A promising young mechanic at a Honda dealership in Indiana was fired from her job after management learned she was making amateur porn outside of work using the platform OnlyFans.
Kirsten Vaughn, 24, told BuzzFeed News she was on track to become the first woman master technician at Don Ayres Honda dealership in Fort Wayne when she was abruptly let go from her job after colleagues discovered her account on OnlyFans, a social media site where people can pay to subscribe to private content and which is commonly used for adult material.
Vaughn said that after she mentioned her account in her Instagram stories coworkers began watching her videos together at the workplace and then sexually harassing her. But instead of punishing her colleagues, she said management blamed her for making the OnlyFans account.
“If the guys just would’ve watched their porn at home, none of this would’ve happened,” she said. “But instead of looking at it like, ‘Hey, the guys are kind of creepy,’ it’s, ‘Oh well, you’re the girl that brought this to their attention, and you’re responsible.'”
Vaughn was fired in mid-February, but her story went viral after she posted about it on Twitter on Wednesday.
“Really a shame they had to fire me for having my only fans page, cuz I got down at my dealership,” she wrote, alongside a video of her replacing an air conditioning system.
Jason Johnston, who handles human resources for the dealership, denied that Vaughn had been fired over her OnlyFans account, and said instead that she had violated company policy.
He declined to specify which policy Vaughn had violated.
But in audio recordings that Vaughn provided to BuzzFeed News of meetings she had with Johnston and dealership general manager John Watkins, the two men can be heard questioning her about her OnlyFans presence and discussing the harm it could do to the reputation of their business.
In the recordings, Johnston and Watkins also seem to blame Vaughn for the reaction of her coworkers. “If I walked out into the shop and spread a rumor, how other people react to it, that’s their responsibility, but I’m still the one who yelled 'fire,'” Watkins can be heard saying in one recording.
The pair also questioned Vaughn about how she felt about the fact that her coworkers were likely seeing her naked. Johnston also seemed to blame Vaughn for creating a situation where her coworkers might be tempted to sexually harass her.
“If there were coworkers over there who had access to your page, that might encourage them to approach you with unwanted sexual conduct or comments,” Johnston said on the recording.
Vaughn’s viral tweet about her OnlyFans account came as many people who are out of work due to the coronavirus consider doing sex work online to make money in the interim. Starting an OnlyFans account has become something of a meme, and cam sites have expanded rapidly in the last two months.
But experienced sex workers have warned that anyone joining the industry now should be wary of the risks. “People will find out,” said porn star Asa Akira during a town hall on Wednesday aimed at educating newcomers and organized by the porn trade association Free Speech Coalition. “Your best friends and your worst enemies will all eventually find out that you’ve done porn.”
“Your best friends and your worst enemies will all eventually find out that you’ve done porn.”
Vaughn has an active social media presence, and she has a following for her work as a woman mechanic on Instagram where she posts videos from the shop, how-tos, and time-lapse videos of her capable work on cars.
While she was on company time, Vaughn was by all accounts an ambitious and capable employee. The dealership celebrated her role as a woman in the industry, featuring a video praising her work on their Facebook page.
“I was a phenomenal employee with a perfect record that never got in trouble,” said Vaughn. “When I went to work and I was on the clock, I did my job and I was good at it. I was appropriate when I was at work. I wore my uniform. I did what I had to do.”
Johnston, the HR coordinator, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Vaughn was well-regarded at the dealership. “We think very highly of her,” Johnston said over the phone.
Vaughn started the OnlyFans account in January to make some extra money so she could pay off her student loans and mortgage, and start to save a little. She said her dream is to save up enough for her own shop and work on race cars.
When she was called in to speak with management, she said she initially thought it might be about a prize she was up for — and for which she was later named a semifinalist.
Vaughn wasn’t sure exactly how management learned about her account on the site, but she said word got out among some of the employees when she posted about her OnlyFans in her Instagram stories feature.
After that, she said, some of the men started showing her videos to other employees in the shop.
“I had a coworker come up to me and...he was telling me how the salesmen were all huddled up in a group, and that he had come up to the group and they were on an OnlyFans page,” she recalled. “And he said that he didn’t know it was me until they passed by a picture of my face and he said, ‘I’ve seen a lot of you.’”
“I was like, ‘That’s fucking great, thanks,’" she said. “Showing it to fucking everybody.”
Vaughn said two employees in particular became fixated on the fact that she was on OnlyFans, and began to harass her online and in the shop. She subsequently stopped any mentions of the account on Instagram.
“They literally would not shut up about my page,” said Vaughn. “I begged them to not tell anybody, and they would laugh in my face and say, ‘Ha ha ha, we’re helping you make money. Shut up.’”
In the audio recordings provided to BuzzFeed News of Vaughn’s meeting with management, the men could be heard asking Vaughn a series of questions about the content of her OnlyFans. Vaughn acknowledged to her managers that she shared some photos in her uniform and from the dealership’s bathroom on her OnlyFans account — but she told the men she took pains to obscure any logos or identifying features.
Vaughn told BuzzFeed News she was not the first employee in the shop to appear in an OnlyFans account, and that the shop has a double standard for how it treats men and women.
“To me it just does not make sense that they’re so concerned about their image and they’re so concerned about [my OnlyFans page], but they just let [other] things slide,” she said.
Vaughn said one male employee who appeared in his girlfriend’s OnlyFans account was teased by colleagues but was not reprimanded. (Another male employee who works at the dealership told BuzzFeed News he had also heard about the same male colleague appearing on a girlfriend’s OnlyFans. “The whole shop knew about it,” he said).
Caryn Looper, who worked at the same dealership as a porter from November 2019 to March, told BuzzFeed News she had also started an OnlyFans while working there. Like Vaughn, she said one of her colleagues began harassing her about the account and showed it to others, saying he was helping her drum up business.
Looper said she quit after complaining that the male colleague had groped her buttocks after work one day as he asked what $20 could get him. “I was depressed. It was eating at me,” said Looper. “I knew he was still going to be there, and that’s what really freaked me out.”
Looper said she filed a police report for sexual battery against the man the day she quit her job. A spokesperson for Fort Wayne police could not confirm whether Looper herself had made a report, citing privacy issues, but did confirm a report for battery was made the same day that Looper said she quit her job and which matched a report number she provided to BuzzFeed News.
In one of the audio recordings made by Vaughn, when Johnston talked about how her OnlyFans might encourage coworkers to make sexual remarks to her, Vaughn then asked if Johnston was concerned about a repeat of Looper’s experience with the male colleague.
“Absolutely!” Johnston can be heard responding. “Sexual harassment that you would find personally unwelcome, and that's something I would be concerned about for you.”
Reached by phone by BuzzFeed News, Johnston spoke only briefly before saying, “I think I’ve got more important things to do with my time right now, and I don’t think that’s any business of yours.”
When contacted later with additional questions, Johnston hung up. He and Watkins did not respond to emailed questions.
Vaughn said she knew it was a risk to start doing sex work, but that ultimately she feels like she made the right decision to join OnlyFans. The shop has had to limit the number of hours people work can lately due to the coronavirus, and Vaughn said that in the midst of record unemployment, she’s making more money from sex work than she ever did as a mechanic.
Vaughn said she was depressed when sent out the now-viral tweet, but she’s received a lot of support and she wants to get involved in activism to better protect sex workers.
“It highlights how sex workers are not properly protected,” said Vaughn, “and it can also be used as a lesson learned for people who want to keep their day job.”
Caryn Looper worked at the dealership as a porter. A previous version of this story misstated her role.