Sister Rose opens the front door of her home. In the doorway stands a handsome young man in a white button-down shirt and paisley tie, with a more-than-suggestive look on his face. After she invites him in, he sits down on her bed.
“So I hear you like elders,” he says to the older, married woman.
“Where did you hear that from?” she asks (knowing exactly where).
“My companion was feeling really guilty and told me all about it. You both could get in a lot of trouble for this—unless you let me in on the action,” he warns. Sister Rose barely hesitates before, well, letting him in on the action. She seductively peels off her patterned dress, but something is amiss. She’s wearing what appears to be pajamas under her dress—a white tee and fitted shorts. She then removes his clothes, and the young man is wearing the same tee and shorts set.
Well, obviously they’re wearing white undergarments—they’re Mormons! Or, their characters are Mormons. This is a scene from the hyper-niche genre of Mormon-themed porn, and for the actress who goes by Maxine Holloway—known to Mormon porn fans as Sister Rose, and even better as the Mormon MILF—it’s a fantasy come true.
Holloway is a San Francisco-based porn performer, filmmaker, dominatrix, and sex educator. While her stint in Mormon porn has just begun—she shot her first scenes in January—her six-year career in the sex industry has been an exploration of power dynamics in Judeo-Christian institutions, eroticizing the religious to undermine the moral power of guilt and shame. “I always found things that are taboo attractive,” she told Fusion.
Given this affinity for challenging institutions through sex, it was only a matter of time before Holloway (who, full disclosure, is a friend of a friend) found herself starring in Mormon porn.
Mormon porn as a genre first became a thing in 2010, with the launch of MormonBoyz.com, a site that follows the sexual exploits of young, male Mormon characters as they work their way up the ranks of priesthood—with a keen eye for religious detail and authenticity.
MormonBoyz was founded by a man known in the industry as Legrand Wolf. A former Mormon himself, Wolf, 34, realized he was gay while on his Mormon “mission” to Italy in his late teens. (For the record, being gay isn’t a sin in the Mormon church—but the church expressly forbids acting on same-sex attraction.) As Wolf told Vice last year, MormonBoyz comes from a personal place for him, depicting the fantasy of what his life might have been like had he been able to express his sexual identity while part of the church.
At first, MormonBoyz was dedicated entirely to masturbation videos starring characters playing “elders”—those young men in the Mormon community who have attained the lowest level of priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS, commonly known as those door-to-door Mormon missionaries with the name tags and Bibles. But as MormonBoyz grew—the site saw a 160 percent increase in unique visitors from 2014 to 2015—it began to feature more complex story lines, introducing new characters and seeing them through the levels of priesthood and different (sexual) interactions with fictional elders and church leaders.
Then came MormonGirlz.com, a sister site launched last year by a woman known in the industry as Brooke Hunter, a 33-year-old former Mormon, dedicated to both straight and lesbian sex between Mormon characters. (Holloway’s steamy scene above, called “A Teenage Boy Seduces Mormon MILF,” appeared on MormonGirlz.) Hunter and Wolf were friends at Brigham Young University, and the sites share office space in New York City.
When it comes to their audience, there’s not a very scientific way of breaking down the numbers, the owners told me. Wolf said that the sites’ audience ranges from ex-Mormons who are living out their own past desires to current Mormons who feel super guilty about “sinning” to folks who are barely familiar with the Mormon church but sure enjoy watching the tainting of innocence that happens with and without those fancy underpants.
(Oh, and in case you were wondering, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints most definitely consider Mormon-themed pornography blasphemous for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that in Mormonism, pornography is viewed as immoral—evil, even. The fact that the holy undergarments are being shown at all, let alone in a sexual manner, is beyond profane.)
All videos are accompanied by an in-depth description of the scenario portrayed. These descriptions detail not only how much the elders (or bishops or presidents, even!) lust after one another other and how they express that lust, but also the various religious rituals involved—providing their audience a surprisingly elaborate education on Mormonism in the process.
While pornography may be a sin in Mormonism, notably, sex itself isn’t inherently a bad thing—in fact, sex for pleasure and love is celebrated, if not openly discussed. “Sexuality is a connection to God. The whole model of man, woman, have sex, have children, leads to divinity,” Wolf told me.
I’m not going to lie—sex as divinity sounds like a pretty chill deal to me. But there are some deeply patriarchal institutionalized caveats in this belief. Mormonism only condones sex between men and women in heterosexual marriages. The church definitely does not condone sex a minute before marriage, or sex between two or more dudes or two or more ladies.
Many of the church’s rituals, however, not typically visible to non-Mormons, are easily eroticized—which, of course, fuels MormonBoyz and MormonGirlz. And part of what makes Mormon porn so refreshing is its attention to detail. Many of the actors are or have been Mormon themselves, and Wolf and Hunter go out of their way to make sure the characters are as Mormon-like as possible. The actors do not sport visible tattoos (banned by LDS), and there’s no swearing in the videos.
MormonBoyz’s homepage also provides elaborate updates on every character’s journey. This week, for example, Elder Peterson underwent an “ordination” from Bishop Angus. In the Mormon church, ordination is a ceremony in which LDS officers confer holy authority unto younger men entering the priesthood—in part, by washing and anointing them with water or oil. (In the past, those undergoing the ceremony were naked under a poncho-like sheet, but the church did away with required nudity in 2005.)
During the ordination ceremony, the younger men are also given those special holy underwear that they must wear under their clothes as a sign of their sacred covenant with God. It doesn’t take a particularly vivid imagination to envision how this ceremony could be sexualized—and indeed, on MormonBoyz, it usually becomes “ordination by insemination.”
Because women are not allowed to enter the priesthood at all, MormonGirlz follows other exploits of various girls and “sister wives” (though the actual church disavowed polygamy more than a century ago). Girls do go through “endowment ceremonies,” however, usually just before a mission or marriage, where older female members of the church deem them worthy of entering the religion’s temple, where they vow to support their future husband, and where they receive their special undergarments as well. These ceremonies, too, provide pornographic fodder.
Another way Mormon porn is realistic? It features very little diversity in the color of its actors’ skin. Mormonism has historically and theologically been one racist religion.
But the genius of Mormon porn lies in its intention: Its blasphemy doesn’t come from a place of wanton disregard or disrespect. It comes largely from the pain of former worshipers’ rejection, from repression of identity, from coping, and from acceptance of oneself. And sex, obviously.
Long before she had discovered MormonGirlz (or MormonBoyz), Maxine Holloway was busy making her own Mormon fantasies a reality.
Holloway was not raised Mormon herself—her Jewish mother did take her family to synagogue for Jewish holidays, and her Protestant father took the family to church for Christian holidays, but as hippies, they raised her more spiritually than they did religiously.
“Before I started doing porn, I was a photographer and artist, and I did this whole photo series on women’s sexual fantasies. I made one on my own fantasy about having a Mormon sister wife and husband, so I recreated that scene.”
“It wasn’t totally based on being Mormon,” she says of the photo. “It was this idea of having it all. Having wives, husbands, in abundance, creating this weird, dirty family.”
Holloway wanted to focus on the communal aspect of relationships and the idea of getting different needs met in different ways. At the time, she was working in an art gallery owned by a feminist porn star, and eventually, porn became the natural next step for her, too. She started off doing BDSM and queer porn (“f*cking outside the lines of the gender binary,” as she put it), and soon discovered that she had stumbled on a lucrative career path.
“I kind of realized I was kind of good at it and was getting paid for it,” Holloway told me. “And then I was starting to be asked to be in this movie and be in that movie, and then someone was like, ‘Do you want to go to Italy and shoot a film?’ And I thought, ‘Oh maybe I should do this instead of being a photographer and bartending and waiting tables and working at art galleries to make ends meet.’ I found out that I didn’t have to work so many jobs to do well. That was my entrance.”
Within a few years of launching her porn career, Holloway started doing in-person sessions as a dominatrix, in which she did (and still does) a lot of religious role play. “In my work I’ve gotten the chance to explore a lot of those things. I’ve done a lot of Sexy Nun, or Strict Nun, or Jesus and Mary Magdalene role play, or stern Jewish mother role play,” she told me. But there was something about Mormonism that kept tugging at her.
So how did she find out about MormonGirlz? “Snapchat, of course.” A friend and sex industry colleague had snapped a selfie for Holloway while on set for MormonGirlz, and Holloway was instantly hooked.
“I was like, “Oh my god, I am obsessed with this,’” she said. “It totally mirrored the fantasies I already had. The website was done so well. When people think of Mormon porn, they think old fashioned pioneers in the 1800s, but it was more contemporary LDS, which I love. It’s not campy role play. It seemed very realistic, and I’m very picky about my role play, especially because it’s something that I personally like.”
Holloway never solicits companies to shoot videos—they usually reach out to her. But she felt she had to be a part of this world. So she got in touch with Hunter. “I wrote her a letter like, ‘This is my website, This is my experience, I am kind of obsessed with Mormonism and have this Mormon fantasy, just please, pretty please, can I shoot with you?’”
A few weeks later, Holloway was in New York shooting her first scene as Sister Rose, the Mormon MILF. (Unlike the title “elder,” which refers to a level of authority in the LDS church, all Mormon women are referred to as “sister.”)
In a world of male elders, bishops, and a patriarch, the Mormon MILF is an interesting case study. Hunter told Fusion she was a character that was highly requested from the viewers—and she’s a hit. “I don’t know if that’s a maternal thing or not. I don’t know exactly what that’s about,” Hunter told Fusion.
So who is the Mormon MILF? Well, Sister Rose is an older (in that she’s not 19), married woman who seduces all the younger boys (and girls). “My character is a total f*cking slut for sure,” Holloway told me. But what particularly attracts Holloway to the role is the absence of judgment. “They didn’t slut shame me in the entire process, which I really appreciate. No, I am just this insatiable hungry sexualized MILF, and I am having a great time, even when I’m being blackmailed.”
There are, of course, many current Mormons and ex-Mormons who relate to the sexual repression that can come with the religion firsthand. They have been on missions—religious journeys that involve traveling to remote countries to spread the word of Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism—where they were forced to be in close-quarters with a same-sex “companion” during the height of their sexual development. They have been taught that all sexual feelings outside a heterosexual marriage are wrong.
They’ve lived through the belief that maybe if they prayed hard enough and were good enough people, God would take these feelings away. Mormon porn aims to speak directly to them. After all, both Wolf and Hunter served on Mormon missions, where they discovered their same-sex attractions. Wolf clearly remembers showering with the other missionaries, as the bathroom had an open-shower setup: “That was when I had the first inkling that I might be gay.”
Hunter, meanwhile, had a romantic affair with one of her companions, “which is a big no-no in the church,” she told me. “You’re there with someone of the same sex, in intimate quarters for long periods of time,” and after a while, certain feelings can’t be helped.
“When you’re a Mormon teen, you’re not supposed to have sex,” Wolf added. “You’re a virgin until you’re married. And it can be really confusing to figure out your sexuality if you’re not having sex.”
Holloway describes receiving a kind email from an ex-Mormon fan for whom these themes really resonated. “He was a fan of mine before, and we had no connection about Mormonism, but when he found out that I did Mormon stuff, he wrote me this really long note and was very appreciative,” she told me.
In the letter, the fan described growing up Mormon, and how repressive the church was for him. He told Holloway that seeing her as the Mormon MILF was actually healing for him. “I think my job is important. I think I’m representing healthy sexuality,” she told me “And being an ambassador for different kinks and sexual identities is very important.”
Yes, Mormon porn fills different needs for everyone involved: For the audience, it offers an outlet to address feelings of guilt and sex in the context of religion. For Hunter and Wolf, it offers a chance to revisit old memories, creating more pleasurable scenarios than what actually happened. And for some actors new to porn, it offers a way to explore a more tender corner of the adult entertainment industry.
For the actor known as Peter Pounder, who plays Elder Sorensen on MormonBoyz, his Mormon porn shoots offered a gentle introduction to porn. “I originally wanted to do porn because it was having about having sex. Mormon porn looked like a more timid entrance into the industry. It’s not like I’m having some gonzo orgy right off the bat,” the 18-year-old said of the genre’s appeal.
One can’t help but observe that, on MormonBoyz, the gradual initiation of actors echoes the gradual initiation of young men into the church itself. “As performers, some of these guys have never been on camera before, and some have never been with a guy before,” said an actor known on the site only as Patriarch Smith. “You’re playing off the character, and this is their first time doing porn. There’s all these layers of stuff that you’re doing.”
For Holloway, Mormon porn’s relative innocence is a new and refreshing take on kink. That’s right—the gentle caresses, the slow seduction, the sensual and consensual approach to missionary sex (pun intended) is exactly what makes it so titillating.
“Maybe because I’ve been in the sex industry for so long, but I’m always looking for new things to subvert or find attractive,” Holloway said. “Part of what I find attractive with Mormon porn is that it’s really vanilla actually, which to me is super exciting.”
But most of all, Holloway likes that it allows her to help viewers find peace and pleasure—something that can be challenging for anyone raised in a strict religious setting. “Sometimes you can eroticize things that scare you or trouble you. And if you have the type of upbringing where religion was a really intense thing for you, I think it can be cathartic and healthy to examine things with this sexualized lens.”
While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will probably never endorse such a radical notion, Holloway plans to continue waging her battle against institutional sexual repression one (or more) horny Mormons at a time.