Image: YouTube

Porn actors Leigh Raven and Riley Nixon have released a more than hour-long YouTube video detailing two different incidents of alleged abuse on adult sets. They say both events took place during shoots with the male performer Rico Strong, and for a director known as Just Dave. Their accusations include misleading booking practices, excessive face-slapping and choking, and boundary violations.

In Raven’s case, the shoot in question took place earlier in the week of March 6. Raven says she has filed a police report and undergone a medical evaluation as part of the investigation. Nixon’s allegation concerns a shoot that happened in early January; she came forward with her account only in response to Raven’s claims, which were initially aired in a cryptic tweet on Thursday. Raven declined to comment directly to Jezebel, citing the ongoing investigation. Nixon did not respond to our request.

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Rico Strong also did not respond to a request for comment, but he has responded to the allegations in a long series of tweets. In one, he wrote, “I’m the coolest mf to be around on set I stay to myself and do my job and leave I don’t know why someone would put false words out on me.” Just Dave alleged to Jezebel via Twitter DM that he has six hours of unedited footage of the shoot with Raven and that it “does not match what she is claiming.” He says he has provided the footage to police and that he plans to release it publicly “soon enough.”

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These accusations follow two other recent notable cases where porn performers have alleged on-set abuse. In 2017, performer Nikki Benz accused director and performer Tony T of excessive roughness during a shoot he directed for Brazzers. In 2015, several performers spoke out about alleged abuse on adult sets by porn star James Deen. Among the on-set accusations against Deen were excessive violence and sexual assault.

Raven’s and Nixon’s allegations speak to the pressure porn performers sometimes feel to go along with a shoot that’s already underway—either out of fear for their physical safety, career viability, or the need for a paycheck. They also come in the midst of the #MeToo moment, which is highlighting all of the many reasons that women sometimes continue with undesirable or abusive sex without directly saying “no” or heading for the door.

The YouTube testimonial, which was filmed and uploaded by Raven’s wife Nikki Hearts, begins with nearly 40 minutes of Raven’s detailed and graphic description of the shoot. Wearing a hoodie and facing the camera head-on, she says that Strong, whom she considered a friend, called her on Tuesday to ask if she could replace a no-show performer in a shoot that day. Raven, who is white, says that Strong, who is black, told her that it was a “kinda rough” scene with “light racial play,” and that he would be referring to her as “‘my little saltine’ or ‘my little cracker.’” She agreed and showed up on the set that afternoon, where Raven says a production assistant similarly told her that the scene would be “a little rough.”

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Before the shoot began, she says that she sat down with Strong on-camera to record their respective “dos and don’ts,” a common practice in the porn industry meant to establish boundaries and provide proof of consent. Raven says she agreed to a range of activities, including being smacked on the face. “The thing that I did tell my male costar was that I have a very shallow cervix,” says Raven. She added that she told him to “back off” if she gave “any sort of indication that I am hurting and in pain” and that “he agreed to that.” Raven says she also mentioned that she struggles with the reverse-cowgirl position and that “both the director and the male talent said that would not be an issue.”

For the scene itself, she was asked to wear a tank top bearing “the Democratic party donkey.” It began, she says, with Strong asking her several race-related questions, including, “Which party was in favor of slavery?” As she answered, she says there was off-camera banter between Strong and the production assistant along the lines of, “Oh, she’s a smart white bitch.” As she put it in the YouTube video, “Already I’m feeling like I don’t know if this is necessarily something that I agreed to.” In other words, she says the “race play” didn’t seem as “light” as she had initially believed.

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Conversations of racism within the adult industry have surfaced in recent weeks after a video of a female performer, Davina Davis, making a series of racist comments circulated online. The video prompted some performers of color—particularly black men—to speak out about the pervasive and casual racism that they routinely encounter within the adult industry. (On Twitter, Strong has argued that the accusations against him are racially motivated, writing, “This been going on for decades black men are the forbidden Fruit everybody. Want to taste &touch but don’t want nobody to know they like it.”) These dynamics persist against the backdrop of a business that often frames “interracial scenes”—specifically, scenes between black men and white women—as the ultimate taboo.

This taboo was to be explored in the scene between Raven and Strong but, she says, developed in a way that she had not agreed to. In her YouTube account, Raven alleges that Strong said something about “black payback” and “comes into the scene and hits me very, very hard across the face.” She adds, “It wasn’t a fake slap, it wasn’t a slap that we typically use in porn to make things look a little bit more intense than they actually are. It’s very painful and it definitely stunned me. I, you know, saw stars, so to speak.”

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Then they moved onto the blow job scene, “a very, very, very rough blow job where if I pulled back I got punished, so to speak,” she says. “I would get hit, I would get called names.” Then, she says, the director became “aggravated” that she was not vomiting from the blow job. (On-camera vomiting is generally considered extreme and is usually prohibited within the industry.) “They tossed me a bag of apples and a water and they said, ‘I hope you like apples,’” she says, the idea being that the apples would help her to vomit. “So I began to eat my apples, at this point covered in saliva, snot. I’m sitting on the edge of the couch, not really saying much, wanting this to really be over.”

At this point in the YouTube video, Raven’s wife, who is sitting behind the camera, interjects to suggest that viewers might be wondering why she didn’t leave. “To be perfectly honest, I was afraid,” says Raven. “I was afraid because Rico had mentioned in the past to me that, you know, if people fuck with his money he’s not going to have it. So if I were to call that scene in that moment he wouldn’t get paid, I wouldn’t get paid, and I didn’t know what could happen to me. I was in a warehouse, it was nighttime, there were multiple men on set, it was just me, I didn’t have a car.” She adds, “I just said to myself, ‘Let’s just get this over with.’”

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Raven says she ate “about three apples” and then was “required” to vomit. “Rico was then sticking his dick in my mouth as far as he could while I was giving him, you know, leg squeezes, leg nudges, to ease up, but he wasn’t easing up and he actually acknowledged the fact that I wanted his dick out of my mouth so I could breathe, because it was becoming unbearable at this point, because I had big, giant pieces of apple coming up the sides of my throat where, essentially, I’m choking.”

At one point, she says, she was lying with her head hanging toward the floor during oral sex and she had to pull away and vomit. “I got in trouble and was beat vigorously with the largest, strongest hands you can imagine,” she said. “I proceeded to get slapped in the face, I proceeded to be slapped on my ass, my thighs, my inner thighs, and at this point I begin to cry and now I’m not just crying because I’m deep-throating a dick.”

Halfway through the blow job scene, she says she was asked to eat more apples so that they could get more vomit shots. “At this point, I didn’t really move from the couch. I stayed in my spot covered in all sorts of bodily fluids... while drinking water and eating apples.” She explains that she continued filming because “we’re just getting further and further into the scene, which means that I get to go home sooner and sooner.”

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Then came the intercourse scene, she says. “The first position that I am put in is reverse cowgirl”—the position she says she had indicated beforehand was problematic for her—“because ‘this white bitch needs to be doing the work because after all these years black men have been doing the work.’” After around five minutes, she says her legs were uncontrollably shaking—a sign she says she had mentioned to Strong beforehand as an indication she needed to switch positions. “He recognized the fact that my legs were shaking and he found it funny and he made me sit up higher, which made it hurt a lot more,” she says.

In the next position, she says, “I was being penetrated extremely, extremely deep... I was squeezing his leg, his left thigh, I think, as hard as I could while pushing away and wincing in pain and tears coming down my face, and he would smack my hand away, say some sort of ‘dumb white bitch’ comment.”

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Then it was time for the pop shot, but she says Strong was having trouble, so “I decided to have sex with him off to the side to expedite the process.” While they had sex, she says he grabbed her neck with both hands. “I couldn’t breathe, it went black, I saw stars, I was stunned. Near unconscious.”

Afterward, she had the standard on-camera exit interview, where performers vouch for how consensual everything that happened on-set was. She was asked, “Were you raped?” and answered, No.” At this point in the YouTube video, her wife interjects to say, “That’s what you said and afterwards that’s not how you feel, obviously.” She responds, “No.”

According to the video, the day after the shoot, she decided to contact police and received a medical evaluation, during which she says she was told she had a vaginal tear and a bruised cervix.

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Nixon’s account is significantly shorter, but contains similar details. She says she agreed in early January to a “rough,” “interracial,” “throat play” scene co-starring Strong and directed by Just Dave that would parody “social issues.” Nixon says she was asked if she was comfortable with throwing up, “should it happen,” but that she was not told that it was to be expected or necessary. Once on set, she was given a shirt to wear reading “feminist.” She says, “I’m pretty sure, like, the first thing that happens in the intro video with Rico is he comes in and just slaps me across the face really hard, like really hard.”

In a vein similar to the line of questioning Raven says happened in her shoot, Nixon says she was asked a series of questions, including something along the lines of, “What has feminism ever done for black people?” In response to her answers, she was slapped, Nixon says.

“Then he decides to choke me, but I also like being choked—when it’s done properly. He has very strong hands. He only used one in this instance and decides to choke me by, like, my Adam’s apple and my windpipe—couldn’t breathe, couldn’t talk,” she says, tearing up. “I was hoping that Dave would cut sooner than he did.” Nixon says she was in a squatting position while Strong was holding her up by her neck. This, she says, is not “proper technique.”

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Then they moved on to the blow job scene. Similarly, she says she was asked to eat apples to vomit. “So it’s apple chunks and shit coming out of my mouth,” she said. At one point Nixon says her head was hanging upside down off the couch and that she had to pull away to vomit. “I was having a really hard time with the blow job. It’s not a natural thing to do for 30 minutes,” she says. Nixon says she had to call cut and wanted to stop, but that they urged her to do five more minutes. “I know I have [the power to say no],” she says, “but I don’t want to make people angry and I need to pay rent.”

Once they moved onto intercourse, she says she was “slapped really hard on the legs—I don’t even really remember, I just remember being in pain most of the time, crying a lot.” Nixon says she was “curled up in a ball on the couch crying... I kinda did what I thought I had to do to get the job done and get that check so I can pay my rent.” For that reason, she says, she didn’t signal that anything had been amiss during her filmed exit interview.

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“By the end of the whole shoot my face was pretty fucked up. I felt like all the blood vessels were, like, broken,” she says, choking up. “It was a rough shoot. I like rough sex. I love rough sex. It wasn’t consensually rough. I mean, yes, I was consenting to it, but it was just way rougher than it needed to be.”

At the end of the joint YouTube video, Raven joined Nixon on camera and gave her a hug. “I just don’t wan’t any of this to happen to any other girl,” she says. Raven continues, “We are performers and we are human and we agree to things when we are terrified.”

In a statement Friday, the Free Speech Coalition, the adult industry’s trade association, promised to look into the allegations and said, “We have been shocked and outraged hearing accounts of performers who say they have suffered abuse, consent violations, deception and assault on the Just Dave set. A performer’s control over their own body is an inviolable principle of this industry. Violating consent is not only unethical, it’s criminal.”

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The full video is below: