Commentary

Saunders: For someone who sought privacy, Belle Knox sure is overexposed now

bsaunders@newsobserver.comApril 23, 2014 

A Duke freshman who revealed herself as a porn star has revealed her face and screen name, "Belle Knox" in a recent posting to the website xojane.com.

BELLE KNOX

“That’s doubtful, homes. That’s very doubtful.”

When I called the Raleigh strip club where Belle Knox is scheduled this weekend to do whatever it is that she does and asked for an interview, a manager named Chris said he wasn’t sure whether she wanted any publicity.

Again: “That’s doubtful, homes. That’s very doubtful.”

If we know nothing else about Knox, the most well-known Duke University freshman since Christian Laettner bestrode the campus, it’s that she is not averse to publicity. She courts it, craves it, perhaps even manufactures it.

All over TV

Belle Knox is just a stage name. After being allegedly involuntarily outed for leading a secret life as a weekend porn actress, Knox became as ubiquitous on television as that shameless guy who keeps trying to persuade you that filing bankruptcy is good for your credit rating. If you find publicity anathema, going on “The Howard Stern Show,” “The View” and “Piers Morgan Live” is not something you would do, is it?

OK, maybe “Piers Morgan Live,” you would.

She’s in Rolling Stone magazine this week, giving an interview billed as her “first tell-all interview since her transition from a cash-strapped college student to America’s top new adult-film actress.”

She first came to our attention as just that, a somewhat sympathetic figure – at least I felt sympathy for her – a cash-strapped college student working as a porn actress to pay her exorbitant tuition. Sympathy grew when it seemed a dweeby fellow student recognized her work on film and outed her, leading to threats and harassment from other students toward her.

Shame on them right?

Not so fast there, Hollingsworth.

I suspected something was amiss in this Horatio Alger story when Knox said a porn producer was flying her to Los Angeles on weekends and breaks to perform in his flicks.

Sure, the price of airline tickets to L.A. has gone down in recent years, but so, too, has the cost of porn and its presumed profit margins. As I asked previously: What producer would spend thousands flying a relative novice without a recognizable name cross country to appear in relatively low-budget skin flicks? What, did they run out of nubile nymphets in L.A.?

Like Paris and Kim

Knox is cashing in on her notoriety. She’s not the first. Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian both entered the public consciousness after presumably “leaked” sex tapes initially sullied, then gold-plated, then ultimately bold-faced, their names. Both got TV shows, and Kardashian was recently on the cover of Vogue.

Knox may be a women’s studies major at Duke, but she has also studied Hilton and Kardashian. Mere months after loudly and consistently describing her newly public life as a “nightmare,” Knox is living what one could assume is the porn actress’s dream – being paid to make appearances as a special guest star, hosting an online reality show about sex and working as an intern for a porn website. The latter two jobs don’t even require nudity.

In Rolling Stone, the writer tells of accompanying Knox to one of her compensated appearances at a porn convention and describes her “school girl” outfit of plaid skirt, fishnet stockings, tank top and dog collar, posing with men who pay $10 a shot for a picture with her.

I am no fuddy-duddy moralist. As a man who once had an endowed chair at the late, lamented 14 Karat Dinner Theater sin den – and who is working on a never-to-be-published book called “Every Time A Strip Club Closes, An Angel Loses Its Wings” – I’m the last person on Earth to pooh-pooh how someone else has fun or makes a living.

I’m not even upset that it appears Knox, by portraying herself as someone dragged involuntarily into the spotlight, played members of the news media like a Stradivarius. All one can say is “well played, young lady. Kim and Paris would be proud.”

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or bsaunders@newsobserver.com

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