Hot Girls Wanted
July 3, 2015 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Rashida Jones has produced a new documentary about the "amateur porn" industry and follows several young women trying to make it in Miami. Here is an interview with Gianna Toboni of Vice about the film.

Jones has expressed reservations about the sexualization of pop culture in the past.

Toboni also has an interesting take on media, voice, and marketing.
posted by stinker (66 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite


 
I wish that interview were available in textual form.
posted by kenko at 12:53 PM on July 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I love Rashida Jones, but her role in this is rather small.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:55 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Particularly in relation to a documentary.
posted by howfar at 1:05 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love Rashida Jones, but her role in this is rather small.

Made you look!

So that's a contribution...
posted by amtho at 1:08 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah everything I've heard about this doc refers to her as one of the primary creative forces behind it. Perhaps she didn't conduct all the interviews or cut the footage but in my limited experience/knowledge a producer on a smaller film like this is kinda like a showrunner on a sitcom.

Anyway I think this doc is a long time coming. The still present taboo about sex in our culture, and porn creation and consumption in particular makes it hard to talk openly about the ethical production of porn without veering into people's individual sexual hangups. I know I have difficulty talking about porn openly without giggling or feeling ashamed.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:11 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to consider the unequal power dynamic between Harvard-educated Rashida Jones and the subjects of the documentary. Jones' team has the resources and social connections to create just about any narrative they want.

The largely working-class / service class women who become porn starlets in Miami don't really have a voice at all... unless you count the videos they are making.

It would be more interesting to see a documentary produced by a starlet. Actually these documentaries do exist, and one of the main themes seems to be that it's difficult to make generalizations about porn actresses. Many are exploited, some come from abusive backgrounds, but others are in control of their destiny.

I obviously haven't seen the documentary here, but another problem with porn documentaries made by "outsiders" is that they don't understand the industry at all. While gonzo porn is horrible, horrible stuff, there are a variety of genres and publishers out there, some better than others.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing this documentary, but I do wonder how much the Northeast establishment understands about the challenges confronted by the underclass.
posted by Nevin at 2:07 PM on July 3, 2015 [12 favorites]


Trying to have a nuanced dialog about something like this seems to be a recipe for being misunderstood and vilified. I don't get the impression that her motivation has anything to do with puritanism, or that she could be more clear about supporting women in their right to choose what they do.

It seems pretty unsurprising that parts of the porn industry may be exploitative even if everyone is a consenting adult. (It also seems like a documentary would be a compelling way to show how that is the case, although I haven't seen it.) It also seems reasonable to wonder about the fact that feminine empowerment in the media so consistently manifests as the right to be sexy, and whether that's a good thing. (Especially when she affirms the right to do it, despite it being boring and possibly crowding out a more diverse range of expression.)

Unfortunately, it seems like the media prefers to play gotcha over the use of one word, or find other ways to dismiss the subject rather than engage in a discussion.
posted by snofoam at 2:11 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nevin,

You seem to have a pretty clear road map in mind for how this documentary, which you haven't seen, could fuck up horribly, between the film team intentionally distorting the narrative and/or cluelessly telling a story they don't understand. And I'm not sure why Ms. Jones' education is thrown in there. I guess to buttress the "clueless Northeastern elite" scenario, since I guess we have to assume that only someone "street" and "authentic" could really tell the story.

Given that you've already discussed your ideal form for this documentary--which it clearly will not reach--I guess the part I don't get is why you would be looking forward to seeing it. Are you hoping that these possibly nefarious filmmakers evade the various and sundry pitfalls you've described or hoping that they fall into one or more of them and prove you prescient?
posted by the sobsister at 2:26 PM on July 3, 2015 [21 favorites]


Jones' team has the resources and social connections to create just about any narrative they want.

I don't see how this would be different than other documentaries. The filmmakers always have the ability to manipulate the narrative.

porn starlets in Miami don't really have a voice at all... unless you count the videos they are making.

So, the documentary is tainted by the power dynamic, but the porn itself is potentially the authentic voice of the subjects?

It would be more interesting to see a documentary produced by a starlet.

This could be interesting, but why would it be more interesting? I feel like vast majority of great documentaries are made by people who are not the subject of the documentary. Is there something specific to this industry that sets it beyond the bounds of how documentaries are usually made?

others are in control of their destiny... a variety of genres and publishers out there, some better than others.

These points seem so out of place when she goes to such great pains to avoid generalizing about all porn or all starlets.
posted by snofoam at 2:29 PM on July 3, 2015 [13 favorites]


Jones is one of 4 producers, and she did not have a hands-on role, like sitting in edit or out shooting interviews with the directors, Ronna Gradus and Jill Bauer. But her participation, as well as that of Abigail Disney (EP) was very important in getting the film financed and distributed. I do think it's too bad that she's the only producer mentioned in the post.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:32 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seems like they went with the media strategy of focusing on the only person involved who people know, which is practical. If Rashida's only involvement was to do press for the movie, I'm sure it would be worthwhile. Perhaps if the movie does well, the directors will get more exposure.
posted by snofoam at 2:38 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw this doc. It is good. The girls (porn stars) involved are NOT by and large "voiceless." They are in fact, educated, privileged from upper middle to upper class monied families.
posted by shockingbluamp at 2:52 PM on July 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


I saw the documentary a few weeks ago and found myself somewhat conflicted. There were some good points raised about exploitation, about how the young women are treated and about their expectations of the industry, and about the industry itself. There have been a few interviews with the women, and the guy, involved in the documentary - in a few cases they felt they were misrepresented and/or badly edited.

Tits and Sass, a blog by sex workers, has done some writing about the documentary too - I found the assorted critiques/commentary interesting since it's coming from sex workers themselves. (There are a number of links there to follow.)

I really wanted it to be a much bigger documentary - it felt a bit fluffy and superficial in a lot of ways. (I realize that documentaries can't cover everything and still come in under 12 hours' runtime..) There are just so many sides to the sex/porn industry that could have been discussed - and I felt like this was a huge missed opportunity given that having Rashida Jones involved was pretty much guaranteed to lead to a lot of publicity and discussion.
posted by VioletU at 2:57 PM on July 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


Are you hoping that these possibly nefarious filmmakers

I didn't say they were nefarious.
posted by Nevin at 3:01 PM on July 3, 2015


Metafilter: I obviously haven't seen the documentary
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:02 PM on July 3, 2015 [44 favorites]


I watched the documentary. It focuses on this one house, run by a guy who advertises "free flights to Miami" on craigslist and the women that he attracts by doing that.

The women that the film focuses on went into porn hoping to make money and become the next big thing, but the documentary makes it clear (as does the recruiter guy) that these women have maybe 3 - 6 months before their 'careers' are basically over, unless they are really savvy about it. They get booked 2 maybe 3 times, and then the producers want someone new. So they start getting requests for BDSM and "facial abuse" and other shit that they weren't really banking on doing when they signed up and either they suck it up to make the money or they quit, 6 months after they started.

It's not the "Porn is evil" doc that you might be expecting, but it's not all kittens and rainbows either.
posted by rubyrudy at 3:03 PM on July 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


guy who advertises "free flights to Miami" on craigslist

so I just googled that phrase and found the Craigslist ad and ... eww, human trafficking much?

Free Flight to Miami 18+ Girls Wanted
compensation: $1,000.00

Free Plane ticket to Miami
No experience required
Looking for aspiring teen trying to break into the adult industry
Amateur film, nothing crazy
~2 hours of work
$1,000 for first film

posted by jayder at 3:23 PM on July 3, 2015


I saw it. It's really good and I agree, maybe not what you're thinking it is if you haven't seen it. (Which...just see it instead of speculating). The girls are smart and interesting, and the guy they work with doesn't even come off that badly. I think the doc balances what's appealing about porn for these girls with the very real dangers. It doesn't come across like it's judging them (or the recruiter, or the male costars) at all, which I think is really hard to achieve. If anything there's focus on the online porn industry and how these girls have been seeing porn since they were really young compared to previous generations, and how normal it seems to them.

That said, the girls have various degrees of being cool with the experience once they're working. And the way the one Hispanic girl is treated (the kind of porn she's marketed for) is so much more disturbing than what the white girls mostly book. I think the doc still leaves you to draw your own conclusions on that one but it's pretty messed up.
posted by sweetkid at 3:44 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


@item, from all the reports I've seen porn industry profits are shrinking. The rise of the net and the near universal piracy of porn online really cut their bottom line. A lot of the porn producers have basically given up on preventing piracy and are teamed with various tube sites to at least get a cut of the ad money, but that's not a model that makes a lot of money.

Many people suspect the industry has peaked and is on a long decline, at least as far as the model of porn producers making movies go. The live camshow model appears to be making some money, but that's not porn as we normally think of it, some would argue it's a form of prostitution via telecommunications.

So while I can't say how much the particular person is earning per $1,000 he pays the aspiring pornstars (plus a cheap plane ticket to Miami), it's almost certainly less than he was earning five years ago.

But... while the profits are down, porn is still quite profitable. I couldn't even guess at what his actual profit margin is, but I'd bet it's over 300%.
posted by sotonohito at 4:14 PM on July 3, 2015


Free Flight to Miami 18+ Girls Wanted...
Free Plane ticket to Miami...


Who pays for the flight back home?
posted by themanwho at 4:16 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


... eww, human trafficking much?

You are obviously using a different definition of trafficking.

It sounds like an interesting but maybe flawed documentary. I have seen reviews already, and am planning to watch it soon. Even imperfect films can still add value, and this looks like a smart enough film to sustain the attention.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:59 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


VioletU, thanks, I was about to post the titsandsass link. Rashida Jones and all of the other women involved with this project is violently anti-sex worker, violently anti public sexuality, and have the common agenda of, as per Jones' twitter, getting women in American society to #stopactinglikewhores. Most of the women involved in the making of this film came from the crew of "Sexy Baby", a morality panic documentary dedicated to shaming teenage girls for taking sexy selfies.

You wouldn't trust an actor who had been responsible for a #stopdressinglikethugs hashtag to make a legitimate documentary about amateur hip-hop culture. You wouldn't trust a celebrity who had so publicly and repeatedly used any other identity marker as a slur on a marginalized identity or labor demographic to make a legitimate documentary about that population.

The amount of credibility people are willing to extend to hateful neoliberal feminist women when it comes to speaking about sex work, as if they had any legitimacy whatsoever, as if their opinions were in any way relevant, is ridiculous. It is a blatant part of the way our larger culture deems sex workers as incapable of speaking about their own lives and choices-- people to be reviled and pitied, like the young women in this film, with sensationist "outrageous" quotes plastered over their experiences to a tearful "I gave everything I had" soundtrack-- but not, god forbid, allowed to make their own stories.

Please stop letting non-sex-worker women with transparently anti-sex-work agendas set the conversations the public has about sex work.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 5:02 PM on July 3, 2015 [41 favorites]


Why is it so important to watch 18 year old teens have sex? Would even the most jaded viewers care if a law was passed raising the minimum age to 21 to appear in adult videos? Probably not as much as the producers who might have a more difficult time hustling girls if they weren't jumping into porn immediately after high school.
posted by Beholder at 5:37 PM on July 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


I mean, absolutely there are conversations to be had about abuse and exploitation within the porn industry, but women who write articles about how outraged they are that any given pop star is too close "to showing the actual inside of her vagina" are not the people to be leading that charge.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 5:39 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


people to be reviled and pitied, like the young women in this film

I didn't revile or pity any of the women in this film. I thought they were awesome people.
posted by sweetkid at 5:41 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I do wonder how much the Northeast establishment understands about the challenges confronted by the underclass.

Jones is from California.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:46 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Rashida Jones and all of the other women involved with this project is violently anti-sex worker, violently anti public sexuality"

moonlight in vermont, I'm really not seeing this from the article you link. First of all, it only speaks to Rashida's views, and moreover it seems to concern a certain homogenized pop sexuality, not sex work. Am I missing something?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:48 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wasn't even seeing that from the titsandsass link.
posted by kenko at 5:53 PM on July 3, 2015


I agree with everything moonlight on vermont said and would only add that I think there is a good documentary hiding in Hot Girls Wanted, but it would involve stripping away the inane statistics about throat fucking and vacuous, techno-panic montages about WHAT IF UR KIDS ARE SEXTING RIGHT NOW AND ALSO JUSTIN BIEBER AND THE INTERNET???

The scenes of the girls sitting around their communal house and talking are compelling, interesting footage that comes nearest to actually letting them have their own voice and tell their own story. They come across as complex, complete human beings who have a wide variety of experiences and thoughts and feelings as it relates to both the work they do and sex, generally. The way they support one another and bond and joke and complain and just sort of bum around could go a long way to humanizing sex work if the whole thing weren't edited into what amounts to an after-school special about the The Inglorious Fall of The Head Cheerleader From The Heartland.

If the film had half the heart or brain it aspires to, there are interesting, even urgent, questions about the exploitation and treatment of sex workers (or, y'know, workers in general, if one really wanted to swing for the fences) by both their employers and by society at large, or even about the various larger economic conditions that might be fueling the supposedly unprecedented generational increase in willingness to perform sexual labor (the film literally offers nothing deeper than "Millenials all just want to be famous like Kim Kardashian!"). But to address those questions, it would be forced to veer from its insistence that sex work, in and of itself, is the problem. All that's here is a superficial tut-tutting masquerading as concern.
posted by StopMakingSense at 6:01 PM on July 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


Does anyone know how much a SAG actor would make (minimum) for the same amount of work?
posted by Mitheral at 6:33 PM on July 3, 2015


The amount of credibility people are willing to extend to hateful neoliberal feminist women when it comes to speaking about sex work,

i'm really confused by this use of 'neoliberal'
posted by p3on at 6:49 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Rashida Jones and all of the other women involved with this project is violently anti-sex worker, violently anti public sexuality"

Well, now I have to watch it.
posted by butterstick at 6:52 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some of my nearest and dearest work in the LA and San Francisco porn world have criticized the documentary for coming in with a bias and focusing on the Miami industry, which they would call the bottom of the barrel of mainstream American porn as far as sleaziness and lawlessness. I don't think any of them would argue against that part of the industry deserving to have a light shined on it or being worthy of a documentary but they're distressed by how it's coloring their peers' perception of the industry as a whole (an industry that, from the most sterile and above-board parts of the mainstream, to the most utopian DIY punk rock political corners of the queer / fetish companies, they would not endorse without reservation).
posted by elr at 6:54 PM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is a good documentary and worth watching, regardless of the viewers attitudes towards porn.

Who pays for the flight back home?

That, and all other living expenses, are paid by the girls. It really is worth watching.
posted by Revvy at 7:21 PM on July 3, 2015


Yeah, their manager is also their landlord. I'm frankly amazed they aren't paid in scrip at the company store.

One actress, when she leaves the industry, says how much she made, and also that she's broke. It's clear this part of the industry has not only monetized the bodies of the performers, but the performers themselves, charging them for everything needed to do their jobs.
posted by maxsparber at 7:35 PM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Would Rashida Jones and her co-producers still be condemnatory if the sex workers in the film were paid good wages and had the ability to compel the production company to cover their expenses?
posted by wuwei at 7:55 PM on July 3, 2015


Recommended reading for this thread: Girlvert, by Oriana Small. It's a gloriously unfiltered memoir of a porn star in the internet age, as somebody who had actually "made it" within specific niches of the industry. She's an engaging writer who clearly has no problem with controlling her own narrative.

"Porn" is a broad, broad, broad topic. My read is that much of the pushback against this documentary draws from the fact that this specific kind of porn is just one slice of the industry. Not to say that the rest is angelic, either, but that it's not all just girls being flown to Miami.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:11 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Rashida Jones and all of the other women involved with this project is violently anti-sex worker, violently anti public sexuality

Even setting aside the inappropriate use of the word "violently," I don't see any evidence of Jones or anyone else having this attitude in the contents of this post.

The amount of credibility people are willing to extend to hateful neoliberal feminist women when it comes to speaking about sex work, as if they had any legitimacy whatsoever, as if their opinions were in any way relevant, is ridiculous.

I'm inclined to consider the discussion of sex work from anyone engaging in reasoned discussion. Name-calling doesn't leave me with significant to consider for or against.
posted by snofoam at 9:26 PM on July 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


Please stop letting non-sex-worker women with transparently anti-sex-work agendas set the conversations the public has about sex work.

The person who brought this movie to my attention a couple days ago (having found it very affecting) worked as a stripper for several years in quite a few different places and is usually very offended by upper class feminists (or worse, the "8 Minutes" creep) trying to "save" sex workers. She also liked a lot of the things Rashida Jones said about the proliferation of misogynistic porn and the sexualization of pop culture. I haven't seen the movie so I don't really have an argument of my own here except that I'm not sure you have either and I don't think any one of us gets to set the standard for who gets to talk about these issues.
posted by atoxyl at 11:31 PM on July 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


This was made by the same people who made Sexy Baby, and I feel the same way I did about that documentary: good idea, poor execution. There were many points where I think they could've really dug into something but instead focused overly on camera-judging the choices of individual women rather than digging into the men hiring them, the studios producing humiliation porn, and the societal forces driving the whole mechanism. The most interesting parts of the documentary were the bits where the women were critically examining their interest in sex work, its role in society, and the proliferation of more misogynistic genres. But the filmmakers seemed more focused on making a redemption story about one of the sex workers where she goes back home and fulfills her family's expectations of her instead of doing that no good, very bad, horrible porn work.
posted by schroedinger at 12:14 AM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


So those who dare try and critique the cultural effects of neoliberalism are the real neoliberals now. Good to know.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:23 AM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait, Rashida Jones is Quincy Jones' daughter? Holy shit I had no idea.
posted by atoxyl at 3:32 AM on July 4, 2015


I find the film is a bit finger-waggy, but I think characterizing the women involved in its production as "violently anti-sex worker, violently anti public sexuality" to be absurdly overstated. And "neoliberal" too!? Does that word even have meaning here?

As usual, the subject is complicated. I think the documentary makers appear interested in creating a narrative that a lot of viewers probably want to identify with, about an industry that chews through new meat rapidly and regularly. And I think that narrative is not completely without basis. Sex work is a complicated issue for many, possibly most, people. That complexity creates an industry that on the one hand wants legitimacy, yet at the same time, is often comfortable with its partially marginalized/stigmatized status so as to not draw too much attention from regulators. Its performers enter the business with all kinds of motivations, backgrounds and personal situations.

I don't find it all that surprising that the career of a porn performer,considering the age of those depicted in the movie, to be fairly short. Frankly, I didn't find their stories to be all that interesting, really. They seemed like fairly normal young people, without immediate prospects, yet driven enough to want to get the hell out of their home towns. Comfortable enough with their bodies to do porn of their own free will. And easily impressed with getting a fat paycheck for the trouble, even if they burn through the money quickly. I can see how the combination of youth, independence, and fast money can screw people up badly. But that didn't actually happen to the women in the movie. I think there are some really interesting stories in the porn industry that could be told. But this one was safe, predictable, and not one of them.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:32 AM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I saw this right when it came to Netflix, and I was struck at how much being a Miami porn starlet is like being in the (U.S.) military. Grab 'em right out of high school, promise adventure/glamour and big money right out of the gate, mostly on-the-job training...

And this is coming from someone who is in the military and likes it and has worked with Army recruiters and is fairly uncynical about the process, mind you. Really made me think.
posted by Etrigan at 6:38 AM on July 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


I saw this right when it came to Netflix, and I was struck at how much being a Miami porn starlet is like being in the (U.S.) military.

I watched it last night and I was thinking much the same thing. I enlisted the day after I turned 18 and signed an open contract just so I could leave sooner. I just wanted to GTFO of Milwaukee, see a bit of the world, you know, live a little. There were several reasons I enlisted but feeling stuck was a big one.
posted by MikeMc at 8:13 AM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am favor of raising the age for both military and sex work, even to something like 25. Give everyone a few years out of highschool, maybe try college, to try to make it in the world through other means, learn about themselves and the world and what they want-- people who really want to find their way to either will find a way there.

Also ensure we increases wages and opportunities and quality of life for all jobs, low cost or free college, so that people don't see either of those options as the only way to pay rent and have a quality of life.

Given that many/most people are trapped in work to survive, and people frequently don't want to be at work-- I do think sex work IS fundamentally different in a capitalist society-- given that unwanted sex can be experienced as pretty close to rape for some people- the risks are a different ball park than pouring coffee and washing dishes (and yes I do find washing dishes soul crushing, especially when you know you can't get through school and hope of other opportunities is dissipating and your body is crapping out on you.)

I like to think with improved wages and financial support for those in need- that a large portion of the pitfalls would be removed- however I don't really think consent to sex is ever actually as easy as many make it out to be. Sure yes is yes and no is no, and fortunately people are moving to accepting that model, but is yes a yes if it was pressured first? If the person was guilted before they said yes? What if the person was pressed by friends to give into sexual wishes of their partner but the partner didn't actually pressure them? What about when people make ultimatames about sexual activities and the person is deciding whether to put out or lose the relationship? I would say all of these are in the legal territory but shitty things to do to someone else. (Like if you reach a point you have to make an ultimatum about sexual activity it might be better to just break up, cause the sex once a person sadly and reluctantly consents to something they don't want is just... sad at least in my experience)...

I don't think you can erase that consent to sex, power imbalances, etc are part of relationships and sexuality and they are hard to navigate and adding not only a casual atmosphere, but a totally disconnected money focused and emotionally detached way of navigating sexual activities puts a lot of people at risk.

I think it's fine for people to be concerned about how they and their fellow humans are being treated. And yes I HAVE been treated like a machine that should produce sex if friendship or drinks or money or time investment has been put in.

So this culture IS affecting me in that way, and it affected how often I offered sex to people I didn't want to have sex with because I felt obligated to, or to try and get comfortable with being "open and confident!!" with my sexuality as part of a cultural narrative this was some ideal. I don't think given someone money makes it ok to treat them badly. I mean, I do actually think it's probably a step up---- so I would say for women especially who more often risk rape, pregnancy, higher risk of STD's, lack of pleasure for the sex itself and less control to make the experience what they want, and pushy entitled guys being jerks during the sex---- that giving them some money actually seems like it should be part of the het casual sex scene rather than not because the whole scene skews in favor of men.

I think rather than focusing on legal angles though (though I think that is one aspect of addressing injustice or harms in the workplace/society), I think upping the social standards for how to treat our fellow beings would put a damper on some of that exploitation. Including refusing to have sex with or watch sexual activity of people you don't actually know are consenting to your own standards of consent--whether or not money is involved. The whole attitude that is normalized by too many people and even celebrated of "find the youngest thing you can and exploit them and fuck them til they can't even handle it on the camera YEAH" should not be acceptable or celebrated. That's not PRETEND exploitation, that's REAL.
posted by xarnop at 8:39 AM on July 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I thought amateur porn was more like normal-looking people filling themselves having sex with each other and sharing it for fun (and occasionally profit), not a string of hot 18-year-olds getting one-way tickets to Miami and being exploited or whatever. Isn't this just professional porn, albeit a particularly sleazy variety?
posted by ostranenie at 11:54 AM on July 4, 2015


I thought amateur porn was more like normal-looking people filling themselves having sex with each other and sharing it for fun (and occasionally profit), not a string of hot 18-year-olds getting one-way tickets to Miami and being exploited or whatever.

"Amateur porn", in its common use, is more accurately called "a single porn scene starring a woman you haven't seen in a Vivid movie (yet)".
posted by Etrigan at 12:18 PM on July 4, 2015


Many are exploited, some come from abusive backgrounds, but others are in control of their destiny.

Who are the ones in charge of their destiny and how much do they make? I guess we had James Deen but even he probably makes around the same as an Uber cab driver (300 a day or so).
posted by colie at 12:32 PM on July 4, 2015


Mitheral--SAG day rate is approx $800 and 15% P&W.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:01 PM on July 4, 2015


Who are the ones in charge of their destiny and how much do they make? I guess we had James Deen but even he probably makes around the same as an Uber cab driver (300 a day or so)

He earns considerably more than that but is undoubtedly very atypical, particularly since he is a man and men don't make money doing porn. The ones in front of the camera anyway. (Most women don't make much money doing porn either but the number of women who make a lot on-screen is still much higher than the number of men who do so.)
posted by Justinian at 1:24 PM on July 4, 2015


@colie pretty much anyone I knew who started doing porn with the idea that it would be fun supplemental income are in control of- if not their destinies- then their present. The people who bought a one-way ticket to Hollywood thinking they would be the next Sasha Grey had more stumbling blocks along the way, and with no financial safety net, were more likely work for too little money, or compromise on who they would or wouldn't work for and what they would or wouldn't do. The difference between these two groups is *usually* age, with the former group usually starting in their mid twenties and the latter group starting earlier.

Some of those part timers found a reputable agent and quit their day jobs to go full time. Some of the ones that thought they'd be stars from the outset did too, but a lot more of them stayed in the industry but as stylists and personal assistants and designers and directors. Some decided to be their own industry and just run their own websites and Clips4Sale sites.

My partner performs for a few companies a couple times a year. She makes on average between 500 and 1000 per scene, and sometimes gets her flights and hotels paid for and sometimes doesn't , which is usually the start of a negotiation between her and a company, and is pretty much the deal for someone who doesn't live in Miami, LA, or Vegas. She enjoys the work more than the industry but defends it more than she doesn't.
posted by elr at 1:27 PM on July 4, 2015


pretty much anyone I knew who started doing porn with the idea that it would be fun supplemental income are in control of- if not their destinies- then their present.

Fair enough, if it's a hobby then it's hard to see what can go wrong because you're not economically dependent on it and you can just quit whenever you like. Sounds like good 'amateur' work if you can get it.

thinking they would be the next Sasha Grey

She now has a restraining order against the man who she told the court forced her do porn (when she was 16 and he was 29) and conducted an abusive relationship with her.
posted by colie at 1:45 PM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought amateur porn was more like normal-looking people filling themselves having sex with each other and sharing it for fun (and occasionally profit), not a string of hot 18-year-olds getting one-way tickets to Miami and being exploited or whatever. Isn't this just professional porn, albeit a particularly sleazy variety?

This is my defense of... the existence of internet porn - there really is genuine amateur exhibitionist stuff now - though even that's mixed up with "revenge porn" - plus fetish communities that are actually communities etc. But this is hard to explain without revealing embarrassing details about one's own sexual tastes.

As real amateur erotica became an option (maybe before, c.f. Max Hardcore) sleazy guys with cameras started churning out "amateur" porn. Exploitation is often openly part of the hook.
posted by atoxyl at 3:36 PM on July 4, 2015


There are some embarassing comments in this thread. yikes.

I thought the documentary was good, not great, kinda interesting, but not totally compelling.

Interesting stuff: how short these girls' career is. How little they actually make. How young/nieve they are. How they make more money for doing creampies.

I also thought the race/violence angle of a lot of the porn was interesting. One hispanic girl said that she did a lot of violent porn where they would say racist stuff to her.

Also, these girls aren't poor. They're normal girls who are young and want a big change and like sex and idealize a new life. Makes it makes it easier to empathize with their decision to do porn
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:50 PM on July 4, 2015


I too thought the movie was distinctly anti-sex worker. In the instances where it wasn't directly shaming, the film's relationship with its subjects was one of paternalistic condescension. Some of the editing choices that were made indicated to me that the filmmakers consciously chose to avoid making a nuanced argument about consent and power dynamics in the industry.

I'd be interested to see the filmmakers respond to "Kink" (also available on Netflix), which focuses on the production of some relatively extreme fetish porn, but which by all accounts does so in an extremely ethical, sex-positive way. Contrast that with the one particular "abuse" site (not naming them here) that Jones' movie plays clips of whenever they want to make a point about abuse and exploitation.

It's really hard to have a conversation about sex work in this country because it's hard for many people to separate their feelings about "sex" with their feelings about the "work." While there are some really important issues surrounding human trafficking, sexual assault, consent, etc. that need to be addressed, it's hard to do so when documentaries like this contribute nothing but moral panic and anti-sex hand wringing.
posted by soonertbone at 6:40 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


One hispanic girl said that she did a lot of violent porn where they would say racist stuff to her.

She didn't just say it, the documentary shows some of it. That was the most shocking part of the documentary to me. I've seen porn, but I'd never seek out something like that. Yeah, being a minority woman I'm not "surprised" but it stood out to me.
posted by sweetkid at 8:35 PM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Normally I'm slightly in favour of the ubers and airbnbs that disrupt the current industry but I saw this doc on Netflix a few weeks ago and had the opposite reaction. It felt like a step backwards in terms of how the ladies are treated, their rights and their safety and I have a lot more respect for the professional porn stars and the industry regulations that are there to protect their interests. At one point in the documentary, a woman describes being paid $400 by a guy with a video camera who wanted to beat/choke/"rape" her for film, just the two of them in this hotel room. She felt uncomfortable and unsafe but didn't feel like she was allowed to say no to him, since she was already there and all. That deeply bothered me.

The doc overall was interesting though clearly a microcosm (focussed on one landlord who didn't do much but book their shoots and skim off their hard work, that dynamic really annoyed me), and it was interesting to see the ladies mature and start to question who was really benefitting from the situation and were they really ok with the trade offs, but holy cow that film needs a trigger warning. There are some graphic scenes of simulating rape and choking out a woman, while she cries and begs to be let go. I had to fast forward, it was way too disturbing for me.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:41 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


While there are some really important issues surrounding human trafficking ... that need to be addressed, it's hard to do so when documentaries like this contribute nothing but moral panic and anti-sex hand wringing.

Just out of curiosity, how specifically does this documentary make it difficult to address the important issues surrounding human trafficking?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:10 AM on July 5, 2015


I think I have two points: 1) the movie doesn't address these issues at all. (Correct me if I'm wrong? I saw it a few weeks ago.) To me, its thesis was more along the lines of "Ew, look how gross this is. And can you believe it's happening to someone's daughter?" That attitude results in the filmmakers painting the entire sex work industry with a pretty broad brush, which has the effect of weakening their argument (to the extent they have one at all re: trafficking) and misdirecting viewers' attentions.

And 2) by coming at it from this angle, I think they make it harder for future sex-worker advocates to make progress on (what I think are) the serious issues. They're contributing to the country's overall level of sex-negative baggage, which I believe muddies the waters significantly when it comes to meaningful reform. Does that make sense?
posted by soonertbone at 11:35 AM on July 5, 2015


1) the movie doesn't address these issues at all.

Good. The movie isn't about that.

That attitude results in the filmmakers painting the entire sex work industry with a pretty broad brush

I disagree. The movie is specifically about the pro-amateur porn industry. There is no discussion about or painting of a broad brush of even the entire porn industry.

I found the grossness focused on specific things about the porn. It wasn't, 'OMG SEX IS GROSS' it was, "having teen be the number one search term related to porn is gross, having porn where the scenario is a parent's family friend taking advantage of their teenage daughter is gross, having forced face-fucking to the point of vomiting is gross, having porn actresses act and look like children is gross, having racial slurs slung at women while getting face fucked is gross, etc."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:17 PM on July 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Why I Feel So Passionately That Sex Work and Porn Is Problematic But Empowering But Good For Them But Bad For Them

I think this Reductress article accurately reflects my feelings about sex work
posted by schroedinger at 3:29 PM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I saw this a few weeks ago, so my memory is hazy, but MisantropicPainforest nailed it, basically.

It's not anti-sex/sex work really, but it is anti-exploitation.

The Miami porn industry (which, if I recall) exists because of sun, sand, surf a lack of laws requiring condom use) seems a lot like a meat grinder: get the 18-year-old girls in, put them through 3-6 months of increasingly extreme* scenarios that pay less and less and then turn to the next fresh face.

And pay them not much at all.

The girl who only has sex in porn was kinda tragic, and I was interested in her backstory.

The guy who runs the *cough* casting agency *cough* talks a little about what he gets out of it, what his cut of the take is. I really disliked him, for what little he was in the movie.

And his house was a tip.
posted by Mezentian at 9:44 PM on July 6, 2015


I just watched the documentary. It is really good; my biggest criticism is that it is focused on one very particular (and interesting!) corner of the porn world but doesn't contextualize that well, so the easy takeaway would be to think that what is shown is typical of the entire industry.

There are a lot of positives, though -- the women involved are given a lot of space to talk, reflect, and explain, and it follows them over enough months to see their thoughts changing and growing. The camera work is fantastic in capturing facial expressions and reactions, particularly in counterpoint to what is being said or shown.

Of the main group of young women that are followed, the one who is the main subject leaves porn to return to her hometown and live with her boyfriend, and one leaves porn to pursue her career as a photographer; at the same time, another switches to cam work (in order to have more control) and two others stay in porn. The ones who chose to stay in the industry seemed to be just as smart and thoughtful as the ones who left, and I wish they had received more screen time to explain why they were making the opposite choice.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:33 PM on July 11, 2015


What I took home from the doc was not so much "omg exploitation" as "omg sheltered youth plus ubiquitous porn = bad times and ding to permanent record". The girls of the house seemed to come from middle class but boring backgrounds for the most part. There was a scene where one was talking to her mom and boyfriend and the mom asked so sheepishly "are you on birth control?" Like if your 18 year old daughter has sex for a living, now is not the time to fumble with a day late dollar short sex talk.

This type of porn production seems dependent on girls who grew up in run of the mill America, and saw the heavily stylized sex of porn as glamour because no one ever sat them down at school or home to have a little chat about any other facet or type of sex. Then they get emotionally and physically worn out doing porn, which messes with their heads because, well no one wants to be "bad at sex" or "unsexy" and I guess if your only idea of how to be sexy is to role play virgin abuse fantasies you might just be turned off to sex as you know it, which can shut out intimacy for a long time.

By the end of the doc, when the black screens saying what happened to each person next come up, thankfully we learn that for the most part they moved on, but then it just makes the taxing time in porn seem like a huge sunk cost of both money and time, especially with regards to time that could have been spent either getting a foot up in some more lasting work situation or going to school.

Doing porn is a waste of time and money. fade to black.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:11 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


There was a scene where one was talking to her mom and boyfriend and the mom asked so sheepishly "are you on birth control?"

Surprisingly enough she said "No". Considering that the girls were doing internal ejaculation scenes I found this a bit disconcerting. Then again they seemed happy that the producers gave them $60 to buy Plan B when it only cost $40. $20 is $20 I guess.
posted by MikeMc at 2:04 PM on July 23, 2015


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