Monday, October 30, 2006

Girls on Film

Every few weeks someone sends me an email that says something like, “Hey, how come you don’t make DVDs? It would be so cool, and you’d make lots of money.” And I noticed that Roman was getting some of the same remarks after he posted his video clips the other day.

Well, kids, I did produce a fetish video of my own*- about six years ago. And that’s how I know I’m not interested in making another anytime soon. Why? A lot of work. Legal risks. And not much profit.

See, at the beginning, I connected with a very cool guy with a lot of video experience, and we put together a concept. The technical end of lights, camera and sound was his job. I was the star, of course, but at the same time I was also the writer, the director and the producer, plus I also found all the talent.

And I discovered that being all those things was a lot of work. And I mean work, too, not like playing with my clients. I was surprised by that, because the co-stars were all pals of mine, and they were all just great. But when we were shooting, I could not relax and get into it, I had to direct from in front of the camera. It was not fun, it was not a turn-on, it was just - work. Max could tell you how cranky and exhausted I was after a day of shooting. This is how I know I was not supposed to be in show business.

So I was immensely relieved when we had all the footage we needed. And then my partner said, oh, we need some interview footage of you. So I did that. Redeeming social value and all, you know, have to cover one’s ass.

My partner went into his editing bay and in time produced a really nicely done, professional-looking video that we were both quite proud of. I have nothing to complain of on that score, he did a very good job.

He got two hundred tapes made and gave them to me. This was back when Paypal would still process payments for sexy things, so I put up a page on my site, and waited for the orders. Meanwhile, my partner hunted around to see what he could find out about getting it distributed on a wider scale.

Long story short: we couldn’t get a distributor. Since there isn’t any actual fucking in my video, just BDSM play, I can’t say I was hugely surprised.

Then, Paypal announced it would no longer process payments for anything even slightly adult. I tried other payment processing systems, but they all proved hard to use and unreliable, and people were understandably reluctant to trust them with their financial information. I considered getting a merchant account, but the costs were prohibitive and at that time, the credit card companies were levying heavy fees and complex rules on adult accounts. Going through all that to sell three or four forty-dollar videos a month would be absurd.

Next, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the DOJ made sweeping changes to the 2257 Regulations and declared war on porn. The legal challenge to the new law is still churning through the courts, I believe, but right now there’s no way I can fullfill all the legal requirements for adult entertainment record-keeping. The whole situation is very intimidating – just as it’s meant to be – and I don’t want to deal with it.

In the end, I sold those two hundred videos, which means I made my expenses back, and a little profit - the equivalent of about a week's gross in my regular life. Not exactly big bucks, when I think about how many hours of my time I put in for that money - some of it time in which I could have been seeing clients.

So another video? Let’s see, it’s a lot of work, and not that much fun, and not that much money. I have no easy, inexpensive way to collect payments for it. And I’d be plunging into a legal maelstrom of regulations, red tape, and repressive laws. Yeah. Not such a great idea from where I sit. Not when I make a very nice living, doing stuff I like to do, without having to worry about the feds coming to investigate me.

I suppose there’s a very slim chance I could do another one - after the next presidential election, if we elect someone less insane than the current crew. Even then I’d probably just do downloads, rather than fuss with shipping a physical product. And they would be - how shall I say? – informal. I’d say to the cameraman, “Look, I’m going to get kinky with my friend here, and you just shoot us. Stay out of my way, don’t talk to me, and whatever we get, we get. But I’m not going to try to act or perform for the camera.”

However, it definitely won’t be anytime soon.

(*Yes, on VHS. No, it’s not available on DVD. No, sorry, you can’t buy one, I sold the ones I had and I’m not getting any more made.)

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