Is the Porn Industry Racist?

Why the adult film industry might be one of America's most discriminatory.

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Making this exclusion perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact that pornography featuring scenes between white men and black women has been a popular subgenre for years. In a 1990 interview, Heather Hunter and Angel Kelly, two of the industry's most famous black female performers, discussed the popularity of such scenes that they had appeared in, which were often penned, directed by and consumed by white males.

But while one could argue that such scenes are proof that the industry is not burdened by racial hang-ups after all, Steele offered a troubling observation: "Ironically, if a black female performer takes the option to not perform with a white male performer, she's almost blacklisted -- pardon the pun -- by the majority of adult directors and producers, who in most cases are white and would take personal offense and spread the word that the girl should not be booked."

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, is not particularly surprised that there are those who still frown on sex between black men and white women, telling The Root, "Racism has so much to do with sex, and always has. The first era [Ku Klux] Klan was absolutely obsessed with fear of white women being violated by black men."

When asked about the popularity of other interracial pairings in porn, Potok replied, "It is remarkable how attractive to certain people what looks forbidden is. It is mind-blowing how often we discover the Klan leader with the black transvestite or the neo-Nazi leader with the black girlfriend. It happens very frequently."

Potok previously wrote in an article for the SPLC that while it is commonplace for those who participate in white supremacy movements to denounce pornography as a dangerous by-product of "Jewish pornographers," "Many movement men are involved with the sex industry or child porn."

Double Standard in Pay

But even more disconcerting than the double standard regarding interracial sex scenes within the industry is the double standard regarding compensation. While men of different races are compensated in a comparable fashion, it is an industry practice that black women are paid substantially less than white women, regardless of the project or performance. Misty Stone, who has been called the Halle Berry of the porn industry for her ability to achieve crossover stardom with an extremely diverse fan base, acknowledged that despite her stardom, she is still compensated less than her white peers.

"That is absolutely true," she said when asked if there is a pay disparity. "Now that I have raised my rate -- which is not really that high; I know white girls getting paid [$1,500], and I'm getting about [$1,200] -- I get booked less." But she said that her current rate is a vast improvement over her previous rates.

"There was a time I was getting about 400 or 500 bucks a scene. Now that I'm with LA Direct [agency] and probably at the top of the food chain, I am now booked for $1,200 a scene, but they don't want to pay an African-American girl that kind of money." She explained that her bookings went down once her rates increased, despite the fact that they had increased based on her popularity and stardom.

She further explained that for certain, more extreme sexual acts, she knows white colleagues who were offered $3,000, while she was offered around $1,500 and occasionally as low as $1,200. She has so far declined to participate in such scenes.

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