Black Porn Performers Call For Changes in Adult Industry, Including Cutting Out Agents

"Ask almost any Black woman in the porn world and you’ll get the same answers. Less pay, fewer roles, racist titles."
July 21, 2020, 10:00am
Lasha Lane
Adult performer Lasha Lane is calling for changes to the industry. Image courtesy Rico J C.

A group of Black porn performers have formed a collective calling for significant changes in the adult entertainment industry, including getting rid of agents and managers and having more Black women executives.

A number of porn companies and adult performers released statements in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks, despite criticisms that many of those institutions and individuals had a history of racist conduct. For adult performer Lasha Lane—who is self-described as the original Ebony BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) porn star—the cognitive dissonance was startling.

“Most companies have put out statements saying they support Black Lives, but have been silent when faced with public criticism about their own shortcomings on the matter. It shows that these displays are performative at best,” Lane said.

Rather than focusing on past traumas, the entertainer and her peers wanted to take active steps towards creating a safer and more equitable work environment. Together they enlisted a group of performers, directors, and producers, to advocate for industry-wide changes in sex work and pornography. The group—which includes porn actor Sinnamon Love, producer Shine Louise Houston, and master fetish trainer Jet Setting Jasmine, among others—is calling itself the BIPOC Adult Industry Collective. To date they have over 35 members.

The collective wants Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) voices to lead the shift for more equitable porn. While adamant they want to focus on positives, the group acknowledges that the need for change stems from the industry’s history of discrimination, bigotry, and cultural appropriation.

“Ask almost any Black woman in the porn world and you’ll get the same answers. Less pay, fewer roles, racist titles, dehumanizing tropes, and less space for representation with agents and managers,” said Lane. “It's disheartening since a large percentage of (porn studios’) profits are made with BIPOC actors, body types that look like ours, or appropriating our culture. Try watching porn with no hip-hop elements, big butts, or twerking... I'll wait.”

The collective’s website lists steps to move the porn industry forward. They include education initiatives to foster financial independence, industry support services helping companies put anti-racism and sex worker rights at the forefront of their business models, and mutual aid funds helping distribute money directly into BIPOC sex workers in need.

Lane has also outlined additional goals for the project. “My wish list: No more agents or managers. We don’t need them at all! A central registry/Database of Talent, like Central Casting uses. That would get rid of agents and managers as the go-to source for casting, and Black women holding C-suite and executive level positions and making decisions in all areas of the adult industry,” she said.

Lane and the BIPOC Collective are also advocating for veteran performers of color and size on the (mostly white) board of directors at the Free Speech Coalition, a nonprofit in the adult industry that opposes censorship and obscenity laws. Formed in 1991, the Free Speech Coalition has been pivotal in advocating the rights and safety of those in the adult industry.

For performer Jet Setting Jasmine, problems in the adult industry point towards bigger problems in society at large. By creating equity in sex, you help to create equity in general.

“I strongly believe that the industry is a microcosm of our larger society and oftentimes influences negative attitudes and behaviors toward people of color,” Jasmine told VICE News. The work that we are doing will highlight our contribution to both sex entertainment and education, will change the narrative of black sexuality, will improve the quality of work-life balance for performers of color, and will challenge stakeholders in the adult industry to examine their values and alignments.”

Recently the collective hosted a panel called “Consenting Adults” that discussed the importance of establishing and maintaining consent on porn sets. It is also hosting a bimonthly community meeting on Zoom.

The BIPOC Collective has said that if studios and production companies are unwilling to accommodate the changes it’s asked for, it will start creating its own studios and productions highlighting porn from diverse perspectives. While it’s still striving to reform structures that already exist, the idea of creating new organizations from the ground up—despite the hard work—is exciting.

“Bigger companies are no longer needed for anything other than exposure and the occasional paid booking for Black actors,” said Lane. “Smaller companies can take more chances and are more prone to independent thought and real diversity. They can make decisions without having to worry about all the bureaucracy bullshit.”

When thinking about what BIPOC-supported companies might look like Lane listed off several ideas.

“Putting our power and resources around awards shows with a real history of diversity and inclusion like Urban X. Having studios run by BIPOC creators that produce porn without regard to race, sexuality, or size. Producers creating real interracial content that doesn't rely on the same tired racist tropes,” she said. “Creating porn from a diverse perspective allows more people to enjoy it. It's always been just great business to diversify.”

Lane hopes that the BIPOC Collective also helps showcase the talent of creators in the adult industry who hope to counter stigmas within the porn industry as well as outside of it.

”We are stars! It's time you got to know us,” she said.

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