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
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Miami's porn industry largely Internet-based is like an 800-pound gorilla covered in Vaseline. It is difficult to ignore and impossible to pin down.
Local sites such as bangbros.com and milfhunter.com pioneered so-called gonzo reality porn, with sex scenes made to look spontaneous and unscripted in moving vans and on boat decks, featuring supposedly random girls off the street and unfaithful spouses. The niche quickly became a phenomenon, spawning legions of imitators and leading to massive exposure for the originals. However, because most sites are privately owned and no definitive financial analysis exists, there's no way to gauge the profitability of Miami's porn industry.
Adult Video News, the industry trade magazine, compiles a monthly Web feature about porn site traffic patterns. Miami-based operators consistently receive high billing. AVN's analysis comes from link sites, Web businesses that get a cut for every new member they direct to a porn site. All three of the link sites in AVN's upcoming March analysis list Miami programs among their Top 10 most profitable.
Understandably, link site owners have made a point of directing Web surfers to Miami sites such as bangbros.com and milfhunter.com. In fact well over 4000 link sites connect to each among the highest totals in the online porn world, according to Brandon Shalton of t3report.com, an online service that analyzes Web traffic.
Nationwide the porn industry is estimated to have raked in about $12.6 billion in 2005, according to AVN. Internet porn accounted for approximately twenty percent, or $2.5 billion of the total.
Butders wants a slice of the porn cash pie and then, he says, he wants out. He's waiting to find someone with the capital to get the ball rolling on the movie series he plans to market. It will be bare-bones, no plot, straight-to-the-sex stuff. "Why bother with anything else?" he says. "Most people just fast-forward through that."
He has had some bites but hasn't reeled in an investor yet. As Miami's online porn business continues to boom, more people will want a stake, he figures. "It's like the new real estate."
The plan is to shoot scenes for mikeybutdersvod.com and then compile the scenes, based on subscriber votes, into DVD movies. Butders will star (of course), direct, and produce. He'll pay a cameraman about $200 per scene and a starlet about $600 to $800 per scene. When movie royalties begin pouring in, he'll say goodbye to porn.
Butders's confidence might be naive, says porn legend Ron Jeremy. With more than twenty years' experience in the business and close to 2000 films under his waistband, Jeremy has seen plenty of porn stars plot their financial independence. It is not an easy path, he says. In Miami recently, Jeremy chatted amiably before a conference about mobile porn technology nudie pics for your cell phone, basically at the Radisson on Biscayne Boulevard. Barefoot and wearing nylon pants and a black T-shirt strained by his bulging belly, Jeremy reclines on the hallway floor outside his room. He doesn't want to disturb his "lady friend" having room-service breakfast in bed.
"It's so hard to get well-known if you're a guy, because we're just props," Jeremy says. Porn's overwhelmingly male customer base is primarily interested in the actresses, he points out. In Los Angeles, where most major production companies shoot, even Jeremy, the most famous porn star in the universe, earns only about $800 per scene. In contrast, female starlets such as Jenna Jameson can make up to $10,000 per scene.
First thing's first, Jeremy says: "[Butders] is an awful name. It's going to hinder his career." Whatever handle he uses, Butders will have a difficult time gaining wide recognition through a Website, Jeremy explains: "Anything can be online." Starring in DVD movies, by far the most profitable and highest-profile segment of the industry, is the way to climb to the upper echelons of porn stardom, Jeremy says. Still, the Hedgehog, as Jeremy is known, is encouraging. Butders will do fine if he works hard, does scenes with lots of "cute" girls, and Jeremy smirks changes his name.
Getting into porn isn't exactly a straightforward business proposition for most people. Like many in the industry, Butders didn't follow any particular trajectory.
He graduated high school with a 3.8 GPA and a 1220 SAT score but didn't have the patience for college. He moved in with his mother. He worked as a personal trainer in Boca Raton and spent weekends on the beach. He drifted.
One day, in Fort Lauderdale, he spotted Jake Steel, star of milfhunter.com, one of Butders's favorite porn sites. Steel was filming a "pickup" scene on the beach. Butders, then nineteen years old, worked up the nerve to approach Steel, telling him how great he thought his site was. They chatted, shook hands, and then Butders went back to his towel. "Give him your number," Butders's buddy said. "Let him know you're available for work." Butders shook his head. He couldn't do that. Besides, what did he know about working in porn? "You think they go to school to be a porn star?" the friend said, choking on his laughter. So Butders did it, gave his number to Steel. What the hell.