The Naked Interviews: Interview with a Porn Actor

Welcome to the first of the naked interviews.  Stripped down, laid bare and naughty, let’s talk to people you might not meet every day and ask them the questions you really want to.  Are we both actually naked in the interview?  Maybe.

Our first naked interview is with the delightful and astute art-house style actor and producer, Marcus Quillan, who once described himself on a chat group as ‘your friendly neighbourhood pornographer’.  Sit back, relax, and let’s learn all about the wonderful, mysterious underworld of the porn industry.

How would you describe yourself?

I am an adult performer and film maker.  Also an actor, a musician.

How did you get into the adult performance industry?

I started doing modelling for different levels, from nude/art nudes, to mainstream fashion and lifestyle. That sort of moved into fetish style for stills for photographers, and I was really enjoying it so I thought I would like to do video as well.  I’d always kind of been intrigued by that; I was a fan of different kinds of porn and wondering what it would be like to do.  I’m a performer so I love any kind of film or performance. I wondered why there wasn’t more crossover actually- you do get these films that people talk about that are art house but have real sex in- it’s usually in the context of ‘Is it porn, is it not?’  Obsessed with making it clear-cut; drawing a line, defining it, whereas I was always interested in things that blurred the edges and were less mainstream- more artsy and just a bit different.  Also, mainstream stuff I’ve done that was just quite sexy- like a play I’ve done that was about the kink community, and pony-play specifically.  I met some cool people who were useful for getting into the kink scene for one, but also adult modelling and then porn.


I was always interested in things that blurred the edges and were less mainstream- more artsy and just a bit different. 

What was your first time filming a porn scene like?

It was quite chilled out.  It wasn’t like a job for a producer or studio.  It was just a content-share scene that I’d set up with another performer and a cameraman because to get considered for employment you have to show you have what it takes.  It’s not ideal but for a lot of the industry, you have to be able to show you can do that kind of work before you can get that kind of work, so people set up shoots themselves.  A lot of people do that as the majority of their work anyway because you can sell the clips yourself through different channels and no one gets paid- you just agree to shoot the scene and you get the footage.

Is that lucrative?

Less than people imagine for sure.  It’s not even like what people imagine is amateur porn, because that’s a style.  You have a lot of people making the style but they make it look that way because that’s what’s popular, but it’s the studio hiring you for a fee.  A lot of the content-share stuff is not that amateur in style because it’s pro’s making it with the idea to make money, so it looks like a couple in their own bedroom fooling around.


It’s pro’s making it with the idea to make money, so it looks like a couple in their own bedroom fooling around.

What are the fees like for a starting actor in the industry?

Not good! At all. It depends what sort of level you manage to start at.  Because I felt I had to get some content made to show what I could do before I could get hired by anybody, the fees for that were nothing.  It was just the content- which you can sell, but starting out, and especially being a guy?  There isn’t really a market for it.  I’ve sold a few clips here and there but it’s more of a career path for straight women who look a certain way because the biggest market is what’s most mainstream, like any industry.  Those people can make a lot of money if they market themselves.

What do you think of the ads for porn actors on Craigslist?  Would you recommend this route?

Well, the ads I’ve seen are almost always looking for women, and a lot of the time that tends to be guys with cameras.  You get that in the modelling world too, at least the part of the modelling world I had experience in; a broader part which includes art nude styles, erotic and fetish photography, which is often very professional and artistic. It is, however, also a way in for some very unprofessional people to be like ‘I have a camera, therefore I’m a photographer and I’ll hire you to just shoot a load with me in my house’. That goes the same for porn and there are some guys that do that in a professional way but some that don’t. So a lot of girls don’t really do those kinds of shoots.  Often they are not for pay unless they are with another performer – unless its a guy they know and trust – or for content share where they get footage they can sell, basic POV style. That, therefore, means there’s a window for guys who just want to get laid to say ‘I’m making a POV scene, come to my place and film it and we don’t need anyone else, it will just be us’.  So there’s a big market for women to do that but I don’t know how positive that is generally, or how many of those jobs are positive or not.

What are the biggest misconceptions about the adult industry?

Just how much work there is available.  A lot of performers would say it’s the pay itself.  That everyone thinks porn performers get paid loads, because there’s an assumption that if you are in the adult industry, or even have done porn once or twice, you are therefore a porn star.  There’s this dichotomy: they don’t know what to call you or think of you.  You are either a normal person or you are a porn star.  It’s bizarre to me.  As if you do one school play and you are called a film star!  But I sort of get it; it’s about lack of knowledge and understanding of it, the distancing.  Putting people on a pedestal while stigmatizing at the same time; ostracising them.  People think there’s loads of pay.  People generally know now that guys get paid less than women, but I’d say it’s a bigger misconception that there is loads of work, because ‘who would want to do that’? Therefore if you do, you must be able to easily get a job just like that- get a shoot.  I was guilty of that when I was getting into it.  I could only see these hundreds and hundreds of porn films being made and think, ‘Wow, there must be a really high demand for performers’, but there isn’t really. There are lots wanting to do it, to get work, and less stuff being made.


Everyone thinks porn performers get paid loads

If someone wanted to do porn, what are the elements they need to succeed?

I’ve found it’s more about community than anything.  I want to say networking, but it’s not even that, because you can network on social media and at events all you like and still be considered suspect or uninteresting to producers because you haven’t done anything in that field, or you are not the right personality type or something.  I came into it from already being a mainstream actor, and I thought that would give me a big advantage, but I don’t think it did really.  What it did was make me appreciate the importance of networking in conjunction with having a body of work.  In the context of porn, that means good pictures, good social media accounts, good websites if possible, showing what you do and what you’ve done; you need to be a packaged product already really.  Which is catch 22.  I did that by going into modelling first and then using that.  Even when I’d done a load of really good quality photo shoots that I thought were pretty close to porn, except they were stills not video, people would still say to me ‘what films have you done, call me when you’ve actually done a film’. So then I end up doing content share shoots, which in terms of production quality are way down from the actual photo shoots I’d done, but it was video and actually showed me fucking on camera, which was actually proof! Producers and companies; I guess that’s their priority because they get so many guys wanting to try to shoot for them. There’s a lot of trust involved if its a first time thing, so they try to avoid that, and a lot of the time they get someone in and they actually can’t perform! So I get the risk and why that’s a priority, but it’s annoying that it’s so much more important than more professional credentials or experience.


I’ve found it’s more about community than anything. 

Are men in the porn industry expected to be well endowed and have a particular physique?

I don’t think its as important as people imagine.  It does help, I think, especially for some styles, but I also hear people always complaining that a lot of the guys they see in porn are not physically attractive at all or not that well endowed, and they wonder why when there are so many guys trying to get into porn.  I guess it’s because of the prevalence of one man bands- a guy with a camera who wants to shoot something, rather than being a performer.  Whereas people who are serious about wanting to be a performer will generally take care of their bodies a bit more, try and be more presentable or appealing in a certain way or with a certain style.  Branding is a big part of it.

Does a man need superhuman stamina and the ability to shoot for 8 hours?

No, I don’t think so.  Maybe in some styles? Or for some companies?  But even within some super-mainstream stuff where that’s quite common, it’s probably not as common as people think.  It might depend on the shoot, the style of the shoot that day, what the director wants. Most of the shoots I’ve done, the sex scene will be under an hour, maybe a bit stop-start if they want stills as well as the video or if they want to change rooms or something, but otherwise its pretty much how sex would progress in regular life.

Do male actors use a lot of Viagra?

Yeah.  I didn’t really know much about that before I got into it.  I just heard rumours.  Some do, some don’t.  Probably more than the general public for obvious reasons.  I kind of looked into it a bit after I’d been in the industry a while because I was really curious.  I put up some Twitter polls to see, and it’s hard to know because it’s hard to know if people are being honest or not, and how to extrapolate from a little poll to a whole industry, but around half said they did use it a lot. The other half were varying degrees of ‘occasionally’ to ‘never’.  There’s always a risk that you are going to have problems whether you are taking it or not taking it, just like in real life.  It depends on so much – mood and environment, working conditions and expectations and all sorts.

In your private life, how much crossover is there?  Do people know, or is it kept separate?

Some people do.  My close family does.  I just told them straight away when I had one of my first interviews for a job, which isn’t normal but it’s just a certain company that interviews performers sometimes. I was on holiday at the time with them, so I didn’t want to lie about it, I just said ‘I’m going to go do this Skype interview and this is what it’s for’.  They were super supportive and that was great.  Friends? It was a bit more gradual.  I’d tell them bits, job by job, depending on what it was, so it seemed to them I was gradually moving into this industry, which I was.  It wasn’t that one day I was like, ‘I’m now a porn actor’. I’d always done different kinds of performance and modelling.  I’ve had jobs where I told certain people, where I got the vibe they’d be cool with it and they’d be interested.  Sometimes its great and they are interested.  Sometimes they go quiet and it’s clear they are not quite sure what to think, so you think ‘Ok, I guess I’ll just leave it’.  Sometimes they are super interested, but kind of weirded-out because they have a lot of the misconceptions. Most people do.

How do you find it affects dating and relationships?

I’m not sure because I’ve never dated on a regular basis like some people do.  I find it hard to get dates or even to have sustained relationships.  I haven’t for a long time.  Not because of anything in particular, just because I had a few long-term relationships a few years ago and not since.  Just had shorter ones or more casual ones.

Were they aware of what you do?  How did they feel about it?

They were and are.  I’m always honest with those people. If I was going to be that close to them I wanted to be, but also I started meeting people through the kink scene more than anywhere else and with the people I know through that scene I am honest about it because I feel more comfortable being honest straight away. When I meet people for the first time I usually feel confident that they are going to understand or be a bit interested or at least not judge, whereas a more vanilla environment, like workplace or day job or something, I’m never quite sure, so that helps.  people usually know about it before I get into any kind of relationship with them.

Do you think women expect you to have superhuman sexual abilities, given your job?

No-one has seemed to so far, which is nice I guess!  I haven’t had that expectation come up, or anyone seem to be attracted to me for that reason, thinking that.  I hadn’t really thought about it before.  Maybe that happens to some people but it hasn’t to me.  It’s just been the usual kind of interactions that result in intimacy or relationships, the same as I ever had.

What would be your ultimate goal in the industry?

Performing is my favourite thing in any field or genre so I’d love to get hired more as a performer and build my profile as that.  But I know how difficult and precarious that is in the mainstream industry as well. You can get an amazing job, even a long-term thing for a few weeks or months, and then regular work, then nothing for ages, because that’s what performance is like, what the creative field is like.  Too many people, too many performers, too little work.  So I make my own stuff because of that.  To stay busy and to try to stay creative and build a brand for myself as a performer through that, as well as a filmmaker. But that’s a separate thing because I’d love for that to go further as well and become successful in itself.  My production project.  But it’s hard to see it happening any time soon.  It costs a lot of money to do, a lot of time. A lot of effort to make good quality stuff and it’s so hard to make any money with it.  It doesn’t make any money now, it’s just for creative reasons and branding.

Do you see yourself more as a performance artist or a sex worker?

I’d say a performance artist but I do call myself a sex worker too.  I think that’s important in terms of accuracy but also solidarity- there’s a lot of division within the sex worker community, because of outside pressures and stigmas and stuff.  You have pro-dommes who won’t call themselves sex workers because they don’t have sex with clients, even though clearly a lot of their work is about sex, but they want to avoid that.  They want to seem like the ‘good’ kind of sex worker, not like a ‘dirty whore’, like a lot of people might think as a misconception.

If someone wanted to be an ethical pornography viewer and supporter of sex worker rights in general, how should they shop as an enlightened consumer?

That’s a great question.  There’s a lot of debate right now about ethics as there’s been a movement for a while of porn that’s a bit different and trying to be better than the mainstream, or whatever they consider the mainstream to be, which is great or seems to be an obvious positive. Why wouldn’t you want something to be better?  Why wouldn’t we want anything to be better than it was before?  But there’s a risk of demonizing certain kinds of porn and certain people, making wide generalizations and assumptions about the whole industry and the ethics of it, when really it’s pretty complicated and diverse.  But as a consumer, ‘pay for your porn’ is the most important thing.  So many people don’t.  And it does cost producers a lot, but also performers.  Performer pay has gone down massively since free porn became so widespread for obvious reasons.  And it means there’s less quality stuff in terms of production value because the faster and easier you can make something, the more money you can make.  If all you can do is put it up for free and get ad revenue there’s not much you can do; you are just putting it up for clicks.  The same thing has happened with other art forms and journalism especially, so to assume porn should be free is a very damaging thing.  You should always pay for your porn, whatever style- it is doesn’t matter- it’s beneficial to support it in that way.


You should always pay for your porn, whatever style- it is doesn’t matter- it’s beneficial to support it in that way.

If you could bring in one political change for the good of the adult industry, what would you do?

One would be to regulate the tube sites.  I don’t really mean regulate- I mean make them ask for proof of ownership from the people who upload porn, because 90% of it on the free porn sites is just stolen or it’s someone who has paid for some porn, downloaded  it then uploaded it to the site where it is free, but they get revenue from the clicks and ads and stuff.  And right now that’s not illegal- the only way around it is if you notice your porn is uploaded illegally, you can message the site and ask them to take it down, but they can drag their feet, they can basically ignore you, and even if they do you still might have been seen by millions of people (which isn’t exaggerating) who otherwise might have actually paid for that content as they should.  So it’s stolen, basically, and it would be so easy.  Actual pay-for tube sites do it.  In theory it would be so easy, you have to have documents to show your own footage and that everything was above board with ID and proof of age.  People should have to send that in when they upload stuff.  But the sites don’t want to do that because it means that they get less easy free content to then make money off of, even if it is illegal.

What do you think of the new regulations in the UK regarding BDSM porn?  Do you see any value to them?

That’s really complicated.  They have changed a lot, back and forth, and I’ve had a lot of people ask the same thing.   What about these new laws?  But first, they aren’t that new.  They were brought in as part of the digital economy act that was stuff like forbidding facesitting and female ejaculation.  They were always in place for recorded media like film and cinema releases and basically everything but online content.  As soon as the internet came along the majority of porn was consumed on there anyway, no one really minded or cared because it didn’t apply online.  They decided ‘Oh, we need rules for online content,’ but they basically just copy and pasted it; they were decided in the 50s or 70s or something.  Then it became a thing.

Do the regulations actually protect anyone in any way?

No.  Those don’t. They just create fear and confusion about what you can and can’t film, or where you can film it.  People are going to Europe to film stuff because they are scared of that, and that takes away tax money from the government, which isn’t the intention or they just don’t care, but that’s not great because it costs the performers and producers more.  Who are often the same people! And also spreads the misconception that those things are dangerous or obscene, or whatever outdated terms you want to use. There’s a public consultation that’s just gone out on the obscene publications act, which is a broader, older thing, which only bans what it calls extreme pornography, so stuff that would be illegal to do anyway; it’s just saying you can’t show that on film.  So bestiality, necrophilia, all this stuff.  It is talking about fictionalized portrayals as well as actual portrayals; the problem with it is it is still considering porn as this whole separate thing, which needs separate regulations, because it has a separate definition of what is obscene or not.  If you are going to get turned on, then these kinds of things are worse.  You can obviously have scenes like torture in a James Bond film, because it’s not porn, but as soon as it’s in the context where someone thinks you are going to get turned on, it’s therefore not okay; it’s obscene and dangerous and whatever else.  That’s a vague one as well when you consider things like BDSM, which I think most people are coming round to the idea that that can be totally consensual even if it’s very violent or resembling torture, or whatever the wording is in these laws. There’s a lot of vagueness in the publications act about what they consider to be torture or extreme.  I think the examples they give are things like amputation or serious injury to genitals specifically, which again is designed to mean you can’t assault people when you are filming something, but that assumption doesn’t quite take into account the subtleties and complexities of BDSM and what is considered injury or not, or the importance of consent when you get into quite hard play. That’s pretty hard to define from an outside perspective- like a censor’s point of view or a government point of view, which is why they are doing this consultation to get people to write in about what people consider obscene or if obscene is even an appropriate term anymore. It’s good that they are considering tha-, that the term itself, that the whole idea that things could be obscene and therefore morally wrong, is outdated now.

If you had one message you wanted people remember, what would it be?

Sex work is real work.  It’s hard work; it’s a real job.  It’s way more similar to most other jobs than anyone would think.  It’s far less exploitative than a lot of other jobs, than people would think.  It’s work under capitalism.  That’s the overarching quality that it has, that most people don’t even consider, because it’s so much to do with a fantasy in their mind.  So, therefore, sex work, any kind of sex work, needs rights and support and freedom from stigma, oppression and unfair laws. 


Sex work, any kind of sex work, needs rights and support and freedom from stigma, oppression and unfair laws. 

Want to see some of his material?

(Adult content, over 18 only)

https://www.cinemajoy.com/director/thousand_faces_films/view

https://www.manyvids.com/Profile/1000708910/MarcusQuillan/

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2 thoughts on “The Naked Interviews: Interview with a Porn Actor”

  1. A lot has changed in the adult movie world since the internet and the glut of “free” porn. It is much more competitive for guys breaking into the industry. Few can stay in it for any period of time. Thanks for the interview.

    Liked by 1 person

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