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PornCrush Year in Review: Top 10 Stories of 2023

Agents in hot water, legal action against the top studios, and a new STD in the PASS panel top the list of this year's biggest stories

By Austin King / Editor

Dec 29, 2023

*Note: This is the eighth and final entry in a series of lists that will reflect on another banner year in the adult industry.

Dec. 18: Best Comeback Performers

Dec. 19: Best New Faces

Dec. 20: Unsung Starlets

Dec. 21: Breakthrough Performers

Dec. 26: Best on Social Media

Dec. 27: Scenes of the Year (four critics pick their favorites)

Dec. 28: Best Porn Ambassadors

Dec. 29: Top 10 Stories of 2023


The porn industry gave us plenty of things to watch in 2023.
And also plenty of things to write about.

Whether it was beloved performers capturing awards, mammoth studios getting bought (or sued) or mysterious new STDs sending the adult community into a tizzy, there seemed to be a fresh hot-button topic every month.

Here are PornCrush’s “Top 10 Stories of 2023”


Other than sports, no other industry motivates random people to start their own podcasts quite like porn. And I’m not talking about people within the industry. I’m talking about random fans with limited (if any) journalism background suddenly deciding they want to interview adult stars. I suppose it’s fine, but with (seemingly) 8,439 porn podcasts, the market is over-saturated. Perfumers don’t realize there are maybe 10-20 tuning into a lot of these shows.

Fortunately, there are some really good podcasts out there, too. Some really good ones. Holly Randall sets the bar when it comes to diving deep and humanizing adult stars with in-depth, often tear-jerking interviews during “Unfiltered.” She’s an industry treasure. “Pillow Talk” with Ryan Pownall developed a massive following in 2024, and for good reason. Pownall’s energy and humor help his guests relax and let loose, which leads to some hilarious stories from performers’ personal lives and also from sets. I would also recommend “Turned On,” a surging podcast with Ryan Hussie of Hussie Models that is quickly picking up steam. Ryan is Florida-based, so a lot of his guests are stars from that area who are often under-represented. “And Now We Drink” w/ Matt Slayer is another podcast I enjoy.


Some of the top names in the business called it quits in 2023, and most of them did so after relatively brief careers. Kenzie Anne, the XBIZ Newcomer of the Year in 2022, had become one of the industry’s biggest names when she decided to step away on April Fool’s Day. Anne’s retirement came about two years after she entered the industry.  “I wound up getting the ‘ick,’ which is when you’re grossed out by something,” Kenzie told PornCrush. “All of a sudden, I just didn’t want to fuck when someone said ‘Fuck!’ anymore.”

April Olsen—considered by many to be among the top 10-15 performers in the business—exited the industry this fall after shooting for every major studio and racking up a bundle of AVN and XBIZ nominations. In a somewhat stunning interview with Holly Randall, Olsen said she never embraced adult work. “My quitting process started the second I walked onto a set,” Olsen said. “I was thinking, ‘How am I going to get myself out of this?’ My motivation was to just make money and get out. There’s no shame in that, right?” Olsen certainly faked it well.

Dakota Tyler, a relative newcomer who was creating a huge buzz, stopped shooting studio content in January. Also stepping away was veteran performer Aiden Ashley, who moved out of LA this month and has told friends she’s done with porn.


Amateur content is still king when it comes to OnlyFans and similar platforms. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for creativity. Multiple performers put on their director’s hats in 2023 and produced high-quality, story-driven content for their OnlyFans accounts that would rival most anything you’d see from a major studio. We’re talking sets with PAs, makeup artists, high-end lighting and veteran cameramen—again, all for an OnlyFans shoot.

Anna Claire Clouds scripted a fun buildup to a reverse gangbang of heartthrob Johnny Sins featuring herself, Maddy May Lumi Ray and Alexis Tae. Performer of the Year candidate Blake Blossom wrote extensive dialogue and shot on elaborate sets for holiday-themed scenes, while Jewels Blu also went all-out on her platforms.

The most impressive effort, however, was turned in by Ariel Demure, who wrote the script, did the makeup, and even made the outfits for “Gorgons and Goddesses,” an orgy featuring 11 of the industry’s top trans models.


Imagine your first-ever anal scene getting nominated for an AVN Award. That happened to Vanna Bardot, whose decision to relinquish her “A” card paid off in a big way. Along with giving her momentum for the upcoming awards season, her sizzling romp with Maximo Garcia also served as the signature scene for “Influence: Vanna Bardot,” the beautifully-crafted Vixen feature that showcases one of the industry’s top overall performers from the past few years.

Bardot wasn’t the only high-level star to take the anal plunge in 2023. Anna Claire Clouds, a Female Performer of the Year nominee for the second straight year, worked with Mick Blue in her debut anal scene for Deeper. Lots of good dirty talk from ACC in that one—although it was a tango months later with Zac Wild that earned her an AVN nomination. Chanel Camryn, one of this year’s leading candidates for Best New Starlet, celebrated her 100th career scene by doing anal with Ramon Nomar for Perv City. BANG! commemorated Haley Spades’ foray into backdoor action by crafting an entire anal-themed showcase around the pint-sized spinner. Speaking of petite princesses, Coco Lovelock and Madi Collins—both established A-list performers—also shot their first tushy scenes in 2023.


Gotti returned to industry late in 2022 after an extended absence and is only shooting girl-girl content. Even though her scenes were limited in 2023, Gotti made her presence felt in the spring when she offered to be a voice for female performers who wanted to remain anonymous while alerting the community about abusive male talent. For nearly a week, Gotti’s Twitter feed was filled with allegations against talent and studios. Even though things got a bit reckless—several posts were removed after further vetting—Gotti’s intent was admirable. And her passion for the well-being of performers was sincere, as evidenced by several tearful interviews she conducted that week on various podcasts. Herself an abuse victim, Gotti proved to be the ideal spokesperson for victimized performers during a time when many were hurting. She’s got a bold voice, a fearless spirit, a huge platform—and an even bigger heart.


Few, if any, Performer of the Year selections have received as much industry-wide praise and approval as Noir garnered when AVN handed her the trophy back in January. Noir is the perfect person to be the “face” of the adult industry. She makes an impression not just with her elegance and beauty but also with her professionalism and kindness. She is an illustration of everything good about the industry, which is why her victory was so cheered and celebrated.


MindGeek, best known for managing websites like Pornhub.com, Brazzers, and others, in August, announced its corporate rebranding as Aylo. The rebranding was said to be part of an effort to start anew, with a focus on innovation, diversity, inclusivity, and safety. This change comes after MindGeek was acquired by Ethical Capital Partners (ECP) in March 2023, a move that has influenced the company's new direction.

The company, established in 2004, has been a major player in the adult entertainment and technology sectors. According to a press release, the "...decision to rebrand the company as Aylo, comes in response to the need for a fresh start and a renewed commitment to innovation, diverse and inclusive adult content, and trust and safety."

Management and employees at Aylo have expressed pride in this new phase, emphasizing their commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment for content creators and users. The company's leadership highlighted that this rebranding is just a starting point in a broader mission to redefine Aylo's public image and operational priorities.

However, the company's rebranding occurs in the context of past controversies, including issues with content moderation and the presence of illegal content on its platforms. These challenges had significant repercussions, such as major payment providers like Visa and Mastercard halting services for Pornhub in 2020. Aylo's rebranding is thus seen as an attempt to move beyond these controversies, establishing itself as a responsible player in the industry. The company's initiatives, like ID verification for content uploaders and collaboration with non-profits to combat illegal content, have been touted by Aylo as steps towards achieving this goal. Yet, it remains to be seen how effective these measures will be in reshaping the public perception and operational realities of the rebranded entity.

The company, under its former name MindGeek, has been involved in a legal case regarding money laundering charges related to sex trafficking proceeds. It was announced this month that Aylo, in a deferred prosecution agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, acknowledged its role in hosting and monetizing videos from criminal sources and agreed to a three-year monitorship. The company is required to make payments to the United States and to victims of GirlsDoPorn founder Michael Pratt and his co-conspirators who have not otherwise already received compensation and whose images were posted on Aylo’s platforms. 


Vixen and Gamma—two of the three most powerful studios in the adult industry, along with Brazzers—are embroiled in high-dollar lawsuits that could still take months, if not years, to resolve.

In April, former performer Kenzie Anne filed a class action lawsuit against Vixen, claiming the high-profile adult film studio abuses and mistreats its performers by consistently violating California labor codes. The lawsuit also argues that Vixen performers should be classified as full-time employees based on the influence and control the company attempts to impose on the lives, bodies, and careers of its talent—and also because of the excessive amount of time they are often asked to devote to projects without any additional compensation. By instead listing them as independent contractors, the lawsuit alleges, Vixen is denying its performers the “fair pay and benefits” to which they’d be entitled as employees. Anne’s class action suit is believed to be the first in history against a mainstream porn studio for misclassification of labor.

In November, PornCrush first reported that director Craven Moorehead had filed a $1 million lawsuit against Gamma Films Group in the wake of his contract termination in 2020. Gamma initially backed Moorehead in January of that year when performer Aria Lee went to company executives and accused Moorehead of sexually assaulting her on one of their sets. According to the lawsuit, after the corporation hired an investigator to look into the claims, Gamma president Karl Bernard informed Moorehead that the probe found “no validity” to Lee’s allegations and that he “had nothing to worry about.” Moorehead continued to work for Gamma—albeit under a new contract for less money—for the next five months. But on June 8, 2020—three days after Lee went public with her claims on Twitter—Bernard telephoned Moorehead and informed that, even though he “still did not believe the allegations against him,” he was terminating his contract “due to public backlash.” Bernard, the lawsuit states, assured that Moorehead that, per the non-disparagement/confidentiality clause in his contract, Gamma would not be making any public statements about the allegations or his termination. Instead, Gamma issued three statements to various media outlets over the next seven days, including one in which Bernard said Gamma fired Moorehead after receiving “additional information” about Lee’s allegations. “There was nothing new in the investigation to support him being fired,” Hantman said. “Even worse, there was a confidentiality agreement, and they weren’t supposed to say anything. But they actually said things which were essentially in support of her and not him. They tried to implicate him, which was defamatory.” Moorehead is suing Gamma for breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith, internal misrepresentation, and negligent misrepresentation. The case isn’t slated for trial until May of 2025.


Performers were mired in a state of confusion over the winter, when industry-approved testing centers were providing mixed results on STD panels. Mostly notably, performers were testing negative for chlamydia and/or gonorrhea at one clinic, and positive at the other. They didn’t know which result—or which clinic—to trust. And they also feared they may be taking antibiotics, which are often rough on the body, when they didn’t actually need to. Also during this time, most studios began requiring oral and anal swab tests as part of the required STD panel for performers. The swabs provide an additional way to detect chlamydia and gonorrhea.

As frustrating (and expensive) as that situation became, the industry was thrown into an even bigger tizzy during the spring and summer with the growing presence of MGEN. Confusion about the severity of the disease, how to treat it and how often to test for it still exists today. Some performers, many of them asymptomatic, have had to cancel a month’s worth of shoots because of MGEN, which is a huge hit to their banking account. Let’s hope physicians get a better grasp of all things MGEN-related in 2024.


Dave Rock resigned under pressure in September—one day after performer Aurora Fox posted a video of herself she alleges Rock secretly recorded during her stay at the Motley Manor. In her Instagram post, Fox claimed Rock planted a hidden camera in her room and filmed her in various stages of undress. She said Rock then sent the videos—66 of them in all—to her Dropbox by mistake. A private investment group bought Rock’s ownership portion of the agency and promptly fired longtime booking agent Ryan Kona. The agency was then re-launched as Performer’s First Agency and is in the process of building its roster.

In November, PornCrush reported that a defamation lawsuit filed by director Craven Moorehead alleges Aria Lee’s decision to go public with sexual assault accusations made against him in 2020 was part of a conspiracy hatched by her agent, Sandra McCarthy, to procure hush money from Gamma Films Group. And Moorehead’s legal team claims the scheme was a success. Robert Hantman, Moorehead’s New York-based attorney, told PornCrush that Gamma funneled $100,000 to McCarthy’s OC Modeling agency to “keep Lee quiet” about the alleged assaults, including one Lee claims occurred on their set. Hantman said information about the payment surfaced during Lee’s deposition when she was speaking under oath. “The money was supposed to go from Gamma to OC Modeling and then to Aria Lee,” Hantman said. “We believe she only got one payment and never received the rest.”

McCarthy has declined to comment on the allegations and continues to run OC Modeling.

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.