The Lesbian Hugh Hefner
On a Wednesday night in late November, Jincey Lumpkin sits alone in her New York City office. At exactly 9 pm., her Skype shows an incoming call. As she hits the green button, a beautiful woman in her mid-to-late 20s appears on the screen. She has long brown hair, big blue eyes, and a disarming smile. Lumpkin is impressed.
"Wow, you're really cute," Lumpkin exclaims.
The woman says she's calling from her home—she goes by the name of Paxton Lane but she looks more like a Stephanie.
"So how are you?" asks Lumpkin, in an attempt to break the ice.
"I'm great,” says Lane.
Lumpkin then gets down to business. "I guess this is the part where I ask you to take your clothes off,” she says.
Yes, Lumpkin is operating a virtual casting couch for pornographic pictures, but her movies aren't intended for men. They are written, cast, and shot for a lesbian audience turned-off by so-called dyke porn and tired of male ideas about what makes good girl-on-girl action.
“I wanted to show from a mental perspective what turns women on, show their vulnerability,” Lumpkin says.
“There's a difference between girl on girl and lesbian porn,” says Lumpkin. “In girl on girl, the women are having sex for the camera. Instead of kissing, they stick their tongues out and flutter the tips together. It’s staged so that at any moment a guy could come in, and the girls would go, 'Oh my God, you're here! Come stick it in!'”
A recent survey by a leading lesbian networking site in Europe shows more than 70 percent of gay women would buy more porn if it were targeted to a lesbian audience. In the last couple of years, Lumpkin has been steadlily delivering just that—porn by lesbians, for lesbians. It has made Lumpkin somewhat of a celebrity within the gay community. Girl rags across the country have proclaimed her "the lesbian Hugh Hefner," and Out Magazine has recently named her one of the 100 most compelling people of 2010, alongside heavy-hitters like Ricky Martin, Nate Berkus, and Rachel Maddow.
At a time when most businesses are struggling to survive, Lumpkin is enjoying what seems like an endless supply of good fortune. Her company, Juicy Pink Box, has been growing at warp speed. Membership for the site has doubled every month since March. These days, Lumpkin is expanding her operation from a Web-only company to selling DVDs. A DVD of Taxi (about seductive lesbian encounters that take place in the back seat of a New York City cab), which has posted in installments on Juicy Pink Box, was released this week, a move she hopes will further cement her status as a major player in the adult business.
"She brings a very raw energy and an incredible mindset that's very exciting in the industry right now,” said Brian Gross, a long-time publicist who has represented some of the biggest names in porn, including Penthouse and LA Direct, the largest adult modeling agency in the world. “There's a niche that she's found that has a following and has been a bit under the radar.”
At 5-feet-11-inches, Lumpkin looks like she could easily star in her own movies. She grew up in Carrollton, a small town in at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in west Georgia. Her father was a prominent lawyer; her mother, a homemaker. It was a typical Southern upbringing complete with not one, but two debutante balls.
When she was a teenager, Lumpkin remembers finding her father’s porn stash and being captivated by the women in the pictures. But it wasn’t until after she was done with law school and working as a lawyer in the fashion industry in New York City that she stumbled into porn herself. Bored with work, she started a lesbian sex blog called Digiromp. For reasons she can't explain, the site caught on, getting thousands of hits a day. It was then she decided to quit her six-figure job and become a full-time pornographer.
She didn't know much about how to make porn, but she realized early on that appealing to women meant doing things differently, starting with the overall look. For one, she spent a sizable portion of her film budget on styling, dressing her stars in Helmut Lang and Marc Jacobs rather than cheesy see-through lingerie. In a business where clothes aren't exactly a selling point, that move alone was unusual. She also got some big-name hairdressers and makeup artists. She wanted her women to look cool-glamorous even. That's when fashion photographers came calling.
“Because of the aesthetic, and non-traditional blend of fashion and porn, we get to work with people who would usually never do porn,” says Lumpkin. “For them it's interesting because they never get models to get naked and touch their pussy.”
Then there's her choice in porn stars. Lumpkin is not afraid of butch girls. But unlike her hard-core counterparts in San Francisco who produce what's known as “dyke porn,” Lumpkin's girls straddle the line between femininity and masculinity. Case in point: Jet Blue (real name Jess Bryant), who at first glance looks more like a cute frat boy rather than a porn star. Her most famous feature is a tattoo in the form of a tree, which covers her lower abdominal area and grows straight out of her crotch. Lumpkin is planning a whole new series starring Blue and her friends shot vérité style. She says Blue is what her clientele wants–beautifully androgynous, and light years away from today's mainstream, which is full of bleached blond hair and breasts that could double as floatation devices.
One thing you won't find anywhere near her set are straight girls. “Everyone that I work with is at least bisexual. My goal is to show real chemistry,” she says. In fact, she often asks her actresses who they prefer working with rather than deciding herself. “I won’t do gay for pay,” she says referring to the industry's practice of using straight actors in gay erotica.
Lumpkin says her movies focus more on the mind than on the body. One of her most popular productions is a series called Therapy, about women who share their most intimate fantasies with their shrink. “I wanted to show from a mental perspective what turns women on, show their vulnerability,” Lumpkin says.
These days Lumpkin is in the middle of casting her next project, called Boutique. All the scenes take place behind the curtains of a dressing room. There is no script, just a story board. Lumpkin is painfully aware of the fact that porn stars aren't actors, so she lets them ad-lib their lines. “It's more natural that way,” she says. She's planning a surveillance camera look to the movie–black and white, with a hint of bondage. One can only assume her close attention to garments–even if it's just while they're being removed–will surely come into play in this film as well.
Itay Hod is a broadcast journalist with CBS where he reports on a range of topics from breaking news and politics to lifestyle and culture.