Mia Khalifa recently revealed her earnings while in the adult entertainment industry, and the Internet wasn’t too pleased.
The ex-porn star, now sports commentator said that she only made $12,000 in her short-lived porn career. Mia tweeted the info along with a video introducing an interview she did:
“People think I’m racking in millions from porn,” she wrote. “Completely untrue. I made a TOTAL of around $12,000 in the industry and never saw a penny again after that. Difficulty finding a normal job after quitting porn was… scary.”
Folks immediately labeled Mia a clown for accepting such low pay in the porn industry.
However, Khalifa shouldn’t be ridiculed for these alleged numbers, considering the harsh truths of the porn industry.
According to Heavy.com, Khalifa was approached to do porn right after her college days at the University of Texas, El Paso. However, she quit after only three months in 2014, mainly because of a controversial scene she shot wearing a hijab. The content sparked outrage amongst some religious communities and Mia says she even received death threats from ISIS. In a 2018 interview with Playboy Magazine, she said:
“I don’t want any of this, whether it’s positive or negative – but all of it was negative. I didn’t get too much into it about how my friends and family and relationships were suffering.”
Despite quitting the industry, Mia was the most-searched porn star of 2016 and 2017 on the adult site xHamster and by June 2018, she was the No. 2 most searched star on Pornhub, according to VICE.
So why did she leave the game with only $12,000?
The reason for Mia’s alleged salary can be boiled down to a few things.
First, women porn actors don’t make as much money as you might think. According to Yahoo Finance, a typical male and female sex scene will shell out between $800 and $1,000 for a female actress. If they’re top-tier, they can get up to $1,500 or even $2,000. But if they’re a newcomer, they can receive as little as $300.
According to Heavy.com, Khalifa performed in 21 adult movies, so one would think, at best, she would’ve racked up $21,000 over the course of her career. However, her videos could’ve ranged from major studios to more amateur videos that might not pay as well. Add in the fact that she only did porn for three months and you have someone who could’ve received a low “newcomer” salary.
The porn industry also isn’t as lucrative as one might think. Because many porn firms are privately owned, it’s impossible to get a complete estimate of how much the industry is worth. According to Yahoo, some studies place the industry at making $97 billion a year, while others place revenue at less than $6 billion. With the advent of the Internet and illegal streaming, these numbers can be even lower.
Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, a sociologist and author of Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment, told Refinary29:
“Piracy-based tube sites populated with stolen content that viewers assume is ‘free’ have resulted in many challenges, including making it challenging for producers to recoup their costs, much less make a profit.”
So if porn companies aren’t making much of a profit, it’s not far-fetched that the pay is low for performers. According to Yahoo, many porn stars make their bread and butter via endorsement deals, creating customized clips for fans or, in some cases, starting their own production studios. Some porn actors even dance at adult clubs across the country where they can earn considerably more and sell their own merchandise. Thus, even though Mia quit porn as a performer, the 26 year old could still be using her name and fame to profit in other ways, and we can’t be mad at her if the $12,000 number is true.
Moves are also being made to remedy the low pay for performers, such as starting unions. According to Refinery29, the International Entertainment Adult Union was formed in December 2015 and one of their goals is to help performers negotiate film and website royalties. With such support, former stars like Khalifa can received payments long after her movies were shot and released.
Mia’s alleged $12,000 porn accumulation is pretty shocking.
But considering the woes of the industry, it’s not uncommon. If folks love sex workers as much as they love sex, fights for better pay and royalty negotiations could reach national attention. It’ll only take more insiders like Mia to let us know how the money is distributed and who’s the biggest recipient.
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