Triumph: 18 Months After False Charges Nearly Destroyed Him, Rico Strong Nabs Urban X ‘Male Performer of The Year’

When the winners were announced at porn’s 2019 Urban X Awards on Sunday night at the Globe Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, one name stood out: Rico Strong. When Strong took home the Male Performer of the Year trophy, it represented not merely a celebration or culmination of a 15-year career in front of the cameras, it was a triumph over injustice and a repudiation of online social justice lynch mobs.

AVN‘s Tod Hunter reports that during his acceptance speech last night, Strong said,

“Let me give a big shout-out to the Urban X Awards. It’s really important to us in this industry. We work hard for this shit. … I love this industry, and it’s very important. I work hard and I’ve paved the way for a lot of people and myself. I’d like to give a shout-out to Prince Yahshua and Mr. Marcus, my ‘father.’ … I appreciate you all.

“Keep working fuckin’ hard and do not let nobody stop you from what you want to do. No matter how hard they knock you down, continue to fight. Be strong.”

Rico Strong knows a thing or two about people trying to knock others down.

Rico Strong and Leigh Raven on set for Black Payback. A nanny cam video of the entire shoot proved that Raven had lied about what happened on set.


Black Payback

On March 9, 2018 a little-known performer named Leigh Raven, and her wife, Nikki Hearts, claimed publicly (in a Youtube video — now deleted — and also on social media) that Raven had been a victim of “violent acts of sexual assault” on a set for “Black Payback“. She tearfully alleged that she was forced and intimidated into doing things she did not consent to.

Strong was her co-star.

By the time of the shoot, Strong and the scene’s director, Just Dave, had worked with just about everyone in the adult business, over the course of 14 to 15 years and thousands of scenes. But none of that mattered to the online social justice mob; Raven had claimed victimhood in the era of #BelieveWomen, and that was sufficient to warrant their outrage, and a fanatical faith in her truthfulness.

Raven filed a police report, asked for or submitted to a rape kit, and later complained to Cal/OSHA about the shoot.

The gist of Leigh Raven’s statements to police, and anyone who would listen, was that a white damsel had been raped and assaulted by a big scary black man. (Her public statements even exaggerated his stature; Rico is 5′ 9″.)

In time, however — during those simpler, pre-Jussie Smollett “gay Tupac” days — Leigh Raven proved herself porn’s answer to Breana Rachelle Harmon, Sherita Dixon-Cole and Mayella Ewell all wrapped up in one.

Hers were severe allegations of extremely wanton and bold behavior: that a group of individuals (all men, two of them persons of color) conspired to systematically and horrifically abuse a young white woman in a workplace setting, even though they knew they had professionally recorded what would constitute clear evidence of their crime(s), and despite the fact that the revelation of their actions would result, at the very least, in professional ruin, and at most prison sentences.

It didn’t make sense.

And while Raven began to alter and shade her story in time, Rico and the crew never changed their accounts.

A statement from Strong and the production crew asserted that “Leigh Raven was fully informed of the requirements of the scene, repeatedly gave knowing, affirmative consent, and was not coerced or intimidated in any way by any of us either before, during, or after that March 6 shoot.”

The statement also noted,

There is a high price attached to a Trial by Twitter. Just Dave’s shoots have ground to a standstill, and Rico hasn’t worked in more than a month. A leading talent agency’s response to the accusations was to ban both from ever working with its roster.

In April, obtained a nanny cam video of the entire shoot. The astounding recording supported Strong & Co.’s account, and demonstrated that Raven had made material misstatements and mischaracterizations in the YouTube video, and in her subsequent remarks online.

She had lied.

Following the release of the nanny cam video, Raven’s support began to collapse. You can fool some of the people some of the time . . .

Just then, hack writer Tracy Clark-Flory attempted to deflect attention from the direct contradiction of Raven’s claims by indisputable video evidence (as Florence King once noted of this uniquely WASP phenomenon, “we happy few don’t destroy evidence, we just tut-tut it into oblivion”) by shifting focus to a so-called “anti-transgender” joke told on set. It wasn’t much to cling to, but it was enough for Raven’s delusional ride-or-die followers in the “alt” community.

By June, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that the case was officially closed, and that the District Attorney had rejected the case for prosecution shortly after it had ben presented to its office. scribe ‘Voice For Reason’ wrote at the time:

Ever since Raven . . . told her bizarre and shocking story of alleged abuse and intimidation by a veteran male performer and director, every single person involved with the shoot other than Raven has rejected her claims as fantasy. Now the police and the District Attorney’s office, neutral bodies tasked with evaluating evidence, including the veracity of witnesses, have also concluded that Leigh Raven was lying and that there was no assault on the set of the March 6 production.

Or, to put it another way: in the era of #MeToo, after evaluating all the evidence presented, a female police detective decided she did not not even need to interview the man Leigh Raven accused of sexual assault. And on April 18, the D.A. rejected the case based on the lack of evidence that a crime had been committed.

But by the time this turn of events was reported, the damage had already been done. Rico had been vilified, and more importantly, he’d been out of work for months.

Fueled, perhaps, by #BelieveWomen woke tribalism, and producers’ fears of negative online reaction — trepidation in the industry lingered for a time. Other performers had stepped in to the shoes and the shoots he had been forced out of.

And so, it was a long, steep climb back for Rico Strong, but he reached the summit last night in downtown Los Angeles, on the stage of the Urban X Awards.

In anticipation of Strong’s Male Performer of the Year win, organizers had disinvited Leigh Raven from the event. And BlackPayback, the site she hoped to destroy, is thriving.

Oe can only hope that Strong’s triumph sends a clear message to the next person who hopes to make their name by knocking someone else down.

From Monday’s AVN report on the Urban X Awards


Photos from the Urban X Awards: Twitter / Rick Garcia / Industry By Rick

497590cookie-checkTriumph: 18 Months After False Charges Nearly Destroyed Him, Rico Strong Nabs Urban X ‘Male Performer of The Year’

Triumph: 18 Months After False Charges Nearly Destroyed Him, Rico Strong Nabs Urban X ‘Male Performer of The Year’

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