The Reality TV/Porn Connection

Every 20 minutes, a new reality show is born. Okay, so maybe we totally made that up, but doesn't it feel that way? And literally thousands of people are signing up for their shot at their 15 minutes (or more, if they're Bethenny Frankel). Given the sheer quantity of participants, it's not surprising that some reality TV subjects would have a random connection to the adult film industry, but it's actually much more common than one would think. And it's become obvious that as reality television shows increase in leaps and bounds each year, so do its similarities and connections to porn. They're the peas and carrots of the entertainment industry.

There are several reality stars who were involved with porn before being cast on a show (a recent Real World roommate, several Rock of Love contestants, a member of the Bad Girls Club...the list goes on and on, and don't even get me started on Survivor contestants). And people have built very successful careers for themselves in reality TV because of their porno past: Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Ray J, for example. Reality stars like Danielle Staub and Kendra Wilkinson have entered the sex industry after they've been on TV; it's just another way to keep the cash flowing.

So what is it about the two genres that seemingly attract kindred personalities? For starters, no matter how clean-cut and high quality a reality show may be, there are undeniable similarities between it and adult film production. There are the comparatively low production values, the occasionally unflattering lighting, and often times, poorly scripted dialogued punctuated with cringe-worthy ad-libs. Casting process aside, the barrier for entry can be relatively low.

But it goes beyond that: In both reality TV and porn, subjects are exposing themselves. By baring it all, be it emotionally or physically, both reality stars and porn stars have a certain vulnerability about them that's relatively uncommon for Hollywood celebrities. Neither porn stars nor reality stars are removed; their brand of entertainment is the exact opposite. And this unabashed openness makes them more relatable than their mainstream counterparts; these stars are human. They're sweaty. Their faces are animated. Their makeup gets smudged. Their hair gets fucked up. They're not perfect, and they're comfortable presenting that to the world.

Another correlation between reality and porn: In both genres, the participants are always "stars." No matter how unsuccessful the reality show or how rarely viewed the adult film, anyone featured in either is forever labeled as a luminary: "Reality star" and "porn star" are descriptors even when a person hasn't made much of a splash. Participation in each genre is all that's required for "stardom." It's the fast track to being labeled as a "celebrity" of some sort, even if only a couple hundred people have ever heard of you.

But ultimately, what it seems to come down to is the apparent need to perform or to be watched, and seemingly without concern about traditional filters. They consider themselves, their personalities and images, to be compelling no matter what lens they're viewed through. And as viewers, we apparently agree.