01.25.11

Why Porn Stars Love Twitter

The fantasy-based porn business was slow to embrace the real-life interactions of social media. But now hundreds of adult stars are on Twitter, talking to fans and receiving gifts. Plus, a gallery of 10 porn stars to follow.

While the porn business has enjoyed a reputation for always being at the cutting edge of technology and the Internet, social media at first presented a special challenge. Porn stars have traditionally been marketed as figures of unattainable fantasy, and the company owners and agents who run the industry originally doubted the value in sharing with fans the mundane details and drama of real life. Also, porn is still a business where performers rarely use their real names, and worry about everything from stalkers to obscenity prosecutions. Yet, after individual porn stars built huge followings on Twitter, the industry has belatedly learned the value of social media: Porn stars love Twitter.

Gallery: Click the Image For 10 Porn Stars to Follow

One person who observed and benefitted from the growth of this special relationship has been Pete Housley, whose company Porn Star Tweet provides a service that verifies and aggregates porn stars on Twitter as well as tweets about porn stars. In the past, he had to hustle to get porn stars to use Twitter. Now, he says, adult talent agents send new clients right to him–in 2010, he doubled the number of porn stars on his feed (it’s currently around a thousand actresses). “We really have seen the change in the past year,” Housley says.

The porn industry pooh-bahs, too, have finally caught on to Twitter. Take the porn awards in Las Vegas, the AVN Awards earlier this month. Last year, Porn Star Tweet was turned down for both red-carpet access and even tickets to the show—“snubbed,” Housley says. This year, on the other hand: “They gave us unprecedented access. We had the only live stream standing on the red carpet. We sent tweets with over 800 pictures.”

Certain porn stars are more active on Twitter than others and, as with any group of people, some prove more interesting to follow. But with the most popular ones, does it help their business?

Yes, say some. “It is only in the past six months producers have begun to follow us on Twitter and to understand they can see how popular we are by our Twitter following,” says Courtney Cummz. According to Cummz, 29, who, in addition to performing directs her own porn series, Face Invaders, “A lot of owners and bookers for feature dancers are old school. But I have about 50,000 followers, who I call my babies, and the industry is just now learning how supportive my babies are when I go somewhere, do a Web show, or make a film.”

But not everyone sees it that way. Porn star Bobbi Starr says: “I have not found Twitter to make a difference. It has never come up.” And Dana DeArmond, who has over 30,000 followers, agrees, noting that while she has occasionally been asked to tweet a press release by an adult company she has worked for, she has never gotten work on account of her Twitter popularity.

Still, while a large Twitter following might not yet directly translate into film work within the industry, no one doubts Twitter is clearly transforming the relationship between porn stars and fans.

“A lot of my followers at first don’t know I do porn,” says Kristina Rose, who may be engaging in wishful thinking there. With over 40,000 followers, the petite star nicknamed “Slutwoman” is currently one of the biggest names in the industry. “Maybe they think I am a model. But I am definitely getting followers who have never seen my movies.”

In addition to amassing large followings, Twitter enjoys a unique and growing status in terms of being a public square for the porn world. Porn stars not only talk to fans, they also speak to each other, with fans following—and have occasional flame wars. Andy San Dimas, who in Vegas won an AVN award for Best Actress for her performance in the parody This Ain’t Glee XXX, recalls she recently made some comments about another star she felt was stealing her look. Within a half-hour her agent had her take the tweet down. “You put something out on Twitter now the entire industry knows,” says Cummz, who has had her share of Twitter conflicts.

While MySpace was briefly in vogue in the porn community a couple of years ago, Facebook has proven hostile territory to adult stars, with many claiming their profiles are often deleted, multiple times, and for no reason they can understand. “Most porn stars have given up on Facebook at this point,” Housley says. San Dimas says, “Even if a fan posts a nude picture of you they delete your account.”

Of course, it is hard to imagine a status update on Facebook like this tweet sent by porn star Bree Olson—of recent Charlie Sheen fame—while on the set of what she called “incest porn.”

One thing is clear: Twitter in the past year has transformed the way porn stars communicate—they now have the opportunity to reach fans and build followings off screen. Housley’s statistics illuminate the interactions. Porn Star Tweets tracks 990 porn stars who are followed by 9,140,066 users; the porn stars follow back 636,853 fans. On average, the stars tweet 6.7 times per day; seven percent of Porn Star Tweets contain a photo or video. In total, Housley says, “In 2010 we aggregated over 3 million tweets and 250,000 photos and videos.”

And, in exchange for all this openness, porn stars have found how to get rewards; They get a lot of gifts from online lists, particularly Amazon.com wish lists, which almost all of them maintain. “On the place on Twitter where you can put your website I put my Amazon wish list,” says DeArmond. She also likes to tweet out her wish list. She says three packages—jewelry, shoes—a day is normal in her mail. DeArmond thinks her many gifts are in part the expressions of the guilty conscience of fans who now download her porn illegally from BitTorrent sites: “There are so many people who enjoy porn and are not paying for it that this is maybe a way they can give back personally.”

Not to be outdone, Kristina Rose says: “I got an iPad yesterday. The fan had it engraved on the back to say ‘Slutwoman A.K.A. Kristina Rose.’ I love Twitter.” Rose notes she has also been paid to promote adult products, or been given free ones, in the hope she will mention them. In this way, Twitter has allowed porn stars—if not the porn industry—to profit from their followings in ways unimaginable a few years ago.

Porn is big on sex acts and low on real interaction and personality. Twitter fills the personality gap in a way never before possible. “We go from unattainable fantasy to real people,” says Starr. DeArmond says of her feed: “When I started to use Twitter I wanted people to see I am real person and not just a male fantasy, and that I do struggle with relationship issues, or general stress or my eating disorder difficulties that at times are a little more worrisome than others.”

Recently, after losing 10 pounds, DeArmond’s agent ordered her to stop losing weight. She went on Twitter to gloat to her fans: “I’m a boney pony.” Reflecting now, she says, “Yes, I definitely have an eating disorder and fans on Twitter now will sometimes even send food.”

Still, there are limits to the sharing in a profession where image can mean everything. Bobbi Starr notes: “It is complicated because there is still the part of you that you keep from the public. But Twitter breaks down the wall between us and the fans as much as I think it can come down.” Rose notes: “Depending who fans follow they can get really graphic sex or even more intellectual tweets. Twitter definitely is the best showcase for the range of people in the industry.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story misspelled Pete Housley’s last name.

Richard Abowitz covered Las Vegas for over a decade as a senior writer and editor at Las Vegas Weekly. For many years Abowitz wrote Movable Buffet blog and print column for Los Angeles Times. In addition to covering Vegas, Abowitz has been writing about music and culture for Rolling Stone since 1996. Abowitz blogs at GoldPlatedDoor.com.