This is a very long entry. Part 3 will be much shorter. In this installment I am going to briefly discuss several of the career paths within the Adult Entertainment Industy, so that you can consider some of the possibilities (and combinations thereof). Subsequent installments of this series will fill out the picture, so please do not look for exhaustive resources within this entry: This posting is just a list with some precursory impressions. Please note that I am not going to focus on anything having to do with production and/or management, so be sure you keep “behind the scenes” options in mind and do further research if that is where your interests lie. Some of these types of “behind the scenes” careers, though not all, are as follows:
- Web development
- Talent Management/Agency work
- Video Direction
- Video Production
- Club event manager/director (Note: Here is a link to other club-specific ideas for you to consider, especially after retirement.)
Alright, on to those options that I am going to treat with more depth and consideration. I am going to focus on those modalities that I have experienced myself, and about which I can speak with confidence. We are going to look at Live Performance, Modeling, and Personal Interaction. Please keep your unique combination of attributes and challenges in mind: Just because you’re a gorgeous model doesn’t mean you have the personality and temperament to be a successful escort. Just because you are confident dancing on stage doesn’t mean you can have sex in front of several people with the cameras rolling. Not all aspects of Adult Entertainment are for everyone: Select those modalities that play to your strengths. If you’re a porn superstar but suck at personal interaction, fine. If you are not particularly photogenic but can make people feel great in person, fine. If you ham it up on cam but clam it up on stage, fine. Know thyself. I, personally, have my preferences, which I have already described, but I can still give you advice concerning a wide variety of modalities based on personal experience or first-hand conversation.
- Pole – This is an art form and sport completely unto itself, and although most club patrons will not necessarily appreciate the skill involved, pole dancing can still be incorporated into live performances. Be careful about oily strippers (who work my nerves). Also, take care that you keep alcohol wipes and/or hand sanitizer handy. A really bad MRSA infection in 2007 almost took my right leg off at the knee, so be prepared to IMMEDIATELY cleanse any scratches, scrapes, punctures, or other tears/perforations in your skin.
- Chair – Giving lap dances may or may not be permitted in a particular club. Familiarize yourself with local laws. Here are some instructional videos I compiled. I have not checked to see if these links still work, but hopefully the summation will be of help to you, even if the links are broken. Here are a few red flags to look out for when you’re at a new club and don’t trust that the place has a stripping/chair dance license.
- Stripper – The “advantage” to being a stripper is that the expectations are low, and therefore easy to surpass; however, in all ways it is probably more rewarding to aspire to being an exotic dancer. Although the terms “stripper” vs “exotic dancer” are interchangeable in the general public’s vocabulary, they are not the same in my opinion.
- Exotic Dancer – If you enjoy live performance, you might consider being an exotic dancer. You do not necessarily need to be a trained dancer, or even a very good mover. You need a friendly disposition, the ability to tolerate being touched in ways you might not normally welcome (here are some thoughts about touching), and the confidence to tolerate the process of sorting out those patrons who are interested in you and those who are not. In my video interview for RentMen I said I got tired of the financial risks associated with dancing in clubs: You have to find a venue, hope people show up, hope they like you, hope they have money, and then hope they are willing to give it to you. To that mix you add dancing all night and putting up with drunks, and it can get very exhausting. Work hard, but don’t kill yourself. With that said, I danced in clubs for over 10 years, and mostly I had a blast – it can be SO MUCH FUN!
- Burlesque – This is a dying form unfortunately. It is a style of exotic dance that employs humor, theatricality, and costumes simultaneously. Even when not funny, there is still the theatrical component(s). It can be introspective, dark, joyous, empowering, etc. Sadly, most gay male patrons at clubs have been programmed by the internet to expect “insta-dick,” and have zero patience or appreciation for the burlesque. It’s a shame, because burlesque has the capacity to add so many layers of interest to the performance. Why stop at raw sexuality? Why not add something more to it? Meh… “insta-dick” has its place, but is overrated. You have to adapt to the market. If you dance at Swinging Richards in Atlanta, expect to be heckled by the straight dancers (who make up +90% of the performers) and DJ’s for doing anything beyond shaking your penis. Other clubs may be more accepting of costumes/themes/choreography, but don’t expect it.
- Go-go – This is a form of exotic dancing whereby you remove no clothing. That is the legal distinction in most places: Stripping involves starting with clothing and removing it, but go-go dancing means you come out sporting what you will wear throughout the entire performance. Find out whether your venue has a stripping permit (and a lap dance permit as well), because the act of removing items of clothing during a performance is illegal in some places. Find out what you can and cannot show, and come out already revealing that much, if the venue in question does not allow stripping.
- Instructors – If you love to perform, but not for tips, and not in front of audiences, then once you have the required skills you could get paid to teach others to do them. Consider being an instructor if you know how to perform, but cannot/do not wish to do it for groups of people other than your students. Look for studios in your area that offer classes in exotic dancing and pole dancing – they are more common than you might think. Once you have mastered the skills, get paid sharing your knowledge with others.
- Phone Models (Edit: Added 5/15/11) – These entertainers create a world of fantasy within which clients can be immersed without any visual information: The mind is allowed to fill in all the blanks. If you have a really sexy voice, and are not intimidated by live action dialogue, then this may be the choice for you (especially if your physical appearance doesn’t fit within the parameters commonly associated with Adult Entertainment). This can be a very lucrative form of entertainment, but it is very demanding on your time, and you should be creative and invest a sizable amount of energy in creating your character(s). You must be able to fall into that reality at the drop of a hat (or ring of a phone), and you will have to completely maintain whatever illusion you are masterfully spinning – without visual cues it will be imperative not to interrupt the fantasy. You will be discussing a wide variety of sexualities, so define a list up front (and let it evolve as you go along) of which topics are taboo. As in all permutations of Adult Entertainment, the entertainer must be in control (even when appearing to have relinquished it). As with Cam Models, set up a regular schedule, build your audience over time, and be consistent. Look for companies that give you a great deal of support throughout and orientation up front.
- Cam Models
- Scheduled/Moderated – If you are not comfortable with interacting with clients in person, but would enjoy doing live shows within a secured environment, then consider cam modeling. Whereas dancers make their money by some combination of fees and tips (minus paying the bar/door/DJ in some venues), cam models with pre-scheduled shows are generally paid a set fee for each session (which often lasts 60-90 minutes). As with other forms of video work, you need to know up front what is to be expected of you, so that you can decide if a particular site works for you and your sexual repertoire. Unless you are already a well-known model, do not expect the fee for each show to be particularly high. Set up your weekly schedule, keep it, build a loyal audience, and over time you may start receiving tips on top of your modeling fee. If you cam model from home you will often be responsible for purchasing the necessary equipment. If you do it through a studio, this should be a non-issue. The site moderators will give your chat session their full attention, and will help immediately with any problems.
- Free form – If you want the flexibility of modeling at your own convenience you can consider being a free form cam model. You will set up your own schedule, and you will almost certainly have to supply your own equipment. Your employing site provides you with an audience. You are paid a fee for each minute you are in private chat. You make nothing while in the public chat room, which is why the models are constantly asking viewers to go to private chat. I found it boring, schlocky, and aggressive. Some people can do extremely well in this milieu; however, it was killing me to sit in bed all day trying to make 120-minute-quotas over the course of 4-, 6-, or 8-hour shifts. It’s also hectic to jump in and out of clothes in 30 seconds or less while going into and out of private sessions. I found that this form of modeling was far, far too grueling to be worth the money generated. I don’t recommend it, but it is definitely an option. Also know that the moderators have to watch multiple chat feeds simultaneously, so you will have to handle some of your problems on your own, and the equipment/software is very often riddled with buggy programming. The main advantage here is the flexibility in scheduling.
- Audio – I don’t know that it’s particularly common, but if you have a really sexy voice you might consider hiring out your spoken words. I have not known anyone who has done it specifically; however, it is something to consider.
- Artistic Nudes – Photographers come in two categories: Reliable/Honest and Unreliable/Shady. Choose the former, unless you have a very good reason to go with the latter. Trust your instinct. Artistic nude photography is any type of imaging that makes the body, or some aspect of it, into the artistic expression itself. Be up front about what you will and will not do, and then follow through. Many photographers do Pics for Trade (PFT), rather than paying a fee. PFT means you don’t charge the photographer a sitting fee and the photographer doesn’t charge you a fee for capturing/editing the images. You should expect to receive as “payment” between 5-15 polished images back within 14 days. If you insist on charging a fee, you may not have many opportunities to work, since most photographers simply don’t have much of a budget. Use PFT scenarios to bolster/develop a portfolio that you can use in other aspects of your career. Your contracted release will prevent your ever collecting any residuals.
- Erotic – This style of imagery ups the ante. The body is still the medium of artistic expression, but it will be within sexualized parameters and themes, whereas in artistic nudes this is not the case. The nudity here is presented for the specific purpose of eliciting desire in the audience, whereas nudity in Artistic Nudes is incidental. Everything else you should consider when doing Erotic shoots is mentioned in “Artistic Nudes.” Again, expect to give up your rights to future payments.
- Sexual – If you do a Sexual shoot you should expect to be captured in poses (or in the process) of doing something overtly sexual. This may include penetration and/or other actual sex acts, and therefore you will need to keep all the same considerations in place as if you were hooking up with someone. Be sure to practice safer sex on the set. I would not do Sexual shoots for PFT – I would expect a fee for this. You have to make your own choices in this regard, but I would demand a fee, and before the shoot I would ask for a 50% deposit (unless the photographer is known to me already). Expect to sign away your rights to the use or control of these images and no further payment.
- Gay-for-Pay: These sites (claim to) use heterosexual models, and they use that heterosexuality as the main selling point for their product. I cannot stress enough that if you are a gay model that you should not work for gay-for-pay sites. See “Know Before You Go, part 1” and accept that there are other pornographers who behave in this same manner, but who do not pay as well as Sean Cody (adding insult to injury). Be warned: If you have heard a company is difficult to work for, believe it. AVOID BAREBACKING.
- Gay neutral: These sites do not mention the sexuality of the models. Watch snippets of videos, read about the companies on gay porn blogs (e.g. GayPornFanatic, JustUsBoys, TommyWells, MyQueerAmerica, MenOfColor (MOC), MenOfPorn, QueerMeNow, JackManly, etc.), read what commentators are saying about the various companies, and try to glean what kind of experience you might expect to have. Also look for adult video models on Twitter and Facebook – approach (POLITELY) those models who work for companies you are considering, and ask them about what to expect. Do not be surprised if they are reticent about talking to you: This is a gossipy industry, and many models may not feel comfortable saying anything critical out of concern for losing future work. See “Know Before You Go, part 2” for a comparison and contrast of a few of the companies for whom I have worked. AVOID BAREBACKING.
- Gay affirming: These sites use openly gay models (as well as bisexual and heterosexual models), avoid homophobic scenarios, and generally celebrate same-sex imagery without adding anything particularly detrimental to gay identity. Before you run off and do anything that cannot be undone, make sure you read “Know Before You Go, part 3” and consider the questions therein. AVOID BAREBACKING.
- Sex Workers: Please note that there is no single definition or consistent thought pattern about the terms I am going to use here. For consistency’s sake throughout this series, when I use these terms, this is how I mean them; however, there are probably as many opinions about this as there are individuals offering these services. Also note that many sex workers are malleable, and can fill different functions for different scenarios and clients.
- Hustler/Gigolo – Once called “rough trade” (though that term has generally fallen out of use), these are the gay-for-pay M4M sex workers. Although they come in various sizes, colors, and qualities, they are still straight. My concern is that hustlers hustle. My experience (after listening for years to the stories told by straight dancers/hustlers in strip clubs all over the USA) is that most hustlers either do not follow through on the agreed scenarios and/or mug/rob their clients on a regular basis. This is not always the case of course, but hustlers tend to cater to the “rough trade” image that they brag about in the dressing rooms at Swinging Richards and Secrets. As a warning to potential clients reading this, see the following entries: “An open rant to fags who fixate on breeders,” “Where is the love?,” and “Gay men fawning over straight dancers.” Clients can hope for better treatment, but should expect a 1-star experience.
- Prostitute – A prostitute is someone who exchanges sexual activities for money. Prostitutes negotiate their fees based on the actions to be performed. These are generally performed quickly and with no interpersonal connection. This type of service is convenient for sex workers who are not interested in getting to know their clients, who prefer quick turn over, and who are interested primarily in the money paid. This type of service is convenient for clients who are interested in a very short session with a set fee, who do not want to know anything about the sex worker, and who have very little time to spare. Note that prostitution is illegal in most places, and is defined as the exchange of money for sex (or the assumption that money will be exchanged as a result of an agreement about sexual acts). Clients should expect a 1- or 2-star experience.
- Escort – An escort is someone who charges a fee based on timed appointments, and is presentable in public places (hence the term). A client would not need to worry that an escort would seem conspicuous at various events; however, the exchange is very business oriented and interpersonal connection is limited. Whatever sexual activity that happens is between consenting adults and is not included as a definite part of the transaction (though the client’s interests are noted in advance), and there is no expectation of developing a rapport. The escort merely escorts. This type of service is convenient for sex workers who prefer to meet clients in public to get acquainted, who prefer the structure and context of a social function, and who are interested in entertaining clients for appointments up to about 8 hours or so (but usually more toward 1-4 hours). This type of service is convenient to clients who do not want to attend events alone, who want the comfort of a social introduction, and who need an understood assurance of discretion. Clients should expect a 3-star experience, perhaps even a 4-star.
- Companion – A companion is someone who sets fees based on durations of time, and makes a personal investment in tailoring an appointment to a client’s tastes. Although escorts are sex workers whom clients can take out in public if desired, escorts’ services do not extend beyond being pretty at clients’ sides (whether in public or private). Companions are just that: They are pretty at clients’ sides, but companions are interested in knowing their clients intimately. This type of service is convenient to sex workers who prefer investing in getting to know their clients as people, looking for opportunities to build on-going and repeating scenarios, and forging bonds that allow for a potentially deep and casual friendship. This type of service is convenient to clients who prefer developing intimacy, trust, and potential friendships. Companions are willing and able to spend protracted amounts of time with their clients. Clients should expect a 4-star experience, but may be pleasantly surprised with the occasional 5-star treatment.
- Courtesan – A courtesan is someone who sets fees based on (often protracted) durations of time, makes a personal investment in tailoring an appointment to a client’s tastes, and brings a sophisticated level of refinement, artistry, and distinction to the highly polished exchange. All this often elevates the appointment to a life experience. Courtesans are often educated at the highest levels or have notable talents in various disciplines, and (in addition to physical beauty) often bring as many intellectual assets to the table as the clients themselves. These tend to be subtle relationships that last a very long time. Clients should expect a 5-star experience, but should be able to invest in providing one to the Courtesan in return.
- Erotic – If you are willing to give massages in the nude, be sure to know what your personal limits are. Explain these clearly in advance, and do not bend on your rules. Also note that many areas are very strict about operating a business without a permit/license in a facility that isn’t zoned for commerce. A masseur near Atlanta, GA in 2010 faced multiple fines for setting up his studio in his home, because the apartment didn’t have the proscribed exits and features required of commercial spaces. This then grew into a tangle of other legal complexities. Do your homework, make solid plans, network with other masseurs/therapists, and get certified.
- Sexual – These massages end with release. In addition to the concerns for erotic body work, you will also need to consider the points presented under the sections for sex workers.