Porn movies for women – that has been a trend for some time now. More and more companies are expanding their product ranges, setting up divisions or channels with content that focuses on female lust. For some producers, however, the production of women-friendly content is not a question of following a trend. It is at the heart of their mission.
One of these companies is JoyBear Pictures, a British porn company celebrating its 15th birthday this year. Justin Santos is the founder and CEO of the company. He describes the growing popularity of women’s content as a lucky stroke for his company. »In the last two to four years, the popularity of movies and content that have been our core business from the beginning has experienced a significant upswing.«
Erika Lust, the feminist pornographer (and founder of XConfessions) has just published a list of ethical porn recommendations for Bustle magazine, a list of websites specializing in female lust. Among them, of course, is JoyBear, about which the feminist pornographer writes: »Its slogan is ‘very British, very naughty’. So you won’t be disappointed by JoyBear (NSFW), which has been making sex-positive, adult movies since 2003. They have an amazing attitude towards sex and are proud of their interesting, strong and provocative female characters.«
JoyBear shows sex and everything around it
Company founder Santos explains the success of his label as follows: »Women and couples fit our product well, but there are lots of men out there who are sort of sick and tired of very, very male-centric content and are looking for something different.«
JoyBear’s offer is diverse. But it is important for Santos to emphasize that pleasure-centered actions play an important role beyond the simple act of sex. »I see a world where sex is positive and not taboo, and Joybear is really working to create that world. And that’s why we make sex-positive films with loads and loads of kissing. I’m feeling the most excited about that as I’ve felt since I embarked on this journey.«
Birthday collection offers an introduction to newbies: Highlights from 15 years
Now the JoyBear Collection has been launched on the American market just in time for the company’s 15th anniversary. Its purpose is naturally to expand the fan community and make JoyBear content more widely known. »Joybear films don’t really fit into any one category, because we feel we’ve sort of created our own category,« Santos said.
The JoyBear Collection brings together scenes from past movies grouped around specific themes. »For example, Women Love Women, which is obviously lesbian. We have Fuck Me on the Desk, which is obviously office based. We have Curvalicious, which is natural, more curvaceous performers. And we have Dominate Me, for customers who really like BDSM. This would be a really good way to get into the brand.«
When asked about his favourite movie from his studio, Santos mentions Housemates 2, which was released in 2015 and features a European cast as well as the American performer Tyler Nixon. He says: »I just think the team did a brilliant job on that. It feels British, it feels contemporary, there’s a nice little element of drama in there. But loads of sexiness and some beautiful shots, lovely buildup, some really nice sex scenes. The performers just did a super job.«
JoyBear’s founding and mission
Justin Santos found his way into the world of adult entertainment in 2003 with a reality TV show. It was a Playboy television show filmed in the UK and featuring a competition for the production of a porn movie. He says: »I had done a film degree at university in the U.K. and was working in sales because I loved selling, but thinking all the time I wanted to get into the film industry. And I applied to go on this show. A camera crew was following us around and we had three weeks to make a porn film. And I won the competition.«
Then he looked for an investor to start a production company. He asked a friend he knew from school who had made a small fortune. Santos asked him for 30,000 pounds. His friend said: »You’ve got two choices. Option one, I’m your partner and anything you make you split with me 50/50, but if it goes tits up, I got it, it’s on me. Option two, take the 30 grand and I want it back, with interest.« Santos went for option number 2. His friend replied that it was a good choice: »If you’d chosen Option 1, I would have known you didn’t know what you were doing.« Santos laughs about it today. He loves to tell this anecdote: »I looked him clean in the eye and said, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’ And that was it. Never looked back.«
Establishing the Distribution
But first Santos had to deliver its content to its customers – after all, it wasn’t just any product. He met a somewhat shady guy, a DVD distributor, who rejected Santos’ sophisticated and sexy DVD covers and pointed to a wall of hardcore titles his company normally was selling. Santos didn’t let himself be impressed and saw his chance: »I plunked my black-and-white cover in the middle of his pink wall and said, ‘What do you see now?’ And he said, ‘I’ll take 500.’ And that was the point when I thought, ‘Maybe you’re on to something.’«
Since then Santos has found out what this path all meant: »Originally it was me doing everything on my own. Guerrilla filmmaking in the early days. And then I got a second camera operator who went with me. And then, I think maybe around 2012, I said, ‘Look, somebody else needs to do this.’ I wanted someone who was better than me. I had my ideas, but I wanted someone better.«
In the meantime, Santos has brought in two directors (»both men – one hetero, one gay«) and a screenwriter who works with the authors and directors. Among other things, she makes sure that the sex positions fit the story – for example, that in the case of a romantic scene, the actors don’t go directly into a hardcore position. Santos says: »So then when you watch it, you buy into it. And if you buy into it, we have a better chance of turning you on.«
Today, he focuses on distribution and licensing, as well as managing the entire team. »I’m still very involved in the creative direction the business is going in, so I will liaise with writes, directors, script editors, marketing, growth, to make sure we’re going in the direction I think we should be going in. And I’m constantly looking and reevaluating our mission statement, our vision.«
Pornographer as a Profession and Fatherhood
He says it helped him with his work that he’s a father of two daughters. »Since my girls have come along, it’s helped me understand my position in the marketplace. Naturally, lots of people you meet ask you, ‘How are you going to tell your daughters what you do – how are you feeling about that whole journey?’ When they come of age I’m certainly not going to hide what I do. I’m going to get involved in explaining to them what pornography is all about and the place it should have in their lives.«
»When I first started this business I just got a bit bored by all the films I saw where people didn’t look like they were having fun. And when the moment comes when my daughters will hold me to account, the first thing I will do is say, ‘Go and check out one of my films.’ And the biggest thing I hope they will see is that everyone is having fun. Because if you get that right, everything else will follow.«
Responding to the forthcoming legislative changes in the UK that require adult producers to take stricter measures to prevent minors from accessing their content, Santos admits that it is »a bit annoying« not to know exactly when the rules will come into effect. But he is ready to make the necessary changes. He says: »Our site is already soft until you hit the payment gateway. Even still, we’re going to have to make our tour even softer. We are kind of prepared for that. We’re just waiting for the call.«
Even though he considers it a challenge, Santos doesn’t complain. He laughs: »When I grew up and was trying to find pornography, you had to be tall enough to reach the top shelf. It was a rite of passage. This thing that would have an amazing and profound effect on you. You had to work for it. Now it’s, ‘I’ll just turn my iPhone on and see what I can see.’ I think bringing back those natural barriers to accessing the content is a good thing.«
To learn more about the company and its productions, click here.