A few years ago, after a well-attended academic talk on the porn industry at the Adult Video Network Convention in Las Vegas, I was chit-chatting with several porn scholars. One said, with a great deal of confidence, “The phone sex industry died because of free porn.” This was shocking on two levels. First, because I am a phone sex operator and can assure you that phone sex is not dead. And two, because anyone who has ever made porn, myself included, knows that porn is not free; pornography is expensive to produce, labor-intensive, and often comes at great personal cost.
In fairness, what this scholar meant was not that porn was free to produce, but rather that from a consumer perspective, free porn is readily accessible, so much so that it discourages paid interactive services such as phone sex. Accessing free porn is so easy that many customers have come to believe they should have free access to all porn. Today, for example, a potential customer asked me to point him to my work, and then asked me to send him “samples” of what he would get if he bought anything. I told him to get lost.
How we got to the point where porn consumers have so thoroughly normalized theft that they have forgotten that what they are stealing is a story for another column. This week, I would rather spend time encouraging you to pay for the porn you consume.
When performers aren’t making sales, they can no longer continue to do the work that customers enjoy.
As a performer, I have obvious reasons for believing that it is important that you pay for your porn. These days, most performers are producing their own content, which means that unless they make sales, they are not getting paid for their work. Moreover, getting paid for adult content is tricky. Payment processors place a premium on these transactions, and therefore hosting platforms take anywhere between a 20-70 percent cut to absorb these costs. In order for content creators to survive, then, they need to make a lot of sales, and for that to happen, customers have to pay.
Additionally, there are consumer-centered reasons why it is important to pay for porn. When performers aren’t making sales, they can no longer continue to do the work that customers enjoy. This doesn’t mean the end of the porn industry, but it does mean that those who can survive are the performers with the backing of the mainstream industry, which does not support the diversity of race, size, age, ability, gender identities, sexual orientations, etc. that is present in the current indie scene. The social cost of “free” porn is actually quite high; it is a flattening of diverse representation.
These are a few of the many ways you can support performers if you enjoy their content:
Clip Stores: Clip stores are platforms where independent content creators upload their short films. These videos are typically 5-15 minutes, and you can buy them individually or in bulk packages. You can search for performers and fetish interests. Some of the most popular sites are ManyVids, iWantClips, Clips4Sale, and AP Clips.
Subscription Sites: Subscriptions sites follow a social media model. Rather than searching for particular fantasies or fetishes, you follow the performers you're interested in and pay a monthly premium. Models upkeep a feed that typically includes their clips, photosets, personal anecdotes, etc. OnlyFans and AVN Stars are the most popular subscription sites currently, though several of the cam and clip sites also have this option.
Tube Sites: Tube sites like Pornhub are complicated because they built their businesses on pirated content. However, many models have migrated their content to these sites in order to increase their traffic. If you do choose to consume porn in this way, make sure that the videos you are watching are “verified.” Verified videos have a blue checkmark by the performer’s name. These performers get paid-per-view with a model similar to YouTube.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a start.