Cave Canem: Beware of the Dog (Exploitative Agencies)

One of the reasons I blog is to help others avoid irrevocable choices. I cannot say it enough: You do not go into the video component of adult entertainment without THOROUGH consideration. You must take care of yourself. You must research the companies you are going to shoot for. You must get to know your agent (or already have a solid understanding of all components of the industry before you represent yourself).


I was recently contacted by someone who wanted to know if his experience was acceptable/professional/normal. He had supposedly been aggressively approached by a pushy, 21-year-old recruiter for a particular modeling agency. This potential model was allegedly contacted by the recruiter on a social networking site (something I specifically warn you to be wary of), he claims he was heavily flattered (perhaps overly much, given the model’s current fitness statistics), and asserts he was told by the recruiter that he could shoot a scene within a couple days. When the potential model showed doubt and expressed the need to consider it all more, the recruiter then allegedly shredded the potential model to pieces, told him he was fat and unattractive, and then stopped talking to him as quickly as he had started. Whether or not this is standard procedure for this (or any) agency, or its recruiters, it definitely shouldn’t be.

There are many observations that could be made about the content on this company’s site, and it should be instructive when you are looking at ANY agency. I have never worked with this company, so I can only ask questions. Consider carefully the company you keep. This company makes the following claims:

  1. They claim to be the largest agency for adult models
  2. They claim to cultivate fresh talent
  3. They claim to get their models work nearly immediately (within three-five days)

There are many other observations I could discuss, but I am going to stick with these “simple” three. As I said, I haven’t worked for this agency, and I am addressing only the information they have published themselves on their own site. Any other agency who has similar content would fall under similar scrutiny.

  1. Even if there is some form of hard evidence or empirical proof to show that a particular agency is the “biggest,” the “best,” or the “most successful,” this is a non-issue. What matters is HOW THEY WILL TREAT YOU AS A PERSON. I see hundreds upon hundreds of models listed on this company’s site, and I would ask some questions: How is it possible to have a personal relationship with each individual model when there are so many of them? How is it possible to understand the needs and concerns of each individual model? How can the staff for an agency (which tends to have only a few employed members) maintain the ever-changing files for each of these models? A simple statement of fact: I have spoken with or done scenes with some of the male porn models listed at this site, and I know that one (if not all) of those whom I have met are no longer with this agency. When a model is listed as “unavailable,” how long has that been so? At what point will the “active list” be updated, so that it isn’t bloated full of people who aren’t currently working for them? Would this agency still be the “largest” after this update?
  2. Cultivating fresh talent sounds heroic. But why not work with established models who have a reputation and an audience? Why not work with people who understand what they are doing already? Wouldn’t that be easier? Why would an agency want to be burdened with the responsibility of honing so many new, inexperienced, and starry-eyed amateurs? And again: How could this be done for so many hundreds and hundreds of models? Manicuring one person is an arduous undertaking. How is it done for such a huge group of disparate individuals who are spread all over the continent?
  3. Okay, so an agency can get you work immediately. Without giving you time to think carefully about what they’ve found. And then they pressure you, or they harangue you when you hesitate. This is not acceptable. EVER. If you can get me work within three-five days I would ask the following questions: For whom will I be working? What kind of airline and hotel will you be able to reserve at a cost-effective price with less than 10 days’ notice? Why are you so adamant that I take this particular gig? If you found this one so quickly, why can’t you just find me another one when I feel more ready? Another simple statement of fact: I observe that many of the male porn models on the site’s roster have done work for ChaosMen, a site known SPECIFICALLY for doing bareback porn.

Given these few observations, and the concerns they elicit immediately, I ask the following question: Does the agency you are considering bloat its roster by approaching inexperienced people and then by neglecting to update their lists; funnel the models into projects with only a few days’ notice; and then look for new faces, once they have gotten some bareback work out many of the men whose careers they have already “cultivated?”

(Edit, 08/14/2011: I can no longer advocate on behalf of Fabscout. Disregard that which has been crossed out.) I am biased, but I would tell you to contact Fabscout. See if there is a possibility of working with them. I make no money by making this referral. I make it, on the chance that it will be beneficial you. For more information about what to expect from a reputable client, I again suggest you read “Know Before You Go, part 3 of 3: The advantages of an agent.”

Author: Devon Hunter

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1 Comment

  1. I am struck by the similarity of agency scams across the arts. Adult modeling scams have a few peculiarities which can cost the unwary victim more than money, but in general:

    1. Legit agencies always have more promising applicants than they can accept. These range from the hopeless, who in the case of adult modeling always need a couple of weeks in the gym to the actually pretty good but could use a little polish.

    2. Legit agencies do not have to recruit you into the industry. The “scout” part doesn’t mean they are looking for talent in drug stores or even among patrons in bars, and certainly not on Facebook or MySpace. They are scouting dancers, fashion and fitness models, and so forth, and not Joe Blow off the streets. If your profile pic is shirtless and you are very buff, there is I suppose some remote chance that a legit agent is tipped off to it. Who suggested the agent look at your profile? Legit agents don’t have time to page through massive sites, and won’t have a problem saying who recommended your page to them. If you have the kind of looks necessary, you know it; you probably worked very hard to get them.

    Actually, meeting someone on the web who is merely a scam artist is one of the better possible outcomes. Much worse is a distinct possibility. In the particular case, someone who becomes abusive if you put them off or turn them down is certainly not really in the business. People in the business want you to remain a fan, so they will be graceful in turning you down or accepting your refusal.

    3. Legit agents never charge you money up front. You don’t pay them. They take a commission when they collect for your work. And that also means, you do not have to buy a portfolio from any special photographer they recommend or reimburse them for expenses in advance.
    Yes, at a certain very low level in the industry, the casting couch still exists, but you don’t want to work where it does.

    4. Legit agents will be pleased to leave their card and let you call them after you think about it. An agent cannot make enough money with you on one gig to stay in business. Legit agents are thinking in terms of a career. That might just be a couple of years while you make college money, or it might be many years, but it isn’t one gig.

    5. Legit agents have clients who are working. They are pleased to tell you who their working clients are. You can contact those guys and ask what the deal is. Most of them will be happy to respond. Agents don’t have secret, confidential clients. They want to book their clients and people have to know who to call to book them. Anything that is “secret” or “confidential” is a warning flag. (That doesn’t mean you get the birth name and cell number of every star; it means you have three or four professional names of people you can contact on Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

    Many people in the industry are very approachable about questions like this.
    You CAN ask a producer if he ever uses models from so-and-so, and you are very likely to get an answer.

    6. Legit agents are in it for the money. They are not philanthropists who are giving you stuff, and they are not romantics who dream along with you. They are hard-headed business persons, and that’s what they get paid for. If you cannot see where they will make their profit, there’s a problem.

    The truth is, if you have the talent and the looks, you can get work without an agent. Most of the studios and popular websites that produce their own material have “be a model” buttons. But if you don’t have a head for business, can’t balance your checkbook, can’t negotiate because you get so flattered that you give everything away — well that’s what agents are for. As I tell people in the print business, “You don’t need an agent to make the sale; you need an agent to make the deal.”

    Finally, if you have never really thought about working in the industry before, maybe you should think twice. A career in the arts is not a bed of roses. It’s tough for people who have been wanting it a long time and working hard toward it for a long time. Listen to the tweets of the stars for a while. There are about 10 “stuck in this stupid airport” stories for every 1 “had fun doing this scene”* tweet. You want to undertake a life like that if you really want it, not because a stranger puts a bee in your bonnet. Living the dream can be great, if it is YOUR dream.

    *Oh, yeah. There are also performance issues. One 15- or 20-minute scene that looks hot as hell through the magic of video can take HOURS to shoot. It may take a day or more of abstaining beforehand to get a suitably impressive money shot, and so forth. So, “fun” on a shoot doesn’t necessarily mean what most people think of as “fun.”

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