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Five Questions with Lux Nightmare

At 24, Lux Nightmare is already on her second career. As a nineteen year old, she was creator and operator of That Strange Girl, one of the first altporn sites (i.e. a site with naked, unconventional-looking models) online. Now, Lux, … Read More

By / March 13, 2007

At 24, Lux Nightmare is already on her second career. As a nineteen year old, she was creator and operator of That Strange Girl, one of the first altporn sites (i.e. a site with naked, unconventional-looking models) online. Now, Lux, along with San Francisco vlog queen Melissa Gira, is running the sexuality mega-blog Sexerati. Thanks to the wonders of 2AM g-chat, Lux and me catch up on press, entrepreneurship, and who killed alternative pornography. Molly: By the time you were 19, you were the CEO of your own porn site. How'd you make the transition from cam girl to adult entrepreneur? Lux: The tale of my transition from altporn model/cam girl is a sordid story of betrayal, bad business ethics, sex, lies, and adultery—okay, mostly just the first two (and some of the third—it was porn, after all). Like so many altporn models, I entered the adult industry wide-eyed, naive, totally dedicated to the idea of progressive porn…and completely clueless about things like fair compensation, contracts, and what I was really getting myself into. After about a year in the industry, I started to realize that the woman running the site I was working for was completely screwing me over: I was getting paid less than other models (and doing more work, to boot), and was repeatedly pressured into doing things for free (not to mention getting heavy guilt trips if I ever tried to work with another site: apparently, unbeknownst to me, I was "exclusive" to the site I'd started on.). I got sick of this shabby treatment pretty quickly, and decided that the best way to avoid shitty bosses was to become my own boss. And so, with a handful of models, some basic knowledge of HTML, and a whole lot of moxie, I set out to change the face of altporn. Molly: One of the things we both found is that fame, while beguiling, has no necessary relation to money. As the recipient of lots of loving media attention, what do you think press is good for? Lux : It's definitely true that press doesn't necessarily equal money, but getting press can certainly help with the whole money-acquiring thing. More than anything, press is free advertising. It provides an aspiring artist/writer/businessperson/whatever with access to an audience; what you then do with that audience is your call. When I was younger, I mistakenly thought that one big press push would leave me set for life (or at least a couple of months)—what I now realize is that press is a mere window of opportunity, one that closes pretty quickly if you don't take advantage of it. Getting lots of press functions similarly to paying for a lot of advertising: the more people hear your name, the more they learn to associate you with whatever it is that you're doing. Molly: What lessons can businesspeople learn from the altporn world? Lux: Don't be afraid to question the status quo: before altporn, a lot of people assumed that porn stars looked a certain way because they had to—that no one would be interested in porn that presented an alternative look. Clearly, altporn proved that idea to be very wrong. The fact that something hasn't already been done isn't a sign that it shouldn't be done. Molly: Despite Suicidegirls’ omnipresence, you've written in Sexerati that altporn is dead. What factors led to its collapse? And why are altporn pictures of men such an unmitigated failure? Lux: I got some flack for declaring altporn to be dead: to a lot of people, altporn is still a thriving industry, with VividAlt and Burning Angel regularly putting out movies, and Suicide Girls still chugging along. I don't see that as altporn, however. At its core, altporn was about independent porn producers creating pornography that was wholly unlike anything being put out by the mainstream: porn that challenged standards of beauty, porn that dared to present a wide range of body types, porn that questioned common conceptions about sex and sexuality. Altporn thrived because it was cheap and easy to create a website—far cheaper and easier than to, say, create a zine (which, I suppose, would have been my path if I'd been born about ten years earlier). There wasn't much financial risk in me creating a website (and there was the potential for a lot of payoff), so I didn't have a lot of qualms about taking a leap and doing something different. That's no longer the case, however; an increase in fees and regulations (thanks to Visa/MC and your friendly, anti-porn government) have made starting an adult site a complicated, expensive process, something which, not surprisingly, acts as a pretty big deterrent to wannabe indie porn producers. To be fair, there are still some good altporn sites in existence (No Faux and Veg Porn immediately spring to mind)—but they're sites that began back when I was still working in porn. New sites are pretty few and far between, and they usually have a different back story (and better business sense, and more start-up cash) than I did back when I started my site. The men issue is one I've often wondered about, and it's not quite something I've been able to answer to my satisfaction. I think it's a combination of a few factors: straight girls aren't (usually) raised to think of porn as something that's accessible to them, so a lot of them don't even think to look (or pay) for it, and altporn is too "straight" to really attract a gay audience. There's also the fact that no one's really invested all that much money or effort into producing porn of boys—pretty much across the board, they've always been tacked on as an afterthought, a nod to equality. If someone actually cared enough (or was independently wealthy enough) to invest a lot of time and money into really trying to create good, heavily marketed, thoughtfully produced porn of boys, it might actually be successful. I just don't think there's anyone really willing to jump beyond the assumption that girls are the cash cow of porn and actually try to figure out how to really make good porn of boys. Molly: Care to talk about Sexerati, and its sinister plans for the future? Lux: I started making porn because I wanted to have a conversation about sexuality: to question society's assumptions about what's sexy, about how we have sex, about how we think and talk and write about sex. Porn was a good way to begin the conversation, but after a while it started to feel too limiting — it wasn't a broad enough medium to really support the conversation I wanted to hold. Enter Sexerati, a blog I co-run with Melissa Gira (another altporn expat). Melissa started the site in 2005, and—after a whirlwind week of bar hopping, blogging, and bonding in San Francisco last December— invited me to come aboard earlier this year. Sexerati picks up where porn left off: it's smart talk about sex, culture, and everything in between (with a bit of tech savvy and snark thrown in for fun). With a whole lot of smart posts and a hot video podcast ("The Future of Sex," put out weekly and hosted by Melissa), we're aiming to become the source for smart commentary on sexuality.

 

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