Belle Knox, Duke porn star, and proud of it, comes to Atlantic City

Posted: April 09, 2014

NO REGRETS.

That's the operative phrase from porn star Belle Knox, who became a media sensation after she was outed as a Duke University freshman who'd started that second job to help pay for her education.

"I want people to know, doing sex work doesn't make me a bad person," the 18-year-old said in an interview with the Daily News. She'll be in Atlantic City this weekend for EXXXOTICA, an adult-industry confab this weekend at Trump Taj Mahal that's open to the public.

"I don't want people to pity me or to think I did porn because it was my last resort or my last option," she said. "The message I'm trying to get out is that I, like so many women, made an educated and informed decision about my body, and everything I do is autonomous, and I love my work."

After a male Duke student recognized Knox on the Internet and told others about it, Knox - real name Miriam Weeks, according to various reports - wrote a pseudonymous column online as "Lauren," in which she confirmed that she was the rumored Duke student who was doing porn.

After that essay exploded online, "Lauren" revealed herself as Belle Knox.

In the aftermath, Knox said that she's been bullied online and in person and even received death threats. But during a recent phone call, the 18-year-old Spokane, Wash., native was adamant.

"I don't regret what I did," she said. "I think that everything happens for a reason. At first, it was really, really negative, but I think I've been able to turn it around into something that's positive.

"I really think I've started a narrative in this country about sex-workers' rights. So I think that while this has been a really heart-wrenching, horrible experience, I hope that it's brought some good."

It certainly has for Knox, a featured attraction at this weekend's EXXXOTICA. Time.com reports that she'll host a web reality show, "The Sex Factor," in which first-time porn stars compete for a $1 million prize.

"On a personal level, so many opportunities have [happened] because of my outing," she said. "It's been really great for my career."

There's her new sex-toy line, distributed by the Doc Johnson brand; an upcoming summer internship at the Pornhub website; and a Best Newcomer nomination in the Fanny Awards competition Saturday at EXXXOTICA.

She has a book coming out this summer, too.

Knox, who continues to major in women's studies at Duke and hopes to become a civil-rights attorney, has said that she entered the porn realm to help pay her $60,000-a-year Duke tuition.

Talking points

Knox finds it "really awesome . . . that my story has sparked hundreds of articles about sex-worker rights and pornography and empowerment, and how it relates to feminism that, I think, we haven't had before on such a grand scale."

Indeed, people are talking - and writing and blogging and tweeting. ABC-TV late-night jokester Jimmy Kimmel, not surprisingly, had some fun with an interview Knox did with Fox411.com. But last month, The New York Times published an essay by the porn star known as Stoya about the importance of using stage names in adult entertainment to maintain some semblance of privacy. Stoya suggested that it's wrong to presume you know someone because you've seem them performing sex acts naked on the Internet.

"[M]aybe," Stoya wrote, "we should remember that our first glimpse of a person is just one small piece of who they really are."

For her part, Knox, is thrilled to be a catalyst for what she views as a long-overdue national dialogue. And she has specific goals in mind.

"The result I'd like to see is that people on an interpersonal level start to treat sex workers better," she said. "I'd like to see us gaining more allies within our communities, and I'd really like people to start rethinking how they treat us, and about what harm their stigmatization and marginalization does."

As for her parents' views of their daughter's vocation and notoriety, that is one thing she intends to keep from public scrutiny. Asked about her family, Knox politely but adamantly refused to divulge anything.

A porn freshman

For all the controversy that Knox has kicked up, she is still a porn novice, having entered the realm only last November.

"I was looking for ways to pay for college and I found on the Internet that a really lucrative job was sex work," she explained. "That kind of inspired me to apply to several modeling agencies. I didn't think anything would come of it. But within days, I was getting calls."

Her initial trepidation about the sex industry being "degrading and demeaning to women" was quickly overcome, she said.

"That's what I always heard from my parents, that's what we hear from the media," she said. "But I'm really one of those people who jumps into things, and I really jumped into porn."

It hasn't disappointed.

"The industry isn't perfect, and there's always room for improvement," she said. "But the narrative I've been hearing is far more extreme than what the reality is."


" @chuckdarrow

Blog: philly.com/Casinotes

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