When (And How) Will The Porn Industry Escape Lockdown?

Wondering when the porn studios will start producing new content?

Since lockdown began, global industry leaders have been facing the mammoth task of making workplaces safe for their staff. From introducing compulsory PPE to incorporating social distancing measures, implementing flexible working hours to installing protective screens, every sector from retail to construction has been hard at work to get their businesses moving again. For close contact roles such as those in the adult film industry however things are a lot tougher. So, we asked the question how and when will the porn industry escape from lockdown and what will porn look like, post-pandemic?

In this feature we take a look at what the current risk is to the adult film industry and how this differs from other sectors. We’ll also consider what the outlook is for a return to ‘business as normal’ and what the future of porn could look like in a post-COVID19 world.

COVID19 and the Risk to the Porn Industry

Since our recent feature on the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the adult industry, little has changed in the global outlook of when (and if) a vaccine can be created. As a result, the world has slowly been waking up to the fact that (for the time being at least) we are all going to have to get used to the idea of living and working with COVID-19 as a daily factor.

porn industry post covid19 pandemic

COVID-19 has changed the face of many industries and porn is no exception. Image via Pixabay.

Industries as diverse as manufacturing and retail, transport and construction have all been adopting new health and safety measures to make their workplaces safe for their staff and customers. Whether it’s the use of face masks, Perspex screens and surgical gloves the world we knew is rapidly becoming a sanitized, and socially distanced, version.

For most places of business, these new measures have been relatively easy to adopt. However, not all businesses can achieve the same level of social distancing if they want to continue operating. Along with beauty salons, dentists, physiotherapists and health workers, the sex industry has been dealt a devastating blow by this infectious disease.

From escorts and masseurs to prostitutes and porn stars, the world of adult entertainment is a contact job and the coronavirus pandemic has all called time on most activities. Sure, there are a lot of creative ways that those working in the industry have fallen back on in order to generate an income. In fact, we salute the creativity of virtual sex orgies, isolation porn and long distance sex toys. And the cam industry has seen a massive increase in sign-ups as sex workers turn to the virtual world for an income but as for the traditional adult filml shoot, how can porn industries escape this lockdown?

Well, first some good news.

The appetite for porn has never been so strong. With different countries worldwide going in and out of extended periods of social lockdown, traffic figures to sites like XNXX and YouPorn have seen huge increases. In their most recent Coronavirus Update, Pornhub has reported increases of 10-25% since the beginning of March 2020. The latest news is that daily traffic to their site is up, worldwide, by 17.5%.

How Will Porn Industry Escape Lockdown increase in porn viewing trends coronavirus

Demand for porn since lockdown has increase by as much as 25%. Image via Pornhub Insights.

So, there is still a good demand out there.

Secondly, the porn industry has an excellent reputation for dealing with health crises. The HIV/AIDS epidemic of the late 1990s which almost crippled the multi-billion dollar US industry created a culture of health and safety that is unparalleled in other sectors.

The adult film industry came through that horrific episode with a robust and enviable system of protecting its workers. The PASS (Performer Availability Screening Services) protocol was developed as a routine and regular way of testing all porn performers. Operated by the FSC (Free Speech Coalition) in a self-regulating industry, the use of this system has created a world-leading standard for health and safety in the adult film work environment.

Whilst the risk of coronavirus is still deemed to be sufficiently dangerous enough to prevent a full return to ‘business as usual’, the industry is well positioned to be able to implement a resilient programme of defense similar to the current Four Ts approach (Target, Test, Treat and Trace).

porn industry covid19 pandemic testing

The adult film industry is well used to testing as part of its health and safety routines so new COVID19 protocols should pose no problem. Image via Wikipedia.

Another aspect of the pandemic that is widely reported is the effect that the crisis has had on mental health. A huge majority of people have been overwhelmed with feelings of stress and anxiety and workers in the porn industry (from talent to crew) are not immune to the symptoms. Quarantine for some has meant being isolated and increased levels depression, loneliness and substance abuse have been well-documented in the media.

What does this have to do with the porn industry?

Well, the impact of stress and anxiety (for male performers anyway) is erectile dysfunction. We joke you not! Sales of Viagra and natural supplements to treat ED have skyrocketed during lockdown. It’s a very real and prescient issue which the industry may have to deal very carefully (and very patiently) with.

So, is the porn industry ready (and able) to return to production?

Current Official Guidance on COVID19 and the Adult Film Industry

On June 12th 2020, the US porn industry body FSC announced its official COVID-19 guidelines. This follows advice issued by the association in the middle of March advising studios to adopt a voluntary cessation on all production.

Drawn up by a special task force, the FSC has advised that shoots can resume as long as:

  • Mainstream film production is permitted in the jurisdiction where the shoots will occur, and
  • that the company or independent producer responsible for the shoot has a written safety plan that includes COVID-19 infection prevention and response protocols.

But what does having a ‘written safety plan’ actually mean and how will this impact on the kinds of activities that can and can’t safely be included in an adult film?

FSC covid 19 guidelines porn industry

The Free Speech Coalition has now issued COVID-19 safety at work guidelines,. Image via FSC.

Fortunately, the FSC goes on to detail their guidance for health and safety in an updated 32-page document specifically for Adult Film Production.

Guidance covers:

  • Social Distancing
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting
  • Personal Protective Measures
  • Health Monitoring and Testing

The guidance starts with the assertion that every and all production companies and individuals must evaluate their own level of risk and take legal advice in respect of any specific regulatory rules within their jurisdiction.

FSC goes on to acknowledge that the risk of contracting COVID19 cannot be eliminated so the guidance is to control and manage the risk.

Resuming Production

Employers (studios and production companies) must undertake a full hazard assessment and mitigate any risks such as implementing infection control measures as required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the time of going to press, these vary by state with specific requirements in place for Florida, California and Nevada.

Of course, this pandemic event is a rapidly changing landscape and these guidelines are subject to change with up to date best practices evolving all the time.

Filming Environment

Whilst performers themselves may need to get up and close and personal in order to do what they do, the industry guidelines around production staff are clear; crew should maintain a distance of six feet from one another where possible.

In addition:

  • Non-essential physical contact should be avoided which includes shaking hands, hugging and even fist bumping!
  • Set access should be restricted to essential personnel only.
  • Where social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained, adequate PPE should be used which includes (but is not restricted to) face shields.
  • Items delivered to set or once in use should be able to be ‘quarantined’ until they can be disinfected.
  • Set break times should be staggered where possible to limit the number of people in break out spaces.
  • Where possible, movement around the studio or production space should be one-way with limits placed on numbers of people allowed in elevators or other enclosed spaces.
social distancing porn industry

Social distancing in the porn industry isn’t possible for performers but all visitors and crew on set must observe the rules. Image via Pixabay.

The only crew members who should have close contact with the performers (other than co-performers) should be wardrobe, make-up, hair and sound technicians.

Production companies are also being advised to encourage outdoor meetings, using wireless technology to limit touch points and to configure working spaces so that there is adequate distancing in place between tables, chairs and desks etc.

Cleaning

The porn industry is well versed with preventative cleaning before, during and after shoots as part of a managed approach to infection control. The guidelines merely bolster the need for such vigorous hygiene as well as lay out plans for deep cleaning when a confirmed case of COVID19 has been identified plus proper decontamination and waste management procedures.

Health Monitoring

FSC’s guidelines are specific when it comes to identifying anyone who could potentially expose others to infection.

Everyone who visits, or who works on, set must be screened daily. This includes a temperature check, completing a questionnaire regarding symptoms and a verification of COVID19 test results.

This latter element means that performers, crew and visitors are required to have tested with a PCR test for SARSCoV-2 RNA before arriving on-set. These tests are undertaken 1-2 days prior to arrival during which time the person in question must have self-isolated.

The Future of the Porn Industry

The upshot of all this regulation means that the porn industry can confidently move forward with getting on with creating new adult film content whilst minimizing the risk of infection.

What it doesn’t mean is that the industry is completely risk-free nor does it mean that we can expect to see porn scenes featuring adult stars wearing bio-hazard suits, gloves or face coverings.

The industry has proven itself over the last few decades as a responsible one when it comes to infection control and the talent and crew behind porn production trust and rely on systems like PASS to keep them safe. The measures put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in the industry are no different and it takes everyone being vigilante to ensure that business can go back to, and resume as, normal.

Obviously, these new measures are not without greater financial and time implications so it is to be expected that the price of porn could rise and the output to decrease in volume. At least until such a time as the COVID-19 threat is significantly reduced.

return of porn industry after coronavirus

What will porn look like in a post-pandemic world? Image via Wikimedia.

In the meantime, the talent behind your favorite porn studios may well continue to produce independent content in a less risky way.

As you may already know, the uptake of performers using clip sites and direct adult content sharing platforms has risen exponentially during lockdown.

Some stars are already producing hardcore content with a select number of other adult performers and directors are even using Zoom to remotely influence how content is being captured.

Those innovative ideas we’ve already seen during lockdown which include ‘remote orgies’, solo Zoom jerk circles and co-habiting porn stars giving live shows are likely to continue even after the porn industry hits top gear. After all, this pandemic has been an incredible eye-opener as to what is possible for remote working. Opening up a world of diversity and creativity, there may be no going back to just the traditional adult film industry. Instead, audiences are likely to be able to continue enjoying high-quality, premium porn content in a variety of ways.

Another prediction on just how the porn industry will look in a post-pandemic world relates to the creative control and financial remuneration being received by the talent. With so many performers turning to solo-outlets to generate an income, most will have become used to being in control of what they do and how much to charge. There are reports that some adult stars are enjoying pretty lucrative cam careers so the adult film industry is going to need to compete with this.

porn stars camming during lockdown

Some porn performers have been making more money camming than they did working in adult film. Will they return to porn? Image via pxfuel.

And, as well as offering fair and competitive rates of pay, they will also need to be more inclusive when it comes to what kind of content they are creating. After all, if the top talent can make the same money from home doing more of what they are comfortable doing then why would they bother taking a risk by working at a studio? We predict that fair pay and ethical production moves up the agenda for the adult film industry.

At the same time, we expect more performers to be working independently producing their own content and supplementing studio work.

lockdown porn

Pandemic porn…..is their a parody market in the offing for 2021? Image via Pexels.

And finally, as porn begins to take those first steps out of lockdown, we predict that it won’t be long before the first porn parody of the coronavirus pandemic hits the market. Certain studios in the industry are well known for their dark sense of humor and we can already see the appeal of XXX movies that take a lighter approach to socially distanced sex. Fancy seeing facial shots featuring face masks? What about glory-hole style sex with screening? We may have joked about hazmat suits but, trust us, it will happen and it won’t just be one for the fetish communities. Watch this space….

Featured image via Pixabay.

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