The ultimate guide to Sex work in the USA in 2021

In the year of 1999 I met an ecstacy dealer by the name of Scott Owens at a basement party under a house on West Washington street in Madison Wisconsin.

Scott was building a porn wesbsite at the time by the name of (now A few years prior had established a new form of online porngraphy featuring unconventional talent and independent production unlike mainstream providers.

At the time this seemed like a pretty cool idea. It seemed like it may be possible for this new form and method of adult entertainment production to create a safer and better paying option for anyone wanting to provide adult entertainment as a career.

It turned out to be anything but.

Initially and for some years into the early 2000’s I helped Scott off and on with promotions, web design, talent coordination, photography and design work.

Through all of it, I became more and more frustrated with Scott and other alternative adult entertainment sites like Blueblood, Gods girls, Suicide Girls and

They were not evolving their methods to improve adult entertainment but rather sell their efforts back to mainstream providers and entrap models and talent in more low paying work.

THEN in 2010 I quickly parted ways with Scott after he, blueblood and attempted to frame a competing website owner with falsified accusations of Child Pornography.

The situation lasted nearly into two more years of in fighting, talent being banned, fired, threatened and more website owners getting involved in publishing retractions and more drama.

I then hedged my bets and tried to assist Kate lambert with her project, thinking that MAYBE a website actually run by a woman might be somewhat more ethical towards talent. Again, I was dead wrong.

For a short time after, I wrote articles for Sean Adamz’s websites. THEN I learned the hard way that Sean was really no different than the other corrupt and exploitative website owners out there.

Though I knew the proper formula for making an online adult entertainment outlet that was fair AND would provide content people would enjoy, I was never interested in being a website owner and no website owners were interested in the formula.

In reality Online adult entertainment doesn’t make a lot of money for the owners unless they want to deprive the talent of a majority of their share.

You will not be making millions of dollars unless you have an operations like Pornhub which encompasses millions of videos, providers, cam providers, affiliate programs and talent.

TODAY, the landscape of sex work and adult entertainment in the United states is a shameless meat grinder of mainstream corporate porn websites and alt-porn providers who do little more than carry water for mainstream providers.

Since starting Ride Safe, I’ve branched out into monitoring and reporting on app based and online based sex trafficking as it often involves rideshare services and the retail of under age content. This has also lead to an often heart breaking and cruel understanding of the sex trade in the real world.

If your intention is to ever make money as a sex worker in today’s environment, It is hard to navigate but there are methods to the madness which can afford at least a break-even for your efforts.

SO, what I’ve done is to group the best guidelines together for an effective means of making money without losing the value of what is created or getting yourself in legal trouble.

The ultimate guide to Sex work in the USA in 2021

What your content is worth and residual rights

From late 2007 to 2008 the American Writers guild and Screen Actors Guild participated in a series of strikes and protests which revolutionized the film industry.

This effected all levels of production and extended RESIDUAL CONTRACT rights to virtually every corner of production work.

Meaning that if you participated in the production of media content that made money for the company owning that content, you were entitled to a share in that profit FOR LIFE.

Previously this was a right only reserved to Producers, Directors and Actors.

It changed every aspect of how Film, Television and Online content were produced and directed capital to ALL of those involvd.

EXCEPT in the adult entertainment industry.

To this day, a majority of the models, talent, actors and production staff with mainstream porn productions DO NOT retain residual rights to profit share.

This dynamic gets far worse when applied to exclusively online content and among alternative or ‘alt-porn’ websites.

To this day, the Suicide Girls website STILL pays entry level models hardly $1000 for an initial fully nude spread of any model while entrapping that model in a contract witch dictates they can not appear on any other print material for up to two years. Even with that clause demanding they work for no other provider, Suicide Girls gives them no additional work to justify any lack of continued circulation or pay. Meaning that if you meant to make a career of it and they provided no work, you simply make no money.

The models retain no right to the MASSIVE residual profits that Suicide Girls will make from displaying the content.

This is virtually the same exact kind of treatment you can expect with mainstream and alt-porn production.

Residual profit share is an essential right of the talent and there are adult entertainment sites and production companies that WILL honor it when they realize they need the talent more than the talent needs them.

But currently, it is very rare and often unheard of to grant the talent this right.

To break this down by math:

You sell a fully nude spread or video featuring anything from simple nudity to full on hardcore sex to a website or porn video provider.

If you are paid any less than $350usd for the initial production effort with absolutely no residual rights to the continued profit that website or media company is going to make from it, you just sold your content for less than 1/100th it’s actual value.

That website your content will appear on is going to make a continued profit rom the content. They will also be able to market that content in other ways which will make them even more profit.

Camming websites and Peer to peer content trade sites like Onlyfans also have contract loopholes which allow people buying the content you sell them to record, save, screen capture and re-market that content by what ever way they see fit.

Meaning the 30 minute strip show you sold bob the basement dwelling pay pig for $50usd is something bob is going to turn around and market off his own server, pornhub account or his own website storefront for up to $200 a month.

The camming sites and Onlyfans themselves also have retaining option they can exploit with YOUR information and content.

Online and production work. Taking control of your content and residual rights

Your image is your own and keeping it profitable is a choice you and only you should have.

In the modern era of online sex trade, this is very difficult because ethical methods of production and retail are NOT the norm.

Organizing sex workers is an impossible task both due to the public stigma of sex workers and the general outlook of sex workers to retain a level of privacy and anonymity between their work and their personal lives. Activism and collective organizing makes that impossible.

So you need to use the market against itself.

The best way to do that is to get the customer on your side and advocating FOR YOU.

person wanting to see a certain sex act or to have a connection with the content provider is always a good edge. Onlyfans has exploited that very well and to a certain degree, that storefront provides a fair medium of profit for the talent.

But there are still pitfalls and content rights issues that rob the talent of their full earning potential and leave many of those providing content out in the cold. To say nothing for the lack of residual earning rights.

Step 1, GET YOUR OWN WEBSITE there is no excuse not to.

In 2021 a fully functional website is LESS THAN $20 A YEAR to own and operate.

The billing medium which YOU control only costs a percentage fee from each transaction instead of entire fees and charges.

If you do not feel like learning the content management software like WordPress or joomla then you can pay a freelance web content manager $100 a month for all of the essential odes and ends so you can have a site that operates just like Onlyfans only you dont have to pay any fees and you can contract the sale of your content on your own terms.

Having your own website under your own name also gives you a cheap way to brand yourself, retain a trademark AND retain a copyright to all of your image and namesake.

*Invite the customer to be part of YOUR profit and make your content work for you.

This is one way you can make the customer work for YOU. You already know there are pay pigs and content snoopers out there who are re-marketing content. Get them to work FOR YOU. Dropping watermarks on images and video is simple (your online content management software for your website does it for FREE with wordpress). The second someone tries to re-market your content, you get instant tracking on it, giving you the right to invoice them the full value of the content they are trying to use. If they want to legally use your content, they can then agree to pay you residual fees for it’s use. The more residuals you build, the more you make without having to work. The more you make without having to work, the closer you get to early retirement.

The goal is to let your content work for YOU long after you have made enough to never have to work again.

Step 2, build a portfolio and catalogue of your work for a bigger pay day.

While you market content on traditional websites, camming and onlyfans, you build a following. You may also have larger porn outlets making production offers. Say NO to a lot of these while you start building up your own prime content.

Find a good photographer and videographer and make content that you store for a later sale. Make sure to catalogue it’s value until you have build up enough stored content for a large sale ($10,000 or more). With the right samples and marketing of this content, you should be able to get offers with residual deals involved. Especially if this content involves other well known talent.

You will also want to keep a portion of this sort of content for your own marketing as exclusively sold by you.

Step 3, END your addiction to petty sales and pay for play websites

As you build content of your own and get your own site going. Shut down the majority of your camming, peer to peer sales and onlyfans type content.

Make those accounts limited and make sure they direct customers to your website and any content that actually pays you residuals.

This will quickly set you apart and ABOVE the average content providers and afford you more MONEY AND RESPECT.

In person sex work. From no contact to full contact

*The following information I give in the intention that it will be used with respect to the LAW and for the benefit and safety of those needing it.

The world’s oldest profession is never going to not exist. At some level online work and production work is no different than stripping, lap dances and full-on/full contact sex work.

It is going to happen.


In stripping, things are pretty much the same anywhere you go. You take your clothes of in a club, you are basically renting your time in the club for a free, the club may be marketing images and content of you and if so you should be getting residual pay for it. It is a hard industry to enter as it is saturated with drugs, drinking and petty in fighting between the talent and ownership. It is a very stress filled environment. Often times even more so than other forms of sex work, even full contact services. The benefits and pay are fairly above that of the average with other forms of sex work and the work is regularly available. HOWEVER, the work is also very scarce in the job market. Each Strip Club only affords a certain number of strippers given it’s size and the size of the area. Stripping accounts for a job market that serves hardly 10% of an available market in any given area of workers willing to do it. Leaving the rest to fend for other means of employment or other forms of sex work. If there were as many strip clubs as Churches in the world, this wouldn’t be an issue.

Lap dances very from place to place. In some areas like Nashville there are strip clubs which offer virtually everything but vaginal sex in-house as long as a condom is involved.

Other places are regulated to allow only for light touching and no lower body nudity while in close contact.

One thing to always avoid with strip clubs is contracting that limits your ability to work with other clubs or do other forms of sex work for online or production work by other providers. Any sort of contract to those terms should also carry residual pay and you can ALWAYS negotiate terms of that nature. NOTHING is mandatory or uniform with regard to sex work contracting. Everything can be negotiated.

Contact sex work / Escort work

A far to large portion of my work in sexual assault prevention with transportation, has been in reporting and investigation on child sex trafficking. This is one aspect of the sex trade I WOULD prefer to see eliminated. Shutting down the original backpages website was one step in the right direction and I am glad to say that I was involved with some of the investigations and reporting on backpages which got the site shut down.

*YES, I am currently working on getting bedpage and the 2backpages websites shut down as well. If you are a provider of ANY age, I HIGHLY recommend NOT using those sites to market yourself. They currently allow under age providers and sex trafficking providers.

That said, it is understood that sex workers cant all work in strip clubs or make all they need from online content.

This is a hard reality and to say that escort sex work is “immoral”, “predatory” or “demeaning” does not account for the reality of the human condition in all it’s diversity.

In places like Nevada and Holland, the sex trade is regulated in such a way where it is legitimately considered a career and life choice of those providing it.

Only where it is not regulated do we see an amplified and excessive rate of cruelty, exploitation and predatory practices.

Social networks and online retailing

If you are in an area where escort sex work is legal and regulator or if you are not, these principals apply one and the same.

NEVER mix your personal social netowrk content with your sex work online content.

For those of you working where it is legal/regulated, this will keep you out of bad situations with clients and family.

For those of you working where it is NOT legal/regulated, this will keep you out of prison.

One thing that police and the federal government have gotten really good at is the use of facial recognition software and virtual screen content logging.

This is technology that allows them to quickly cross reference website and social network content very quickly to identify people.

One of the worst mistakes a sex worker can make is to use the same images on their sex work marketing profile AND their personal facebook page AND a dating website.

I once found a profile on backpages where an escort had used a facebook picture from her own account showing her 4 year old daughter in the background.

She was later charged and convicted as a sex offender for child endangerment by displaying an under age child on an advertisement for sexual services.

Using the same images across more platforms also gives law enforcement the perfect case against you for marketing across more than one platform. They can claim that since the same image appears in the dating profile as with the escort profile, you were actually using the dating profile for escort services. This can also work into FEDERAL charges.

CYBER security, double blind snitches and tracking

Managing your online content is just one part of the bigger picture. In 2021 there are literally a million more ways to identify you and what you are doing. One of the latest is Gig/app usage.

You may not realize it but if you use rideshare services for getting around between gigs, you are practically sending a ping out to every police officer and fed in the area of where you are and where you have been going.

When it was learned that Uber and Lyft used an active tracking app to know where law enforcement officer’s were in order to avoid fines for uninsured rideshare operations, the Federal government stepped in to turn that system upon itself.

Rideshare companies are still allowed to track you and market your information. Only NOW, they allow Federal agents and even local police department open access to all of your travel records.

Rideshare drivers are also used regularly by law enforcement as informants since most of them do not make much money driving and some even have criminal records that would otherwise keep them from even having a driving job.

This gives law enforcement the perfect avenue for tracking and building cases.

Meaning that if you use rideshare services for escort transportation, law enforcement probably already knows who you are and who you have visited.

Traditional Taxi and Limo services still retain the right to demand a warrant for any request of information by law enforcement and they do not actively track and report who their clients are or where they go. They may cost more than rideshares but for that extra money, you keep your identity and your work off the public record and away from law enforcement.

Instagram is NOT the anonymous platforms you may think it is for messaging and sharing content with customers. You have to remember that anything that appear on a screen, can be recorded and shared. There are plenty of apps that allow a person to records and document ANYTHING that appears on their screen, even if it is off an app that claims to delete everything after it is sent.

**Below is a previous top 10 list i did when i worked for Lazerbunny. Compare these older guidelines with those above.

Top Ten things to know when getting into adult entertainment

#10 Know your limits and your rights

Just like with any job you have to know your expectations and limitations before going into it.
*It is the right of any model to simply say ‘NO’ to a photographer, company, website or perspective production if they ask you to do something you are not comfortable doing.
*If it is not in your contract, if you are not being paid for it and if you have not agreed to it, it is your right not to be compelled or forced to do it.
* No website or producer out there has the right to demand you do something or expect you to do something outside of what you are comfortable doing and NO ONE can tell you to not check with a third party or legal council if you are not sure.
*No website, company or producer has the right to tell you not to check your contracting with a lawyer or third party.
*A majority of the talent and models today in adult entertainment are constantly being drawn into VERY unfair contracts and pay agreements for their work.
*DO NOT become a statistic.
*No one has the right to take photos or video of you without a clear agreement for pay.
*Do not accept contracts that require you to only work for one website or company without you getting regular work and an appropriate amount of regular pay to do so.
*Do not accept ANY agreement that forces you to not work for any other website or company for any amount of time after you have completed the work in your contract or are not being given regular work (Suicide Girls does this and it is total bullshit).
*If a company is going to continue to make money from your work long after you have done a shoot or scene for them then YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to be paid a portion of that profit as well.
*Just because most models in porn accept bad contracts and pay doesn’t mean you have to as well. *Everyone can be flexible and the industry can and should evolve just like any other.
*Stand out, stand your ground and YOU WILL make a better name for yourself as well as the money you have every right to for your work.
*If you have already stepped into a contract that you feel is unfair or a violation of your rights IT IS possible to be let out of it simply by challenging it.  A good example would be the contracts that or use. Neither of the modeling contracts these companies use would ever stand up in a court of law if challenged.

*Always have an emergency contact.  Someone who knows where you are, what you are doing and you can get a hold of during shoots and productions that can be there for you if something goes wrong or you are not sure about what is going on.  Bringing a friend or manager with you to shoots is also something you have every right too.*

#9 Avoid the Drama

A lot of websites, production companies, photographers and other models get involved in in-fighting and smack talking in the industry.
*This is how many websites get away with bad contracting and pay standards and stay in business by trashing their competitors.
*If a site owner or another model tells you a story or passes off some rumor, do not accept it as the truth. *Listen to people closely and think for yourself. It is hard to navigate but if you are careful and thoughtful it is easy to avoid the drama.
*Never convey rumors or any information that may conflict with what you or the company you work with is doing.
*Never communicate with friends, lovers or other talent about things that may conflict with interest to a company you work with or work that you yourself are doing.
*Always keep work and personal life as apart as possible.
*Different social network accounts for personal life and your performing life are essential.

#8 When considering body modifications and plastic surgery DO YOUR HOMEWORK

It is your body and in adult entertainment it is your way of making a living.
* Tattoos and plastic surgery are serious steps that require careful thinking, planning and judgment. *Remember, THIS IS PERMENANT and plastic surgery can get very disproportionate if done wrong as time goes on.
*For breast enhancement the main thing to avoid is cheap surgery that can produce complications or permanent effects that you do not want.
*The cheapest type of breast enhancement involves what is called Inframammary which involves making large incisions under each breast to manipulate the tissue and insert the enhancements. While it is easier and cheaper to enhance the breasts in this way, it leaves very large visible scars under each breast and can lead to disfiguring developments with the implants and the breasts themselves later. This also makes production more difficult as photographers will have to photoshop out the scar tissue and putting makeup on the scars is not always very effective for video shoots which will require production to work around that as well.
*With the method of Periareolar enhancements (going in through the areola) there is less scarring then other methods and it is more effective if adjustments are needed later if there are any complications with the proportions of the implants. It is more expensive but like with anything you may purchase of this magnitude, you get what you pay for.There are also different options with how the implants are applied and positioned under the tissue which you must consider closely.

*Talk to MORE THAN ONE doctor when considering breast implants and do some research.*
*With tattoos, piercings, other forms of implants and scarification it is important to do what YOU want. Not what you want because you saw it on another model.
*When considering something like a back waist tattoo (AKA “tramp stamp”) take into account that every trailer trash moron from here to Alabama has one and they are all the same.
*With piercings there are a lot of things that can be beautiful and a lot of things that can be just plain stupid. It is your skin.
#7 Keep work and relationships separateIf you have a tumblr, twitter or facebook account specific to your work in adult entertainment be sure to keep your personal life out of it as much as possible.
*Too much information can lead to people harassing you or becoming uninterested in your work.
*Stalkers will also take advantage of getting to you through people you may know or communicate with regularly on social networks.
*Be mindful of how you portray yourself and be careful when talking about work, other models and websites.
*You can have a rich personal life you share with people online with a more restricted facebook account or tumblr account under a different name and use fan pages and facebook groups to share things with your fans or other models.
#6 Do not make money or wishlist requests to fansThis is something I somewhat agree with from the other top ten list that inspired me to make this one. Asking fans to send you money or buy you things from a wishlist or some item you saw on amazon or ebay is very unprofessional and will ruin your image.
*Every adult model that you see doing it online is typically someone who works for a very bad company, has no idea what they are doing and isn’t making any real headway in the industry.
*Which is why they end up making twitter and facebook posts asking for hand outs from fans.
*When you are doing well and have a lot of exposure there will be plenty of fans asking if they can buy you gifts anyway.
*It is also dangerous because when a person purchases something for you, they will eventually have access to the shipping address and more information about you.  Even if you use a PO box or alternate shipping address, there are ways of finding you direct information through these channels.

#5 Be mindful of the content you upload and share

Another thing I agree with from the other list is that when you are working for a company producing adult entertainment be mindful of any content you upload to the internet or produce yourself.
*Make sure you are not sharing something that someone may use or market without your consent.
*Make sure to post notices with anything you intend to remain only on the web pages you post it on.
*If you are sending pictures to a fan or friend be mindful of where it could end up after.

#4 The porn industry was never what you may have thought it was

Not a lot of people make enough money from working in adult entertainment on video or with pictures to make a living wage.
*This has been a constant since the dawn of porn on film.
*Like any other media market the demand is high but the production and amount needed to supply the demand is very little.
*A lot of porn scenes and photo sets are shot day to day but there are very few porn stars you see regularly. *For every one porn star you see doing a lot of scenes each year, there are hundreds who do very little work inside a few months, make virtually nothing from it and then never work in porn again.
*Keep in mind that when you begin working in adult entertainment you can not fully rely on it for money until you reach a point where you are doing regular shoots and getting more offers for work.
*Just because you may get a few shoots a month for a good amount of money at first does not mean the rest of the year will be the same.
*Keep your options open and have other sources of work and income available.
*When you absolutely know you can work and save money through out the year, at a rate that will satisfy the cost of living, THEN you can call it a “career”.

*Working on adult entertainment takes a LOT of work.  You do not just take photos or video and money comes pouring in like magic.  There are a lot of other models out there doing the same thing and the amount of pay and work will slim down depending on the market and demand.  It takes navigation and insight to stay working.*

#3 Stripping and Cam work

These are quick sources of money and they can provide income when things are slow in other realms of adult entertainment but they can also over complicate and even damage things if you aren’t careful.
*Sometimes there are conflicts of interest with some strip clubs and doing work in porn unless you are already a widely known porn star doing strip club tours.
*The work is also very different and may to to complicated or uncomfortable.
*Most cam sites are also very corrupt in their contracting and pay standards.
*Honestly I can not recommend a single cam site I’ve ever come across to any model. However if you are willing to spend a little money (about $600 to start and $50 a month) you can independently cam online from your own website which can make you a lot more money than working for a cam site.  Not to mention you retain the full rights to what ever is recorded and 100% of the money when you cam independently.

#2 When you get offers, check out who is offering before saying yes

A lot of companies and websites will approach you when you are getting noticed and start doing more work. *There will also be some pretty spectacular looking offers from some of them.
*Keep in mind that a great offer can be too good to be true and a lot of companies will make some pretty great sounding offers just to get a chance to have you shoot for them before a competitor.
*Everyone has some kind of history that can be checked out online or through other sources.
*Get a second, third and fourth opinion from ANYONE making you an offer no matter how big they are and make sure to check their offers with other sources as well.

#1 KNOW what it is worth

I am going to go out on a limb here and tell you something not many in the industry will share with you. Here is a simple set of rates that I’ve collected by talking to a lot of producers and talent from the upper ranks of the mainstream industry to the altporn industry.
*Note, that from my interview with Michael Vegas the rates he laid out were higher than what I am specifying here. What I am factoring here is an average between what mainstream companies and sites will or SHOULD pay and what altporn and smaller companies and websites SHOULD at the very least pay. I am also averaging between the sexes. That is to say I am just making a general base rate for boys or girls in scenes. Commonly female models do get paid more than male.
*The minimum you should be getting paid for a shoot with just nude pictures is $100 an hour.
*The minimum you should be getting paid for a shoot of video or just pictures of you solo masturbating is $200 an hour.
*The minimum you should be getting paid for a shoot (video or pictures) involving standard sex scenes (nothing super kinky or brutal) is no less than $350.00 per shoot for a shoot lasting no longer than an hour.
*Travel, lodging, photographer, equipment, set-up, tear-down, make-up and production costs ARE NOT the responsibility of the model and should NEVER deduct form what you are being paid to work. Any company that tells you otherwise is not worth working for. These expenses simply do not factor on the part of the talent and are the responsibility of the production company or website to cover. If you work another job and have to take time from that job to provide the shoot, it is also the responsibility of the company or website to cover the cost of lost time and wages from your other job while you shoot for them.
*When working with more mainstream companies and websites these rates should of course be higher.
*When you have been doing paid shoots longer these rates should of course be higher.

*Full payment should always be direct upon completion of the shoot or with a portion (no less than 25%) paid up front and the rest paid no later than 14 days.
*The only factor that would lower these rates or change the payment method or time of payment would be if you are given a ‘residual deal’. This is essentially a continued payment of money from earnings that the company will continue to make from the content that you have provided during the shoot. If they continue to make money you should be entitled to this income anyway. It is not common place in the porn industry but eventually it will be as it is now common place in every other form of media production.  A residual deal remains in effect until the website or company is no longer marketing or displaying your content on their products or website.

#0 Zero because this one is the Alpha and Omega of all advice on this list:  BE HEALTHY! 
If you are doing porn shoots involving sex scenes and you also have an active sex life outside of pron, make sure you know you are healthy and that your partners are healthy.
*Use condoms as much as possible.  More so if you are doing ‘bareback’ (without condom) sex scenes. *Avoid sexual contact with anyone you may have the slightest doubts about and DO NOT be afraid to ask any one of your partners (personal or on film) for them to get checked out and have confirmation of their health status on hand.
*There are always free STD screens available in virtually every community across the US and if there aren’t it is typically no more than $40 to get one from a local clinic. That is not much to ask or expect if you want to make sure you are clean and not potentially ruining another person’s sex life or career.  Not to mention YOUR OWN.
*Any legitimate company that produces porn will make sure their talent has been tested for STDs, is regularly screened and is STD free when they arrive on set even if they are doing bareback (without condom) work.
*If you have been asked to do bareback work and you do not want to do bareback work, you can not be required to or forced to do it.

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