Holly Randall: Where Did the Real Pornstars Go?

Holly Randall is a great photographer who’s worked in porn for about 10 years (oh, and she’s the daughter of legendary photographer Suze Randall).

During her time in the business, she’s seen the changes the industry has undergone and has an interesting perspective on how the girls have changed over the years that she wrote about in her XBiz column a couple weeks ago.

What happened to the few, the proud, the real pornstars? Back in the Golden Age of the adult industry, the performers were mostly a small community of women who truly loved sex and enjoyed showing their passion for it on camera. They were often older than the typical just-turned-18 fresh meat that I see so frequently these days, and lasted much longer.

She goes on to talk about how gonzo has basically become a competition in which the girls are expected to do ever-more extreme circus acts for their money.

I think this resonated with me because I’ve met these hollow-eyed girls who don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re just there to get paid and have no sexual passion whatsoever. It’s not hot and I think it’s one of the main reasons that I find 85% of porn completely boring and unsexy.

What do you guys think? Is porn really in a race to the bottom or are people just overreacting to the natural evolution of the industry?

Tags: , , , ,

33 Responses to “Holly Randall: Where Did the Real Pornstars Go?”

  1. Anthony Says:

    i certainly wish there was some more girl-friendly porn on Videobox. Gonzo doesn’t really do it for my girlfriend. She wants to see more of the guy and really doesn’t like seeing the young girls. Can’t say I blame her either. If there’s a hint of naivety or exploitation involved it turns me off.

  2. story2k Says:

    I think that people are out to make a quick buck and they take advantage of a lot of performers. Gonzo has made it difficult for the established studios because all you need is a girl, any number of men and a camera. Most people just want “the good stuff” and don’t care about lighting, set design or even makeup.

  3. vigilante Says:

    Its a sociological norm to see people venerate the past, and feel disillusioned about the present. But what we forget is, gonzo style porn was a reaction to those classics where people kind of got tired of the over done lighting, the zany productions, and the cheesy stories.

    But I do agree, as a porn enthusiast, theirs nothing better than a scene where the girl seems to be genuinely having a good time (Cris Taliana aka Dawn Ivy is a good example). 85% of it is kinda all in the same ballpark (just your average scene here) but thats whats fun about a site like this, you get to dig and find some gems out in the thick of it. Its that cream at the top that makes it worth it!

  4. xposh Says:

    Please turn on my commenting capabilities on the videos, please. I’ve mailed you about several times it but it didn’t do any good. Don’t understand why I got banned, unless it’s because I called that chick a bitch in the last asian video, if it’s that then I’m truly sorry. It wasn’t supposed to be serious.

  5. G man Says:

    There have never been so many new girls in the business … and there has never been so far between the moments that one feels that one has discovered a real gem amongst the newcomers. I wish I could agree with Alison that only 85 % of new porn is boring. For me the number is closer to 95 %. We’re not spoilt for choice – we’re drowning in a flood of unimaginative and unerotic silicone-pumped crap.

  6. alison Says:

    xposh – I responded to your comment in the other post. I’m not sure why you were banned, but I’m having you reinstated as soon as possible (it’s not as easy as it should be, so it might take a day or three).

  7. bob Says:

    who cares as long as there will always be women like this! Its good for the customer more variety. Who wants to see the same old same in every other movie?

  8. The Thin Man Says:

    I am consistently struck with how little the porn industry understands its customers. One of the more interesting things about this site is that if you read the comments of the other members you start to realize what is weird about you and what is par for the course. Things that are par for the course that it seems that the studios just don’t understand:

    1) Bigger is not always better
    2) More extreme is not always better, and often it is not appreciated.
    3) Shut up, dude
    4) Girls like Micah Moore and Gianna Michaels (two very different body types) are appreciated as much for their attitude and personality as they are for their bodies.
    5) Break up the monotony of the scenes (talking, awkward transition to blowjob, sex, anal sex, guy jerks off onto face). Often the sex that I have in my personal life is a ton more creative than I see on-screen, which is sad because they are supposed to experts in this sort of thing.
    6) We can tell you just faked that orgasm, honey
    7) Shut up, dude
    8) Too many of the women in the industry have a sex-is-just-sex attitude onscreen (Eva Angelina, while mindboggingly hot, is an example of this). While I’m not against this attitude and sometimes it can be sexy as in Ms. Angelina’s case, you need to break it up. In real life, there are about 100 different attitudes to sex among girls and about 98 of them are hot. Why do we only get one or two onscreen?

    Just on a personal note (this is probably just me), I think there TRULY is a place for plot in porn. Not in every video of course, sometimes you just want something to jerk to. But as pretty much all guys know from personal experience, there is some pretty freaky psychological shit in people’s (especially girls’) minds that would be massively interesting to explore in this genre.

    OK, that’s my two cents, I spent about ten minutes more on this post than I planned to.

  9. TheCrookedClef Says:

    I agree completely. I propose a new genre: Porn Stars Who Like Their Job, or Girls Enjoying Sex.

  10. Jean-Marie Pallardy Says:

    Isn’t the porn business about the money anyway? I mean, it’s a business right. I’m in the music business. I love music. But hey, I have to make money. I don’t blame the girls who’re in it for the money. I take some time to dig through the movies, and since I’ve been doing it for a long time, I can easily and quickly put aside the boring videos & DVD’s and the ones I’m sure won’t be interesting for me to watch. I agree that it’s more “hot” and interesting to watch a video with performers who enjoy themselves, but hey – you can’t blame them. It’s their 9 to 5. They can’t enjoy all their scenes, and surely not all of them like their job. Since theirs big money in it, it has automatically attracted people who are looking for big money. For example, I never watch videos with Amy Reid. I know they’re boring and she’s making her videos boring because it’s obvious she doesn’t enjoy herself.

    I don’t think there is a place for plot in porn. However, I admit everyone is looking for something different in porn and should know how to look for it. I think we can make a difference here. The Thin Man says “(Eva Angelina, while mind blowingly hot, is an example of this)”. I never watch her scenes because I find them boring. She’s hot but she’s boring. I definitely find that a hot girl is not enough in a porn movie. Thus, I don’t watch boring porn movies with Eva Angelina.

    It’s like the music business. If you take time to dig, you can find interesting stuff. Britney Spears is in it for the money and the fame. Crappy music. Go underground and look for the good stuff. The original stuff.

  11. Bronty Says:

    Thin Man has cracked the case. I more or less agree with him. In the interests of division-of-labor, I’ll keep it divided so that he does all the work and send a +1

    Porn companies not fully knowing their customers is, I believe, the key point, and it’s a problem that won’t be going away soon.

  12. HotScooter2 Says:

    pretty hard not to agree with Holly. porn is not as good as it has been in the past.
    Now the films seldom have any plot,and the sex is way too predictable.Hell dogs have more variety in their sex lives than most porn,not that i am over observant of dogs.
    in the past the acting was better and the sex was more real. if the girls weren’t enjoying the sex at least they were good enough actresses to not make it obvious.
    the camerawork was better though it does not show in ,the DVD versions but it was good in the days it was filmed.
    Also the male stars tended to be less obnoxious.
    Double anal was not done in the classic era of porn,and from memory it seems the women of porn were not abused as much

  13. OGWiseman Says:

    Oh so much to say, where to begin. First, I love Thin Man’s list, and I want to make one more point about #6. A lot of noises these girls make, I would not even classify as ‘faking an orgasm’. Orgasms begin slowly, build to a point of release, and then it’s over. Say 30 seconds at the most from beginning to end. Then after, in my experience, girls usually want to stop fucking for a second because it’s so intense. Grunting at the same level of intensity for half an hour, whether you’re giving a BJ or getting your boob sucked or getting two dicks in the ass, is not even trying to fake an orgasm. Or if it is, that’s really insulting to my intelligence.

    As for why this happens, I come to it from the perspective of someone in the legit movie business. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but quality there has gone down significantly, outside of a handful of quality films still being made. The reason has more to do with how we (as consumers) access and pay for the media than it does about a lack of understanding.

    In the ‘golden age’ of porn (And I would dispute that. Today’s girls might hate sex but at least they don’t hate razors.) most people were watching porn in a fucking theater for chrissakes. Even once we got video most people bought individual movies in porn shops, so there were choices being made about what to watch. Now I pay $10 a month to be on this site, and I watch what they put on the site. I make no choices as a consumer about what I watch, or how my money is spent. Porn has become, for all intents and purposes, a commodity.

    Thus, the only objective becomes to make more product for less money. This was once the way the legit movie business was, back in the 20s when it was first getting going. Performers (and I use that term loosely. The first film ever exhibited was of the director’s young daughters having a pillow fight) were not given billing, and they were paid pittances by the moguls.

    It was only when competition put the squeeze on, and when audiences began to seek out certain performers, that the popular ones demanded to get billing. Once that happened, performer salaries shot up 1000% in less than a decade. The final result is Brad Pitt getting 20 million a picture, and what should be the best business in the world is instead a difficult business in which to turn a profit.

    Transfer this logic to the porn world. When Jenna Jameson got wildly popular, she started demanding shit. Soon she was directing and producing her own films, she had an exclusive contract, and she was getting more money for less work. She was a star, and the porn producers were in some ways at her mercy.

    But now that porn is undergoing commodification (the opposite of the process by which films went from commodity to ‘art’), the producers see the opportunity to cut out these troublesome stars. See, stars are great if they help you control a market and sell more product, but if porn is just porn then stars are death. The highest profit margin comes from using girls who aren’t as aware, who aren’t self-actualized, and who will not be around in the long term. Sadly, the dumbing down of porn is little more than a calculated business decision. If we want better porn, stop buying the shitty porn and they will be forced to make it. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here beating off to Bree Olson. Wow, that was a really long rant.

  14. Shocked & Appauled Says:

    I for one would lke for the women to STOP looking at the camera so much during scenes. It ruins any sense of reality and adds to the notion of their acting.

    About Eva Angelina, I do find most of her scenes to be somewhat boring rehashes, but the problem is that since shes so hot, so many people request her, while the other not so hot girls who are better, dont find as much work. Looking back at Jenna Jameson movies I used to watch, they are boring now, and are pretty bad compared to even average stuff nowadays. These girls are so naive today that they believe they can all have the same success as Jenna Jameson, which is never going to happen again.

    As far plots go, I think its necessary to at least know the girls name, ask her a few questions instead of just treating her like a worthless object. Even if I can’t understand them, I hate when the Euro videos just skip straight the “action”.

    I also hate seemingly unneccseary cuts & edits that come at the worst time.

  15. zarafan Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Holly Randall is posing in the picture you use to illustrate this entry with Rebecca Linares–a contemporary porn star who single-handedly refutes the claim that contemporary porn is a dead letter!

    There is a lot of bad porn out there now, but there always has been; just like every “art form,” mediocrity in porn is the norm–the “golden age” can only be seen from a distance because we only remember, you should forgive the tautology, what is memorable. In musical terms, people in my generation tend often to venerate the music that immediately precedes our coming of age, from the 60s & 70s. Granted, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, James Brown, Bob Marley, etc., are all really, REALLY great, but if you were to just turn on a random AM radio station any time from 1965-1975, you would hear at least as much crap as you do today, with a whole lot less personal control over what you listen to. Similarly, in 20 years there will be a handful of performers currently working (I don’t dare predict which–though at least Bob Dylan will figure as one of them!) who seem classic and everything on whatever media we’re listening to music through then will pale in comparison.

    Porn in the good ol’ days was definitely better–it’s not an accident, for the reasons I suggest above, that my four all-time favorite porn stars (Laure Sainclair, Michelle Wild, Daniella Rush, and Maya Gold) had their heyday 5-10 years ago. But any age that includes Rebecca Linares, Jennifer Dark, Angel Dark, Claudia Rossi, Vanessa Smoke, and the Czech Lucy Lee must count as the good ol’ days, too!

    Happy viewing,


  16. jfro21 Says:

    I don’t think there was a “good old days” but I also agree with Holly’s point. I think there is a problem of focus that I locate with a consensus among porn directors who do not focus their actors and actresses on what makes hot sex. They are using a formula of a checklist of more extreme acts which have no bearing on what a vast majority of women that I have met enjoy. Much of the joy I get out of sex is giving a woman pleasure…besides being fun it is a feeling of power too, which many of these extreme acts are supposed to .

    What turns me on it to see in porn is seeing penetration but more than just the act itself. Porn directors are thinking that if they add together a series of acts that yields hot sex but it becomes more about the mechanical aspects of it. The actresses and actors go into the scenes thinking that they have to do a series of moves rather than getting turned on first. In a way we need something like the “Method” for porn actors or better ways to find the “naturals” who really enjoy the sex. They have to get into their “space” where they get turned on by the idea of having sex with their partner before they actually start to get undressed.

    Some guys who consume porn cannot tell the difference between actresses and scenes where the people are really turned on in their minds and where people are going through the motions. And sometimes it doesn’t matter. The top rated scene on this site is a scene of only medium heat, where we are looking at one of those two scene wonders with an extraordinary body but not a real “nympho” in terms of her interest in the sex. We the viewers just want to imagine having sex with her because of her fantastic looking body. But most porn needs more than that and it is better for it. I only gave that scene 4 stars because of the lack of real heat.

    The hottest scenes, in my opinion, also involve a “plot” that moves the two or more people from a state of not being aroused or together to being aroused by each other and fucking or doing some sex act together. Early porn tried to use conventional movie plots to make this happen but it often seemed pretentious or distracting. Now gonzo porn tries to get rid of those distractions but they have lost the process by which people go from a state of not being turned on to one where they are turned on. THere is something terribly insecure about they way Viagra is used to keep the men hard…some of the sexiest scenes are when the woman can turn the guy on. Also not showing the process of getting undressed or just starting out naked is just not sexy…it is also totally unrealistic. Porn has to have some realism in it, otherwise we can’t believe that the people in it are really interested in having sex with each other.

  17. Luke Wilson Says:

    Whoever said porn companies dont listen is an idiot.

    1% of people whinge and whine.

    99% are satisfied.

    Why change for the 1%.

    Porn has it correct not some couch potato journalist.

  18. tfal232 Says:

    I do comment here and there on the videos. I don’t care so much for the anal movement, don’t care for the circus sex gonzo types, or the girls who are thinking about what they are going to do after work, but I do get neg banged by the anal/circus sex enthusiest. There is definitely something to be said for videos that have a little plot. Maybe something that makes us really want to see that one girl in the really hot scene.

    I would love to see something that my wife and I could watch without her being freaked out. Something that resembles a real sex life. I have never broke out a saucer and a straw and was like, ‘suck it off the plate and say ahhh.’ Likewise, I’ve never been in a situation where my friend and I were violating the lady in both holes while feeling the other guy’s business. And I really don’t think there has ever been a time where I’ve worn a pair of Oakleys in the bedroom. Call me old fashioned but can we just have BJs, straight sex, some cumshots, and maybe some anal stuff every once in a while.

    I mean don’t do away with a Gianna Michaels gangbang, but it would be nice to have something with a little plot.

    I know it is a business, and we seem to get off anyway, but a man can dream can’t he?

  19. whodat5 Says:

    I see some pretty strong opinions, some of which i agree with, and some I disagree. jfro21, man you pretty summed up my opinions on this topic: some sense of story line makes every scene hotter, you don’t necessarily need the overdone “movie” style plot lines, but porn is supposed to be a visual manifistation of you’re fantasies right? Having some kind of set up definately helps me get more into a scene, the babysitter, the college coed, helping the hot single mom next door, whatever. Name is a must. In my fantasies, I’m usually not in some random room with a girl who’s name I don’t know having a DP with another random dude, maybe thats just me….but hey whatever works for you.

    I disagree with shocked and applauded on the girls looking at the camera. I usually find this extremely sexy, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

    Gonzo can be hot too, but it’s usually the ones who have a 1-2 min mini interview (teens cumming of age?) where u get a brief albiet usually bullshit breakdown of the girls name and background, still this usually makes scenes substantially more interesting for me. Long drawn out interviews are just overkill, and I can’t see what you can talk about for 5+ minutes, and maintain viewer interest.

    RE: The quality of performers
    This is an interesting situation, I remember porn in the 80’s (I was young) and in the early 90’s vs. the late 90’s and today. I remember porn as always being hot and erotic in my younger days, and never failing to get me aroused (this maybe also a by product of youthful testosterone overload). Now when I watch these “classic” videos, they dont arouse me as much, hairstyles and body types have changed since.
    I think the key here is what is hot and “relevant” in the present, years from now we may look back on this age in porn and not find it at all interesting, like most movies from the 50’s and 60’s, and porn from the 80’s. The key to it all is, are the current performers/producers making porn that is hot and erotic by todays standards? I would say 85% is about accurate for no.
    Porn today is very niche oriented. That is what makes this site great, I’m assuming if everyone shared whats on their hard drive, the basic genre of videos would be the same for each individual, but different from the next person. Double penetration/anal doesn’t do it for me, but I’m sure thats the core of another users HD. Asian/Japanese seems to be a genre that many people are opinionated about, but I like some of the vids (not all).

    Summary: Regardless of the lack of enthusiasm of todays female performers, you can still find you’re niche on this site and get maybe at least 5-10 (or more) quality scenes per month.

  20. Undrwriter Says:

    Lately I have been noticing that the porn produced nowadays is pretty much all the same thing. Nothing really new there. I can sum up a porn movie in 6 lines…

    1. Girls walks in and takes clothes off
    2. Girl blows guy
    3. Guy fucks girl in x positions
    4. Girl acts like she’s having a good time…(Really BAD Acting)
    5. Close up (for longer than I care to watch) of the guy fucking the girl
    6. Guy pulls out and comes on girl’s (face, tits, ass, etc…)

    I am seriously thinking of starting a new line of porn… REAL PEOPLE HAVING SEX AND ACTUALLY ENJOYING IT



  21. Undrwriter Says:


    And for the love of all that is good on this earth…


  22. PeterMc Says:

    I tend to veer towards gonzo porn but I do like a bit of a storyline to the scene, some fantasy element rather than just some lame interview and then stright in. However if the sex is hot enough, I’ll still d/l it. I’m not really into the huge glossy hollywood style productions though as there is usually not enough sex and it’s also normally pretty tame stuff. I did used to watch all the Jenna Jameson stuff when I first got into porn and still think some of those scenes are hot but have generally moved on. It has gone more extreme over the years but the girls doing that stuff are generally the likes of Audrey Hollander who is not really that hot and has to do all that nasty double anal shit to sell her movies. I tend to like one on one anal scenes with maybe a bit of a fantasy storyline. Nothing harder than that.

  23. jfro21 Says:

    Yes in a way you are right. Most guys do not know the difference between mechanical bad sex and hot pretty good sex, if the woman is at least half-way decent looking.
    But I think through the internet and places like Videobox with its rating system…the ones who know better can start to lead with their opinions and change the industry just a little. Because those guys would probably get off as well or better on better porn, if more better porn was around.
    If we take the example of food, the food in Northern California is on average better than food in almost any other region of the US. People here, without knowing it, develop finer palates, even if they don’t really care that much or seek out better food. So if more better porn was out there, guys would start to discriminate between bad and decent porn.

  24. marca56 Says:

    I also disagree about “the golden age”. There is always a fairly consistent allotment of garbage, average, and masterpiece during any particular period of time.

    As for story in porn, I think perhaps Brazzers has really figured out the solution. We want the fantasy and diversity but we don’t want hours of setup and goofy “art”. What they do is they take a quick situation and run from there. Usually there is a few minutes of setup and then they get it on.

    I think we all agree that quality is a good thing, and there is no doubt about that. However, the best stuff is expensive to make and most studios cannot afford to. However, there is no excuse in forgoing the basics of makeup, decent lighting, etc.

    Actually, I think the best “ever” porn has mostly been produced in the last 10 years. With a few exceptions, I think modern porn draws better looking women, uses better technology to shoot the scenes, and has done away with many things that were unfit for the industry.

  25. thelesuit Says:

    My experience is that there has always been a high proportion of crap in the porn industry…there is just so much more porn that we have to wade through more crap to actually find anything remotely stimulating. I can’t say that VideoBox is really showcasing anything worthwhile: far too much anal, cum guzzling, and as some one above put it “circus acts”.

    I would like to see more porn that I could actually watch with my wife. Videos that my wife could actually stand to watch and not just be disgusted by the way the female performer is being used like a piece of silicon injected meat. I do read the comments on VideoBox’s scenes, but I rarely find them helpful…though some folks are really good at crediting uncredited actresses or correcting mis-credits — which is helpful.

    I would like to see more female performers who actually look like they enjoy sex and are having a good time in front of the camera.

  26. irhamsrevenge Says:

    Wow…my earliest memories of porn was whackin’ my preadolescent pee-pee to Hustler mag pictures shot by Suze Randall & Clive McLean. As a kid, I thought that they had the coolest jobs ever!
    Everything that I got to say on this subject has been mentioned above. Though, the thing I agree most w/ is that, like everything else, porn evolved for better or worse in the beholder’s eye.
    Personally, I enjoy both gonzo (e.g. Red Light, Lethal Hardcore, etc.) & story-driven (e.g. Notorious) porn. As long as it’s good quality…no Privat

  27. irhamsrevenge Says:

    Wow…my earliest memories of porn was whackin’ my preadolescent pee-pee to Hustler mag pictures shot by Suze Randall & Clive McLean. As a kid, I thought that they had the coolest jobs ever!
    Everything that I got to say on this subject has been mentioned above. Though, the thing I agree most w/ is that, like everything else, porn evolved for better or worse in the beholder’s eye.
    Personally, I enjoy both gonzo (e.g. Red Light, Lethal Hardcore, etc.) & story-driven (e.g. Notorious) porn. As long as it’s good quality…no lousy Private compilations or JKP.
    Shit, it’s a hit-or-miss biz, right?

  28. VERUS Says:

    BTW, “Watch it Now” rocks. V

  29. VERUS Says:

    BTW, “Watch it *Later” rocks. V

  30. oldvert Says:

    I respectfully disagree with Luke’s point. VB polls indicate that more than a tiny percent of viewers disagree in unison with at least one aspect of today’s porn. Producers are doing what they know how to do. Change will come when someone adjusts to the demands of the market and gains market share as a result.
    Today’s porn is being produced as a low cost, high margin commodity product. The “Golden Age” may have been a joke on itself, but some of the higher budget, theme oriented movies that have come out since, present the best in the porn genre.
    Gonzo was born and exists because it’s cheap and easy. It has replaceable parts. It is forgettable and less likely to be kept, maitaining an always hungry market for new forgettable porn.
    Using Men Prefer Anal with Brittaney Starr http://www.videobox.com/beta/member/scene-detail.seam?subTab=&raId=-1&cid=409238&mainTab=browse&contentId=5046321&sdBox=
    as an example, it’s easy to see where quality production is still possible and exceeds the quality of anything Seka ever performed in. Both in terms of aesthetics and eroticism.
    Holly’s view obviously doesn’t represent everyone, but it perfectly nails mine.

  31. beer peer Says:

    It seems like woman from classic older porn had more personality or at least their personality was allowed to come through. This makes the sex seem much more erotic and real. I actually look for woman who are somewhat less “model” attractive in their looks and body. I find this a more interesting. Also, why all the shaved pussies? I makes all the woman look like barbie dolls rather than woman.

  32. Ravo2006 Says:

    Gee, there are some deep thinkers on VB – giving some great articulate opinions whether I agree with them or not. My view with the subject of Porn is pretty well simplictic and representative with everything else in my life. The 80/20 rule……80% of what turns you on or beat of to will come from about 20% of the videos you watch. At $9.95US that’s a great deal…whether it is in 1975 or 2008 – Thanks Allison, love your work. Cheers

  33. emefer Says:

    with so much crap out there the derector has give the illusion that girl is there for the sex and not the money only a few could pull that off check out vince vouyer joey silvera and jake mallone best in the bizz