“Small fry” independent adult producer Mickey Finn responds to the open letter from Derek Hay’s LA Direct Models posted earlier today.
LA Direct Models published an article that pointed out how talent agencies are negotiating special rates for some producers and not for others. On the face of it, it sounds pretty unfair. Kind of like the Bush Administration of porn and Brazzers plays the role of Haliburton. They get the sweet deal, because of their size and proximity to the person making the decisions.
Well, it is unfair. As a small-time nobody who just started in this business less than a month ago, I’m not a big fan of this kind of thing. That is what they call a “feeling” and it’s a terrible thing to involve in your business practices. Granted I’m nobody worth listening to, but you don’t hear me whining about that fact. No offense to LA Direct, but I am fully aware I’m going to have to pay the top dollar. That’s for a few reasons:
1- To protect the performer. I’m an unknown, and most of the time my “crew” is ragtag at best. My first shoot I had to ask the girl if she had someone who could work the camera. There’s a lot of credibility in coin, and it says I’m really working on something I want to make money from. This isn’t a “fan-fuck” and I’m not going to text her next Saturday and say “What up, boo?” thinking it’s more than business (or is it “bae” now? Damn kids!). Money up front hits my pocket now but gives me a leg to stand on if I cast her again. It establishes the relationship and hopefully will lead to negotiation the next time around when I’m on solid ground.
2- I have no buying power. There’s no guarantee I’m not going to be flat broke and shut down two months from now. A commodity you buy less often is intentionally priced to account for the market demand. When you buy a mattress you are also paying for all the years you won’t be buying one. Brazzers will have more demand for a performer, and both they and the agency will make more money on the volume of shoots. In one month I’ve shot three scenes and one with my real-life girlfriend. No one is making money off demand in my case, so I have to pay more.
3- Market exposure is key to a performer’s career. To put it brutally: I don’t have one. That’s the plain and simple fact. If you are small time, you are trying to get the girl’s fans to take an interest in your work. Just as the big companies like Kink.com can pay a bit less because they boost her career, I have to accept that I will pay more because she is boosting mine.
You can negotiate if someone is out of your price range, but you’d better bring something good to the table. Work with the intangibles you can offer. Maybe you are a decent studio and not a small fry like me. As Aaliyah Love pointed out, try pitching her as the box cover model if you want her. That puts her out there as the first thing people see. Maybe you can book her in the future with talent she’s mentioned wanting to work with. Having a network and a market will do a lot for you with negotiations. If you don’t have these, don’t try to tell someone else what their time is worth. Performers aren’t paid only for their pussy. Lots of them give up being taken seriously as a human being, lose family and friends or even risk stalkers and bullying doing this job. If you’re thinking “that’s not my problem”, you’re wrong. That’s what you are paying for.
This is the law of supply and demand at work. The producers and performers are exchanging money for the work, and ability to reach the market. That’s not an unfair practice in my mind [because] this is flexible based on who has the bigger market reach. Sure, some agencies won’t even answer booking inquiries and some will price a performer out of your range. That may mean you are doing something wrong or that you aren’t big enough to do anything to further that star. You can get mad that it’s not fair or you can get to work to save the industry from piracy and expand your market. Be a man…unless you’re a woman or identify as queer. Then be that. (It’s more fun to be those anyway.)
I, as a beginner, may sound idealistic, but that’s because I am. I’m not trying to make money hand over fist with this. I have a day job that keeps clothes on my back, for now. It’s all part of my get-rich-slow scheme. Hell, I even passed on getting the Mercedes I really wanted and got a hatchback I can sleep in if it comes to it. I’m in this to do something I think is important. The bottom line for the small start ups like me is that being strong is much more certain than being lucky.
Nina Hartley tweeted me some great advice: “Don’t try to be Rocco, be you.” I think it extends to production: Don’t try to be Evil Angel. I am The People Your Mother Warned You About and I’m going to have to pay more, shoot less and wait until someone takes notice of me. I’ll be have less cancellations and more credibility by realizing why I can’t talk the rates down. While that is kind of expensive, it’s also priceless.
Check out my blog on sexuality, XXX Sex Ed and Adult scenes!
Mickey Finn’s Twitter