How Do I Get Started as a Performer in Indie Porn/Queer Porn?

diong-it-again-jiz-kimberly-bts 001We get this question almost every day! It excites us that so many new people are interested in adding to the community of indie porn, queer porn, and/or alt porn! It’s high time for a resource for those who are trying to get their foot in the door. This How-To will be mainly for performers, we will make one for producers soon.

This article will tackle goals, timing, applications, side work, social networking, and affiliate money.

(I will add to this as I can get more resources for folks. – Courtney Trouble)

The Biggest Assumption: Indie Porn can be a full time job.   For maybe two or three of us, this is true – but for a majority of the folks making or performing in indie porn, this is a hobby. It still pays, but most performers get 2 or 3 gigs a year – and those are the ones who are in a producer’s local area or can travel a lot. There’s a lot of privilege in that. in fact, indie porn is a pretty privileged thing, we acknowledge that. A few producers travel (mainly to places that can bring them there for college gigs, conventions, or paid gigs) and that can be really awesome when the director comes to you – but I feel like *the* most important thing to preface in an indie porn How To is to say, you will NOT make a living off of this. At least, not for the first five years. If you’re able to include indie porn in a full campaign to start a porn career, it can be a great treat to do in between more mainstream style shoots or other kinds of sex work, but there’s just not yet enough work for everyone to be doing monthly shoots.

Pre Game: What For? Why Do This?  Porn is forever, blah blah blah. I don’t want to sound like your parent, but when you get paid to do something in front of a camera – that’s it, you’re out there. You will get paid or compensated somehow for making that video, but while that money may last you a day, a week, a month – that video lasts forever. Be SURE that you are OK with that. Many occupations, like teachers, therapists, lawyers, American Idol contestants, and presidents cannot have pornographic relations in their Google-able (or even private) lives. If you think you will be proud of your work and benefit from making porn (which is very easy to do!) then move forward. WITH GOALS. Maybe write down a few reasons why you want to make porn, and set some milestones for yourself. Want to get on a DVD cover? Want to have 10,000 twitter followers? Want to pay for a vacation or put a little money in your health care fund or student loans? AWESOME. Write those down.  Want to change the world, create visibility for your body type or sexual orientation? Is porn part of your activism or your self care? Want to start your own free porn site for broke ass queers who need positive sexual imagery? WONDERFUL. Write it down.   P.S. “FOR THE FUCKING FUN OF IT” is a perfectly acceptable goal! But it will be endlessly helpful to you to start out by knowing what you want. It will help inform your future decisions.

Starting Out as a Performer: Outreach The absolute best thing you can do to start a porn career is to put yourself out there wherever you can. Get as many photo sets taken of you as possible, have a presence on social media (twitter and tumblr are the most adult-friendly options, FetLife is good for kinky models, and if you are really really careful about what kinds of photos and links you share – Facebook can be great for networking and staying in touch. Make usernames under your porn name (porn name pop quiz: make sure you have a last name, don’t copy anyone, and make it easy to spell.) ModelMayhem is a good place to be, as so are porn forums like XBiz.Net or GFY.Com)  Your online presence is worth more than your most important shoots. Your interactions with your fans will get you more money and attention than any paid gig you’ll ever get.

Start Making Some Change, Cash That Is: Supplementing your shoots will be essential to your indie porn experience. Becoming an affiliate of the sites you want to be on will help you establish a business connection with those companies – and sending your fans to their sites will make a serious statement that you would be a great addition to their projects. Most porn sites have affiliate programs, here’s a list of ours: TROUBLEfilms Affiliates BONUS: Most sites have higher percentages for models and performers, so once you get that gig, you can continue to monetize that scene by promoting it to your fans! TROUBLEfilms offers it’s performers 40% commission on affiliate traffic. Affiliate change can add up to a decent chunk of cash every month, so utilize these tools heavily. (If a porn star fucks in the woods and doesn’t tweet about it…. did it really happen?)

IMG_4170_smMake Some Teasers, Make Some Fans. Sign up for a QueerPornTube.Com account and upload a little video of yourself. Start a Tumblr and update with photos of yourself looking cute, being pornographic every couple of days (make sure to tag your tumblr posts with #queer porn, #indie porn, et cetera to attract new followers!) Let people see what you’re about. Good fans will follow you everywhere, so make sure you’ve got free and accessible content out there to introduce yourself to the universe. (and producers!)

Developing Your Shoots: Apply, Apply, Apply! Once you’ve got some great pics up and your social media going, apply to every site you want to work for. Don’t worry about if they have people like you on their site, apply to anything you think will be fun. Most sites have performer applications (Quick List: TROUBLEfilms application for IndiePornRevolution.Com and QueerPorn.TV and Courtney Trouble projects, FTMFucker.Com, Handbakset Productions/DoingItOnline.Com, CrashpadSeries.com, Cherry Stems, Fruit Punch, Beautiful Agony, IShotMyself…) A LOT of companies don’t have applications – to get in touch with them, use your awesome social media skills from step one to find the companies your admire on Twitter and ask for the booking email. It also doesn’t hurt to get acquainted with directors you admire and other performers you would want to work with – getting requested as a co-star is another way to get work. Also check out Pink & White’s newsletter of opportunities for porn performers.

Want some insider scoop from me? I would highly advise that you do not overdue it with follow-up e-mails or social media directly with casting folks or directors. Stay on their radar, but do NOT overwhelm them with online interaction.  This will work against your favor. Only apply every 4-6 months, only send follow up emails every 2 months or so.

Tips for Indie Porn Applications Part One, Being Genuine: Be Yourself, blah blah blah! No really though, showing a bit of your unique personality and interests, and presenting an authentic version of yourself is so incredibly helpful to the producers. Be ready to list what kind of sexual activities you’re interested in doing on camera, and have a “no list” ready too.

Tips for Indie Porn Applications Part Two, Being Brief: Show your creativity and ideas in your application, but be brief. If you’ve got a big plan for a scene – give a quick 50 word synopsis. Producers will not read a 3 page erotic story attached to your first application.

Tips for Indie Porn Applications Part Three, Being Open: Have a general (and specific) idea of who you want to work with – if you’ve got a list of 5 or so established performers in mind, let us know! It’s SO helpful and you are far more likely to get a gig quickly if you can give the producer a list of people they could easily cast you with. DO NOT only list the top five most popular porn stars you know. You will probably, most likely, generally, maybe 70% of the time, be cast with someone with similar experience as you. Also, be open to working with all kinds of people. The most successful people in this industry have been the ones who are able to do the widest variety of scenes. Additionally your openness to working with people of all genders, sizes, races, levels of ability – means more opportunities for you. If you have a friend, lover, partner already in mind and you want to submit applications as a couple – that’s a major bonus! Include photos of the two of you together in your application, and have your partner fill out an application as well.

applicaiotnphotographicPhotos: Do not use web cam pics. Do not use blurry phone pics. Do not edit your pics. No filters. No Photoshop. No additional people in the photo. Provide clear, in focus, hi resolution, well lit photos of yourself in a base, this-is-how-i-normally-look mode. If you normally wear makeup, wear your usual makeup for your pics. Refrain from to much costuming. Show us your whole face. Get naked, at least for one of them. Smile. Make Your O Face. Whatever you do, the resolution, focus, and clarity of your photos ARE the most important thing. Most photographers and directors want to see what you look like at your most natural.

Hurry Up and Wait: Most Indie Porn companies are TINY, we mean TINY. IndiePornRevolution.Com shoots once or twice a month, tops – and we are one of the bigger sites. A LOT of people are applying for the sites you’re interested in working for. This is the reality of the biz, is that there will be rejection, there will be delays in getting your shoot planned and published, so work your intermission activities into your goals. It’s important to keep going while waiting for companies to get back to you.

Pro Tip: If you are intending to travel to work with a company, or if you are hoping to squeeze a shoot in on an already planned trip, it’s important for you to try to give the casting folks at LEAST 2-3 months notice. One of the biggest mistakes people make is sending an e-mail off on their way out the door. It’s likely that whatever indie company you’re hoping to work for is booked 2, 3, 4, 5, even 6 months out.

Intermission: Waiting For Your Porn Life to Start. I cannot express this enough: Your big shoots with the indie porn companies is not what will put you on top of your indie porn game.  What you do in between these paid shoots is what will make or break your progression. Set some goals for yourself – what can you do while you’re waiting to shoot to help reach your porn goals? Go back to the list you wrote when you started your pre-game. What can you do NOW to help you reach some of those goals? If your goals are more activist-minded and less financially-based, are there unpaid gigs or DIY creative outlets you could start in between paid gigs to help get to your goals? For your financial goals, consider starting up with a camming company to make money from your fans while you wait for shoots to be offered to you.

The Big Not-So-Secret Shortcut: Making your OWN porn will be endlessly more rewarding for you financially and emotionally. Don’t wait for someone to hire you – hire yourself!  If you’ve done your work with social media and networking, chances are you’ve met some other performers who run their own channels on Clips4Sale.Com, Clips.Com, Customs4U.Com, MakeLoveNotPorn.Com, et cetera. Maybe you’ve met some folks who cam for SkinVideo, Chaturbate, Streammate, or KinkLive. Maybe you already know how to make a WordPress website and have a camera lying around. These aspects of DIY porn are becoming increasingly more important as porn consumers and fans are going straight to their favorite performers to look for material. Reward them and make money directly from your customers. BONUS: this kind of behavior will make you more appealing to larger companies you may want to work for down the line. You have a following, you have paying customers, you know how to promote your work, you’re present and professional, and your images and clips are showing up in our feeds… We will remember you.

HAVE FUN: Remember those goals you wrote down? I want you to add one more to the list. HAVE FUN. Modeling and performing can be endlessly rewarding when you go it to it with the right frame of mind. If you find yourself overwhelmed by self-doubt or insecurities, take a break and regroup. Keep working towards your porn goals, put yourself out there, make friends, make art, make a difference, change the fucking world with your fierceness, start your own production company… and have some fucking fun.

MUST SEE TV: This video was produced by actual porn stars and has valuable information about the logistics of working in mainstream porn including mainstream pay structure, consent, and an incredible segment on STIs – which can be common in porn.

 

This resource is under construction. if you have follow up questions or advice to add, please use the comments field below and we will work it in.

 

Written by Courtney Trouble
Indie Performer and producer since 2002

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