He revealed that he had been chatting to someone over the internet for a “period of a year or more” and ended up sending them explicit images of himself.
“It was months and months later that I found out that those nude photos had leaked online, and that there [are] now websites that are selling those pictures and videos,” he said.
He insisted that he’d tried hard to get the photos removed – particularly given that he was an actor on a popular kids' show at the time so was “fully aware of the ramifications” – but eventually accepted that there was “no fighting this”.
As a result of the leaked footage, he built up a wide social media following from what he described as a “very specific audience”, who would write “lewd comments” on his Instagram posts.
Dan's social media was washed with explicit comments after nude images of him were leaked onlineDisney/@danleebenson/Instagram
“When the OnlyFans thing exploded, in the back of my mind I kind of knew that the audience for that content [...] was already there for me,” he went on.
The 35-year-old stressed that he didn’t just “randomly” decide one day that he wanted to do porn, he just realised that he had “built [a] massive audience for it”, which he then decided to embrace.
Benson said that he thought that the OnlyFans “experience” is “different” and more “profound” to other forms of adult entertainment because creators are able to form “intimate connections” with their viewers.
“A lot of the people that subscribe to my page grew up watching me and then have this intimate connection with me,” he explained.
He went on: “I get messages all the time from people that say, ‘Hey, you were actually my gay awakening.
“First of all, that’s super flattering for me, that’s incredibly endearing and awesome. And [it] is funny to me because Zeke was, like, the dorky, goofy character on ‘Wizards of Waverly Place.’ So I’m like, it’s shocking to me, but I think that’s cool.”
Let’s watch my favorite Zeke moment ever in Wizards of Waverly Place! #disney #disneychannel #wizardsofwaverlyplace #disneychannelthrowbacks #zeke
Despite acknowledging that “99 per cent” of his OnlyFans subscribers are gay men, Benson emphasised that he’s tried to be “completely open and honest” about the fact that he’s straight.
“I'm not going to have sex with men on camera because everyone wants to see it,” he clarified.
“I don't want to look back in 10 years and go, ‘OK I made all this money, I got all this fame because of this, but goddammit, I was doing all these things that made me feel uncomfortable just for that.”
Benson has been vocal in his support for the LGBTQ+ community and, last month, he announced that he wanted to use his OnlyFans presence to champion its causes.
Alongside a smouldering photo of himself, he tweeted:
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