By Jesse Shields
[Photos by The Hollywood Times]
Las Vegas, NV (The Hollywood Times) 1/29/18 – “Just because we are in the porn business, that does not mean we want to be man-handled by random people or even other actors. We have boundaries, at the end of the day, we are humans and it’s our job and we are just protecting our jobs.” Ruby Sinclaire told The Hollywood Times at the AVN show in Las Vegas.
One such performer interviewed was Ruby Sinclaire who is a Cam Model and Clip Maker. Ms. Sinclaire, a resident of Nebraska who had been in adult entertainment since June of 2016, told The Hollywood Times she had been “working dead-end jobs just to make a living” when she started her independent business eight months ago (April 2017).
A friend recommended Web Cam. She has now become successful enough to be self-supporting and has resigned her prior positions. Ms. Sinclaire likes the webcam/clip maker business because “you are your own Brand.” In her case Ms. Sinclaire “tried to show the best of my personality and assets”. Summarizing her experience Ms. Sinclaire said “It is amazing how much opportunity there is out there.” Her future goals include “getting a bigger following and branching into hardcore porn.”
Addressing the #me too issue, Ms. Sinclaire was aware of the Ron Jeremy controversy and stated “I think there was enough models that made a stink, that he actually was not able to come” and “ Its [Jeremy’s absence] made a lot of models feel safer.” With respect to the issue of a man being accused of and denying sexual misconduct, sometimes decades old, Ms. Sinclaire said “ if a woman says something, I am going to believe her.”
THT: I understand that you quit your jobs and are able to support yourself through you webcam business?
Ruby: “Between camming and snap chat, it’s amazing how many opportunities are really out there.”
LAS VEGAS JAN. 24-27, 2018
There was a large media attendance, including mainstream, because the actress who is said to have partied with Trump was in attendance. Also Ron Jeremy was not there and #me too was on the minds of many attendees, including those I talked to.
My focus was on finding new innovators and women who run and reap the profits from their own efforts and monetarize what has previously been free content.
The Independent Blogger/Content Providers
The exhibition hall included rows and rows of independent bloggers and other independent content providers. Many of these women, and one or two men, conducted live blogs [continuous streaming and talking to their followers] throughout the four days of the show. They not only talked to their audiences but also engaged in performance art.
However, the content of that art was somewhat restricted because Clark County and the City of Las Vegas prohibit the public display of nipples or areola and pubic areas. These restrictions were enforced by the extensive and ever present Hotel Security Force.
The enforcement created a bit of controversy, according to one performer, because hotel security was, in her view, laxer on the use of nipple covering tape by the stars than for the lesser known performers.
Independent Power – And $$$
The Hollywood Times interviewed the husband/wife team of Jay Phillips and Brandi Nikki, the founders of iwantEmpire.com (“Empire”). With every business with a product (in this case content) to sell, there is a production side where the product is honed to a fine edge by the development “team” (in this case the person who imagines and performs the content). After that, the marketing side kicks in to expose the product to potential customers.
All this is supported by a back-office team which helps the product flow to the customer while money flows back from the customer, ensures favorable experiences are shared with current and potential new customers and provides accounting and legal support. For example, Empire is helping artists comply with the strict new customer age verification laws in Great Britain. Mr. Phillips anticipates that such age verification for customers will soon spread to the rest of the world in much the same way that the strict world-wide verification standards for artists apply. He personally “wants to make sure that the content is not being accessed by minors.” The adult industry, according to Mr. Phillips, “should not involve minors in any way, shape or form”.
Phillips and Nikki, working closely together, have developed such a business model to enable content providers, acting independently, to reach wider audiences and vastly increase their earnings. The business model takes advantage of the “common misconception that there isn’t money in adults [adult content]”. Mr. Phillips and his wife realized “the greatest trick in adults ever played was the tube sites making us think content isn’t valuable, that artists aren’t artists, and that the consumer will not pay for a quality product”. Their company, operating under the iwantEmpire.com umbrella has exposed the tube “trick”. Pointing to blowups of mid-five figure checks, one over $60,000, mounted around the isle along the double booth, Mr. Phillips said “Why should artists accept $600, $700, or $900 for performing a scene or script while the producers enjoy a mai tai on beach somewhere when they can earn that kind of money on a monthly basis” through iwantEmpire.com. Mr. Phillips pointed out that his organization charges only 30% (industry standard, he said is 40%), allowing the person who actually develops the product to keep 70%.
In characterizing the Empire operation, Mr. Phillips acknowledged it was similar to when the mainstream film industry spawned United Artists. He agreed with the characterization that Empire acts as an aggregator which gathers the content and a facilitator to get the content on the web. Elaborating, Mr. Phillips said that Empire is “An Amazon or eBay for Adult [content] providers”. Empire, he said “is what happens when independent artists unite and take control of their future” i.e. the artists “Own your Content and Own Your Future.” On April 18, 2018, Empire wil be four years old and has over 300 artists under its umbrella. Mr. Phillips characterized the mostly female artists as “entrepreneurs who have made me into an entrepreneur.” Modestly, he gives the artists full credit, saying “I haven’t done a g*d d***ed thing for them. They’ve done everything for me.”
The success of Empire and other operations concentrating on independent content providers was widely visible at the AVN show. There appears to be a new day developing where the people who make the content can be compensated for their own work and Brand rather than simply getting small one time payments for performances or giving content away for free.
The Male in the #me too World
One of the male stars in the adult world is Rocco Siffrebi. A female AVN attendee waiting in line to meet him described him as “The Tom Cruz of the porn film industry.” He was promoting a product called SATISFYERMEN. The Hollywood Times interviewed him about the effect of the #me too movement on men in the industry. Asked to address the situation where a woman makes an allegation of sexual misconduct against a man, often about events long passed, he first stated “It [the movement] is good for the protection of the woman, after all. That is my opinion.” “However, when people in Hollywood accept a statement as coming from a victim as opposed to someone who received something back at the time, this can make big problems.” He again stated “it is good that the woman step up and that’s for protection more and more. But we must be careful about this.” When asked “How would you protect yourself if some 10 year old allegation came up that you did not believe or deny.” He responded “Today. The way it is today I am f****d. Completely f****d. …. Because the word belongs to the woman today”.
Adult Video News (also called AVN or AVN Magazine) is an American trade journal that covers the adult video industry. The New York Times notes that AVN is to pornographic films what Billboard is to records. AVN sponsors an annual convention, called the Adult Entertainment Expo or AEE, in Las Vegas, Nevada along with an award show for the adult industry modeled after the Oscars.
AVN rates adult films and tracks news developments in the industry. An AVN issue can feature over 500 movie reviews. The magazine is about 80% ads and is targeted at adult-video retailers. Author David Foster Wallace has described AVN articles to be more like infomercials than articles, but he also described the AVN magazine as “sort of the Variety of the US porn industry.” (Wikipedia)