This is a three-part blog entry that will give background information about adult video projects and how they operate, so that others will have candid information before they decide that videos are the choice for them or not. I will be honest, and this means it will not be possible for me to sound completely unbiased in some instances. It isn’t my intent necessarily to besmirch anyone, but rather to describe events, so that possibilities aren’t overlooked (e.g. if it happened to me, it’s possible it will happen in a similar manner to you). In part 1, I am going to go line by line and describe the ins and outs of my experience with Sean Cody. In part 2, I am going to compare and contrast my experiences at the four houses for which I have worked thus far. In part 3, I am going to give some practical advice and talk about the advantages of working through an agency.
Before you make any choices you can’t undo, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I want to do porn?
- What will I gain by doing so, and how will I use this to my advantage?
- How will it affect my life once I eventually retire?
- Am I making any choices out of desparation?
- Who can help me along the path?
There are a variety of answers. Tucker Vaughn knew when he was 16 that he wanted to do it – he was called to it. I don’t know whether he can articulate yet what this calling entailed, but he told me as soon as he saw porn that he knew it was what he wanted to do. As soon as he was of age he started, and he’s been a very busy boy ever since. 🙂
I have heard someone say he wanted to be preserved for posterity while he was at the peak of his fitness and male beauty.
I use porn as a free, ongoing form of advertising that I get paid to create. I am not a porn model who sometimes escorts. I am an escort who has done some porn modeling. That difference underlies the reason why I am free to speak so freely and honestly about my experience in the video industry: The threats that I “will never do videos again after that Sean Cody essay” fall flat, because I am doing more videos (tomorrow in fact), and I also don’t consider myself a “porn star.” If I do happen to go on to become a recognized persona in video, awesome. If not, okay.
Every man has his reason for going into the video industry. Know what yours is, and come to peace with it. Own your reason: You won’t be able to avoid telling people forever (if at all), and living with shame is not living.
To what advantage?
This question grows out of the first. Alright, you have decided that you have a reason that can be reconciled with your personal life (even after you stop doing video work): You are going to do adult video. Fine. Once you have identified why you want to do it, you should now consider what you gain from doing so. Let’s look more closely at the three examples from above under the “Why porn?” section.
Are you like Tucker? Do you plan to possibly make an extended career in the video industry? Will doing the porn pay for an education you otherwise couldn’t get, or will it help you understand later how to produce video projects of your own? I don’t know that this is Tucker’s plan, but that is what Christian Owen is doing. It has worked for others in this way, including Kristofer Weston. We are all attracted to our careers for reasons we don’t always understand at first. Do you just need to do porn? If so, know that you can use it in several ways, especially later for a career in production (which can last far longer than a modeling career).
It sounds like a relatively poorly considered reason to me, but doing porn to capture yourself at your prime is valid, I suppose. Couldn’t you just take a Polaroid? But it isn’t my place to judge. If this is your motivation, then pornography essentially forces you to remain in shape for as long as possible. If you are a body builder, does doing porn get you other gigs that help you maintain your life as a (semi-)professional exerciser? I don’t know. I can’t answer this, but I present it here, because I heard it touted as a reason to do porn.
Are you in my position, perhaps? It’s a very common scenario. A significant portion of the escorts I have seen in ads mention that they are also porn models. And let me clarify something while I’m thinking about it: I lose money (in the short term) by doing the shoots. I am paid for them, so the time isn’t lost; however, looking at a strictly dollars:effort ratio… Porn is definitely not my primary concern; however, I understand that the more I stand out, the better I may fare when it is time to connect with clients. But do not fool yourself: Porn (unless you have a series of contracts guaranteeing some regular gigs, paid at generous rates) generally will not support you as easily as a successful escorting practice.
There is no way to undo porn. Once you finish your video career you will have left behind you the proof of your profession. Before you go into this segment of the industry, you will need to consider what you will do later. Consider where your interests lie, and have a sense of direction when you begin the video career.
Pornography is a vehicle, if you steer it properly; however, there are some roads that will be closed to you. Which route will you navigate then?
Do not lose heart: Pornography is becoming more and more mainstream, and there are many people who simply don’t care if you are/were an adult entertainer. Between the liberalization of our culture and the bad economy, most people will probably end up saying, “Hey, you did what you had to.” You will probably not be able to run for governor (unless the current state of affairs amongst South Carolina’s governor and gubanatorial candidates becomes the norm everywhere).
So, you can forget about the careers where conservative appearances matter, but there are so many other options. I would also make another point: If you are entrepreneurial enough to be in adult entertainment, then you are probably possessed of stout enough heart to continue being independent later. What business would you like to start? I know porn models who have gone on to be landscape designers, accountants, lead mechanics, lawyers, and highly sought after tutors (though these latter two options seem a bit riskier to me, in terms of conflicts of interest).
I love being my own employer. I was miserable as an educator, office worker, and executive assistant. Although I do not have the security of a paycheck coming from a boss, I have so much more control over my destiny that it’s worth the exchange (since I have learned to tolerate the endless adventure). It is deeply satisfying to mold your efforts into your own visions, whatever they might be. Perhaps THAT is the answer to your “Why porn?” question: Use the money to set yourself up in a business as your own boss. When you do the background check on your past employment, you can just overlook the adult entertainment stuff. 😉
Are you desparate?
If you are considering porn simply for fast cash… Well, honestly… You should probably not do it at all. I blogged quite a while back that you should never do anything that causes you guilt, grief, pain, sorrow, regret, or embarrassment. That is still true now.
Who can help you?
You need allies in this business. You need people who are on your side, who care where you are, and who will look out for your best interests. This career is not a choice for the squemish or undecided. Once you jump into this pool, little fishy, the wet footprints will follow you after you’re done swimming.
I want to reiterate what I said in part 2: You should NOT make any agreements or arrangements with recruiters who come looking for you through social networking and/or modeling sites. If someone approaches you, find out if they are recruiting FOR a particular house, of if they are recruiting FROM a particular house. Freelancers, to be frank, are often pirhannas. They do not care about you. They care only about their commissions. And why not? They’ve never met or spoken to you. Why and how should they give a damn if you are okay?
If you do accept work through a site like Model Mayhem (which is how I came to Sean Cody), be very certain that you have accepted work from a representative of the house itself. If you do not, you may find yourself owing a finder’s fee to a recruiter who has done no work, and who may try to claim 10-20% of your pay from every assignment you do at that house (and possibly other houses as well). If you accept an offer from the house directly, you do not have to worry about the recruiter, though you will still be on your own to figure out the contracts. Again, I suggest a reputable agent: An agent would have pointed out the intricacies of my Sean Cody contract.
(Edit, 08/14/2011: I can no longer advocate on behalf of Fabscout. Please disregard that which has been crossed out.)
Yes, there are horror stories about agents who have not done their jobs, and who have ended up cheating or hurting their models. There are agents who don’t call, agents who lie, and others who are flakes. And so I do not come to you saying, “You should get an agent,” and then NOT have one to whom I can refer you. Without a doubt (and for very good reasons) the staff at Fabscout are easily among the most respected booking agents in gay porn. They have arranged all the assignments I have done since my Sean Cody contract expired, and they have made everything very easy. If you cannot work through Fabscout, then look for an agent who will do everything Fabscout does for me:
- Contacts you regularly with work – this means the agent is well-connected and proactive.
- Offers you assignments without pressuring you to take work you do not want – avoid people who try to coerce you to do anything you do not know you are willing to do.
- Shields you from bareback porn companies – although you can go from condom to bareback, you very often cannot go from bareback to condom. Aside from exposing yourself to risk, you may cut your nose off to spite your face by doing bareback porn.
- Acts promptly and responsibly on all project details, including transportation, lodging, wardrobe requirements, general appearance guidelines, and fees.
- Works only with video companies they know to be safe – report problems to your agent, so that they can help you, if needed.
- Checks to make sure you are en route – this establishes that you are safe, and lets the house know you are definitely on your way.
- Calls or texts while you are on set to be certain you are happy – this gives you the security of knowing that someone knows where you are, and it holds the house accountable for your comfort and safety.
- Negotiates with the house and communicates with you about the fee schedule – you should know up front how much you will be paid and what will be required for you to receive your check.
- Charges a reasonable rate – Fabscout charges me 20%, and I am happy to give it to them.
Fabscout is rather like the AAA of gay porn. I don’t mind paying them, because when I need them they are there. Do not pay 20% to an agency that doesn’t match all this effort. Expect to pay more toward 10-15%/project if you sign an on-going contract, rather than working shoot to shoot.
- Sends an invoice in writing and keeps accurate records – this ensures that everyone knows how much is owed and paid.
Writing this series has been quite the wild ride. I have no regrets. But I do not believe in regret. There are only lessons learned. As you go forward in your Adult Entertainment career, it is imperative that you pay attention. You must take care of yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to victimize others to protect your interests. I suggest you work sober, treat your appointments, club bookings, and/or shoots with an ethic that will defy the stereotypes associated with the industry, and live from a position of as much transparency as possible. Own your choices, and do not be afraid to speak out when you know you have experienced something that others should be warned against. Even if I have never met you, I want you to know that you can email me, if you need an empathetic response to a question pertaining to your experiences as a purveyor of fantasy and pleasure.