Andrew S., the owner of HushMoney and Hush-Hush Entertainment, was a struggling actor just a few years ago. He had done some theater in his native Chicago before moving to Los Angeles, where he landed a few acting gigs in commercials. It was hardly what you'd call making a living.
"I was 36 years old, and I was so broke that I had no money for food," Andrew said. "There was a liquor store down the street, and the owner would let me grab some of the limited groceries on credit. I'd pay him back whenever I got a residual check. That's the only thing that kept me going. I was house-sitting for a buddy, living rent-free in a little studio apartment next to his garage, taking care of his dogs while he was overseas."
Desperate for income, Andrew built a small videotape- editing bay in his tiny quarters, hoping to pick up producer clients. One of them, the owner of TopBucks, asked Andrew if he had ever shot or directed videos.
That's where the fib comes in. "I bullshitted him to get into the business," he said. "He was looking for someone to shoot a hardcore movie for this new site called Gang Bang Squad, and I told him, 'Oh, yeah, I've been shooting forever,' and I hadn't shot a thing. He sent me the money, I shot it, and he loved it. After that, I basically built a business around his product. Within a year, I was shooting 13 of his sites. I started training directors and hired editors, and soon I had this big company that was shooting TopBucks content."
In a couple of weeks, Andrew went from starving actor to driving a Jaguar, but he had bigger aspirations. After two years, actor Shane Diesel approached him with an idea to start a "daughter site," which became Hush- Hush Entertainment. It was an instant success, and Andrew became so busy shooting his own product that he no longer had time for TopBucks.
"That was exactly two years ago," Andrew said. "And after a lot of hard work, seven-day weeks and some luck, Hush-Hush is where it is now."
And where Hush-Hush is now, is on a perch as one of the industry's most successful hardcore producers, with a re-branded affiliate program, HushMoney.com, which debuted Jan. 29. Formerly called HoDough.com, HushMoney has increased product sales dramatically.
"We changed everything at the same time, and it was an incredible task," Andrew said. "We moved all of our servers to a better server company. We changed all the sites and added new sites. We changed the name, because we're looking for more branding.
"You get a little nervous when you transfer over your entire web existence because everything is at risk. But we're now doing about 25 percent more business than we were before the switchover. Obviously, the webmasters are very happy."
As it was with HoDough, HushMoney has webmasters doing nearly all the selling of product online. A tracking code tells HushMoney which webmaster sent business, and that webmaster is paid — up to $35 on pay-per-sale, or 50 percent from that sale and all future rebills on a revshare basis. HushMoney also offers 10 percent on all webmaster referrals.
But the added incentives to webmasters aren't the only changes in the new HushMoney format.
"We used to work with NATS [the third-party backend tracking software], and it's a great product," Andrew said. "But we felt it had a lot of limitations. We thought it was time for us to offer the webmasters a lot more in terms of tools and also to be able to make quick fixes when something was wrong. We didn't want to wait for a ticket system. We wanted to be able to fix it right there and then. We wanted the source code, so we decided to build it from scratch. We spent about nine months building the backend."
The new setup allows HushMoney to build its own content-management system. According to Andrew, now his company can open a site in just two weeks after the idea pops into his head. And since his company has its own shooting crew and in-house studios, Andrew has been able to add five new exclusive content sites that feature Hush- Hush and Freaky Deaky Entertainment product, bringing the current total to 17. In mid-June, two new sites, MilfInvader.com and MuffBumpers.com, were set to be added, and according to Andrew, HushMoney will have a total of 50 exclusive sites by the end of the year.
"The main advantage is that the new system allows us to grow rapidly," he said. "And it offers a lot more content and more sites, while keeping down the saturation. Plus, every time we think of a better way for the webmasters to sell our product, we can build that into our module pretty quickly. It just affords us a lot more flexibility."
The new system is much friendlier to the billing companies, too, compared with the first site that appeared on HoDough. It was called MyDaughtersFuckingANigga.com. Visa initially approved it but, according to Andrew, demanded a name change two weeks later. Andrew cooperated, renaming the site MyDaughtersFuckingABlack Dude.com.
"It really took off, so changing the name didn't matter," he said. "It was just this behemoth right from the start. We realized that we needed an affiliate program, so we looked around and all the good names were taken. We finally found HoDough and thought we'd start with that. After about a year of opening new sites, we were getting rather large and realized it was time to make a branding statement. We paid a lot of money for the name HushMoney, which was a domain name that was already owned."
The content on the sites is beginning to diversify as well, although the Hush-Hush signature production of interracial sex continues on. Hush-Hush began shooting scenes just for the Internet, then branched out by selling those scenes on DVD, which became big sellers, according to Andrew.
"The content developed a life of its own," he said, "so now we're shooting DVDs and then opening a website. The stuff on the Internet and DVD sells hugely, and I think it's due to our irreverent style of shooting. We pride ourselves on the content. We like to make fun of racism, and people get that. It's clear that we're making fun of racism because of what the performers say in the DVDs, and so everyone is sort of in on the joke."
And now Andrew can appreciate the success of HushMoney and his production companies as one of life's wonderful jokes — that all of this started with a little white lie.