the use value of sex in public: a visual thesis
I told my Dad I wanted to interview him about sex work and immediately understood why Jiz Lee titled this anthology “Coming Out Like A Porn Star.” It felt like I was going to sit him down and tell him something scandalous about my sex life – and it wouldn’t be the first time. The funny thing about coming out is that it relies on the belief that the information you keeping about yourself is shameful. If you were raised to be somewhat shameless, it’s less of a one-time shock and more like a lifelong rumble. I feel like I have come out to my dad either 100 times or never at all. I didn’t have much of a choice. In the interview, we talk about how I was outed – my mother told him on Christmas that his daughter was a real whore – and how he and I grew from that moment.
This is an excerpt of the interview originally printed in Coming Out Like A Porn Star.
M: I always get a little twinge when you say you’re a porn star because I don’t personally think of what you do as porn the way most people think of it. It seems to me that “porn” is like the word “queer,” that you are trying to change the perception of it a little. But I still have a little twinge, I guess. There’s some kind of gravity to that word.
C: There’s a world of stigma around the word “porn,” for sure. But there’s no way to deny that I’m doing porn, even if it does have artistic merit. Honestly, it makes things more complicated for a conversation about sex work and shame because when I talk about it to you, I can say, I’m making queer porn, I’m making ethical porn. I can show you articles in academic journals and Bitch magazine; I can show you the “ethical legitimacy” of my work, and that kinda gets me off the hook.
M: Off the hook?
C: I can say I’m a porn star, or a sex worker, and people can then say, “Oh, but you’re this kind of—” as long as I say I’m an ethical, feminist, sex-positive female porn director with an education and social capital. A lot of the people I hire as performers do not have an attached “legitimacy” to their work. There’s an imbalance of privilege there to say what I do is “good sex work” and what someone else might do is “bad sex work.”
M: When I was single and living in Tacoma, I liked porn, and I didn’t know any better. I enjoyed it and I never felt that it was wrong for me. Some sites I went to, I wouldn’t go back to again because they seemed to be awful and degrading to women. So if you didn’t include all those extra details… like if you said, “Dad, I’m a porn star and I’m making porn for Reality Kings,” I’d be like, whoa, really? That’s not uplifting of women, or even men. I would really have some concerns. I really think the context is important. I don’t think of it as you making it easier for me of lightening up or sugarcoating it, I just think it’s all in the details.
C: You’re right, some of them do feel really degrading to women and men, also just because it’s dumb, generic, and impersonal. I think that the real problem with that kind of porn is that it’s created for the lowest common denominator, right? That’s the reality of my privilege as a sex worker that I’m speaking to. I have made enough opportunities for myself now to manage my own sex work in the form of porn performance so that I don’t often have to work for other people to make ends meet. Like, when I “came out” to you about working at the Lusty Lady, you were like “Oh god, you’re a stripper,” and I was like, “But wait, it’s a co-op!” I said, “Dad, I’m the madam, there’s a union!” And you were like, “As long as you’re the boss.”
M: You were able to minimize your student loans and survive going to school doing sex work, and I just have always admired how self-sufficient you are and how businesslike you are about things.
C: If I were more of a survival sex worker, like I somehow hadn’t been successful in starting my own productions and relied on taking random adult-industry jobs to make ends meet, I don’t know if you would know about that.
M: All I’ve ever wanted for you is to be happy and do what you wanna do, and I guess make money or be successful. You dive deeply into those things that you’re interested in, and found a way to make a living and make your life about it. From a parenting standpoint, that’s a huge victory for me!
C: I learned it from you, honestly. When we were growing up in Tacoma, you went to school to try to make money to raise me. You raised me alone. You did all of these things to make money but at some point, you felt bored or desperate enough to quit your safe job, start your own business, and try to support your family and yourself on something you’re more connected to creatively and spiritually. I was fifteen when you started your landscaping business, and that taught me more than anything I learned in high school. The corporate world wasn’t going to do anything for me after watching you succeed in starting your own small business. I just kind of knew my life would be one big hustle. No bosses.
M: You know, when I did that, and I came home and told you I left, you looked at me like, oh my god how are we gonna eat, how are we gonna live? You were kind of mortified for a day or two and then, you know, it was kind of a process to find what I was gonna do next.
C: Sounds kind of like a coming out story.
M: I think it was really nice for me to all of a sudden to have all this time to hang out and pay attention to you because it was kind of a crucial age for you and you were getting harassed at high school, so it was kind of nice to just do projects and hang around you.
C: Were you worried about me being queer in high school?
M: I was worried about you being bullied. I was worried that teachers would misunderstand you. There was also another thing going on with you too, you had a resistance to authority, and in this case, I don’t think you liked male authority. Not mine and definitely not male teachers.
C: No offense, but men just kind of always seem to pose a threat to my happiness and queerness, and my general feelings of freedom and safety. I have a pretty low tolerance for jerks. As a teen I worked in fast food, coffee shops, video rentals. In all of those situations my bosses treated me like total crap. Expendable, disposable trash. I was always at school, always working, always doing something—so the thought of doing any kind of sex work seemed really appealing because I’d be able to make it to all of my classes and work on my own schedule, and finally get away from these pigheaded managers I suffered. Honestly, doing phone sex seemed hilarious because I was totally talking to just about the same guys, paying me in cash and intimacy. I was totally gay, I just thought it would be funny and interesting and nobody would harass me. It was an incredibly viable option as a young person to make a living and be in school and make art. And it wasn’t degrading, it was fun.
M: I guess I’ve always trusted that you would look out for yourself. It didn’t take me long to figure out that what you were doing was fine. I’ve never called a sex line, but being a man and imaging that transaction kind of seemed to be, in terms of a power dynamic, fairly equal, and I just don’t judge stuff like that. There’s a lot of lonely people out there. It seems like a good service.
C: When you’re talking about coming out, a lot of the pain around being “out” comes from parental disapproval. I honestly don’t hold a lot of pain around being a sex worker. I’ve never been hurt at my job, I’ve never been taken advantage of. The pain I do have though, honestly, is the constant hum of my mother’s disapproval. That’s affected me for life, far more than any bad boss ever has. Not having support when you reveal something secret or personal, like sex work or gender or sexual orientation, can be far more damaging than anything else that’s gonna happen to you. Thank you for not making me fight for your approval. A lot of people I
know have these life-long struggles with their parents.
M: I wouldn’t want to lose you. We’ve been so close, you know. I felt like it was just you and me as a family, and I didn’t even consider that that would be some kind of deal breaker or something that I would shun you for. It just kind of made me love you more.
C: Aw! Have you sought out any education about sex work or whatever in the past ten years? I remember the first time I saw you again after telling you I was working for the Lusty Lady, and you name-dropped Annie Sprinkle and Carol Queen.
M: I did. I mean, I’m very much kind of a research person and you had mentioned names and books in this growing field of feminist porn or queer porn. I already knew Annie Sprinkle from . . .
C: Your own research?
M: From our church!
C: She’s a good gateway for all of us porn stars coming out to our parents!
M: Yeah. And I think I saw an early, late ’90s viral video of one of her performance art stuff.
C: The only way an adult performer can actually BE a sex educator is through porn or art performance. We can’t actually go into a classroom and teach kids.
C: Oh, don’t say no like, no, of course not. Of course we should! I can’t think of anyone more qualified to tell teenagers in high school about gay sex than myself. I can’t! They would never let me do it because of my stigma as a sex worker.
M: Ok, I was imagining you going into a public school classroom and teaching kids about gay sex.
C: It would be brilliant!
M: Yeah. I think that there has to be an opt-in process from the parents.
C: Well, like with any sex education. But what would this opt-in be like? “Hey, do you want your child around this porn person?” Is that what you’re saying?
M: I don’t think that’s the way you would approach it. When I did “Our Whole Lives” in the Unitarian Church, we sat down with the parents before we met with the teens, went through all the materials. When you do it that way, you get more participatory attitudes from the parents. But I think there’s some work that could be done. You have to educate the parents first, then it will be easier for the children. I agree with you that sexuality should be open, and I think that children are curious about it and then forced by society to stifle it. Many people rediscover sexuality as a teen, and it can be traumatic. If it’s more of a continual flow throughout childhood,
then I think it can be a lot less traumatic or explosive. When you get back to the important drama around coming out, wondering, “Will I still be loved if I reveal my true self to my parents and my friends,” that’s an incredible question to ask, and my hope is that most parents would give their kids enough space to never have to ask that question, to add to that trauma and explosiveness.
C: Is there training for the parents about things that they might have to hear, like things that kids come out about?
M: Our Whole Lives is a five-part series that spans kindergarten to young adult, exploring sexuality and society and spirituality and growth. It’s facilitated by open-minded parents who have gone through training. I was a trainer for all of the age groups.
C: What inspired you to get into OWL?
M: Someone in the church approached me, I think because they liked the way I raised you. OWL instructors have to be able to speak of sexuality without shame or judgment, and be able to create a safe space for teens, especially to express themselves and be curious.
C: There are few things more beloved in the UU church than the parent of a gay child.
M: So there have been some times in your life when you’ve had to tell me things, and I’m just curious about your personal process. Did you have to muster courage? Did you feel a lot of fear? Did you mistrust what my reaction would ever be?
C: When I think about revealing things to you, I realize I was never afraid of telling you who I was. We’ve come to a point in our relationship as child and parent where nothing I say is going to shock you. Unless I told you I was pregnant.
M: The six months between when you came home from Michigan after being raped and when you decided to come out about that to me were such a struggle. I just didn’t know what was going on. I know it took a lot for you to tell me about that, and I’m glad you finally did because I just didn’t understand why you were being so angry and sad.
C: Revealing to you that I’m a rape survivor is absolutely the worst thing I’ve ever had to do.
M: It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to— I still tear up just thinking about it, that you had to go through that without proper support. I just always wondered why you couldn’t tell me sooner.
C: I couldn’t tell anybody sooner. That’s part of being a rape survivor is that you don’t want to tell people because the consequences can be incredibly mentally destructive. For example, I can tell you a little bit of the fallout. After my stepbrother molested me, I was in ninth grade at high school—I had a boyfriend, and I broke up with him because I couldn’t imagine being anywhere near a guy anymore. Robby was very popular in our little ’90s alt-rock corner of the high school, and all my friends were like, why did you break up with him? My solid group of friends that I had for years no longer trusted me because I couldn’t tell them I was molested, and I couldn’t come up with a good lie. They caught me lying, and they all turned their back on me. It was violent. I got death threats. I got outcast from my friends. They never came back to me; they never apologized; I never got a chance to tell them what really happened. It literally destroyed my life. I couldn’t trust anybody.
M: Yeah, and it made your subsequent time at that high school really impossible.
C: I talked about being a survivor at my keynote for the Feminist Porn Conference. How there’s such a stigma around porn stars and their upbringings. Sex workers are always trying to prove to the world that they’re not “damaged goods.”
M: I don’t think that you being a survivor turned you toward sex work. I always thought that it was some of the work that you did at Evergreen that got you curious about sex work. What you’re doing now just kind of seems like a natural progression of everything you’ve been curious about since about the age of sixteen or seventeen. There has been trauma in your life and you’ve handled it well, and I don’t think that the damage that you’ve experienced in your youth geared you toward sex work at all. It seems very natural to me.
C: A lot of things have changed for me since your twin daughters were born in 2011. I skipped the Feminist Porn Awards that year and spent that night with you, Heather, and the twins, and I read the Twitter feed for the awards show. I got to experience winning two film-making awards with my dad and my little sisters with me, and that is one of the times in our relationship as father and son that I have felt most loved by you. The pride of having a father that I could share that moment with, in the quiet peaceful darkness of this brand new gigantic family that we have. That was one of the most amazing nights of my life.
M: I’m so proud of the recognition that you’re getting. It’s good work that you do; it’s adding love to the universe.
C: When I was eighteen, I did not have any queer porn resources out there. Now there’s these eighteen-year-olds out there finding my work, images of queer sexuality that I didn’t have when I was growing up. It’s having quite an intense impact on queer youth.
M: Yes, I know!
C: I know, your lesbian friends love me. And some day, my sisters are gonna be grown ups, they’re gonna be women. If I can somehow make my art effective in making queer sexuality more acceptable, and making femaleness more acceptable, if I can somehow change people’s perception about all the things that we have to come out about in the first place, maybe my little sisters can grow up and be queer or straight or kinky or poly or boys or girls or whatever the fuck they want, and maybe I can help make that a reality for them, that acceptance, through the work I do now. I see part of my responsibility as an artist is to leave a legacy that will make it easier for folks like me to become happy and healthy adults—especially those who aren’t as lucky to have had a queer-friendly family like mine.
M: You will, and Heather and I will be right there with you as well. We are going to try to avoid that shame curtain that adults seem to put on their kids. Children at age three have no shame. They’re very much in love with their bodies and play imaginary games where they are boys or are girls. They play act the gender roles of men and women already. They play act like they might have a penis, and they aren’t getting told not to do that. I think, in my mind, ideally, they would go to seventh- and eighth-grade OWL, and they would come home and over dinner we would be talking about it and I would say, “Well, you know, by the way, Courtney’s a sex worker. They make queer porn, and they’re one of the tops in their genre. They make art and do important things that teach people and also make them happy.” I think that would just be a pleasant, non oppressive conversation. And hopefully, they would say, “Oh wow, that’s cool,” and maybe want to talk to you about it.
C: I imagine I should be there for that.
M: Oh, you could be there! You can’t always plan it like that. The questions always come up when you are least expecting them
C: I’ll remember to be present around seventh or eighth grade!
M: Or they’ll say, “Daddy says our sister’s famous. Let’s Google her!”
C: I clearly don’t agree that any of my family members should see any of my work that I’m performing in, but I’m proud of my art and I guess it’s comforting that I can share those feelings with my family. Thank you so much for being open, and being a good dad, and really taking all of this very seriously. I think our story is an inspiration to parents because so much of the shame around sex comes from our parents, and the more that we can share with the grown-ups how to talk to the kids and how to educate the kids and remove that prejudice, not allow that prejudice to take form in children, it’s so important.
M: Yeah. It is important.
C: One last question. Do you remember how I came out to you as gay?
M: I don’t think you needed to come out. I kind of just noticed that you were starting to like girls, and I was like, oh, I know this!
You can purchase the entire book here.
this article is self-published and archived by courtney trouble.
the resource section will be revised over time to reflect industry changes and new research.
Courtney Trouble has been naked on the internet since 2000 and has also worked as a peepshow dancer and madam at the former SF Lust Lady, a phone sex co-ed, a cam-babe, a niteflirt, a panty salesman, a sex educator, a call center dick slinger, a porn editor, a photographer, journalist, and a smut peddler. Quite bad with crowds and lap dances, Trouble has forged a career making the internet a sexier and safer place.
First of all, I would like to thank Julie Simone, Jenna Valentine, Cupcake Sincalire, Chloe Venom, Chelsea Poe, and others (who you will meet when I come in for revisions!) for providing first-hand information and advice to me so I could properly round out this essay. I may quote them sparingly, but their voices together make up a lot of the spirit of this essay and I thank all of them for their earnestness and honesty. Sex workers are sincerely some of the most supportive and helpful people in the world, but this group is beyond sweet for telling me their secrets. This work is dedicated to the people who have taught me. Thank you.
cyber escorting and self-distribution.
It has never been this easy to be naked on the internet – and it’s never been more easy to get lost. Nobody wants to be naked and lost at the same time. Well, I could probably do it for a few clips…
Let’s get straight to the point. Being an online sex worker is a unique experience that changes as fast as your twitter feed. You have to be on top of trends, keep track of your platforms, blah blah blah. Furthermore, you have to get close to your customers without ever knowing who they are. Imagine taking an escorting date at a masquerade ball – welcome to the hustle.
The online hustle is a beast of magnificent proportions, and you only get to play with this beast after you’ve made some content and edited it, printed out some model releases, got your production team of one together, found your co-stars, figured out how to make it worth their while with money or trades, and built up your fan base through social media. If you haven’t begun to tackle any of this, my essay might feel a little advanced – but keep reading, because knowing what you’re doing is a god send when you get into any line of work and online sex entertainment is no joke. It’s hard work.
I’m gonna give you the bad news first: You have to work every day, especially when you are just starting, to make this worth it. On top of that, you have to be patient and you need to be able to support yourself outside of your efforts – at least when you begin. Be prepared to edit hundreds of clips, talk to hundreds of beggars, get rejected from every studio you thought would take you, and maybe even get in fights with other workers. This will all make you feel like stopping. Know your own weaknesses and limits before you ever get started in serious sex work. Protect your boundaries and personal beliefs with your life, because breaking your own rules will eventually burn you out beyond repair. In sex work, the customer is NOT always right – YOU ARE. YOU ARE ALWAYS RIGHT when it comes to what you should do with your body and your time.
I am personally attracted to (making, and watching) either artsy porn or super shoddy DIY sex tapes. I like making them myself with other professionals and semi-professionals. Sometimes I just like to work with my lovers or friends. Some online outlets are more tailored to curated pieces, while others are focused on short clips of specific sex acts. Some platforms do really well with my hardcore porn clips, while other platforms are full of customers just want to see my body or talk to me for a while.
I’ve always had a presence on Clips4Sale because it’s as old as dirt and has it’s own customer base. I always hope to make and upload things that fit into the Clips4Sale trends because if I do, my passive income flow from that site can be significant.
Passive income flow is money that you make passively, ie through online sales of goods. It doesn’t mean that you are passive or not working hard to get that money, but it does mean that it may come in dollars and cents for years and years without you paying attention to it. This is the ultimate financial goal of creating content. If you are only a content producer, online clip sales and this passive income flow model will be your life’s work. The other swell of the tide is active sexual labor, which allows you to work directly with clients to produce live shows, cam one on one, make custom videos, or even engage in relationship-style long term online interactions. For lack of any better term, I’ve been calling this work behavior cyber escorting for a few years.
While I don’t mean to make this term definitive in any way for an entire community nor do I mean to give it any kind of hierarchical weight or separate it from other forms of sex work, I define cyber escorting as any sex work done directly with the customer online from camming, phone sex, customs, clip sales, emails, sexting, social media exchanges, GFE, Skype shows, and goodie sales. Excluding those doing online domination, and anyone who just doesn’t identify. If I’m forgetting anything I’m sure one of my regulars will remind me. Oh yes, they already have – streaming video games and smoking joints together…. how could I forget!! On the creepy side, I’ve even taken a nap for someone. On the creepier side, one of my boyfriends bought a cam show from me without telling me and when i found out (immediately after because any good cam platform will have real-time customer tracking) it really scarred me for life. I don’t know how to protect you from that, but if it happens pleased dump that person immediately. This is a level 5 red flag. What I know now is that you can look up the customer *while* you are camming, so perhaps you can prevent something I couldn’t.This event caused me to rethink my relationship to camming and closed that opportunity for me entirely.
Another horror story before I really begin: I also have an ex who told me they *often* brought up my free solo scene on PornHub after we broke up in order to jerk off to me. I had an assistant upload the video to PornHub for self-promotion years ago, and now am unable to delete the video. PornHub, which is owned by the huge corporate beast MindGeek, has not responded to multiple requests for my video to be taken down. Don’t do what I did: Keep your shit off PornHub. You are still at risk for having your public or private cam shows recorded and put on a tube site illegally. This is *theft* though is rarely punished as such. I think tube platforms can be useful for many reasons but tread carefully with the big ones that are too corporate or have no moderation or piracy control. In spirit of disaster preparedness, I suggest you have a DMCA Takedown letter template handy and inform yourself on any and all revenge porn, cyberstalking, and perhaps copyright theft laws that might benefit you in your specific county/state/country.
IF YOU GET CYBER HARASSMENT: Check out HeartMob.Com, tell your friends, don’t bite back, don’t do anything illegal back, record everything you can, tell your friends and family you’re a target of harassment, and know your local laws concerning restraining orders. Not kidding, unfortunately.
The best thing you can do for your business is to stay behind a paywall on platforms you have complete control of. Jenna Valentine even suggested that models keep their nipples behind a paywall. Jenna uses OnlyFans to direct people to an inexpensive membership to a private twitter feed, where she posts all of her day to day naked meanderings. I’ve seen other methods work, but this one works well for Jenna who I imagine has breast insurance, they’re her bread and butter. Cupcake Sinclaire posts gifs and trailers of her hardcore BDSM scenes publicly on Twitter, enticing her fans to buy hardcore clips from her various platforms and order customs. Her tits are all over the internet (and to be fair, I’m also in the free-boob club although I’m attempting to shift to OnlyFans for a more intimate performer-to-fan experience) and maybe that’s because what she’s marketing is BDSM and full body endurance.
“I use to webcam full time and I was in score a lot. A lot of my onlyfans is fans from twitter, Instagram and people who use to watch me on webcam… I think models should stop posting free stuff and get an OnlyFans” – Jenna Valentine
What sells for me is clips of me having lesbian-style sex or scenes with strap ons and squirting. I made the most money camming doing solo dildo and squirting shows, and when I was doing phone sex my specialties were taboo fantasies and domination. Above all, my selling point has always been my interest and ability in engaging with a few folks long term, who become fans and friends and support my various projects along the way. It all started with a $20 Skype show, or on Niteflirt in 2003 with a 50 cent recording. I’m clearly a talker, and I love hearing about people’s lives as much as I love talking about my own. I’m great with GFE. I’m great with eye contact. I always have good lighting and something creative up my sleeve.
“I am a professional submissive, fetish stage performer, and adult performer who focuses on fetish/bdsm scenes over typical mainstream scenes. I specialize in submission and masochism and ageplay. As a sex worker working online, it is important for me to be able to effectively advertise, as well as succinctly explain what I do because of the different sex work threads I engage in – all in a visually appealing and instantaneous way.” – Cupcake Sinclaire
What’s your specialty? You may not know right now, so explore. But always be thinking about what your customers are attracted to in you, what’s a natural fit? You may not want your sex work to feel exactly like your real life sex, but what about the job interests you? I’ve always loved watching men jerk off. I’m a lesbian, but that view and that engagement is probably why I do the face-to-face stuff. If I couldn’t stand looking at a man masturbate, or if it bored me, I simply wouldn’t be right for that job. There are days I just want to turn on my camera and dance around in pink lights and glittery oils and smoke weed and cast spells and play with my tits and maybe cry or something, I don’t know. So I’ll do that too. That’s why I personally use multiple platforms and try to personalise them, or allow the platforms to mold my work into their marketing tools – that works too.
I decided to sign up for ManyVids after seeing a lot of my friend posts some cool looking stuff there, and seeing that it had a very good platform for cyber escorting. (And here, I find my own edit on this term – cyber escorting is essentially 99.9% legal if you can figure out how to get your panties thru the mail, while escorting in person has legal consequences in most places outside Australia and the Bunny Ranch.) ManyVids offers Skype shows, underwear sales, bundles, tips — everything one might need to start having one on one transactions with people who may be simply dying to connect with you, their online fantasy person.
So I signed up for ManyVids. It was fast and easy. Here’s what happened: After you sign up and upload your Photo ID, they state a 24 hour verification period. I was able to check out my setting and documentation while I was waiting. I got a welcome email within two hours, and then I had to submit a W-9 and my direct deposit information. After that was set up, I was able to start uploading videos. I uploaded two of my classic clips and while waiting for them to upload, went and tried to figure out what I could sell through the store. Many MV Girls are selling panties and used porn outfits, horrah!!! I posted a pair of pantyhose and a grab bag of panties. I liked that you could have options for adding a note or getting “pussy juices” all over it. Since this was one of my first sex work hustles back in 2002, I’m excited it’s been brought back to a modern platform.
You need to upload 5 videos to unlock the custom video feature and some of the interactive services, so keep that in mind when signing up on ManyVids.
AmateurPorn.Com is a similar outlet, but with a more curated vibe, a smaller pool of customers, less fanfare around customs and contests, and *run by women* for gods sake. You make 75% percent of your earnings there, but it will be helpful if you already have a following on social media to direct towards your page. the passive income flow on AP is growing. This is good news for anyone starting up, because smaller platforms mean more attention for you, less “competition.” (Also, please never think of other sex workers as your competition…. no no no)
The Niteflirt platform is old as dirt too, and I worked it hard back in the day but I haven’t touched it since I was doing phone sex and financial domination under a fake name. My Niteflirt account STILL makes passive income, mostly from my recorded voice clips. My 19 year old phone sex stamina has paid off more than I would have ever known back then – I’ve been selling those teen dream mp3s for over a decade. My advice is if you are new and business is slow, fill your work day making solo clips, voice recordings, taking selfies, and striking up conversations with other professionals on social media.
I heard about IWantClips from one of the performers I interviewed for this piece who told me it was her best selling platforms. The process was a little less seemless that ManyVids at first. After I signed up they sent me an email with a link to a studio agreement. it’s a document you can sign digitally, and you will need to attach that clear photo of your ID. (You have that on file already right? Just checking.) I then had to verify that document via email confirmation, and check your Updates or Spam folder if you don’t see it – remember, lots of email clients think anything porn related is spam. Welcome to the industry!! They also have you fill out a W-9 right away through the same digital document service. Once you confirm both of those documents via email, you wait for iWantClips to approve you – you won’t be able to sign in until they approve you.
Where To Put Yourself
The one thing all of these platforms have in common is that you retain full and non-exclusive distribution rights to your work. The idea here is to distribute and distribute smartly. Syndicate your work to the platforms that fit your needs and make choices based on long term goals – do you want passive income flow, or do you want active clients? To be perfectly clear – you may not ever see the kind of money you need to make a living from this. But if you have the ambition to do the work and you have the self-awareness to market your skills and fantasy features, *and* you’re right and people are into you, you can probably make self-publishing at least part of your income.
Each of these platforms has a profile meant to cover the basics of features, payout, and requirements. Because each site is different, I’m presenting the list as a list of profiles so I can try to describe what makes each site unique. Some entries are longer and more well-informed than others because I’ve worked with them directly or have gotten feedback from performers who are top-selling in their categories.
What can you post? Every site has it’s own regulations. Here’s ManyVid’s “Rules” for some insight about the kinds of situations you might run into with your unique brand of sexuality. Be aware that some very commonly blocked things are gonna be age play, rape play, federally illegal activities, and then some questionable censorship like no fisting or no pissplay which have more to do with old white cis male lawyers than literally anything else. More and more sites are letting us do what we want, so my advice is to find the Rules for each site and tailor your beloved content to each site so you don’t piss of their lawyers. You can also reach out and do activism and public awareness around anything in the porn industry that you want to see changed – take to social media with your ideas for a better porn world and talk about what features you’d like to see, or what kinds of content you’d really like to make in good faith. Representation can sometimes be a huge drive for getting into pornography.
Also, each of these platforms have plus size models, models of color, and trans models working, although some platforms are more overtly inclusive. Regardless of the platform, you have the right to market yourself however you deem appropriate. Production and self-distribution works best when you are fully in love with what you are making – so trust your unique fantasy features and your own desires. Leave the compromising for the studio work, am I right? (ugh).
Oh yeah, those ManyVids Rules:
- Vid content must be within Accepted Categories
- Male talent must be accompanied by a female performer
- No content involving underage material, sex with animals, rape, blood, scat (feces), vomit, urinating on other people or the consumption of urine – whether real or simulated – is allowed. Read all rules
- Vid must be under 2GB (2048MB) in size and no less than 1:30 minutes in duration.
- Although .mp4 is strongly suggested and preferred (users will be able to stream their purchased vid), supported file types are: mpg, avi, mpeg, wmv, 3gp, mp4, mov, asf, flv
- Previews can be edited for 48 hours after upload. After that, you can only upload your own preview.
- If you have any problems uploading, please contact us at email@example.com
“As a performer who is trying to make my selling point about hardcore BDSM, masochism, and edgeplay I always find it unbelievable that my consensual acts aren’t valid but somehow super rough gang bangs where cum gets shot in the girls eyes are a-ok. They’re both the same thing but somehow the societal acceptance feels somewhat skewered. I’ve ultimately just begun selling my more extreme clips through dropbox links.” – Cupcake Sinclaire
How do you promote yourself?
“Promotion wise I utilize FaceBook, Tumblr, Instagram, Fetlife, and twitter. I advertise heaviest on twitter however. While I use the stock advertisements that each site comes with once uploading is complete, I really like iWantClips’ format which creates GIFs of the clip instead of a photo from one scene like ManyVids. On Instagram and tumblr, I create promos via Canva or create short preview videos of the clip along with clip description. Typically I feel that most of my sales comes from Twitter, however I also feel it doesn’t hurt to keep up with other forms of advertising as well.” – Cupcake Sinclaire
“Basically what I do is try to have myself on every single platform. I also did a lot of research about my name to make sure no one else was using something the same or even similar to build a brand. I also try to do a lot of interviews and go to conventions. I try to have fans pay the costs of conventions ill give them porn or a Skype session in exchange and I spend as much time as possible trying to get my name out there.” – Chloe Venom
Chloe also cams on Chaturbate and My Free Cams, and works at the Pleasure Chest, a sex boutique, so her day job has given her some insight into the industry and also – tickets to more conventions! And if you’re wondering – most performers give out swag and photos for free at conventions, at least until there’s an opportunity to sell. But it’s generally understood that you’re there to promote yourself and meet fans with the hopes of getting new customers. Only you can decide if it’s worth it or not. Same goes for awards shows and anything else that costs money to attend or advertise: always consider your choices and keep a budget for appearances. Some more advice from Chloe was to save your customs to sell as their own clips, and she also mentioned another site – extralunchmoney.com, which she claims is her favorite. I must investigate…
Clearly there are a million and one ways to work online, so hopefully these resources lead you to your own sexy victory. This list will probably change as I do more research!
TIER ONE: WHERE THE FUN(DS) BEGIN(S)
Tier One is recommended as your first stop in selling your clips, goodies, and services. They should be relatively easy, and worth the hours it will take you to build your inventory up. You still need your clip-making and editing skills, and you should be on top of your social media and marketing. If that’s in place, these are the best spots to start. Good luck.
|Niteflirt offers phone sex by the minute, cam shows, and “Goodies” for offering photosets, items, and active engagement or other custom services.
Active Opportunity: This site was built for phone sex and direct relationships with your clients, so it’s a daily hub of activity if you want it to be.
|AmateurPorn.Com offers clips, photosets, costumes, and a full spectrum of online engagement with clients through messaging and profile alerts.
What’s popular: alt porn, solo girls, homemade clips, artsy/indie
This website has a lot going for it. First of all, they nailed the URL and marketing yourself on this platform is a breeze. AP is run entirely by women, the same babes who run GodsGirls. But while GodsGirls is an exclusive community and models have to be voted in by members, AP is open to anyone who wants to open up a studio and get going. They also have the highest percentage online at a staggering 75% which solidifies their commitment to a model-first environment.Because they are the only clip site you can actually have a conversation with, I’m quoting the manager herself on her answer to why AP rocks:
Passive Opportunity: The site is fresh and new, but the member base is getting stronger. Early adopters are loyal customers to the platform.
|IWantClips offers clips
What’s Popular: female domination, dirty talk, body worship.
Top List: https://iwantclips.com/top_lists
This platform has been recommended for its Preview Generator, which makes a good trailer of your content and allows you to save and download it, which is useful – I would almost suggest signing up here first, so you can create the previews and save them for use on other platforms in the future. You can also make your own previews of your own clips at any time using the Trim function in QuickTime or by using the cheap app GiF Brewery to make awesome promos on your own.
This site seems to thrive on strong women who are “using” men, so if you can talk to the video camera about jerk off instructions, little dicks, pathetic pig boys, and dirty-mouthed dominatrix stuff like that, I think you probably need to make use of this platform immediately. Financial domination is alive and well here.
Passive: Built-in audience is good and people will be finding you on their own, potentially valuable if you make a series of clips.Active: The specific content attracts repeat users and regulars, so your participation in working with your big spenders might benefit you financially through services or femdom tributes. Professional BDSM is hard work – emotionally taxing for some and yet incredibly simple and seamless for others.
|Clips4Sale offers clips and memberships
What’s Popular: literally anything you can think about and then things you have never ever thought about.
This clunky beast of a platform is one of my favorite things on earth. It’s a library of human sexuality, obsessively sorted into our individual body parts, bodily functions, and movements. Sneezing, farting, blowing bubbles, washing your hair, eating cake… any of that stuff make you giggle? Film it. Sell it. In 3 film formats. Why not.
I think the best part of Clips4Sale is that it has been around a while. The site is old and harder to navigate than the others, but they have customers – lots of them – and they always have a huge presence at industry events and conventions.
Passive: Easy, if you get the clips up, people can find them and will buy them.
Active: Sales are better when I get a clip up once a week or so, because it makes the users aware of your entire studio. Also, you can tweet your scenes directly from your studio page and it will show the gif, it’s good.
|ManyVids: sell clips, memberships, photosets, Skype, a custom video order form, texting services, and a store for mail order items, download bundles, and other services.
What’s Popular: Top Searches in August were anal, panties, bbw, and pregnant. Lots of POV blowjobs, squirting, solo scenes, and homemade sex tapes were in the “Recently Sold” timeline. A nice feature, you can see what’s selling on the site for inspiration or curiosity! Top sellers have described ManyVids as a place for “girl next door,” which generally means you can perform more comfortably or have an easy-going persona. Good for working in your pajamas.
A Note: The language here is confusing for trans people. When you sign up you pick select MV Girl, Boy, MV Trans, or Producer. Under Producer, it will ask you to check if you’ll be offering “Solo, Girls, Girls and Guys” “Guys Only” or “Trans.” Also, they warn you if you’re switching between the categories, which may seem alarming to a trans model trying to reach out to a broad audience. Other sites are doing better about this.I do like this one safety feature: You can block users and create a two-step verification for login. It might not make up for having had some strange contests in the past that encroached on privacy. Best practice is to not get involved in anything too personal, let there be a good barrier between yourself and your platform persona. Have some things you wont do, and some things you specialize in. And trust your gut.
Also, if you use your affiliate link to refer other models, you will receive $25 if they sign up and upload two videos. (If you’re curious, mine is https://www.manyvids.com/Join-MV/1000326486 – please, use it. nobody paid me to write this.)Passive: that built-in audience is gonna luv ya, star.
Active: So many features and services, I stopped keeping track. I’m really interested in the interactivity of the used panty sales and hoping someone will bite…
|OnlyFans offers a private feed for member’s only twitter feed.
This platform is attached to your twitter and allows your fans to quickly sign up for a membership. You can post photos, quick slideshows or photosets, or short videos. It does tweet for you, but sometimes the images can be really basic and annoying. They could do better with the promotion, but the idea is really good and I have gotten reports that it’s effective, especially for folks who keep their nudity behind a paywall. Clearly, you need to have your own fan base for this to be lucrative, there is no site-wide customer base to entice.Fun Fact: Porn stars Joanna Angel and Asa Akira have OnlyFan accounts, as does one of my favorite porn stars Mandy Morbid
Intermission: Sell Your Photosets!
For as long as internet porn has been a thing, you’ve always been able to apply for sites like my sites indiepornrevolution and fatgirlfantasies, or others like godsgirls and IShotMyself/Feck Network. These sites pay anywhere from $60-$150 a set and have various pros and cons, the biggest one being that you have to be “Accepted” aka the studio has to want your content or to work with you specifically and it can be a whole ordeal — and then, selling sets isn’t lucrative for 99.7% of folks who do it. But check them out and see if it’s something you wanna do especially if you really love working with photographers. You have no control over your assets after you sell them and generally you will need to give the site exclusive rights to the photo set, so they are not listed in this essay in full. I wanted to mention them because if you do photosets, there are still places who will pay you for them and it can be a great experience to be included in a studio/crew/community. If you can get in, the networking can be a real asset. Don’t go overboard thinking that exposure is equal to payment, but if you’re exposed to networking opportunities you didn’t have before – that could be incredibly valuable to you. Some very famous porn stars started out as alt porn models on some of these sites.
TIER TWO: CURATED VOD THEATERS AND MEMBERSHIP AREAS
Tier Two: The next step is potentially getting curated or picked up by small businesses while you’re building your platforms. Your work needs to be good, you have to apply for it, and the pay structure is totally different than anything in the first tier. Curated VOD theaters never require active engagement. Membership areas, on the other hand, require constant engagement and scheduling. Both of these distribution sites are queer and run by folks who are reviewing each submission and should be considered for your truly screening-worthy works.
|PinkLabel.TV: Indie streaming site that provides customers with membership or VOD options.
Focus: Queer porn, Film Makers, films made by women of color, trans porn, and artsy/indie. Everything is listed as a short film or a film, and you are considered a Director or a Studio on the site.
PinkLabel.TV is an online porn film festival, inspired by industry darlings Berlin Porn Film Festival and other global affiliates that consistently bring people together to watch incredible porn. PinkLabel is highly curated, with each submission reviewed by owner and award-winning feminist pornographer Shine Louise Houston.
They are great folks but can’t take everything. If you do get in, expect “40% of gross revenue from rental (TVOD) and percentage-based membership (SVOD), all streaming only.” Optional affiliate program offers an 30% additional revenue.
Studio Submission link: http://www.pinklabel.tv/on-demand/studio-submission/
Passive: It’s a VOD studio, so your work is included in an established video library where people go to browse. You receive payment per view.
Active: You can sign up as an affiliate and make an even higher percentage when you promote your studio or scene. These affiliate funds are residual and ongoing so those funds can add up over time if you include them in your social media schedule.
|TROUBLEfilms is a network site that provides customers with memberships and VOD options.
Focus: Queer porn, trans performers, lesbian sex, BDSM, artsy/indie.
QueerPorn.TV is a project of mine, and I buy videos and photosets on a non-exclusive basis to include in the QueerPorn.TV members areas which include a network with troublefilms.com and my clip store realqueerporn.com. There is a $300 flat fee upfront for each video and no royalties. Each submission is reviewed by me, Courtney Trouble. I only take a few scenes a year but it’s worth mentioning to my audience and if you’ve made it this far in the essay, maybe we *should* work together I don’t know! 😉 I mention to folks I work with in this way that they should share the cash with their co-stars, so if you are thinking ahead that you might want to syndicate to troublefilms, maybe mention to your costar that you’re going to submit because I’m so far the only place that offers cash up front for a finished scene and I imagine that could be a solid financial jump start on getting a stellar scene out.
Submission Link: http://troublefilms.com/queer-porn-opportunities/
Passive: Up front cash, and affiliate funds when you post a link from your website.
Active: It’s a one-time thing, but that affiliate code can also be used on your social media, so you can promote your scene and make residual ongoing membership funds that can really add up.
|Patreon is a membership platform for all kinds of creators, but it’s adult friendly.
A lot of writers and artists use Patreon, and because they are friendly to erotica and sex workers, there is some work you make that may fit really well with the platform. Once you sign up, you can set goals for your monthly subscribers to meet per post or per month. Your subscribers can help you budget your future projects and scenes, but this outlet does require updates and maintenance. If folks are pledging for you, you don’t get paid unless you’re making things and you do need to be catering to that membership base often. That being said, I’ve seen some very popular porn Patreons – check out Four Chambers!
|Making Your Own Website is a total pain in the ass but very awesome and brave of you
You have the fans to do it, and the start up costs? Don’t hesitate, sign up with a service to make your membership site (ModelCentro, OnlyFans, Clips4Sale, and manyVids all have membership options) or go straight to GoDaddy and buy your own domain right from the source. Once you own your URL you can either point it to a free website building platform (another article, another day, sorry) or you can point it to your own server and build your own site (again, another essay another day, i’m so sorry)
You need to be willing to be married to your work at this point, and have the security and confidence that people will sign up! Be prepared to update your website at least once a month but really you want to aim for once a week. Be transparent with your members about what you can offer. They aren’t signing a contract, but they will send you very mean emails if you let them down. It’s never your fault but if you don’t like those emails, stay on top of your update schedule. You will get to keep most of your own money, be in complete control of your content, and eventually maybe you’ll be curating content and making your own clip stores and personal platforms.
If anything, BUY YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME no matter what you’re up to. It will come in handy, and yes, someone might try to buy it before you do and that would be really cruel and totally normal in this industry. Buy your own domain, period. Go do it now even if it only gets used for bad poetry in a year.
Passive Income: Recurring memberships can lead to a very lovely part time job, and for some folks it can really be a full-time occupation. You can make a living. But it’s hard to say you can take a break. I’ve been doing it for (way too long) and I love it, but doing other things with my life was out of the question once the snowball started rolling down that hill….
TIER THREE: HOLY HELL, V-O-D!
Tier Three: You don’t have to get your work curated or put through a membership funnel, though those options are super fancy and fun to get involved in if you are dedicated. But it’s not the end of the road. If you have your content organized properly, you can arrange them into films and put them up on major VOD sites. If you think you have what it takes to put together longer projects, I recommend you do it, and even if you’re just starting out – keep these VOD sites as a major goal for you.
Every scene/clip day/set up you produce should be accompanied by:
You’ll need to fill out a lot of paperwork, and there will be a process before you get started, but if you’re on AEBN you’re right there next to giant studios with thousands of titles. And all you need is ten.
AEBN also creates white label theaters for affiliates, so you can make theaters of your own porn, or curate titles you want to share with people, and make a percentage from any sales you generate.
AEBN has tools for you to make previews of your scenes and films, sell scenes individually, even sell DVDs.
Why I Love AEBN: They have queer employees and have always been kind. And, they’ve explicitly allowed me to keep fisting in my sex scenes which I try to insist upon but almost rarely happens. So, AEBN is my favorite for those reasons. They are a huge company, and report sales to awards shows and such. It’s like being in a record store.
Same amount of paperwork as AEBN, but a decidedly different focus. HotMovies has a few really popular specialty sites, in particular HotMoviesForHer, which has always curated and written about porn being made. All of the authors and people putting together the content are women.
You can also do your own theater here, and connect it to a blog or social media and curate your own theater or content that way as well.
I think you need around 10 films to start out on HotMovies as well. “Films” can be one long scene, or 3-4 medium scenes, or a compilation of scenes. They should have a theme and a title, try to find a category that suits you and respect your costar’s genders and identities when you market your work at any level, but especially when you are working with VOD companies that then outsource your films to affiliates. Affiliates are impossible to track down for fact checking. ;(Why I Love HotMovies: They always have an awesome presence at adult industry events, so you can meet the people who you are working with, sign at their AEE tables, get included in press and events, and eventually maybe even get reviewed by AVN Magazine – this is where you start thinking about this kind of stuff. Hey big shot, remember the little people OK? Luv you.
OK, even by my scary Virgoan standards this is long-winded so I hope these resources have been helpful and sincerely, if you have any feedback on any of the platforms from the point of view of a worker, I’d love to hear if I’ve missed anything important. I am opening up the comments on this essay (moderated) so that I can receive edits and suggestions. I am sorry that this is long and probably needs many logical edits. I will continue to work on this piece as I continue my journey, and hear about yours.
|Some final things to think about as you are making your work:
Documentation: EVERY platform needs model releases and identification on hand if asked. You should have your own model release and a copy of the legal age verification/2257 paperwork provided by the Free Speech Coalition. If you are on ManyVids, they have a model release available to you that you can use anywhere.
Consent agreements: You should have consent by way of written and verbal agreements – sometimes it’s good to have a conversation about syndication, with notes, about where each of you might want to use the clips. This gets more clear cut and easy to organise as you keep working.
File management: Start with .mp4 or .m4v and expand from there. Some other formats: wmv, flv, avi, mpeg, mpg, mkv, mov. Many models, especially on Clips4Sale, will offer multiple formats for each clip. That could really build your platform if every clip comes in 3 formats!
Paying Models and making trades: Your co-stars need to be compensated. There’s no such thing as a standard rate anymore, but you should expect to either pay upfront, share earnings, or share content with whomever you are working with. If you want the clip to yourself, consider how much money you will personally make off it for the next 2 years if you can, and pay your costar half in advance. Maybe that’s $100 for a clip, maybe that’s $500 for a day, or maybe you agree that you will make exclusive content for yourself, and also exclusive content for your costar. Many syndication points won’t allow two models to post the same video, so consider with your costar about how to share your content if you agree to make a bunch of clips and share them equally. Perhaps you edit and package them differently (pretty easy) – or maybe you collectively split up the platforms into preference or popularity (ie, if you are a ManyVids star, and your costar is a AmateurPorn star – this could be very beneficial) and then you won’t have to work to make double the content in one day.Pricing – This one’s hard, you have to test your market a little and see what works. A dollar a minute is a good place to start for clip sales, and folks have given me quotes from $8 – $600 for what they’ve gotten for custom videos.
got comments send them my way!
Courtney Trouble completed one of two planned art-related masters degrees when they graduated with the Class of 2017 California College of the Arts Masters of Fine Arts cohort on Saturday May 13th, 2017.
This Spring, Trouble was offered a significant merit-based scholarship to return to CCA for a second master’s degree. They will be entering the Masters for Visual and Critical Studies (an academic track) program in the Fall. The scholarship will not cover all costs and Trouble has accrued significant financial aid loans, so a donation page and Amazon wishlist have been set up for anyone interested in helping this queer porn icon take it to the next level.
Trouble’s fine art skills blossomed under mentorship across disciplines at CCA but particularly in alternative photography practices, printmaking, painting, and installation. Trouble wrote a thesis entitled Queer Chaos which entwines research into chaos theory, biological diversity, ancient art, and religion and served as teacher’s assistant for Ignacio Valero’s Queer Attractors course. They were selected for the Gender In Translation Symposium and Exhibition, highlighted by a lecture by Judith Butler. Trouble’s thesis exhibition, Queer Porn Archive, displayed 64 one of a kind magazines featuring chaotic and lyrical collections of Courtney Trouble’s iconic pornographic and queer cultural photography work, and a digital hard drive containing the entire Courtney Trouble archive, surmounting to over 220,000 images and videos and meant to be preserved in hiding at an unknown location.
Trouble works at the college and has planned events centered around wellness, including a sex work panel featuring Carol Queen and Chelsea Poe and a sex toy workshop with adult boutique Feelmore 510.
“One of the biggest questions for me is how out I should be at school about being a sex worker. It never may be obvious wether I will be taken seriously in an Art World space or not, so I really focused on making stuff that followed my intellectual questions and trusting my gut when I had to answer questions. CCA fully embraced my history and helped me turn my adult industry skills into teaching skills. I couldn’t be more amazed and inspired by the grace with which this institution embraced conversations around pornography and sex work. They also didn’t pigeonhole me. I ended up improving in so many techniques just by daring to rip things apart. Now I can talk about anything I need to, including my experiences in sexuality, in a lot of new languages. I particularly like abstract minimalism that looks at transforming digital pixels into physical elements like dust and threads.”
CourtneyTrouble.Com has become a personal website and portfolio for Trouble’s art, research, and writing.
Trouble, the award-winning fat femme bombshell behind QueerPorn.TV, NoFauxxx.Com, and the TROUBLEfilms DVD catalog, retired from directing commercial pornography in the fall of 2015 in order to prepare for the experience of graduate school, but TROUBLEfilms has continued to be her full-time job. “2 years ago, Chelsea Poe started directing for TROUBLEfilms and has found massive success with her concepts. It’s an incredible relationship – it is awesome to have a company while I’m in school, and it is awesome that I’ve been able to collaborate with someone so excellent at what they do. Chelsea’s kept the company (and me) afloat for the past 18 months. TROUBLEfilms is in excellent shape, and what’s coming out next will be even better. She’s on a roll.” Poe owns a portion of the company and handles all new productions exclusively. Trouble has moved behind the scenes, editing, consulting, and maintaining the web sites and technical support.
Tucked behind the Queen of the Desert (aka Vagina Rock), in a sexy garage/recording studio situation, I stood next to my friends April Flores and Cinnamon Maxxine covered in home-made lube, red latex, and lime netting, a little bit stoned and more than a little confounded that I had somehow found myself on the set of a Peaches music video.
Peaches requested me for this video, with a specific role in mind. I got to be a desert coven high priestess, taking Peaches in from the desert and reviving her by pulling a blue feather boa out of her pussy and throwing her to my witches. She warps through thier bodies and into a desert ritual orgy, where demon spirit Danni Daniels dances all over her, rubs her crotch on her face, and seduces her to join the orgy before taking off with the dyke who brought her to my party.
Spin, NME, Nylon, Pitchfork, Vice, Daily Dot, and Autostraddle all covered the video’s release on the launch day, while YouTube was still fighting with Peaches over whether she could have the uncensored version live on their site. She’s had to create a censored (pixelated, hilariously) version, as well as provide YouTube and Facebook with a specific censored image to use as the video’s icon.
The comments on YouTube vary in taste, but as of today the most popular/top comments were “fuck off,” “this isn’t minecraft,” “This is why Islam wants us dead,” and “The biggest plot twist when she started slapping her dick in her face…..never thought i’d say that on youtube.”
Not only did I ever think I would see something like this on YouTube, I’m not sure I would have ever seen it period if it weren’t for Peaches, who has been exactly this way since I was introduced to her in New York 12 years ago performing with Nomy Lamm and Lesbians on Ecstasy. She’s an old school Gender Fucker who has fought for the visibility of sexuality and feminism in art/music/performance for over a decade. I did my first burlesque act to “Fuck the Pain Away.” In Portland, with cardboard cut-outs.
I am totally in awe of her, but also after spending 3 days in the desert with her on this video set, I’ve got to say I’ve also never met somebody doing something so similar to my art and doing it on such a large scale. We both are famous for bridging the gaps between feminist, pornography, and art. I applaud her for courageously putting all our queer, fat, trans, disabled, sexy bodies on a mainstream platform alongside Kim Gordon, Margaret Cho, and Feist. The crew for Rub was star-studded too – A.L. Steiner has made one of my favorite films Community Action Center, and Lex Vaughn (the dykey kidnapper) is the host of the Feminist Porn Awards, and in the band Lesbians on Ecstasy!
On Dec. 18th, Dazed Magazine published a feature on Rub, titled Why we need to stop talking shit about our vaginas that addresses the responses to the Rub video and it’s complicated reactions, or as they say: “On the back of Peaches’ new video, we explore the vagina’s complicated relationship with the art world.”
While most viewers find the explicit video salacious and hilarious, it’s a serious song from a serious album places Peaches at the forefront of a movement larger than #freethenipple. Our bodies, our trans/cis/intersex/genderqueer/fat/black/modified/disabled bodies, can and will be in the spotlight. If globalization exists and YouTube is a thing, our bodies will be there. I feel like the ritual midnight orgy with Danni Daniels and the lot of us writing in the sand represents our majestic histories in sexual storytelling. Our bodies will always be here, the witches, the serpents, the monsters, the queer babes. This isn’t a side road circus freak show on MTV, we are creatures that exist inside your desert dreams, but also in real life, on YouTube, in music videos, in real life.
In October 2014, I met up with Micahtron and Lexi Laphor at an abandoned amusement park in Berlin, Germany. this video was shot on location in and around the park on a handheld Canon 70D. Song written and performed by Micahtron, starring Lexi Laphor as Micahtron’s date.
We wanted to make an uplifting and positive video with a lot of color and texture, and we wanted to make a lesbian hip hop video. Micahtron has a lot of incredible songs, but this one fit the idea of a carnival date so well.
Update! This video was originally uploaded to YouTube, where a user left a comment about the performers and flagged it for nudity. We have appealed the ban, but for now it lives on Vimeo. I didn’t think I would have to deal with censorship when I made non-pornogrpahic short films but I guess I need to watch out no matter what I make. #EYEROLLBYETROLL
Press Release for Apricot 4 Apricot
Courtney Trouble has released “APRICOT FOR APRICOT”, a short film about fat femme desire, on the heels of their successful IndieGoGo campaign to raise money for art school.
Communicating the rejection of dating ads often stating “no femmes, no fatties”, “APRICOT FOR APRICOT” demonstrates the beauty of connection when like calls to like without using dialogue.
“I had a great time doing this project with Courtney and Cinnamon,” said performer Nomy Lamm. “We had to use peaches instead of apricots because apricots were out of season, but that was perfect because they were big and juicy just like us! It was fun and hot and gross to smush peaches back and forth between our mouths and all over each other’s faces. We laughed a lot!”
“APRICOT FOR APRICOT” was one of 25 shorts from different queer directors and filmmaking teams, each telling a story based on a different color/fetish of the infamous hanky code. The collection, called “Hanky Code: The Movie”, is an epic anthology feature film event that had its world premiere June 17th.
“I both liked and really hated making out with fruit in my mouth,” said Cinnamon Maxxine about the shoot. “It was disgusting and rad. Mostly disgusting.”
See the film below!
It’s a shiny, sexy, heavy metal porno music video bringing G.L.O.S.S. and Chelsea Poe together for the first, and hopefully not last time. This was a fun experimental piece for me, inspired by some of the post porn films I’ve seen at Muestra Marrana and experimental shorts at places like MIX NYC. Thanks to G.L.O.S.S. and Chelsea Poe for letting me remix their fine, fine queer art.
Originally printed in the debut issue of the academic journal Porn Studies, reprinted on Huffington Post.
Queer porn means different things to different people – but to me, it means porn that is out of the box, out of the closet, and shamelessly sex-positive. Queer porn’s endless combinations of genders and sexualities allow its performers and its audience to expand and affirm their own identities and desires. It is porn you end up thinking about long after you watch it, occasionally leaving you wondering whether you are more like the performers you saw than you had previously thought. Queer porn is humanizing and connective.
In my words
I am genderqueer. I could say ‘gender variant,’ but I know what I am: Queer. I do not vary slightly from the standard form – I fuck it all up. I knew I was not a boy or a girl when I was a child, but I did not have the words to explain what that meant to my family and friends. Trans did not fit, but neither did cisgender (self-perception of one’s gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth).
While I knew I was queer before I made porn, producing and performing in porn helped me find my gender. Ten years of watching people strap, tuck, shave, paint, bind, glue, and glitter themselves to express their gender in a visual, textural, sexual, and public way has shown me that I did not have to pick something off the rack – I could be, and am, a multifaceted creature that lives in a liminal space.
For me, documenting the sex in my life and my community revealed a personal identity built of seemingly opposite elements having a symbiotic relationship.
I see this body, and this mind, in its truest form – a femmasculine creature that lives in a grey room (literally and metaphorically) full of tits, cock, scars, softness, pain, and pleasure. The words ‘bisexual’ and ‘switch’ never felt like home to me – but the words ‘both’ or ‘all’ encompass my identity in ways that make my sex life and my fantasies complicated beyond the general understanding of sexual identity.
My exposure to so many versions of gender and sex through making porn has been therapy for me. Without it, I would not be so aware of my genderqueerness. My understanding of my own gender identity evolved while engaging in public and private sex with dozens of people of multiple genders, all of them experimenting, exploring, or evolving – just as I was.
Queer porn gave me words to explain the way I have felt my entire life, by giving me the opportunities to have experimental or explorative queer sex as an embodied, queerly gendered person. In other words, by being allowed to ‘be myself,’ I found myself.
In my performances
I can see, in recent performances, epiphanies of my own gender queerness evolving on screen. The following are a few of those moments.
In a scene with April Flores for the film Hard Femme, we begin kissing on a bed. As lesbian porn goes, I take out her breasts and start kissing them. Then she kisses mine. I can see an alarm go off in my head when I watch the footage; something switches. I do not like having my breasts played with in a ‘womanly way,’ and suddenly I am grabbing my tit and thrusting it into her mouth. I whisper, ‘Suck my tit like a cock,’ and within seconds I am more present. Finding a way to embody a phallus using my assumed ‘female’ body made the scene work for me.
I have joked and called it ‘psychic dick’ before, and without explanation it seems funny – but ‘psychic dick’ is literally the feeling that a part of my body (my tit, clit, fingers, strap on) have become my actual dick and I am able to embody a more masculine gender within sex.
I have performed as butch for a few scenes in my career. Once, with trans man Charlie Spats, I got to be a cruising leather daddy. I used a strap-on, and while that felt authentic to me and quite satisfying to fuck a boy as a boy myself, the butch presentation itself did not feel at all authentic to me.
Another butch performance was for the film Valencia: The Movie (based on Michelle Tea’s legendary memoir about being a dyke in the 1990s San Francisco Mission District) in which I play a butch dyke who teaches Michelle how to fist her. Because I was performing a role, my authenticity did not matter so much, but my butchness felt like a bad impression, a comedic role.
These two scenes revealed to me that my physical need for phallus embodiment during sex is not related to a masculine presentation or a male gender identity. I am not a man, but I do have a dick.
Through the trial and error inherent in porn performance, I have found that my feminine presentation and masculine sexuality are connected, and that this is reflected in my non-pornographic identity as well. Were it not for the opportunities granted to me through porn to play different roles, I would not have the understanding that I have now.
In their words: James Darling
James Darling started performing porn early into his physical transition, and throughout his career has unintentionally documented not only the changes in his body, but the changes in his sexuality as well – providing a clear glimpse into the sexuality of one trans man.
“Performing in porn has really made me take a much more critical look at the way I present myself to the world and be more intentional about the gender I present on and off screen. My masculinity is different than most other male performers in porn and I’m very critical of the kind of man my audience and fans perceive me to be. I’ve watched my body change over the years through porn and it’s incredibly validating to see my transition reflected back to me through an erotic lens. Queer porn has allowed me to express more feminine and queer parts of myself that I can’t imagine would be possible in more mainstream porn, and I’m truly grateful for that.”
In their words: Jiz Lee
Jiz Lee is becoming one of the most well-known genderqueer people of our time due mostly to their wide-ranging performances in queer, indie, and corporate pornography. They have brought the word ‘they’ into many people’s understanding of gender and have become a role-model for young trans* folks and those who are seeking to create more affirming corporate porn workplaces.
“Making porn had the effect of bringing me out of my shell, and helping me to define – and more importantly, articulate – myself to the world at large. It was through porn that I created my website, and found a voice for writing. Later, it was through porn that I swallowed my fear of public speaking and improved my skills talking in front of other people. I would likely be the same person, in many ways, had I not had the opportunities I’ve had through being a public figure. The documentation and amplification of my gender expression, however, has certainly had a profound impact on my ability to articulate myself, in addition to building a better understanding of how others see me.
One example of such is coming to use the pronouns they/them. When I first started out, I simply asked that whatever description or biography made public of my gender not use feminine pronouns. However it quickly became apparent that the absence of these pronouns did little to assert my androgynous gender – others needed a more visible marker of my gender status, and thus, I came to use they/them. (It turns out that singular they is the original gender-neutral pronoun, coined in early English. So it also happens to be grammatically correct.)”
In their words: Papi Coxx
Papi Coxx’s first porn performance was with their real-life partner Wil for a documentary about their lives as ‘trans entities.’ Papi has been outspoken about genderqueer identity and sexuality long before they started making porn, but has found porn to be a useful platform for creating visibility.
“Porn, specifically queer porn, absolutely re-affirmed my gender identity and expression. Queer, DIY and Feminist porn have created a space for porn to exist within and outside of the ‘sex.’ It’s delved deeper into identity, endless sexualities, and politics. Queer porn gave me a public and educative avenue to express my gender and have it be visible in the most vulnerable of ways. For many trans people/GNC people, the body is a source of struggle. I’ve always said that my nudity negated my trans identity because I had not had surgery or taken testosterone. When I am viewed in the nude, I am identified by others as a woman. Queer porn broke that ideology and allowed for dialogue, new desires and visibility to shape a forward era in porn.”
It is clear that the intentions behind and implications of queer porn go beyond the generic understanding of pornography. There is a clear political, personal, and creative drive in queer porn that is not common in other genres or subsections of the larger industry. Many of us do other kinds of work that is much more financially rewarding or career-making, but queer porn is our preferred process, and through it we are able to search for something beyond financial gain: knowledge, power, acceptance, visibility, desire, justice, love, to name a few. Each scene is a new opportunity to challenge our own perceptions of self, or to help you challenge yours.
Queer porn transcends the tendency to put our sex in binary boxes, and uses desire as a catalyst to create change within the queer community and the porn industry.
We must wonder what porn could accomplish for society if every adult industry set provided that freedom to question, pervert, personalize, or politicize the individualistic sex positive powers of those making it, and those watching it.
My closing keynote for the Feminist Porn Conference has been up on Youtube for almost a week and has gotten shared all over social media.
I’m relieved and grateful that it’s resonating with the feminist porn community, as well as the queer community.
I have to thank Tobi Hill-Meyer for filming it for me, and for working on subtitles (she’s looking for help if you’re interested!) It made me so excited and flattered to see these images on Tumblr, created by Tieara Myers, using parts of my “free ideas” section in my keynoteI hope to continue to create work that interrupts the expected porn narrative and fucks it every which way with the amazing cast of folks and friends I’ve met and continue to meet on my journey.
So blessed. Anyway, without further ado…
You can also purchase the text to the keynote for only $5!
miguel – simple things
drake with jhene aiko – from time
desire: – i can’t hold you tonight
delta dart – fuck it
heavens to betsy – me and her
tiger trap – my broken heart
the gossip – yesterday’s news
sleater kinney – good things
beyonce – sweet dreams
alicia keys – unthinkable
le youth – me and you
I found riot grrrl the summer after a shitty freshman year at high school. I was really smart but none of my teachers took me seriously. All my friends were stoner dropouts on the corner and because they were my friends, and i was out as bisexual, and looked like a punk, i was treated like a waste of desk space in every class except drama, which was taught by a feminist hippie with purple hair.
Near the end of the year I was molested and had my music collection robbed by my step brother who was visiting during spring break. It broke me to the core, and I kept it a secret. I had to break up with my boyfriend Robbie, because I really wasn’t doing well after that event.
I told every friend a different story about why we broke up. I didn’t even tell my best friends Lori and Moe the truth, that I had been molested by a family member and that i was broken, though in hindsight I was almost certain they would have understood. I think I didn’t understand what had happened myself. I was ashamed and fearful of the truth. I lost all of my friends because I couldn’t keep my lies straight. My world crumbled.
On the last day of school, all my old friends wrote hate mail notes, folded them up in our usual way, and dumped them over my head as I left campus. That summer my family also moved away, though I had already always lived with and remained with my dad, a single parent and a feminist Wiccan.
Loosing my music collection had a dramatic effect on me, one of course that’s not to be compared with sexual assault, but as someone who has always been completely connected to music, it was one more loss that resulted in a severe disconnect from the world. I was unconnected to everything.
That summer, I was alone in summer school, alone in my neighborhood, alone in my world. The only place that didn’t know my recent drama was the queer youth group, so I spent most of my time there. There was this girl in my summer school who would drive me to the community center after class. She had zines and mix tapes and fishnets and tube tops for skirts and she looked just like me. I don’t remember her name and I didn’t know her long, but she gave me my first Bratmobile tape. Cool Schmool. that song was so important for me, as someone who had just lost every ounce of my coolness.
So those are my roots. I got expelled from my fancy high school half way through tenth grade for distributing my zine Krave Me – the zine had fake Teen Magazine quizzes like “Are You a Slut” that were sex-positive parodies and anti slut-shaming. I got over the loss of my childhood friends and focused on making friends at all-ages shows, queer youth group, and my unitarian universalist youth camp parties. I spent my weekends in Olympia going to Need, Sleater Kinney, and Bratmobile shows. It was at these shows that I met my lifelong BFF Jenna Riot and started taking photos of people like Kaia Wilson and Wynne Greenwood. I enrolled in a program that allowed me to get my high school diploma and my associaties degree at the same time, and I centered all my education on journalism, photography, music, and women’s studies.
When I turned 18 I moved to Olympia and started Fat Girl Break Down, a riot grrrl fat positivity zine and web community. My first feature was an interview with Nomy Lamm, who took me on tour with her and Sini Anderson, right when I was starting my first porn site, NoFauxxx.Com.
Porn is where my riot grrrl has come to a point of action. I’ve been in bands (mostly with a friend I made in Olympia, Nadia Buyse of DUBAI) and staged protests (remember Bands Against Bush?) and organized festivals (Homo A GoGo!) and written countless zines (including one I wrote and never published while recovering from self-harm), but making porn has been my only fulfilling outlet for riot grrrl activism for the past 11 years. I’ve kept it alive and I’ve also added to it I think by promoting intersectionality, making sure that the voices of trans women and fat people and trans men and queer male riot grrrls and riot grrrls of color get heard alongside those of the more traditional stereotype of the riot grrrl as a straight white cis girl.
I myself am genderqueer, so my feminism is adjacent but not entirely adhered to women’s voices. Because I look like a woman, a queer fat one at that, I still am effected by misogyny, particularly in the adult industry, and I think that’s why I am still so attached to the idea of riot grrrl not only as a tool of resistance but also as a form of support and a self-esteem builder.
Porn is a perfect artistic and political tool of resistance for us grown up (18+ at least!) riot grrrls – creating space for me and my sisters is a form of active resistance that is creating change and upping the awareness of feminism on many levels. I have to stand and be strong and lock arms with those near me in order to not be trampled. We are still living it.
I’m thankful for the current movement to re-ignite riot grrrl as some one who has been keeping it alive in my heart since that fateful day I was molested. As violence against girls is really our number one enemy, being a riot grrrl is inherently attached to being a survivor, and it’s given me the best survival tools in the box. I am thankful to Nomy Lamm and Alison Wolfe and Beth Ditto and Sini Anderson and Jenna Riot and Nadia Buyse and Homo A GoGo and my drama teacher and that girl with the fishnets, for giving me these tools.
This year I made a film called Trans Grrrls: Revolution Porn Style Now that borrows the language of early riot grrrl to set up the stage for a film that brings trans women to the forefront of feminist pornography.