Some of the biggest names in the game have been online since the mid-1990s. They may or may not produce their own content, but they have their own unique style and have carved their markets through persistence and passion.
The differences in who they shoot and the way they shoot or market content prove that the term "amateur" is a broad definition for a niche that can be broken down into many different parts.
One way to define amateur content is by the look of the model. An amateur may appear like the girl next door or someone you would see hanging out at the shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon, wearing unassuming clothes like jeans and a T-shirt. Amateur may be partially defined by age. It's easy to believe a 20-year-old may have little professional adult experience compared with someone who is 30 or 40.
Amateurs can be clearly defined by work experience. If they haven't been photographed before, they are new, despite how they appear on camera – but the look of the content can also define it. People working with substandard equipment or skills are considered amateur, too, and there are professional photographers who adjust their technique with the intention of capturing qualities of this popular genre.
Some even define amateur by the size of the shooting company. If you only have a few people working in your company, you would be considered an amateur next to a company with a staff of 50. The variations of what amateur means are in their own ways correct and emblematic of the constantly evolving adult market.
On Homegrown Video
One of the oldest amateur adult entertainment companies is Homegrown Video. They have been around since 1982, taking tapes sent in from enthusiasts and turning them into features you can pick up at your local adult video store.
Farrell Timlake, who owns Homegrown, borrowed money from his mother to buy the company from its previous owners in 1993. They were distributing amateur content through BBS sites at that time, but their online push began in earnest around the end of 1995. Homegrown, for Timlake and his team, is more than just a company name, it's a way of life.
"Amateur is mom and pop [on a] Saturday night with sixpack," Timlake said. "The cat jumps on the bed. It's very raw and not produced to be anything but a fun testament of what they did that evening."
Timlake says that the days where videos like that were the mainstay are long gone. Most of the content Homegrown receives now is from amateur producers – people operating with the idea of selling their "homemade" tapes.
"The spirit of amateur has become more polished," Timlake said. "It's taken out some of the spontaneity that true amateur embodies."
In part two, we'll look at Karups, FTV Cash and finding loyal customers.