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PornCrush Year in Review: Best Comeback Performers of 2023

Emma Hix, Adria Rae, Jill Kassidy headline list of starlets who made triumphant return

By Austin King / Editor

Dec 18, 2023

*Note: This is the first in a series of lists that will reflect on another banner year in the adult industry. Be sure to check out PornCrush each day for a new installment.

Dec. 18: Best Comeback Performers

Dec. 19: Best New Faces

Dec. 20: Unsung Starlets

Dec. 21: Breakthrough Performers

Dec. 22: Best on Social Media

Dec. 26: Scenes of the Year (four critics pick their favorites)

Dec. 27: Best Porn Ambassadors

Dec. 28: Top 10 Stories of 2023

Dec. 29: Best and Worst of 2023


LOS ANGELES—Sometimes you just need a break.

There’s certainly no shame in that.

Especially when it comes to porn.

The physical and mental toll that can weigh on an adult performer is unique to almost any other profession. When you’re not in the right headspace, hitting the “pause” button is the best—and healthiest—thing to do.

Each of these elite models made that choice at some point in recent years. Refreshed and rejuvenated, they returned in 2023 with a noticeable glow and produced some of the finest content of their careers to date.

Below are PornCrush’s picks for “Best Comeback Performers” of 2023.


Rae is so stunning physically that sometimes it’s easy to forget that she’s also one of the top performers in all of porn. Rae reminded us of that fact in 2023 with a bundle of bangers that was highlighted by “Devil Dick,” a scorching tango with Oliver Flynn for Deeper that has PornCrush’s vote as the top boy-girl scene of the year. At the time of its release, Rae even dubbed the scene as the best of her career. Bold statement, considering Rae churned out high-level scenes in all genres—anal, double-penetration, girl-girl, etc—for every major studio before stepping away in 2021 for more than a year. It appears Rae is being selective with her scenes since her return, choosing to only work with A-list studios such as Brazzers, Evil Angel, Bellesa, Adult Time and Vixen. She’s also producing high-end content on OnlyFans. Here’s hoping 2024 is Rae’s best year yet.


One of the more popular trans performers in history, Taylor resumed studio shoots in February after a nearly two-year hiatus. “I’ve been hibernating,” Taylor joked with PornCrush at the time. “It’s funny because a lot of fans were like, ‘You left?’ There were still a lot of retweets and still a lot of people pushing my stuff. It didn’t feel like I was gone.“ Not surprisingly, Taylor hasn’t shown any signs of rust. She turned in a sizzling performance in Grooby’s “The Comeback” alongside Steve Rickz and also with Owen Gray for Deep Lush’s “Indulging in Daisy.” Taylor also reminded porn fans that she is among the best actors in the industry in “Daisy’s Flower Box,” which earned her an AVN nomination for Best Thespian - Trans/X. “Porn has been such a good, creative outlet for me,” Taylor, who is nominated for Trans Performer of the Year, said. “I’ve been able to write and produce and direct all of these different things and make it more than just a pizza-boy scene. There are a lot of projects I started two or three years ago that I didn’t get to finish. I felt like this was the right time to come back.”


After a yearlong absence, Hix returned to studio work in August of 2022 and quickly reminded porn fans why she’d long been hailed as one of the top performers in the industry. Literally and figuratively, she’s never been hotter. With new boobs, a new hairstyle and “basically, a new body,” Hix is without question one of the top solo models around. Her photo spreads are jaw-dropping, So, too, are her scenes. Whether it’s an anal scene for Brazzers or a passionate, seductive tryst for Nubiles, Hix flourishes in all genres. One could argue her Slayed shoot with Kylie Rocket was the top girl-girl scene of the year. Hix tells PornCrush she was suffering from burnout when she began her extended break two years ago. “I don’t want to say I was on autopilot, but I didn’t have the same drive,’ Hix said. “When I first started porn, I didn’t realize I was going to become such good friends with all of these people. I figured I’d do this for a year or two and be done. But I developed such strong connections. We have so much fun on set. I missed that.”


Derza recently resumed studio shoots after being away for about a year. She is one of the top anal performers in porn history and unquestionably the best active performer in that genre. Few performers immerse themselves in a scene quite like Derza. Her on-camera passion and energy is so captivating that it’s hard to hit the “fast forward” button when you’re watching her work. Derza’s AVN-nominated scene with Manuel Ferrara for Jules Jordan’s “Manuel Opens Their Asses 8” is one of the hottest adult scenes in recent memory, if not all time. At least in this writer’s opinion. Derza’s extreme style may not be for everyone, but even the most vanilla porn lovers would be hard-pressed not to give her respect. Look for big things from Derza in 2024.


I know, I know. Kassidy never went away completely. But she did step away from boy-girl sex for all of 2022. Not just on camera. But off of it, too. “I was frustrated with relationships,” Kassidy told PornCrush, “and also, I had never gone without sex since I was 15. I wanted to see what it was like. At first, it was really hard, but I also felt like I had a lot of self-control. It was a little empowering. I wasn’t completely celibate. But I was celibate from dick.” Kassidy started working with males again in February and she’s been on a tear ever since, shooting more than 50 scenes in 2023 for almost every major studio in porn. AVN’s 2018 Best New Starlet is better than she’s ever been. And hotter, too. Check out Kassidy’s red carpet pics from the 2023 AVN Awards show. Yowza! “It felt like the right time to come back,” Kassidy said. “I was ready to start fucking again.”


Few “return announcements” have created a stir quite like the one Granger caused over the summer when she revealed that she’d be returning to full-time studio work for the first time since 2019. Granger was one of the most popular—and prolific—performers in the industry at the time of her exit, having shot more than 500 scenes while amassing 20 AVN Awards nominations during her four-year reign. With more than 124 million views and counting, “Kimmy Granger Likes It Rough” is one of the most-viewed videos in PornHub history. Granger has long been known for her next-level dick-riding skills, but in more recent years, she’s become equally as popular for her hilarious tweets and Instagram posts. Granger told PornCrush in July that she missed the adult industry during her time away. “The moment I entered the industry (in 2015), I felt deeply that I belonged here. This is exactly where I wanted to be. This is where I needed to be. It gave me a great sense of purpose. Since I’ve been gone, I’ve had a huge piece of me missing. I want to get that back. I have a lot of unfinished business with mainstream porn, a lot of unresolved things. I want to win awards and really take control and take my power back.” Although the content has yet to be released, Granger has been hard at work and recently wrapped shooting on a western-themed feature for Ricky Greenwood.


Some might say Star is one of the more underrated performers in the business—but the staff at PornCrush has always held the petite Floridian in the highest regard. Few starlets play the submissive role better than Star. Don’t believe us? Check out her performance in Pure Taboo’s AVN-nominated featurette “Mom’s Not Coming Back, Sweetheart. “That was a creepy one,” Star said with a laugh. “I love being innocent. Being giggly, bubbly … it just comes naturally to me.” Star returned to studio shoots in May after a two-year break. The 27-year-old with the picturesque posterior has shot a slew of scenes for Team Skeet over the past six months and has also worked for BANG!, Hussie Pass and Reality Kings, among others. “I really do enjoy it,” Star told PornCrush in May. “That’s why I can’t stay away. I always say I could always do better. I could always do more. I really hope to do this as long as possible.

Austin King / Editor

Austin King spent nearly 20 years as a mainstream journalist before pivoting to coverage of the adult industry in 2020. He specializes in breaking news and in-depth features, with some of his best work to date coming for AVN Magazine in profiles of Gina Valentina, Casey Kisses, Anna-Claire Clouds, Kayden Kross, Chanel Camryn, Kenzie Anne, Lilly Bell and others. Austin resides in Texas but makes frequent trips to Porn Valley.