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‘It’s a Hot Mess’: Why Influencers Are Ditching Bella Thorne’s OnlyFans Company

Former clients of Content X allege pressure into taking nude photos and subpar services that tanked earnings
Photo-illustration based on an image by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

W hen former Disney star Bella Thorne joined OnlyFans, she reportedly pocketed $1 million her first day and crashed the site.

By the end of the 24-year-old’s second week on the subscription-based platform, Thorne had earned another million, signaling to other celebrities and influencers the site was a legitimate place to make some quick, serious cash.

Looking to ramp up her production portfolio and with the general public viewing Thorne as an OnlyFans success story Thorne parlayed her status into something more ambitious: founding a social media management company called Content X.

Formally announced in January 2021, Content X billed itself as a venture that would offer support to other creators, producing high-quality content with monthly editorialized photoshoots with esteemed photographers, as well as offering creators a chance to grow their platforms by working and modeling with Thorne.

But while joining the firm might seem to influencers like a lucrative opportunity to replicate Thorne’s success, several former models who were managed by or worked directly with Content X are now offering a warning to potential clients. As one model who worked with the company succinctly put it: “It was just a hot mess.”

Some of Content X’s former clients allege that the studio overpromised and underdelivered, and there’s been a steady exit of nearly a dozen celebs and influencers like Francesca Farago with millions of followers each. Former Content X clients listed a barrage of concerns to Rolling Stone, including chaotic photoshoots, sloppy managing of their OnlyFans pages and a significant dip in their earnings, while Content X still took a hefty chunk of their profits. 

Some former clients say staffers and photographers hired by Content X attempted to push models into taking nude or more risqué photos.

These former clients also all claimed that Content X failed to meet its central incentive for their joining: ensuring they had ample content with Thorne that would help these smaller creators bolster their following. Instead, several former clients claim they were barely promoted by Thorne and when models did photograph with her, it was more for Thorne’s benefit. 

“[They’re] just profiting off the backs of sex workers,” one former client tells Rolling Stone after working with Content X for nearly a year. “[Everyone has] collectively come together to make Bella Thorne money, and that’s it.”

In a statement provided to Rolling Stone on behalf of Thorne, the actress significantly downplayed her involvement with Content X, saying “My mom runs day-to-day operations and is our creative director.” Citing her busyness with other projects, Thorne says, “With my busy schedule, I do find time to check in with my mom and other creative staff.”

“Content X Studios produces fun, high-quality content that captures the vibrant personalities of rising stars in social media,” a spokesperson for the company says in a statement to Rolling Stone. “Many of our clients have great things to say about our work. A few might feel differently, and we wish them well. It is unfortunate that Rolling Stone has chosen to also attack a 24-year-old female creator with no management control or day-to-day involvement in our company.”

“Their selling point to joining their agency is very much clout … I thought, ‘Oh, I’m gonna be in photos with all these giant people like … Bella.’ … Why wouldn’t I want to do it?” 

Many of the influencers in this article spoke to Rolling Stone anonymously, voicing concern about both breaking nondisclosure agreements and retribution from Thorne. During the reporting process of this story, a call from a number registered to Thorne came in to Rolling Stone but quickly hung up. Hours later, one source requested that their previous quotes to Rolling Stone be withheld. 

Another former model, who claimed they were planning on releasing a tell-all podcast episode about their poor experiences with social media management companies, including Content X, deleted their messages to Rolling Stone before later sending an enthusiastic note about working with Thorne and her mother Tamara, who Content X confirmed was the force behind the company.

“I had an amazing experience with Content X they helped me create super good content and connected me with amazing models, they wrote. “Tamara is so creative and so artistic and like a motherly figure to everyone she encounters and I had the most amazing experiences.” (The same statement was used word-for-word in another message Content X shared with Rolling Stone, which they claimed they received from a different former client.)

Rolling Stone was also preemptively contacted at one point in the reporting by a “media advisor” to Content X, who inquired about the nature of this story, saying requests for interviews with some of their clients had “piqued their curiosity.” Later on, the same advisor attempted to smear a former client by trying to discredit her based on her previous public admissions of body image issues. 

While OnlyFans had long been a haven for sex workers, who have made up the site’s primary users since its 2016 launch, it skyrocketed in popularity when it also became a refuge for those who feared financial instability or had been laid off during the pandemic, as Rolling Stone previously reported

Thorne’s arrival was greeted with backlash from many sex workers, as OnlyFans announced it was reworking some of its policies soon after she joined. The changes are believed by some to have stemmed from Thorne allegedly charging $200 for a pay-per-view “nude” photo that wasn’t actually her fully nude. (“Also nooooo I’m not doing nudity,” she told none-too-pleased fans.) Unhappy customers reportedly tried to get a refund from OnlyFans over the purchase.

While the company claimed that no one client directly influenced their policy changes, soon after Thorne’s debut on the site, they placed a steep cap on tips and pay-per-view posts, and in certain countries increased the payout time for creators from seven days to 21. (“Limits are changed from time to time based on market intelligence, and are not the result of any specific creator joining the platform,” a rep for OnlyFans says in a statement to Rolling Stone.) These changes immediately impacted sex workers’ potential earnings from their subscribers; for non-celebrities who relied on OnlyFans as their primary income, waiting an additional two weeks for funds could spell disaster. 

When Content X was launched, Thorne claimed she had joined OnlyFans to finance her production company and to make charitable donations, but also in preparation for a film she was working on with Red Rocket director Sean Baker. He quickly shot that down. “I’m NOT attached to this project,” he said. “I advised her team to consult with sex workers and address the way she went about this as to NOT hurt the sex work industry. This has been the extent of my involvement.”

Much of the content produced by Content X occurs at elaborate monthly shoots that clients rely on for both their Instagram feeds and OnlyFans pages. The production value of the shoots with pro photographers, set designers and makeup artists who’ve worked with Sports Illustrated, Playboy and Maxim is impressive. The sets themselves are stunning, with Content X renting out a wooden chalet hours away from Los Angeles, flying down to Miami for a Baywatch-inspired shoot, having models cosplay as Mortal Kombat figures and pulling off an ambitious Purge-themed Halloween shoot. 

Until now, Thorne has widely been viewed being at the helm of Content X as the creative director responsible for all distributed content, in line with a press release last year. As Thorne had described it, Content X was a chance to showcase her skills as a director, producer, and overall creative while also championing smaller creators. “I’m excited to create Content X for this generation’s young creative forces and their social medium platforms,” Thorne said in the company’s launch press release. “Content X will also specialize in identifying young writers, directors, etc. on social media to give them a platform to develop their skills.” 

With Thorne serving as the public face behind the company, it wasn’t surprising that it had a relatively stellar launch, working with Jordyn Woods, Malu Trevejo, Tyga, Thorne’s ex-boyfriend Tyler Posey, and reality star-turned-influencer Francesca Farago within its first few months. They also welcomed non-traditional stars into the fold, such as adult actress Abella Danger and influencer Isa Buscemi.

But in recent months, Content X’s initial roster of around 15 people has gradually been replaced, leading to a revolving door of new faces. Rolling Stone has learned that, in addition to the former clients interviewed for this story, several other clients have stopped working with Content X, switched over to a different management firm, their page has been inactive for months, or, as musicians Pia Mia and Swae Lee have done, deleted their OnlyFans page altogether. This week, Content X announced on Instagram it is looking to take on new clients, encouraging those needing management or promotion to reach out. (Content X acknowledged to Rolling Stone there had been some turnover, saying this is the nature of a startup business, but declined to confirm how many current clients it officially represents.) 

“I was treated so poorly, and they didn’t give a fuck about me or my feelings.”

While Thorne had described herself as the visionary behind Content X, a spokesperson for Content X said it is her mother, Tamara, who is the creative director of the studio. A rep for Content X confirms that Tamara runs the company “on a day-to-day basis,” with several sources telling Rolling Stone that she coordinates the logistics of the shoots, handles complaints and oversees the finances. (Thorne’s longtime manager Thor Bradwell is also credited with forming the firm and her close friend Michael Cohen is listed  as co-head of development.) 

From the experience of the former clients Rolling Stone spoke with, Tamara helped recruit new clients and these former models claim to Rolling Stone that her sales pitch heavily played up the amount of exposure they would get from being associated with Bella Thorne.

Neyleen Ashley, who was with Content X for about a year, tells Rolling Stone the lure of shooting with Thorne was a major incentive to signing with the company. “They would make that promise and honestly, I did shoot with her a couple times,” she says. 

“Their selling point to joining their agency is very much clout,” says Madison, a former model who, like two others in this article, requested a pseudonym. “To me, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m gonna be in photos with all these giant people like Jordyn Woods [and] Bella. I’m going to have these beautiful photographs with real celebrities.’ Why wouldn’t I want to do it?’

Tamara denies using Thorne as a selling point to signing with Content X. “This is patently false,” she said. “We are able to sign new stars because of our reputation for beautiful content and referrals from satisfied clients.”

Joining Content X seemed like a win-win situation, sources explain, as Content X’s contracts are relatively straightforward and akin to what other brand management agencies offer. In exchange for a cut of their OnlyFans earnings up to 30 percent Content X would help run their page and promote them. Plus, they had the bonus of modeling with celebrity clients at monthly photoshoots where high-quality content would be produced. 

But all the sources claim that issues cropped up soon after they joined. At their first photoshoots, the former clients describe Tamara and the creative team paying ample attention to them and coming away pleased with the photos. However, by their second shoot, three clients describe a drastic shift in how they felt they were treated. 

“It was a totally different vibe than the first shoot,” former Content X client Chloe says, adding that she ended up abruptly leaving in the middle of her second shoot. “I was treated so poorly, and they didn’t give a fuck about me or my feelings.”

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Tamara Thorne and Neyleen Ashley in 2021. GP/Star Max/GC Images

“I felt like [Tamara’s] heart was in the right space,” Ashley says. “She had the right mindset, but every shoot was just always a mess. It was just always chaos.” (In its statement to Rolling Stone, Content X acknowledges its shoots could get “hectic” due to trying to fit all of the clients in.) 

Other sources also spoke fondly of Tamara and described having an overall positive relationship while working with her, with their issues mainly revolving around her management style and how she operated Content X.

Sources describe hanging around for up to several hours at any given photo shoot for a photographer to decide they were ready to shoot with them, only to be pulled aside for a quick session before going back to aimlessly waiting on standby. Some former clients tell Rolling Stone they felt they were purposefully ignored or sidelined at these shoots by the photographers because their body type was curvier than other models. “I just remember feeling body-shamed,” Madison says, explaining it was partly the reason why she sought out getting plastic surgery.

“When it came to being at the shoots, I hardly got paid attention to,” Ashley says, noting it was surprising to feel like an afterthought due to her close relationship with Tamara at the time – she stayed at Tamara’s home in Los Angeles when she flew in from Miami and was invited to her wedding last year.

“They promised all these big looks and all these big things,” she adds. “It makes you feel like shit when you’re sitting around looking at all these other girls doing the shoot that Tamara literally told you were going to do … It’s weird, and it makes you feel bad because you’re like, ‘Damn, why am I not good enough to do these pictures that she told me I was going to do?’”

Sometimes it even proved a feat to participate in photoshoots at all, two sources allege, as it became a sticking point when some models say they were left out of shoots. Most often, these models say they only learned they hadn’t been invited to a photoshoot when pictures were posted on Instagram weeks later.   

“I was promised shoots every month and traveling on these really cool trips … and none of that shit ever happened,” Chloe says, of participating monthly in photoshoots and going on trips. “They promised a lot, or all this stuff was going to happen and none of that happened.”

Content X denied leaving out clients from specific shoots, saying, “We invite everyone on our client list, and other collaborators, too. They tell us they want to be part of it.”

Even when invited to shoots, some of the former clients say they walked away with little to no usable content. “That’s where I noticed problems,” Ashley says. “I was getting these Dropbox links and I was noticing all these models with all this content and my folder [had] maybe like three pictures, where these other girls had 15 to 20.”

“I didn’t get one good photo,” Chloe says of an apparently disastrous Halloween shoot last fall, which was described by the former clients who were there as being particularly chaotic, with models waiting around for hours, a mixture of pro and inexperienced photographers, a lack of costumes, and the night stretching into the early hours of the morning. “The photos that were sent to me were literally horrific; some are even blurry.”

Content X denies that any of their clients “walked away without beautiful, usable content” from a shoot. “We do our very best to control things as much as we can with providing safety for each member on set,” a spokesperson adds.

“It makes you feel like shit when you’re sitting around looking at all these other girls doing the shoot that Tamara literally told you were going to do.”

Sources describe a hierarchy that they say dictated clients’ treatment, with Chloe likening the atmosphere to Mean Girls. Adult actress and Thorne’s close friend Abella Danger was a clear favorite, sources say. “The minute she would get on set, it was like no one else existed,” Ashley recalls. “If she got there, people had to get up from hair and makeup to give her [their] spot.” 

Not surprisingly, the top priority was Thorne, followed by other celebrity clientele, then creators who pulled in top earnings on OnlyFans anyone else was allegedly treated as an afterthought, these sources say. Instead of feeling like a priority at the shoots, which clients were technically paying for themselves through their OnlyFans earnings, sources describe feeling more akin to random models hired for a branding shoot. 

Tamara says it’s a “complete lie” there was any favoritism on set. “I tell new stars, ‘You are just as important to me as Bella, you do your thing and be proud of who you are,’” she says in a statement to Rolling Stone. “Everyone is treated fairly on set and there is no favoritism. We want everyone to get the same exposure and treatment no matter who they are or field they work in.”

Content X also provided Rolling Stone a prepared statement from Abella Danger, who spoke fondly of the studio. “I’ve worked with content x for almost 2 years now,” she wrote. “I’ve had incredible collaborations, photos and have been pleased with their promotion of my socials. I’ve also been hired to work on a few music videos they produced and again, a great experience. The management team at content x has always treated me and every creator like family.”

But sources Rolling Stone spoke with claim there was also an issue with Thorne preferring to shoot primarily with friends Abella Danger or Malu Trevejo and not wanting to shoot one-on-one with other models. “I was told I was going to get [solo shots] with [Bella],” Madison recalls. “And instead of doing it, she just went home. She’s like, ‘I don’t really feel like being here.’”

“You can just tell Bella wasn’t into it,” Ashley says, claiming Thorne made it known that “she hated every second she had to shoot with anyone else.” According to Ashley, Tamara “was the one that used to have to be like, ‘Oh, you have to go to shoot with her; you have to get a picture with her.’ [Thorne] was always kind of like, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to, but I’ll just do it.’” (Content X denies that Thorne ever resisted shooting with smaller creators, calling the claim “absolutely false.” “Our mission statement is to help small creators become large creators,” a spokesperson adds.)

Thorne was more willing to participate in the group shots, but only up to a point, according to sources. Some also pointed out that while many Content X clients pose nude or make explicit content, Thorne does not. “She’ll send out videos of us topless around her while she’s in a bikini,” Madison says. “This is just to benefit Bella Thorne to line her pockets; it’s not for sex workers.”

“Bella chooses not to share her fully nude body with her audience, and she respects and embraces the right of all artists to make that decision for themselves,” a Content X rep says. 

A scan of Thorne’s free and $20 monthly OnlyFans pages shows sparse promotion of other Content X models. This didn’t sit well for the models who spoke with Rolling Stone, who say the promotion from Thorne is what they were expecting when joining.

The business side of Content X allegedly brought another set of issues for the former clients who spoke with Rolling Stone. While Thorne was able to capitalize off her massive following which translated into loyal OnlyFans subscribers, sources claim Content X had trouble replicating that success for its non-celebrity clients. “They don’t really know the key to growth,” Addison, another former client, says. “They just think it’s like, ‘Oh, we’ll do photo shoots and then tag each other in them’ … but it doesn’t work.”  

It would prove a problem for the clients who were banking on Content X to help boost their platforms, instead seeing no real benefit from forking over a percentage of their earnings. Rather, three sources claim to have seen their OnlyFans monthly profits drastically decline, some by thousands of dollars per month.

“Honestly, I don’t think I got more exposure,” Ashley explains. “I never really noticed a drastic jump in followers or anything like that, even when Bella would post me on her Instagram … What I had on their end was more issues and problems when it came to payouts.”  

Several sources tell Rolling Stone that Tamara would preemptively approach them about their earnings being down and try to shift the blame to OnlyFans, with Madison saying she was given numerous reasons why she wasn’t doing well.

But, Madison says, her “income declined simply because of their work.” She added, “The way they would answer messages was super lazy [and] super robotic … Oh, ‘Got wet with Bella Thorne.’”

“Context X [sic] creates content for our clients’ pages, which are under the management control of the clients themselves. Our clients connect with their fans,” a rep for the company says.

The studio denies blaming OnlyFans on perceived shortcomings of its clients’ earnings, while also saying that sometimes the site would go down, which affected clients’ earnings. “We report [the site being down] to the sites and work to help them fix it, it goes back up professionally, and we are back to normal,” a company spokesperson says. (OnlyFans did not respond to a request for comment on the purported site outages.)  

While several of the creators that Content X recruited already had OnlyFans pages, the company encouraged multiple influencers to start a page. For Chloe, she says she was hesitant to sign with Content X and launch an account because she had no intention of posting the nude or risque content that is often associated with the site. Yet she claims she was ultimately persuaded to do both by Tamara, who allegedly assured Chloe that it wouldn’t be an issue if she declined to pose nude. (Other sources, who had previously shot nude or more sexually suggestive photos, tell Rolling Stone they never felt pressured to take certain kinds of photos.) 

But Chloe says soon after she joined she felt pressured to take more risque photos, recalling how at one shoot she was encouraged by a photographer to take off her top, but told that she could still cover her breasts with her hands. Outside of shoots, Chloe says Content X staffers who managed her OnlyFans page wanted her to send them more risqué and lingerie content. Chloe claims she was told by staffers as an incentive how much more money she could earn off risqué photos.

“[Tamara] sold me with this idea that I was going to be making a ton of money [and] I didn’t have to be sexual,” Chloe says. “Basically, as time went on, I realized that wasn’t what it was … It felt like they were trying to slowly get me to where I would be doing sexual content.” (Tamara Thorne calls the claim that Content X encouraged clients to take more risqué photos “absolutely false.” “I would never tell any woman to do anything with her body that she doesn’t want to do,” she says.)

Eventually, Chloe walked away from Content X because she says she was unsatisfied with how she was being treated. “I felt like because I wasn’t producing the content that they wanted me to like sending them nudes and sexual videos I wasn’t being invited to photoshoots,” she says. “It would make me feel bad because I didn’t sign up for that.” I totally feel [they] lied to me to get me to do this, and now [that] I’m doing it, [they’re] treating me like shit because I don’t want to be naked.”

Over the past few years, the creator industry boom has led to a Wild West situation around influencer management companies. New agencies seem to pop up overnight, looking for a cut of the massive earnings that creators on OnlyFans and other social media platforms can rake in. In exchange for managing clients’ pages, these managers have been known to take up to 50 percent of their earnings. Lurking in the midst of legitimate companies are shady characters who have been accused of duping creators into sending them free explicit content, posting clients’ nude images without consent, and even locking creators out of their OnlyFans when things go south. 

Earlier this year, Unruly Agency — one of the most-well known influencer management firms — was sued by two former clients who claimed they were pushed to supply explicit content for their OnlyFans pages. A third former Unruly client sued the company last summer, claiming it had posted illicit content of her without permission. (Unruly previously claimed the allegations raised in various lawsuits against the company “are broadly stated and not supported by any evidence.”)

While none of Content X’s former clients put their experiences on par with such firms, they offer differing opinions on what advice they would give to models considering signing with Content X. Addison describes her few months working with them as a learning experience, and Ashley recommends newcomers ensure their contracts stipulate that they will leave photoshoots with a certain number of usable photos.

But others issue more cautionary advice. “I think a lot of young girls, especially if they are new to LA or social media, it’s exciting for them to be like, ‘Oh my God, I’m gonna work with Bella Thorne,” Chloe says. “I feel like that can just get twisted very easily… and not getting what they’re promised.” 

“I just don’t think [Content X] gonna ever get it together,” Madison adds. “I think there’s potential [if] a bunch of sex workers did it together, but instead it’s one fucking celebrity just taking advantage of the OnlyFans market.”