The High Price of Speaking Out Against Stormy Daniels
Adult actress Tasha Reign came forward with claims that Stormy Daniels turned a blind eye to her alleged on-set abuse. And then, Reign says, many in the industry turned on her.
Back in May, adult actress Tasha Reign opened up to The Daily Beast about a disturbing on-set incident concerning Stormy Daniels, the alleged Trump mistress turned Resistance™ hero.
According to Reign, in November of last year, during the filming of a porn movie titled The Set Up, she was groped and harassed by a male member of the crew. When she reported the episode to the film’s director, Stormy Daniels, her complaint fell on deaf ears, Reign said. If that weren’t enough, when the matter was kicked up to the production company, Wicked Pictures, which then counted Daniels as its most prized contract player (she’s since left the company), Reign said Daniels ultimately sided with the crew member, her longtime cameraman.
“I was sexually assaulted by one of her crew members. He groped and grabbed me from behind,” Reign told The Daily Beast, her eyes filling with tears. “I spoke up immediately because I was in the moment, and I was so proud of myself. She was the director that day, I went straight to her and straight to the man that did it. We had a conversation about it. I went to the owner of Wicked Pictures. I did all the right things. And she did not handle the situation appropriately, respectfully, or professionally. So it’s a little bit outrageous when I hear her say things about how she is standing up for women and wants to be a voice for other women to be able to come forward when I was assaulted on her set and she didn’t give me any care or attention, and didn’t even send that man home.”
Asked for comment, Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, said in statement: “Ms. Daniels’ recollection of what happened is vastly different. Further, after the incident in question, Wicked performed a thorough investigation and found no substantiation for the allegations. It simply did not occur as Ms. Reign suggests.” (Wicked said its investigation was still ongoing.)
While Daniels was hailed last week in The New York Times as a “feminist hero,” she’s a complicated figure—a woman who’s been arrested for domestic violence and has repeatedly mocked the #MeToo movement on social media and on set, Reign alleges. On the other end of the spectrum, she’s also, through her legal opposition to Trump, managed to drum up a great deal of left-wing support for an industry that constantly has a target on its back, and is in desperate need of political allies.
Reign’s reception since coming forward hasn’t been as rosy as Daniels’. There are no stories in the Times or elsewhere hailing her as a “feminist hero” for shedding light on the rampant, largely unchecked abuse epidemic in porn. Instead, she says she’s been treated as a pariah in her industry for having the audacity to speak out.
“The adult business is not set up to support sexual harassment claims,” Reign said. “Ever since I spoke up about Stormy Daniels, people seem to be doubtful. I was even sent off a video production set a few months ago.”
The 29-year-old said she’d spent considerable time getting her hair and makeup done and getting ready for the adult shoot when she was promptly sent home because the same crew member who allegedly assaulted her on The Set Up objected to her being there, saying “he wouldn’t shoot unless I immediately left set,” Reign said.
“I had been there for two hours,” she said. “I didn’t even receive a break fee for my time or any apology for being shamed on set. The performers told me that day everyone was talking badly about me when I left. I won’t take anyone’s nonsense, and it cost me my work. Even another female performer has said I’m ‘making things up.’”
The whole episode, Reign added, left her with “a horrible feeling in my stomach.”
Sexual assault is still a huge problem in porn. In November of last year, two women came forward to The Daily Beast to accuse porn legend Ron Jeremy of sexual assault. This April, veteran adult actress Nikki Benz sued the porn studio Brazzers after Tony T allegedly left her bloodied and battered following a shoot the previous year. Several women came forward to accuse porn super-agent Derek Hay of abuse and trafficking following a report in The Daily Beast about his predatory “kill fee” practices. And James Deen is back in porn and winning awards even though as many as 10 women have accused him of sexual assault.
After Reign reported her initial alleged assault to Wicked Pictures, executives at the company assured her that they would take steps to implement new policies surrounding consent. She told The Daily Beast her lawyers are still in talks with Wicked “about reforming their consent paperwork,” which Reign said she finds promising. Still, the skepticism, denigration, and rejection she said she’s received from her adult-industry peers, simply for sharing her story, has been difficult to endure.
“A female co-worker at dinner summed it up pretty well. She said, ‘When one of us looks bad, it makes us all look bad.’ And she’s right,” said Reign. “Because the adult industry is constantly having to defend itself to everyone, it leaves no room for people to speak up about sexual abuse or harassment—because everyone’s scared to look like the stereotype that’s already out there.”
“It seems the more you speak out, the more they don’t want to include you,” she added. “It’s truly as if, if you’re in adult, you’re just supposed to take this abuse.”