What was life even like before porn?!
Every one of us enters the porn world as individuals on a unique path. Most of us know that no two porn sets are alike. Each production set comes with its own particular assortment of hang-ups, perks and benefits. How does one prepare themselves for all the different challenges that could arise on so many varying sets?
As independent contractors, we have the awesome privilege of essentially being our own boss. We are in charge of our own businesses — ourselves!
Many of us dabbled in other worlds or industries before stepping into the sexiness of the porn biz. Others among us, that were decidedly more bold, dove right in. Having spent time on both sides of the porn looking glass, I started to wonder, what practical business techniques from previous employment were some porn peeps missing out on?
Believe it or not, there are concepts and practices that can be drawn from the experiences of other industries which can be applied to enhance on-set porn experiences, not just for performers, but for producers as well.
In one of my many careers before porn, I worked as a retail merchandiser. I was an independent contractor, much like the majority of performers in porn. My responsibilities were to show up to different department stores throughout the week to fix and arrange a particular brand’s displays according to their pre-planned map or directive called a “Plan-o-Gram.”
Plan-o-Grams were imperative in informing a merchandiser what was expected of them when the job was complete. When looking at said Plan-o-Grams, I would assess the situation as to what I would need to bring to work at that particular department store that day to ensure I would be able to complete the job at hand. If I needed a hammer or extra price stickers for a certain brand’s Plan-o-Gram, I sometimes had to provide for those things on my own — it was merely a matter of anticipating my work needs. I was always able to put my best foot forward regardless of the lack of clarity or supplies provided by either an incomplete Plan-o-Gram or an understocked department store. Being the independent contractor that I was, I ensured I’d be able to get the job done according to any plan — or in that case, according to any Plan-o-Gram!
Now, apply the same concept to porn: a brand or a producer sends out a (hopefully) detailed Plan-o-Gram, typically in the form of a call sheet to the performer. Then, the performer, who is an independent contractor, can determine what additional tools and supplies they’ll need to complete what is being asked of them on the call sheet. Just as all department stores and porn sets are different, it is up to the independent contractor to provide for themselves what they think or know they’ll need to complete the job.
As independent contractors, we have the awesome privilege of essentially being our own boss. We are in charge of our own businesses — ourselves! We can create our own schedules, call our own shots, choose what work to do or not to do and with who and how we do it. But we also need the proper tools to make the scene happen. In most cases we can count on an agent, director or producer to communicate to us the tools we will need to succeed on set, but it sometimes takes more. Sometimes we succeed even better by relying on our own preparation and research about a potential booking. We control our own image and destiny in this biz regardless of representation. It’s in our best interest to always keep in mind our own independence.
So if a performer knows they will need extra time, guidance, breaks, snacks, special wipes, lube, lotions or potions to get themselves to their optimum performance level, they are responsible for communicating that to others on set that they’ll interact with. There’s a lot of givens in traditional porn shoots, for instance, like the camera will always be provided. What is harder to account for are all the grey areas. In an effort to eliminate as much grey area as possible, please, by all means, either speak up to your agent, producer or director about your needs and comfort levels and if they cannot or will not provide those accommodations for you, then be the independent contractor that you truly are and provide them for yourself, or decline the job. It’s that simple.
On the flip side, many producers can do a great deal more to better communicate the scene details to performers in potential bookings as that would eliminate so much room for misunderstandings — especially with the last minute bookings! The misunderstandings during the booking stages of porn production are often what have led to the difficult-to-navigate moments of consent violation or coercion on-set — both situations we as an industry definitely want to avoid. So something like a very detailed Plan-o-Gram or call sheet may be in order for those porn companies wishing to eliminate those blurred lines on their sets.
As performers, there are so many challenges we face, yet so many rewards we do indeed get to reap. One very unique challenge many of us face is that of our own independence, whether we are agency-represented or not. One may feel it is the duty of the location or production company to provide for them the additional tools needed to fill a role, and those companies may also feel that they provide ample tools for performers to succeed. It’s all a matter of one’s own unique perspective. But the fact of the matter is, in this world, we’re in charge of ourselves. And we are more independent than we think.