Research: The average porn star.

Passed long by Andre a while back (thanks!).

While this study isn’t academic in the sense that it was done at a university, was paid for by a funding agency, and went through the peer-review process, it is exceptionally good. The researcher (and authour), John Millward, waded through piles of publicly available data to determine the characteristics of the average porn star and what they do. The resulting article is entertaining and provides infographics displaying his findings. From John Millward:


For the first time, a massive data set of 10,000 porn stars has been extracted from the world’s largest database of adult films and performers. I’ve spent the last six months analyzing it to discover the truth about what the average performer looks like, what they do on film, and how their role has evolved over the last forty years.

‘Without any mental deliberation, picture the average female porn star. Just let her spring into your mind’s eye looking however she looks. Can you see her?’

I had bumped into a friend who I’d not seen in a while and this was the first question I asked him. He didn’t realise at the time that I’d been in self-imposed smutty exile for an untold number of weeks, working on the largest study of porn stars ever undertaken, and now I was out and eager to spread the news.

‘Erm, yeah, I suppose,’ he said.

‘What does she look like?’ I asked, struggling to hide my smile.

When he replied by saying ‘a blonde with big boobs’, I must admit I relished the opportunity to lean in, let the grin spread across my tired face, and say ‘That’s what everyone says. And in fact, it’s wrong’.

‘Oh,’ he said, after I explained how I knew what the average porn star actually looks like, as well as what her name probably is, how many films she’s most likely done and the probability of her having a tattoo or body piercing.

‘So you’ve spent all this time watching hundreds of porn movies?’

‘No,’ I said. ‘I’ve spent all this time analysing the demographic profiles and filmographies of ten thousand adult performers. There is a difference.’

‘I see’, he then said. ‘And how, dare I ask, does one go about doing that?’

Go read the rest here.

And the massive infographic depicting his findings (click to make larger):




Speaking of porn…this film festival/film competition has blown up. It was the brainchild of Dan Savage and some of the staff at the Stranger newspaper in Seattle. And now it’s coming to Vancouver. The details:

It’s the Sexiest, Funnest, Most Creative Dirty Movie Fest in the World… HUMP!

Since 2005 the HUMP! Film Festival has challenged ordinary people from all over the Pacific Northwest to become temporary, weekend porn stars-by making their very own five-minute dirty movies for a chance to win big cash prizes! And they did not disappoint! The resulting short films run the gamut of sexual styles: straight, gay, lesbian, transgender… every color in the sexual rainbow… and some we never knew existed. HUMP! films are funny, thought-provoking, sad, artistic, outrageous, and almost overwhelmingly sexy-because they’re real. And they’re real because they were created and performed by sex-positive people, just like YOU. That’s why we’re bringing the very best of HUMP! to your town! See 20 of the hottest HUMP films in action… they’ll make you laugh, squeal, and marvel at the broad (and creative) range of human sexuality. It’s the HUMP! Tour 2014! And you’re going to have a blast.

The homepage (tickets) is here.

The trailer (NSFW):

Stoya on porn, feminism, and capitalism.

From her blog:

I see feminism and porn as two separate entities. Doing porn is not necessarily an act of feminism, sex positive feminism is not necessarily pornographic. The two can intermingle happily or butt heads, depending on the groups involved. The adult industry and the status and control of women varies vastly. Joanna Angel, Belladonna, Kimberly Kane and Sasha Grey all control their own careers and are doing quite well. Joanna and Bella both have their own production companies AND actually run them. Joanna in particular made some serious changes to what people think is sexy and what sort of look the adult industry as a whole puts in their films. April Flores (who also goes by Fatty Delicious) is another woman who is opening up ‘mainstream’ pornography to different body types/shapes and pushing for them to be highlighted purely as beautiful women as opposed to only starring in niche market films. Kimberly Kane and Mason are directors who make movies that show what *they* think is sexy.

Digital Playground is owned by two people. One is female. For the past three years they have managed my career and controlled my image and brand. They’ve brought me opportunities and they’ve told me I can’t do certain things. This is a capitalism, not anti-feminism. This is an (ideally) symbiotic relationship between any artist/performer/talent and their production company/publisher/label. In any situation that involves working for a company, the company tries to get as much work as possible while paying the worker as little as possible. The worker tries to get paid the most they can for the work they do. This happens in hiring negotiations between secretary and office HR manager, freelancer and client, and musician and label. Sometimes people don’t know how much they can ask for, sometimes they get out-negotiated, sometimes they do get taken advantage of. That concept applies to any industry and any worker of any gender. Like other industries, pornography has a range of working conditions, levels of respect for their workers, and general treatment of women.

Read more from her blog here.

Max Hardcore and (un)ethical porn.


Depending on your perspective, Max Hardcore is either a champion of free speech or one of the most reviled men in the porn industry (second only, perhaps, to Khan Tusion, the director of the infamous Meat Holes and Rough Sex series, etc. – to read about him it’s brutal, so heads-up, click here – it’s brutal, so heads-up). Max Hardcore recently did a 4-year stint in prison for breaking American obscenity laws. He is also successful; in other words, his content sells.

Max Hardcore’s films feature adult women dressed as, and acting like, young girls, gynecological toys and extremely rough sex. He regularly spits and urinates on his performers, and chokes them with his genitals until they vomit. [These acts aren't necessarily indicative of unethical pornography in and of themselves - what matters more is the intent, the mindsets and motivations of the performers and directors, and consent.]

Max Hardcore claims that all his performers provide free consent and that pushing their boundaries is a requisite part of the contract. Some women like performing for him, but many do not, and some have even tried to press criminal charges of sexual assault against him. Performing for him was once considered a rite of passage – i.e., if you could work for him, you could work for anyone.

Despite his claims that he treats his performers with respect and that they freely consent to work with him, anecdotal evidence suggests that his tactics can be emotionally abusive, manipulative, and that he uses soft coercion to get performers to do things they would not normally do. For many of the women that worked for him, if they refused certain acts, or stopped their scenes, they knew that their careers were in jeopardy.

This is a scene about Max Hardcore from the documentary Hardcore. You can see the rest of the documentary here, although the video quality is very poor (NSFW!).

If the previous info and clip about Max Hardcore haven’t already left a bad taste in your mouth, this is a post-scene debriefing with one of his performers likely will. Presumably, he secretly taped it as insurance against claims of misconduct and exploitation. The woman he’s talking with later accused him of sexual assault, among other things. This clip includes extremely NSFW language, is uber-creepy, and may be a trigger for those who have experienced sexual violence. It perfectly exemplifies the dark side of the industry.

This video clip is an interview with from the AVN expo, post-release from jail:

And here is a longer interview with him from 2011:

Gail Dines on porn, feminism, and capitalism.

In reviewing the research on pornography in class, I tried to provide as an objective review as is possible, even though I’m sure it seemed biased. I didn’t spend any time discussing the work by the strident anti-pornography advocates, as many consider it unreliable (i.e., lacking scientific rigour) and overwhelmingly biased. However, I believe it’s still important to acknowledge their work, as it does feature prominently in the debate about access to, and regulation of, pornography. Also, some of their criticisms are valid.

Gail Dines is arguably the leading anti-pornography campaigner and academic of the current generation. Her research and writing is celebrated by anti-pornography advocates, but has also been sharply criticized by many working in the field. The following snippets are from an article about her and her work, published by the Guardian:

“Porn culture doesn’t only affect men. It also changes “the way women and girls think about their bodies, their sexuality and their relationships,” says Dines. “Every group that has fought for liberation understands that media images are part and parcel of the systematic dehumanisation of an oppressed group . . . The more porn images filter into mainstream culture, the more girls and women are stripped of full human status and reduced to sex objects. This has a terrible effect on girls’ sexual identity because it robs them of their own sexual desire.”


“To think that so many men hate women to the degree that they can get aroused by such vile images is quite profound,” says Dines. “Pornography is the perfect propaganda piece for patriarchy. In nothing else is their hatred of us quite as clear.”


As a result of her research, Dines believes that pornography is driving men to commit particular acts of violence towards women. “I am not saying that a man reads porn and goes out to rape,” she says, “but what I do know is that porn gives permission to its consumers to treat women as they are treated in porn.”

The rest of the article, including much more discussion of Gail Dines and her views, can be found here.