Culture

What it’s Like to Write, Direct, and Shoot All Your Own Porn

We spoke to an "independent porn star" based in the Philippines. She told us how she got into this industry, how she makes money, and what friends and family think of her profession.
26 November 2019, 9:02am
porn in smart phone
For illustrative purposes only. Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

Salome is an independent porn star based in the Philippines. Basically this means that she does everything herself, from shooting to editing to promoting—which she does via Twitter, where she has reached around 35,000 followers. Having attended one of the country’s top universities, she says that many ask her why she got into sex work in the first place. Her answer: it makes her feel happy and good about her body.

VICE spoke with Salome about the challenges of being a one-woman show, but why for her this job ultimately makes sense.

VICE: Hey Salome, you describe yourself as "an independent porn star." How did this all start for you?
Salome: Various events in my life led up to this. My boyfriend and I opened up our relationship and started sleeping with other partners, and then I met a photographer on Tinder who does BDSM. He invited me to a session and said, “I will tie you up, I’ll inflict pain, tell me what you feel, and tell me if you want to deepen this relationship." I was like, yeah sure. I ended up having sex with the guy, and then he took pictures of me. That was the first time I was professionally photographed, but it was nude right away. And I really liked the experience.

I enjoyed sending nudes to my boyfriend and to other guys. I enjoyed being photographed by this guy. One thing led to another, and I discovered the alter community on Twitter. I was like, here's an opportunity for me to show my nudes to a much bigger platform than I’ve ever had. So I started posting my nudes there, and my account blew up. There was a point where I was the most followed female alter.

When my account got bigger, I started to think about how [to] monetise it. I started putting out ads on Twitter saying, "Hey, if you want more of my nudes, if you want to interact with me, if you want to go on a date with me, if you want to buy porn from me, you can just contact me and I'll give you access." That's how I market my content. It’s really very independent.

How is being an indie porn star different from being part of a studio?
There are levels of involvement in sex work and adult industries. Porn is just a small part of the bigger bubble of sex work, and a lot of people who do porn also do other kinds of sex work. There's a lot of overlap between the different kinds of sex work and right now, some are really “in” the system. Like people in the United States, for example, who are managed by studios and have an agent. These studios take care of distribution and stuff like that. But I'm not like that. A big part of the porn industry is made up of independent performers and producers, and I'm one of those. I do the shooting, editing, distribution, acting. I'm lucky to be able to do that because I have a big platform on social media. A lot of people starting out have to be part of a bigger network.

What’s the process of creating a video like?
I would take care of my body first. That's what people don't understand, it takes a lot of work to look good enough for the camera. So, every day, I would go to the gym and when I’m bloated on the day of filming, I have to take a laxative. I have to take all sorts of shit so that my tummy would look flat.

And then, I would set up the lights and the camera. I only use my phone. When I start filming, I have a checklist of sexual acts that I need to film based on the requests I get. There's this guy who asked me if I could do some armpit fetish stuff, another wanted to see foot stuff. It also includes things like squirting and double penetration.

After shooting, I would spend pretty much the whole month editing because that's a lot of footage. Every month, I would produce maybe seven clips that are around 10 minutes long.

How long does that take?
Once a month, I have a shooting marathon for three days straight. At its peak, I had to fulfil all of the orders, so I resorted to taking modafinil, a prescription focus drug. I would have to take that so I can work nonstop. I couldn’t eat because if I eat, I’m going to look bloated. I didn’t eat properly for three days. I also couldn’t sleep properly because I kept on drinking coffee.

How do you share your videos and how much do you earn?
On my best months, I can earn PHP50,000 ($982) a month. That's just selling my nudes and maybe one video thrown in. I would charge PHP5,000 ($98) for one custom 10-minute video, so I would only need 10 customers, and my month is set.

I upload them on Google Drive, so they’re HD, and then I just give customers access. That’s the beauty of Google Drive; I can revoke access anytime. People love it when I say I have 500 nudes in my archive, with all sorts of positions, all sorts of themes. They can pay $60 to access all of that. That's what I do; I sell them in packages. That way I can increase my price point, and they get more for their money.

What's the weirdest thing a customer has asked you to do?
Mukbang. She knew that I did porn but was like, “No, I don't want to see you naked, you don’t have to be nude, I just want to see you eat. I would like you to talk to me as if we were on a date.” She was like, “I’m going to pay extra so that you can get something nice to eat.” So I was in bed, fully-clothed, eating sushi while telling her stories.

Do your friends and family know that you do porn?
My mom found out very recently and that's one of the reasons I had to deactivate my social media accounts. She was fucking heartbroken and I get it. I was kind of expecting it. I knew that when I started on this journey, it was already on borrowed time. As Erica from The Social Network said, everything you post on the internet is written in ink. You can’t erase it. And, eventually, my parents are going to find out. This time, it was just my mum. I don’t know if she has the heart to tell my dad or our other relatives.

I was only afraid of my family finding out. I wouldn't say that they’re conservative; they’re actually quite liberal, in that they’re very accepting of LGBT people. But sex is always a hard limit for them. It’s always been a taboo for them. They're not accepting of kink, and, obviously, they're not accepting of me being a sex worker. My mum asked me why I chose to do this even though I was smart and educated. I explained to her that it makes me feel good about my body. That I'm an exhibitionist, that I like it, and that it makes me happy. And I like that it makes other people happy.

My boyfriend knows, obviously, and he's very supportive of it. That's actually a big reason why I choose to keep myself in solo porn. I do have porn with partners, but he's not a very big fan of that. It makes him uncomfortable. And my friends accept me. They’ve long known that I like these things.

Is it easier or harder to date when you tell men what you do? What's their reaction when you tell them?
They're fans of it, I guess. But also, consider that I’m heterosexual, and a lot of the guys I fuck are also heterosexual. And I very much play into that fantasy a lot of guys have.

How do you stay safe? In terms of both STIs and physical safety?
Most of the risks in my sexual health come from my personal life. I do the solo porn on my own, but I still have my sex life where I would have casual sex with different partners aside from my boyfriend. I would stay safe from that by getting tested every two months. And I always do it protected, even with my boyfriend. Even when I play with my toys, most of the time I put a condom on them just so it’s extra sanitary. I'm very strict about that. I always play with protection, even on my own, and even with my own boyfriend.

What's your dream for the future? Do you see this as a temporary thing?
No. I've been doing the nude stuff for two years and I only recently monetised it. While I was [monetising my work], I realised that this was really my passion. I like doing all sorts of sex work. I've never sold sex, to be clear, but I have gone on escorting jobs. I would go on a date with a person, maybe hold hands and kiss them, get naked with them, but I would not have sex with them. But that's still sex work, you know? I've done domination, I also very much enjoy that.

Honestly, I don’t have any concrete plans about what I want for the future, but I know that this is the industry that I want to work in, because I’m good at it. I'm very comfortable with my body, I’m good at having sex, I’m good at making myself look charming and presenting a sort of fantasy to people who are willing to pay for it and, you know, that's a skill.

That's what people don't understand about sex work. There's a great deal of empathy and there are a lot of soft skills that you need to learn to be able to do sex work successfully. They think that as long as you’re beautiful, horny and shameless, that’s all you need. [But] there's a craft to it, and it just so happens that I’m very good at those soft skills.

I've been working with a lot of dominatrixes recently and they were like, "Oh, you should go to Dubai, we’ll mentor you, introduce you to our network, and teach you all sorts of skills,” so that I can have a career as a dominatrix there. And I’m heavily considering that. And then, hopefully, when I’ve saved enough money, I’d go to a place like LA or Las Vegas, where the porn industry is, so I can enter the mainstream porn industry.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

At the time of writing, PHP1 = $.020.

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.

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