Monday, February 7, 2011

What The Naked Ladies Taught Me - Work/Life Advice From The Adult Industry

In 2004 I worked long hours, multitasking several functions.  Booking models, herding models, interviewing models, trying not to yell at models - there were days if I saw one more beautiful, naked woman I would throw down my clipboard and scream.

There was a range of wildly differing personalities - from the photographer who lived on a diet of milk and M&M's to the adorable Star Wars-crazy video editor so painfully shy she asked me to call a restaurant to book her 30th birthday dinner ("If I could email them it would fine, but I don't do talking well").

In 2004 I worked for a recently established company that made pornography for the interwebs.  It taught me a lot.

  1. Be Alert and Appropriate - If the model's real name is Laura and her stage name is Suzy, always call her 'Suzy' on-set and on-camera.  However, never EVER fail to call her 'Laura' on her personal cellphone, 'legit' workplace or home.
    Don't make life difficult for key stakeholders by forgetting vital information.
  2. Process and Routine, Always - Bras, shirts, knickers, skirts; all worn, slightly sweaty and dumped on my desk from a late-night shoot. You'd think that a company making porn would have some sort of laundry arrangement, but no.  So after glaring down the the rest of the office and screaming, "Who the hell put this s**t on my desk?!", I worked out the most basic of systems. After-shoot clothing would go into a basket to be hauled to the laundromat weekly.  Simple.  Necessary. I don't know what the moral of the story is, maybe 'pornographers would make terrible stay-at-home moms/dads'?
    Moral or not - the point is have a system, make it consistent and stick to it.
    Even big, established organisations regularly mess this one up e.g. new management coming in and saying, "We'll change everything! Just 'cause."
  3. Data Is Useless Unless You Use It - When interviewing new talent we gathered their measurements as well as a variety of photos; a face-only shot, a full-body shot (front/back), a waist-up shot and a waist-up side shot. We used the data to choose models for upcoming shoots, "Hey, maybe we'll do a girl-girl with this cute androgynous brunette with this curvy tall redhead, good combo?  Let's book it".
    Many companies gather data without purpose.  Maybe they'll start a project and hold monthly meetings about their poor SEO stats... and eventually do nothing about it. There's nothing more impotent than a group of execs in a meeting room with charts, statistics and no results.
    I've worked in an organisation that held a meeting to discuss too many worthless meetings. Please, for the love of all that's holy, don't be these guys.
  4. Adapt or Starve - Models are not the most reliable of people. Sometimes they've smoked too much weed the night before (you can always tell 'weed-eye' in a photo!) and you can't shoot, or maybe their boyfriend shagged their best friend and the fallout is happening the day you've scheduled stills and video. Initiative and action is required.  The most admirable example I've witnessed was when a staff member who was an ex-model suggested she do a 'toy review' shoot when another regular shoot fell through. She and the photographer went straight to nearby adult store, bought a bunch of newly-released toys and gadgets and proceeded to shoot stills and video of her using them.
    Save the day by using your spark.
  5. Stay On-Trend Whilst Being Yourself - Part of my role was to keep a regular eye on Fleshbot (link really, REALLY NSFW), the Huffington Post of the porn world.  It kept us informed about what was out there and more importantly, the context and relevance of our content in the industry. We didn't need to do hardcore S&M because there are a good number of quality providers, we didn't need to Ren-Faire style shoots because that area was covered.  We also managed to find out how incredibly important the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo is, as well as news about divergent markets and opportunities.  Keep an eye on the trades and blogs to look for opportunities and monitor where you're placed - but stay true.
Some days, when the sky is blue and the sun is camera-ready, I look up and wonder, "What are they shooting now?"
2004 was freakin' nuts, but it was the sharp end of life's educational sledgehammer.
I do miss it sometimes.


  1. If all your posts are written as intelligently as this, I'll be a fan! In the meantime, I've shared you on Facebook. I have a feeling you won't disappoint me. I love strange women. I are one. Of course, if you think you're not strange, my apologies!

  2. Thanks for reading, and the 'strange' comment in no way offends, I am very peculiar indeed. Had a look at your blog - seems you are one fascinating lady!