The underside of the porn industry

In a studio furnished with beds, cabinets of sex toys and movable set walls, adult performer Nikki Darling stood in front of a camera clad in a blue sports bra and black spandex shorts, playing out the script that involved masturbation training.

“If there’s anyone who can masturbate for 48 hours it’s you,” Darling purred. For Darling and fellow performer Jiz Lee*, the shoot was just another day at the office at the Pink and White Productions studio in Potrero Hill.

Co-stars Jiz Lee (left) and Nikki Darling (right) film a scene of “Training Day,” a special episode for “The Crash Pad Series” at Pink and White Productions in San Francisco Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015.

Co-stars Jiz Lee (left) and Nikki Darling (right) film a scene of “Training Day,” a special episode for “The Crash Pad Series” at Pink and White Productions in San Francisco Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. (Brian Churchwell / Xpress)

The porn industry has changed since the days of nudie magazines stashed under beds and stealthily acquired VHS tapes. With the help of the Internet, porn is now largely free and more accessible than ever.

Pink and White Productions, which was started by Shine Louise Houston in 2005, focuses on queer and blurred-gender-lines pornography in its San Francisco studio. Houston said they have worked to create a higher standard in adult cinema, yet the company is feeling the squeeze from the abundant supply of free porn online.

“The prevailing attitude is that everything on the Internet should be free,” Houston said.

The mission of the company is to create quality content with the consent and enjoyment of their workers, all while paying a good wage, Houston said. Yet Houston said that competing with free content online is making it harder for Houston and others to make a good living.

Fast-growing “tube-aggregator” sites like PornHub and YouPorn have triggered an avalanche of free adult content online, according to Houston and the staff at Pink and White Productions.

Much of the content on these sites is pirated and free, leaving the performers without financial compensation for their work, Houston said at a conference on the bootlegging of porn back in September. Piracy has cost the adult industry millions of dollars in revenue annually, according to an NBC article from earlier this year.

Amid the debate about pirated work, the company Mindgeek has monopolized the industry, according to Houston. Mindgeek, the company that operates big name tube sites like PornHub and YouPorn, has accelerated the disturbance felt by the porn industry.

“When you have a product that is already devalued, and you’re coming into a market place where everything is free, it’s hard to turn a profit off any production,” Houston said.

PornHub had 18.35 billion visits and 78.9 billion video views in 2014, with the U.S. sitting at number one in viewership according to their 2014 reports. In response, Fight The New Drug, an anti-porn group, has erected billboards that read “Porn Kills Love, Fight For Love” around the Bay Area, according to their website.

Cast and crew review the script before filming “Training Day,” a special episode for “The Crash Pad Series” at Pink and White Productions in San Francisco Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015.

Cast and crew review the script before filming “Training Day,” a special episode for “The Crash Pad Series” at Pink and White Productions in San Francisco Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. (Brian Churchwell / Xpress)

FTND said it is worried that the availability and pervasiveness of well-endowed men objectifying women skews reality for young consumers.

Co-founder of FTND Ryan Werner said the organization classifies the damage porn does in three ways: the brain, the heart and the world. Werner said there is no healthy way to consume porn.

“I would say there is a better way to consume porn, but it’s still going to have harmful effects on the user,” Werner said.

Lee said it’s shame, not porn, killing love.

“It frightens me to see such aggressive targeting towards censorship of sexuality,” Lee said.

Ivy Chen, an SF State professor who has taught in the sexual studies department for the last 13 years, said she isn’t as worried about the content as much as creating social pariahs out of porn consumers. She said she thinks that porn isn’t creating sexual deviants but rather closet masturbators.

“I think that might be the more harmful effect of watching porn, not necessarily consuming it, but it starts to take over their life and they can’t tell anyone about it,” Chen said.

The brittle relationship between those who make porn and those who would like to see the end of the adult industry converges at a call to action for more education Chen, Lee and Werner agreed on.

“We really have to do a paradigm shift on how Americans see sexuality in general, so in fact we can fit this into our lives in a way that promotes relationships, pleasure and love,” Chen said.

*The print version of this article misattributed Jiz Lee in a pull quote.

Written by
Latest comments
  • Maybe it’s because people are tired of seeing “actresses” getting F***ed down their throat and pretending to enjoy it?

  • They’re so sweet) but I think it may be related on with some taboo subjects to talk. Once I talked with a girl about porn watching, and I told her I liked live web cameras services, like this http://www.hipwebcams.com/hd-cams. Since then I have never seen that girl))) So, these girls are happy.