i don’t know if you have noticed how totally stoked i am that chelsea poe exists but if you dont know now ya know. here’s another on point blog post from her regarding the lifestyles of an indie porn star. hot damn.
I do porn because I love it and I feel like its a way I can express myself that i cannot throughout any other medium. In porn you can’t hide anything its pushes all your emotions, strengths and weaknesses for all to see. Before porn I was a bassist in a few hardcore bands in a diy scene and was making a living being a diy concert promoter. The idea of scrapping money together to get to gigs, staying on people’s floors and being lucky to break even was the life of being in a punk scene and something we all loved doing. I did not think coming into the porn world some of the same realities existed. I like most people assumed porn was made up of people making thousands upon thousands of dollars per shoot and a majority of the performers never having to worry about money in anyway. Whenever anyone talks about porn performers and their lives it often comes up with this glamorous life of doing shoots with gorgeous performers and living in a large mcmansion overlooking the ocean.
I want to lay this out in a very honest way with simple math. The cost of an average 1 bedroom in San Francisco is roughly $2,600 not including all other living costs on top of that. Lets say your trying to make a living alone as a porn performer. Being a male performer you make around $300 per shoot (unless you’re James Deen). With that rate per shoot you would need to do at least 9 shoots per month to simply pay rent for one month. Just to pay rent for an entire year you would have to do 108 shoots a year and have a part time job just to stay afloat in San Francisco as a male performer.
Being a trans woman performer the pay rate is much higher than what male performers make. On an average mainstream hardcore (sex scene) you make $800, an mainstream solo scene pays roughly $500 and an queer porn shoot will pay around $300. Being a trans performer if you’re booking one of each during a month’s time you are doing extremely well. Even with one of each you are only at $1,600. Cis woman rates aren’t much higher unless your shooting with an extremely large company like kink.com who pay models up to $1,500.
With this being the current state of porn most porn performers have some sort of day job rather than being other forms of sex work (escorting, webcam, stripping, ect.) or vanilla day job (the person making your sandwich at subway could be a porn star). Porn for most of us is our passions and the idea of doing porn for the money seems to me to be very outdated (very real in the 90s). I am writing this not to complain about not making millions of dollars but to really try to push fans of performers to actually buy their content instead of watching it on tube sites or illegally downloading. When your favorite performers do cam shows please tip some amount no matter how little and tell them how you enjoy their work. Really if you enjoy our work and want to see more of it please please please buy our content.