​The Pornhub logo against a Ukrainian flag. Getty/compilation image
The Pornhub logo against a Ukrainian flag. Getty/compilation image

Ukrainian and Russian Pornhub Performers Protest the War

Ukrainians are posting videos of the Russian invasion to Pornhub, while Russians are using one of the last online spaces they have to speak against the war.

In a video uploaded to Pornhub on Monday, Kyiv sits in quiet darkness. Few lights are on in apartment buildings across the landscape, while the camera pans across the city. Kate, behind the camera, breathes shallowly. As the air raid sirens begin to blare in the distance, more lights blink on, people waking up to the sounds of the fifth day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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This week was the first time Kate, an adult performer, has ever heard air raid sirens in her life. Before Russia started bombing her city last week, Kate uploaded videos of herself and a partner having sex on that balcony overlooking Kyiv, playing in nightclub restrooms and naked in the woods. Now, she’s hoping people see her video on Pornhub, hear the sirens, and remember that it could happen to them.

“I've never heard an [air raid siren] before. I've never been in a bomb shelter,” Kate told me in a direct message. “I live in a city with over three million people. I want to go to restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas. This is how many people live in Europe, America, Asia... With this video, I want to say that even today no one is immune from war.” 

Others in Ukraine are using Pornhub to get the word out about their situations.

Mikel Prado, a solo performer, posted a video of a beating emoji heart in Ukraine’s yellow and blue colors, with the title “SAVE UKRAINE #NoWar #StopRussia.” 

“No, I'm not safe right now. Airstrikes have been going on since morning,” Prado told me. “Russian fascists dropped a bomb on the school today, it is almost completely destroyed. It's horrible. I can't write anymore—air raid alert. If I stay alive, I'll get in touch again.” 

Alongside videos from Ukrainian content creators, Russian porn performers are also using their platforms to protest Russia’s invasion.

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One Russian couple who make videos for Pornhub and goes by the name bisexcouplefamilyfree spoke out in protest with a video statement four days ago. The couple, which normally posts short, point-of-view videos with titles like “Dank warm sperm in the car,” sit side by side, fully clothed and speak gravely about their opposition to the war, explaining that they are hurt and ashamed when they see what the Russian government is doing. 

“In the eyes of the whole world, our country now looks like an aggressor through the fault of our authorities. The only thing we can do now is not to be silent and express our opinion,” they say in Russian.

It’s very dangerous for Russians to speak out against Putin; in the last week, Russian authorities have arrested thousands of people for protesting, including five school children who police caught carrying anti-war posters. 

“With this video, I want to say that even today no one is immune from war.”

Options for accessing non-state media from within Russia have narrowed in the last week: Twitter is banned in Russia, Facebook is restricted, and most independent Russian news outlets are blocked. Russia’s censorship office is threatening to cut off Wikipedia entirely. People started uploading images of destruction and casualties inflicted by the Russian military to Google Maps reviews as a way to get news of what’s happening in Ukraine into the country, but Google blocked those efforts, citing its terms of use. Pornhub, which is not blocked in Russia (despite rumors), is one place where people can still speak out.

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“It's just that at some point a boiling point comes, after which it is no longer possible to be silent,” bisexcouplefamilyfree, who requested to remain anonymous, told me. “We just wanted to convey that there is nothing worse than the death of innocent people as a result of the fact that the governments of the two countries cannot agree with each other. It's monstrous! A lot of people in Russia are now expressing their indignation about what is happening, despite the pressure of our government, despite the fact that with each passing day, not just an hour(!) It is becoming more and more difficult to do this.” 

“We are for peace, we are against bloodshed!”

Porn performer LuxuryGirl’s video, “NO to the war!” has gotten 36.7 thousand views since she uploaded it six days ago, the first day of the invasion. Her Pornhub profile says she’s based in Estonia. In it, she stares at the camera and flips through a series of cards: “Russians and Ukrainians are brotherly nations. Russian and Ukrainian citizens are against military action. Do not jump to conclusions based on information manipulated by the media. We are all hurt by what is happening right now. Let’s be human. We need to love each other instead of raising our arms against one other.”

In 2015, Russia blacklisted 136 porn websites, claiming that these sites “propagandize nontraditional sexual relations and foster disrespect toward parents and other family members, controverting family values." And in 2017, Russia forced Pornhub to require a passport to visit the site; the platform instituted this by requiring users log in through Vkontakte, or VK, a social media network in Russia.

In spite of all this, porn platforms are some of the only user-generated content hosts left that are still accessible inside Putin’s media bubble. On OnlyFans, Ukrainian creators are posting live updates of their lives, now consumed by war, for subscribers to read, while Russian creators are worried they’ll once again be banned from depositing earnings from their own accounts. 

This information blackout, coupled with the constant disinformation from Russia’s state media, makes it increasingly difficult for people living inside Russia to parse what’s going on outside. 

“We now have such an information attack from all sides, and sometimes you don’t understand what to believe, what is true and what is not,” bisexcouplefamily told me. “And the only possible correct way remains—it is to say and do what the heart tells and try to support each other. We wanted to convey that the Russian people are NOT equal to the Russian government. We are for peace, we are against bloodshed!” 

“I see huge attention to the war in Ukraine. And I think that as many people as possible should know about it,” Kate said. “Not because it's important to me. Events in Ukraine affect the whole world, our country is everything that separates Europe from the largest terrorist organization. But not only we are fighting, everyone who is worried about this situation can join the fight.”