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      The Duke Porn Star Is Pornhub's Newest Intern

      April 12, 2014
      Mitchell Sunderland

      By Mitchell Sunderland

      Associate Editor

      Photo courtesy of Pornhub

      Belle Knox is the breakout porn star of 2014, but not for anything she's done on camera. Since the Duke freshmen women’s studies major revealed her face and porn pseudonym last month in an XoJane essay, she’s appeared on The View, driven Dr. Drew to consider suicide, danced at a fancy New York City strip club, and agreed to host an online reality show called The Sex Factor.

      These developments are predictable—ten years after Paris Hilton's The Simple Life, it’s routine for women involved in sex scandals to turn their battered reputations into paychecks through reality shows and media appearances—but one of Knox's latest deals is a new type of marketing stunt. This summer, Knox will leave her school books in North Carolina and move to Montreal to become Pornhub's new intern.

      This is a brilliant move on Pornhub's part (just announcing the hire will bring the smut peddlers more press), but it's a bizarre job for Knox. Pornhub’s internship program turned its first two interns into minor internet celebrities and gave them a platform to score long-term work as social media marketers when their gigs ended, but Knox doesn’t need connections or a paycheck. Unlike college students who plan to intern this summer, she already has a well-paid job.

      The internship has angered some of Knox's colleagues. Although Knox told the Daily Dot she believes Pornhub increases porn companies' sales, industry insiders believe the site encourages piracy. Knox has a point—most porn studios advertise on tube sites like Pornhub—but right now she can't afford this kind of controversy. Her new infamy and endorsement deals have aggravated many fellow porn performers, who work in a tough industry where few actors become wealthy household names. In a harsh essay on Short and Sweet NYC, one performer, Belle Noir, even called her out for arriving late to a shoot and claimed that “Knox is actually a very tyrannical and rude person towards the performers and industry workers on most of her sets.”

      Did Knox decide to intern for Pornhub because she's a naive 18-year-old signing any deal that comes her way, ruining her future opportunities in the process, or, like other students planning to intern this summer, does she see the job as an opportunity to develop skills that could further her career? I called her to find out.

      VICE: How did you land this internship?
      Belle Knox: I realized I had become the number one girl on Pornhub—the most-viewed, number one model—so I approached them about promoting [their site]. They came back and said, “We love that, but even more than that, we would like you to learn about the business, about promotion, about publicity, and about social media marketing.” So they invited me to come intern for them.

      Have you agreed to the internship because you want to transition from starring in porn to working behind the scenes or because you believe the internship will teach you skills that will help you build your brand?
      Knowing the ins and outs of the business will help me be a more successful businesswoman. I have a sex toy line coming out, so I think that it’s really good for me to know how to promote my brand, but my goal has always been to be a lawyer, so that’s what I’m sticking with.

      What do you think about the accusations that Pornhub is bad for the porn industry?
      If you look on the website, Pornhub actually partners with a lot of the porn companies. Most major porn companies are partnered with Pornhub to run ads on their website. From what I’ve read, there’s no causal link between these free tube sites and people not wanting to sign up for porn sites. It’s like the dessert on top of the entree, you know? It gives them publicity, because you’re seeing a few minutes of a video and it makes you want to watch the whole video.

      That's true. I've bought porn after watching a trailer on a tube site. Is Pornhub paying you for your work?
      Yeah. I’m getting paid each month for my work. Of course, all that goes to my school unfortunately.

      Do you pay for all your tuition and living and all that?
      Basically I support myself.

      Do you have any financial aid or are you paying for Duke all out of pocket?
      I got a little bit of financial aid, but that’s definitely going to go away next year because I do porn and I have an income. Tuition is going to be $60,000 a year.

      Has it been weird going to school while being famous?
      It’s surreal honestly. There are some days where I wake up and I just kind of am so in disbelief that this all happened. Today I was walking to my dorm, and I saw this kid take a photograph of me when he thought I wasn’t looking. Most people don’t treat me any differently.

      Do you feel like you’re living a double life?
      Definitely. It’s like some Miley Cyrus shit going on. I actually did porn with a Miley Cyrus look-alike.

      Do you think your women’s studies classes will help you with your Pornhub internship?
      I think that Pornhub has had some problems in the past with tweeting racially insensitive or sexist stuff. When I’m an intern, that’s not going to happen. I’ll be very mindful of that.

      Do you think it’s fair when other porn stars criticize you for only working in porn to pay your tuition bills and not wanting to become a career porn star, like Jenna Jameson or Asa Akira?
      Most girls aren’t career porn stars. I know a lot of girls who do porn just to make money or just for two years. They just want to have fun, and then they want to have a professional career after porn—there’s really not many career porn stars. Porn does not last forever. To say that I’m going to be a porn star for life is just ridiculous. If I had been a porn star whose entire goal was to just do porn, I would be called a bimbo, but I’m getting an education and I’m extending my opportunities and I’m trying to create a better life for myself—and I’m being criticized.

      Has your new infamy given you an advantage over some of the wealthier Duke students who are going to intern for free this summer?
      I mean, am I being given an advantage? I’m paying for my own tuition. The average income for a few students is $350,000 a year, so I really don’t feel like I’m being given an advantage. I think I’m very blessed and very lucky to be given this opportunity, but I wouldn’t consider myself better off than people at Duke. I really envy people who don’t have to pay their tuition—whose parents pay it for them. I really envy them.

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      Topics: duke, Duke University, College, women's studies, Belle Knox, Duke porn star, Pornhub, interns, internship, summer internship, porn, Weird News, celebrity, celebrities, Pop Culture, internet, xojane

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