Does Porn Have A Prostitution Problem?

By Jessica Ogilvie Photography by Stephanie Vovas

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Jennifer (not her real name) is reluctant to talk. She is sitting in a brown leather booth in a throwback Hollywood diner, her arms folded gently across her chest. The look on her face is skeptical, and not without reason.

She agreed to meet here to discuss her work, and that work happens to hinge on one crucial component: discretion. As the owner of a Los Angeles–based escort agency, she could land in jail. On top of that, she deals with a unique group of employees: They are almost exclusively porn stars. “There is definitely a social stigma around what the girls are doing,” says Jennifer. “People will pawn off their judgments on the girls. They’ll tell them that they’re bad for escorting, and it’s hard to break through that.”

Stigma or no stigma, escorting on the side is becoming more and more common for porn actresses. The big money that could once be made in adult films is gone, thanks to the growth of the web. The market is increasingly saturated with new talent, leading the industry’s women to look to other avenues to pay the bills.

As recently as the mid- to late 2000s, porn workers would be blackballed for seeing clients in private. The stars had an image to uphold—the Jenna Jamesons of the adult-film world had made their lifestyle appear glamorous, and associating themselves with escorting put a crack in the facade.

But now, moonlighting as an escort is commonplace. Today there’s even a reversal: Because porn stars can charge more for private sessions, women who see a financial opportunity are getting into porn with the sole intention of jacking up their escorting rates.

“There’s a new breed of incoming girls who understand that you only do porn to make more money escorting,” says Kayden Kross, a porn star who has been in the industry since 2007. “Girls come in who have been escorting, or who intend to, and they know that if they do porn and have a name, they are going to be able to charge $1,000 or $1,500 an hour, as opposed to a couple hundred otherwise.”

For those who want to, it’s not hard to break into escorting. Agencies like Jennifer’s use recommendations of friends and clients to find new employees, and they promote their girls online. Other companies seek out escorts in person and find clients exclusively through word-of-mouth. Some women decide to go it alone, building their own websites and brands.

Either way, there is no shortage of men willing to pay for the thrill of sleeping with someone they’ve watched onscreen and lusted after. Because of the high rates and high rewards, these men tend to be wealthy, with a penchant for adrenaline-inducing power grabs. Most are able to keep it on the down low, but some get caught. Last year, former Miramax executive Richard Nanula was accused of hiring porn stars to sleep with him and filming the sessions in an attempt to keep his activities legal.

Men aren’t the only ones getting off on the experience. For women, hooking can also be a power trip. “They know there’s a mystique around them,” Jennifer says. “Girls really like to be able to blow guys’ minds, knowing that they gave them something nobody else ever could.”

In addition to the rush of feeling like a “goddess,” as Jennifer puts it, there’s the fact that women who hook can have more control over what they will and won’t do. They call the shots when it comes to condom use. They set their own times and locations, and they pick and choose whom they will get into bed with.

No matter how common escorting becomes, it remains a dirty little secret inside the porn industry. Few porn actresses will admit to doing it, and very few people on the business side will cop to knowing it goes on.

The stigma exists in part for obvious reasons. Some porn stars and players in the industry think actresses who hook are more likely to bring sexually transmitted diseases onto sets. Others think escorts are taking money away from porn and putting it directly in their own pockets—or in the pockets of whoever represents them.

But there’s also an unspoken hierarchy within the adult industry, one in which women judge one another rather mercilessly. “Strippers think they’re better than porn stars because they’re not doing porn,” Kross explains. “Porn stars think they’re better than escorts because they’re not escorting. Escorts think they’re better than both because the others are dumb for not making all the money they can make. Each one kind of looks down on the others, unless they do all three.”


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