MORAL POLICING

Porn Industry Irate Over Netflix and Rashida Jones’s Sex Series ‘Hot Girls Wanted’

In addition to the show’s exploitative nature, some in the adult industry claim they were tricked into participating in the series.

Netflix

Following the debut of the Rashida Jones-produced Netflix documentary Hot Girls Wanted in 2015, the porn industry was gun-shy—fearful of allowing mainstream media to film them lest they be portrayed in such a one-dimensional, unfavorable light.

The new six-part miniseries Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, also on Netflix, continues to perpetuate a skewed view of the industry while masquerading as an unbiased perspective. It is, to porn industry observers, about as fair and balanced as Fox news.

Porn isn’t nearly the “menace” the GOP would have you believe—a predatory bottom feeder lying in wait till it consumes our children’s innocence, promising riches to impressionable young women and teaching America’s men all the wrong lessons when it comes to bedroom etiquette. The economy or a lack of resources and education is likely more to blame than porn, as most performers get into the business for purely financial purposes, whether it’s to pay off student loan debt or generally get ahead in life. Porn happens to be a viable option but it’ll never pay enough to make up for the lifelong stigma a performer must endure afterwards. Sadly, that stigma continues to be perpetuated in mainstream media by some of the same people claiming to break down those barriers. Hot Girls Wanted doesn’t focus on why girls get into the business; it instead focuses on the people who take advantage of them.

As it happens, the Hot Girls Wanted producers also fall into this category.

“I’d never have gotten involved in this project had I known it was part of Hot Girls Wanted,” says John Stevens, an adult talent agent featured in the series. “I specifically asked them if they were part of Hot Girls Wanted and they flat out said no.”

Stevens has been an agent for the last 19 years, representing women in porn since the early days when a model could make a decent living doing Playboy-esque glamour shoots sans hardcore penetration. “For the first ten years all I booked was single girl or girl/girl scenes. In those days there were over two hundred magazines; nowadays there are about six,” says Stevens. “There’s been a shift in the industry and it’s still shifting.” Given his extensive history in the adult biz, Stevens became interested in this particular documentary when it was presented to him as a piece that would focus on empowered women in porn.

Stevens’ former assistant agent, porn performer Bailey Rayne, was a lead in one of the episodes that was supposed to be about female empowerment. Rayne, a former Penthouse Pet, helped recruit new models and then acted as a guiding agent throughout their somewhat short-lived careers. Good will aside, it was also a profitable business: she earned fees for the models and then worked on creating content with them that both she and they could post and sell. A film crew followed the former Penthouse Pet and her agent John Stevens, capturing their lives and day-to-day business interactions with their newly recruited models for hundreds of hours. And, according to Stevens, it was never mentioned that any of this footage might be part of Hot Girls Wanted, which have become scare words in the porn world. Stevens claims that he didn’t find out Hot Girls Wanted was associated with the proposed documentary until it debuted, which is when he began getting calls about it. Getting screwed is par for the course in porn but at least it’s expected. Here, no one knew they were getting fucked until pretty late in the game.

Curious to see how her industry was represented, porn star Carmen Valentina watched the Hot Girls Wanted series wondering if it’d be the same exploitative BS or something new. “I didn’t like how the porn stars who were normal and professional were ignored and only shown for a split second, while the girl that was causing trouble, getting drunk and high was in the spotlight,” says Valentina. “I guess people still don’t want to see normal girls… that might be boring to watch. It seems people just aren’t willing to accept porn as normal yet.”

According to adult industry sources, the featured troubled blonde initially quit the business in large part due to the show and has now returned under a new pseudonym. “She told me this [show] had destroyed her life,” says her former agent John Stevens. “Yes, that stuff happened and she made mistakes…but there wouldn’t have been as much of an audience without the show.”

Porn star Gia Paige claims the series used her real name without her consent, violating her clearly stated boundaries. Paige allegedly asked to be removed from the series and to have any information about her family edited out. She claims that producers agreed to those terms and then reneged on it.

Not every episode of the Hot Girls Wanted series focuses on the porn industry, but the ones that do certainly misrepresent the industry—albeit in a slightly more positive way than the 2015 stand-alone documentary. If anything, the HGW series at least attempts to show competent women on the production side of things, but still continues to misrepresent the women in front of the camera. What the series portrays is not untrue; rather, it’s error by omission.

“I don’t think they treated people ethically,” says Mark Spiegler, one of the most sought-after adult agents in the business. “You can get a feel for people and decide if they’re being honest. If I’d done the first one I wouldn’t have done the second one.”

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However, even for those that knew better, apparently there’s no such thing as bad publicity. “After the first show, the girls calling [porn agent] Riley doubled. It’s the publicity,” says Spiegler. “If a girl calls me who’s never done porn, I tell them you’ll get gonorrhea and chlamydia. Thirty percent of the general population has herpes and 60 percent in porn have it, and there’s a chance, a slight possibility you’ll get HIV. You’ll have to work with people you don’t like, people that are stinky, people you don’t find attractive. If I think they’re just doing it cause they need the money, I try to talk girls out of it if it’s not right for them.”

Where was this kind of morality in Hot Girls Wanted?