I have this friend who’s totally obsessed with Amanda Knox, the American woman who was accused of murder in Italy years ago and who’s been in the public eye ever since as a possibly-slutty murderer OR normal American college girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, who happens to be sexually active. And as you may have noticed, I’m rather obsessed with Belle Knox, the Duke University freshman who also does porn and who’s been in the public eye for the past few months as possibly a blight on the good name of a venerated American university OR a normal American college girl who happens to make porn films to pay her way through said venerated American university.
We were talking about or respective obsessions–we both are fascinated and horrified by the idea that these women will live out their twenties (and, as Monica Lewinsky’s recent Vanity Fair article reminded us, very likely the rest of their lives) under the shadow of public fascination and derision. Both have been slut-shamed from day one, have had death threats leveled at them, and have been condemned by the media for being female and having sex. And yet both also have supporters, like my friend and I. We find it fascinating that reams of newsprint and gigabytes of data have been written about them; we have all formed opinions about them both, knowing only what media has been able to show us; we think we know them, like we presume to know so many young women who exhibit their sexuality (click that link! it takes you to a HuffPo profile of three porn stars and their personal stories and it’s SO GOOD and a quick read), all because of some sexual debauchery they engaged in in their early twenties that made them (in)famous.
I feel as if we all live under the shadows of the decisions we make in our late teens and early twenties. I think our twenties are the years during which we figure out whether those shadows are where we want to stay. Where we grapple with our demons and decide who we really want to be. But most of us have the privacy to wrestle our shadows back under the bed in anonymity, or at least some form of it. We get to curate our public personas via selfies and statuses and reblogs, and decide what parts of the self we choose at the end of it all to show to the world. Not so for the Knoxes.
Anyway, this conversation brought us around to the fact that–weird!–these two women have the same last name. Amanda Knox, of course, is a real name rather than a stage name, but Belle Knox is the performance name taken by Miriam Weeks. She chose it. Innnnteresting. Knox, in my experience, is not one of those ubiquitous porn names, like Star or Love or Haze. She’s not the only Knox in the business, but she’s not one of those who has a large family of porn-siblings… And then I thought about how Amanda and Belle share so much in such a strange way, and I said, “I wonder if Belle took her stage name as an homage to Amanda Knox.” Knowing what I know about Belle, I bet she’s fascinated by Amanda Knox’s experience of being a smart young woman with a sexual appetite that’s been scrutinized publicly for years. It’s kind of a perfect match.
And then BOOM. Rolling Stone profile of Belle Knox (which is really interesting, btw–there’s not as much overt judgment in this piece as I expected there to be, it’s much more subtle, and the article gives a rare peek into Knox’s real life off-camera along with the turmoil and excitement and terror of being so young and so sought after while still ambivalent about the whole experience). And I quote: ‘Weeks’ hornier alter ego, Belle Knox (“Belle” from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and “Knox” because of her fascination with Amanda Knox: “I tried to find a name that wouldn’t really stick in people’s minds”), became a matter of national debate.’
I am a pop culture wizard. I can read the minds of young porn stars from states away, people. I think this puts me in some kind of rarified category. I should probably be represented on True Blood.
Further proof? In my Luna Luna article on Belle Knox a while back, I predicted that she’d make a lot of money in the porn industry because she’d been made famous as the “Duke porn star,” so all the haters who wanted to call her names publicly were actually helping her pay for college. I got a bunch of blowback on that prediction, as people assured me she wouldn’t last long in porn and yadda yadda. While the longevity of her career remains up for debate (I doubt she’ll stick around too long since she has other plans, personally), I was totally right about her being sought-after by porn producers and earning lots of dough. The Rolling Stone article mentions that she’s got an internship at PornHub this summer, shoots and stripping engagements planned all over the U.S. for the summer as well, a “best newcomer” award under her belt from Exxxotica, men lined up all day to pay $10 for a photo with her at conventions, and a side business selling used panties for $50 a pop. If she’s hoping to pay her way through college by doing porn, I’d say she’s in a good position to make that happen, wouldn’t you?
BLAM. In yo’ face. I know all the stuff. Where are my dragons?