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11.22.14 11:45 AM ET

Inside ‘The Sex Factor’: Where 16 Men and Women Vie For Porn Immortality

A new series, The Sex Factor, sees a gaggle of men and women compete for a $1 million prize and the designation of ‘international porn star’ status. Think: the X Factor of sex. 

If you’ve ever fantasized about becoming the next James Deen or Jenna Jameson, a new reality show might make your porn star dreams come true. Porn-meets-reality TV on The Sex Factor. Yes, this is for real. Sixteen contestants, 8 men and 8 women, will be chosen to compete for a $1 million prize and the international exposure of a porn star, but only two lucky bastards will win. Anyone who’s ever filmed even a single porn scene will not be eligible—this is for newbies only.

Unlike other reality TV shows, whether you win or lose on this one all contestants stand to benefit. And not just from the obvious publicity. “We’ve set this up in such a way that even the people who don’t win the competition are going to have tons of exposure, tons of distribution, tons of fans, they’ll be all over our website with tons of work ready and waiting for them,” says Sex Factor executive producer Buddy Ruben.

In an oversaturated market, it’s difficult for new talent to build name and brand recognition in the adult industry. It usually requires hundreds of scenes and years of work. Not everyone can be Belle Knox. Few will sky rocket to fame so instantaneously. And that is what this show proposes to do. So who better to help guide these newcomers through sudden fame than Belle herself?

That’s right, the Duke University student-turned-porn star celeb, Belle Knox, will be a special correspondent on The Sex Factor dispensing valuable advice to porn hopefuls. “This is the first reality show of its kind and it’s my hope that it’s an incredibly successful project and people see the ingenuity in it,” says Knox. Of course, Knox also cautions contestants to be prepared for the personal ramifications off-camera. “I would say you shouldn’t join the industry if you are not okay losing people you care about because as you know you’ll lose a lot of friendships, relationships, and family members over it.”

But for those Googling “how to be a porn star” this may be just the ticket. Judging the contest are four prominent figures in the adult entertainment business with years of experience. They will be on hand to essentially coach contestants along, goading their best performance(s) out of them. “This is an opportunity for people to have a lot of publicity right away and that can be a good or a bad thing because as a newbie we all make mistakes,” says Sex Factor judge and porn star Tori Black. “It can be really good if somebody is an amazing talent right off the bat or it can highlight your flaws.”

First day jitters on a porn set can translate into performance anxiety. Most porn stars aren’t particularly proud of their first few scenes (there’s a definite learning curve). This isn’t the kind of sex you have at home and that’s what contestants are about to learn first hand. “People have no idea what happens behind the scenes. It’s going to be eye-opening for people sitting at home and for the people competing,” says Black. “So people who want to audition just to have a good time, well, they’re in for a rude awakening. This is actually a challenge.”

The only male judge on The Sex Factor, Keiran Lee, is also (according to his twitter bio) “the only man in the world with a penis insured for $1 million dollars.” Lee says men bombard him on Twitter with questions about how to get into the industry. “I’ve only had four girls ask how to get into the industry but with guys it’s every single day,” says Lee. This reality show might be the answer they’re looking for.

“Obviously producers and directors are going to be looking at this show,” says Lee. “So this is a good way for guys to say, ‘Hey look, I took a chance on a reality show and proved my worth.” Though Lee believes it’s important for new performers to keep their egos in check, especially if they want a career. His advice: “Don’t come in with a cocky, arrogant attitude—you’ve gotta be really humble. When I first started out I was really quiet because at the end of the day I had to prove myself to them. I stayed quiet and let my scenes do the talking and that’s what these guys should do.”

Getting into porn has never been this transparent. Or this interactive.

Fans will have the opportunity to chime in via Twitter and vote on certain aspects of the show. Along with the judges, fans will now have a clear voice in choosing the next big porn star. “One of the ideas that we’ll put into action is to allow the fans to vote on the contestants’ porn names,” says Ruben. “It’s likely to be on TV and on the web, but I’m not in a position to disclose the airing schedule, but I can say it will be widely distributed.”

Unique in its content, this show will have some familiar formatting. “I would say America’s Next Top Model is the most closely-formatted show. There will be challenges throughout the twelve episodes that will be increasingly more involved and explicit,” says Ruben. “People will progress through the challenges and after a couple of episodes we’re going to start eliminating contestants.”

This is a win-win kind of show. While the winners will take home the prize money and title, the eliminated contestants can hardly be considered losers. “Part of the huge benefit for contestants is instant superstardom, massive distribution, and an Ivy League education from some of the industry’s finest,” says Ruben. “I don’t think that kind of opportunity exists anywhere else in the world and that makes our show unique.”

Whether they win or lose, contestants can be assured of one thing: notoriety as a sex worker. The only question they have to ask themselves is this: Am I ready? Because once you’ve done porn, there is no going back.