Mia Khalifa, The Internet Phenomenon That Far Outlived Her Porn Career

29/12/2019

Mia Khalifa entered the adult entertainment as a porn star when she was 21 years old.

Also known as Mia Callista, the Lebanese-American woman only performed for three months, but her name continued to appear on top of most other adult performers, even years after she left.

The adult website xHamster reported that Khalifa was the most searched-for adult actress of 2016, and in 2018, three years after she left the industry.

Pornhub reported that she was the second-highest ranked person on its site. And years later, she remains one of the biggest names in the industry.

What's more, she managed to garner mass media attention in a way many of her peers, never could.

Read: Natt Chanapa, And How Suppressing Her Online Porn Videos Only Made Her Even More Famous

Mia Khalifa
Mia Khalifa.

In short, Khalifa is one of the "overrated" performers, given the length and scope of her porn career.

Khalifa earned her initial burst of fame when she performed porn while wearing a hijab in 2014. This kind of video was new at the time, which in the adult entertainment industry, always draws attention, and also because it was controversial.

The hijab threesome scene boosted her name into popularity, far beyond most others.

BangBros that filmed Khalifa performing with hijab, received outrage from Lebanon, with haters claiming that she had brought disgrace to the nation and insulted Islam.

Lebanese media also made Khalifa a national debate about the acceptability of porn and female agency.

What happened here is that, Khalifa is unlike her peers who are from countries in Middle East, or have Arabic dialects and accent.

Khalifa is unique.

She is regarded different because she looked distinct. From her face, to her two Lebanese-specific, Arabic tattoos, and when she spoke about her Middle Eastern roots, for example. Khalifa managed to distinguish herself from many others, even from those who were her 'seniors'.

"There aren’t many Lebanese, or Middle Eastern, porn performers," said Alex Hawkins, VP of xHamster. "Aside from immigration issues, there is not a huge homegrown porn production culture in much of the Middle East, the way there is in South America," or Europe.

In November 2016, an online petition called for Khalifa to be appointed by President-elect Donald Trump as the next United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Laszlo Hanyecz and his pizzas bought using Bitcoins
A Lebanese protester with a poster bearing an image of Lebanese porn star Mia Khalifa, reading "It is true that this woman does sex but she is more decent then them" during a mass rally against a political class in Beirut (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

After retiring from the industry, Khalifa uses her fame to consistently speak against the accusations that she was bringing shame to Muslims and to the Lebanese.

Few really listened to her.

"Women's rights in Lebanon are a long way from being taken seriously if a Lebanese-American porn star that no longer resides there can cause such an uproar," she once said. "What I once boasted to people as being the most Westernized nation in the Middle East, I now see as devastatingly archaic and oppressed."

Not only did her brief porn career estranged her from her family and country, but she also received death threats, including from the Islamic State, in which the latter edited her face onto a future execution victim.

"Not even a week later the death threats were racking up. The entire Middle East was after me."

After she left porn, the porn industry welcomed a whole niche of hijab content after her scenes, indicating that there’s a consistent consumer base for it. But Khalifa’s videos remain especially popular.

The quick fame and controversy were some that drove Khalifa away from the industry.

And after leaving the industry, Khalifa managed to keep her porn fame, despite she doesn't really wanted to.

But due to her appearance, and her Middle East origins, she couldn't really escape from the fact that she was an adult performer, who had performed many sexual acts, including intercourse, in front of the camera, for public consumption.

Using her garnered fame as Mia Khalifa, she spoke out against the porn industry and the loss of privacy the job caused her in a 2019 interview with BBC's HARDtalk.

She speaks candidly about her regrets and the psychological impact of her past career.

She also advocates for various causes, including awareness about the adult industry and the exploitation within it.

With her phenomenon that far outpaced her porn career, she chose to become a social media influencer, where she has a significant following on various platforms.

There, she often share aspects of her personal life, opinions, and engages with her fans.

Khalifa's journey reflects the complex intersection of fame, personal choice, cultural identity, and the consequences of internet virality. She remains a polarizing figure, with many supporters and detractors.

Read: Mia Khalifa Under Fire For Her 'Molotov Cocktail Instruction Kit' Twitter Post

Mia Khalifa
Mia Khalifa. (Credit: Instagram)

Khalifa was born and partially raised in Beirut, before moving to the United States as a child.

Her decision to enter the adult entertainment industry was influenced by a combination of personal, financial, and situational factors.

She has mentioned in interviews, that part of her decision was driven by a sense of youth rebellion and a desire to explore her sexuality. Coming from a conservative Middle Eastern background, her move to the U.S. and subsequent decisions can be seen as a form of asserting her independence and breaking away from cultural and familial expectations.

It was a spontaneous decision, fueled by misjudgment, and naivety.

She had expressed that she did not fully understand the long-term implications and potential backlash of her decision.

From porn, she transitioned her career to more normal jobs, such as becoming a paralegal and bookkeeper, to then a social media personality, webcam model and sports commentator. She also performed as a webcam model; sells photoshoots, merchandise and access to exclusive content on a membership website.

She was also a co-host.

Mia Khalifa
Mia Khalifa on the new season of 'Ramy'.

From fans from when she was still in porn, to new fans who started liking her due to her internet personality, she shows no sign of losing popularity.

But many said that her porn rank is likely to hold as long as her social influence remains.

Khalifa said that she starred in around 26 adult films during her brief career in the industry, which lasted approximately three months from late 2014 to early 2015.

And in all, she said that as Mia Khalifa the porn star, she only earned $12,000.

And with the fame continues on porn sites, she never received any royalties from them.

“Where I am now is the byproduct of making the best out of a bad situation. I would trade death threats and constant hate/entitlement from men over my body for $15/hour and a quiet life where no one looks twice at me or grabs me in public in a heartbeat.”

Further reading: Mia Khalifa Under Fire For Her 'Molotov Cocktail Instruction Kit' Twitter Post