The Rise and Fall of Porn’s Julian Assange
Donny Long ran Porn Wikileaks, which terrorized adult actors and outed ’crossover’ performers. Then he fled the country.
A few years after WikiLeaks made a name for itself amassing a database of classified documents and government information, the adult industry faced a copycat: an anonymous online forum called Porn Wikileaks, which terrorized performers by leaking personal information, including the names of more than 15,000 adult actors and actresses.
Like the original site, the copycat professed to use leaks to fight corruption, borrowing the wording of their mission statement straight from the original WikiLeaks (more often than not, Porn Wikileaks amounted to an anonymous archive of rumors, homophobia, and racism). But the parallels between the two sites wound up going further than intended.
Around the same time that Julian Assange isolated himself in an embassy, Donny Long a.k.a. Donald Carlos Seoane—the man widely believed to be the founder of the copycat site—also fled the country, spent six years in exile, and then returned, semi-retired, all but isolated from the broader porn world, to live a contained life in a South Florida suburb. In the time since, Long has stayed mostly under the radar. Now, he told The Daily Beast, he is a “family man.”
Porn Wikileaks first appeared online in December of 2010, and almost immediately put the adult industry on edge. In March of 2011, the site exposed stolen STD-testing medical records from AIM Healthcare, a porn industry medical clinic (which closed down not long after the breach). The anonymous login also allowed users to unleash torrents of racist, sexist, and virulently homophobic rumors on the internet.
The majority of these comments trafficked in name-calling and low-level doxxing—revealing a performer’s real name and whether they did crossover—meaning, both gay and straight porn. But for a select few, the site compiled extensive files with personal information—not only about the performer, but about their friends and family. For one ex-porn star who spoke to The Daily Beast at the time, the site included photos of her father, mother, sister, and the homes where they lived.
Since the start of Porn Wikileaks, Donny Long, a failed Florida boat mechanic turned porn star, has maintained that he only “supported the project,” although he has been linked to the pornwikileaks.com domain and several similar websites, according to a lawyer who obtained his GoDaddy records.
Long aroused suspicions early on, in part because the website, which trades in brutally homophobic slurs, often echoes the hateful language Long has espoused since his early days in porn. “I don’t like queers and I made it known,” he told The Daily Beast. “I don’t want to stick my dick where there’s a bunch of HIV-infested cum in a hole.”
Before he got into porn, Long grew up in Kendall, a suburb of Miami. He spent his early years working on boats, before dropping out of the 9th grade to work in a marina full-time. In 1998, he picked up a felony for burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, according to Miami Dade court documents. In the 2000s, he briefly owned a used boat dealership, buying old models from insurance companies and flipping them to sell. But Long got out of the business when customer reviews and tourism in the Keys went south, or as he put it, when “the media shut [him] and bunch of people down with their fake news.” Instead, he went to work in sales at another boat shop. It was a boring job, he said, with a lot of down time that he filled watching porn.
Long entered the adult industry not long after, starting out in Miami amateur, before moving to Los Angeles to work with professionals. In the industry, Long built his career on attacking “crossover” actors and the women who worked with them. “The longer I stayed in the business, the more the homosexuals started to ruin the business,” Long said. “There were shutdowns. HIV vaccines. It traced back to a guy that was working in gay porn.”
When he briefly owned his own porn studio, Long said he “started a war with the Gay Mafia,” by putting pictures in the lobby of his studio of every actor who had worked in gay porn, in an attempt to “black ball every f*ggot working in straight porn.”
It turned out that it was Long who eventually went out of business, a failure he attributed to the rise of tube sites and the proliferation of free porn. He “had to downsize,” as he put it, and moved back to his hometown in Florida. “As soon as I did, all the warriors that hated me for years,” Long explained, “spread rumors all over the internet that I had flunked out of porn.” (He didn’t “flunk out,” he said, he was just “having fun… doing his own thing”).
Then Porn Wikileaks appeared, waging the same anti-crossover war Long had been waging while in Los Angeles.
The site was up until July of 2011, until a rival site appeared called The Real Porn Wikileaks, or TRPWL. The second site, whose name was intended to pull traffic from the original, hacked into the original Wikileaks’ user log and found the personal information of its contributors.
The rebel site doxxed Porn Wikileaks users until they deleted whatever they had posted to the original site, according to ManWin Tompkins, a Texas computer engineer who now runs TRPWL. A month after TRPWL began their counter campaign, Porn Wikileaks went offline.
After the site went dark, Long left the country. “I went to asia cause american [sic] women are fat and think they shit gold,” he told The Daily Beast. (At the time, he wrote on his website that he had “been forced to skip countries and watch [his] back everywhere because of the gay mob that started all of this.”)
Long spent six years in Thailand, where he got married, had a kid, got divorced, and married again. After a few years traveling in Latin America, he moved back to Florida with his wife, a cam girl who performs under the name Heather Deep. “My full-time job is taking care of my family,” Long told The Daily Beast. “It is what it is.”
Years later, Long claims he has moved on. Hours after speaking with me, he followed up to add: “One thing i cant stand also about the gay mafia is not just how they are cowards and only talk shit behind there [sic] keyboard…”
Kremlin Blessed Russia’s NRA Operation, U.S. Intel Report Says
When Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin’s brought NRA bigwigs to Moscow, it wasn’t a rogue mission. It was okayed from the very top, according to a report reviewed by The Beast.
The Kremlin has long denied that it had anything to do with the infiltration of the NRA and the broader American conservative movement. A U.S. intelligence report reviewed by The Daily Beast tells a different story.
Alexander Torshin, the Russian central bank official who spent years aggressively courting NRA leaders, briefed the Kremlin on his efforts and recommended they participate, according to the report. Its existence and contents have not previously been reported.
While there has been speculation that Torshin and his protegée, Maria Butina, had the Kremlin’s blessing to woo the NRA—and federal prosecutors have vaguely asserted that she acted “on behalf of the Russian federation”—no one in the White House or the U.S. intelligence community has publicly stated as much. Senior Russian government officials, for their part, have strenuously distanced themselves from Butina’s courtship of the NRA, which she did at Torshin’s direction.
The report, on the other hand, notes that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was fine with Torshin’s courtship of the NRA because the relationships would be valuable if a Republican won the White House in 2016.
“This reporting indicates that Alexander Torshin was working with the blessing of the Kremlin, at a minimum,” one European intelligence official told The Daily Beast. The official added that this reporting is consistent with his group’s understanding of how the Kremlin operates.
“The NRA is quite powerful, so when you look to influence U.S. politics, you should consider them as a convenient target,” the official added.
The report, published last year, is based on conversations that happened in 2015, before NRA leaders visited Moscow on a trip arranged by Torshin and Butina. The document does not specifically name the NRA or the Republican Party, but its context makes clear it is discussing those two American organizations. (American intelligence reports generally do not name U.S. persons or organizations for privacy and legal reasons.)
According to the report, Torshin suggested that Russian officials use the NRA to reach out to politically active Americans. Torshin, then a deputy governor at Russia’s central bank, noted the gun rights group’s influence in U.S. politics. He told the Kremlin about his contacts in the NRA, including conversations and meetings in the United States, and suggested that Kremlin officials scrutinize how some people affiliated with the group viewed relations between the U.S. and Russia.
The report notes that Russian officials discussed having their embassy in Washington participate in the work of courting the NRA. Kremlin officials also discussed preparations for NRA members’ upcoming trip to Moscow. Torshin recommended that someone from President Vladimir Putin’s executive office, meaning the group of people who support his day-to-day activities, meet with the group.
“My assessment of what was happening with Torshin and Butina and the NRA was that the Russians decided, a good period of time before 2016, to run an influence operation here in the U.S. with a couple of different goals,” said Steve Hall, who spent 30 years in the CIA and oversaw its Russia operations. “The obvious goal was the one the intelligence community assessed back in 2016, which was to help Donald Trump win and increase the likelihood that Hillary Clinton would lose. In addition, they wanted to create as much chaos in our democracy as possible.”
Spokespersons for the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment for this story. A lawyer for Butina declined to comment as well.
Kremlin officials at the highest levels have tried to distance themselves from Torshin’s outreach to the NRA. Last month, Putin denied that he or his security chiefs were aware of the undertaking. “I asked all the heads of our intelligence services what is going on,” he said, regarding Butina. “Nobody knows anything about her.”
And in April of 2017, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s longtime spokesperson, said nobody in the Kremlin knew anything about the broader courtship of American conservatives by prominent Russians. “We know nothing about that,” Peskov told The Washington Post.
Torshin and the Kremlin did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Torshin spent years building relationships with the NRA, as The Daily Beast previously detailed. A Tennessee lawyer named G. Kline Preston, who practices law in the U.S. and Russia, has said he introduced Torshin to David Keene, who helmed the NRA for a time and remained deeply active in its work after ending his time running it. Thanks to Keene, Torshin built connections throughout the gun rights movement and among prominent American conservatives. Torshin also dispatched Butina, a Siberian gun rights activist, to work in the U.S., maintaining those relationships and developing new ones. Butina struck up a romance with Paul Erickson, also an influential member of the American gun rights movement, and with his help built more elaborate plans for winning allies in the NRA.
Before moving to the U.S., she helmed a Russian gun rights organization called The Right to Bear Arms. Oligarch Konstantin Nikolaev, with the help of PR operator Igor Pisarsky, helped fund the group.
In December of 2015, she and Torshin helped arrange for a group of influential NRA members to travel to the Kremlin, where they had high-level meetings—including with the country’s powerful Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, and sanctioned Putin deputy Dmitry Rogozin, an ultra-right politician who oversaw the country’s defense industry. A schedule of the 2015 trip reviewed by The Daily Beast showed attendees also planned to drive to the Presidential Administration Office on Dec. 9, 2015, for a meeting with Evgeny Lukyanov, then the deputy secretary of the Security Council. NRA trip participants did not respond to queries about whether the scheduled meeting with Lukyanov took place. When the trip made national news after the U.S. intelligence community publicly asserted that the Kremlin had tried to help Donald Trump win the 2016 campaign, Keene said it wasn’t about politics.
“Rogozin is chairman of the Russian Shooting Federation and his Board hosted a tour of Federation HQ for us while we were there,” he told The Daily Beast. “It was non-political. There were at least 30 in attendance and our interaction consisted of thanking him and his Board for the tour.”
Torshin and Butina’s outreach to the NRA ended unhappily for both of them. The United States placed Torshin under sanctions, and he recently left his post at the central bank. Butina, meanwhile, pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to act as a covert foreign agent. She is in jail awaiting sentencing, and agreed to cooperate with American prosecutors on their investigations.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is also probing Russian efforts to court the NRA. Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating the NRA’s Russia ties as well.
One veteran CIA officer noted that references to the Kremlin in intelligence reports have a more specific meaning than in general parlance, where Americans sometimes use the phrase as a metonym for the entire Russian government.
“In U.S. intelligence reports like this one, the phrase ‘the Kremlin’ generally refers to Vladimir Putin and his small inner circle, which would include key power ministers, including the heads of the intelligence services (SVR, FSB, GRU), the foreign minister, and oligarch cronies,” said a 30-year veteran of the CIA with deep knowledge of the Russian intelligence services who spoke anonymously due to the sensitivity around issues related to Russia. “In this case, Kremlin decision-making would have likely been a smaller, even more limited, group.”
International affairs professor Nina Khrushcheva of the New School, meanwhile, told The Daily Beast that the American intelligence officers who produced the report described in this piece may have overstated the Kremlin’s organization and efficiency.
“I’m sure there’s truth to the report,” she said, “but that kind of incredible consistency and logic that Americans have in their report about what and how Russia is doing is just culturally wrong.”
“Russia is a chaotic country that makes it up as it goes along,” she added.
—with additional reporting by Anna Nemtsova