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Confessions of a porn site boss: How the net porn industry flopped

Part 2: How Gonzo porn led to jail for some unlucky producers

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Hardcore to hard time

Max did eventually end up serving jail time later on for transporting obscene material across state borders, rather than for anything less savoury. But it cost Max his liberty, his house, and something potentially much more valuable: his domain, maxhardcore.com.

Around the same time, Rob Zicari, AKA Rob Black, and his wife were also prosecuted for gross indecency in their film-making. Their videos included simulated rape and non-consensual sex. The name of their company, appropriately or not, was Extreme Associates. Eventually, due to mounting legal costs they changed their plea to guilty and served one year and one day in prison.

The more hardcore producers started to tame down the porn a bit. The adult webmaster boards were full of rumour and worry about who would be next. Ultimately, these two prosecutions were more or less the sum total.

Interaction equals money

The world was awash with high quality (and loads of not so good quality) porn. People had become used to it. The one thing nobody had at this point was interaction. Getting naked guys and girls to chat to was an obvious money-maker.

For a while, cams were the hot new things, and billable by the minute. There was a huge rush into cams and the money was good. Yahoo! chat was also huge.

For a few thousand dollars I could obtain a Yahoo! spam chatbot and the applications required to create the accounts. I ran chatbots pretending to be women looking for hookups. Traffic was astronomical and earning several thousand a month was easy. Captcha codes were truly not an issue, and I was able to knock out hundreds of accounts an hour. Sure, Yahoo! killed my accounts, sometimes hundreds at a time, but replacing them was easy – if only a pain in the butt. Waking up and finding half the chatbots dead signalled a bad day ahead.

Once the accounts were killed they could still be used (they were still visible and editable), so sending people to my sites from the dead accounts was an easy way to get that extra bit of traffic.

Eventually things started go to south. Facebook became ever more popular. Potential traffic was on the decline and the competition on the increase. Much like Yahoo! itself, the traffic and sexiness of Yahoo! chat just went away.

Why cams will always work

Cams offer something no other form of porn offers, and that is interaction. Often performers do what the viewer requests. It may cost extra credit but at the end of the day, a real live person is doing what turns you on. It's not just about the images, it's about the interaction and the personalisation of porn.

This is also the reason why solo girl sites have become very popular. On a typical girl site there are usually weekly video updates and maybe an online diary about what they have been up to. Obviously there is an element of fantasy in there, but it makes for “interesting” reading nonetheless.

As the rules allowed it, I was able to make some interesting cam sites with content I got from my free sessions with performers as a benefit for past sales.

Porn makes cash, in good times and bad

Although porn is arguably no longer the money-maker it was, it will always make money, as people - men especially - love the naked form. As for me, I got out while the going was good. The world was awash with a million-and-one sites pushing the same porn. It was time to move on with a proper adult life that I could tell my parents about. Sure, I miss it. I still surf porn like the next guy, but to this day I still use the tricks that learning the craft of building porn sites taught me. ®

* The term, coined by legendary journo and novelist Hunter S Thompson, is normally applied to journalism where the reporter is part of the action being described, such as Michael Herr's seminal Vietnam War work Dispatches)

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