The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Bonnie Rotten Interview: From Porn Star to Patriot

How Bonnie Rotten Went From an Anti-Gun Celebrity to a Second Amendment Advocate

Photos by Steven Kuo and John Schwartze

In the spring of 2020, Alaina Hicks was going stir crazy in her Southern California home. Information about COVID-19 was slowly rolling in, and Hicks was adjusting to homeschooling her 5-year-old daughter. 

“I was going nuts,” recalls Hicks. “One day, my social media manager calls me up and says, ‘Get ready, because we’re going out. We’re going to go have some fun.’ He brought me up to Taran Tactical, and I shot a gun on my own for the first time. I was bad, but I loved it.”

Hicks shot with a Glock 17 Combat Master that day, staggering as she got accustomed to what felt like an explosion going off in her hands. She had to be shown where to put her fingers and how to aim (not that she hit anything remotely close to the target that day). Hicks had no idea what she was doing; she hadn’t grown up around guns. Her grandfather, who raised her in her parents’ absence, was a Vietnam veteran with severe PTSD. So there wasn’t just a lack of guns in the home; they weren’t really discussed at all. 

However, there was something about the experience at the range that day that stuck with her. Something about the way it felt to start to get the hang of it, to get used to the weight and the feel of a proper grip. It gave Hicks a sense of something she’d never really felt before — confidence. She wanted to feel it again.

JJ Racaza and Alaina at JJ's July class at Prado Olympic Shooting Park in Chino, California.

“I do not like defeat,” she says. “I wanted to understand, mechanically and physically, how things worked and to be able to manipulate them as comfortably as the people around me. I wanted to learn everything about the gun industry, from the bottom to the top. Because that first time was when I started to realize the power that I had within myself.”

Hicks went back for another day of shooting and then another. She bought her own Glock from Taran — fully customized for her, as a lefty — and a few months later, she signed up for her first local IDPA match in SoCal. 

She didn’t do great at that match, but she fell in love. Since that first match last summer, she’s attended over 45. She regularly shoots USPSA, frequents Prado Running Gun matches, and is starting to dabble in precision rifle shooting. Her favorite discipline is three-gun, despite the extra 30 pounds of guns and gear weighing on her 110-pound frame during matches.

“The amount of stuff I have on me when I do that is so funny,” laughs Hicks. “I have to take it off right when I’m done or else I’m sore. I’ve actually had to start working out in order to handle the rifles more easily. These guns aren’t made for women’s bodies. They’re heavy, awkward weapons and doing things as fast as the guys requires strength. I look at guys like JJ Racaza; he treats his body like an athlete. That’s what I’m getting into this season — bettering my game. I’m trying not to drink or stay up super late. I want to treat this as a professional sport.”

Hicks quickly fell in love with all of it — the sounds, the smells, the rhythm of the competitions, the sense of camaraderie on the range. It helped that almost no one knew who she was.

Cobalt Kinetics Practical 2-gun match in St. George, Utah.

“To most of the old guys, I’m just some girl shooting with them,” she says. “Until some young kid comes up and asks for a picture with me, and then the old guys are like, ‘Wait, what was that about?’ That’s when I know the cat’s out of the bag.”

The “cat” being the fact that from 2011 to about 2018, Hicks was known as Bonnie Rotten, one of the most famous porn stars in the world. 

Like many Ohio natives, Hicks looked for an exciting escape. She grew up on dreams of appearing in the pages of Hustler magazine, which was originally founded in Cincinnati. As a teenager, she worked car shows, and when she turned 18, she won a photoshoot contest that brought her to L.A. for a horror convention. It was there she made enough connections to visit again; this time with an appointment to meet with Hustler editors. 

Hustler is everything in Ohio,” says Hicks. “It’s a huge deal. The nude part wasn’t. They told me I was cute, but that they typically wouldn’t show a girl unless she was doing porn. I told them that wasn’t something I was interested in.” 

Obviously, fate had something else in store. Hicks headed to Las Vegas that weekend for the AVN Awards, hoping to identify her next steps there. She did — for better and worse. That weekend introduced her to the guy who would go on to manage her in the adult entertainment realm for the next three years, putting her on the career path she didn’t feel ready for — a trajectory that would lead her back to the AVN Awards a couple years later, where she won Female Performer of the Year as Bonnie Rotten, her porn persona. 

Doing drills at JJ Racaza's class.

Although she didn’t intend to get into adult entertainment, Hicks excelled. Fans loved Bonnie. People waited in line for sex dolls, sex toys, and figurines made in her image; she earned record-breaking contracts and made appearances around the world — at one point, a journalist described her as “the next Jenna Jameson.” 

Externally, she was Bonnie Rotten, a tattooed, Midwestern girl-next-door turned alt-porn megastar. Internally, Alaina Hicks was absolutely miserable, counting the days until she could find a way out.

“When I was working, I also danced at strip clubs around the country. Girls would come up to me, talking about how they’d always been curious about getting into porn, asking for advice, and my response was always, ‘Don’t.’ It wasn’t that I was being competitive or whatever; it’s just not a job that I recommend to anyone. I wanted to protect them from some of the pain that I went through. I was so young — I just survived. I made it as comfortable for myself as possible and just made it through.”

Women on Target NRA class, Burro Canyon, California.

For the entirety of Hicks time in the adult industry, she felt completely out of control of her life. Her manager controlled who she saw and who she hung out with; she was constantly booked out of town, making it difficult to find a community. 

“I felt like I was used, unappreciated, and not living to my full potential for years,” she describes. “I felt like I was constantly under the shadow of someone else’s control.”

Porn is an isolating career that can cut you off from family and friends, and when you’re working in entertainment, living inside that media establishment, the information you’re taking in can be very narrow as well. Hicks sees it herself when she scrolls back far enough on her social feeds, where — around the mid 2010s — there remain a few gun control posts advocating for more restrictions.  

Alaina Hicks and her father.

“The media really twists things, and when you’re a part of that media, it’s very hard to distinguish your own objective opinion,” says Hicks. “I know that I posted misinformation at a time when I didn’t know any better. I was in the adult industry at 18 years old, constantly working. I didn’t have time to research balanced political beliefs. Both myself and the world are in a very different place in 2021 than in 2015.”

As she got older and began to participate in the world in more ways, Hicks started to reevaluate those early assumptions. She started paying her own taxes. She was reading more and absorbing current affairs. She finally was able to break things off with her manager and quit porn. She became a mother. It was that point that really brought current affairs to her attention. 

Alaina Hicks and her grandfather, skip.

“It really hit when my daughter was born. After being pregnant and watching TV for nine months, I’d been watching everything that was happening. When I started seeing social media platforms censoring the porn industry, it made me think to myself, ‘This is not a good sign.’ It made me realize that all our rights could be in jeopardy. You worry about the world your children will grow up in. I started caring more about notions of liberty and justice and people being able to take care of themselves.”

That’s what’s most fascinating about Hick’s journey in 2A advocacy. Because of her experiences in adult entertainment, she saw the writing on the wall and knew how easily the dominoes begin to fall when it comes to personal freedoms. She was deeply familiar with the impacts of big government on free expression of constitutional rights while making a living in porn, and Hicks isn’t about to wait around for censorship and overbearing regulations to get the upper hand when it comes to the Second Amendment.  

Alaina and her daughter.

“Generally, this is the best community I’ve ever found,” says Hicks. “They vetted me a bit at first, of course, because they wanted to see if I was here for real or just for Instagram. I love doing this, I appreciate everyone in this industry, and I do my best to practice that every day.”

Alaina Hicks with Serge C from Heroes Motors.

Hicks currently serves as an ambassador for the Firearms Policy Coalition, and, in March of 2021, she became a certified pistol instructor through the NRA’s Women on Target program, an all-women class that teaches beginner gun safety and gun fundamentals with .22s. It’s an opportunity for Hicks to help other women feel the way she did when she learned how to shoot — to help them find their inner confidence as she did. She says that when women walk out of the training sessions, they truly look different. There’s a visible shift in self-assuredness among the variety of women — “even women who’ve been Democrats their whole lives” — who attend.

Getting to work with them and seeing that sense of confidence emerge is powerful for Hicks, not only because of that shared experience, but to be the welcoming presence to newcomers that women don’t always get. 

Bonnie Rotten with a patriotic AR-15

“I hope that the gun community as a whole doesn’t continue to gatekeep who they allow into this industry, because we need everyone together in order to exercise and protect our Second Amendment rights. Black, gay, trans, Democrat, old woman, porn star — who cares. That’s more people that’ll vote against bills introduced to take away our rights —regardless of what party they’re registered to.” 

Inclusivity pays off, points out Hicks. Votes matter, and women’s voices in particular can carry extra weight in the 2A debate. 

“In California, the criminalization of guns is awful. They persecute everyone who advocates for the Second Amendment, and it’s not fair at all. But when women get involved, that opens up the conversation. It shows people that guns don’t have to be a scary, partisan thing — they’re for everyone. You don’t want to take a universal power away from the people.”

Alaina and her pistols, CZ Shadow 2 (2x), CZ Tac Sport, Springfield 1911 TRP, and Glock 43.

Alaina and her pistols, CZ Shadow 2 (2x), CZ Tac Sport, Springfield 1911 TRP, and Glock 43.

It’s funny how despite those early, gun-free origins of her youth, guns and conversations around the rights to own them have been an ongoing thread throughout Hicks’ life. In the darkest of days during her porn career, one of the few bright spots on her calendar was visits to Denver strip club Platinum 84, where she looked forward to seeing friends who took her out to shoot Uzis and rifles. As soon as she became a mother, she wanted to be able to protect herself and her daughter on her own. When she started going to the range, she experienced a total transformation, getting back in touch with herself and her power, and she has made true friends with fellow shooters over time.  

Her positive experiences with guns have also made space for her grandfather to open up to her about his war experiences. Now, he proudly messages her on Facebook asking for links to videos of her competitions. 

Alaina took us to her local gun shop to show where she gets everything she needs nearby.

Alaina took us to her local gun shop to show where she gets everything she needs nearby.

“After spending all that time around men being victimized and used as an object, and then being able to stand next to men and shoot as well as them, or better — there are many aspects that have made it a positive thing for me,” says Hicks. “If I had been raised around guns and knew how and felt comfortable shooting when I was 18, I don’t think half the guys that I dealt with would’ve come around. I would’ve had a very different 20s.”

Ultimately, advocating for 2A is Hicks’ way of helping to build the world she wants her daughter to be able to grow up in. Regardless of how her porn career went, it earned her millions of attentive fans, and she’s empowered to enact positive change starting with that audience. She’s developing relationships with leaders at gun orgs and 2A lobbyists to help with grassroots efforts. At the end of the day, Hicks is a small-town girl with a bleeding heart who has experienced a great deal of negativity and pain, and who just wants her daughter to grow up happy and safe. 

“Living in L.A. has been so very different from how I grew up in Ohio. I got to a point where I felt like I lost that wholesome part of my identity. Being able to recognize that part of American society — values of liberty, truth, and freedom — are starting to dwindle makes me very sad for my daughter. Fighting for the 2A is my way of fighting for a more wholesome future for her.” 

Model

Alaina Hicks

AR Rifle

Cobalt Kinetics BAMF

See more of Alaina Hicks on RecoilTV

Bonnie Rotten with her AR-15

Alaina’s EDC

Glock 43 with Hyve Base Pad

iPhone 12 Pro Max

House keys

Hunters HD Gold Ruby’s in special frames!

Louis Vuitton zip-up wallet

Apple Watch Series 6

KAB hydrating gloss

Alaina Hicks

Age: 28

Hometown? Hamilton, Ohio 

Favorite quote: “The best is yet to come, baby.”

Favorite firearm: I am obsessed with AKs. I have a SAM7 and a Century AK-47. Those are my jam right now. That’s such a hard question. I love all of my firearms. They are my babies and all have different moments of glory!

Best advice you’ve ever got: “Don’t let anyone define you but you.” 

Who is your personal hero? My grandpa, for many reasons. He supported me no matter what. We had a hard life. He was in ’Nam; he is on disability and had the time to take care of a child from 4 years old and still calls me every day. That man has been through so much and cares so much about me. That’s a hero to me — someone who saves someone from who knows what. 

Favorite bands? Black Sabbath, Tool, Steely Dan

First tattoo: A zombie on my stomach from the Night of the Living Dead: The Beginning comic series. 

If you could have lunch with three people — living, dead, or fictitious — who would they be? Frank Sinatra, of course, Ozzy, and Salvador Dali 

Worst pickup line you ever heard? Oh man, there are so many truly awful ones sitting in my inbox. Probably: “Hi, I’m a polar bear and I’m here to break the ice.” I’m like OK lol. 

What do you want written on your headstone? “She came, she did, she conquered.” 

If you could have a superpower, what would it be? To remove hatred from the world on every level. 

Website: Bonnierottenmerch.com

Instagram handles: @officialbonnierotten; @realalainahicks

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