Female performers have been a vital part of the adult entertainment industry for many years. It’s hard to imagine adult films without famous performers like Christy Canyon, Tera Patrick and the late Marilyn Chambers. But women’s participation in erotic entertainment isn’t limited to performing; the adult industry is full of women who hold executive or managerial positions, including Allison Vivas (president/CEO of Pink Visual and TopBucks.com), Kristin Wynters (Pink Visual’s vice president), Jill Taylor (VP of marketing for MetArt), Theresa Flynt (executive vice president of Hustler Hollywood), Reena Patel (head of international mobile for Playboy Enterprises), Adella Curry (owner of Fine Ass Marketing and former marketing director for Digital Playground), Chandie Foster (marketing manager for Rude.com) and Annaliese Nielsen (founder of the popular alt-porn membership site GodsGirls.com).
Wicked Pictures’ Joy King, who has been in the adult industry since the 1980s, was instrumental in the success of Jenna Jameson and continues to be quite active in the industry. And women who contribute to the industry’s vitality aren’t necessarily doing so at porn companies. Women are also directing sex toy companies - (Babeland.com founders Rachel Venning and Claire Cavanah), BDSM dungeons, erotic boutiques (Passional’s Kali Morgan in Philadelphia and The Baroness in New York City are highly regarded in the fetish clothing market) and adult dating sites (DatingFactory.com’s CEO/co-founder Tanya Fathers) as well as non-profit organizations (Diane C. Duke has been the Free Speech Coalition’s executive director since 2006, Susan Wright has been president of the BDSM-oriented National Coalition for Sexual Freedom since 1997).
No different from the mainstream industry, the adult industry offers a multitude of opportunity for intelligent, driven businesswomen, the idea that you can just point, shoot and sell adult content across various platforms successfully is now antiquated. -Jill Taylor
Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, a sociologist and visiting scholar at USC who has spent 11 years studying the adult industry and publishes the industry-oriented blog PVVOnline.com, observed: “During the past 10-15 years, the industry has fluctuated in size dramatically. During that time, regardless of the literal size of the business, the proportions of women-led adult industry spaces have increased steadily.”
Asked to cite examples of female execs who have been especially influential in the adult industry, Tibbals responded: “There are so many inspirational women working in the business at all levels, but if we’re talking entrepreneurial decisionmakers, I’m instantly ready with Theresa Flynt, Adella Curry, Allison Vivas and, of course, Joy King — a woman who has done more to destigmatize the adult business than just about anyone. Each of these women has taken different aspects of adult to new dimensions of ‘normal’ within the context of the wider social world. Though some individuals and aspects of our culture may still struggle with their regard of the sex industry, adult is present squarely in the most ‘regular’ of social spaces today — technologically, geographically, and in the most conventional of media. This is largely because of these amazing, innovative women.”
Some of the more anti-porn feminists have claimed that adult entertainment is inherently “patriarchal.” But Tibbals, who has little patience with that characterization of the industry, stressed: “This type of statement irritates me endlessly. Any industry, all industries — from law to academia to porn to everything in between — are both somewhat ‘patriarchal’ and also somewhat horizontal, ethical, and seated squarely in social justice. Most aspects of any business or industry, however, operate somewhere in between. The adult industry is no different.”
Adult companies have a long history of technological innovation, and according to Jill Taylor, the industry’s innovative spirit is one of the things that is attracting female entrepreneurs.
“No different from the mainstream industry, the adult industry offers a multitude of opportunity for intelligent, driven businesswomen,” Taylor asserted. “The idea that you can just point, shoot and sell adult content across various platforms successfully is now antiquated. Thriving adult companies rely on strong business models executed by talented team members. Programming, business development, marketing, trend watching, branding, strategic partnerships, billing, customer service, product development, content production and distribution, team leadership — these are just a few key areas where strong businesswomen have the opportunity to excel in the adult industry while contributing their own unique ideas and talents in an industry known for supporting, not stifling, thinking outside the box.”
Another area in which women contribute to the adult industry is with online billing. Successful women in the billing field include, among others, Melody L (COO of L3 Payments since 2009), Ruth Blair (sales manager for Paxum) and iProcessing founder Hilda Tuel. According to Lashmar, technology is encouraging female participation in the industry and will continue to do so. Melody L explained: “The adult industry has always been on the leading edge of utilizing technologies, and this is very appealing if you like to be a pioneer setting the standards of leveraging technology. The adult industry has many of the same career options as traditional business, including accounting, finance, information technology, client services — payment specialist, sales, marketing, distribution, law, etc. — and women can contribute to the industry by filling any one of those roles. However, I think what the women of this industry really need to do is help change the prevailing stigmas and be the rational voice to the outside world to provide the industry with the same opportunities as any other legitimate business.”
Many women who are running adult companies have never been performers, while others are performers who started their own companies. For example, altporn queen Joanna Angel has made her mark not only as a performer, but also, as a director and the owner of JoannaAngel.com.
And in the adult webcam sector, Las Vegas-based cam model Natalie Star has been both a performer and an entrepreneur — and she has used some of her earnings to invest in mainstream business ventures, including real estate investments.
“I originally started with TheWCMA.com answering phones and processing model applications,” Star recalled. “After a little while, I decided I wanted to learn the job from both sides of the camera. The rush was amazing, and I instantly became addicted. I then went on to start my own model recruitment company, NatalieStarEnt.com, under the guidance of Rob G., the owner of The WCMA. To date, I have signed up over 1500 models and still counting.”
Star continued: “Although it still tends to be a male-dominated field, more and more women are stepping up to the plate and hitting homers than ever before. Women today are capable of being more then a prop in a gangbang. With every woman that assumes her role as a leader, our options in this industry only continue to grow.”