Ask the pornographer


My name is Abby, and I am an Australian pornographer.

In the vein of the “Ask the gay guy…” threads, I thought there might be some interest in asking the pornographer. I kinda fell into this role backwards (really!). First, some background.

I am a bit of a newcomer to the SDMB posting thang, though I have been a reader for about a year. Along with my longtime pal, confidante, SDMB reg, and now employee, GuanoLad, I am a professional (ie, making a living) pornographer. GuanoLad does the webdesign stuff, and edits the video material, while I am the photographer. We have been at it for a few years now, producing material for a single website, and have recently got into VHS video production.

The business is doing well, so presumably we have found a niche market for our material. While it seems obvious to outsiders that all internet based porn material would make money, that is no longer the case (it was about five years ago). More sites fail than not, tho less people are trying lately, as they realise how hard it is. Finding people to pay for material that appear to be “free” on usenet newsgroups and websites is hard, let alone getting them to pay for quality material.

The material we shoot is of amateur models, very “girl next door” style. No makeup, no high heels, no big hair, no “sexy” police/nurse/accountant costumes (all the models wear their own clothes). The models are shot in a clear, well lit, and “normal” way - no pouting, no “sexy” looks. Just normal gals having a good time. This is not Artistic Nudity. We shoot models by themselves (“solo”), or in girl-girl pairs. We don’t shoot boy-girl couplings (yet).

We shoot our amateur “off the street” models with quality camera gear, in a professional way; the genre is not “pictures my boyfriend took of me when we came home drunk from the prom” (there is a big market for this kinda stuff, however it’s hard to fake well).

We treat the models with the highest respect, we pay them well (on the day they get photographed, not when the shoot is published, or “when it makes money” (pornographers of dubious reputation often promise this to models, and plenty of models get suckered in by it), and we run a proper business - we’re a registered Australian company, we pay tax, every shoot has associated documentation (releases, tax docs), we have an established studio (tho we tend to shoot models in specific locations, not in studios).

I’m saying all this so you get an idea of the kinda people we are. We hold ourselves accountable for what we do, we do it well, and we do it legally, so please don’t flame me for being dodgy, untrustworthy, unreliable, a leper, or in need of re-education by way of a Big Stick (all this and more I have been criticised of before).

I have spoken to the moderators about this post, and they have okayed it, so long as we promise to keep it clean (presumably as clean as a thread on porn can be). I am very interested in intelligent debate on all porn-production related issues, and I hope that other people are as well.

To that end, the mods ask that I suggest the type of questions that might be relevant:
[li]You guys must have sex with a lot of the models, right?[/li][li]You’re a spammer, you deserve to die, bitch![/li][li]Are you a millionaire yet?[/li][li]Why are all the models oiled, have big hair, fake tits, high heels, anyway?[/li][li]How do you live with yourself, corrupting the young like that?[/li][li]Where do you find models?[/li][li]How much do they get paid?[/li][li]Does being a dyke affect what you do?[/li][li]For the geeks among us, what are the stats on your server? What about credit cards - all porn sites are dodgy with them, right?[/li][/ul]

I look forward to hearing from you.


Just thought I should add, I have not included the address of my website. If anyone here knows what it is, please do not post it, as per 'board rules. Thanks.


Ethnicity and porn marketing.

Please give thoughts, if possible specific to known markets, market segmentation and currents trends in regards to market demand for and/or against ethnic specific marketing, either in terms of actors or in directed marketing.

Also, would you know demand elasticities in regards to pricing and GDP growth?

Hi Collounsbury

ohh, gosh. Good questions. The short answer is, “I don’t know”.

Here in Australia, there’s a lot of talk about being proud of our multi-cultural heritage, etc (and, hell, I am), but the fact is, there are not THAT many non-white Australians around. But I guess it depends on your terms - part Lebonese, Chinese, Aboriginal, etc, people abound, “pure” races, I would say, are less common (well, they seem to be to me - not sure on the actual stats), and less likely to pose nude.

Certainly anecdotal evidence indicates that out of the several hundred models I have photographed, 95% of them would be classified as being “white”. 4% would of Asian extraction, the rest would be black or “other”. Asian models are a definite fetish for whatever reason.

I very rarely get requests for models of a specific race, so I guess there’s a status quo there. I shoot models that come to me looking to be shot, and that happens to be what people want to see.

We don’t do any marketing in any kind of ethnic-specific way, except for places where English tends to be the base language (however we’re looking at trying to organise billing and advertise in some of the EuroDollar countries, as many people there tend to have specialised credit cards (or no credit cards at all), not the US standard VISA, MC; and that would involve some ethno-specific marketing).

Around 90% of my customers are in the US, presumably that is because it’s the most developed and largest English speaking country, especially when it comes to internet connectivity and disposable income. It goes in circles - most of our customers are from there, most people would sign up to a site are from there, most places we advertise are based there.

After the US, the UK, Australia, and then European and Asian countries.

Sorry I could not give a more definite answer.


The girls that do girl/girl scenes. Are they usually lez in real life? If not, what motivates them to do it on camera? And if so, are the ones on the tapes couples in real life? Or do you put 2 together and say, “you’re working with her today”.

Also, how is cleansliness handled? Are the actors trusted to take care of themselves, or is there oversight? I mean, has it ever happened that one woman went down on another and said “Yuck, you stink”?

When you get into man/woman films, will you show condom use like some of the tapes I’ve seen? If so, why? I hate that! None of my fantasies involve use of a condom! Why are so many pornographers doing that? Aren’t standard AIDS test enough?

Hiya, Hayduke Lives

Lessee… All the GG scenes I have shot to date, none of the participants would call themselves “lesbian”. Most would say “bi”. Some have never been with another girl before doing in front of a camera, and that makes for excellent material - they get the double thrill from doing it for the first time AND in front of a camera.

The “thrill” factor seems to be the main motivation, and several GG models have told me they’d do it for nothing - they just like the idea of it. We pay them anyway. :slight_smile:

We have never shot a GG scene where the models are a couple in real life, and to my knowledge, none of the models have hooked up after a shoot, tho they have been known to go out for a drink socially after (sometimes with the crew). Several have boyfriends.

We shoot models solo first, and then bring them back at a later date for GG material. With regards to selecting partners, from my observations, it seems this is part of the thrill. We have never had a model turn down a suggestion we have made, tho we always offer a “primary”, and several “secondary” selections. If they ask, we show them pics of each other beforehand.

Cleanliness? The onus is on them, but we advise them - we have never had a model complain about another model, but we always suggest a shower before we start shooting, with the advice, “make sure you’re very clean”. We also ask the models to take a shower after (toilet or other) breaks.

With regards to boy-girl shoots, we have not shot any yet, but we have had interest expressed by solo models interested in working with their boyfriends, and we all agree that’d be the better way to do it. We don’t plan to have a “resident stud” like a lot of sites do. STD’s is the obvious reason, but AIDS tests are the very surface (and not really that much of a risk). Things like genital warts, gonorrhea, herpes, hep c, and so on, are much more realistic risks (and not always testable for, and probably unrealistic financially (and legally?), due to the time it takes for test results to come in, and the cost of them.

We don’t want to use condoms (hell, who does?!) in the shoots, I agree with you. But I can see why shoots are produced with them - convenience. To me, it’s clear they are missing entirely the point of producing porn (as you imply), but I reckon that’s the case for about 90% of mainstream porn (who WANTS to see wimmin with fake tits REALLY?). We’d probably choose people who have unprotected sex regularly, rather than deal with the hassle of getting STD tests and pairing people who don’t know each other.

There are masses of legal implications there, so we’re not going to act before talking to a lawyer, and workshopping it a lot more. We’d need to get the models to sign something anything they agree to the risks of sex, I guess, which is kinda funny, but I’d hate for a model to sue me for not taking steps to ensure she did not get pregnant or whatever.



Actually I’d love to see you address some or all of the questions you suggested in your OP, but if you’re pressed for time I’ll pick the one question that has always irked me, concerning porn in general:


Hiya, Devilman P

I was careful to point out that we got to great efforts to not shoot people dressed / made up like that, but I can have a bash at the answer.

Seems to me that men these days like to see wimmin like that cos that’s what they have been brought up to believe is “sexy”. In the 60’s and 70’s, where porn became more accepted, mainstream, with the help of mags like Hustler, playboy, and later Penthouse, that was the concept the editors and shoot producers had.

It has hung on now because it’s easy and formulaic, not because it’s good. It’s just adequate. Most men seem to be quite satisfied with it (tho that is changing slowly, as is evidenced by GuanoLad’s thread on these boards, “What do people want to see in porn?” ( However, when they see the alternatives, they are generally interested.

So, it seems to me that the reason the female models are all dressed the same, behaved the same, and pretty much look the same, is that’s cos what they have always* looked like.

This is my opinion, based on working in the biz for a few years. If someone else has a different theory (or wants to take it further - why they came up with THAT specific look, and not something else, or why it has not evolved to follow modern fashion), I’d be keen to hear it.

I guess this could turn into a thread on semantics - what is “glamour” (I started a thread on digital cameras in this biz on some digital photography forums once, and it turned into "what is the definition of “glamour”, when does it become “porn”, etc.

What is “glamour”, but more to the point, why is it considered “glamorous”? This fascinates me. To amuse myself sometimes during a shoot, I ask a model to give the camera a “sexy look”. Unfailingly, every model, regardless of age, background, education, will do a very similar thing, and you all know what it is. What every model in every Penthouse / Hustler shoot does at least once. Is someone gonna find a Darwin cite?

Ya know, a few years ago, someone tried to convince me that men liked wimmin with lotsa eye makeup on, cos it made them look freshly beaten. Sounds pretty absurd to me.


  • by always, I mean recently, of course, since porn became widespread and mass produced

How much direction goes on behind the scenes? I’ve always wondered that. Are the girls basically left to do what they want or is someone behind the cameras calling out positions/techniques/etc?

A rather basic question; what do you pay your models? Are they paid by the hour or by the job? Is it a common scale or do you have individual, unique deals?

Hi Gruven

For stills shoots, some models come up with interesting, weird, whacky good stuff, but most amateur models stand there like a deer in headlights, and need a lot of direction. The genre we shoot for has some specific requirements, and each shoot has similar basic elements, a way of progressing. We always encourage the model to bring her own ideas to a shoot, and once they relax, they often come up with some cool stuff.

The girl-girl video we produce, however, is all done in one shot, covered with two cameras, and no live direction at all.

Just before the shoot starts, we brief the models on the kind of stuff we’re after (not mentioning specifics), make sure they are both aware of the other’s limits, ask them to be open to the camera when they can, but to do what comes naturally. We also stress that we don’t want them to acknowledge the camera.

We give them a 50-minute time limit, but make sure there are no clocks in sight (really destroys the mood if a model looks at her watch!)

We roll tape, and they go for it.

We provide them with a set that is quiet and free from interruptions, and let them play their part. The crew (small, usually only two camera ops) don’t say a word, move as little as possible, so they do not distract the models. Recording live sound is of crucial importance. We use highly directional mics to capture every breath (etc), but they still pick up the motor drives in the cameras, crew moving, sheets rustling, clothes moving, and so on.

At the end of the scene, we may go back and do some “pickups” - shots that we were not able to catch in the main scene. These will usually be extreme closeups of a specific action, and are directed verbally (sound from the long shot is dubbed over).


Thanks you, Abby. Posing guys and girls is fine, but I alway want my action shots to at least appear real. I find it very distracting to have a model staring into the camera while he’s supposed to be going down.

Okeedoke, the questions:

How does being a dyke affect your work? Do you shoot for what you would enjoy looking at, or do you try to the male libido (if such a thing is possible)?

About what percentage of your models are shaved? Peirced? Tattooed? Do you find that models are more or less popular with any of these?


Hey, RickJay

Yes, I pay the models.

The models and I agree on a hourly rate before the shoot begins (for solo shoots), or by the job, for video production stuff.

The scale is pretty common, maybe a variation of 20% either way depending on the kind of stuff the model decides to do (ie, more explicit stuff gets paid more).


This is not a question, actually, but I’d like to bring this thread to your attention, wherein you’ll find some feedback regarding what many of us would like to find (but mainly don’t) in porn. Of course I gather that much of what you’re doing involves still shots rather than feature-length movies, but it might still be worth a perusal.

Umm, she’s seen it, Hunter. She linked to it herself.

Hi AHunter3

Yes, I am aware of that thread (and ref’d it above). GuanloLad works with me (an employee, in fact!), and the question he has asked regards the direction we take the business in the future.

I personally do not think people really want to see plot - they just want good sex… but GuanoLad is convinced, as are other people on the team, so we are looking in to it.

Finding people who are willing to do porn who can act worth a damn is very hard, and while no one said it was going to be easy, this is a business, and we’re here to make money. And chances are, you would not be able to sell enough copies of a tape that features good acting, good plot, AND good sex to enough people to cover expenses, let alone make a profit. It’s hard enough to sell ANY porn material out there as it is, even if you stick to the tried and tested methods.

People just won’t pay to see it - yet.

It’s one of our dreams to make enough money from “gonzo” porn to be able to give this a go, and count it as a learning experience, research, and not expect to make a profit, and in a few years, we may well be able to. GuanoLad is a dab hand at writing, and has come up with some great stories that involve sex and drama.

Once our name in the biz has become more established, we’ll (hopefully) attract a following of people who will buy what we make based on the fact that they have liked everything else we have made, and they’d be willing to take a risk, because they trust us. Of course, that goes for any business selling anything.

…but thanks for the heads up.


Hi Abby.
What I’ve always wondered:

  1. How does a director make sure the cast members are all going to be physically compatable, being that such compatability is arguably crucial to the job (especially for guys)?
  2. Are the super close-up shots actually those of the people who you see doing it? Always or usually? Rarely or never?
  3. How are these super close-up shots successfully taken? It would seem that sticking an 8 mm camera up where the action is would kind of ruin the mood. It’s hard to picture zoom alone accounting for all the neccessary angle and lighting aspects, and it’s difficult to imagine that spycams have the resolution required…but is all this the case?
  4. Why is the use of chintzy instrumental music so ubiquitous? Is it just that it’s cheap? That it’s in the public domain and free? And if so, why not just play wave or rain sounds?

Hi Andros

How does being a dyke affect my work? Not much, really. Men make up the huge majority of my customers, FYI, so I am not shooting for wimmin (had not considered it, really - I have been a fan of hetro, male orientated porn for ages, so shooting it was a natural progression).

I don’t think it makes a big difference, really. There’s a lot of talk about how wimmin prefer different visual stimulation to men. I don’t pretend to know the answers, but from personal experience, I shoot what I like to see, and that happens to be in line with what other people want to see as well. I have a my own style of shooting, but it’s not a “dyke” style, by any means. I am influenced by other shooters, men and wimmin.
“About what percentage of your models are shaved? Peirced? Tattooed? Do you find that models are more or less popular with any of these?”

As I mentioned earlier, I shoot models as they come to me, and plenty of them are shaved. I would say, 50% are shaved entirely, another 30% would be aggressively trimmed (“drag strip” etc). Maybe 5% are untouched in the pubic hair department (hm, which I presume you are referring to!).

I have a long standing theory (tho I am still working on it), that people who are predisposed to do this kinda work tend to be more shaved. It’s probably cos that’s what the porn models they have seen before are shaved (that horrible 80’s thing that still survives to this day). It’s a bit of a light-fetish thing (in the realm of “small breasts”, or “blonde”, not golden shower, or bondage!), but is loosing ground pretty fast. More and more people seem to prefer neatly trimmed pubic hair, or quite long.

While most people who come to me are aggressively shaved, I doubt that 80% of the female population (say, between 18 and 26) are aggressively shaved. I’d love to hear from an gynocologist or even a GP on this, actually (anyone?).

Around 90% of models I have shot are tattooed somewhere, and usually with the cliched and thoroughly ugly butterfly on bum, scorpion on breast, dolphin on tummy kinda deal. Plenty have some kinda Celtic anklet, or tribal design on their lower back. One has a few Dr Suess characters on her tummy (REALLY ugly!). Un-tattooed of-legal-age models are hard to find (need to be 18 here in .au to get a tattoo, technically), and while we don’t pay them more (hm, maybe we should?), they do tend to sell better.

But, that may be cos of other things that seem to go hand in hand with not having a tattoo. People who don’t have tattoos are less likely to model, are more likely to look “proper” - “not the kinda girl who’d do THAT!”, and that DOES sell. Not innocence, necessarily (tho that never hurts, if it is genuine), just a sense of propriety.

I have recently contracted out a job to set up a database for tracking the information of models we interview and shoot (it’s all on paper, currently). It’s shaping up very well, and means I’ll be able to answer questions like “how many people have no tattoos or piercings and are shaved aggressively?”. And I suspect there will not be many people who fit into that department at all.

Again, piercings are very common, around 60% have something more than their ears pierced. Navels are very common, lip, eyebrow, labia / clitoral hood less so, but still seen regularly. As for tattoos, a model with no extra piercings exudes a more “nice girl” look, which many people find appealing.

When you add all these together; a model with several piercings and tatts, an all over tan, and completely shaved, and you’re looking at a certain type of model. Those models do sell, but are generally not as popular as the opposite: unshaved, no tatts or piercings, subtle tan lines or fair skin.


If your characters have their clothes off before I come the first time I watch, you’ve done it wrong.