When the international multi billion dollar adult business that I shall refer to as ‘Pornoland’ fell under the swift and sudden onslaught of free online porn, my own area of the business crumbled and, forced into unemployment and bankruptcy, I moved from a swanky gated development in Essex to relying on the kindness of friends and acquaintances to put me up in the English county of Surrey.
Once the home to mansions that belonged to John Lennon, Cliff Richard, publicist Max Clifford and various celebrities, the area of Elmbridge in Surrey that I moved to was now populated by porn people. Ben Dover and ‘Superdick’ Marino lived there, alongside an assortment of Babestation models, and the area also became the base for eccentric multi-millionaire Paul Chaplin to set up the international production company Bluebird Films. In the 1970s porn star Mary Millington lived in a mansion up the road.
Now Lennon was dead, Cliff Richard had moved to Berkshire and had suffered a very public police investigation, and Max Clifford had been arrested and charged with indecent assault on various young women. He had died while still serving his sentence.
Whereas I had once been a big fish in a small production pond, the torrential floodwaters of free online porn meant that I was now a very small fish, floundering around in the rising international waters and wondering how to swim through to some sort of career buoyancy.
Ben Dover and other porn stars in the area were all doing the same as me: desperately treading water while working out how to make sense of the new situation.
For as long as we all could remember, porn was a licence to print money. To be the owner of sexy adult content meant that we would be financially secure: Production paid well, content was commissioned, bought and sold on DVD or, photographically, sold many times over as usage rights could be purchased per territory and per usage. A photo set of s model could be sold to an American magazine once for USA first usage rights and then sold again for USA second usage rights etc. And the same set could also be re-sold to each territory around the world in the same way, reaping in hundreds if not thousands of pounds for the initial outlay ofva few hundred pounds. And if a magazine re-used a set, even though they’d paid for its first or second usage they had to pay again!
And prices for professionally shot video clips or photo sets weren’t cheap.
Working in adult production, we all carried on, never thinking that things could change. Why would someone ever NOT want to buy porn? Porn was a currency that was never going to de-value. Sex sells, we all know that.
And then one day in the late 90s/early 00s, a geeky guy from Germany called Fabian Thylmann had a brilliant idea.
If YouTube has become so successful in just a few years by giving everyone who had access to a computer the ability to upload video clips to the internet so that millions could see them for free, then surely a porn version of YouTube would work equally well... if not better!
In the 1990s, when only 17, he spent his time on forums on Compuserve, sometimes trading passwords to pornsites with others online, and the idea dawned that maybe trading free online porn could some day somehow possibly make him very rich.
By the late 1990s he had developed a software called NATS (Next-generation Affiliate Tracking Software), which enabled website operators to track user clicks on advertisements and links, so that they could be paid a commission.
He bought the existing online companies Mansef and Interhub, which included a fledging site called Pornhub and, under his own company name of Manwin and combining his NATS software, he launched Pornhub as his vision of a porno version of Youtube.
Now anyone with access to a computer could upload a clip (or an entire movie) of porn for free to share online for free.
But what if the uploader didn’t own the copyright to the porn clip, as was often the case? Well, Manwin would of course immediately take the clip down once it was notified of a copyright infringement. But by that time, the clip had already been up and, notching up millions of views, had earned its money. And people uploading clips were faster than the producers of porn could keep a track of their product and complain. Within an hour, the same clip and more would have been back on Pornhub!
So almost any porn clip you want to see on any genre was now available to watch for free as easily as clicking through YouTube.
And for we producers of porn? Our currency had virtually overnight become devalued. Why would we spend thousands of pounds producing high quality scenes when there was no longer any guarantee that we would be able to sell it anywhere?
With its currency devalued, Pornoland was plummeting into a worldwide recession. And guess what? Mirroring this particular niche trauma was the very real global financial crisis of 2007/2008.
Following the success of Ric Porter's memoir Welcome To Pornoland (Available on Amazon), Ric is now writing a follow up, which looks at how the adult industry has dealt with having to migrate to a digital age where, with the emergence of so called 'tube sites', porn fans now expect to get everything for free.
If you would like to keep up to date on thos new book, get an exclusive signed pre-release copy and many more special add-ons, Ric is now inviting pre-orders at a very special discount price.
Please email Ric directly at ricporter.co.uk for further details.