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Porn star’s nightmare confession

Thursday - 30/08/2018 10:39
WHAT was supposed to be her “big break” turned into a nightmare for this woman Blighe, who says she was pressured to perform hardcore sex acts, choked and groped
Adult film actress Jenny Blighe. Picture: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Adult film actress Jenny Blighe. Picture: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Jenny Blighe’s first professional porn film will be her last.

What was supposed to be her “big break” in the adult film industry turned into a nightmare for Blighe, who says she was pressured to perform hardcore sex acts, choked until she was nearly unconscious and groped by a director during a shoot in February — all of which was caught on video.

“I tried to stop the scene but (the director) told me I was ruining the flow and to just put my head back in the frame,” Blighe said. “I felt helpless. All my nightmares about filming a pro boy/girl scene were coming true.”

Blighe, 30, is speaking publicly about her ordeal but like other women in the porn business who have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, she’s struggling to be taken seriously.

While the #MeToo movement has swept through Hollywood, the adult-film industry has mostly shrugged off allegations of sexual misconduct. Blighe’s experience underscores the secretive, black-box nature of the porn business, coupled with the still widely held belief that people who are paid to have sex in front of the camera have no credibility.

The veil of secrecy allows predominantly male executives and producers to stay in positions of power for years even as a never-ending supply of young, inexperienced women enter and exit the industry before anyone even notices.

Blighe usually cams alone in her homemade studio. Picture: Evil Angel
Blighe usually cams alone in her homemade studio. Picture: Evil AngelSource:Supplied

“We know the size (of Hollywood), we know how much generally people get paid, we know how the contracts work, we know the history,” said Chauntelle Tibbals, a sociologist and author of Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex Society and Adult Entertainment. “We don’t have that for porn.”

In addition to fears that their careers could be cratered by coming forward, women in the adult entertainment industry are also battling the perception that their word carries no weight — no matter how well known they are.

Porn star Nikki Benz, who has been working in the business for 14 years, said authorities doubted her claim that she was sexually assaulted and violently attackedwhile filming an X-rated scene.

More than 10 women accused male performer James Deen of sexual misconduct yet his star continues to rise.

“We look at women who are sex workers in any capacity and we maybe see less value in their stories,” Dr Tibbals said. “Perhaps we go ‘Hmmm’ and somewhere in our brains we think, ‘This is a person who is naked on a porn set. How much #MeToo is happening there?’”

Blighe spoke to The Post about allegations that she first made public in a series of tweets in July, shortly before the Aug. 1 release of Cam Girls: The Movie. She also provided texts and photos to bolster her account.

But, in a sign of how difficult it can be to define consent on a porn set, others who were on the set question whether Blighe’s objections were clear.

Evil Angel, the studio that produced the film, said in a statement to Adult Video News that “everyone involved with the project conducted themselves properly and were held to our high standards.”

And Ginger Banks, Blighe’s female co-star who is not implicated in her allegations, says she did not realise that Blighe was uncomfortable until after the shoot was finished.

The film marked Blighe’s first foray into mainstream porn. Up until then, she had been a popular “cam girl,” which meant she worked mostly by herself out of her own homemade studio.

Chris Gentile, the vice president of product for Evil Angel who was overseeing the film, tried to quell Blighe’s concerns about her first boy-girl shoot by promising that her scenes would be “fairly vanilla,” according to a text message he sent her.

Blighe said she was not prepared for what happened when she arrived on set to film a scene with Banks — a fellow cam model — and well-known male performer Manuel Ferrara.

“I didn’t expect to be treated like a piece of meat,” she said.

In one scene, Ferrara puts his hand over her mouth, then grabs her throat. Blighe’s face turns bright red and for a few heart-pounding moments it isn’t clear if she can breathe.

“I don’t mind being lightly choked,” she told said. “(But) when Manuel choked me, I was barely conscious and almost passed out numerous times.”

While some porn films do include aggressive choking, Blighe says it was certainly not part of the “vanilla” film she had been promised. She does not know whether Ferrera had been told she was promised a “vanilla” scene.

Chris Gentile and Blighe text before shooting ‘Cam Girls: The Movie.’
Chris Gentile and Blighe text before shooting ‘Cam Girls: The Movie.’Source:Supplied
 

The director of that scene, Jonni Darkko, has shot over 100 XXX-rated movies for Evil Angel, including at least two film series specifically focused on gagging and extreme oral sex.

Blighe said Ferrara also bit her shoulder, arms and back, leaving teeth marks and bruises.

Banks took this picture of Blighe’s back after their scene with Manuel Ferrara.
Banks took this picture of Blighe’s back after their scene with Manuel Ferrara.Source:Supplied

Ferrara did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

In the bathroom after the shoot, Blighe had Banks take pictures of her injuries and they talked about what happened. According to Banks, this was when she realised that Blighe felt violated.

“I do think that scene was way too intense, way too rough for Jenny, way more than she was expecting and way more than she wanted,” Banks told The Post. “But her body language, her facial expressions, nothing like that indicated to me that she was uncomfortable or having a bad time.”

Modal TriggerBanks to this picture of Blighe’s back after their scene with Manuel Ferrara.

Banks took this picture of Blighe’s back after their scene with Manuel Ferrara. Supplied

Banks also acknowledged another concern Blighe has raised. Both say John “Buttman” Stagliano, a former adult performer, director and the owner of Evil Angel, groped them while he directed what was supposed to be a girl-girl scene.

According to the women, they spoke with Mr Gentile in advance of filming and were assured that Stagliano would not touch them while he directed the scene.

“(Stagliano) starts doing the scene and we’re a few of minutes into it and he says, ‘You know I play this character Buttman, and we’re like ‘Ooooh’ and so he touches us,” Banks said.

The edited scene in the movie shows Stagliano touching Banks’ butt less than 30 seconds after he takes control of the camera. A minute later, he grabs Blighe’s breast. Stagliano touches Banks a few more times during the scene.

“When John started touching me, I felt extremely uncomfortable,” Blighe said. “I didn’t know what to do.

“This was my first pro shoot with a major studio. John owns Evil Angel and I felt pressured to just go along,” she added.

“After filming the scene, we addressed the touching issue with Chris (Gentile). He simply shook his head, grinning as if to say, ‘Oh Stagliano, at it again!’ To Evil Angel, the touching clearly wasn’t a big deal.”

Ginger Banks, Ferrara and Blighe take pictures before their scene together. Picture: Evil Angel
Ginger Banks, Ferrara and Blighe take pictures before their scene together. Picture: Evil AngelSource:Supplied
 
Stagliano photographs Blighe and Banks before the scene he directed. Picture: Evil Angel
Stagliano photographs Blighe and Banks before the scene he directed. Picture: Evil AngelSource:Supplied

Banks said she was uncomfortable with Stagliano touching her, but said she doesn’t know if he was aware that they had been given verbal assurances that he would not touch them during filming.

“Our consent was violated,” Banks said. “I do think it was unintentionally violated because I don’t think John (Stagliano) would have done that intentionally if he had gotten that information.”

Both women say they were contracted to do a girl-girl scene and that a man was not part of the agreement. Typically, performers’ contracts outline what is going to happen in a scene — what sex acts are on and off limits.

“If two girls negotiated to do a girl-girl scene, they’re going to work together and that’s it, and the director reaches out from behind the camera and starts grabbing them, that would strike me as improper,” said Allan Gelbard, an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles who specialises in the adult-entertainment industry.

In the cloistered world of porn, performers tend to watch out for each other and word travels fast when there are problems, Mr Gelbard said.

“Performers talk to one another,” he said. “This is a very incestuous group of people.”

“When somebody is doing something that is problematic, generally speaking, that person doesn’t stick around long, they’re going to get blackballed.”

Modal TriggerGinger Banks, Ferrara and Blighe take pictures before their scene together.

Ginger Banks, Ferrara and Blighe take pictures before their scene together. Evil Angel

But Banks and Blighe were at a disadvantage. As a professional cam model, Blighe spends most of her days alone in front of her computer in Arkansas — a far cry from the porn industrial complex in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.

Evil Angel declined the Post’s requests for comment from Mr Gentile, Darkko, and Stagliano but CFO Adam Grayson pushed back against Blighe’s allegations in a statement to The Post.

“Anybody who has been around the business knows how Evil Angel conducts itself both on and off set. With Cam Girls: The Movie, like everything we have done for the last 29+ years, we did our best to make sure all participants felt good about the work they did.”

Blighe, meanwhile, has been scared away from the industry and says she won’t appear in another film. But she continues to tweet about her experience and hopes it will serve as a warning to others thinking of breaking into the business.

Banks has also suffered from the controversy surrounding the film and Blighe’s allegations. She has been harassed online and stepped down as chair of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee on Aug. 28 in the wake of the backlash.

For Evil Angel, it’s back to business as usual. Since the release of Cam Girls, the studio has dropped over 15 full-length movies and has more than 40 in the pipeline. Ferrara, Mr Gentile, Darkko and Stagliano are all still working.

“Porn is like this place that has almost no memory,” Dr Tibbals says.

“There’s no manual. There are no rules.”

This article originally appeared on The New York Post.

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 Key: Jenny Blighe

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