I have to admit, that although it’s within my area of interest, producing pornography is a bit of a strange world to me. I do think that pornography is a wonderful thing. If someone is able to produce pictures, movies, stories, or works in any other media which arouse people, then I think that’s very valuable, and certainly worth paying for. That being said, it does seem to me that the industry is a little weird.
Lets consider some stereotypes about porn sites on the web. As a web developer, the first thing I notice about porn sites is that they typically feature what would be considered to be atrociously bad web design in any other industry. The stereotypical porn site is typically almost entirely image based, and has been designed by a graphic artist in one go in photoshop, and then cut into a few sizable chunks and stuck into a HTML page. This means of course that they typically don’t perform too well in search engines, and have to lean heavily on meta and title tags in order to convey any semantic meaning to search engine parsers. Perhaps because of this, they also often rely very heavily on referred traffic, although that’s true of all sites to some extent.
The intertwining web of link-exchanges, banner ads, and affiliate programs that feed traffic from one porn site to the next seems to me to possibly be a bigger industry than the actual act of producing naughty photos using the human body. If you’d like a bit of a glimpse into the world of adult webmasters (forgive the sexism, it’s not a term I’d normally use) then spend a few minutes perusing the forums at http://www.gfy.com/, or on a similar site. I found it to be a very strange place where erotic activity is expressed mainly in terms of signup-to-clickthrough ratios, content is a bulk commodity, and it seems at a glance that females working in the industry are asked about how hot they are, even if they are marketers or web developers rather than models. I should add that I’m not well informed enough to be very certain of that last statement, and would like to hear from anyone with more experience in this area.
Recently, there has been a bit of shock running through the music recording industry as several big name artists have realised that they are much better off by not working through music labels. Within the last fortnight, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Madonna have all made announcements regarding their new approaches of selling their music more directly to the public. It would seem that if someone has a talent for staring in erotic movies and pictures, then perhaps they should likewise be avoiding the ecosystem of the pornographic web and be trying to find ways to make more direct connections between themselves and their viewers.
It makes me want to run out and program some hosted service that is like “wordpress for porn stars”, allowing them a push-button way to deploy and share content, and monetize it, without having to suffer from terrible web design, poor search engine optimisation, and quite possibly rampant commercial exploitation by all those others in the industry who are making more money than they are (and without having take off a single article of clothing).
If someone can make you feel aroused, spice up your sex and fantasy life, entertain you, get you hard or wet, or help you orgasm, then that person is doing something much more beautiful and wonderful than the operators of a link-exchange or an affiliate program. I’m not going to be rushing out and building any such site as in the paragraph above (although I really would love to, given all the time in the world), but we need to find ways to reward such people more directly. This applies to both photographers and models, however I think the internet does a slightly better job of helping out photographers, and that perhaps it’s the models who deserve just that extra little bit of admiration and support at the moment in return for the wonderful gift that they give us.
If you’re not sure about this, don’t spend all your time considering it intellectually. Take an erotic photograph of yourself and send it to a friend or lover. Perhaps form a deal with them for a mutual exchange of photos. Try taking a photo in a mirror, and try a range of different shots and poses until you find something that is genuinely sexy (I guarantee you that it’s quite possible, no matter who you are). Receiving such a photo, or giving one, will put a great big smile on your face, and may help to remind you what this whole thing is about.