• Bree Olson on Leaving Porn and Surviving Hollywood Predators

    Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast / Photos Paul Archuleta/GettyAs one of the top actresses in porn, Bree Olson was living comfortably-earning upwards of $3,500 per scene, raking in awards, and jet-setting across the world. Not bad for a gal from Woodburn, Indiana (population: 1,600). Then Charlie Sheen happened. The year was 2011, and Olson found herself swept up in the Two and a Half Men star’s midlife meltdown-“tiger blood,” “winning,” anti-Semitic rants at his boss. It played out very publicly, with news networks salivating over every head-scratching, foot-in-mouth moment. She and Natalie Kenly were reduced to the actor’s live-in “goddesses,” slut-shamed and branded enablers by the prying public due to their sex-worker occupations. It was a convenient narrative-and a false one. Olson’s real story is far more complicated, and now, years removed from that chaotic chapter in her life-and happily engaged to her fiancé, Kayla-she’s willing to tell it. When we spoke four years ago, you had just left the adult industry. And I know you’ve spoken-and written-about the unfair stigma that society places on those in the adult industry. I mean, keep in mind I do live in the Bible Belt so I’m sort of setting myself up for failure here, but I went to get my taxes done this past year and tried a new person. I was trying to be vague about what I did for a living, and at the time was just texting with fans, which was something I did through my website. And he kept prying and saying, “I don’t understand how somebody could make this much money texting. Who are you? Who are you?!” and I was like, “Oh, it’s nothing”-just trying to sweep it under the rug. So he goes over to his computer and says, “If you don’t tell me who you are, I’m going to google your name right now.” I just started crying right then and there. I told him I used to work in the adult industry, and he said he couldn’t work with me because of his religious beliefs. So I left very upset, and it’s not abnormal for me to experience people turning me away. I’ve got a double-hurdle being LGBTQ and from the adult industry. The only reason I would dissuade someone [from the adult industry] is it does make life harder afterwards. It’s not impossible but provides more hurdles to jump over. Mia Khalifa Opens Up About Life After Porn: ‘I’m Ashamed of My Past’Why Porn Has Gotten So RoughRight. So your gripe is not with the adult industry but rather the hypocritical way that society treats adult performers-judging them while regularly consuming their content. A hundred percent. When I got involved in the adult industry, I was doing everything “right.” I worked a full-time job and was a full-time student studying pre-med biology [at Purdue University Fort Wayne], and yet I was living in a hotel. I was in a really tough life circumstance, and because of the industry, I was able to get a house, I’m now building my second custom house, and I’ve traveled all over the world. Coming from such a small town like Woodburn, Indiana, the mindset when you haven’t traveled, seen different types of things, taken in different cultures, you can be more susceptible to being closed-minded. But being able to get out and see the world was so educational to me, and it gave me growth that I truly believe I would not have found otherwise.Then your experience in the adult industry was positive.There’s that reality documentary on Netflix called Hot Girls Wanted-that could not be more inaccurate, from my experience in the industry. It made me really angry to see the industry being depicted in that way. Not to take away from those girls’ stories in that documentary, because that is their truth, but the hub of the adult industry is located in Los Angeles, and if you’re with one of the top agents in Los Angeles, you’re not going to be sent to be put into these predicaments. You’ll be sent to professional sets where-and not a lot of people know this-the camera and lighting guys are from the mainstream side of the industry, and they just need the extra money so they shoot, light and sound porn on the low while keeping their names off it. Everyone is super-professional; nobody is trying anything weird. I never saw drugs on a porn set. I don’t think I’ve even seen drinking on a porn set. Now, was everything sunshine and roses and all that? No. There are positives and negatives to every side, and I’m the perfect person to talk to about this, because I’ll be straight down the line.  What didn’t sit right with you?There are no royalties in the porn industry; and on top of that, when someone would pay me $3,500 for one scene-and this was back in the DVD days-they could then take that scene and put it in another DVD, but I don’t get anything extra from it. They can use that as much as they want. I think it would be really great if the talent in the porn industry could become unionized or something of the sort to where people can’t take advantage in that way. Right. And there’s a sprawling company like MindGeek that not only controls the major tube sites but also operates many of the biggest studios, so it’s exerting an incredible amount of control over the pay structure for performers. Exactly. It’s been very difficult. The music industry took a huge hit with the internet but I feel like it’s coming back around with Apple Music and all that. Me, I’m subscribed so I pay for music, and I know a lot of people who do too, so I think porn will hopefully make its way back around like that. I put in good time into the adult industry not making royalties, so FanCentro is a way for me to capitalize on my name, continue making money, and interact with my fans. What’s it been like navigating life post-adult industry? I officially left when I was 25 and now I’m 32-I’ve tried to lie about that but it’s on Wikipedia, so I can’t-so I’m seven years out and was only in it for five years, so I’ve spent more time out than in, but my life has still heavily revolved around the name. Going back to the royalties, I have rode off my name as hard as I possibly can, because why not? So, I’ve been my own business owner, can work from home and make my own hours. With things like camming and FanCentro, you don’t have to worry about other performers, getting tested, or this and that. It’s just yourself. Now you’re dictating all the terms.Yes. To be in full control-like I said, my experience in the adult industry with other performers and being on set was really as good as you could ask for. Everyone was extremely professional. I mean these guys, they’re slinging two chicks a day-it’s just a job to them like anything else. But I could imagine for girls, like the ones in [Hot Girls Wanted], if you aren’t in L.A., in the right circle, or with the right agent, or it’s jut not your cup of tea, then you can make a great amount of money by yourself in your bedroom or your bathroom. Bree Olson at the 29th annual AVN Awards Show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 21, 2012, in Las Vegas, Nevada.Ethan Miller/GettyWhat was your experience like trying to break into Hollywood? We’ve discussed the unfair stigma that follows people in the adult industry, and there’s only been a few actors who have managed to crossover into mainstream parts-like Traci Lords and Sasha Grey.It seemed like a natural transition because, even though there’s sex involved in porn, you go to a set and learn a script-even though porn scripts can be sort of a joke-but it’s the same type of work, as far as sitting in makeup, dealing with the crew, you name it. But I went from being such a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a huge ocean, and I didn’t like it. You look at actors like Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad. Look at how long he had to work! You have to be truly passionate about acting and sometimes willing to do it for 10, 20, 30 years before your big break. And a lot of these actors have been studying acting since high school-it’s their passion, and I did not have that. I do not have that passion for acting. I was like, this isn’t working out and I don’t care enough. It’s no secret that there are a lot of creepy guys in Hollywood. Because of your past in porn, did you encounter Hollywood guys with bad intentions?Oh, it was bad. It got to a point where I said, “If you want to talk with me, there’s no point in doing coffee. If you have something to say, call me or email me. We don’t need to ‘meet for coffee.’” I quickly learned what “meeting for coffee” meant. I’m feisty, so I shot things down pretty quick. If they started to go in that direction-acting flirtatious, saying inappropriate things-I would grab my stuff and leave. I’m not about to do that. It’s one thing when I was in the industry and I’m getting paid as a professional but it’s still very different outside of that. I’m not going to sleep for a part or do this and that. If you don’t want to give me a role, well then fine, I’ll move on. And I know that for girls who even aren’t in porn that’s how it works sometimes, which is so sad. Just to backtrack a bit: Why did you decide to leave the adult industry in the first place? How did you reach that decision?It’s kind of sad. I got with a very famous Hollywood actor [Charlie Sheen], and up until that point, I had a very close-knit circle of friends and was not very public about my life. I would shoot in L.A., fly back home to Indiana, and hang with my good ol’ Indiana friends sitting around bonfires. Well, I got with that actor and then my whole life fell under a microscope. I saw myself getting criticized on huge networks by huge reporters-who I’ve literally watched since I was a child-saying publicly that I would be a bad mother, that I’m not a good influence, and basically disgracing me because I was a porn star. In short, I left because of what everyone said on TV about me; and being naïve, I thought that getting out would make people think differently, which is not true. That I learned. How Is Serial Abuser Charlie Sheen Surviving the 2017 Hollywood Purge?How Much Money Do Porn Stars Actually Get Paid for Sex Scenes?Looking back on that crazy period with Charlie Sheen, do you have any regrets about that whole episode? Is there anything you would have maybe done differently? I would have never spoke to him. I was at the height of my career, it was going wonderfully, I had this huge trip to Japan planned, I was making so much money, and everything was going great. It was a big mistake. A big mistake. There have been some disturbing allegations surrounding Charlie Sheen and I’m curious if he was ever violent towards you. He was not violent physically but he had a very hostile attitude. He was extremely controlling. I never spoke about it when we initially split up because I’m not that type of person, but after the whole thing came out about him having HIV and the possibility that he could have had that during the time we were dating, that of course made me very upset. I’m like, “Well, forget it then.” I’m the type of person who’s friends with a lot of my exes but I don’t know what could be more upsetting for an ex to do than to possibly have had HIV while we’re together and not have told me. It’s just terrible. I can’t imagine what that must have been like.I started to get phone calls. It’s really unfortunate, because I had just moved from L.A. to Indiana to start writing my book. Life was peaceful and great. I literally sat down to write, and then an influx of calls came in from all the big networks-NBC, ABC, everyone-asking, “Is it true that Charlie has HIV?” I thought, “There’s no way this is true,” but after the third or fourth phone call, I thought, well, I need to get ahead of this, and there’s no one I trust more than Howard Stern. As silly as that may sound to some people, anyone who’s paid attention to Howard knows he’s a great interviewer, and him and I always had an amazing rapport when I would be on his show. So I wanted to go on Howard instead of going on one of the big networks because I wanted to make sure I would be able to tell my full, unedited story. As I was walking into the building to go on Howard, I’m watching on my phone-on live television-Charlie telling the world that he was HIV positive. At the time I was doing cam modeling and making a great deal of money, and to be a cam model and be associated with anyone who had HIV-even though I don’t have it, and proved publicly that I don’t have it-was detrimental to my career. So going on Howard and giving my test results was pure defense. It was just so much damage control, and I’m still recovering from it emotionally. I’m very sorry you had to go through that. Also, I’d like to say that I know tons of people with HIV who are living full, happy, healthy lives. I don’t have any problems with anyone that is HIV positive. My problem lies in the fact that I was with a partner that potentially lied to me about being positive, and having unprotected sex with me. It’s not right. So your experiences with Hollywood have not been great. I guess not! Everything was fine in the porn industry though. Isn’t it funny to think about? Tell me a little bit about this book you’re working on. It’s a memoir?Yes. It’s fascinating to me-the different ways that people are brought up and their childhoods. My childhood was very tough, so it’s about that. This is a saying that I have: Not all women with a traumatic childhood go into porn, but all women that are in porn had a traumatic childhood. I may get some hate for that from some girls, but for the longest time I was in the adult industry, I would not admit that. I’d say, “Oh, everything was fine, I had a great upbringing,” but that’s not the truth. I want people to know that because I feel like people have this idea in their minds where everything was hunky-dory and then this woman just decided to throw her life away and get into the industry when oftentimes, when women get ready to go into the industry, that may be one of their only options at that moment in time. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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