A pornographer’s body of work can be massive. Just consider the turnover in the adult industry. Sean Adamz, who launched the indie porn brand Lazerbunny in 2005 (with a barely legal Stoya) and later got mired in what he called (for lack of a better word) the AltPorn Network, has shuttered those sites and returned with a catch-all archive for his edgy, off-brand, weird, and at times completely sweet and harmless East Coast erotica. This one-stop shop, which he runs with partner Arden Adamz, is called Her Dirty Secret.
“I was a musician,” Adamz says (you can listen to some of his work here), “and around 2004 I just looked at the audience and thought, ‘No one is paying attention to my lyrics, or what I think. No one cares.’ I knew strippers and go-go girls and groupies from being in a band, and I thought: ‘I’m revoking my thoughts. I should just make porn.'”
I talk with Adamz, 40, in Philadelphia, where he has put together a respectable porn empire in an unlikely place.
“Oh, make no mistake, Philadelphia is a shithole,” Adamz says. “But it’s cheap. It’s a $12 bus ride to New York.”
How has it changed since you started shooting porn here?
“Oh, like every place else. People ask, ‘Is there a good DJ scene? Can people make money stacking Legos?’ I don’t fucking know. It’s inexpensive and — this is a good point — someone slipped and mentioned [Arden’s porn name] at this cafe we go to every day. And I realized that person has known forever we were in porn, but she never said anything. That’s the way it is around here. No one’s coming up to you and saying, ‘Saw your dick.'”
When Adamz quit his band, Psy-Ops, in 2004 (“It was just three guys cooped up in a van for months at at a time and when I left I felt like, ‘I never want to see any of you ever again‘”), he rented 8,000 square feet of warehouse space for $625 a month in Kensington, “Philadelphia’s worst neighborhood,” and set up what would become Lazerbunny.
“Philadelphia at the time had something like 28,000 boarded-up buildings,” he says. “Sometimes you could track down the owner of one of these places and say, ‘Can I rent this?’ and he’d be like, ‘Really?'”
Lazerbunny’s debut coincided with Stoya’s.
“A DJ friend of mine had this cute girlfriend who had a job passing out flyers for a pizza place. When I had Psy-Ops I asked her to do the same with band flyers. People really responded to her. That was Stoya.”
Adamz and Stoya thought up the idea of Lazerbunny (“Later, Dana DeArmond called me stupid because I didn’t spell laser right”) and this small indie porn site, populated with Stoya’s earliest work and that of those same strippers, groupies, and go-go dancers, joined Brooklyn’s Burning Angel as an east coast alternative to Porn Valley.
“But I didn’t have a niche, per se,” Adamz says. “It wasn’t about the tattoos or anything. I thought, ‘If the girl is cool and good-looking…’ that’s what I was going for.”
Inevitably Adamz’ work got lumped in with the new altporn niche, from which no one who shot naked pasty girls who happened to have piercings and tattooes or who simply did not look like Jenna Jameson was safe.
“I just wanted to shoot stuff that I liked,” Adamz says. “I didn’t want to get into some category. The whole ‘alternative’ thing was kind of limiting, kind of disgusting, to me. And I’d get in trouble…”
Adamz admits to a Terry Richardson-style reputation at that time, except he was supposed to be shooting nudes.
“We’d do the standard photo session with the good lighting and all that,” he says, “and then we’d do a sort of ‘Behind the Scenes’ where I’d say [creepy Bro voice] ‘and then she sucked my dick.’
“And don’t get me wrong,” he says, “I liked that there was a creepiness factor occasionally.”
Adamz says he would make these BTS sessions look amateur on purpose.
“Maybe every fifth shot was good. And people would complain.”
Then he shifted the other way and got very arty.
“…and people would call me a pretentious twat.”
Alt-pornographers like Eon McKai were initially cold toward Adamz because he did not employ their rigid alt-y aesthetics.
“I looked up to people like Bob Coulter and Tony Ward,” Adamz says, “because they were just weird guys who did their own thing.”
Plus, Adamz’ disembodied junk was in a lot of the videos, which was a departure from the non-participatory style of the standard “alt” director.
“I was trying to fit in — everybody was — but ‘alternative’ and ‘alt’ were too-broad terms, especially since a lot of alt girls looked exactly the same.”
Yet in the Pre-Piracy Internet Aughts (again, for lack of a better term), there was money to be made by small companies like Lazerbunny and Burning Angel. Adamz developed membership sites and affiliate programs and charged $14.95 a month. Then, when Stoya became a Digital Playground contract player in 2007, her old photos with Adamz became commodities.
Adamz never paid models in the early years, preferring content trades. He’d encourage a model to become an affiliate to the site so she would make money on her own photos.
“Stoya was like that,” he says. “I never paid her. But she is a clothing designer and made these latex outfits that I’d photograph her in.
“When she was putting together her demo reel for Digital Playground,” he says, “she needed to do some more hardcore stuff to show them she was capable. So we shot some strap-on scenes with Astrid, who was my girlfriend at the time.
“Later I shot with Morgan Mae, who on her 18th birthday had a gangbang on FacialAbuse.com [FacialAbuse was where Belle Knox got famous] and it became Lazerbunny’s debut real hardcore scene. I remember Stoya calling me up from the set of her Digital Playground movie and saying, ‘I’m shooting my first porno today!’ I was like, ‘So am I!’ We sent screenshots. It was the first time she saw my dick.”
They drifted apart, he says, when she started dating Marilyn Manson and Adamz made fun of her publicly.
For the remainder of the aughts and the first few years of the 2010s, Lazerbunny and the ambitious 10-site Altporn Network chugged along, with Adamz shooting and updating everything alone and “driving myself crazy,” until a family tragedy took him out of the game.
“I was dealing with that for a few months and not paying attention,” Adamz says. “I wasn’t updating anything, my hosting charges were thousands of dollars a month, and then I just didn’t pay the bill. And it all went away.
“It all went away. All the sites went down. And it was a huge relief.
“I took a straight year off.”
Anyone who runs a website (or a series of them) eventually deals with burnout. If one’s site is supposed to reflect the world, and that world is constantly changing, then the demands of keeping the site updated is a Sisyphean metaphor. In addition to the family issue, Adamz says he was just getting sick of what he was seeing.
“That sort of speeded-up GIF of an altporn sociopath like James Deen just hammering some girl in a Brazzers video wasn’t fucking appealing at all,” he says. He wrote a long essay on the “rapeishness” of the porn industry on facebook which seemed to capture his disillusionment.
I would also really like for people to stop making statements about how “feminist” or “sex positive” they or their porn or their porn friends are.. And then appearing in rapish scenes in porn .. Or being the star of a couple hundred scenes that depict women saying NO with their body language while saying “YES” or “FUCK YAH” with their fake scripted porn lines. How many stupid fucking morons do you think are sitting around some college campus watching these scenes thinking to themselves.. I wanna fuck just like that! Then they go to a party.. STOP NORMALIZING RAPE IN YOUR STUPID FUCKING GARBAGE SCENES WITH THE SAME STUPID GUY THAT EVERYONE IS SICK AND TIRED OF WATCHING except for the people that want to see more of that shit.. Which should not be OK.
So the downtime helped to settle the pieces, Tetris-like, into place.
“I looked at all the stuff from Lazerbunny and the Altporn Network and I’m editing each fucking one,” he says, “for Her Dirty Secret. The site will have everything rather than a different site for each thing. I just can’t keep up with that.”
It’s an interesting counterweight to the nichification of the porn industry and maybe an understanding that hardcore is just a delicious part of a larger erotic breakfast. In the way that Playboy and Penthouse have drifted away from hardcore photos, a site like Her Dirty Secret may have hardcore on the menu but it’s not limited to that. Anti-nichification is an acknowledgment that the palette is more diverse.
“I’m really glad to have everything under one roof again,” Adamz says. He has been building up the site for the past two months and has soft-launched with 25 models and their photosets, including Stoya, Arden Adamz, Roggie (“She came to me after Burning Angel told her she was too weird for them”), and Morgan Mae.
Mae is now retired from porn, which makes Adamz reflect on the speeded-up GIF that is porn world attrition.
“Some of the models on the site were 18 when I shot them and now they are nurses with a couple of kids and 30 pounds heavier and long-gone from the business. How old does that make me?”
But others, like perennial favorite Trisha Uptown, provide just the sort of anecdote to explain why porn is a self-perpetuating joyride of debauchery and sexy chaos and dysfunction.
“She calls me from the penthouse of the W Hotel in midtown Manhattan,” Adamz says —
$12 bus ride?
” — $12 bus ride. And she’s got her ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend with her. She’s like: ‘Can you come here?’ I’m like: ‘YES.’ So she hogties the girl, rolls her around on the room service cart, sits on her face, open-handed spanking her pussy. The girl accidentally knocks over a glass of wine on the, like, $5,000 couch. It’s on Trisha’s Visa card. It suddenly becomes very, very real in the room.”
But not rapeish?
So that scene will be on the site, too, as well as one with a dominatrix called Domina B in latex inside a vacuum bed getting the air sucked out or something crazy.
Her Dirty Secret features a couple of different ways to view the files, streaming or download. And the fact that the files are cloud-based means that he only pays a fee when someone actually accesses the files, rather than before, “when I had a shitload of content up there costing money whether someone looked at it or not.”
So things are simpler now.
Adamz’ porn aesthetic as it has asserted itself over the years is male-gaze, female-based, with the only penis involved Adamz’ own. This is the essence of the (male) personal porn site, anyway, save for the fact that Her Dirty Secret will have, if Sean and Arden Adamz don’t kill themselves editing and uploading all of them, half a million images that are currently stuffed in several terabyte hard drives.
Her Dirty Secret will appeal to fans of people like Dave Naz, Ed Fox, Octavio “Winkytiki” Arizala, Eon McKai, Joe Gallant, and the late Carlos Batts, all photographers with a particular point of view.
What’s Adamz’ point of view?
“The cool girls, the girls who can hang. She can have come on her face but you want to be assured that she wants it there. She’s not the girl who shows up and is so traumatized that she leaves the business after a week. And the site will be like Netflix, eventually, where you can just scroll through all these different categories, some harder than others.
“It’ll be like Victoria’s Secret except the lingerie comes off.”
For those of us who have been in porn for a while, the idea of an archive where all the work is in one place is pretty appealing and, taken collectively, suggests that Adamz didn’t revoke his thought at all.
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Smell the Glove — When Julie Simone Met Joe Gallant; The Voluptuous Feet of Ed Fox; Dave Naz Loves L.A.
See Also: Her Dirty Secret