Porn Stars And Sexuality: The Economics Of Same Sex Porn

Ever wondered about whether those girl on girl porn stars are actually lesbians or how common being ‘gay-for-pay’ actually is?

Adult movie stars get paid to have sex; we all know that but have you ever wondered whether performers earn more by starring in same sex porn? And what about homosexual adult stars who have appeared in straight porn to improve their ‘marketability’? The lines of sexuality can get pretty blurry in the adult movie business and we wanted to know more about same sex porn from what motivates adult stars to do it to how common it is.

In this feature we’ll take a closer look at the economics of same sex porn and why some adult stars choose to feature in scenes that don’t align with their own sexuality. Specifically, we’ll look at any stats we can find on sex and gender identity in the world of porn and how money influences creative choices.

What is Gay-for-Pay?

Gay-for-pay is the term given to heterosexual actors (male or female) who get paid to perform in homosexual scenes.

The practice is pretty common in both men and women with male porn stars often being paid far more for gay sex than for performing in a straight XXX flick. There are studios whose entire library of content is filmed on this basis.

Another motivating factor for the guys doing gay porn is that it is far easier to make a name for yourself as a gay porn star than as a straight male. Let’s face it, in the heterosexual porn world, we can all name thousands of female stars but there are only a handful of men who are memorable.

The rise to fame in gay porn is particularly easy for men who identify as being straight as they are more marketable in their scenes. A common gay fantasy is the seduction of a heterosexual man and by declaring that performers are straight can increase sales and distribution.

Take Broke Straight Boys for example, a site with over 2,000 scenes all shot on the premise of heterosexual guys performing homosexual acts in order to pay the bills. Being duped or lured into gay sex, these young guys are an erotic go-to for many men who are willing to pay premium prices to watch their first-time.

same sex porn broke straight boys
Image via Broke Straight Boys.

For women, being gay-for-pay has long been seen as part and parcel of mainstream pornography with lesbianism being a commons straight-male fantasy. Far from being paid more for these kinds of scenes, female adult stars are paid less for girl-on-girl action than if they took part in penetration scenes with a male co-star.

And it’s not just in porn movies where the economics of gay-for-pay are attractive for straight men. With the advent of direct to the consumer amateur porn content sales sites like OnlyFans, ManyVids and Clips4Sale, heterosexual men can also generate strong interest in their own home videos. Again, the appeal for gay men watching a straight guy masturbate or perform sexual acts is high.

So, doesn’t this just mean that these stars are all bisexual?

Over the last two decades there has been a mammoth shift away from the binary ‘norms’ of two genders (male and female) and two sexualities (gay or straight) and neither are seen as being black or white any more. Instead, (Western) society has become more accepting of a sliding scale of gray. When it comes to sexuality in the porn industry, individual performers have different attitudes towards what they will and wont do on camera. So whilst some straight guys will happily suck cock to maintain their heterosexuality, others will go further and take part in penetration (top and/or bottom) and still say they aren’t gay.

Many performers differentiate what they do for work with what they do for pleasure and, in their private lives, are strictly heterosexual. Others are less restrictive with the definitions of their sexuality and will readily accept a label of ‘bisexual’.

same sex porn and money
Image via Wikimedia.

Gay, Straight or Bisexual: Pick a Side

Despite the seeming prevalence of bisexuality or gay-for-pay work with male porn stars, there is still quite a lot of stigma within the adult industry.

Even in 2020, the perception of gay men representing a higher HIV risk is embedded in the industry and there are reports that some mainstream studios and producers won’t hire male actors who also perform in gay scenes.

The reason? Despite the high levels of safety in both the straight and gay adult film industries, there are two different sets of rules when it comes to STI testing and condom use. In gay porn, condom use is mandatory but testing is not routinely undertake. The opposite is true for straight porn film-making where the use of condoms is rare and studios insist on performers using the PASS (Performer Availability Screening Services) system.

gay for pay in the porn industry
Male porn stars are likely to earn more in gay adult films. Image via Wikimedia.

There is also the matter of marketing to consider and whilst many straight male porn stars have been approached to do some guy-on-guy scenes, it is less common for gay porn stars to be asked to perform in straight scenes.

The high-profile exception to this, of course, was Jeff Stryker. A gay adult film icon and celebrated star of both gay, bisexual and straight porn movies from the 1980s and 1990, Stryker was the Cary Grant of porno. He has described himself as ‘sexually universal’ and one of his first straight pornos (Jamie Loves Jeff) remains one of the biggest selling adult movies ever.

Straight-for-Pay

Jeff Stryker hasn’t been the only notable gay porn star to perform in heterosexual XXX films and there have been several high profile performers who, for  the right price, have slept with the opposite sex on camera. Often causing a backlash in the LGBTQ and accused of being ‘converted’, titles such as Shifting Gears: A Bisexual Transmission yet again show how blurred the lines can be in the adult film industry when it comes to sexuality.

The Rise in Popularity of Same Sex Porn

Whilst lesbianism in porn isn’t new, homoeroticism in men has become more popular and less of a taboo over the last decade.

There are several schools of thought about why this is but many seem to agree that that the cultural context of the current generation of young men who have (largely) been educated not to tolerate homophobia. As a group, they seem far more comfortable with their appeal to a gay audience. Remember that this is a demographic that have been raised on image conscious social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat where sexualization is commonplace.

Of course, there is still homophobic abuse being aimed at gay porn stars and this is all the more ridiculous when hate-fueled comments are being leveled at straight performers!

Economics of same sex porn lgbtq+
Image via PxFuel.

The Economics of Same Sex Porn

The rates of pay for porn stars varies significantly around the world and depending on the level that performers are working at. Newcomers to the industry can expect to receive less than established stars yet studios are often prepared to pay more for unusual or demanding acts such as anal sex or performing with multiple partners. Traditionally, kinks and fetishes are also more highly paid.

However, mainstream studios in North American and Europe are reported to pay around $1,000 to female performers engaging in sex with a man yet this is reduced to around $700 if the scene is with another woman.

A scene featuring a ‘first’ like debut anal sex could see rates increased up to $2,000.

Well-known stars will earn a lot more than this and the top adult performers in the industry are commanding rates in excess of $2,000.

However, debutantes without good representation could see themselves earning as little as $300 per scene, irrespective of what is involved.

For guys doing straight porn, the rates of pay are less variable and they typically receive $500-$600 per scene no matter what is involved. If they have a reputation then this may increase to around $700-$900; the superstars of porn may be commanding up to $1,500.

However, for gay porn the stars are taking home around $500-$2,000.

Economics of same sex porn movies
Porn is a job and the performers can separate their personal life. Image via Wikimedia.

Sexuality and Porn: What’s the 411?

So, how prevalent is bisexuality in the industry? Who is ‘straight’ and who isn’t?

According to a survey commissioned by ManyVids published in April 2019, over three in five porn stars identify as bisexual or pansexual. The adult entertainment video hosting company polled around 1,500 XXX stars and found that:

  • 44% identify as bisexual
  • 22% identify as pansexual
  • 26% identify as straight
  • 2% identify as gay

The survey was one of only a few such insights into the sexuality of porn stars and also covered other labels including gender identity.

Economics of same sex porn non binary
Society ois increasingly refusing to be defined with binary/polarization. Image via Wikimedia.

The majority of respondents in the poll identified as female (78%) with just 8% considering themselves male whilst the same (8%) said they were gender fluid/non-binary.

Backing these figures up, one study conducted in 2013 by psychologists at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania found that around two thirds of their group of 177 female porn stars identified as bisexual.

The numbers seem to support the claim that two in three female porn stars are bisexual but there is less information about male porn stars.

Does Watching Same Sex Porn Make You Bisexual?

And what about the people who are watching porn? Are they truly as straight as you’d think they would be?

A survey released by xHamster in 2019 revealed that the more porn you watch, the more likely you are to be bisexual.

The Report on Digital Sexuality polled more than 11,000 porn viewers and reported that 22.3% of their audience identified as bisexual with 67% considering themselves to be exclusively straight. Women were twice as likely to be bisexual compared to just one in five men.

Whilst this was pretty interesting in itself, revealing that regular viewers of porn were more likely to swing both ways than the average population but when xHamster compared how often respondents watched porn with how they viewed their sexuality, the results were stark:

does porn make you bisexual
Watching porn more frequently may mean you are more likely to be bi. Image via xHamster.

Viewers who watch porn several times a day are almost twice as likely to be bisexual than those who hit the XXX sites once a week!

It’s an interesting report as xHamster isn’t known for being an LGBTQ+ site but the same report goes on to discover what turns bisexual men and women on. Their results showed that the top categories being viewed by both were most likely to be (surprise, surprise) bisexual porn followed by ‘Transgender’, ‘Amateur’, ‘Gay Male’ and ‘MILF’ for the guys and ‘Lesbian’, ‘Amateur’, ‘Gangbangs’ and ‘BDSM’ for the ladies.

Bisexual was also a defining search term for Pornhub in 2019 with content being tagged with this word being ranked as the 7th most popular category across the site. Over on Pornhub Gay, the word ‘Straight’ was the 5th most popular search term with the ‘Straight Guys’ category being the #1 most viewed category on the site.

With stats like these, there is little wonder why the adult film studios are cashing in on the appeal of same-sex scenes. The porn world is a shameless and unapologetic one when it comes to giving audiences what they want so if there are gay-for-pay performers who are happy to perform for our pleasure, who are we to argue?