Playboy model turned porn star Brittany Andrews is less than thrilled about the new government turnover. “I think of him as a misogynistic, racist imbecile. He has no plans, told everyone what they wanted to hear, and now we’re in this situation,” says Andrews. “I don’t believe he stands for anything but himself, and I don’t stand for that. I believe human interest should come before corporate interest.”

Wendy Williams, an AVN Transsexual Performer of the Year recipient, was eager to chime in with her thoughts on Trump—including worries for the LGBT community. “I have a lot of issues with Trump: as a transsexual, what’s going to happen to LGBT rights? I’m nervous we’re going to go back to the ‘50s and the only people with authority will be white and middle class. Just look at who he’s picked for his cabinet. It’s scary!”

According to porn star Brandy Aniston, Trump has a few things in common with male porn stars but none of their more favorable qualities. “He’s a man that likes to have all the power and control,” says Aniston. “I don’t think Trump expected to win, and now that he has, it’s like, what are you going to do? I wrote in my own little box and marked ‘none of the above,’ that’s how I voted.”

Both parties are to blame and both have failed us, says AVN Hall of Famer Julia Ann. “People got ornery and shook up the system, almost as if they’d been dared to, and here we are. I can understand how Donald Trump was voted in,” offers Julia Ann. “Maybe we needed a shake-up but it didn’t have to be the first yahoo that came along.”

“Any number of things Trump says and does make ridiculous headlines,” says professional dominatrix Justine Cross, who is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. “It’s unclear how he will affect our community. People always need kink and they’ll always need a release but they may not always be able to afford it [especially under Trump].”

He may be a businessman but that doesn’t mean Trump’s financially savvy, which has one of the top adult agents concerned about the industry’s economic future. “I’m worried. I’m an economist first but I’m also a libertarian,” says Mark Spiegler, of SpieglerGirls.com. “I like that he shakes everything up, the country could do well or go in the shitter, but I’m worried that he doesn’t know about foreign policy or economics and I haven’t seen a policy yet.”

Adult star Ashley Fires thinks very little of Trump. “He’s a narcissistic megalomaniac and he suffers from little-hand syndrome, so he has to compensate in other ways,” she says.

British porn star Samantha Bentley, known for her role on Game of Thrones, feels people should have to pass an exam before they’re allowed to vote. “I think Trump’s a douchebag but I knew he was going to win when Brexit happened,” she says. “I live in London, which is like New York and Los Angeles—multicultural and diverse. When you live in a multicultural place, you think there’s no way Donald Trump can win and you forget that there are places where there are racists who like his ideas of building walls, and they are the majority. Unfortunately the idiots always seem to win.”

Brandi Love is one of the few active porn stars to openly support Donald Trump, but she claims not to be the only Trump supporter in the XXX world. “There are others in the industry. They’re all in the closet, they’re afraid to speak out, but I know there are others,” says Love. While many cried—or came close to it—as Trump was inaugurated this past weekend, only Brandi Love called hers “tears of joy” as she watched the inauguration from Vegas during AEE.

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In the end, most in the industry would agree with Evil Angel owner John Stagliano—who was indicted on federal obscenity charges under the last Republican president—who said to porn legend Joey Silvera while watching news of the inauguration: “At least the next four years will be interesting. Better than any movie.”