n the dead of a London winter, I went shopping for male porn actors I could pay to make a few graphic videos for my personal site — hardcore stuff that had no relationship to all the pretty pictures I’d been posing for while living in Barcelona. I ended up liking both the adventure and the men, one in particular, who helped me enormously with set-ups, lighting, and generally made me feel comfortable and at peace with what I was doing … not exactly what I thought I’d be up to in my mid-twenties when I was a teen in a suffocating English boarding school.
In any event, all went well, the videos were made, and they’re now a pay-per-view extra if you subscribe to my OnlyFans internet website, by now so heavily into the sexting industry that porn seems like a memory.
That may be because porn is, or soon will be, a memory — an antique, something that rolled out of the early web age but slowly died out like a dinosaur once sex workers discovered an entirely new way to make a living, one far more profitable than anything available thirty years ago.
An escort friend who now works almost exclusively through virtual encounters said it best: “Old porn is dead. It just doesn’t know it yet. My guess is that escorting will also be almost completely virtual within a decade. Meeting someone in person will require so much vetting that most people will readjust everything so that all forms of arousal will be digital. You’ll see the boy or girl, but you won’t touch them unless you’ve been cleared by four intelligence agencies.”
If she’s right, and I think she is, what exactly does this mean?
For starters, once-booming porn companies that relied on paying their mostly female stars by the scene will begin to vanish. This mini-Hollywood (mostly headquartered in California) followed a base version of the old Hollywood studio system. Actresses were paid by the shoot, or taken on for “x” number of performances, paid a pittance (or more if you had a good agent or went big-time), after which you were discarded in favor of the next promotable teen sex doll.
That system helped a lot of women who needed a quick cash top-up, but it was ruinously unfair because the actresses had no control over the footage and the more unscrupulous studios could sell the material to the likes of Pornhub. In effect, an adult actress with a massive following wouldn’t see a dime after her video hit the web. She had zero control. Sure, she’d made enough to pay the rent or support her child, but surrendered any chance of using what she’d shot to create an image she could then market and, with any luck, make a few pennies of her own.
When I nervously interviewed potential male porn companions all those months ago, they all had one thing in common: they were all but broke. Their business was shattered by the virus and, in any event, most were in their thirties and forties — not prime porn ages. They envied me for what I was doing and have since done, basically creating a sexting and sex industry that doesn’t require my presence but still thrives. The few videos I made in January and February still get buyers and will for years, because in porn no one ages.
Think about it. Had the porn star of 2000 had the chance to build up a following through a few “tease” videos that would whet appetites enough to get paying customers for a paywall site, what would their earnings have paid compared to what they got for twenty shoots? Let’s say they made $20K. Great. But after that, it all spilled over into cyberspace titan Pornhub, and who would pay to see their videos when there are so many free videos in circulation? No one. Had they done it on their own, the road would have been tougher, but they would have dodged agent fees, unscrupulous producers (mostly men), and perhaps — it’s a big perhaps — made a financial industry out of their “adult” skills.
This is what drove my male stars crazy — that they’d been made into used cars, junked cars, unable to sell themselves while forced to the web endlessly recycle videos they’d made twenty years ago.
Early Sasha Grey shoots, most made before 2010, and still attract new fans.
It doesn’t matter that Grey is now well into her thirties, or that some of her newest acolytes were toddlers when she was romping into cult status.
Again, based on all thus, why should mainstream porn be worried about its future?
COVID is why.
The old playing field will very soon be made obsolete by a new one.
With increasing frequency, teens and twenty-somethings who want to make money in the adult world are looking for “safe” direct-to-web outlets, building cyberspace fan bases to get them started. This is an option my own porn friends never had.
It is these fans, and not porn execs, who are beginning to assert themselves indirectly in any contract negotiations. You’re not just a petty body if you’re also bringing two million followers to the table.
Some wannabies are now shooting their own scenes, poor lighting included, to spark a cash flow from fans and and, with luck, interest from the adult industry’s web scouts. Instead of preening for action, new starlet is have a leg up on studios because they know they’re already hot. The bigger your fan base the harder you can deal in any negotiation, once again leverage that porn stars of old lacked. Most took what was offered, with no web royalties, and it wasn’t much.
It’s like checkers meeting chess. If shameless narcissism gets you ten million views, you’re going places. YouTube has already proved this time and again, and a million is a low number.
Those eager to monetize their skills can try to bypass the old truck-stops, or try, looking good while having sex isn’t a given and doesn’t depend only on youth and looks. Your fans better be ready to pay for makeup and false starts, lots of them.
This shift has only just begun, but when it takes hold, the existing porn studio system and its web accomplices will have to change their business practices or die. The pie will need fairer slicing, and actors will hold the pizza cutter.
No, this won’t happen overnight, and no, old school porn won’t disappear. Not everyone can make it with a webcam and porn selfies have their limits. The industry will always prey on those eager for rent money only. Porn is and will remain an industry that will never lack for teen boys and girls willing to have sex on camera for a one-off $500. That’s life on planet Earth.
Still, the number of self-made, fan-boosted stars will grow exponentially in the coming decades. Some will branch out and go mainstream, with porn as their starter marriage. The rules of 2001 don’t apply in 2021.
Like me? Like my site? Like how I tease you?
Want to see me have sex with someone? Great. For a token sum you can be my fan, for a little more you can see me in action. And oh, I’m also a life coach with video sessions available for a grand am hour. For more, I can tailor a video to suit your tastes, while selling my blander stuff to studios, but in judicious doses, so there’s no overload and all want my newest. For $10K you can meet me and shake my beloved little hand.
Think $10K is outrageous? Think again.
I’m not a political scientist, but this is a spinoff of what happened after the Berlin Wall went down. Smart people saw the chance to make themselves rich by buying property for next to nothing, and that’s exactly what happened. COVID in its way is crumbling all sorts of walls and taboos.
The free market is freer than ever and big porn won’t see the liked of 1990 to 2010 ever again.
“It’s a funny old world,” Margaret Thatcher told her cabinet in late 1990 after being ousted by the party she’d resurrected from the ashes.
It was a wry way of saying what we know as reality, or a certain way of doing business, can change, appropriately, on a shilling or a dime.
For porn, the fun has just begun.