c. Economic Circumstances

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
2

If it is not possible to speak with certainty about the family backgrounds of the young women and men who become "models," it nevertheless seems clear what chiefly motivates their decision to appear in sexuallyexplicit material: financial need. As one former model put it when asked why most women enter nude modeling:

A lot of women are hurt or crazy women under stress. Yes, most women come in under a lot of stress. They're usually desperate when they first come in-maybe they need money for some emergency, like I did, or they've gone as long as they can doing odds and ends or working at (menial) jobs, and they finally just have to pay their bills. I met a woman whose kid was in the hospital, and I met lots of women who were financially strapped. There were also many illegal aliens there who couldn't work regular jobs even if they had the skills because they didn't have their green cards.... [T]hey certainly know how to get you to do what they want. Some women are so bad off that they just go immediately into hard-core films.[984]

One prominent model recently described her entry into the business in similar though less sympathetic terms.

I had a sugar daddy who was, you know, keeping me. Paying for everything. I didn't need a dime of my own and never had to work. Then I guess his wife found out, and he ran back to her, breaking it off with me. I was out in the cold. Then a friend of his asked me if I was interested in doing some masturbation stuff on video. I needed the money and said okay.[985]

Although not a universal feature of models' accounts,[986] with striking regularity they speak of money and dire financial need as critical factors in their decision to model.[987] In the words of one now famous former model who was "literally starving" when he made an X-rated film: "It was either make that movie or rob someone"[988] As a representative of United States Prostitutes Collective put it: "For women working in the sex industry, prostitution and pornography are about money, not sex "[989] Not surprisingly, Professor Russell found that women who had been asked to appear in pornography were significantly poorer than other women in her sample.[990] From what we have learned about the rigors and risks of sex modeling, it is difficult to imagine any overriding motive other than serious economic need for such a momentous decision.[991]

Notes

  1. Lederer Interview, supra note 969, pp. 58-59.
  2. Amber Lynn: Porn's Busiest Beaver, Hustler, (April 1986), pp. 24, 30.
  3. See, Interview - Richard Pacheco, Adult Video News 1 (1984) (made his first "X" rated film in 1968 at age twenty or twenty-one because "I wanted to know what it was like." Id. p. 22). Some other models do not clearly refer to financial motivation as a factor in their career decision. Thus Veronica Vera described to a Senate Subcommittee in 1984 then decided, four years before the hearing, to "write or forget my fantasy to become a writer" and finally to enter "X" rated films. Ms. Vera's 1984 testimony represents the only statement by a current or former model of which we are aware which seems flatly to contradict the assertion that financial need is the overriding reason for entering nude modeling; unfortunately, it not only gives no verifiable details of her previous career but also seems at least partially inconsistent with some of her published statements. See, Vera, Beyond Kink, supra note 975 (describing (1) how, in 1979, she lived in Paris with "Roger" and, in 1980 how (2) "Mistress Antoinette" placed her "in beautiful bondage" on a tree from which she was "bound and suspended" while "her husband silently (took) pictures:")
  4. See, e.g., Heather Wayne, Erotic X-Film Guide 28 (May 1986) (former model, "What was I gonna do when the money stopped coming in? I couldn't live. I couldn't survive, because it was the money that kept me going." Id., p. 58); Ali Moore Interview, supra note 976, p. 9 ("Adult Video: ... Why do you do it? Ali: Money, money, money. That is the only reason in the world."); Statement of "Lisa" ("The money [offered for nude modeling] wasn't all that great but I was on welfare. . ."); Interview: Harry Reems, Adult Video News (April 1985) ("I was making a whopping $76.00 per week [as a New York actor]. I needed to supplement my income:'); letter from Kellie Everts to United States Department of Justice of March 21, 1986 [former stripper and nude model] stating "the women who get involved in pornography do so not because of a lack of morals but because of economic necessity"); Candida Royalle Interview, supra note 976, p. 46 ("Then one summer, it all fell apart ... I had no support. I got a job in a porn film and thought, why not?"); C. Hix Male Model 165-86 (among males involved in nude modeling the phrase "At the time, I needed the money" is the "usual explanation" for their initial involvement, Id., p. 179.) Some models, of course, may well have been coerced into appearing in sexually-explicit material, See Section B-3-b, infra; for them money could not be a factor in their participation.
  5. Sylvester Stallone, Playgirl 39 (October 1985)
  6. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. II, Margaret Prescod, p. 216. Ms. Prescod pointed out, as did numerous other witnesses, that the "feminization of poverty" had left the sex industry as "one of the few alternatives open to women to get out of, or refuse poverty . . . ." Id., p. 216.
  7. Houston Hearing, Vol. I, Diana Russell, p. 310F.
  8. One alternative motive advanced by a major male model (Jack  Wrangler) is intriguing: "I was so insecure with [my body] that I wanted to build myself into something that everyone would say was beautiful whether I believed it or not:" Male Model, supra note 926, p. 183. Obviously the decision to enter sex modeling is an extremely complex one that involves far more than mere economic need. It is likely, for example, that childhood sexual abuse plays a substantial role in predisposing individuals to consider such activity. See, text to notes 974-983, supra. Research on the factors influencing such a decision is clearly needed-yet it does seem clear that what the models themselves say when asked about their motives is that financial need was paramount. Even Mr Wrangler, when asked why "most" men go into nude modeling replied: "One, because they need some bucks and somebody offers them a hundred bucks or so if they will pose nude for them. The same reason some people might end up in prostitution:" Id., p. 186.