Can St. Louis Be the San Fernando Valley of Amateur Porn? These Guys Think So.

Categories: Longform

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Studio Torno
Editor's note: As a condition to reporting this story, Riverfront Times agreed to change the names of the actors interviewed and depicted on the following pages. The story also contains descriptions of sex that some readers might find offensive.

Jenny can't believe what she's about to do. It feels too surreal to be actually happening. But that other-worldliness is what spurs the nineteen-year-old to get out of her car and walk into Utopia Studios in south St. Louis.

Inside the noise is deafening. Several rock bands are practicing behind closed doors in rented rehearsal rooms. Jenny looks around the lobby for direction, but there's no sign, no assistant holding a clipboard — just a mishmash of arcade games and vintage advertisements that look as if they were dug up from a hip thrift shop. It doesn't seem like a place where pornos are filmed, whatever that might look like, so Jenny takes out her cell phone and calls Sam Arcobasso, the budding porn producer she met online.

"I'm here," she shouts over the din.

"I'm running a little late," Sam responds. "But Corey's there. I'll call him and tell him to come meet you."

Dressed in a sweater jacket that seems too heavy for the balmy, 80-degree weather outside, Jenny waits with her phone clutched tightly in her hand. A few minutes later, Corey, a stocky 24-year-old photographer in ripped-up jeans and a Pantera T-shirt, emerges from one of the studio rooms and introduces himself to the first-timer.

"Come in and meet the others," he says.

Sitting on a couch in a windowless room are two other aspiring porn actors who, like Jenny, responded to an ad on Craiglist titled "STL actors needed for porno." They are Kelly, a 31-year-old whose slight body almost makes her look like a teenager, and Rory, a middle-aged blond with a farmer's tan. None has ever appeared in an adult film before, but in just a few minutes the three are supposed to engage in a ménage à trois in front of a camera. As Corey sets up the lights for the shoot, the three awkwardly make their introductions. Jenny asks Rory his age.

"I'm 43. You?"

"I'm nineteen."

"Oh, really? That's around my kids' ages."

Jenny can't hide her unease. She excuses herself and asks Corey to have a word outside.

"I wasn't told the guy was gonna be in his forties!" she angrily whispers.

Just then Sam arrives. A bit more businesslike in his appearance than Corey, he's dressed in khakis and an oversized dress shirt. Apprised of the dilemma, the porno producer with about ten amateur films under his belt adroitly offers a solution.

"Are you comfortable having sex with just the girl?" he asks Jenny in his calm, monotone voice.

"Yeah. I can do that," she says.

Sam turns to Corey. "So how about if we do one girl-on-girl scene, and then we do a guy-on-girl with the other two?" he says, motioning toward Kelly and Rory.

Corey likes the idea. Although it would take more time to do two films, he and his business partner could potentially make a little more money for their fledgling startup, STL Adult Films LLC.

"Let's do it," says Corey, and they all go back into the room. But first there are some quick business matters to address.


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