Sports world gets its first crossover porn star

Mia Khalifa blew up the porn industry in a whirlwind of religious controversy and sexual dynamism.

With her caramel skin and gigantic smile, Khalifa stood out from the porn star crowd, which is still dominated by blond, blue-eyed Jenna Jameson clones and all-natural, will-o’-the-wisp brunettes. However, what truly set Khalifa on her way to becoming an international phenomenon was the fact that she sometimes performed in a hijab, the traditional Muslim head covering. The hijab served as a perfect contrast to Khalifa’s bubbly personality and the authenticity she brought to her scenes.

Khalifa’s natural gifts and hijab controversy caused her to vault over well-known porn superstars like Christy Mack, Asa Akira and Lisa Ann — of “Nailin’ Palin” fame — to become the most popular porn star on Pornhub.com, the hugely popular porn site.

She reached her lofty perch after working in porn for just three months. And just like that, Khalifa was done. Since January 2015, Khalifa has not produced any porn, although she did briefly work as a cam model.

Having left the industry, Khalifa fell off the radar for a couple of years, only to re-emerge in 2016 when college and professional athletes started to slide into her DMs. It turned out to be a catastrophic mistake for the thirsty young men.

Khalifa blew up an NFL safety who got a little obsessed, wrecked a lusty MLB catcher who was a “big fan” of her work, and tanked an NCAA quarterback’s image further after he went looking for a little loving.

That is not to say Khalifa is undefeated on social media. The 76ers’ Joel Embiid had no problem sticking it to her, fans of then-Celtic Isaiah Thomas shut down her trash talk and Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield casually brushed her aside before blocking her.

Win, lose or draw, Khalifa’s social media antics kept her relevant and profitable. That is because Khalifa’s current job is not what many of her athletic pursuers probably think. She isn’t a porn star — she’s a former porn star.

Since leaving the industry, Khalifa has forged a path where she keeps most of her clothes on, yet is more intimately connected to her millions of fans than ever before.

All of her hard work on social media came to a crescendo Tuesday with the announcement of “Out of Bounds,” her new sports talk show with former Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas that will be broadcast on Complex News’ YouTube channel. The pairing makes perfect sense for Khalifa, a die-hard Washington, DC, sports fan who grew up in Montgomery County.

“I am thankful to Complex for the opportunity and to Gilbert for being a part of it. I can’t wait to offend and upset a whole new fan base,” said Khalifa in the press release for the new show, which debuts Oct. 16.

The talk show won’t be a huge leap for Khalifa because over the past few years, she’s built her own personal media empire. Using her social media accounts as distribution portals, she’s garnered thousands of viewers on Twitch, a website that has become the YouTube of independent livestreamed vlogs. Khalifa’s streams everything from cooking demos to playing video games to unboxing things she gets in the mail.

There is no way to know for sure how much Khalifa makes from her Twitch channel, but one recent incident provides a clue. In response to Hurricane Harvey, Khalifa donated all of her Twitch earnings for the month of September to help victims. The total donation ended up being for $5,110.30, according to Ladbible.com, which was gifted to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, which set up a special account for hurricane relief funds.

Khalifa is proud of both the work she’s done on Twitch and her new show on Complex. However, there’s one part of her mini media business she doesn’t really talk about: her app.

The web-based app, which is part of the Findrow Network, generates money from both subscriptions and in-app premium content. Users who want to see photo galleries of Khalifa in various stages of undress pay $7.49 per month, $14.49 for six months, or $24.49 annually. For that relatively small initial payment, users get access to self-portraits of the Lebanese-American beauty in tiny bathing suits, lingerie that seems to be at least one size too small for her ample chest, or basically nude except for some very strategically placed hands or strands of hair.

Nothing in the photos is XXX-rated and all of the shots would get by Instagram’s famously anti-nipple censors. All the shots are, however, sexy in a teasing sort of way. Underboob, sideboob and cleavage star in every shot that focuses on Khalifa’s front. Low-slung bottoms and asset-displaying thongs are also heavily featured, as is the personality that made Khalifa a huge success in the world of porn. In one gallery, she wears no makeup while slugging back red wine in a white tank top. In another, she takes sexy mirror selfies in an airplane bathroom, and in another, called “God Bless Texas,” she poses in front of the Lone Star State’s flag in a Calvin Klein sports bra and matching underwear.

The type of photos that Khalifa posts on her app are middle-of-the-road fare for the Findrow Network. The publishing platform is home to apps made primarily by women spanning the spectrum from literal girls next door to models looking to make a little money on the side to current and former porn stars searching for another revenue stream. Each woman controls her own app, posts what she wants, and decides exactly how NSFW she wants to be.

The galleries that users can access as part of their subscription are just one way into Khalifa’s world, however. The other, far more expensive avenue is through premium videos, which range from a few seconds to a few minutes in length and cost between $10 and $20 apiece. Since the app was launched in July, the videos have racked up more than 280,000 views and more than 5,600 likes.

There is no way to know exactly how much she is making from those videos. The view count measures how many people access the 10-second previews that run before users are prompted to purchase the full-length videos. Additionally, the Findrow Network itself gets a large portion of the proceeds from both the app’s subscriptions and the premium videos. But the more Khalifa sells either product, the more of the overall pie she gets to keep.

Even if Khalifa is only making thousands from the app, she is doing far less work than she did in the porn industry. Actresses in that world typically make between $300 and $1,500 for a single man/woman scene, according to CNBC. Khalifa is easily making that much from her app and she’s only working with herself.

The other upside of the app is that she can keep it on the down low. While she regularly tweets about her new talk show, campaign on Patreon — which is basically GoFundMe for independent content creators — and her sponsored MyBookie.com gambling habits, she very rarely directly references her app. Instead, it sits unassumingly as a basic link on her Twitter profile.

It is not clear why Khalifa does not promote her app, although, of all her current projects, it is the one closest to her porn past.

And that past, while extremely brief, is still a part of her present. On the day her Complex show was announced, she was ranked as the second-most popular porn star on Pornhub and her videos have been viewed 345,000,000 times. Her app, meanwhile, is the 18th-most popular on the Findrow Network right behind Kimberly Kane, another XXX-rated star.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in nypost.com

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