How much would someone have to pay you to film you having sex? For the average person, this number is probably going to be pretty high; but for the average porn star, this number is surprisingly low, and it’s getting lower.
We hear about famous stars like Jenna Jameson or Ron Jeremy both having a net worth of millions, but in the world of porn, only a small few ever reach this level of success. Most actors and actresses toil away without becoming rich and famous.
For the average porn star, pay is pretty modest. Even for in-demand female actresses or “models” (as they are called in the business), the going rate for a girl-on-girl scene is about US $800; for girl-guy it’s US $1,000, and for a scene involving anal sex it’s around US $1,200 – hardly a windfall paycheque. On top of this, agents will take 10-15 per cent of a performer’s pay.
In addition to reductions in pay, the volume of work available has also dwindled. A popular female performer will probably work at least 10 times each month, but for those not highly sought after, work can be harder to come by.
Even some high-demand female models are feeling the squeeze. These models could at one time expect to make US $150,000 plus a year, but many are now facing substantial reductions in earnings.
Part of what makes this an increasingly difficult industry in which to make a living is simple supply and demand economics: there is a glut of talent available, and traditional revenue streams are drying up, meaning lower earnings for performers.
One high-end agent in the Valley reportedly receives around 500 inquiries a year from young women hoping to get into the business, and the Internet is giving away for free what people once bought. For example, Vivid Entertainment, a large producer and distributor of pornographic films, had its revenue from DVD sales rapidly decline from 80 per cent to only 30 per cent of its overall sales between 2007 and 2012, as consumers increasingly get content for free online.
Being a porn star these days is truly hard work. On top of the actual performances, models must often undertake a whole host of other jobs in order to generate income for themselves, including promotional activities and building an online presence with personal websites, social networking, or endorsing products.
The situation is quite similar to the problems faced by the music industry a decade and a half ago, but in that industry new revenue streams are starting to turn things around. Restrictions on mobile adult content are prohibiting a potentially lucrative new revenue stream for the makers of pornographic films. The porn industry encountered this same problem with cable and satellite providers in the 1990s, but that was overcome once the companies involved realized the enormous profits that could be had from making this content available to consumers.
In the meantime, the next time you download or view for free some adult-oriented content, do your part for the economy and consider buying it instead, and help to support an industry that gives it all, expecting little in return.