So You Want to Perform in Porn

By Stoya



If you read that and thought, Why yes, I do want to perform in porn, this is for you. If not, please feel free to read along for potential entertainment value. Or, put the computer down, and go do whatever it is that people do on Fridays.

For those of you still interested, the first step to performing is deciding what kind of porn you want to do. See, porn isn't just people with big boobs and giant schlongs in silly setups involving offices and pizza deliverymen. It also isn't just people who are accepting of all body types/sexual orientations and strive to be as ethical as possible. Nor is it all high-gloss features, intense BDSM scenes, or content made by supposed amateurs. Before I started working in hardcore porn, I thought it was all like John Stagliano’s The Fashionistas. Stagliano shoots a very different sort of product than Digital Playground does, and while my decision to sign with DP worked out very well for me, I did spend the first few movies confused by the differences. If there is an idea in your head of the kind of porn you want to do, examine it and figure out specifically what excites or inspires you. Use it to get a more clear idea of your motivations and the level of involvement you want to have in the adult industry.

Once you’ve narrowed down what kind of scenes you want to do and what kind of performer you want to be, I recommend taking a minute to rethink the decision of actually doing it. Especially if you're just looking to live out one specific fantasy, make quick cash, or have a few months of adventure, consider whether the porn industry is the right choice for you. Unless the whole of civilization as we know it is destroyed, any nude or sexually explicit images will remain available on the internet in some way forever. Decide whether the chance to have sex with that one particular performer or have that professionally videotaped gang bang is worth the potential that every single person you know now or ever will know in the future will see it. Your parents will find out. Your employers will find out. Your friends, acquaintances, and the people you have romantic relationships with will find out. I call this Murphy's Law of Scandalous Behavior. If you are unable to come to terms with this, you should probably refrain from engaging in sexual activities in public or on camera… including sending racy cell phone pictures (even via Snapchat.)

If your goal is a full-on career that you envision as peaking with success on the level of Jesse Jane, Ron Jeremy, or Jenna Jameson, get ready for a reality check. Very few performers achieve that level of name recognition or long-term financial viability. Stardom is not guaranteed, even for performers who check all of the most widely marketable boxes. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will not rain down from the sky just because you show up in Southern California with a willingness to take your clothes off. Unproven rumors of a Teen Mom's paycheck aside, no performer gets paid six figures for a movie.

Remember that short of holding a gun to your head, nobody can force you to engage in a sex act that you do not want to perform, or with partners you do not want to perform those acts with. I would recommend avoiding people who threaten others with guns. The decisions about what sort of work you accept bookings for are yours and yours alone, regardless of what pressures agents, producers, or directors may try to use on you. If you only want to work with ten people or even one person, you have the right to set that boundary. You can set your rates at whatever amount you deem appropriate. You can perform exclusively in romantic girl-girl scenes (as long as you have the necessary genitals for that genre) and you can also refuse all scenes involving fewer than six penises. It is up to you to decide what you are comfortable with and how far out of your comfort zone you are willing to go in order to get more work. For the most part directors and producers want performers to be happy about the sex acts they are performing and the people they are working with. This usually has less to do with morals and more to do with the way that genuine enjoyment of a scene is believed to result in a better and therefore more profitable product.

That said, the higher your rates and the more boundaries you have, the less frequently you will work. Consider keeping your day job for a while. Put your checks in the bank instead of up your nose or in your closet. With a few months' worth of living expenses in savings or a secondary income, you will be less likely to be tempted into doing something that you may later regret purely for the money. Make sure you have up-to-date vaccinations for hepatitis and HPV. You should probably get a tetanus booster while you’re at the doctor’s office too. The adult industry does manage the risk of STI transmission through testing, barriers, or a combination of both, but there is still a risk. There is no such thing as completely safe sex. This risk is another thing you should come to terms with before entering the adult industry as a performer.

Even if porn is just an adventure for you, remember that it is a job. You will frequently be expected to show up on set appropriately groomed and showered before 9 AM with a valid STI test and at least one form of ID. A big-budget-feature shoot can last for multiple weeks, with three or four 24-hour days in a row. However little sleep you're able to get on one of these projects, the crew will usually have had far less. Being late or not showing up keeps everyone on set longer than necessary and can cost the company you're working for money in overtime for the crew and location.

Many scenes being shot now involve some kind of dialogue to set up why the sex is happening. You will need to be able to memorize and deliver at least a couple of lines of this dialogue, preferably in a somewhat convincing manner. You will probably need to learn how to walk into a shot and onto the bright green (or orange or pink or sometimes nonbright black) piece of tape that marks where you're supposed to end up without obviously looking at the floor. You may need to have sex for extended periods in positions or on surfaces that are uncomfortable, occasionally while wearing special-effects makeup, body paint, a wig, or a silly hat on your head. For female performers, the ability to confidently run over gravel in ill-fitting platform heels somehow turns into a job skill, as does pretending you aren't freezing in skimpy outfits or sweltering in five layers of wardrobe. If something goes awry with lights, the camera, or one of the performers a scene may take far longer to shoot than the runtime of the finished product. The same sex scene may be repeated for a still camera, softcore footage, or both.

Still want to do porn now that you know we aren't all millionaires and it takes actual work? I completely understand that. I find the physically demanding and constantly changing nature of the job extremely fun.

Most recognizable performers have done at least one interview where they've explained how they got into the porn industry or got their first booking, and many post the contact information for their agent in their Twitter bio. There are a handful of licensed adult agencies and most of them are listed on the LATATA website. The individual agency websites usually have a contact page for potential new talent. Additionally, companies like Burning Angel, Kink, and Pink & White (the makers of Crash Pad) have application pages for people specifically interested in performing for their sites. Some of the homosexual male-oriented companies like Titan Men and Channel 1 Releasing have these pages as well.

If you're reading this, I feel like it's safe to assume you have internet access. Use it to do some research. If you can’t figure out the basics from here, you’ll probably be the annoying one who can't show up on time with the proper documentation, is incapable of remembering lines, and somehow manages to lose half of their wardrobe during lunch break. Personally, I have no interest in metaphorically holding the hand of someone who is likely to make everyone else’s job harder than it needs to be. Unless that person is Scarlett Johansson. I would put up with just about any amount of bullshit from Scarlett Johansson. So: take everything you've learned, evaluate it, and then go and have fun. Or don't have fun. I'm sure there's at least a small market for that as well.

@Stoya

Previously - Stoya on Peeking Behind the Porn Curtain

 

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