It's no secret that the adult film industry is a quiet powerhouse in the media business. While adult movies don't get quite the amount of recognition and accolades as other cinematic works, they still employ a cast and crew just like any other film. Vice asked insiders who either currently write or have previously written for adult films to share their experiences, and the takeaways are as interesting as you'd imagine.
So if you're curious as to what goes on behind the scenes of those dirty flicks, now's your chance to find out.
There's a lot of money in the business.
Graham Isador, the writer for Vice who's exploring the adult film writers' experiences, says that he recently found himself in an interview with Mindgeek, a parent company that produces and distributes porn on the Internet.
"It was only when I got the phone call requesting an interview that I actually asked myself the question: Did I want to write porn? Like, for real?" Isador writes. "While I pondered this idea the lady on the other end of the line was polite and formal. Eventually she dropped the numbers for the starting annual salary. It was more than I make now. I figured at the very least a career writing pornography was worth considering.
While Isador's career as an adult film writer is still up in the air, he did mention that the myriad of benefits (like dental insurance) were swaying his decision.prevnext
Before the Internet, the industry was completely different.
Jerry Stahl, a novelist and journalist, says he wrote "smut" (his words, not ours) back in the '80s before the Internet completely transformed the business.
"I was just happy to be able to pay my rent with a typewriter," Stahl says. "This was before the Internet. Guys had to go out and walk into actual stores to buy nudie mags."
Stahl went on to say that he wrote porn on the side as a way to pay his bills, while he focused on writing novels and doing "journalism gigs."
"Though in my head I was Kafka, I basically wrote smut when I needed money," he wrote.
He even said that he wrote fake submissions to an erotic magazine:
"For a while I was writing the fake sex letters for Penthouse Forum. You know— my girlfriend's into scrotal scarring, so one day she asked me if she could make a smiley-face with a can opener on my manhood—but porn was never, like, the guiding focus of my life on the planet."prevnext
Improv is hugely important.
Sovereign Syre, a comedian who has acted in adult films, wrote that improv was a big part of the acting in the films she was involved with — partly due to writers who don't treat it with a three-dimensional approach. She said that a good film with developed characters, emotions and plot lines "wouldn't come around too often."
"Most productions don't even have a script, you just improvise in the moment," she wrote. "Most scripts are written by people that are kind of over the whole thing, they've been doing this for years and they anticipate that the audience doesn't really care about the lead up to the sex. They're not trying to push any boundaries, they're not even necessarily thinking about trying to turn the audience on, they're just trying to shoot out the scene."prevnext
You can find a deeper meaning in adult films.
Bree Miller, a writer, director and producer for Girlsway, the "first true lesbian-only network in adult" says that she's learned how much meaning she's found while working in the business.
"The biggest lesson I've learned from writing porn is that sexuality as subject matter is limitless. You can let your imagination take you into the deepest corners of your psyche and, if you can get comfortable going there, you will learn so much about what make people tick," she wrote. "It's these psychological pockets and triggers that really get people off. So, if you pay close attention to the details, you can create fantasies that really affect people in a way that goes further than just the physical act you're presenting."prevnext
The industry has an unexpected professionalism to it.
Stahl also wrote about how he expected everyone working in the industry to be overtly sexual and erotic, but realized that people are just going to work, doing their job and getting paid.
"I wrote for several publications. Beaver. Club International. Others," Stahl wrote. "I kind of thought that when I got to Hustler, there was going to be orgies and moonshine behind every door, but when I got there, the first thing I noticed in the Columbus office were all these sweet old ladies with beehives sitting in rooms stuffing dildos into boxes for shipping. Aunt Bea with Ben Wa balls. On the other hand, that's probably somebody's idea of hot, so what do I know?"prev