trends

The New Amateurs

Stephen Yagielowicz
Many adult operators are looking at today's digital landscape in hopes of seeing glimmering specks of profitable opportunity for the year to come and beyond. While the promise of riches from the mobile market is still dangling before the eyes of many, and making most of the adult industry news headlines, a traditional market segment is not-so-quietly poised for resurgence — and the telltale signs of its growing energy are becoming more commonplace.

It's hard to separate the birth of the online adult entertainment industry from the swingers and exhibitionists who would photograph and videotape their sexual frolicking and use a growing variety of distribution channels from mailing Polaroid's and VHS tapes to spreading their homemade porn using some of the first electronic bulletin board systems (BBS), and then later, the Internet. When webcams came on the scene, bringing "the girl next door" into the viewer's living room, live and willing to obey all commands — for a fee — a modern cultural phenomenon was born.

Soon, the mainstream media took notice of how exhibitionists were raking in the dough on the web; and following a series of expose's, news stories and HBO specials, a virtual tsunami of naturally naughty girls stood up and shouted "I can do that too!" Suddenly, everybody wanted to be "a porn star," even if only for the night, as the success of the Girls Gone Wild franchise can attest to — and consumers just could not get enough of it all.

Popular cam girls were able to leverage their live appearances to drive countless new members to their own paysites — where the power of recurring billing dramatically boosted the bank accounts of those who put in the time and energy to satisfy their customers. This high level of interaction with their members fosters the perception of a blossoming relationship that the customer will pay for repeatedly — and the best of these performers retained members for years, not months — unlike most adult sites.

Everything was humming along nicely, despite the growing competition from the increasing number of new amateur adult website operators — a number dwarfed by the overall continued increase in the general Internet surfing population. Then, the affiliate program operators took notice and decided to join the parade by launching their own networks of "amateur websites."

These "corporate amateur" websites are distant from the traditional "boyfriend/photographer and girlfriend/model" reality of the true amateur adult site. Considered "amateur" by their own promoters because the sites featured "average looking girls," these sites usually offered live cam shows and blog entries to capitalize on the connection that is at the heart of the amateur adult "girlfriend experience," but without a true ownership stake, it is hard for a model to remain motivated. The higher production values these sites often exhibited, along with the typically discounted "network access pass" programs that developed around these related properties, made them popular with many consumers.

The professional nature of these so-called amateur sites did not fool true aficionados, however, and a smaller but still loyal following of fans continued to pursue the real amateurs — the girls who liked to cum on camera — not because it was their job, but because it was something they loved to do at home. Years later, many of these sites still prosper, despite being weakened by the same forces affecting the rest of the adult industry — such as piracy, shifting consumer preference and the overall economy.

Enter the new year and a new crop of "amateurs" out to make a buck.

Perhaps it is because of the economy, but there seems to be a growing uptick in the number of gals (and guys) trying to break into the industry at this level. While the economy is also curtailing consumers' discretionary spending, thus in turn, making it harder to make a buck, some of these new performers are bringing in fresh ideas and approaches, along with their fresh faces. This resurgence is not limited to new faces either, as a growing number of veteran performers and experienced amateurs are going back into the business after being on hiatus.

Also fueling the growth in this area is an increasing number of hybrid sites, which seek to leverage the participation of performers to provide the personalized interactivity that customers demand, with the predictable consistency of the network access sites. For example, sites like LifestyleAmateurs.com and DirtyLittleMe.com seek to give models more control in hopes of eliciting better quality content.

Of course, with this growth and diversification of product and presentation, more confusion over what is and what is not "amateur porn" is bound to enter into the marketplace.

Take new production company Kingpin Entertainment for example, which is intent on recruiting real-life amateur couples for its productions — but will use a porn star to host the video and coach couples on how to perform for the camera.

"Our definition of amateurs is the people who actually watch our videos," Kingpin Entertainment's Jason Park said. "I'm an amateur; you're an amateur; anyone who doesn't have sex on camera for a living is an amateur."

Connoisseurs of homemade erotica will no doubt define the term differently — and this loyal fan base is the most profitable for an operator to court. The problem is that unless you want to be the one taking off your clothes and getting in on the action, camera in hand — or pointed at you — then you are just another producer working with models, or just another model hoping to become a porn star.

But for the real girl next door, the uninhibited performer out to at least cover her next rent or car payment by doing something publicly that she would otherwise do privately, a world of opportunity awaits, driven primarily by the advances in technology that make profitably producing your own porn easier than ever.

Leading the pack in this arena is the abundant amount of quality content that can easily be created and published with nothing more than an iPhone and a free copy of the popular WordPress software. For performers just starting out and not wanting to bother with their own website, a clips store or other distribution outlet might make more sense, even if it limits overall profitability.

Regardless of how it is produced or marketed, today's tech-savvy, Smartphone carrying cuties are working to revitalize their incomes by playing at porn — and influencing our ever-evolving industry in the process.

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