It probably won’t make you rich. So why do some couples do it?

So like thousands (and maybe millions) of couples in the world, you made a sex tape. And now you’re wondering, should I share it? Not with friends or family. But maybe with strangers. Maybe millions of strangers. Just like that proverbial question—if a tree falls in the woods alone, does it make a sound?—if no one sees your sex tape, did it really happen?

There’s another way to describe a sex tape: amateur porn. And people making sex tapes have been selling them as amateur porn—complete with multi-channel distribution—since 1982.

Here’s how it works: First you make a sex tape. Then you find somebody to distribute it to the masses. You and your on-screen partner complete the necessary identity-verifying paperwork and consent-verifying video testimonial. Then you submit your tape to any number of companies specializing in curating authentic amateur porn, and maybe they buy it.

I spoke to Farrell Timlake, owner and president of Homegrown Video, the first company to commercially release and distribute homemade amateur porn ever.

Timlake, who decided to sell his own sex tape to the company in the early 90s in exchange for enough money to go on the road with the Grateful Dead, bought the company in 1993—with money he borrowed from his mom.

I asked Timlake the most obvious question: Who sells their sex tapes, rights and all, to Homegrown?

“There’re the young 20-something college students looking for a few extra bucks,” says Timlake. “And then there’s the majority, which I think the company was founded on—the sexually active 30-to-50-something crowd that’s kinda done everything else and is looking for a new thrill.”

To some extent, sure, they’re looking for money. Kim Kardashian’s sex tape reportedly made her in the ballpark of $65 million. But Kim Kardashian is the exception. As Timlake explains, in today’s buyers’ market, with so much porn content available on the Internet (much of it for free), prices have dipped.

I spoke with Phoenix and Scott, a recently married couple in their late twenties. They submitted a sex tape to Homegrown in December 2012 in the hopes of earning cash for college tuition and have since started submitting tapes regularly in a variety of genres—curvy girls, swingers, and cuckold tales, to name a few.

How much do they make per tape? “Not a lot,” Scott laughed, and told me they were currently making approximately half of what they were making when they first started.

According to Timlake, amateur tapes currently sell for anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand. Price is determined by a tapes authenticity—how actually amateur and raw it is as opposed to how wild the sex is or how “hot” the performers are.

“It has to do with fluctuations in the market,” Phoenix explained. “[The market] is pretty flooded right now, so we just have to sit tight until people start coming back around to the better amateur [content].”

But in spite of market fluctuations, there were additional opportunities for the couple to work. According to Phoenix and Scott, Homegrown occasionally puts them on special assignment.

“One time, [Homegrown] wanted to have a couple that’s never done any [amateur porn] before do several different videos,” they told me. “We had to track them down, interview them, film the sex acts, and show their evolution. We gave them a toy, had them swing with another [woman], and then had them swing with another couple. It’s all on one DVD, so it’s a nice way to watch a couple go from just ‘vanilla’ to pure swinging.”

I started to wonder about the blurred lines between homemade amateur sex tapes and pro-am porn production. How many amateur sex tapes can you make before you start to become a professional?

“We sat down and we talked about [potential fallout from selling our sex tapes] before we submitted the first one and decided it was a risk worth taking,” Phoenix told me. “Times are changing. We could sit back and be worried about [stigma], or we could ride the tides of change.”

“It’s important to know that the things that are considered taboo are gonna stay taboo as long as no one brings them out into the light,” Scott added. “Part of doing these videos is to help change that.”

In a way, it wasn’t just about being an exhibitionist, or making a little extra money. There’s also a bit of fearless rebellion to this whole sex tape thing.

So the next time you film yourself fucking, remember that you might also be doing something incendiary and political.

amateur-porn copy

(image via Men’s Health)

Reprinted from (6/16/15)

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