They Shoot Porn Stars Don't They

The recession has forced us into making this,” Powers states flatly, the quiet machine at his feet. According to him, the “Fuck Machines” series isn’t a product of some sick mind—say, his. It’s a consequence of the recession.

The day of reckoning has arrived in the Valley. Online content pirating, increased competition, a flooded market, the economic crisis, and a series of federal obscenity indictments have completely transformed the business of making adult movies. Consumers are no longer interested in paying for what they can get online for free. Across the board, those I spoke to reported profits have fallen by an estimated 30 to 50 percent.


Three years ago, Powers shot four to five movies a week. Nowadays, he’s lucky if he shoots two a week. Like many other businessmen, he’s been forced to cut corners. Ergo, the “life support system for a penis” of yesteryear has been replaced by the lower maintenance RoboCock.

“We got rid of the male talent!” Powers crows, triumphant. He enumerates the benefits of working with an animatronic phallus on one hand. “They don’t complain as much. They’re always hard. You don’t have to feed them.” Of course, the 21st century woodsman does have one drawback. “They’ve always got bolts falling off,” Powers admits with a shrug.

“The market is saturated with porn, the Internet is pirating porn left and right, and the economy is in the shitter,” Powers laments after Hunter’s shoot, staring out the sliding glass doors at a fountain trickling pleasantly in the sun-dappled backyard. He looks like a spurned lover—heartbroken. “Porn destroyed itself,” he mutters. “2005 was the peak of shit.” He shakes his head. “Now, we’re just living in piles of shit.” He is crestfallen. “It completely destroyed everything.” He looks at the floor.

A redhead appears in the doorway. Powers will shoot a total of five scenes today, and hers is next. It’s time for Jim to get back to work. On the sidelines, another machine is waiting for its turn in the spotlight. This one is double-headed.


I wander through the house. In the kitchen, two young women sit in director’s chairs, having their hair and makeup done. Out front, a rival porn company shows up and prepares to shoot in the guesthouse. I count 14 cars in the driveway.

Longtime Powers sidekick and production manager Johnny Thrust (a skinny, rat-like, bespectacled sometimes performer whose resume includes “Porn of the Dead,” “Camel Toe Jockeys 2,” and “My Best Friend's Mom Takes It Up the Ass”) clicks busily away on a laptop. A peroxide blond motormouth everybody calls Porno Dan, whom I met in London years before where he was helping coordinate impromptu gangbangs in hotel rooms, is wearing a T-shirt that reads, “This Is My Horny Look,” and trying to talk to Jim about their latest recession-busting, pirating-proof project in which porn fans have sex with porn stars live on the Internet. (“So you can capture the failure live,” Jim explains enthusiastically of its appeal.)

One room, in which the walls are painted with thick black and white stripes to horrifying effect, contains a full-sized bar, a giant black leather sofa, and a bookshelf lined with dusty athletic trophies, emptied bottles of booze, and a copy of Deepak Chopra’s The Return of Merlin, the back cover of which promises readers “the resplendent peace that each of us enfolds within our own hearts.”

From the living room, a woman yodels, “Ohhh myyy Gawwd,” and the machine climbs to a shrieking crescendo. Most of the bedrooms are barren but for an unmade bed. Upstairs, the master bedroom is the only room someone appears to actually inhabit. A long shelf in the walk-in closet showcases an impressive collection of colorful glass bongs. The master bathroom is massive and all marble.

Out in the peaceful backyard, I stop at the edge of the rock-lined pool. The homeowner appears. I comment on all the activity. Is this how he pays his mortgage? I inquire.

“Huh?” A young blonde in matching pink fishnet lingerie and stockings has stepped outside to smoke. I repeat my question. “Yeah, yeah,” he mutters, distracted. “That’s how I pay my mortgage.” He moves towards the blonde. “So,” he asks her, “you choose the machines over me?” The girl laughs.


In the dining room, I sit down with Hunter, who has put on a maroon velour tracksuit. After a two-year stint at the University of Nevada at Reno, where she studied secondary education with the intention of becoming a schoolteacher, and another stint working as a cocktail waitress in a casino, she came to Hollywood.

“I wanted to get out of Vegas, and I wanted to be an actress.” Things didn’t turn out quite the way she’d planned. At the time, she was using, “like, heroin, and Oxycontins, and cocaine—everything.” Instead of taking acting classes and going on auditions, “I jumped right into porn.” She did a few scenes—“I was totally high”—and then met her boyfriend, who helped her kick drugs, and left the business.

A month ago, though, they broke up. That’s when she realized he was her primary means of financial support. Now, she’s back.

In the Valley, porn is her reality. “People say, ‘You don’t really have to do that.’ Well, you really kind of do,” she explains, her voice plaintive, “if you don’t have an education, if you don’t have parents backing you, if you don’t have all those things.” She looks at her hands folded in her lap. “There isn’t another choice. There really isn’t a lot of other choices.”

Today is her second shoot since she returned to porn a week ago. “I don’t do anal, and that was really crappy for me. I was acting the whole time.” Jim, she offers, is “nice,” but she really needed the $500. She has student loans, credit card debt, and no car. This is what she’s doing to get by.

“It’s not the most respectable to do, but it’s a phone call, and I have $500,” she asserts. “It lets me know, ‘You’re going to be OK, even if you don’t make enough money at your job, you have this to fall back on.’ I can make my bills. I can get a car. I can do the things I need to do to move forward.” Although, if her friends and family find out, she says, “I would absolutely die.”

Being a porn star isn’t easy. “It’s really weird. Like, at nighttime, I get anxiety about it. Like, I did the other scene, and, last night, as soon it got dark, and I laid in bed, and I was just alone with my thoughts, I felt really guilty and nervous about it.”

She hesitates. “So, you know, it’s, like, I keep praying about it, and, you know, asking to kind of be forgiven, ‘cause it is kind of wrong, I think, and it’s very degrading, I think, and it’s just—.”

She’s on the verge of tears. “I need the money that bad. I don’t have a car. I don’t have anything right now. I actually, like—I just need the money.”

Earlier, I spotted a porn star whom I know moonlights as an escort, not an uncommon sideline in this businesses, especially when jobs are few and far between during an economic downturn. I ask Hunter if she’s thinking about escorting.

“Yes, I am.” So far, she hasn’t.


I’m sitting outside, talking to the redhead, when a distant thudding comes from the sky. Overhead, a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter circles the house. Once. Twice.


Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the helicopter turns tail and leaves, heading for the Hollywood Hills, the great divide between Hollywood, where the real stars live, and the Valley, where the porn stars reside.


Leaving, I spy the PA at the kitchen sink, staring out the window, his expression blank.

He’s washing the dildos—for the next girl, the next scene.


They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They? Words & photos by Susannah Breslin. Logo & design by Chris Bishop. Copyright 2009 HOME CREDITS