“The thing about the adult industry today is that it’s a very low-margin
November 29, 2015 4:29 AM   Subscribe



 
If the money is disappearing, what happens to the workforce? I'd like to know more about the pay and conditions that are standard for professional performers in the industry, and whether these have become better or worse in the era of online pornography. My sympathy for the entrepreneurs whose profit margins are disappearing is somewhat limited; like the collapse of coal in the UK, I think the more interesting question is how the impact on workers can be managed.
posted by Aravis76 at 5:00 AM on November 29, 2015 [12 favorites]


I can't remember where I was reading this and it's unsurprisingly difficult to google, but I read an article recently talking about how many porn performers don't mind the porn being free because for them it works as advertising for other services, eg cam sessions, strip club appearances, and escorting/sex work.
posted by Diablevert at 5:15 AM on November 29, 2015


I can't remember where I was reading this and it's unsurprisingly difficult to google, but I read an article recently talking about how many porn performers don't mind the porn being free because for them it works as advertising for other services, eg cam sessions, strip club appearances, and escorting/sex work.

From what I've seen it just more of the same gig-ification of work, hodgepodging 3 or so jobs into a living, with little security. Now this doesn't seem that much worse than where they were before, but it's cold comfort to know that they are now just as screwed as all the other "content providers". And much like other content industries, the money isn't being siphoned to some evil party, people just stopped paying money.

As to how to manage it, the same way we are managing impact on musicians and writers: some new funding models that provide a more direct interaction with customers and artists, and sad fundraising drives whenever people fall through the cracks due to medical issues or other accidents of fate. So the best solution would be the same as for most of us, single payer health care and a basic income.
posted by zabuni at 5:33 AM on November 29, 2015 [43 favorites]


many porn performers don't mind the porn being free because for them it works as advertising for other services, eg cam sessions, strip club appearances, and escorting/sex work.

Louis Theroux's documentary on the porn business from a couple of years ago said this was basically the case. Kinda analogous that for a lot of people in the music biz where the main money's not from sales any more but from performing, flogging t-shirts, licensing etc and your releases are basically advertising.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:43 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Porn Business Isn't Anything Like You Think It Is

Who selected the first picture in this article? The headline says it isn't, and then the picture says "Nah, it totally is guys!"
posted by selfnoise at 5:57 AM on November 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


It's a cliche in these discussions, but I am a bit surprised that there are still people paying for porn, even if it is a lot fewer than it was ten years ago.

Pornhub says its network receives about 100 million visits a day, and at least on part of the network, the average visit lasts about nine minutes

There is the answer to a question I didn't know I had.

My sympathy for the entrepreneurs whose profit margins are disappearing is somewhat limited; like the collapse of coal in the UK, I think the more interesting question is how the impact on workers can be managed.

This is a much more interesting piece than "sympathy for the entrepreneurs" -- it describes a very constrained industry with limitations from hardware providers, content distribution, access to software, and access to things like credit card processing. The article you are describing, tracking the conditions of workers in the porn industry over that same period of time, would be fascinating, and connected, but not the same thing -- conditions for workers could improve or worsen independently of how the industry is faring, and my guess is that both have happened simultaneously, depending on what parts of the industry you look at.

I hadn't realized how universally porn companies have been shut out by the big tech companies, including both Apple and Google. (I have seen people driving down the highway with porn playing on their cars' built in video screens, but I don't know if that was streamed or from DVDs, and I could easily imagine car companies building in content-control systems to be more "family friendly.") I don't buy or watch porn, but I do have a fondness for classic and new films that push the boundaries on overt sexual content (like Salò or Love), and I wonder what impacts a more constrained porn industry might have on directors' ability to make and distribute challenging films.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:05 AM on November 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


like the collapse of coal in the UK...

Outstandingly weird comparison. I suppose it's all about penetrating holes?
posted by Segundus at 6:22 AM on November 29, 2015 [18 favorites]


Also closing your eyes and thinking of England.
posted by XMLicious at 6:33 AM on November 29, 2015 [55 favorites]


it describes a very constrained industry with limitations from hardware providers, content distribution, access to software...

but it's a lame conceit. the positions of Apple and Google, the social media silos, etc. all put very similar constraints on what gets on the internet outside of porn. All of the big actors are very particular about what kind of technology is allowed and what they don't shut down, they buy out. Hence inflated values for revenue-less start-ups.

And the funny thing is that the situation at Mikandi is what "start-up culture" would look like if the businesses involved actually depended on revenue.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:47 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


selfnoise: "The Porn Business Isn't Anything Like You Think It Is

Who selected the first picture in this article? The headline says it isn't, and then the picture says "Nah, it totally is guys!"
"

Well I was expecting to see a fedora.
posted by octothorpe at 6:54 AM on November 29, 2015


The article says he got his fedora from Roumania.
posted by valkane at 7:05 AM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


O’Connell, Adams, and McEwen pull in yearly salaries somewhere in the low six figures, after paying “competitive” wages to a handful of coders in Seattle and Eastern Europe.

Okay, maybe not a ton by Silicon Valley standards, but a six figure salary at the age of 29 is not not rich.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:14 AM on November 29, 2015 [17 favorites]


I'm not saying this makes me a saint, but I take pleasure in paying for music by the album and not streaming, buying the actual books of authors I like, seeing good movies in the theater, and paying for porn if I want to watch it. I understand that not everyone has the middle class income that allows for these kinds of "luxuries", but if we don't want these businesses not to be terrible there's got to be some way for people to be compensated for their work.
posted by idiopath at 7:16 AM on November 29, 2015 [18 favorites]


I am a bit surprised that there are still people paying for porn

I watched about half of the documentary, Hot Girls Wanted this morning.

One of the interesting points that the movie was making was that 18 year old 'new faces' are what drives traffic to the paid porn websites. Those girls earn about $800 a scene, and have an average career length of between 2 weeks and a year.

The girls thought they were well paid and living large. The fact that everyone, from the documentary makers to the suitcase pimps were exploiting and making money off these underpaid, unsophisticated rubes was mostly why I found it so hard to watch.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:35 AM on November 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


if you're going to not pay for your porn, i hope you at least read tubes vs torrents : the ethics of piracy by stoya. tl:dr - torrent, don't use tube sites, if you're going to pirate the content.
posted by nadawi at 7:56 AM on November 29, 2015 [26 favorites]


re : hot girls wanted, i haven't seen a single actual sex worker who thought it was a good doc. here is the always impressive aurora snow giving her take.
posted by nadawi at 8:02 AM on November 29, 2015 [16 favorites]


They want to be the next Sasha Grey, Jenna Jameson, or Belle Knox.

Even this is pretty depressing tho.
posted by colie at 8:11 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


If the money is disappearing, what happens to the workforce?

The amateurization of porn has definitely hurt the crews, and there's some numbers about the general decline of revenue for the adult industry in Los Angeles, but that's a mix of other issues too, including LA County making it more difficult and less attractive to produce here. But yeah, aside from the performers there used to be electricians, drivers, set decorators, hair & makeup etc all taking paychecks home. The various San Fernando Valley business associations don't like to talk about it, but it was an industry that made a difference in the local economy (especially because many of the employees lived here as well as worked here) and it doesn't have as much of an impact anymore.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:22 AM on November 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


It now occurs to me that the collapse of coal isn't the obvious comparison. I went to see Billy Elliot this week and it was on my mind, there's really no deeper connection.
posted by Aravis76 at 8:43 AM on November 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


I've wondered for years how the porn industry continues to make money in the age of ubiquitous free tube sites. Perhaps not surprising to discover that the answer to this question is "It is a huge challenge, and we make a lot less than we used to".

One thing that struck me in reading this is how the reaction of those in the industry to the changing business model of porn echoes that of other entertainment forms as well. You have some folks, like Vicky Vette from the Buzzfeed article, who seem to cling to the idea that if you just make people feel really guilty about piracy then perhaps things can go back to how they've always been, while others are taking a more pragmatic approach, realizing the traditional revenue streams of the industry are rapidly disappearing and rather than hoping the trend reverses are experimenting with different models of making money.
posted by The Gooch at 8:55 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Segundus: "like the collapse of coal in the UK...

Outstandingly weird comparison. I suppose it's all about penetrating holes?
"

We work the black seam together
posted by chavenet at 9:36 AM on November 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


i hope you at least read tubes vs torrents : the ethics of piracy by stoya

Am I the only one that thinks Stoya could have a writing career when she hangs up the black stockings?
posted by Ber at 10:46 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


seems to me she already has a writing career.
posted by nadawi at 10:55 AM on November 29, 2015 [41 favorites]


holy crap everyone go read that Stoya article. Her analysis of the situation is so smart.

I can say without hesitation based solely on that one article that I trust Stoya on the effects of intellectual property rights law more than I trust Lawrence Lessig. I'm not even kidding.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yup, as if we all didn't already know Stoya is amazeballs. Hope you all get out there on twitter and #SupportStoya as it's breaking news on internet that James Deen whom I was previously also a fan of raped her. Ugh.
posted by todayandtomorrow at 12:11 PM on November 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


As usual, this article only talks about the USA. What's going on in the less puritanical parts of the world, like Germany and Japan? Are porn related apps banned there too?
posted by monotreme at 2:28 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Japan is less puritanical? HAHAHA
posted by smackfu at 2:50 PM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well… yeah. Japan IS less puritanical. Porno is at every convenience store at one end of the magazine racks, and virtually every video rental shop has a surprisingly large porno section.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:57 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, #istandwithstoya.

I was a fan of James Deen - I liked that here was a progressive, feminist man who respected his partners as well as put a good face on kink, because it's still such a misunderstand practice for much of the public.

Well, guess I sure was wrong. Ugh.
posted by Windigo at 3:03 PM on November 29, 2015


"We dug coal together."
posted by kirkaracha at 3:05 PM on November 29, 2015


Wait which part were you wrong about?
posted by Carillon at 3:37 PM on November 29, 2015


Wow just wow. Googled that, agreed thought he was a better person than that.
posted by Carillon at 3:40 PM on November 29, 2015


> "We dug coal together."

That's should be the closing line in the porn film "Jasstified"
posted by AGameOfMoans at 3:52 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can say without hesitation based solely on that one article that I trust Stoya on the effects of intellectual property rights law more than I trust Lawrence Lessig. I'm not even kidding.

except she calls copyrighted "copy written."
posted by Floydd at 4:04 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Most below the line crew in porn also work on regular TV, films, commercials, etc.. There's not a complete separate industry.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:34 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


except she calls copyrighted "copy written."
posted by Floydd at 4:04 PM on November 29 [2 favorites +] [!]


And Lessig's analysis of class relations as they pertain to law is for shit. Minus two points for Stoya, minus several million for Lessig.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:42 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


[One deleted - let's not litigate the Stoya vs Deen thing in here. The links are about the industry in general.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:45 PM on November 29, 2015


I'm not saying this makes me a saint, but I take pleasure in paying for music by the album and not streaming, buying the actual books of authors I like, seeing good movies in the theater, and paying for porn if I want to watch it. I understand that not everyone has the middle class income that allows for these kinds of "luxuries", but if we don't want these businesses not to be terrible there's got to be some way for people to be compensated for their work.

I am a man of means, sir, and I buy my porn by the thrust
posted by Sebmojo at 4:49 PM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Call me old fashioned, but is being locked out of the mobile space really something that porn is losing out on? There's a certain amount of privacy involved with watching porn. An app with a well integrated payment method might boost sales but how many Pornhub users even have an account?

How afraid are users of accidentally clicking the Facebook 'Like' button that appears next to the video on most tube sites?

Apple's walled garden is problematic but that's larger than just porn, but Grindr has an iOS app, and that app's not exactly family friendly.

Smartphones and tablets are quite powerful these days, and they all have functional web browsers. Hell, both the Playstation and the Xbox had dramatic increases in viewership, according to Pornhub.

One conspicuous absence in the article from Wired is Mindgeek, and no discussion of online porn is really complete without at least a mention of them. They operate most of the major "tube" sites as well as produce a fair amount of it as well. Their shady business practices are a bit of a derail, but they do operate mobile-focused sites and the company as a whole seems to be doing quite well.

Also worth a mention is YouTube Red. Aside from the poor name given its similarity to the porn site RedTube (Google, YouTube's owner, are horrible bullies about product names), is paying for things online finally actually becoming viable? Netflix proves that selling easily downloaded media online is viable, though as the Wired article mentions, finding a credit card processor for adult services (like legal marijuana sales) is rather difficult.
posted by fragmede at 5:58 PM on November 29, 2015


The Porn Business Isn't Anything Like You Think It Is

I just misread this as "The Poem Business Isn't Anything Like You Think It Is," which is probably also true.
posted by limeonaire at 6:09 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


seems to me she already has a writing career.

Case #134081903 of people thinking that if someone dances/is a sex worker in any way shape or form then that consumes their entire life and they obviously don't have any hobbies or gigs outside of that(compensated or otherwise).

Didn't we just go back and forth on the whole "strippers involvement in punk wasn't just as groupies" thing a few days ago over this exact same chestnut? It's pretty much the most often heard complaint from anyone i know who has in any way had a job that could be remotely described as sex work. Even if they "just" cammed or something else run from home like that.
posted by emptythought at 6:21 PM on November 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


It seems like Google is agnostic about porn from my perspective? Make sure family filter is off, Google whatever turns your crank, hit the videos tab. You are ready to watch porn!
posted by Meatbomb at 7:00 PM on November 29, 2015


In re. Stoya's essay an interesting position is occupied by the likes of xTube - lots of non-pirated genuine amateur content but part of the same Mindgeek empire apparently.
posted by atoxyl at 7:52 PM on November 29, 2015


Though I'm fairly out of touch (no really) with what's on different porn sites at this point.
posted by atoxyl at 7:57 PM on November 29, 2015


Meatbomb: "It seems like Google is agnostic about porn from my perspective? Make sure family filter is off, Google whatever turns your crank, hit the videos tab. You are ready to watch porn!"

That was true around one or two years ago, but not anymore (I think the article claimed that it was because of the Panda algorithm, but that was rolled out in 2011, and I'm pretty sure the delisting of most porn from the Google Videos tab happened after quite a bit that).
posted by Bugbread at 7:59 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder what impacts a more constrained porn industry might have on directors' ability to make and distribute challenging films.

I work in distribution of what would be considered “challenging films”. I’m not strictly speaking of sexually adventurous films but films with provocative ideas, films of quality but feature a heavy deficit of star power, or films of a very personal nature. I'm in Canada so things are a little different here compared to the US but not that much other than there are less venues here. In my experience, while I haven’t had dealings with Google so I can’t speak to them, I can say unequivocally that Apple & Netflix function directly and/or indirectly as intellectual gate keepers.

We’ve found Apple to be incredibly prudish and conservative about what they are willing have on Itunes (never mind what they are willing to feature on the front page). Netflix we’ve found to be inscrutable, arbitrary and indifferent, removing or burying titles as they see fit. As these are some of the main streaming services an audience can currently connect with a film, the ability for a filmmaker to make the kinds of films they want is severely curtailed. TV sales these days can be pretty limited as well for similar reasons.

Some filmmakers have managed to use Vimeo and alternate ways (physical media versions, heavy social media marketing, streaming via a dedicated site). But sometimes their distribution options are limited. I’ve known many filmmakers that have had to abandon works of a challenging nature because they just don’t have a venue and sometimes their funding is tied to potential sales so they lose their funding.

I don’t know for certain that the attitude towards Internet pornography from Apple, Google and the like is the reason for this but I can’t see how it has helped.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:08 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


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