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Young Africans Who Want to Be Porn Stars

Hundreds of youths try to escape poverty by going into Africa's porn industry. Few realize how difficult and unsafe it can be.

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That content is also increasingly sought after. "There is a strong demand from the lower and upper middle classes that have equipped themselves with communication and video equipment (PCs, modems, webcams). There is also international demand: Nigeria, home to one of the world's largest domestic film-production industries, "exports videos and makes different types of content it later puts online on Internet portals," says Philippe Di Folco, the French author of the Dictionnaire de la Pornographie.


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Foreign demand explains why "African actresses become specialized in different forms of pornography in Europe," says Cameroonian activist Amély-James Koh Bela, who monitors the pornographic sector. She identifies two porn-film companies, Concorde and Maeva, as the top providers of "special black" pornography that floods the Internet.

In the meantime, the underground amateur African pornographic sector keeps growing. More than that: Koh Bela says that three major cities in her home country (Douala, Yaoundé and Kribi) have been turned into porn-filmmaking centers where some actors boast about what they do for a living.

Alex (his name has been changed) has long been proud of his job. The young Cameroonian with an Afro hairstyle directed a handful of movies and founded a company he called Sexe Images Nature Africaine to "create jobs and fight local prostitution -- less profitable than pornography." He also starred in two short movies and was paid 1,500 euros ($2,100) for both by a producer based in France. This was all before he retired from the business because he "found God."

"Super sexy cute South African porn star"

South African Palesa Mbau is not likely to be retiring anytime soon. The 23-year-old auditioned for a movie cast through Sondeza.com about a year ago. "The idea of creating a local film was inspired by our members, who asked us to produce something 100 percent local and relevant to our market," says Morena, who produced the film. "We asked for members of the website to come forward and be part of this experience, as there are no professional porn stars in South Africa."

There were more than 1,000 candidates (mainly men) from all walks of life. Mbau was chosen, along with four other amateurs -- two women and two men -- for Mapona ["naked" in Sesotho], Volume 1, which has sold some 5,000 copies since its release last September. "I am getting proud because it is a black [pornographic movie]," says Mbau. "That is raising black empowerment because the porn films that you [commonly] see in South Africa are all white."

Is Mapona a turning point in the pornographic career that she started three years ago for "personal reasons"? One thing is for sure: The light-skinned actress, who met high-profile representatives of the adult industry at Sexpo, is determined to get somewhere in the X sector. "I have a full-time job in a call center, but I see my future over there. ... I do not have any problem saying that," she says.