Shemale Niche Gains Popularity
What's behind this startling change?
"The Internet really has made the whole thing more popular in the last few years," says Steven Gallon, owner of Grooby Productions.
Gallon should know what he's talking about. He pioneered one of the first shemale content sites eleven years ago. When he started, it was just him and his computer. Now his Hawaii-based office employs seven full-time workers, and 25 people worldwide.
"It's much more popular now than when we started," Gallon says of the shemale content online. "All the big cash programs are throwing a few shemale sites on their collection. I don't really care for them, because most of them don't know how to promote the shemale genre. But I would say that shemales have become a big niche."
"I don't know if I'm surprised by its popularity. I've talked to a lot of people about the subject, showing them photos and videos, and they're usually taken with it," Gallon added. "You're seeing it a lot in mainstream advertising and on TV shows now. That and the Internet have made it all right for shemales to be out there on display."
One of the biggest head-scratchers in this story is that the majority of customers for this niche are straight men. The shemale niche has practically no response in the gay market. Gallon thinks he knows why.
"The shemale niche doesn't fit into the gay market at all," he says. "I don't even bother to promote it to the gay market, because it would be a waste of money. Gays don't like transsexuals. There's no crossover to gays at all. Gay guys want to see guys. There may be a market for effeminate looking guys in the gay arena, but not for a chick with a dick. A lot of our members are cock crazy, but they couldn't look at a guy with a huge cock. It has to be a girl."
So why are straight men turning to the shemale niche? Gallon thinks he has the answer to that, too.
"The argument has been going on for years," he says. "Are the guys who like shemales straight or gay? My answer is that it doesn't matter. If you're into it, you're into it. There's no proper name for it. If we sent out a questionnaire to our members asking them whether they're straight or gay, most of them would come back with, 'Straight with a twist.'"
"Most of my members are straight. Many of them are probably married, or in a relationship with a woman, and this is a fetish on the side," Gallon said. "Not mentioning any names, but some of my customers are movie stars, rock stars, and sports figures. These are meant to be heterosexual role models."
"Some of it crosses over into the anal niche. That's the only way transsexuals can copulate. Another crossover is the strap-on dildo websites. Over the last few years, countless websites have opened that feature women with strap-on dildos having sex with men," Gallon told XBIZ. "That's only a small step away from seeing a shemale having sex with a man."
"The straight audience has seen a lot of stuff, and I think they're just looking for something a bit kinkier and different. A lot of them get turned on to it, and stay with it. Most of the straight audience considers it just a fantasy. They're not generally looking for a live experience. They don't want to be caught with a transsexual, so it's just a fantasy — almost like forbidden fruit. They can look, but they can't touch," Gallon said.
Gallon believes the dramatic increase in shemale content online is also driven by the way it's presented and promoted. He feels that his many years of experience in the genre is the reason why Grooby Productions is a leader in the field.
"You have to know the subject," he stresses. "You don't have to be into it, but you need to know it. You can't just open a shemale site without knowing who your members are and what they want. You need to know the correct terminology, as well as the correct way to present the photos and videos."
"A lot of new sites will sell Asian transsexuals as shemales, but Asian transsexuals are really in the ladyboy niche. The same thing goes for the Brazilian ladyboys. There's actually very little crossover there," Gallon said. "The newer sites get the terminology wrong, and they lump everything together. They include cross dressers, which is a completely different genre. They toss in bisexual content, and the bisexual market is very specific. It has nothing to do with shemales. People who are interested in transsexuals don't want to see a he turned into a she. They just want the finished product. So the new sites don't seem to know the market, or the preferences of the guys who are into shemales."
"You have to be aware that there are sub-niches in the shemale genre, certain fetishes that this audience wants. It's just the same as any other niche in that way," Gallon offered. "We're probably the only site that offers BBW transsexuals, for instance. Recently we debuted Native American transsexuals. And a lot of people demand black transsexuals."
Of the 12 sites that Grooby Productions currently hosts, the black shemales outlet, Black TGirls, enjoys a "massive following, with extremely long membership," according to Gallon. Each of the 12 sites is unique and exclusive, with no shared content. Grooby also offers a certain look that other sites may not have.
"We shoot in different locations," Gallon explains. "We have people shooting for us in Brazil and Thailand. Our bigger sites are shot in America, and we hit all the states. We get content in Canada and Europe, as well. We tend to show not only the most popular models, but we offer a lot of the grassroots models — new girls just coming out. We go into the clubs and talk to the models about working with us. The models are really what drive our websites."
Finding models is easy today, but that's not the way it used to be, according to Gallon.
"It used to be next to impossible," he says. "It used to be brutal. When I first started in this niche, I couldn't find black transsexuals. Now we're overloaded. I get emails every day from models who want to work with us. I have to turn a lot of them down."
"The Internet is responsible for all of this," Gallon concluded. "It's been quite a phenomenal change."