How Twitter became the LinkedIn of the adult industry

By Tracy Clark-Flory , written on September 30, 2014

From The News Desk

Daisy Ducati tweets selfies -- of her skintight red latex dress, stockinged feet and naked body. It’s the sort of thing that could get most people fired, but in Ducati’s case, it’s actually gotten her hired.

That’s because Ducati works in the adult industry, which increasingly treats 140-character missives and follower counts like cover letters and resumes. It’s how San Francisco-based porn director Courtney Trouble discovered her -- and how could she not with tweets like, “‘How was your weekend?’ ‘My pubic hair will never be the same.’"

“I cast from Twitter all the time," says Trouble. “I can often tune in to what performers are interested in doing or who they want to work with by watching them interact on Twitter and having access to some more personal attitude and traits that I don't have through a standard application process."

That’s part of why Twitter has become the adult industry’s LinkedIn -- or as one porn director put it to me, “the porn rolodex."

Lorelei Lee, a porn performer and director who lives in San Francisco, uses Twitter for work on both sides of the camera. “I've been offered jobs at major companies through Twitter and have hired tons of models who I wouldn't have known about otherwise," she says. That’s because Twitter functions as “a modeling portfolio," as Lee puts it. “In addition to photos, you can get a sense of someone's personality -- and thus, what they would be like to work with -- and you have a sense of how connected they are to fans and how big of a following they have."

Los Angeles-based Kimberly Kane, another performer-director double-threat, says, “I keep an eye on all the new talent on Twitter, like a who's hot, who's coming up in the business," she says. It’s a calculation that’s made the same way it is in the rest of the Twitterverse: Who’s getting @-mentions, retweets and #followfridays?

This is a huge change from what it used to take to get noticed in the adult business. “When I first started out, the Internet was so new," says Lee. “In addition to the back pages of the newspaper -- yes, I did that -- I used Craigslist and another website that I think was called ... which was laid out to actually look just like the classifieds section of a newspaper." She sees Twitter as a big improvement. “Maybe I'm wrong, but to me it all feels so much less seedy -- Twitter is bright and colorful and has celebrities on it," she said. “It doesn't look anything like the back pages of the paper."

Which isn’t to say that the the migration of adult business to Twitter is all good. Christian XXX, a male porn star who’s gotten plenty of work through Twitter, says he most often sees interactions on the social networking site between directors and female performers -- “especially the directors that are trying to either save one-hundred bucks by shooting the scene around the girl’s agent, or because they think the agent won't allow the girl to do the scene."

And not all directors are down with Twitter hires. Director Axel Braun says, “I only book talent through licensed and bonded agencies, and while Twitter is a great social media tool, the proliferation of fake profiles often leads to confusion and even blatant fraud." He would know: In May, someone used his name to contact more than 150 performers to audition for a non-existent “Breaking Bad" porno parody. Scammers also create fake Twitter profiles for female stars, which they use to post Amazon wish lists -- a common trope among performers -- to get free presents.

It’s usefulness isn’t limited to getting gigs, though. “I also promote a lot of my own projects, cam shows, photography, scenes, et-cetera on Twitter and the traffic coverts really well into sales," says Kane. Just as in so many other creative industries, Twitter has allowed workers to become entrepreneurial and push out the middlemen -- at least some of the time. It’s also introduced a whole new metric for measuring success and what the market wants. If a still from a foot-tickling gang-bang gets hundreds of retweets, it might suggest that another foot-tickling gang-bang is in order.

It also helps performers organize, which is only becoming more relevant in the adult industry. With the introduction of AB1576, a California bill enforcing condom use on adult sets, which many performers opposed, they took to their social networks. “Twitter was the main way I connected with other performers -- we used it for organizing, for posting battle cries, for debating policy and for sharing statistics and articles about health and safety in the industry," says Lee.

All of which is to say, the broad, ehem, strokes of what Twitter provides to the adult industry is the same as it does for the rest of the Web: connection and communication. It’s only the specifics that are different. It just goes to show that the identities of user-generated sites like Twitter are subjective and owned by the individual people who use them. As Lee put it, “I have no idea how LinkedIn even works," she said. “I guess from my perspective, LinkedIn might be the Twitter of the civilian world."’

[Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]