Shelley Lubben: Online Predator

Anatomy of a serial online stalker: Shelley Lubben, as seen through the eyes of four young women who were unfortunate enough to have crossed her path: adult stars Sierra Sinn, Taryn Thomas, Michelle Avanti, and former teen amateur porn performer Diamond.

When the rabbit screams, the fox comes a-runnin' -- but not to help.

Interviews and video by Michael Whiteacre

Porn Star Sierra Sinn Interview: “Shelley Lubben Ruined My Life”

The term “seasoning” has been used to describe what happens to a victim after being harmed. Predators, it is said, can sense the vulnerability of a previously-harmed “seasoned” individual, and use it hone in on potential prey. Then, with open arms and warm smiles, the victim is lured in. Many anti-porn advocates like to speak ad nauseum about “pimps” in the sex industry, sniffing out their “seasoned” prey the way animals do.
However, in the case of Shelley Lubben, her caricature of a predatory pornographer hs been revealed to be nothing more than a projection of her own mindset and tactics.
She identifies adult performers in distress or conflict, and inundates them with emails and messages via social media offering guidance, invitations to her “beautiful home,” and a shoulder to cry on. They’re told they’re special, they’re destined for something better, and made a seductive offer of assistance and fame. But first they’re asked to pose for photos with Shelley and record testimonial propaganda videos which she will use as fundraising tools.
On June 6, 2007, the following message greeted adult performer Sierra Sinn when she logged in to MySpace:

Hi Sierra,
My name is Shelley Lubben and I am a former porn actress who MTV Producers have been filming speaking to porn stars who may want to get out of the industry. Their plan is that the project will turn into a TV Show where the tv network would help the girls leave the industry and try something different in life. Could you imagine a tv show like that with all of America watching?
Anyway, please let me know if you are interested in possibly leaving the industry and being filmed. Could be an awesome opportunity for you. We will be in the SFV area June 7, Thursday, filming as well as the following week.

So began an acquaintanceship and association that would inure greatly to Lubben’s benefit. To Sierra Sinn, not so much.

Sierra Sinn, XXX star, says anti-porner Shelley Lubben ruined her life

Sierra now lives in Pennsylvania, and I interviewed her earlier this month by telephone and Skype….

Tell me about Shelley Lubben – did she save you from porn?
I don’t feel “saved” at all. She had me all caught up in everything, and then she just pushed me aside. She treated me like a poster child and dropped me like a habit. And now there are pictures of her getting her boobs signed by Ron Jeremy, so she’s obviously just a blatant hypocrite.
I read the MySpace and email communications between you and Shelley that you forwarded me. Her introductory message is very similar to ones performers like Taryn Thomas and Eve Laurence received around the same time, and right out of the gate she indicates that you’d be receiving “help” from MTV should you participate in this reality series she is dangling in front of you.
Yes, reality show about her helping girls get out of porn. That’s really why I took her bait. I wanted to get out, but, not to just fall by the wayside.
Shelley claims performers in the adult industry are, quite literally, slaves – people in “modern day slavery” – or trafficked individuals. In your reply to that initial message, you wrote: “I have been wanting to get out but it feels sometimes like a trap that I can’t walk away from…this email came @ a very good time.” What did you mean by that?
It’s a financial trap. Once you make a certain amount; once you’re accustomed to a certain way of living, it’s hard to go back to not having such money. That’s how I felt — that I didn’t know what I was going to do from there.
I’ve read that during that time in 2007 you’d also had a relationship issue, and there were other things going on in your life.

I had been dating a director/producer, and shit went weird with him. It was insane. I felt like he set me up to be in a crazy scene that was beyond what I was able to do. They never released that scene, but it scared me and it turned me off, and I felt like I went into a downward spiral. At the end of it was Shelley, with her arms open wide [laughs] luring me into her world.
To what extent did you want to leave or take a break from the adult industry, and to what extent were you anti-porn?
I’ve never been anti-porn. My problem in porn was the back-hand deals where I was getting revenge-fucked, basically, by certain individuals. There was shady stuff that went on, and that was my problem. I don’t think that porn should be abolished, I don’t think it should be regulated by the government.
You once wrote on MySpace: “I am over bullshit, liars, shit talkers, theives, [sic] and just about every negative influence in my life.” You had a problem with people you knew that you felt were unethical in how they treated you?
Yes. I really feel Shelley preyed on that, and she found my moment of weakness, and tried to use and exploit it. She exploited me worse that porno [did].
What’s your impression now regarding Lubben’s practice of using social media sites and reaching out to performers?

She’s very predatory. The fact that she doesn’t go for the girls like Belladonna or Jesse Jane – she doesn’t go for the ones in their high times, she goes for the ones that she sees, from their MySpace posts or whatever, that they’re not feeling it. She preys on them and gets them while they’re weak and tries to manipulate them. Honestly, I feel more used and tossed aside by her than I ever did from the porn industry.
Had you been posting on MySpace about your problems and frustrations before she contacted you?

Yeah, there was a lot of posts. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but the other day when I was looking through them for you, I was reading my blogs and I was like, “I was out of my mind back then!” I was partying a lot and it was very apparent, and I really feel that she pounced on that.
One thing that you pointed out to me in her MySpace messages to you is where she says, in reference to the fact that she was communicating with you while you were still on good terms with adult industry people, “I will NOT say a word [a]bout our ‘secret.’” That sounds like classic online predator language: this will be our little secret.
Yeah, it is a little creepy.

The subject line of her first MySpace message to you indicates that MTV Producers were filming her. Who did the actual filming of her video with you? Was it MTV?
She had a dude with her. It wasn’t her husband, Garrett
Did you ever meet anyone who identified themself as being from MTV?
No. I never met anyone from MTV. When she showed up at my house she had some random guy with her with a video camera. I think it was just one of her Christian people.
Where were you living at that time?
I was living in an apartment in North Hollywood.
Did you have any roommates?
Yeah, I had a roommate there. She was there the day that Shelley came, and thought that Shelley was a little weird.
How much time did you actually spend with her? How often would you meet in person?
It was rare, because she lived in Bakersfield. She would come in every couple of months, and we’d go to, like, a lunch. She was always like, “I love you so much!” One time we didn’t even eat anything, we just kind of talked for a minute and then she had to run. I was like, “Wow, way to make me feel special.”
Another thing that Shelley wrote about you is that, after meeting with her, you announced you couldn’t “do porn anymore,” and decided to “clean up” your MySpace page. However, from the MySpace messages from Shelley that you forwarded to me, it’s clear that she’s telling you that you should clean up your page.
Absolutely. The MySpace thing, I didn’t think there was a big deal with – that was her decision. I thought, whatever, I’ll do it. It was never my idea to change my MySpace photos. She just wanted her donors to see a “better side” of me.
I just wanted help to get out, and she totally made it some Christian crusade. I’ve never been that person, you know. I don’t care what religion people are and I’ve never been one to force my opinions down someone’s throat. She really turned it into something that it wasn’t, with the whole Christian campaign.
Regarding the subjects and personal details that were covered in your videos for Shelley, you mentioned to me previously that there were certain things she wanted you to emphasize.

Shelley told me to talk about, like, the rough stuff that happened, and the STDs; focusing on the negative. She never wanted to talk about money or anything positive about it, or even parties and fun times that we had. It was always focusing on the negative, like, “Tell us about how you caught gonorrhea. Talk about your first scene and how you didn’t like that.” She wanted me to focus on things that were not perfect.
I was mad at the time, at some people, so I was hurt, but she totally was like, ”You need to say this…” because she wanted us to get the show.
Did you ever compose a ‘testimony” for her site?
I don’t think I did; I don’t remember. I doubt it, because I was still partying then. Somehow I don’t see me sitting down, like, “I’ll write this out.” [laughs]
In her MySpace messages to you, she makes it clear that the videos are being produced for an MTV reality show. Did she ever tell you she planned to put them up on YouTube as part of her anti-porn campaign?

No, I was never ever informed she was putting my videos on YouTube. I was told they were promotional videos for trying to get a show, a reality show. She told me TLC, MTV, and BRAVO – she was always “shopping around” our reality show.
You’re saying your shoot with her was presented to you as, essentially, a kind of demo?
She wanted to get a reality show and she needed to “pitch” it with something — like she was taking all these little videos of the girls and she was going to put it in some show, like showing us in a reality show setting… getting out. And that I was down for. And the next thing I know she’s burning me up on the internet.
A friend of mine, actually, told me that they saw that video online. I didn’t even know about it, and I was like, “Oh my God, that’s embarrassing.” I wouldn’t have put that out there.
Shelley writes, in one of her MySpace messages to you, that after “the tv show happens … you can afford not to work in the porn industry anymore.” Was it your understanding that she was assuring you a comparable standard of living if you signed on with her?
Yeah, and then she turns around and tells me to get a job at a grocery store. She wouldn’t even give me a cut of the donations until I went an applied for jobs like the grocery store, and stuff like that. She even told me that she had donations for me that she wasn’t going to give me until I was proving that I was “doing my part.”
That’s not unreasonable in itself. I know you did take a job bagging groceries — what did you end up receiving from her?
Gift cards, and some Dollar Store boxes.
You mean a box full of Dollar Store items, such as candles, a crucifix bookmark, pink lip gloss and such?
Yes. ‘Everything’s better now, I got something from the Dollar Store!’ Those made me so angry. It was just so patronizing.
One of the most interesting things you forwarded me is the invitation to her Ordainment from February 2009.
Oh yes, “Come Celebrate.” We weren’t even speaking that much anymore. I had already gone home to Pennsylvania – and pretty much after I got home here they ceased contact with me completely. I didn’t get any more of the happy little dollar store boxes, nothing. Then all of a sudden she’s inviting me to see her get ordained as a minister.

And at your own expense, too. You’d have to pay for your own travel and she would recommend a hotel. [Here’s the invitation in full]:

Guess what? I am being ordained as a Chaplain on April 4 and want to invite you to join my family at my home where we will have lunch and fellowship after the ordainment. I realize not you may not be able to fly here but I wanted to extend the invitation anyways.
If you can swing it and you want to come please message me and I can let you know which hotels are available, etc…
I would LOVE to have you by my side as this is a very special moment for me, my family and for Pink Cross. I will be able to do Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals and anything pertaining to the spiritual needs of the people we are reaching out to. Heck, we could do Baptisms at the porn conventions! Now, THAT would be cool! My area of service will be to the porn industry. Pretty cool to go from ex porn star to Chaplain to the porn industry!!
I am getting ordained by the leader of the Southern California Chaplains Association and will be part of the order of Saint Martin. This is very significant for me as the Lord told me 6 years ago that He put a Spirit of Martin Luther King on me and I didn’t understand what He meant. Also, Martin Luther King was named after Martin Luther, a great reformer of the church who was named after Saint Martin de Tours, a powerful man of God who only a few hundreds years after Christ’s death was doing many great miracles by the power of God. The order I am with is in honor of Saint Martin who is from Scotland and during the first three years of my Chaplaincy I would have to go to Scotland. How cool is that? Anyway, I’ve always felt Kindred with the Martins used by God.
And what is so cool is that I’m getting ordained on the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and it’s like He is passing the bar to me saying “Go Shelley, and set the captives free and end the sex slave trade.”
So, it’s a very special moment in my life and want to share it with all of my loved ones. If you can come, plan to come for a few days and we can spend time together as a family in California. Who knows, maybe Disneyland one day? Not to mention, we need a serious Pink Cross Family picture!!

It’s now March 2012, and I can find no record of Shelley having visited Scotland. [laughs] What did you think when you read that invitation?

At that point I was irritated with her; I just skimmed it. I was already feeling cast aside. This was before I needed help again, but it was after I’d al ready been kinda like pushed aside, like, “We’re done with you now.”
I think the reason she wanted me there was to showcase – “look at this awesome girl that I helped!” You know what I mean, it would have been like, “This is the trophy. This is my little puppet that I helped out.”

In April 2009, two months after that invitation, you wrote her back:

I’m less than ok. I’m in love but I’m broke. I have a job but ends aren’t meeting!!
I don’t even have a cell phone anymore!! and now I’m crying again!
I’m applying for a second job so we will see how that goes…

You don’t even bother to ask her for assistance. Her reply to you is classic:\

Ah girl you need to let me know so me and my close team members can be praying for you. Is your boyfriend nice and helping you? Did you apply for state aid yet and foodstamps?
I want you to check out as you can apply for financial aid and go to school full time and they pay for your daughter’s daycare if needed AND you can get student loans at no credit check which could totally support you.
Otherwise if you need help with a resume let me know. Why not work at Starbucks? My daughter Tiffany works as a supervisor in Lancaster Pennsylvania so maybe I can ask her if there is an opening near you so you can work.
Sorry it’s so hard but it was REALLY hard for me and Garrett the first 8 years but I never give up and either will you. It’s real hard for Jan and her family right now too. She has three kids and they live on a military pay which is nothing, and they are donating plasma just to make it.
All the girls who left porn are all struggling but it is building their character and they are learning to trust in God and He continues to bless them and help them.
He loves you Julie. I encourage you to cry out to Him and to seek Him with your whole heart. You can’t do it on your own sweetie.
I would love to find you a good church you can go to so they can help you. Let me know if I can help you with any of these things.

She writes, we’ll pray for you, you should get on foodstamps, and at least you don’t have to donate plasma like my other success story, Jan Meza. She sends you a link for a financial aid website. That’s marginally helpful …

Not really –

But does that accord with what she had assured you initially?

No! She promised me that everything was going to be fine. When I first started talking to her, I was going to be able to still live in L.A., and my life wasn’t really going to change that much, and then the next thing I know, I’m, like, thumpin’ bibles and shipped back to Pennsylvania.

Speaking of your trip back to Pennsylvania, not long before your move you did an appearence with Shelley for XXXChurch, and a short time later Shelley wrote that you “want[ed] to thank the Esther Fund set up by XXXChurch for donating a large amount toward [your] living expenses.” What’s your understanding of the amount of assistance that came from XXXChurch vs. Pink Cross?

I heard her say something about the Esther Fund. I know that the day I left she gave me an envelope of cash, and it was barely enough to cover the gas. I had to find a friend to help me out with the hotels.
She likes to speak very loudly about the very, very little things that she does, if you know what I mean. She likes to put it out there like, she’s doing huge, big, awesome things and really, really helping people, when she’s doing the bare minimum, barely-get-by kind of thing. Half-assing it.

Do you ever look at your old movies now, and what are your feelings about them?

I looked happy. It’s funny, I looked happier then than now. I miss it, I miss porno, honestly. I hope I can come back because I feel right now that she kind of ruined my life and I really wanna stick it to her.

In what way do you feel Shelley Lubben ruined your life?

Her putting videos up with my real name and my face and all that, it’s made it really hard for me to find a normal job. Any time someone Googles my name, all of this stuff comes up. People don’t wanna hire that, you know? It’s drama, it’s an H.R. nightmare. It’s made it really difficult. She says she wants us to be normal people, and have healed lives, well then, why are you putting me on blast on YouTube? That way I won’t get a real job. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Did you ever hear of donations being made in your name by fans, and did you receive those monies?

I’m friends with some of them, and I know for a fact there were donations. [One fan] stopped making donations because I talked to him about it. He didn’t know how I felt about [Pink Cross] for a long time, because it’s something I just don’t talk about; it pisses me off so bad. So, for years after I quit, he was making donations. I told him about this last year, so he stopped making donations.

So, just to be clear, you never received any part of those donations?

I haven’t gotten shit from her for years. I haven’t even gotten one of those little happy boxes.
People told me about donations they had made, and I don’t feel like I received them. She gave me gift cards. I was like, “I can’t live on gift cards.”

In the second half of 2010 you reached out to Shelley for help –

I lost my job, I got laid off from a credit card processing job, and I called her, “Hey, I kinda need some help, I’m having trouble getting by week to week. I’m looking for another job, but in the meantime I need some help.” I started with emailing, and all I got back was the auto-response emails, like, “If you’re a porn star in need make sure you get in touch with us.”

I emailed a couple more times, and finally I got something back from one of her assistants telling me that Shelley was super-busy with her book, and that she wishes me well. Too busy with her book? She wasn’t too busy to put me out there…

I let them know that, hey I need some help, and finally her husband got back to me, after like a week or two of me trying to contact them, and informed me the only way they would be able to help me is if they put me back out in the spotlight, and if they put my story back out there – the exact opposite of what I was looking for. I was trying to stay under the radar, I wasn’t trying to get back out there. They were trying to tell me that the only way these people that “did so much to help me before” can help me now is if I put myself back out there, and I just thought it was a huge slap in the face, and I still do. It hurt.

The Mission Statement on the Pink Cross website doesn’t read, ”We help porn stars who give us propaganda.”

Yeah. I didn’t see that asterisk on there.

I remember when I first met Shelley – oh, I was her savior, and I was helping her out so much, and I was helping so many people, but then when it turned around and I needed a little bit of help she turned her back on me. The ‘good Christian woman’ wouldn’t even talk to me.

Then she sent me a copy of her book, and I wanted to fucking burn it. That was right after I’d asked her to help me.

Looking back on it now, would you have done things differently regarding Shelley?

If I would have known the way that it is right now, I would have not have even talked to her in the first place. She twisted things around. I don’t think I would have ever associated with her if I would have known she was going to put me on blast, and out all my business out there. I feel embarrassed I ever did it, honestly.

If she hadn’t contacted me, then I probably would have just taken a break and not made such a huge la-di-fuckin’-da about it. And, it wouldn’t have been such a struggle.

You mentioned you’re considering a comeback…

She makes me so mad, with her whole campaign, that it makes me want to go back and do a “Fuck you, Shelley” porno.

When are you coming to L.A.?

As soon as possible. I need to talk to an agent, and see what they say.

Article and interview by Michael Whiteacre

Originally posted at: