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SA porn business is booming - star

By Sihle Mthembu

Durban - The boom in the local pornography industry has led an increasing number of young men and women who want to be part of the business, offering to do it for free.

However, the taboo that comes with pornography has forced many people in the industry to operate with aliases.

One such person is “Leila Lopes” who lives in Westville, outside Durban. A middle-aged woman with a slim body and slick hair, Lopes has been in the business for almost five years and has found the local porn industry becoming more stable. “It’s not a high-earning job because you earn anything from R1 000 to R8 000 a session. But there is certainly more work now.”

Lopes says that performing in a porn film is just like any other job. “There are a lot of taboos about porn and people think that there is something abnormal about it, but the fact is that thousands of people buy porn and it’s an honest day’s work for most of us,” she said.

“We still have lives and friends away from the business and it’s important to keep those elements separate.”

Lopes adds that local porn can be used as a more direct tool to teach people about HIV/Aids and sexual health.

“There is too much sugar coating that often goes on around sex in South Africa. What we do is give a visual display of what many South Africans think and fantasise about. But we are also responsible and we use condoms so as to show people that aspect of sexual health as well,” she said.

Each year thousands of magazines and videos make their way on to the market. But it is local productions that are catching the eye of local porn distributors and fans.

According to Tau Morena, who produced South Africa’s very first all-black porn film (Mapona Volume one), the success of local productions is proof that South African consumers want to see local porn.

“There is no denying that there is a market for local porn. We moved thousands of copies of the DVD and we are catching the eye of many distributors. Porn is a legal product and if sent through the right channels it can be very successful,” said Morena.

He said the boom in local porn has also meant that there are more and more young people who want to be part of the industry.

“There are people who want to be part of it but as local producers it’s important to screen people and make sure they are legit,” he said. “This is a business for us so we want to get the right people who are legal and can be professional,” said Morena.

Despite the growth of the local industry, piracy has hurt the revenue stream for local producers. According to estimates by JT Wholesalers who own Adult World, the local industry is worth R300 million but could be even bigger if it were not for piracy.

Morena notes that people often buy pirated DVDs because of the lack of proper distribution. “We don’t have as many retail outlets in South Africa as other countries and unfortunately that means that a lot of the people behind the actual products don’t make much money at the end of the day.”

One of the concerns raised by the Film and Publications Board and the Human Sciences Research Council is the infiltration of porn into social networks such as Mxit and Twitter where young people see it.

Commenting on the issue, Lopes said many local producers play their part in regulating their material and that parents need to play a more active role in protecting their children.

“The films that we make always have the appropriate rating and are only available at adult shops. But if kids want porn they will get it online or by some other means.

“The industry cannot be blamed for everything. Parents also need to take up some responsibility and know what their kids get up to,” said Lopes.

Independent on Saturday

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