David and Nikki Lee
February 15, 2013 12:28 AM   Subscribe

A Study of 10,000 Porn Stars and Their Careers: For the first time, a massive data set of 10,000 porn stars has been extracted from the world’s largest database of adult films and performers. I’ve spent the last six months analyzing it to discover the truth about what the average performer looks like, what they do on film, and how their role has evolved over the last forty years.
posted by troll (47 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I too study porn. Findings not suitable for publishing.
posted by Callicvol at 1:05 AM on February 15, 2013 [21 favorites]


"10,000 porn stars"

The field has certainly devalued the word 'star'.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:07 AM on February 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wow, this is interesting, but that infographic has perhaps the most misleading map I've ever seen. It seems clear to me that he's mostly just dropped a bunch of circles on the map in the appropriate states, sized based on the number of people in a hometown somewhere in that state. Either that, or the three principal home cities of porn stars from the Midwest are Lansing MI, LaSalle IL and Springfield OH, but there are none from Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Milwaukee, etc.; none from New York City and 50+ from the Catskills, and there are porn stars from dozens of places in rural parts of California, but none from San Diego, the second largest city in the state. (This is compounded by the fact that in other places he puts the largest dot in a state in the roughly appropriate places, like in Seattle, Denver, Las Vegas, Atlanta or Phoenix, so you may not notice this.)

I mean, it's okay to not give a shit about detailed geography -- the most notable thing is the preponderance of Californians, which you only need to see at a state level. The only additional thing that might be interesting is to see if it's entirely (as I suspect) a SoCal thing, with the rest of the state more like other parts of the US. But don't pretend you are using detailed geography if you aren't.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:07 AM on February 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


I too study porn. Findings not suitable for publishing.

Normally I'd idly enquire what the results look like. Today not.
posted by jaduncan at 1:13 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It doesn't even really make sense to do a breakdown by state without controlling for population. The top 10 list reads almost exactly the same as the list of most populous states, at least until you get to Arizona at number 7.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:22 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It doesn't even really make sense to do a breakdown by state without controlling for population.

Yeah, I was going to mention that as well, but was already too hepped up. For what it's worth if folks are interested, the rates for most of the top 10 states are 6 to 8 per million (note that this is only a subset sample of porn stars, so the rate is not an actual rate so much as a relative measure). PA is a little behind the pack at 5.4. Arizona and Florida are somewhat elevated, at 11.8 and 11.2; California is way ahead at 24.2, and Nevada actually beats it at 26.4. (It would be interesting to see rates for the other states; it looks like maybe Kansans are relatively more likely to be porn stars than their neighbours in Missouri -- is there a new Show-Me state?)
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:48 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Its seems like most of this data was taken from blurbs and hype, not from actual personal interviews.
I see little data that might inform us on anything other than commercial hype.
It would be the same as gleaning data from cheap movie magazines to create info on actors and actresses.
I would like to know more on ..drug addiction, social status, death rate, criminal record, rape statistics.
The data on how long they last is interesting. But I want to know the reasons for stopping, and what happens when they do.
...Inquiring minds want to know!
posted by quazichimp at 2:02 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's very interesting that the most prolific woman (Nina Hartley) had sex with many fewer people than the most prolific man (Tom Byron): 199 in 28 years vs 1,127 in 30 years.

The 10 most prolific men have sex with an average 1,013 women over 22.4 years; the 10 most prolific women 148 men over 17.7 years -- 5 times fewer partners.
posted by chavenet at 2:18 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently Ron Jeremy's had some heart trouble. That's going to skew at least one average.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:27 AM on February 15, 2013


Which seems strange given the number of multiple men- single woman scenes. The opposite also happens, but it seems like that should be a wash.
posted by OmieWise at 2:27 AM on February 15, 2013


It's very interesting that the most prolific woman (Nina Hartley) had sex with many fewer people than the most prolific man (Tom Byron): 199 in 28 years vs 1,127 in 30 years.

This is apparently not well researched, given Lisa Sparks/Lisa Sparxxx famously slept with 919 men in one video scene.

NOTE: The link is to a purely journalistic piece rather than the video, but is still very much NSFW based on language.
posted by jaduncan at 2:38 AM on February 15, 2013 [3 favorites]



"It's very interesting that the most prolific woman (Nina Hartley) had sex with many fewer people than the most prolific man (Tom Byron): 199 in 28 years vs 1,127 in 30 years."


In most cases women are the center piece of the image. Men are accessories.
A few men are used over and over for production because they are just props.
Men have very little value in the intended images. They serve as catalysts for fantasy.
...I am referring to straight porno.
posted by quazichimp at 2:59 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure the point of the post - that this is interesting science on a taboo subject? Or isn't it interesting how someone really interested in porn dressed up that interest in a severe case of pseudoscience and bad infographics.

Nothing of meaning in this, really, either in the data, nor in the infographic, nor in the analysis.
posted by C.A.S. at 3:14 AM on February 15, 2013


My god, it's full of 10,000 porn stars.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 3:25 AM on February 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


In most cases women are the center piece of the image. Men are accessories.
A few men are used over and over for production because they are just props.
Men have very little value in the intended images. They serve as catalysts for fantasy.
...I am referring to straight porno.


Actually James Deen has a big following, and I doubt he's the only one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:31 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Male porn stars have more partners because, historically speaking, they get paid a lot less than female porn stars per scene.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:16 AM on February 15, 2013


I too study porn. Findings not suitable for publishing.

Normally I'd idly enquire what the results look like.


A map of Hawaii.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:23 AM on February 15, 2013 [25 favorites]


...Originally published in Nate Silver's new blog, 569.com
posted by PlusDistance at 4:51 AM on February 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Lisa Sparks/Lisa Sparxxx famously slept with 919 men in one video scene.

I don't think she got that much sleep. 919 guys, there was probably a lot of snoring.
posted by marxchivist at 4:58 AM on February 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


The results look like a map of Hawaii? The Florida Keys!
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:05 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how Anal is a more common performance than Interracial. Why would having a male performer sticking his industry-standard equipment in the back of her Volkswagen be more common than crossing the skintone divide? Is it seriously that taboo in America?
posted by WhackyparseThis at 5:06 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


That piece about Lisa Sparxxx reads like something out of The Onion...

"A lot of pornstars try to claim they are the world's greatest whore," says Lisa Sparxxx, "But the simple fact is I have 919 witnesses from one looong day of sex to prove that the title belongs to me!"

"It's not something I would ever try to repeat," Sparxxx added, "But I am very proud of proving I'm the best at what I do."


The porn industry makes me sad.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:09 AM on February 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't understand how Anal is a more common performance than Interracial. Why would having a male performer sticking his industry-standard equipment in the back of her Volkswagen be more common than crossing the skintone divide? Is it seriously that taboo in America?

Well, yeah. A lot of people, particularly a lot of white people, don't want to watch porn with people of other races in it, and especially porn with black men and white women is offensive or distasteful to a lot of white people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:23 AM on February 15, 2013


10,000? Given the rate new women appear, churn-out a bajillion videos, then disappear, 10,000 would seem to account for about a year's worth of talent.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:25 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how Anal is a more common performance than Interracial.

Anal is almost required in most professional shoots these days, including interracial shoots. So, you've got anal in both interracial and non-interracial shoots. It's easily more prevalent.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:28 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to that map, it would appear that the area surrounding Indiana University has done yeoman work birthing new porn stars. Probably largely via Briscoe Quad.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:42 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I too study porn. Findings not suitable for publishing.

Maybe in this journal?
posted by Kabanos at 5:52 AM on February 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't understand how Anal is a more common performance than Interracial. Why would having a male performer sticking his industry-standard equipment in the back of her Volkswagen be more common than crossing the skintone divide? Is it seriously that taboo in America?

We recently watched "The End of Porn," a somwhat misleadingly named documentary that's currently streaming on Netflix. (It would have more accurately been titled "How Some People Got into Porn and Why They Stayed For A While.")

Mary Carey, known to many who don't watch porn as "the porn star who ran for Governor in California," was talking about what she'd do if she was desperate for money and went back into porn. If she just needed some money, she'd do anal. If she was more desperate, she'd do two guys at once. If she was really really desperate, she'd do... a black guy.

Like that was the craziest, most out-there thing she could think of.
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:17 AM on February 15, 2013


Ctrl+F "seminal work" .... really? You disappoint me.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:30 AM on February 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Ugh, why are you using averages? Why do you mention the panda weight thing? It's also not great to have the height or weight because there are fetishes on the margins so you have the whole spectrum. Also, these aren't "porn stars". It's like putting extras and character actors in your "movie star" statistics project. ?It's even in there that 53% percent of the subjects do more than 3 movies, are these really porn stars? They can do three movies in one day! I can't think of anything more boring than face morphing. Morph 10 of any face and you'll get a ghostly generic looking face.
posted by Napierzaza at 6:43 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the accompanying blog: "To me, porn seems a lot like sport. I don’t mean the sex in it looks like a sporting activity (maybe it sometimes does, but that’s a separate point), but rather that there are as many types of sex in porn as there are forms of sport."

I actually agree with with this. It's stunt sex, enacted by professionals, who are paid for their time.
posted by tantrumthecat at 7:09 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If she was really really desperate, she'd do... a black guy.

How did she not win with that ability to make all the electorate feel valued?
posted by jaduncan at 7:10 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how Anal is a more common performance than Interracial. Why would having a male performer sticking his industry-standard equipment in the back of her Volkswagen be more common than crossing the skintone divide? Is it seriously that taboo in America?

Wait, is Kanye wrong? Are they not really all considered the same thing?

In seriousness, in porn, interrracial sex is a specific kink. Anal isn't. Anal shows up everywhere, but "interracial" is a code for "Massive black man abuses white blonde with his giant cock"* I do wonder if the data is accounting for interracial sex where the woman is Asian or Latina and the man is white; that's actually pretty common, but it's not what porn makers mean when they say interracial. If you browse an adult video site, there will likely be an interracial section or tag that only yields black men, white women and enormous penises.

*This usually involves anal, unsurprisingly.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:19 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Male porn stars have more partners because, historically speaking, they get paid a lot less than female porn stars per scene.

There's also the simple fact that there have always been far fewer male porn stars than female in straight porn, so the men will naturally have to have sex with more different partners than the women.

Partially this is because, although women's use of porn has always been underrecognized, men's porn preferences dominate the industry and, as quazichimp pointed out, the men are therefore just catalysts for the male fantasy, which means that there is an astonishing variety of women you can watch having sex and a relatively narrow variety of men having sex.

And partially it's because that the barrier to entry as a male pornstar is much higher than it is for a woman. In order to work in porn, a woman has to be reasonably attractive in a certain way (and fetish porn means that "reasonably attractive" can be broadly defined) and has to be comfortable having sex on camera. But men?

First off, you usually have to be reasonably good-looking in a masculine way (although there are of course exceptions to this). You also have to have a pretty big penis, and not just for visual effect (although that is of course important) - many of the "stock" positions in straight porn simply need a fairly long penis to even successfully attempt with any degree of penetration, as anybody who has tried them can tell you. (A lot of the reverse cowgirl variants fall into that category.) And then, you need to be able to be really comfortable having sex in front of other people (like, quite a few other people, who are often strangers) while being filmed - Viagra and other erectile drugs have lowered the barrier here, but not so much that it's entirely disappeared.

And then on top of all that, you have the issue that porn producers by and large generally already have a reliable contact list of male porn actors they know are reliable, and that said producers generally don't want to bother auditioning new guys because there is a long, long line of guys who want to audition to become a pornstar because they think it is a dream job and ninety-five percent of them are people the producers never want to work with, because they are the type of people who think "male pornstar" is a constant fuck-party rather than a job that has to be taken seriously like any other. Which means that most male porn actors are usually already dating female porn actors before they get their first gig. (I've read a lot of Q&A interview pieces with porn stars and this is essentially a universal truth.)

And that's why guys in straight porn have more partners than women in straight porn.
posted by mightygodking at 7:37 AM on February 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


The stat nerd in me actually forces me to de-pornify this and focus attention on the bad statistical analysis. The guy doing the analysis almost never systematically compares the demographics of the porn star database with the demographics of the general population. For this reason, he can't make any claims that any demographic group is disproportionately overrepresented or underrepresented in porn. For example, about 3% of the porn stars in his database are redheads, but he doesn't mention that only about 3% of the general population are redheads. In other words, most of this analysis doesn't tell you anything.
posted by jonp72 at 7:47 AM on February 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


I don't understand how Anal is a more common performance than Interracial. Why would having a male performer sticking his industry-standard equipment in the back of her Volkswagen be more common than crossing the skintone divide? Is it seriously that taboo in America?

I think I just fell in love with a porn star
Turn the camera on, she a born star...

Tell me what I gotta do to be that guy
Said her price go down, she ever fuck a black guy
Or do anal, or do a gangbang
It's kinda crazy that's all considered the same thing...

posted by Rangeboy at 8:35 AM on February 15, 2013


For the first time, a massive data set of 10,000 porn stars has been extracted

:D

I’ve spent the last six months analyzing it to discover the truth about what the average performer

:D

looks like, what they do on film, and how their role has evolved over the last forty years.


D:

I would like to know more on ..drug addiction, social status, death rate, criminal record, rape statistics.
The data on how long they last is interesting. But I want to know the reasons for stopping, and what happens when they do.


Basically this. I've tried to dig up actual information (the boring, tedious kind) on the sex industry before, partly out of curiosity and partly because I don't know how to feel about the sex industry until I can look at some, like, facts. I've never really come up with anything substantial. This thing is...really disappointing; I'm reading it as akin to some weird fantasy sports thing with porn.

The presentation is also kind of--well--porny (like the title--super skeevy), and in this context I find that a bit creepy, frankly. It's yet another thing which seems to boil down to how men consume porn and the presentation of porn-as-media than anything I really want to read.
posted by byanyothername at 8:38 AM on February 15, 2013


He's got a reddit thread going too.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:42 AM on February 15, 2013


"The reason there's so much anal in porn statistics is that it's the standard deviation." said Belle Curve, meanly.
posted by Devonian at 9:11 AM on February 15, 2013 [28 favorites]


I remember reading an interview that James Deen did about becoming a porn star and he quoted Jenna (porn star Jenna) being on a radio show and being asked, over and over, by neckbearded male fans, what kind of skills a guy needed to "break into" porn.

(quoting)
So some guy calls in for like the millionth time and says, ‘I wanna do porn. How do I get into the industry?' And she's been listening to this shit all night. She's frustrated. She goes, ‘You wanna do porn? Go get a folding chair and sit in a room with twenty people and jerk off for an hour. And if you can keep hard, and when one of them yells "Come!" you can come in thirty seconds, then you can do porn.' "
(end quote)

Source: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/james-deen-hollywood-14994047

It's a job with skills. It's kind of strange, but it's a job with a distinct set of skills, skills not everyone has.
posted by which_chick at 9:11 AM on February 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is apparently not well researched, given Lisa Sparks/Lisa Sparxxx famously slept with 919 men in one video scene.

Most if not all of those men were amateur volunteers, if I recall correctly, and therefore would not have gotten listings in this database, and may not have been counted for Lisa Sparks', uh, entry.
posted by me3dia at 9:12 AM on February 15, 2013


It's a job with skills. It's kind of strange, but it's a job with a distinct set of skills, skills not everyone has.

I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a dream for people like you. If you tell me to go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will come on your actresses on command.
posted by jaduncan at 9:14 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Six months to figure out what porn stars do on film?

They may have been overthinking this.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:08 AM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


i'm glad there's no focus on things like rape statistics here. for some reason the general public feels fine and dandy about judging the (professional or otherwise) sex lives of abuse survivors, as if their consent being ignored previously means their consent can't be trusted now. no one ever wants an in depth study on how many survivors are working at disney world or in mall portrait studios.
posted by nadawi at 10:16 AM on February 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, and this is a database of porn stars without their real names attached. There's no way to get reliable info about anything that would be under their real names.

(One of my mistakes when I left Hustler was not copying the database that I used to keep track of folks, since it was a goldmine of info. Obviously, it has skeevy possibilities, but I always wanted it out of big data curiosity.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:28 AM on February 15, 2013


Looks like we broke the link.
posted by Mcable at 11:36 AM on February 15, 2013


Devonian, I knew a drag queen named Belle Curve.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:44 PM on February 15, 2013


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