It’s no secret that the adult entertainment industry is where the money is. Sex sells; it’s the oldest and arguably the most lucrative of the entertainment industries. With the advent of the internet, too, the world of adult entertainment has accelerated, having evolved new ways to make money with subscriptions, pay-per-views and advertising revenue. Last year, adult tube site P***Hub reported that it landed an average of almost 1.7 million hits an hour; an indication that the adult entertainment industry shows no signs of slowing down.
The average wage for an actor in a standard adult film is around $1000 for a scene, which trebles if the actor or actress is prepared to do some more, ahem, ‘raunchy’ scenes. It’s understandable, then, that some struggling actors enter the industry to make quick money while developing their careers. Of course, others have experimented in the adult entertainment industry out of curiosity rather than financial difficulty. Stories of celebrities creating and subsequently regretting some very personal recordings are nothing new.
And then there are the stories of actors we know and love who did resort to trying their hand in the adult entertainment industry before they hit the big time. Rarer are the stories of actors who moved out of the mainstream entertainment industry to experiment with x-rated entertainment; but these stories do exist. These 10 well known actors have made fame and fortune, but they all – to a lesser or greater extent – spent some time working in x-rated entertainment.
10. Sasha Grey- $2.5 million
Sasha Grey is atypical in that she actively talks about her past as an adult entertainment star. X-rated entertainment is where she first made her name, so Grey has nothing to hide. Grey left home at 18 and became an adult entertainment star in LA, but the actress states that the job left her feeling unfulfilled. She was already well known in Los Angeles when she was cast in Steven Soderbergh’s ‘The Girlfriend Experience,’ her first mainstream role. Since then, Grey has had a career turnaround. She has landed roles in many independent films, such as 2011’s ‘I Melt With You’, the TV series Entourage – where she starred alongside Perrey Reeves – and the 2012 horror movie ‘Would You Rather’ alongside Brittany Snow.
9. Tie: Tom Sizemore / Perrey Reeves – $3 million
Tom Sizemore is one of Hollywood’s best known supporting actors, having featured in several major films like Saving Private Ryan and Pearl Harbour. However, Sizemore decided to branch out from Academy Award winning films to direct and star in his own x-rated feature, The Tom Sizemore Sex Scandal. Perrey Reeves, before finding fame as Melissa Gold on HBO’s Entourage, stripped off in an episode of Red Shoe Diaries, a 90’s erotic drama series that was distributed by Playboy Entertainment.
8. Traci Lords – $7 million
Traci Lords has been open about her troubled childhood, marked by abuse. Lords became involved in the adult industry by creating a fake ID that allowed her to act when she was underage. Despite her traumatic upbringing, Lords has managed to escape the tragedy of her youth and has become a legitimate actress starring in a number of famous films, such as Blade, along with numerous horror movies.
7. Colin Farrell – $30 million
This beloved Irish actor has starred in countless big-budget productions, but his record isn’t squeaky clean. The actor decided to make a sex tape with a Playboy playmate girlfriend back in 2005 and as we know, most celebrity sex tapes don’t stay secret for long. Despite Farrell’s attempts to block the tape, the video starring a shaven-headed Farrell and playmate Nicole Narain went viral. The multi-millionaire has since expressed his shame regarding the video. Commenting on the tape, Farrell said “It certainly wasn’t a validation of my prowess. The whole thing was horrifying.”
6. Tie: David Duchovny / Matt LeBlanc – $60 million
The famous Friends actor’s life once ironically mirrored the role of struggling actor Joey Tribbiani. Matt Le Blanc once struggled for roles himself, and in the early 90s Le Blanc took a role in Red Shoe Diaries, the same erotic drama show in which Perrey Reeves starred. This softcore adult series was a starting point for a surprising number of actors- David Duchovny also started out on Red Shoe Diaries. Duchovny is now an Academy award nominated actor who has starred in a number of famous TV shows, such as Sex and the City, The X-Files and Californication. In 2008, Duchovny was admitted to rehab for a sex addiction.
5. Cameron Diaz – $100 million
Compared to others on our list, Diaz isn’t very open about her experience with the adult entertainment industry. Before landing her first ever role in the 1994 film The Mask, Diaz had worked as a fashion model for many years. At 19, Diaz decided to take part in a softcore ‘S&M’ sequence with another girl. Footage was recorded of Diaz, although it never actually amounted to a film. Diaz actively tried to stop all distribution of the tape when the owner of the footage tried to sell it to a Russian adult site and the man in question was taken to court by Diaz herself.
4. Jane Fonda – $120 million
Jane Fonda has not escaped sex-tape scandal. When the now 76-year-old actress was 48, a video of Fonda, her ex-husband Ted Turner and an anonymous brunette engaging in a threesome surfaced. American publisher Larry Flynt apparently tried (and failed) to purchase the video for an undisclosed amount of money. Not much information was ever released, and luckily for Fonda the tape never made its way to the internet. Fonda herself has no qualms when it comes to speaking about her sex life- she admitted that she and her first husband had a number of threesomes throughout their marriage in the 1970’s.
3. Jackie Chan – $130 million
Believe it or not, Jackie Chan was in an x-rated movie. Chan was born in Hong Kong in 1954, and went on to become one of the most talented actors of his generation. He has starred in over 100 films and remains one of the only actors in history who has done all of his own movie stunts. However, before Chan made it big he starred in a saucy film called All In The Family as a naughty rickshaw driver (yes, really). Chan speaks frankly about his past these days – “I had to do anything I could to make a living 31 years ago, but I don’t think it’s a big deal, even Marlon Brando used to be exposed in his movies.”
2. Sylvester Stallone – $275 million
Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone turned to the adult entertainment biz at the beginning of his career, when he was struggling to make it as an actor. Stallone had been kicked out of his New York apartment and found himself on the streets. He was forced to sleep in a bus station until he noticed, in a newspaper, an ad for an adult role. The film, ‘The Party at Kitty and Stud’s’ released in 1970, saw Stallone paid $100 a day. The x-rated gains allowed him to get back on his feet and begin his mainstream acting career.
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger – $300 million
The former Governor of California was very liberal during his early bodybuilding days in the 1970’s; the Austrian-born star happily posed for a number of naked photo shoots. The first was for controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Arnold then posed for a number of explicit shots for the gay magazine After Dark. Schwarzenegger, a self-confessed conservative Christian, has expressed very liberal views. In a magazine interview, he stated he has no qualms about taking part in gay photoshoots – “Gay people are fighting the same kind of stereotyping that bodybuilders are: People have certain misconceptions about them just as they do about us.”