What It's Really Like to Be a Plus-Size Porn Model -- (First Of All, It Won't Make You Rich)

There simply is not enough work in this industry, especially as a BBW, to make this a career. It doesn't pay your bills. It just won't.

Jun 13, 2014 at 12:30pm | Leave a comment

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I receive a lot of letters, FB messages, Twitter posts and DMs from plus size ladies wanting to get into the adult industry. Here's how I respond: 

Hello, I really cannot assist anyone trying to get into the adult industry. There simply is not enough work in this industry, especially as a BBW, to make this a career. It doesn't pay your bills. It just won't.

In addition, when you ever decide to retire, you will have "former adult performer" in your background -- which, before the Internet, wasn't an issue. But now, it's a very real issue. You won't be able to get "real world" work unless you only work as a freelancer. You'll never be able to get a corporate job, be able to work in any line of work that involves people under the age of 18, and you'll be stigmatized. You'll lose your "friends," potentially your family, and even the people in the industry who will pretend to be your friends to get you in? Trust me -- the minute you start getting more work without them?You'll be ignored, hated, and cast aside.

It's all about competition and ego, you see -- you're an asset if you can help THEM get work ("We can do a scene together!" is nothing more than "If I can bring you to so-and-so company, it means I can get work too!"). The minute you can't, they could care less about you.

I say this not as a way to be mean. I'm just being honest.

Out of the many, MANY plus size performers who are, and were, in the industry, how many do you know? How many are in the press? How many appear to have "made it?" Two? Three? Would it surprise you to know that out of those few, ALL of them do not make a living out of JUST being an adult performer? That ALL of us actually pay our bills by doing other work? The girls who do make money living off of adult performing as plus size performers -- they do so because they also escort.

The going rate for most plus-size performing work:

Solo - $150-$200

G/G - $200-$300

B/G - $300-$400

Most plus size companies don't even bother with anything beyond these kinds of scenes. Most plus size companies will try to get you to do multiple scenes as a package deal -- 1 solo, 1 blow job scene, 1 B/G scene -- for $500-$600 flat. If you break it down, you see how little you're making per scene. And they won't pay for travel or lodging.

On top of that, the average lifespan of work in xxx for plus size performers is less than six months. The reason? There aren't that many legitimate companies in the industry who do plus-size porn (four? five tops?)...and with the number of girls available, and coming in, and the sheer nature of porn as a whole being the desire to have variety -- the fact is, once you've made your rounds to do a set of scenes for each company, they won't want/need you again for another few months, if ever. You can't depend on that sort of irregular income stream to pay bills.

Membership sites do not make money. I personally do not own one for this very reason. Most plus-size adult performers with membership sites make $50-$100 a month -- and that's after putting in the effort to turn out photo sets, video updates, every single week. You spend more money than you make. My PaddedKINK site, that won awards? It made $300-$400 a month at its height -- and it was all created with content trade shoots. It made just enough to pay for itself, and nothing in the way of profit -- which means it didn't pay my living expenses. Not even close.

Merchandising? What sort of merchandising? Branded sex toys make us about 2-10% commission per unit sold -- which, again, makes less than $100 a month if you're lucky. Most companies don't pay for the initial branding buyout -- it's assumed it's a branding win/win. You only make money if a product sells -- and a commission from that. If a product sells for $30, and you're only making $3 commission per unit at 10%, and $0.60 at 2% -- you can do the math. It's not like you're selling thousands of units per month either, giving the current economic climate. And how many "branded" products by plus size performers do you know?

The work I'm currently doing -- the work everyone is talking about -- is a result of seven years of work, of not being able paying my bills, of cashing out my IRA, of living in rented rooms rather than houses. It's ALL branding. It's not profit. Trust me on this. The reason I can even afford to do things and travel to conventions, etc, is because of the PR and marketing work I do. That's what pays my bills, and how I can live the way I do these days.

Don't get me wrong -- I love the work I do. But the returns of my investment isn't financial. I've lost friends. I've had a hard time dating. I also know I'm an anomaly -- I have a supportive family, and I've always been freelance. I've never had to deal with corporate shame. But I've also been through my personal hell on other levels that I'll rarely let show to the public -- though I'm now stronger for it.

If I only relied on my performing work? I'd be homeless.

My current performing rate has gone up to be similar to mainstream girls only after seven years of work, and proving to companies that I will put in the time and effort to promote every project they put me in. My worth isn't just from performing -- it's my added PR and marketing background and exposure. It's a lot of additional, unpaid work to make it worth it for companies to invest the extra money in me to even be considered for the same rate as mainstream performers. And even at that? I do maybe three films a year.

Sorry for the blunt nature of this letter. But people see what adult performers do, the media attention they get, are inspired to do the same -- and I have to be honest about the reality of the work.

If you're interested in gaining confidence, please do so with photo shoots for your own collection. Maybe try some webcamming to see how that might be -- it'll be a great way to see the ROI on the work you put in to entertain fans. If after that, you want to try to get into xxx, please go in knowing all of the inherent risks -- and that it might be more about work, and your life during and after it, than it ever will be about STDs.

Postscript: I absolutely love the response blogs from other BBW models who say they're making tons of money performing in adult and that all of this information is B.S.

My piece was not necessarily about how little I make. Trust me, I make plenty. I live a rather blessed life these days. I have absolutely no debt and have plenty saved up.

But my piece wasn't about that.

My piece was more about how I don't want to be held responsible when someone contacts me to help them get into the business. I have seen plenty of performers become disenchanted with the lack of work after a month or two, and/or how they have unrealistic expectations of how "life in porn" will be for them.

I've heard new girls go to a trade shoot in a hotel in Vegas and hang around in the valet area later, talking about how they're going to buy a new car, a new house and live "like millionaire porn stars"...all while also talking about their 3-year-old at home who's still on food stamps.

The reason for my letter? I just don't want to be personally held responsible when six months later they come to me complaining that not only can they not pay their bills, they now can't get a "real job" because "everyone knows I did porn" -- and how I helped them get in, so I need to keep helping them.

Explaining the worst case scenario is my way of steering girls who think that porn is their last resort, or those who have a misconstrued understanding of what comes from being in this business. Sure -- there are always going to be some performers that make a comfortable living in this business -- but I'm not one to sugarcoat things and tell new girls how they're going to become millionaires.

Explaining to girls who want to get in that they should contemplate webcam work first is a perfect example of that. Most of the girls in BBW porn who do make a regular living as performers, do so by webcamming, or creating clips or escorting. I don't do any of those things, and make my living in the industry in a way that allows me to stay in the business long after I want to be naked -- and I live very comfortably.

Everyone has their own method to achieve success, and I think that's great. Do what works for you, you know? So if there are ladies who want to help others get into the business -- great. Have at it. Some of you make a comfortable living being a performer and that's awesome. Go and start your own agency, and mentor girls all day long. I just PERSONALLY don't need the drama nor responsibility.

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Republished with permission from Kelly Shibari