Right now, women across the country are clocking in for their job at one of the many X-rated adult channels. They're stripping off, getting comfy on a bed and preparing for 10 hours at work, where men from around the world will call or webcam in, to request their deepest desires. Here, we talk to former producer Kathryn Vinclaire who's seen it all.
It's four hours into my shift and I've got the screens showing the male caller's webcam turned slightly away. I love my job but I don't exactly want to watch a stranger masturbating all night. One of the babes is laughing, which is nothing new. The guys like to try and make them laugh a lot. Suddenly the laughter stops, and her expression changes. She looks like she's about to throw up.
I whisk around to the screen, to see what was going on. The guy is wanking off into a tub of cream cheese. This is fine, people mix sex and food all the time. The problem is, he's spreading the mixture of cheese and ejaculate onto the cracker and eating it.
I'd left film school hoping to be the next Sofia Coppola. You don't exactly finish a film production and cinematography degree thinking, "I'm going to dedicate my knowledge and expertise to porn." After freelancing for three years as a camera operator on feature films, short dramas and music videos, I fancied broadening my scope slightly. When a producer job at a babe channel popped up, my immediate thought was, "wow, that would be different." So I applied.
The company was very well known, and one I'd respected for a long time. Although it takes a particular type of person to get up for work every day and be in an environment that's so heavily sexualised, I'd always considered myself to be very liberal. My worry was mainly how people would judge me, I'd built up a professional reputation and was concerned a lot of people would think, "that's not filmmaking, that's porn." There's a stereotype that porn is all shot on an iPhone in someone's garage, so I expected some snobbery when I accepted the job.
Everything we filmed was live, and I worked from about 8pm to 7am producing content that was streamed to three different channels. The guys would call in and the girls had their names on the screen. The babes, who wore headsets, usually had men waiting to speak to them in a queue, so while the guys were waiting they could listen in to their conversations. Calls never cost more than 75p a minute or so, but often guys would pay £5 to jump the queue or get VIP status which meant automatic selection when they phoned in.
It was all about twerking and tit bounces.
There were three bed sets, and two girls per bed. They'd be enacting whatever they were pretending to do with a guy. If he said, "roll over, I wanna do you doggy style," she'd get on all fours. There was lots of twerking, which was basically the default for when a guy was talking dirty. The babes were extremely flexible and could do the splits and yoga poses, but it was all about twerking and tit bounces.
Changing rooms were set off to the side of the studio and we had between five and seven girls a night who'd have various costume changes. I lost count of the times we had to tell them to change their sheer underwear because we could see their nipples or genitals.
'The babes' as we called them, were mainly glamour models, or had come from other channels. There were girls that were 18 and over, and plenty of women in their 30s and 40s. The oldest I worked with was in her 60s, which was awesome as she was more experienced and knew all the tricks to get the guys going.
The minute I stepped into that world, I loved it. All of the producers except one were female. They told me there was a lot of female power in the workplace, and I thought it was fantastic. It helped when you were politely asking one of the babes to adjust her thong because you could see her pussy, which wasn't allowed. They weren't ever allowed to actually touch themselves because there were so many strict regulations. We had to be careful what we broadcast because the channels were public and anyone could have been flicking through. They could only take their bras off after the watershed at 10pm.
In the eyes of OFCOM, we were a telemarketing channel because we were, effectively, selling something. The word 'porn' wasn't used in the studio as not everyone sees a sexy woman in lingerie gyrating on cheap furniture as porn. You can put as many regulations on as you like, but at the end of the day it was very explicit, sexualised and erotic.
Masturbation wasn't allowed, so the babes had to pretend to do the motion on the side of their inner thigh, as close as they could get to their vulvas. This was more than enough to get the guys going, and most were completely fooled.
There were relationships forming between the girls and their regulars.
Listening to the babes faking orgasms for 10 hours a night was exhausting, sometimes you'd have seven women all faking at the same time. I found it quite amusing that the stereotype was women fake orgasms all the time to please men, but these women were putting theirs to professional use. So much of the job was about subverting stereotypes like that.
The men who called in could pay extra to webcam directly into the studio. It was crazy – we were watching these guys in their living rooms masturbating and doing all sorts. There were times when the girls were camming, and they'd call to me, "Kathryn look how amazing this guy's cock is, it's just the most incredible thing you've ever seen," or, "Have you ever seen anything so tiny in your life, it's pathetic and minuscule," depending on what role they were playing.
Often, a babe would call me over to look at the screen, where the gentleman they'd been camming with was there with his trousers around his ankles, on his sofa, fast asleep with a limp penis in his hand.
I don't like to use the word 'relationship,' but I suppose there were relationships forming between the girls and their regulars. Obviously they were quite superficial, as the babes never gave their real names and were acting, but sometimes the guys calling in would just want to talk.
If I ever caught them talking about double-glazing with some guy who'd just had his windows done, it was my job to pop on the line and say, "keep talking about your pussy, keep it dirty." I'd also have to give them specific instructions like, "can you turn your boobs to one side?" or, "bend a bit to show more of your arse cheek." If I could see their tampon string, I'd have to tell them.
By 3am, they'd been gyrating for five hours and even with breaks, there's only so much twerking anyone can do. I had to keep them motivated, "play with your boobs a little,' I'd suggest, "fake a blow job in the corner."
Once, we had an absolutely giant dildo delivered to the studio addressed to one of the babes. If it was a girl's birthday, they'd be sent lingerie, vibrators and flowers. As well as all the gifts, the babes were making an absolute shedload. They chose their hours, got an opportunity to do something they loved, and were doing very well for themselves.
When I first started, acclimatising to the fact it was women faking orgasms and pretending to have sex non-stop for 10 hours, was tricky. I was concerned it might change how I viewed women and sexuality. I thought I'd come home from work and not even want to get my rabbit out. What was really lovely was that it did change those things, but for the better.
In an odd way, the babes inspired me. After the first few weeks on the job, I realised I hadn't even scratched the surface of what you can do in bed. It made me realise there was a whole world to explore.
It was a world entirely led by the girls on camera.
People have misconceptions that these industries are exploitative of the girls who come in but it's the opposite. In fact, it was very empowering to watch. If the girl didn't want to do something that a caller was asking for, she'd say, "I'm sorry darling that's not really me, why don't I do this instead?" And it'd be something the guys absolutely loved. It was a world entirely led by the girls on camera, and they were always in complete control.
After a year working at the channel I left. There wasn't anything I didn't love about the job, but I didn't want to be basically nocturnal anymore. When I meet new partners now, I tell them about the job I used to do because it's important to me to find someone with an open mind.
That said, they certainly like discovering some of the tricks I learned at the babe station. Past partners have been very understanding, but then I do like the adventurous type, so it makes sense that they'd be pleasantly surprised at my experiences with the light porn industry.