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What Porn Stars Do When The Porn Industry Shuts Down

Dec 20 2013, 1:47pm CST | by , in News

What Porn Stars Do When The Porn Industry Shuts Down
Photo Credit: Forbes
 
 

What do porn stars do when they can’t work?

Last week, the San Fernando Valley’s adult film title="porn shutdown">halted production for the third time this year. The previous week, a male performer had tested positive for HIV, and the Free Speech Coalition, a trade group that lobbies on behalf of the industry, called for a moratorium on shooting until all performers who may have been exposed were tested. (Performers are required to provide proof of a HIV- test every 14 days.) Late last Thursday, the moratorium was lifted, and Porn Valley got back to business the next day.

Here, those who work in the adult movie business — producers, directors, performers, editors, and tech companies — reveal how shutdowns impact them financially and what they do to make money if they can’t make porn.

The porn star entrepreneur

“The moratoriums are always very difficult for a majority of the performers in the adult industry,” says Chanel Preston, a four-year veteran who’s slated to co-host the 2014 AVN Awards — otherwise known as the “Oscars of porn” — next month in Las Vegas.

For stars with exclusive contracts that guarantee steady paychecks from big production companies, the money is steady. For the rest, not so much.

Despite the amount of money that performers make, most still live paycheck-to-paycheck, so having your income cut off for a few weeks is a huge damper financially,” Preston says.

Porn’s enterprising female performers pursue other avenues for revenue. For example, a female performer who’s scored fame starring in porn movies can hit the road as a headliner and make money feature dancing at strip clubs across the country.

And technology has proven to be the modern porn star’s best friend. Live webcam shows, subscription websites, and digital storefronts bring in extra income. Although, Preston says, it’s hard to make up the difference.

“The amount of money made from webcamming is not always comparable to what you would make from shooting scenes, and feature dancing is generally only available to girls with more familiar names,” she says.

When it’s not in shutdown-mode, the porn industry offers a quick payoff: A couple hours work can result in a $1,000 payout. Online, returns come slower.

Jodi Taylor, who will find out if she’s 2014′s Best New Starlet at the upcoming AVN Awards, has a second job. She’s a production assistant for mainstream movies.

“It’s still a bit of blow because it’s thousands of dollars I don’t get and rebooking shoots can be difficult,” she says.

Porn is “great money,” she says, “though not dependable money.” Now, she’s ready.

“In the beginning,” she says, “I definitely learned the hard way, as most do.”

A woodsman’s dilemma

Logan Pierce, who was crowned Best Male Newcomer at the 2013 AVN Awards, says shutdowns are “awful for those, myself included, who depend on performing as their sole source of income.”

For men who work in porn, moratoriums are tough. The demand for male porn star strippers is minimal, and women aren’t shelling out tons of money to see guys perform sex cam shows.

Instead, he has time to think. “Moratoriums force you to question your motives,” he says. “As in, put things in perspective. These occurrences are never easily dealt with.”

Keni Styles, who’s a rarity among male porn stars: Asian-American, refocuses his energies on his digital ventures. He busied himself with driving traffic to his webcam site, developing his forthcoming members-only site, and adding content to his YouTube video diary.

“There’s always something for me to work on,” he says.

Last January, performer Christian XXX “decided to make a concerted effort to make a higher percentage of my monthly income before I left the house, rather than waiting on producers to book me for sex scenes.”

His income sources include affiliate marketing, clips sites, and his website. As a consequence, he says, the short-term financial impact of a moratorium “doesn’t affect me much.”

Production plans ahead

“The moratorium has not been easy for anyone,” says Joanna Angel, a producer, director, and performer. Smaller companies like hers — Burning Angel, which she founded in 2002 — can be left scrambling for content in the event of a sudden halt to production.

“With a bunch of shoots cancelled, we had to change things around and update with some scenes that weren’t ideal for our schedule at the moment.” That said, she didn’t expect consumers would complain. “I am sure no one will notice.”

Moratoriums are now the price of doing business in porn.

“I don’t live paycheck to paycheck,” she says. “I honestly never have — even when I worked at Applebee’s making $80 a shift.”

At Penthouse Media Group, production manager Francisco Guerra oversees the creation of everything-but-porn content during a moratorium. That includes “wraparounds, solo photo sets, product shots, commercials, promos, and anything that doesn’t require a test or sexual interaction between performers.” He also encourages female performers to make up the lost income by doing solo shows on Penthouse’s dedicated cam site.

In his view, production crew members, from videographers to makeup artists, most of whom are independent contractors, suffer the most in a shutdown.

“The performers, especially girls, can generate income doing several things, like auctioning and selling merchandise, doing cams, [and] solo photo sets,” he says, “whereas the crew is on the expense of the studios and have to wait until the moratorium is lifted.”

As Sonny Malone, a video editor known as Smutcutter, puts it, “If nothing is being shot, there is nothing to be edited.”

Girls who host their own webcam shows don’t require her services. “If there are any solo performances,” Malone says, “they are live on the performers website.”

This time, she was ready. The earlier shutdowns were more challenging.

“I was hurting as bad and any camera man, lighting person, production assistant, or makeup person,” she says. “This industry has a lot of moving parts, and when one thing stops, we all stop.”

Bespoke porn fills the gap
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Tim Stokely, CEO and founder of the London-based Customs4U, a video site that enables consumers to request bespoke adult content and performers to create it, found the moratorium impacted his business: It increased.

“We have witnessed a growth in revenue, most likely due to the increase in models and social media interactions,” he says. “Of course, as the majority of custom video requests are for ‘solo/POV’ content, it negates any health risks.”

For Teal Conrad, a fitness model-turned-porn star who’s used Customs4U, it’s all about diversifying her portfolio.

“The more involved with the industry you are, the more you can get out of it,” she says. “There is so much more to this job than just having sex on camera.”

Courtesans offer companionship

Slixa, which, according to Business Insider, is “trying to harness the power of social media for the world’s oldest profession,” serves as a slick-looking digital directory for consumers in the market for a personal escort. “Slixa girls” include adult performers.

“Most successful adult film stars understand that financial success is a result of cultivating multiple revenue streams,” Donia Love, Slixa’s outreach director, says. “Things like selling clips, camming, [and] paid membership sites that give exclusive access to the behind the scenes of a porn star’s life.”

Slixa is for those porn stars who want to provide something more. “In the case of the adult films stars who advertise on Slixa, that’s offering private entertainment and companionship,” Love says.

Raven-haired, heavily tattooed Adahlia is one such provider. “Many adult actors such as myself also work as private companions, so thankfully the moratorium on filming hasn’t affected me financially, although it has emotionally,” she says. “My heart goes out to those whose health has been affected.”

In the porn industry, a few production companies require condoms on every shoot, but most don’t. The debate over condoms in porn continues and enforcing a law requiring condoms on porn sets in Los Angeles County has proven difficult to enforce.

“For many shoots, condoms are not an option,” Adahlia says. “The director will just hire other talent willing to work without barriers. We do have great testing practices, but for me it isn’t enough of a guarantee.”

In her mind, escorting is a safer choice. “In my escorting work, I have always felt much safer and protected because I am able to choose what kinds of safer sex practices I wish to utilize, and I don’t lose business by choosing to be safe,” she says.


Today, the porn industry is moving full steam ahead. What does the future hold? “There Will Be Another HIV Positive” is the title of a recent post by adult industry news and gossip blogger Mike South.

“That is a given, we all know it,” he wrote. “The question is who will it be.”

Read my Forbes blog, SIN INC. Read my personal blog. Follow me on Twitter. Email me.

Source: Forbes

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