Archive for March 2009
I recently started reading LuckIsBack.com to keep up on what is happening in the mainstream porn industry.
I read a series of posts about Michelle Avanti’s story on being a troubled young girl who gets into porn, gets addicted to drugs and alcohol, is tricked by her agent into doing scenes she didn’t want to do, is injured, beaten, catches multiple STD’s and finally finds Jesus, gets out of the industry and is currently getting ready to have a baby.
This got me thinking about ethics in porn and the perception of Altporn being more ethical than mainstream porn.
When I started this raverporn (eroticbpm), I did not sit down and think about ethics. It was just a creative project started from a silly idea. There was no plan with rules and a code of conduct, but as a person with strong personal ethics and ideals, what would become my full time job and business would be a direct reflection of my ethics.
Aside from their appearance, how I represented the models would arguably become one of the biggest marketing gimmicks for the alt porn industry. However, at the time it was more out of necessity than any big ethical choice.
I found rave & club girls attractive, I figured other people found them attractive, and in building a porn site around a community based on that scene. It only made sense to let the girls express themselves and let them be who they were in the photos. Girls who had any modeling experience found it refreshing to not need to take out their piercings, cover their tattoos and wear stupid outfits.
Along with this came models ability to choose how much or how little they wanted to show.
The little known ethical choice I soon made in connection with this was paying models the same no matter how much or how little they decided to display. The girl who doesn’t spread her legs gets the same amount as the girl who has anal sex with her boyfriend. This ensured that models were never being coerced into doing something they were not comfortable with, simply because they needed or wanted the money.
The expressive freedom and choice enjoyed by the models created content that was appealing to not just men but also women, and not just women, but feminists. Getting the seal of approval from feminists was not too common in the porn industry and the media loved this angle. Women were taking off their clothes because they wanted to express themselves, not because they were troubled young drug addicts being coerced into doing unspeakable things. Thus, altporn became ethical porn. Or so it appeared.
As the altporn scene began to take shape, appearing feminist was a priority among new sites and any females involved became the face of new sites with male partners taking less public roles. I think that people felt it was essential in order to get press and credibility. Oddly, it seemed the sites which were actually run by women got less attention for being feminist because they didn’t get involved in the contest of running around declaring that they too are women. I too failed to play this game and probably lost out on some attention because of it.
As droves of amateur models came out to participate in these altporn sites, many quickly found that their experiences varied widely with each site having its own set of rules, expectations, pay rates, even penalties. Many models somehow expected that a good experience on one alt site would equal a good experience on another alt site. Alt porn it turned out, was not homogeneous.
With alt porn growing closer to mainstream porn just as alternative subculture finds its way into mainstream culture. The importance of appearing feminist has died off. Instead, more and more hardcore alt is making an appearance and more sites are being started purely as a business choice and less as a DIY project.
When it is no longer a collaboration between model, photographer, and creator. The model simply becomes a product. This is not inherently bad, but it leaves far more opportunity for ethics to be thrown out in favor of maximum profit.
The same booking agent that got an unwilling Michelle Avanti to do a 75 man bukakke scene 2 weeks into her career could tomorrow be pressuring a fresh alt model to do a gangbang scene for an alt film.
At this point, what even defines alt?
I honestly don’t know.
Lux Alptraum said goodbye to alt on fleshbot last year. Maybe she is right, but Ebpm isn’t going anywhere yet. So get your altporn here like it’s 1999!
I’ve continued to make what I feel are important ethical choices over the years, like not selling out to a mainstream company because I didn’t think it would be fair to the models, and even today deciding to keep my pay rates the same despite rates falling through the floor on numerous other sites.
I have a feeling that the other good alt webmasters I know are not going to change their ethics, but new up and coming models should be aware that Alt does not automatically mean ethical, it does not automatically mean feminist, and just like in mainstream porn, you should do your research. Separate the good from the bad, and choose who you work with carefully.