More Buck for the Bang SUBTITLE: How Sex on the Internet Has Transformed the Business of Pornography

Article excerpt

When she started her Web site two years ago, Jenteal thought it would just be a hobby. A self-described "total nerd" in high school, she taught herself PhotoShop and put together a site with her fiance, Chris. Then, like legions of other Internet entrepreneurs, Jenteal, 23, found herself in deep. "I gave up all personal time," she says. "I'm at the office at least 10 hours a day, and even when I'm home I'm on my laptop." It is just midmorning on the U.S. West Coast, and Jenteal is still groggy from dancing the previous night at a club called Bob's Classy Lady. Later she'll perform a live masturbation scene on her Webcam, or maybe do an explicit online chat. She sees it as building her future. "If in the next year I'm making $50,000 a month from the Web site," she says, "I'll cut way back on [making] movies and dancing. This is going to carry me past my porn career."

In the late 1970s a new technology--cheap, easy, universally accessible-- changed the porn business forever. As the movie "Boogie Nights" showed, the catalyst was video, which had lower production values than film and made name porno actors an unnecessary expense: suddenly, anyone could be a "star." Now online technology is having the opposite effect on porn. "Adult" sites were a $1 billion industry in 1998, according to Forrester Research. But what's new is how "the power structure is changing," says Danni Ashe, a stripper turned porn mogul. "The performers are more involved," she says. "Virtually every woman in the business now has her own site."

Ashe was among the first in this less-celebrated class of cyber- entrepreneurs. In 1995, after being arrested onstage at a Florida strip club, she needed a change. …