Porn and Abuse | The Casting Couch Exploitative Endeavour

I’m watching a “casting couch” porn video called “Latina Painal.”

FYI ‘painal’ = painful anal. It’s a massive genre (23,741 results in free-to-access Porntube).

The casting couch thing is also a huge genre. There are 9,736 casting couch videos on Porntube, 1,028 on Pornhub, and 722 on YouPorn. A still from the room of the most well known production company ‘Backstage Casting Couch’ has been made into a mainstream meme.



The premise is an ‘interview’ for ‘adult modelling,’ or in some cases, just ‘modelling.’ Women ranging in ages from 18 to early 20s usually feature. 

The film begins with some text to reassure us that this is an entirely exploitative endeavour, just in case we are idiots.

Backroom Casting Couch is real life interactions that occur during adult modelling interviews. We film girls sucking, fucking, swallowing and taking it in the ass just to land a job. I would hire them all… however… I’m not a real casting agent, and there is no job.

A middle aged man, whose face is blurred, makes small talk and fires questions in an authoritarian tone. The young Latina woman thinks it’s an interview for ‘modelling.’ When she confronts him about his omission of the word ‘adult’ he leans forward, hands clasped, and interrupts to remind her that she wanted to earn “1,000 to 5,000 dollars a day” and that “the only way to do that, is through adult modelling.” When she tries to say something he immediately talks over her. He does this in all the videos – interrupting in a chirpy ‘hey-I’m-a-reasonable-guy-just-trying-to-do-you-a-favour’ tone.

He says that he has had girls from the Dominican Republic and he “gets them jobs.” One third of the Dominican Republic is living in poverty and 20% is living in extreme poverty. Where poverty is rife, so is exploitation. The country has a massive sex trafficking problem with one in ten sexually exploited people being children. Still resisting and clearly uncomfortable, the woman says “I don’t want to say no, it’s a lot of money, and I really need it.” He interrupts her yet again to say “I’ll assume that you’re saying yes, and just continue with the interview.”

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She ends up, after having had just three sexual partners in her life, giving this horrific specimen of mankind a blow-job, having sex with him, and having anal (painal) sex. It’s incredibly distressing to watch. He ignores both her hand trying to push him away, and her cries of pain. He instructs her to look into the camera, because the viewers want to see the pain – that’s the point of the the tag ‘painal.’  I feel now is a good time to remind us all that unwanted sex is rape. Sex where the other person is pushing you away and loudly groaning in pain is rape. What you are watching is rape.

This guy uses the same tactics in all of his films. Just like sexual abusers, he follows a reliable script. It begins with deception to get the girl there, and then he ups the ante more and more. He skillfully uses language to maintain control and power: he talks over the women, doesn’t allow them to interrupt, interjects when they protest. When he is having sex with the women he goes totally silent, which is communication in itself designed to increase the sense of isolation, powerlessness and insecurity felt by the women. It is designed to prevent too much dissent.

He doesn’t ask questions or make requests. He informs and instructs, in a sing-song chirpy authoritarian voice, a little like a teacher talking to kids. In charge. A professional. By doing this he places himself in the role of decision maker, leader and tone controller. The latter is very important; if you have control of the tone of an interaction, you have control over how the interaction goes. By being in charge he is also in a position to normalise his instructions and expectations of the women. It also normalises his behaviour, which includes sexual assault, so well camouflaged, that I nearly missed it.

In Smart Blonde, Dumb Choices he informs the woman that he “can’t just hire a pretty face” so he’ll have to see her naked. He immediately rushes in with “so I’m gonna have you stand up.” Her face crinkles with embarrassment but she gets up and takes off her clothes. She is barely in her underwear when he instructs: “take off your bra, please” in his annoying faux professional tone. She does so, visibly uncomfortable. He immediately strides over to her, grabs her breasts without informing her of his intention, and guesses her cup size, all chatty, friendly, complimentary. Sexually assaulting her.

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He uses his power and authoritarian presence to melt and erase boundaries, to desensitize her to the continuing violations, to desensitize her to her own collusion in them. This is what abusers and exploiters do. This is what sexual harassers do. He never verbally abuses her, or explicitly disrespects her. It is all extremely skillful and very subtle, just like the insidiousness of sexual abuse grooming and domestic abuse. Its subtlety is what makes it go unnoticed in ‘real life’ and its subtlety here is what makes it normalised and sexualised in porn.

As with all of them, he gets her to turn around, bend over, pull her underwear down, and reach back. “Spread your cheeks,” he says. As her arms hesitantly waver, he quickly, confidently says “with both hands.” He constantly refers to ‘other girls’ and ‘most girls,’ making sure it is apparent to the woman that he has done this so many times, this is all normal, hundreds of ‘girls’ have done it, he’s a professional doing a job, an ‘agent,’ the authority.

Then she is sitting on the couch, still naked. I don’t know why she has not been able to put her clothes back on, given that the ‘assessing’ of her body is now over. He asks her how often she masturbates, as though her private masturbation habits have anything to do with shooting a porn film. He tells her to masturbate for the camera and she is clearly not comfortable, smiling and squirming on the couch, legs crossed, arms over her breasts. “I’ve never done it in front of anyone,” she says. “It’s easy,” he replies. “Go ahead and lift your legs up.”

Onwards the abuse goes. He gets her to hold the camera on her face. “What do you think I’m about to do?” he asks her, not acquiring informed consent, but eliciting his next move from her. He does this in all of these videos, getting the women to guess what his intentions are. When we come up with an answer we are more likely to be agreeable to it than if it told to us. “I’m not sure,” she says, and he goes down on her, just like that. Just like with the breast grab, not gaining consent. It’s sexual assault, it just doesn’t look like it due to how normalised the man has made the entire situation. This is what sexual abusers do. They set up the scene for exploitation, and he has set up every stage of this encounter.

She doesn’t tell him to stop, but she doesn’t say yes either. And remember, she is ‘interviewing’ to be in porn. She assumes that agents and producers are going to see this tape, so she has to come across as into sex, eager, agreeable, easy to work with, sexually open and so on. A classic tactic of abusers is that there is a threat or reward at stake. Here the threat is not doing what he wants and therefore not getting the film sent to ‘producers.’ The reward is the potential 1,000 to 5,000 dollars apparent pay.

“Thing is,” he says, “I need to see how you work with a male talent, so that’s gonna be me. So what I’m gonna have you do, is start by sucking my cock.” As she performs oral sex he says: “Did you think you were going to be doing this today?” She says no. Amazingly, he asks her a question for the first time,  “Are you okay with that?” “Eh, yeah,” she says, camera in face, dick in mouth, 1-5k on the line. Now she has colluded in her own exploitation, he can really do what he wants with her. When he’s decided he’s seen enough he complements her on her ‘experience’ and instructs her to lie on the table on her back. In the next scene he is having sex with her so who knows how that happened. Probably more elicitation and instruction.

Still inside her, he asks her if she could do anal sex for thirty seconds. She says “Oh, I don’t know.”

He talks over her, “Producers really want to see that.” She agrees to “see how it goes.” She squirms away from him in displeasure, she winces. She grips the desk with white knuckles. She is in clear discomfort. She whimpers in pain and just like the Latino woman and many many more I’ve seen, reaches back to push the man away. He continues, in silence, just like he does when any of them push him away.

He only stops when she says an explicit ‘stop.’

She says it felt “not very good.” He finds it amusing. He comments on the Latina woman’s ‘screams.’

Afterwards he asks her if she wants to do “this work” and her answer has changed to “I dunno… Maybe.” He lets her know she will be paid in a few weeks. In many of his other videos he tells the girl at the end that there is no payment as it was only an “interview.”

In others he asks the girl if she’d want the video on “Porntube or somewhere like that,” and they laugh and say something like “No, not those sites,” and then the video ends, on Porntube.

“Latina Painal” concludes with the man telling the woman that she’ll be earning “1,000 to 5,000 dollars a day” soon.

“Really?” she asks.

The screen goes black and a giant NO appears.

In this enormously popular genre, that’s the turn-on for the viewer. Coerce the woman into a series of things she wasn’t expecting and doesn’t always consent to, include painful sex, manipulate her into crossing her own boundaries and collude in her own abuse, film her pained facial expressions, then give her a big fuck you of humiliation at the end. This isn’t fiction, this isn’t fantasy. It’s real exploitation and with every ejaculation the viewer is high fiving the abuser with his free hand, and becoming the abuser.

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