UK Porn Stars Reveal The Highs And Lows Of Working In The Adult Industry

BuzzFeed News spoke to British female adult stars about making a living through porn. NSFW content.

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For the latest in a series of features about pornography, BuzzFeed News spoke to three British female adult stars about what it's really like to work in porn.

Lexi Lowe (left), Tanya Tate (right), and Kaz B (below) discussed the highs and lows of their job, how they got started, and how long they plan on performing on camera.

How did you get into porn?

Lexi Lowe: I never planned on it. I was working on a fixed-term contract for the police and hoped to apply to become an officer during their next recruitment drive. Then the recession kicked in and they put all recruitment on hold and didn't renew my contract.

I applied to literally hundreds of jobs after that with no luck – nobody was hiring. I managed to get a job as a temp working at the Home Office but I hated it with a passion, so I auditioned for Stringfellows on a total whim and got a job there as a dancer. It was while I was working there I was approached by a tabloid photographer and it sort of escalated from there.

Kaz B: I had done some modelling in the past and really enjoyed it. Then one night I was invited to a party – a huge networking event for porn stars in Soho. There I got chatting to the producers, and really hit it off with a porn star called Faye Rampton. I got pretty carried away and ended up posing for the cameras on her lap and having a little kiss and a play. Then later as we continued our fun in the ladies' loos a producer peeped his head round the door laughing and shot some footage. I was told that I was a natural and had my hands stuffed with business cards.

I was in a sensible job at the time working for the BBC, but I wasn't happy. After much deliberation I decided to make a go of it and was contracted to one of the big TV babe channels, and it grew from there.

Tanya Tate: I was working in an office close to my hometown of Liverpool, and was looking for something more exciting in my life. I was watching an adult movie with a friend and decided I wanted to do it. I had some photographs taken, researched the UK market, and sent them my pictures. They liked me, invited me to shoot in London, and here I am now living in LA.

What does your average working day look like?

LL: I live in South Wales and nobody shoots here so I usually spend a few hours a day travelling by train before I even start. Typically, if my shoot is in London, I wake up at 5am to get the first train to Paddington and get to set between 8 and 9am. [Then I] sit in hair and make-up for at least an hour while speaking to the producer about what they want from the day or going over lines. Then there's always lots of paperwork and releases to sign and, very importantly, health certificates to check – all scene partners are sexually healthchecked every 14 to 21 days.

KB: The UK scene is very different to the US. There is a lot less money involved – much of it is more amateur and the work can be sporadic, so most porn stars here have their own sites to make an additional income from videos and webcam.

If I am shooting a scene for another producer there is usually quite a lot of travelling involved, even to the other side of the country sometimes. This can be anything from solo, girl/girl, and boy/girl through to fetish. Fetish is very popular here and recently I did an adult baby shoot and also some voiceover work for some recorded erotica. You have to be highly versatile to make a living and always be on the lookout for new opportunities.

TT: I start my day by going to the gym. That's a priority to me. It has to be. After that, I'll run through my emails and I'll either have some meetings with my publicity clients or my assistant to see what needs to be done during the day. From there I'll work on my website or do a day of webcam shows. There is always something going on. To be financially successful as an adult entertainment performer, one needs multiple streams of revenue. So when I'm not shooting I'm busy with other projects.

What are your interests and passions outside of porn?

KB: I'm an avid writer. I recently wrote a pilot for a TV sitcom and I'm in the midst of writing a comedic film drama which I'm planning to film if I can find good investors.

TT: I'm a huge fan of Liverpool Football Club. I also enjoy watching WWE wrestling and try to see a match when they come into town.

I like to show my geeky side. I've been cosplaying at comic cons since 2010. I love it.

LL: I'm a total homebody, I love just being at home with my family and my dog. I've recently moved into a new house which I'm totally refurbishing so that's my passion at the moment – you're more likely to spot me in B&Q than Ann Summers!

How long do you plan on working in porn and what would you like to do afterwards?

KB: The UK scene isn't what it was. With the increase in free tube sites and the ATVOD [Authority for Television on Demand], the porn Nazis who regulate UK porn, enforcing what I will refer to as a "porn tax" and telling us we aren't allowed to shoot many genres now, it has become much harder to convert traffic and people are shooting less.

I am in discussions about a marketing role, which should hopefully take off in the new year. So 2015 could be my last year in porn. I also plan to write and make my mainstream movies and have a lot of good contacts. It's been an amazing experience but I think I'm ready to be Karen again.

TT: I think I'll be performing in scenes here and there for a couple more years. I always had an idea of how long I wanted to be in front of the camera and thought ahead to what I was going to do afterward.

LL: I've been working in porn for five years now and recently I have really cut down the amount I shoot. I have my finger in a lot of other pies, no pun intended!

Have you ever refused to take part in a scene?

LL: Yes. I was working in Budapest and my scene partner didn't have a copy of their sexual health test to show me. The production crew tried to tell me it was OK and they had seen the test but as I hadn't seen it myself there was no way for me to be sure. I refused to work that day and I haven't worked for that production since. Nothing is more important than your health.

KB: Yes. A producer who has a very bad reputation expected me to shoot a scene with a girl who had gonorrhea. I refused and then told him to never contact me again. I am very professional and like to know where I stand as well, so if I feel a producer is trying to move the goalposts in a hugely unfair way I will make my exit. I always give 100% and am creative and energetic, but I won't compromise on health or safety.

TT: I have a "yes" list of people I will work with. So I know in advance who I will be doing a scene with. I have never gone on set and said "No, I am not working with that person" because I know in advance who I will be doing the scene with.

It's not a standard practice among talent, but a preference. I never wanted to be in that situation where I would be presented with working with someone dodgy and have to kill the scene.

Has there ever been a situation where you didn't feel like you were in control while shooting a scene?

TT: On screen, I'm more of a dominant than a submissive. But once I was booked to be a sub. This was really early in my career. I had an agent at the time and they encouraged me to do the scene. Wanting to be a team player, I did it and hated it. It was not for me. It's not what I wanted. Shortly there after I didn't have an agent and have not since 2010.

LL: No, never. I have done some scenes where it may have looked like I wasn't in control – one in particular caused a lot of fuss and what appeared to be genuine concern by people who had watched it tweeting and emailing me to check I was OK – but it's all an illusion. I would never put myself into that situation.

KB: I had a horrific experience in France with a producer whom I can only describe as having some kind of personality disorder. He would fly into rages at the drop of a hat and try to manipulate you into doing things that were way beyond your boundaries. He was a little crazy and kept singing to us on set "You can't always get what you want!"

So, on this shoot, I had agreed to watersports scenes with another girl. She had agreed to scat scenes and I had said I didn't want to be present during that. I'm very open minded and sexually charged, but that I find repulsive and a massive turn-off. I ended up being coerced by both the producer and my so called friend to be present during the scene. The smell made me feel sick and I felt violated that he was getting off on the humiliation of it. I could not wait to get on that flight home! Needless to say – I don't speak to either of them now.

What has been your best experience while working in porn?

TT: My best experience? It's really hard to say. I've had a lot of great times in the industry. I'm not going to be one of those girls that bash the job when I retire. The industry has presented a lot of opportunities for me that I would not have had otherwise. I've petted tigers in South Africa, been on the cover of FHM, been photographed by Deborah Anderson – the list goes on and on. It's so hard to single one thing out.

KB: Oh, so many! I love all the big networking parties and shooting for my own site. I've shot in St Tropez, which was pretty amazing, and also on photography holidays in the Algarve where we model in the day and go out on jollies in the evening. I used to live in a big house in Surrey and shot many scenes in the garden that backed on to fields.

LL: I have been able to pretty much travel the world all expenses paid thanks to porn. I've shot in some amazing places that I never would have seen otherwise.

What has been your worst?

LL: I can't think of a specific single worst experience. I would say generally the worst experience for me has not been relating to the porn industry itself but the attitude of people outside of porn – the constant judgment and gossip. People have a very closed mind when it comes to the adult industry.

TT: I'm very fortunate in that I don't really have a worst. I didn't start porn until I was in my thirties, so I had a lot of life experience and worked a lot of jobs growing up. Some jobs were really boring. In comparison, I can't complain.

KB: The scat guy is definitely tops! The friend I mentioned would also come over to webcam with me then she'd get drunk and purposely start urinating over everything – including the equipment and electrics. That was not much fun! I think the industry here attracts a lot of crazies.

What do you think are the main differences between UK porn and American?

TT: In terms of production, it's a really small market. As a performer, it's really hard to make a living in the UK. It's not that much easier in the US, but there are more opportunities. In terms of the final product, I think UK porn has a bit more cheek to it. You can get turned on watching, but we have more fun with it.

KB: Money, money, money! The budgets are much bigger in US porn so the equipment is of better quality and the locations more glamorous. The girls over there are treated like queens and driven around to jobs and their health service is amazing. Over here it is not unusual to be lugging huge suitcases of clothes on and off trains with three changes, and walking in the pouring rain and cold.

Often we have to do our hair and own make-up, and might shoot in the producer's house. Sometimes it's been a rundown council flat in the East End. I've even been asked to come up with scenes and dialogue for producers as they couldn't think of anything! It's a lot less professional, that's for sure. Don't get me wrong – I love that I can contribute creatively and I love the diversity and the experiences. A few more romantic locations involving sun, sea, and sangria wouldn't go unappreciated though!

Our health service can be a bit ropey at times too. At my local clinic I was recently condemned by a health adviser who argued that condoms should be used in UK porn. I felt really judged. We have no proper governing body for our health service. It's up to the individual to get tested and certified, and unlike in the US where they have all the health certificates registered on a national database, we simply show our certificates to each other. It's pretty backwards. We could do well to use the US as a good example but it's all about limited budgets here.

LL: There's no comparison. Everything is bigger and better in America.

What do you think the future of online pornography is? Where do you see it in five or 10 years?

KB: I think it could go one of two ways. We'll either see a massive decline in production and it will be limited to amateurs shooting on home equipment, or if technology advances and is affordable, I can see it becoming a lot more interactive to give the viewer a simulated experience – much like gaming – where the viewer can feel and decide what will happen in the scene. I think that would be a great outcome.

TT: When I think about the future of online porn, it looks bleak. Between piracy and absurd laws, like the ones that were recently introduced in the UK regarding censorship, it will be increasingly harder to generate revenue. I think webcam, which is more instantaneous and can be more personal, will be the future. We are seeing the rise of custom movies, again more personal. These are things I do, now, from my home and believe will become more prevalent in the future. There will always be scenes and movies, but I think the landscape is drastically changing.

Richard James is acting head of news for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.

Contact Richard James at richard.james@buzzfeed.com.

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