Justice

The Disturbing Reason Many Girls Enter Amateur Porn

June 20th 2015

By:
Laura Donovan

"Parks and Rec" actress Rashida Jones recently produced "Hot Girls Wanted," a documentary on amateur porn that is now available on Netflix.

The 82-minute film, which follows a handful of teenage girls at the beginning of their careers as porn stars, highlights the explosive popularity of amateur porn and how that impacts the initially wide-eyed women who participate in it.

What is amateur porn?

Amateur porn involves young women who are typically 18 to 21 years old and captures the "naivety and the youth and newness of the actresses," Dr. Bryant Paul of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, told ABC's Nightline. Many young girls from small towns enter the amateur porn industry to escape their humble upbringings and become stars.

"[In amateur porn], producers go out of their way to create this aura of ‘it's you’re first time’ and ‘you’ve never done this before,’ but in fact everybody is being paid and is in on the act,” Dr. Paul said.

How amateur porn lures females from humble beginnings

The film puts a major focus on Rachel Bernard, a 19-year-old Midwestern girl who responded to a “Hot Girls Wanted" Craigslist posting last year that came with a free flight to Miami and the promise of work in modeling.

“I just didn’t want to be another run-of-the-mill Oswego kid,” she told Nightline. “I was going into it looking for just normal modeling ... They emailed me back, telling me that it was actually adult entertainment and you can get $2,000 to $3,000 for going out there once. I thought that I was just going to go there do one or two and then come back."

After Bernard touched down at the airport, an agent took her to a house of about 10 other girls working in the industry. Filmmakers Ronna Gradus and Jill Bauer noticed lots of similarities among all the young ladies. Many of them were "sweethearts from such loving homes ... cheerleaders, achievers in high school," according to Gradus, but desperate to become celebrities and stray as far away from their simple backgrounds as possible.

Amateur porn stars and the desire for fame

"It's really just they are looking for something, some kind of opportunity, to not stay in their towns and work a minimum wage job," Gradus said. “A lot of them really look like 'the girl next door.' They don't look like porn stars ... They just all wanted to be famous ... like Kim Kardashian famous. 'Look at all my followers on Twitter. I'm getting 1,000 new followers a week. I’m gonna be famous.'"

At the start of the film, Bernard is new to the industry and psyched about all the benefits of working in porn. She also talks about not wanting to follow in the footsteps of her parents and lead a predictable life in college.

“I’ve done so much shit here, more than I’ve ever done in my entire life," Bernard says. "Chillin', penthouses, Lamborghinis, riding on street bikes ... all the shit I’ve ever wanted to do ... I’m trying to be famous, so you gotta do what you gotta do.”

Bernard soon found it wasn't all glamor and fun times. Though she earned $85,000 for 85 shoots, she had to give at least 15 percent to the agent and spend lots of money on lingerie, rent, hair extensions, manicures, and makeup to look good for the job. Six months into porn, Bernard moved back into her parents' Illinois home with just $2,000 to show for her work.

"It was really sad because I thought I had no talents besides taking off my clothes and having sex with people," Bernard said. "[N]o one is really meant to have sex that long or that vigorously ... that intensely for that many days in a row with different people ... Now, I can tell people who might be having the same thoughts that I had, two years ago, that it’s not-- You don’t want it, it’s not worth it."

Violent depictions in amateur porn

Though "Hot Girls Wanted" shows a dark side of the amateur porn industry --- that it preys upon impressionable young girls who will do anything for status and glamor --- Rashida Jones clarified in an interview with Vice that she's not against porn.

 

"I have no problem with porn," Jones said. "I think it's great that we have the freedom to explore our sexual fantasies and that there are tools to do that. The problem with me is that there is no regulation in the industry. The average age now where somebody watches their first porn is 11. And that would be fine except that ... porn is such a broad term. Porn can be anything to like something really softcore and mellow to like hardcore violent torture porn, which, for somebody to learn about sex from porn, I think is really dangerous."

This is evident in "Hot Girls Wanted," which highlights the popularity of "facial abuse," a popular trend in porn that often involves a man verbally abusing and forcing violent oral sex that might cause the female to vomit or choke.

Another concern is that amateur porn can be more limiting than newcomers realize.

"Generally, if you're 18 and you go to Miami, you're done in a year," Jones said. "There's not enough amateur jobs for you. You can get some other jobs but the niche stuff pays more and the niche stuff is harder on your body. They can make $800, $1,000 a shoot but they still have to pay for hair and nails and makeup and travel and clothes, plus they're trying to live in a kind of lavish way, so it ends up not being cost effective. It's not worth it. So then you have to start making further negotiations with yourself: will I do torture porn? Will I do fetish porn? Will I do sites like facial abuse where you're doing like forced blowjobs and vomiting and things you never expected to do, like the less pretty version of porn?"

Ex-porn star Bree Olson recently shared some of the struggles she faces as a former sex worker in an open letter on Twitter, suggesting the world seems to punish porn stars when they try to do something else: