by Rich Moreland, November 2013
This is the second installment on Girlfriends Films.
My students know that I write in the adult film industry and occasionally inquire about the people I meet. On the whole they are non-judgmental, though every now and then moral indignation pops up. A couple of years ago a female student asked me quite pointedly why I wrote about prostitutes. I was taken off-guard, but saw an opportunity in her question.
Hoping to have a conversation that would widen horizons, my attempts to assuage her preconceived notions about pornography were futile. Our encounter was brief and she departed, disappointed that a college professor would stoop so low. Had she been willing to listen, this is what she would have learned about one aspect of the business.
Pornographers run their companies much like corporate America. This includes employee perks not always seen in small businesses. A case in point is Girlfriends Films, one of the more prosperous enterprises in Porn Valley.
“Nobody has ever quit or retired from Girlfriends Films,” owner Dan O’Connell says. The company values its employees, offering health insurance (including dental and vision) as well as life insurance and a 401 (k). But Girlfriends does something else that outshines much of corporate America, it contributes regularly to charities selected by the performers. Beyond a paycheck for a day’s shoot, Dan shows his appreciation for their hard work, creating the best of all benefits: the Girlfriends family.
Part of my Family
Last January at the AEE (Adult Entertainment Expo) I interviewed Dana DeArmond, one of adult film’s classiest and most respected veterans. We were at the Girlfriends’ booth where she was signing for fans. Dana told me she was ill that morning and Moose, the company’s Vice President, visited her hotel room with bottles of water and pepto-bismol.
He told her not to worry about signing that day, but Dana would have none of that.
“I am going down there and do press for this company because they take damn good care of me,” Dana said. “I am going to get it together because I love them.”
She then brought up something that really mattered personally to her.
“They let me choose a charity and donated a thousand dollars for me,” Dana commented. Last year it was Doctors without Borders, this year she selected the AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to L.A., a distance of 545 miles. The event raises money to provide needed services to people with HIV and AIDS.
“I feel like they are part of my family,” Dana declared, referring to Dan, Moose, and the GFs staff. She happily added that the relationship works both ways, “I am in the Girlfriends’ family,” she said with pride.
The monthly donation is an ongoing program. In May of this year, Chastity Lynn selected Farm Sanctuary for her charity and had a $1,000 given in her name. She chose the organization because of her concern with animal welfare.
Rising superstar Tasha Reign persuaded Girlfriends to donate to CancerCare in August. She lost her father to the disease a few years ago and wanted to help others who must deal with the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis. CancerCare provides counseling, support groups, and co-payment options to families who are in the fight together.
Girlfriends donated $1,000 to Planned Parenthood in the name of one of my favorites in the adult film world, new mother Madison Young. The director and performer recalled that in her twenties, she was without health insurance and very thankful for the services she received from Planned Parenthood.
Madison compliments the Girlfriends charity program, “It empowers performers and directors, offering an opportunity to create some small change in the world.” Everyone can give something back.
When I was at LAX not long ago, I met a fellow traveler who chatted amiably about his impressions of the porn industry. One of the issues that concerned him was the sexual abuse of children and he wanted to know about the industry’s role in producing such despicable fare. Another opportunity availed itself to me.
Adult film producers don’t like child pornography, I explained, and referenced ASACP (Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection). Reaching out to adult sites to help in its mission, ASACP is a non-profit that combats online child porn through a reporting system that turns in suspected sites. ASACP also enables parents to prevent children from viewing inappropriate online materials by offering the website label RTA (restricted to adults). This year Girlfriends donated $5,000 to the organization.
Adult film is a business and in spite of what much of the public believes, family is important to them as it is to everyone else. This included doing for others and caring about children.
If she had been a smidgen more open-minded, who knows what a particular young women would be thinking today.