By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
The camera's red light eye blinks on, and the hardcore sex, choreographed for maximum visual exposure and female humiliation, begins in earnest. While camera operator Greg Entner taunts and insults her, a slip of a young woman with curly brown hair whom we'll call Lori, performs oral sex on her partner, and chokes, partially on stifled tears.
The scene will be edited into a 45-minute episode depicting Lori's sexual escapades and uploaded onto the Website of Miami-based porn giant Bangbus.com. While the Bangbus gang often gets credit for being groundbreakers in the world of Internet amateur porn, reality porn and its reality-based cousin, gonzo porn, actually have been the leading forms in the $10 billion a year industry for about a decade.
Anyone with a digital video camera and at least one person willing to perform a sex act in front of it can make and distribute pornography. The acts depicted on amateur, reality, and gonzo Websites are more raw than those on professionally airbrushed bit streams such as the ones launched by Penthouse and Hustler magazines or other well-financed operations. With jaded media consumers having seen everything from footage of hostage beheadings posted to Islamist-affiliated Websites to people stuffing eels up their noses on prime-time network television, porn programmers have to work extra hard to jolt synapses out of their sensory-overloaded stupor.
In Miami that work is camouflaged by the respectable veneer of the Brickell Avenue skyline. Among the many law and accounting firms that have made SE Fourth Street their home; Ox Ideas, creator of Bangbus.com, is pixilating and broadcasting pornography across the world.
Captured inside countless hard drives, Lori's feigned moans of sexual ecstasy narrate the sad tale of her introduction into the world of porn. The saga begins with her squatting over an at-home urine test, confirming what her body had already told her -- she was pregnant. Tears poured down her face as a million thoughts raced through her head. She was too young at 22, unwed, and her relationship with the father was rocky. In fact, he had just moved out of the South Beach apartment they shared. Now, alone, with rent due, and no insurance, her choice was clear -- terminate the pregnancy. But Lori needed money. Her obligations as a university student of psychology only allowed for part-time work that barely covered her living expenses. So Lori arranged to meet with the father, a guy we'll call Donnie, to explain their mutual predicament. She hoped to elicit some emotional support, or at the very least, funds for the procedure. But the seemingly simple task of raising a few hundred dollars would prove difficult. Upset, jobless, and just as broke as his former lover, Donnie needed some time to absorb the gravity of the situation.
Donnie's proposed solution came two days later in the form of a small newspaper ad seeking models and couples; paying up to $1000 a day -- nudity required. Lori had never been naked in front of a camera. Still, as long as it didn't entail anything lewd or graphic, she wasn't opposed to the idea. The next day Donnie, with Lori's encouragement, called the number in the ad.
A few days later, Lori and Donnie stepped inside the offices of Ox Ideas. She half expected to walk in on some dirty old man and his camera. Instead, she and Donnie encountered a low-key, professional operation. They were led into a conference room where they provided proof of age and Lori was afforded the opportunity to ask questions. "They were trying to make me feel comfortable, they wanted to convince me," said Lori. "One of their employees ... said that my movie would only be up for two weeks."
Utilizing the luxury of hindsight, Lori admits she was in the middle of an emotional crisis and didn't go over the contract and release forms presented to her as well as she should have.
Lawrence G. Walters, Bangbus.com's corporate lawyer, agrees. "Bangbus has everyone sign the same model release, and none of the model releases, and I know because I drafted it, none of the model releases authorize Bangbus to display their content for a period of two weeks. That's not standard in the industry. No Website does that," said Walters by phone from his office in Orlando. He was the only person from Ox Ideas who would speak with New Times; all other company officials declined repeated requests for interviews and comments.
The couple was put on a list of available talent, and two weeks later received the call. It usually takes a little longer, but as the caller explained, Lori and Donnie were lucky -- another couple scheduled to shoot that day had cancelled. Pregnant Lori and her ex-boyfriend would soon be working for Kristopher Hinson, founder and CEO of Ox Ideas.
Hinson is the brain trust behind such Websites as 8thstreetlatinas.com, Baitbus.com, Trannytrick.com, and of course, the Bangbus. He controls a porno empire from his $1.8 million mansion on San Marino Drive, overlooking the Venetian Causeway. Details about Ox Ideas are hard to come by, but Hinson got into the business when he and chief operations officer Penn Davis were attending the University of Florida. They had been running free adult Website links, the largest one being Sublime Directory. As novice webmasters in the adult entertainment industry, they set up links to other Websites that required payment. This is a way for fledgling companies to cash in on the sex industry without actually producing any content. These directories list and rank pay sites that do produce their own content, and in turn receive commissions for referrals. After the checks started to roll in, Hinson and Davis decided to pack up, move to Miami, and create Ox Ideas. That was back in 2000, and since then Miami has flourished as a porno paradise rivaled only by Southern California.