‘I Disgusted Myself’: Germany’s Most Woman-Hating Male Pornstar Comes Clean about Making Violent Porn

Broadly by Lisa Ludwig MAY 20 2016

GERMANY-i-disgusted-myself-a-former-hardcore-hatefuck-porn-star-comes-clean-body-image-1Rafael Santeria was a self-described misogynist poster boy for Germany’s hardcore porn scene. Now he’s trying to start over.

This post was originally published on Broadly Germany.

“Smack the girl and let out the animal inside you. You want to hurt her? Hurt her! You want to injure her? Injure her! You want to finish her? Finish her! You’re her executioner, her slave driver, her rapist, her torturer.” It might sound like a quote from the villain in a bad horror film, but these words are courtesy of porn star Rafael Santeria.

They’re from an interview he did with VICE Germany in 2015. At the time, he was as ambitious as he was controversial in the hardcore adult industry. Santeria was the self-proclaimed poster boy of the genre known as ‘hatef**k porn,’ in which the line between feigned abuse and the real thing is often deliberately blurred.

Hatef**k pornography isn’t just about conventional BDSM, which ordinarily emphasizes consent. Its male stars—Santeria included—verbally and physically degrade women way beyond what you might expect in even the most extreme porn. In one video, Santeria tells his female co-star as she has sex with another man: “Take him deeper, or I’ll kick your chest in.”

About six months later, Rafael Santeria doesn’t look much like an executioner or a slave driver. He looks more like someone who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in a while. We’re sitting in the kitchen of VICE’s Berlin offices to talk—not about the questionable taste involved in using misogyny as a PR strategy to flog porn, but more about what happened after what he describes as his “obscurely successful celeb phase.”

Santeria says he saw things in the hatef**k scene that made him unable to keep working in the industry. Situations in which actresses were purposefully overwhelmed and subsequently hurt; stories that deal with actual rape and assault.

Read more: Watching Porn Is Making You Religious, New Study Says

Santeria’s porn career began pretty harmlessly. “I showed up behind the camera in 2013 for a kind of trial,” he explains. “My agency back then was doing a big casting, a cheap production with a hundred people, four or five sets, a little S&M, but mostly gang banging.” At the time, Santeria had dropped out of two university courses, and says he was “without prospects.”

The only thing he knew was that if nothing else worked, he would make amateur porn. He landed a job behind the camera and got his first behind-the-scenes look at the industry. Back then, the fact that a woman “lay there for 16 hours for 500 euros to get f**ked by 120 men” might have seemed a bit weird to him, but his colleagues assured him that this was the “industry norm”—and Santeria had big plans. He wanted to work in front of the camera.

“I decided that I needed a provocative attitude to get noticed,” he says. “If battle rap has worked for 10 or 15 years, why shouldn’t it also work in porn?”

In December 2014, he made his debut as an actor as well as a producer, taking his previous experience of “moderate S&M” to the next level: punching girls, urinating on them and verbally humiliating them on video. He filled his social media feeds with woman-hating trash talk to complement his onscreen antics. As he puts it, he was unconcerned with his “bad boy PR.”

There were situations in which an actress’s handler would say to me, ‘It’s good if she doesn’t know everything, she should look overwhelmed.’

“For a while I thought [I could find] a hidden intellectual class [of people] who could be on the same metaphysical level,” he says of finding like-minded peers in the scene. That all changed when he was confronted with the kind of guys who actually watched his output for the first time. “Then I realized that it was really the dregs [of society].” Turns out there’s a huge difference between verbal violence—which may not be entirely serious, like in a rap song—and physical violence, whether that plays out in front of a camera or not.

“This paradoxical schism is possible in that one may create an artificial line between staged and real violence,” trauma therapist Tabea Freitag explains, but it’s a line “that doesn’t exist in the reality of the sex industry for women who are really being whipped and penetrated by three men at the same time.” She’s counseled those who have worked in extreme porn and knows its mental and physical effects well, especially for women. The line between play-acting and real abuse doesn’t just get blurred for the audience—it can also happen for those in front of the camera.

“There were situations in which an actress’s handler would say to me, ‘It’s good if she doesn’t know everything, she should look overwhelmed,'” Santeria explains. “People on the production team often said that they thought it would be good if the woman seemed to be bullied. Sometimes the actresses themselves would say that: ‘I don’t always need to know everything, so the situation seems more heated for me.'”

GERMANY-i-disgusted-myself-a-former-hardcore-hatefuck-porn-star-comes-clean-body-image-1463742908Jezzi Cat, Santeria’s fiancée, was also part of the hatef**k scene.

When asked if he didn’t think there might be something fundamentally wrong about that, Santeria claims that his female participants always appeared to be into it. Nevertheless, he began to question the “moral framework” that he found himself in for the first time.

“It started getting weird, of course,” he says.

“‘Overwhelmed’ is obviously a euphemism in this case,” Freitag objects. “It severely downplays what’s actually going on: namely treating a woman sexually in a way that is often extremely painful, traumatizing, frightening, and humiliating.”

Gerard Schaefer, who works as a psychologist at the Institute for Sexual Psychology in Berlin, also views the supposedly voluntary nature of hatef**k porn as dubious. “This kind of scenario has nothing to do with [acting or playing out abuse], but rather—independent of legal assessment—can easily be unmasked as an abusive situation [in itself]. Whenever someone assumes that the other person wouldn’t agree to a situation, then they’re [already] consciously crossing the line [when sex does happen]. Here, the mental consequences could even be more dramatic, if shame and guilt are harder to resolve because of supposed consensual participation.”

The fear of being labeled as ‘difficult’ when refusing to do something on a shoot is also a factor at play, especially for women new to the industry. It begs the question—even outside the hatef**k industry—of how anyone can guarantee that what happens on a porn set is fully consensual. “In America, and also a little in Germany, you can find women who tell their stories using pseudonyms, who were all ‘consensual’ actresses. But the line between voluntary and mandatory is often fluid,” says Freitag, blaming “tentangled power and dependency relations… as well as normalized sexual violence.”

As the months went on, Santeria became increasing uncomfortable in his role as the hatef**k poster boy du jour. He met his now fiancée, Jezzi Cat (who also works in porn), when she collapsed at a swingers club. Apparently she had overdosed on drugs—a not uncommon practice in the German amateur porn scene. He witnessed female colleagues being stalked and threatened without anyone stepping in to help them. But he didn’t go to the police back then either. Not even when he heard even more crazy stories.

“A few people just openly said things, I noticed other things because I was more in the scene and was focusing more on it,” he says. “The things were getting more varied, and a few things just were in our faces.”

The most shocking “anecdote about a half—or more or less not at all—consensual situation” involved a young girl being pursued through the woods by three men from the industry and being raped by them. “I don’t know if it’s really true or if it’s just some bar talk… But they showed me pictures of her hysterically crying in a blanket. And these are people who openly brag about using Stockholm syndrome [on women]. Child abuse was also dished up as ‘funny’ or ‘fascinating.'”

GERMANY-i-disgusted-myself-a-former-hardcore-hatefuck-porn-star-comes-clean-body-image-1463743008Rafael Santeria with Jezzi Cat.

Santeria and Cat only really got scared when their relationship with their business partners turned sour. When he visited a restaurant with them, he was ordered to send his fiancée to the bathroom with one of the others. “When I said, ‘No,’ he grinned at me and said, ‘Okay, then I guess I know where we stand.'”

Here Jezzi Cat, who up to this point has only been listening, also steps in. “They wanted him to do it to prove his ‘loyalty,'” she tells me. “I was obviously completely uncomfortable with the situation, because this person had started scaring me on purpose a few days before. First he was telling me rape stories and then he was driving me around some back alleys at night, saying ‘Oh, I think we took a wrong turn’—just so that I would get scared.”

Santeria and Cat, neither of whom had a permanent residence, fled their temporary homes to stay with friends. They tried and failed to work things out on email with their business partners, who denied everything—including the abuse they had bragged about in front of the couple. “They wanted to know why we were making a mountain out of a molehill and that I’m a hatef**ker myself and that my girlfriend is ‘obsessed with sex.’ Around this time, I started hearing about rape drugs and stalking and got texts from people asking me if they should ‘f**k my wife to death.’ After this October, my production [of porn] completely collapsed. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was disgusted with myself.”

Santeria deleted his misogynistic posts, tried to rehabilitate his public image in YouTube videos, and attempted to remove his hatef**k website from the internet. (It didn’t work—the site’s licence belongs to his former agency.) And according to Santeria, when it came to the bottom line, his adventures in hatef**king didn’t even cover travel expenses.

But when asked to talk in greater detail about who did what, Santeria gets visibly nervous. Now that the recorder is on, he doesn’t want to speak so specifically about the people and situations he described in my pre-interview with him. He ended up going to the police last December. “I’m still really paranoid when I walk around,” he says. He claims to have broken off all contact with the scene and now tries to hang out with people who “have a normal, humanistic feeling of what’s right and wrong.”

Tabea Freitag believes it’s more the abused women who have a justified fear of the consequences for getting out of the hardcore sex industry. “As trauma therapists, we’re confronted a lot with threats and punishments, with the scene’s power and dependency relations, in which breaking the silence is tantamount to treason," she explains.

Read more: How 'Porn's New King' Allegedly Swindled a Native American Tribe

Moving forward, Santeria says he would like to draw attention to abuse in the pornography industry. You could say he went from being one almighty woman hater to a full-on feminist. Santeria knows it's a reversal that won't be especially easy for people to wrap their heads around. On his Facebook page, he tells industry newcomers to get in contact with him in case they have any questions. He doesn't want anyone to make the same mistakes he did, but it remains to be seem what this outreach will look like in the future.

In the meantime, can hatef**k porn even justify its existence as a specific subspecies of hardcore adult entertainment? The answer is clear for Tabea Freitag. "The normalization and sugarcoating of sexual violence is a fatal message that leads any attempt at abuse prevention into absurdity. Making this into entertainment media means laughing at victims, it downplays [the] consequences and reveals a grave crime against women's bodily autonomy and integrity. It's so cynical and perverse when people try to stage these crimes as 'fun.'"

One of the most difficult things to understand is that Santeria and Cat want to continue to direct porn. "We thought about it for a long long time, whether we needed to stop—and we decided against it. Somehow that wouldn't be a good end to the story," Santeria explains. "We want to show that it can be another way and want to affiliate ourselves with people who do [porn] right. We want to replace negative energy with something positive."

Unlike the actresses in his stories, Santeria and his fiancé got out of the hatef**k scene with relatively few emotional scars. What remains of his time as the adult industry's up-and-coming star is the tattoo above his penis: "Misogyny." He's planning to get it covered up.

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