Porn Worth Paying For Huh

I got this email from a regular reader, someone who has been arounf the biz a while obviously and I think he totally nails it. It is a response to an article about a movement calling itself porn worth paying for.

Hi Mike,
Would love to hear your thoughts one something.
There’s a quote in an article Megan Wozniak, Adult Empir’s director of marketing, where she says, “Piracy has reduced porn’s value and limited the industry’s employees’ ability to make a living, and we’re bringing attention to it to raise awareness about this ongoing problem.”
I don’t know Megan, and I’m sure she says this in good faith. But I think this view of how porn became devalued is far too simplistic, and ignores the role our own industry played in devaluing the product. And it’s a view too many of us embrace.
In the early to mid-2000’s, there was an explosion of porn studios, most of which were producing mediocre content. It was gonzo porn by the numbers and ultimately a disposable product.
But it was sold at a premium price.
And to make matters worse, there were just enough scoundrels, cheaters, and crackpots in the mix to further disenfranchise customers.
In short, the market became saturated with cheaply produced, high-priced product.
And all of this was happening at the same time that file-sharing options were becoming more and more accessible to the average internet user.
It was a recipe for disaster, and disaster struck indeed.
The better part of a generation saw the state of things and opted not to pay, in large part because so much of the product was worthless.
Streaming VOD, particularly the pay-per-minute model helped to some capacity, allowing people to only pay for what they really wanted to see without all the faff, but with internet speeds being what they were in that era, streaming still had issues.
Now, ten-some-odd years later, we’re still towing the line that it’s piracy, and piracy alone, that has caused customer’s unwillingness to pay.
And before we can ever hope to return porn to what it once was, we have to acknowledge what really happened and our own industry’s role in why the product become devalued.
Let me know what you think, Mike.

And again i think this is right on the money, in addition when we had the opportunity to nip the tubesites in the bud by protecting our content, we didn’t value it enough to do so, The mentality was on to the next one day wonder.  Even high end companies like Vivid placed no value on their product after the first 30 days, when at that point they placed them on sell through at prices as low as one dollar.

And let us not forget things like prechecked cross sells, trials that converted to expensive memberships after you didnt cancel within the small window and cancellation was intentionally difficult.  Add in things like card banging and such and is it any wonder that our customers really don’t feel bad about stealing from us?  hell we stole from them every chance we got.

23 Replies to “Porn Worth Paying For Huh”

  1. schlermy

    Mike, porn has always been a cat and mouse game. Good porn was as rare as hen’s teeth but we serious porn purveyors found those hen’s teeth and dubbed them onto Maxell Platinum VHS tapes for endless viewing. We thought we were stealing from you!!

    There’s one HUGE difference nowadays: You don’t have any porn stars or superstars. In the olden days there was always a Peter North, Marilyn Chambers, Seka, Ron Jeremy, Ashlyn Gere, Tori Welles, etc.

    Today there are no stars therefore no dohlars.

  2. Karmafan

    As I have stated in other threads… There was so much screwing over the customer in those days that no one has any sympathy for the porn makers. Customers ordered products that either were false when delivered or they did not get the product at all. Cheap junk VHS tapes that broke the 1st time you put them in your machine, tapes that were blank with no media on it, or the covers did not match the material on the tape. You would request a refund or replacement only to find the seller was gone (or changed the companies name). I ordered a tape featuring Lisa Deleeuw and when the box arrived she was on the VHS tape cover but no where to be seen on the tape. I ordered a 5 DVD box set and the 1st DVD was correct and the other 4 were blank. Not to mention that all of this was at a premium price.

    Piracy did play a part in the erosion of porn’s profitability but for sure the industry was at least partially responsible for screwing over so many customers with dirty business tactics.

  3. schlermy

    Karmafan, first of all let me say I’m sorry to hear what happened to you in regards to that Lisa Deleeuw tape. I’m still p/o’d about that Kitty Yung tape I ordered in the mail back in Dec 94 and it turned out to be blank. Still, that was about the last time I really got screwed hard. I think Amateur Porn and Gonzo took care of most of those problems. Did Ed Powers or Anabolic ever pull that bait and switch? They made sure to plant dozens of pics from their scenes on their back cover. You knew what you were getting and it was awesome. Heck they practically invented trustworthy porn. I’d say the last ten years of porn(1995-2005) were the best ever and it’s been dead for the last 6 years imho.

  4. joeschmoe

    Back in the early 2000s you are right about what they were doing.

    Look, let’s say you are a porn fan. You got your favorite studio pumping out a new volume of your favorite series so much; and they kept adding new series and so on. You are faced with , literally, spending 1000 bucks a month just to watch what you want to watch. Guess what ? Well, you just got some high speed internet and heard about file sharing. You would like to pay for porn, but seeing that porn is more important and so piracy comes as an easy way to get it.

    Porn will not accept responsibility for their part, but really, that is long gone. Piracy is a way of life now for people and so there have to be creative ways to re capture SOME of the money. Monthly memberships with unlimited downloads, buying per scene (and not a whole release), and getting away from physical media (they were VERY slow to deal with that.) say you are someone who is hiding a porn collection, being able to archive it on a hard drive is better than having to stash 100 dvds somewhere.

    what drove music piracy in the late 90s to early 2000s? Well, people were in a business model were we had to buy a 16.99 CD to get two songs we liked from our favorite group. Along comes a way to get individual songs…. tempting….

    Apple responded by making iPods and iTunes… the music industry went apeshit over the “pay per song model”; well, it did recapture much of that piracy loss (it will never be like the pre high speed internet days for anything). Netflix came alone to battle movie piracy…. these things are good reponses….

    Now you have streaming music services for 10 bucks a month with almost every song ever published. That again is another way to reduce piracy

    Porn was slow to respond for sure.

    HOWEVER, I think all the companies going out of business was a market correction, not just “those darned pirates”…. there was way too much average product being pumped out like McDonalds and porn companies now have to produce high quality work or it won’t be paid for.

    Dreaming of “the good old days” is not productive. Be creative, put out quality product, and work with the market out there. Heck, if companies ever came together they could come up with creative stuff. Unfortunately the big porn people want to support piracy with tube sites and make it 100 times worse. Tube sites are likely worse than torrents nowadays and they are owned by porn companies!

    Porn always seems to want to eat itself to death and blame everyone else

  5. schlermy

    I’m not sure I agree that it was a market correction. There was a lot of young talent willing to make money and thus there was a lot of porn with possibly 25 stars and 5 superstars. Now there isn’t one single porn star.

  6. Karmafan

    Companies like Blacked, Tushy, Pierre Woodman films and others are making money by showcasing really beautiful girls (not girls all full of piercings and tattoos) in great sex scenes that are classy looking and sexy at the same time. I’m sure if you asked Woodman he would say he is not making what he was making back in the early 2000s but these companies are making money and surviving.

  7. NormalAndSane

    Porn almost always had alot of “filler” scenes, much the way a typical CD might contain 15 songs but only 1 or 2 were any good. The Napster era that kicked off privacy was partially the wild west mentality of the Internet at the time, but also part “we’ve had enough!” backlash against the studios.

    As many have pointed out, the quality of porn being produced was often bad and there were many times that I’d buy a vhs tape which featured photos on the back of the box, but those scenes weren’t actually in the movie. Or a film’s title would imply certain acts, like anal, but there were no such scenes in the film.

    I also think that porn just became less enjoyable as the performers became less memorable and transient. I grew up with the classic stars: Ginger, Amber, Ashlyn Gere, Tori Welles, Zara White, Candy Evans, Shauna Grant, and Raquel Darrian.
    The male talent wasn’t exactly handsome, but in their younger years, Peter North, Herschel Savage, Tom Byron, Ron Jeremy, and John Leslie weren’t creepy. Or sadistic. They didn’t punish the women, they made love to them. When the girls acted “slutty” it was voluntary and you felt like you were being treated to something special. Nowadays, it’s degrading and forced.

    I barely know anyone’s name anymore because they come and go so quickly. Half the time I stumble across someone I think is appealing, only to realize the scene is a few years old and the actress has already left the biz.

    Ginger Lynn certainly treated us all to anal, but can you imagine a young Peter North telling her he wanted to “gape” her?? It wouldn’t have happened. Because at least it seemed like there was mutual respect.

    A certain level of rough sex is fine. I used to love the “Hot Bods and Tail Pipe” series…Herschel Savage and Harry Reems could get a bit forceful…but it always seemed consensual.

    Frankly, the vast majority of porn nowadays isn’t worth paying for.

  8. Karmafan

    One more thing that should be said… back in the days of vanilla porn movies were actually made. The porn actors had to be able to remember lines and be convincing in whatever role they were playing. Now with gonzo porn its a different story. Courts all over the world are striking down lawsuits against copying and distributing porn by people that are NOT the original makers of the porn. I think it was in Italy just 1-2 months ago the courts there struck down a lawsuit on the grounds that porn is not considered intellectual property and protected by the law. Porn is just people having sex on camera. There is no acting or storytelling being done so porn cannot be protected. Taiwan also struck down a similar lawsuit on the same grounds. You can Google to find more info.

  9. BT

    Having grown up in the era of stars, like Normal and Sane, I agree with pretty much everything being written here. Beyond the level of violence, which is a complete turn off, things like gaping have ruined many scenes for me. Someone wrote about how Tushy is producing really classy looking content with beautiful women, and its true. I paid my subscription fee to watch Whitney Westgate’s and Cherie DeVille’s first anals. They are beautiful women, and, hey, I enjoy watching anal scenes. And then ….. both women were gaped, and gaped repeatedly; whomever was doing Cherie has this habit of pushing his cock straight up so it looks like its going to burst through her abdomen like the creature in Alien. I don’t understand why you can’t give us great women, in great settings and lighting who seemingly are enjoying their anal scenes without adding in a proctology exam and a visual tour of their innards that is as graphic as the video the doctor wanted to show me during my colonoscopy.

  10. MikeSouth

    Y’all make some great points, I have felt that it is all too easy to get into porn these days as well making it throwaway, there are no porn stars anymore, and no effort to build a real following for any particular girl, the end of the contract girls seems to have buried the last hope of that.
    And lets face it there isnt much left of porn valley, does anyone even rent DVD anymore, much less buy them…..

  11. Karmafan

    If porn wants to exist they are gonna have to learn like the music industry did with itunes. Sell porn scenes for $1-2 each and the fans can pick and choose what they want. Expecting people to drop $40 for a DVD when the DVD has 2 hot girls and 3-4 scenes with less attractive looking girls all full of piercings and tattoos just isn’t gonna happen any more.

  12. mharris127

    I already made this comment once on another article but will repeat it for those that didn’t read that article. I haven’t bought a DVD or CD of anything (porn or not) in several years and haven’t rented a movie since the early 2000’s. Frankly, I have enough VHS, DVDs and CDs to last me a lifetime already — I have a large cabinet full of them (consisting of both mainstream and porn) as well as several drawers and a couple of boxes full. However, I do subscribe to porn sites (legitimate ones) from time to time and even subscribe to Netflix, Hulu and all of the pay-TV movie channels on my dish (the latter have streaming sites that come with them and Showtime even has some porn available — albeit soft core). With porn I don’t pirate but subscribing to a site at $60-$90 a quarter where I can watch their whole catalog just doesn’t bring in as much revenue as someone buying 5-6 DVDs each month. Admittedly in that vein I have contributed to the contraction of the porn industry even though I don’t steal any of it. The same is true in mainstream for Netflix, we have a four-screen subscription (with two households using it) and between five people we probably watch 15-20 movies a month on it. If that weren’t available my sister and her daughter alone would probably be buying at least ten DVDs each month at $20 each — compared with the $12 a month Netflix costs (and two subscriptions to Hulu at $8 each). That is reduced revenue to the movie companies — especially since with this model they have to give Netflix/Hulu a cut of the revenue.

  13. mharris127

    You mention Cherie DeVille, BT. This is off subject but how is it that Kink (and for a while Intersec) seem to start porn careers? Nothing against Kink (I think they do some great work) but Cherie, Simone Sonay, Skin Diamond, Rain DeGrey, Penny Pax, Bobbi Starr and probably 30 others over the past ten years have got their start on a Kink production. I don’t see any other companies starting people on the road to long porn careers in those numbers. That is skewing the direction of porn immensely as anyone starting out doing BDSM likely does a lot of it in their personal lives (other than Bobbi who was first introduced to it by Lew Reubens at Kink and ended up liking it) is likely going to take their whole porn career in that direction. That also contributes to the hardening of the whole industry and forces directors and producers that don’t have the inclination to do BDSM scenes to do them because that is where the talent is (for one can you imagine Skin doing anything but BDSM). This is both positive and negative (as a positive, Jacky St. James in particular has capitalized on this with her softer BDSM and other kinky movies). The negative is that people that don’t know what the fuck they are doing are attempting BDSM with possibly disastrous results (including scenes with a “proctology exam” — fuck you, Max Hardcore for that gross and gruesome kink). Directors trussing up female talent and suspending them without knowing what rope to use, how to tie it properly, knowing where to place the pressure points inherent in suspension, etc. without adequate education and training in it is a tragedy waiting to happen! I am kinky myself but I think this trend is going to lead to problems in the future unless directors and producers don’t attempt things they don’t know jack shit about. Most directors need to stick to tying kinky women to beds and tying their hands behind their backs until they enter the wider BDSM community and find mentors to teach them how to do things properly (for one I won’t suspend anyone because I don’t feel confident that I can do it without possibly killing someone). Caning and whipping could be the same problem (I have caned and paddled willing, kinky women from time to time), you need to know when to stop before you create permanent damage on a part of someone’s body.

  14. BT

    mharris – you have hit the nail on the head. I work in mainstream publishing. My employer is actually thriving the last few years, believe it or not. I’d like to tell you – and believe – that it’s because we’re so smart, but the truth is that our success is to a large extent the result of some costly mistakes by our competitors that allowed us to gain readership and market share.

    Print is still the bulk of our revenue, and our print advertising continues to grow – the equivalent of the porn industry selling DVDs. However, print is growing at a rate that is only marginally better than the economy. Last year, it grew at about 5%.

    Digital products that advertisers are willing to pay for (consumers aren’t willing to pay for much) are the fastest growing segment of the business even if digital pales in sheer dollar volume compared to print, and it takes a constant stream of new digital products to keep the advertisers happy because they will only stick with any one way of reaching consumers for so long before they feel like its run its course and its time to try something new. What’s more, we have only a few competitors and that’s not likely to change.

    Porn has the exact opposite problem – the biggest potential money maker for porn is the DVD market, and few of us buy DVDs any more – or, at least few of us buy porn DVDs. I pay for content always because content puts food on my table and I still buy CDs and mainstream DVDs but I haven’t bought a porn DVD in at least 5 years.

    When it comes to digital products, most porn companies can’t sell advertising on their websites so they’re left with selling to consumers who are used to getting things for free. And, if you’re like me, I’ll pay $29.99 for a one-month subscription to Brazzers, Naughty America, Jules Jordan or one of those companies when I see a scene that I really, really want to watch. Then, during that one month, I’ll download 15 or 20 scenes to keep watching when the subscription runs out.

    If you do the math, I used to pay $29.99 to get one DVD with four to five scenes, or between $100 and $120 for those 20 scenes that I now get for $30. In my end of the biz, we call that trading print dollars for digital pennies.

    Moreover, while I have few competitors and there’s a high barrier to entry in mainstream publishing, anyone with a digital camera and an attractive girlfriend can put up a website and charge $29.99 a month. My readers – and advertisers – come back month after month. But while I’m paying for content, I might subscribe to Brazzer’s in June, Naughty America in July, Jules in August and Tushy in September. None of those sites is getting my money every month on a recurring basis.

  15. Toby

    Cherie DeVille is probably not a good example. She was over 30 when she got into the biz, plus her first work was not with Kink. She started in 2011, doing mostly girl/girl scenes. Her first shoot with Kink was April 2013.

  16. mharris127

    My bad, Toby. The first time I heard of her was her Kink scene. Also, I am old enough that 30-35 is still quite young to me. She recently said in a Mo Reese interview that she was 37 as of earlier this year so that would have made her 31-32 when she started. No matter, she is still hot (and may I say it a MILF, at least by the porn definition where actually having a child doesn’t play into the equation). She also seems to have a decent brain on her shoulders, I don’t read of her getting wasted every other night on whatever drug many porn performers swallow/smoke/snort in their spare time or getting arrested for stupid shit unlike a few others we know of.

    Speaking of drugs I don’t have a problem with someone taking drugs recreationally once a week or so but we read of several performers that seem to smoke pot to the point of intoxication five or six times a week on their twitter accounts and blogs (I know they have a medical pot card but prescribed doses don’t cause intoxication). Of course if Cherie is at the far end of the spectrum in a good way, at the other extreme there is Tanner Mayes who got so far into meth (causing very erratic and disruptive behavior) that she became persona non grata on porn sets as the worst example of excess in recent memory. Tori Black getting herself and her husband arrested for assault and disturbing the peace at the AVN convention a few years back (and leaving their infant at risk of being taken into protective services custody although a friend of theirs ended up taking the child for the night) also qualifies as an extreme example of excess. I need not go too far into the Nevada residents only peripherally attached to the industry that seem to get arrested once per calendar quarter like clockwork for domestic violence against each other as an example of extreme excess as well.

  17. mharris127

    I usually pay for a quarter instead of a month but I am guilty of cancelling after one quarter as well rather than renewing. I also have to agree that digital cameras have come down in price to the point where some guy, his girlfriend and a few of their friends can get together and start a subscription site and have some fun while at least getting a portion of what they invest into the site back. A commercial quality video camera is less than $1500 brand new nowadays and even a $400 consumer video camera is probably enough to get people to subscribe. Other items necessary are legal advice (sec. 2257 is a bitch), lube, condoms, maybe VD testing, a camera tripod, a few SD cards and a couple spare batteries for the video camera pretty much sum up the rest of what is necessary. They probably already have an internet subscription and a computer to use so I won’t count that as a start-up expense. With website programming, set-up and subscription they can start out for about $3500 and if the performers are limited to the couple and their at least somewhat hot, horny friends willing to perform for a pittance their ongoing expense could be only $1000 per month averaged over a year (taxes, bandwidth, continuing server subscription and legal fees) with a twice-weekly update schedule. At $20 a month (that $29.95 paid via credit card causes an interchange fee with their card processor and bank account fees) even 500 subscribers would cause them to almost break even. I think Lew Reubens is using this model right now for his BDSM porn site (although he claims to have tied someone to a luggage cart in 1943 on his Twitter, assuming he did that as a kid that would still make him well into his 70’s so he probably doesn’t need a day job). If they are doing it for fun, record scenes over the weekend or at night and have day jobs (if not Social Security age) to pay their household bills, food, etc., this is actually quite doable for many.

  18. Toby

    I agree that Cherie is one hot MILF. I have enjoyed her work for some time, but was not aware of her shoots for Kink until I read your comments here, then had to go check her list of credits on IMDB. She’s been pretty busy the last few years. Kink is a fairly small part of what she’s done.

    As for age… well, I’m not quite as old a Mike, but close. 🙂

  19. mharris127

    Yes, Cherie has been busy the past few years. I wish her well and hope to see her perform for at least a few more years.

    As for Kink bringing in many if not most of the new performers into the adult film industry, I hope that doesn’t sound the death knell for “vanilla” porn (I think there is room for both in the industry). I am seeing more directors getting into BDSM (at least on film), I hope they know what they are doing and don’t make a stupid mistake costing a performer his/her life or causing a severe injury. I also wonder if the sexual preferences of people coming into the biz are starting to force directors to cater to them and possibly ending up far beyond their skill set just so they have talent to perform in their films. In the past BDSM scenes were directed by people knowledgeable in how to do whatever act is being done without severely injuring a performer. I am afraid that may not be the case in the future.

  20. BT

    I doubt Kink is the death knell for vanilla porn – heck, I don’t even know what vanilla porn is any more given the amount of slapping, biting, spitting, gaping and rough anal in “vanilla” scenes. I’d also be surprised if BDSM is the sexual preference of young women entering the industry. Not that I believe the interviews with young starlets, but think about how many of them say they’d never done anal or even had a finger in their butts before entering porn. Moreover, its really difficult for me to believe that there is young talent coming into the industry telling directors: Hey, if you want me on screen, then you better ball-gag and hog-tie me. Otherwise, I’m not doing it. Directors and producers shoot what they think they can get people to pay for. It’s pretty much that simple.

  21. Toby

    Kink has changed over the last decade as well. They used to have a fairly even mix of male dom and female dom. These days they shoot far more femdom. I think that’s simply a reaction to what sells better for them. But it’s also where they’re playing with fire using crossover talent.

  22. mharris127

    Firstly, BT, slapping is likely considered mild to moderate BDSM in most viewers minds. I know it is an act I don’t just assume is OK in sexual relationships, I would need unambiguous consent to such an act before I would do it to a woman (BDSM people tend to take consent ot the nth degree anyway nowadays with detailed conversations and many times checklists filled out before play starts, especially with a new partner). I just can’t figure out how a BDSM company starts about half of the performers that actually catch on in the industry (not including talent that only remains in the biz for a few months like the “Hot Girls Wanted” performers) if performers entering the industry don’t swing that way anyway — and I am kinky myself. If other directors are entering the BDSM genre without adequate education and training — especially heavy corporal and suspensions (which is where I see the industry going with its current course) — just because they think it sells more DVDs and website subscriptions then I am truly scared of what could go wrong. I have to disagree with part of your comment, BT — I think directors are both thinking they can make a few bucks and talent entering the industry are expecting sex that turns them on (a turned on performer is going to make a more realistic performance and that will definitely show in the finished movie). In the case of most of the talent Kink brings into the industry that is varying degrees of BDSM. Performers like Skin Diamond, Rain DeGrey and Felony I can actually imagine saying “whip me, cane me, ball gag me, hang me from the rafters and hogtie me or I won’t do the scene”. They will also take on dom roles nowadays but their film roles almost always include BDSM one way or the other. Rain in particular is very vocal about her preference for BDSM scenes. In the past performers like Amber Rayne (God rest her soul, she passed on way too young IMO) and Madison Young (who at the very end of her performing career did acquiesce and do a few “vanilla” scenes) could easily be seen as needing BDSM in their scenes as well.

    I will also note that there are different levels of BDSM activity. Almost any director can do a scene with simple “hands tied behind the back” or “hands tied to the bedpost” scenes with an experienced BDSM performer. Handcuffs are a bit dicier but with an experienced BDSM performer should be OK as well. My concern is with long scenes with hands tied to a ceiling support beam or hook and feet barely on the ground, suspensions and moderate to heavy corporal. Electroshock scenes are only mildly concerning as long as the director knows not to use an actual farm-grade cattle prod on someone (the cattle prods used in BDSM are specially designed for that purpose and don’t deliver paralyzing or killer shocks). IMO preferably no electric shocks would be applied to the spine, neck, head or chest but that could be argued either way depending on the experience level of the performers involved (I am not big on electro-play anyway, it just doesn’t turn me on).

Leave a Reply