Entertainment

10.26.13

Barely Legal, Sometimes Mature: Should Porn Raise the Minimum Age to 21?

In an industry dominated by hits like ‘Exploited Teen,’ raising the minimum age would weed out the rule-obeying responsible. By Aurora Snow.

For those who leave home for the first time and spread their newly minted adult wings, there may be a difference between being 18 and 21. I wasn’t one of those kids. I left home at 17 and was ready to grow up. 

I wasn’t coddled, to say the least. After my first year of college I wanted a job that paid well. Hello, adult entertainment. Not long after my 18th birthday, I was as ready as I’d ever be. I got in for the same reason many others do: It was a way to pay for a higher education. In my mind the end justified the means.  If I’d had to wait until I turned 21, I might have found another way. I might not have become Aurora Snow.

In a business dominated by titles like Exploited Teen, Teen Patrol, and Barely Legal, it’s awfully tempting for 18-year-olds to dive in. Yet some within the porn industry are calling for a minimum age of 21, hoping that a sense of maturity evolves in that three year span.

Imposing an age restriction might radically change who comes in, as the youngsters would be turned away, possibly leaving a new talent pool of women who weren’t just in it for the money. If a rule like this were to become widely accepted, it’s unclear how successful it would be. Take for example the minimum drinking age in America, which was raised from 18 to 21 in 1984. It criminalizes alcohol consumption for those under 21, but it doesn’t stop high school seniors and college freshman from getting booze. If the porn industry said no to anyone under 21, the rule-obeying responsible would be weeded out. But for those who want to parade their naked bits in front of a camera, I’m sure they could find a way (read: amateur websites). Of course, to criminalize anyone creating porn under 21 would be a different story—though I doubt such a law would ever pass.

Citing how reckless he himself was at the tender age of 18, porn director Axel Braun, no longer hires adult performers under 21. After directing porn for 24 years—which no doubt has included hiring any number of 18-year-olds—Braun’s outlook has changed. “I started to question whether certain positions I took in the past were genuine or simply dictated by greed or apathy,” he says.

Known primarily for his detailed XXX parodies, Braun says casting within an age-restricted talent pool “will be mildly inconvenient, but it’s nothing compared to knowing that I might make it easier for just one kid to choose college before a life-altering decision he or she might come to regret.” Braun’s decision is an interesting one, particularly in the world of pornography where young fresh meat sells product.

For those who want to parade their naked bits in front of a camera, I'm sure they could find a way (read: amateur websites).

While Braun has only recently changed his policy about hiring youngsters, there’s an adult talent agent who already employs such tactics. Mark Spiegler is a rare breed: he’s not looking for the cute young girl eager to do anything for money. Those are the girls he often turns away. Instead, Spiegler seeks out those who not only genuinely want to be in porn for the sex, but are also psychologically prepared to handle porn.

To become a “Spiegler Girl,” a potential newbie has a chat with him to evaluate her motives for entering porn, what she may or may not be prepared for, and what her goals are. Despite being a seasoned professional, even I had to go through this when I wanted this caliber of representation.  Countless girls have been turned down. Spiegler evaluates every performers and says, “I tend to work with smarter, more mature girls and you’re not going to find a lot of mature bright 18-year-olds.” It’s not the age that matters so much to him. It’s the maturity level. “I don’t think every 18-year-old is made for porn,” he says. “I also don’t think every 30-year-old is made for porn either.”

If every adult talent agent evaluated the incoming talent pool and accepted only those possessing a certain degree of maturity, not just looks and eagerness, directors like Axel Braun wouldn’t have to self-impose age minimums. And doing this might have devastating consequences for the currently flooded “barely legal” and teen markets. It could disrupt an entire genre of porn that prides itself on picking them as young as they legally come. I was once a part of that demographic, flashing my driver’s license to the camera to prove that I was just old enough. But it’s important to remember: not all 18-year-olds are created equal.