How Can I Get Into The Adult Film Industry?

I’m a pretty avid reader of “Adventures” and “Ask the Harvard MBA,” and so I was interested when I came across your recent post on the adult film industry (“Why I Love Pornography“).  I graduated from [redacted at asker’s request] this year, and currently I work for [redacted].  Since last year, I have been interested in learning more about the adult film industry, especially the financial viability of online sites (such as YouPorn, RedTube, etc).  Much of the content is similar to that on Youtube, but when videos are “made,” producers know that there will be a marginal cost (unlike home-made videos on Youtube and other content that was produced before Youtube was invented).

I have three questions:

1. If I were to eventually find employment in the financial division of an adult film company (to gain experience), would it affect my future career options?  Would typical financial firms and funds or VC firms look down upon this work experience?  Would MBA programs count it as a “strike” against me?

2. If I want to learn more about these industries, where would you recommend I turn?  I can check out the financial statements released by companies like Vivid, but is there any general industry journal/blog, etc?

3. How would you recommend I market myself to such firms?  I suppose general financial experience would be a plus, but do you think that they would look for industry-related experience (I don’t think any decent film that wants to make money would let me become an actor!)?  One idea I have is to start a blog that focuses on the adult film industry and historical platforms that they have used to market their product (magazines, DVD, video, internet, etc.).

The Harvard MBA says:

Great questions.  Hopefully HBS doesn’t decide to file a lawsuit against me for answering them!

1) Working for an adult film company isn’t necessarily a stigma; in fact, for some employers it might be seen as a bonus.  Of course, a lot depends on the nature of the work.  For example, I once hired a fellow who had worked on the website and strategy for a porn company.  To me, this was a huge plus on his resume–if anyone knows how to optimize, it’s the porn companies. I think the story would be similar for most financial firms (whose employees tend to be among the most enthusiastic consumers of porn).

Unfortunately, there are probably some outfits that would be less enthusiastic about this kind of job experience.  For example, I’m not sure how this would be viewed by the business schools, who can be a bit humorless at times.  I suspect this would also scotch your chances of working in politics.

2)  I’m not certain which blogs are the best at covering the porn industry, but the long-time leader in this industry’s trade press is Adult Video News, now abbreviated to AVN.  Here is their business site.  You might also want to attend a few of the industry’s trade shows, which are open to the public.  The major events I’m aware of are the Adult Entertainment Expo and Erotica LA.  Alas, I have never been to any of these events, so I cannot personally vouch for them.  Nonetheless, I think this Cracked article provides some good flavor, both for the events, and the business-savvy of the performers.

3) In terms of finding a job in the adult entertainment industry, I suspect that good old-fashioned networking is the key.  Get to know people who are in the industry, and they’ll be able to help you get involved.  Your idea of starting a “business of porn” blog is probably a good one.  When I looked up “porn business” in Google Blog Search, this is the only blog that appeared. If you do start this blog, let me know, and I’ll show you some link love.

As for becoming a performer, I’m afraid that it’s very difficult to break in as a male performer.  It’s simple supply and demand…the number of men who would like to be a porn star is far larger than the number of available slots.  I’ve heard that the best way to break into the industry as a man is if a female star insists that the producer cast you opposite her.  Male performers simply don’t have a lot of pull in the industry.  You might also try gay porn, though you’ll need a truly world-class physique.  I doubt Ron Jeremy would make it in gay porn.


  1. Nick
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I have a question. Where are most of the porn videos shot?

  2. admin
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink


    The majority of American pornographic films are shot in the Los Angeles area, specifically in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

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  9. Nick
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    What is your advice if I wanted to do a few gay porn films on the side while still being employed? Would that hurt my chances if I went looking for a new job or with my current employer?

  10. admin
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink


    The best way to get going behind the camera is probably to intern with an established production company. I’m sure they’re willing to accept unpaid interns. It wouldn’t hurt to shoot some “student films” to display your talent.

  11. admin
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Permalink


    This is why most adult film performers use stage names. If you use a stage name (“Nick Naylor” perhaps:, then your secret is likely safe.

    After all, if someone says, “Hey, aren’t you Nick Naylor,” then you’ve just outed them (so to speak) as a gay porn aficionado.

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