I recently received a question about adult performers and social media. In a nutshell:
“When I look at most models, actresses, and singers in mainstream, I find that I know very little about the person. Many A-listers don’t have an account on Twitter or Facebook, and if they do it’s usually maintained by an assistant or a PR firm simply telling you where to find them next (movie, CD, magazine cover, etc).
But when I look into the adult industry, it’s a completely different story – they’re ALL on social media. Many award-winning XXX actresses take the time to tweet and interact with fans every single day. In many cases, they have just as many (or more!!) followers as mainstream actresses do and they certainly have more than their fair share of trolls and haters to sift through… but they all seem to take the time to go the extra mile for fans and followers.
So, when it comes to social media and interacting with their fans, are adult actresses ahead of the curve? Are these ladies being more intimate with their fan base simply because what they do on camera is more intimate to begin with? Or do they simply know something that the mainstream actresses don’t?”
I had (have) some speculations as to why we see this dynamic between mainstream actresses and women adult performers, but I figured why not ask the people who actually know… so I did!!
I posed the above quoted statement and questions verbatim to several folks; and, in almost proving the underlying point, I got back quite a few insightful responses… so many in fact that we’re gonna have to do this in a couple installments!!
Today, enjoy insights from Kelly Shibari, Chanel Preston… and me!!
“Most, if not all, A-list mainstream performers have a team that handles their public relations, but a lot of the cult-following performers do their share of social media on their own, as well as some A-list actors who just like it. Comedians, for instance, as well as sports figures and reality show ‘stars’ all seem to do their own branding campaigns. Porn performers fall into that category as well – a lot of it might be that we’re more social due to the sheer number of in-person opportunities the public actually has to interact with us – conventions and strip clubs, for instance. Most A-list celebrities in mainstream don’t do public things unless it’s pre-planned by their team (and they’re paid, haha).
A-list mainstream performers also have the added bonus of production companies, who spend additional funds on international press junkets and the like to push a film, so everything is part of a PR “machine.’ We don’t have that in porn, except for larger adult companies that hire performers to appear at their booths during conventions. Most porn companies don’t spend money to have their performers do interviews, much less international press junkets! Most adult performers, A-list or otherwise, negotiate their own publicity, and those that are successful are that way because they’ve created their own ‘machine’ either by hiring a publicist or street team on their own, or networking on their own. It’s all out of pocket.
‘Award-winning’ means something else entirely in the adult industry, where we’re not making millions per picture. I think that if we were paid $10 million per film, we might have a PR team instead of doing it ourselves. If porn companies were more widely received and made millions per film, they might spend the money to promote performers with each film they released – but with companies generally making less and less these days and producing a film per month (or more), that just gets tedious too. It’s not like they make one giant multimillion dollar film that takes years to make.
Lastly, porn performers aren’t usually in the business for decades like some A-list mainstream celebrities are. The average career-lifespan of a porn performer is about 2 years, so there’s no push for companies to really cultivate performers for the long-term. The money on the production company’s side, as a result, is spent pushing the film and not the performer. So it’s imperative, if a performer wants to stick around, to do their own PR – and that includes interacting with fans a whole lot more to keep their appeal going.
So are adult actresses necessarily ‘ahead of the curve’? Not really. I think it’s more financially-based than anything. In some instances, there are recurring complaints that because fans feel ‘closer’ to the adult performer, that it has affected sales (‘Why should I buy your product? We’re such good friends!’ or ‘Can we hang out? We’re SUCH good friends online… I have to pay you? Why???’). In some instances, the social media has helped sales as well as broaden networks. It’s all in how it’s done, of course.
But in general, the result is that fans are happier, so that’s a good thing, right? ;) ”
Follow Kelly on Twitter at @KellyShibari.
PVV Back Stories interview with Kelly here.
“There are many reasons for the difference in social media presence between mainstream and adult actors. One reason is who is being targeted in order to be successful. Generally, as a mainstream actor, you try to gain the attention of those behind the scenes who are responsible for casting. I think it’s more beneficial for a mainstream actor to be recognized by a producer than a fan, so the motives from the beginning are not geared towards the fans.
Adult actors however don’t target the behind the scenes people as it’s a very small industry and most people already know who all the actors are. It’s up to us to expand our audience and the simplest way of doing this is through social media.
The difference in the relationship that adult actors have with their fans is also completely different. As a mainstream actor you play many characters, and that’s what people are interested in seeing. They’re interested in seeing the roles. There is an understanding that they could be a completely different person off screen and even if you idealize them you don’t, generally, feel as if you know them. As a successful adult actor you actually will develop one specific character over time, and to your fans you ARE this person. This allows fans to feel a connection with you. It feels as if they know who you are therefore it’s more important for us to show that character to them. That’s why so many pornstars freely share their ‘porn personality’ on social media. In our industry the more people you can get to feel connected to you, then the more successful you are.
The main reason why I feel there is a difference is because, basically, the adult industry is limited. We don’t have the means or the resources that mainstream actors have to expand our audience. We’re very limited as to where we can make appearances and advertise. Our resources within our industry are also very scarce, and it’s made it challenging for us to try and reach out to a wider audience. Social media is the only option many adult performers have in order to gain more recognition, and it’s a tool we use because, as I mentioned, we don’t have the resources mainstream does.”
Follow Chanel on Twitter at @ChanelPreston.
In the spirit of “The Jerry Springer Show” and in honor of DEC, let’s think about some of what we’ve learned in Parts 1-3…
1. Social media is good for business
Phrase it however you’d like, but porn is a business; and social media is an almost priceless way for business women (such as the ladies who shared insights in these posts) to create a product worth paying for, protect and promote their property and brands, expand their customer bases, and cultivate consumer loyalty.
These things will, in turn, help them build occupational autonomy and garner more bargaining power behind-the-scenes in production, thus bolstering their careers overall.
2. Social media is an excellent way to deconstruct stereotypes and debunk myths
Women porn performers are subject to a million and one social and cultural narratives. And sure, some people embody these popular imaginations to the letter; but most people don’t… not even in the slightest. Social media provides members of the adult community with an opportunity to share a multifaceted and (perhaps) more authentic version of themselves with the world.
And just like getting to know that mainstream celebrities aren’t all goddesses of perfection and beauty (oh TMZ, oh “Dirt Bag“) is fantastically useful, knowing via direct evidence that not all porn performers are XXX and blah blah blah may help us, as a wider culture, internalize the differences between reality and fantasy fiction.
Social media is amazing, but it needs to be used savvily to get amazing results. Social interaction is an art – Twitter is an art (I can’t believe I just wrote that, but I believe it 120%). But, unlike painting or sculpting or something, social media an art that pays dividends fast… if you’re good.
As we learned, Twitter can be a tool for business and serving the wider social good. It can also help build community, fight discrimination, encourage social justice, and bolster non-taxable income. Twitter can also turn on you and/or be used for evil… anyone who has ever tweeted something in anger, right after they got a ticket, and/or while they were… errr… under the influence can likely attest to that, as can someone who has ever (accidentally or on purpose) angered someone with too much free time.
Point is – think about social media!! If you’re attempting to build a career in the public eye, you’d better be doing it. And if you want to do it correctly, I suggest you take a few lessons from a porn star. Because in between doing drugs and having sex all day, these savvy ladies are busy building business empires of their very own.
(pictured: me inside a snake… come say hi on twitter at @DrChauntelle!!)
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This question and series of responses was inspired by Chris Weiler – you can thank him on Twitter at @yman173.
Candid pics from Twitter and Tumblr.
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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from PVVOnline/Porn Valley Vantage, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”