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$ex $ells

A close look at the Web's dirty little secret


By Heinz Bulos
y day, lrancis Lugenio ,not his
real name,, a sel-conessed geek,
works as an I1 proessional, a
respectable job as any. In his ree time, he
helps update Manyakdotcom, a \eb site
synonymous to online Pinoy porn - both
constantly criticized and widely isited.

In 1998, he, along with some riends, set
up Manyakdotcom, partly out o boredom
and partly out o rustration oer the lack
o lilipina nude celebrity sites back then.
Money wasn`t een a actor, though the
site continues to make a air amount o
money, at least by local standards. le`s
not a greedy bastard` and surely, he
wouldn`t want to be called a
pornographer.
Manyakdotcom is but one o the
estimated million adult entertainment
sites out there ,more conseratie
numbers peg it at 40,000,. Lugenio, in
act, is a typical porn site operator: a Net-
say, young proessional as ar remoed
rom the real porn industry as you or me,
operating as a sideline an adult site that is
making a ew thousand dollars a month in
reenues. And with no qualms about what
he does and yet coy about reealing his
identity.
ize matters
1he size o the online sex industry is
astounding, een i you consider the
most conseratie igures. 1he industry
itsel is so dierse, ranging rom sot
pornography to outright prostitution. 1he
much darker side o the online sex
industry is hardly documented, but
numbers or Internet porn - the much
larger sector - are more aailable.
According to Datamonitor, \eb surers
spent >1.4 billion on cyberporn in 1999 -
a bit more than books - and is orecasted
to grow to >3 billion in 2003. 1hat`s about
8 o the >18 billion reenues rom e-
commerce, based on a lorrester Research
report. \ith proit margins at a hety 30
or more, the online adult entertainment
industry is making around >900 million a
year, net.

Site traic is as staggering.
Nielsen,,NetRatings reported that 1.5
million surers isited porn sites in January
2000 alone. 1he top adult site,
PornCity.net, had more unique isitors
than LSPN.com, CDNow, or
barnesandnoble.com.1here was a time in
the early history o the \eb in the mid-
nineties when 90 o all sites were adult-
oriented.

At least hal o Internet traic is or adult
sites, but according to the Adult Chamber
o Commerce, the igure is more like 0
percent. 1his may be too high or some,
but sex` has consistently been one o the
top search keywords. Asia`s Catcha.com
or instance counted sex` along with
MP3` as its top searches. Sex` was
number one in all its portals ,Malaysia,
Indonesia, and 1hailand,, except in the
Philippines, where it ranked second to
"Joyce Jimenez," a local sex siren.

Dirty Big Secret
here are two types o porn sites:
commercial and hobby sites.
lobby sites are put up by people
out o admiration - or lust - or certain
lollywood and porn celebrities. 1hey
usually hae amateurish designs, contains
B
S
1
a smattering o photos taken rom other
sites or scanned rom magazines, and are
obiously ree ,with an obligatory below
18` warning,.

Commercial sites rake in the moolah.
1hey come in two categories: pay and ree
sites. Pay sites require membership ees
while ree sites earn rom adertising, that
is, adertising rom pay sites. lor eery
click on an adertising banner, ree sites
earn a ew cents, either a ixed ee or a
commission. 1hat`s why webmasters o
ree sites plead to their isitors to click on
banners or support.

Pay sites make money by getting isitors
to pay subscription ees in exchange or
quality and quantity not oered by ree
sites. 1wo other reenue sources or adult
sites are ads rom traditional adertisers
,although it`s more likely the ads come
rom online casinos, phone-sex operators,
and other porn sites, and sale o adult-
oriented merchandise, such as ideos and
sex toys.

1he serious money still comes rom
click-throughs", much sought-ater by
any kind o adertiser but more so by
porn adertisers. 1he primary objectie is
to get isitors to click on a banner then
sign him or her up or a subscription. Pay
sites entice isitors to pay membership
ees. lree sites usually partner with an
adult eriication serice like AdultCheck,
partly to preent minors rom entering
but mainly to get sex-stared adults to
sign up or a password, rom which the
ree sites receie a commission.

I you bumped into a site that appears to
be just a bunch o adult banner ads, that`s
what you call a click-through armer. \ou
don`t actually get to iew any nude
photos, except or a ew ree samples, the
idea is to get you to click the banners.
Many o these sites eature a top list o
adult sites, this indicates the sites that
generated the most traic deliered to
other sites. It`s all about links and
reerrals. Len links to competitors.

Aside rom click-throughs, a more
exclusie ariant is a partnership
agreement between sites. Instead o
earning commissions rom click-throughs,
partners who reer isitors get a
percentage rom the irst month`s
subscription.

It does sound easy to make money,
though only a ew really make hundreds
o thousands or een millions. Most porn
site operators earn around >1,000 to
>2,000 a month, still not chump change.

It`s also not diicult to put up a porn site.
Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge o
l1ML can borrow` photos rom other
adult sites and hae them hosted on a site
that does not prohibit them.

1here are starter kits that come in CD-
ROMs, containing photos and ideo clips,
that costs just >200, sold by the likes o
American Sex Inc. ,cheapskates can get
pirated ersions or P100 rom any
sotware store`,. Do-it yoursel
exhibitionists can buy a >100 \ebcam and
just take their clothes o. Some
companies like 1iarra Corporation can do
the whole thing or you - a complete site
with photos, banners, and ideo eeds
ranging rom >3,500 to >35,000.

Adult Designs is more aordable,
charging >800 or a basic site with six
pages and 50 photos. \ou pay extra or
domain name registration and hosting,
which will cost you a couple hundred
dollars more.

Another alternatie is to buy an existing
site with an established name and site
traic. lor example, All lree Sex Pics,
which took 140,000 isitors a month and
>3,000 in gross reenues, sold or a little
less than >25,000.

1he bad and the ugly
he low barrier to entry is a double-
edged sword or Larry llynt
wannabes. On one hand, it`s easy
to get started. On the other hand, since
it`s easy to get started, anyone can just
come in. \ith an eer-increasing supply
and a inite leel o demand, there`s only
so much porn you can take.

And with prepackaged sites and CD-
ROMs, there`s only so much of tbe .ave
orv. I you wonder i you`e seen that
Pamela Anderson spread beore, you
wondered right.

1he intense competition and cookie-cutter
content hae orced many pay sites to
drop subscription ees, and some
operators to drop rom the industry or
good.

Others, under pressure to distinguish
themseles, push the boundaries o porn,
oering an increasing number o hard-
core pornography, including those not
inoling humans.

1his has naturally caused concern, een
panic, among preachers, parents, and, o
course, politicians. Much has been written
in the media about pedophiles and sex
pererts on the Net, mail-order brides,
and hard-core porn. Len the sotest o
porn is cause or alarm or conseratie
groups, especially since they are easily
accessible by children.

Perhaps this is a primary reason why
lilipino-operated porn sites hae not
really lourished. 1here`s the stigma and
the intense pressure rom a highly-
conseratie, albeit hypocrital, society.
Aside rom Manyakdotcom, a handul o
Pinoy celebrity porn sites are known,
namely Rear Impact, Sexiest Pinay
Celebrities, Pinay Pic Peek, and Peke Pics.
1hey may get the attention but they`re
tame by porn standards. Operators o
lilipina mail-order brides ,personals`,
and hard-core porn eaturing lilipina
nude models are more aplenty ,mostly
operated by oreigners less concerned
with local sensibilities,, rom the staid-
sounding lilipino Girls to the more
poetic, S&M-themed \hite Ropes on a
Dark Beauty. Philgirls.com eature
200,000 photos and 1,500 ideos. lor
>19.95 a year using Cyberage, you can
iew Philgirls.com and participating sites.
Cyberage and AdultCheck lists about 40
lilipina porn sites each.

Problems o the online porn industry are
o course not restricted to politicians,
religious groups, and cause-oriented
organizations. 1he bigger headaches or
them currently are not moral- or legal-
related, but strictly business.

lirst, there is rampant credit card raud. A
isitor will sign in as a member then call
his issuing credit card company, deny the
purchase, and do a chargeback.

1hen there is access to capital and credit.
Banks and credit companies in the U.S.
are hesitant to raise credit limits. It`s
highly doubtul local inancial institutions
will een accept a merchant operating an
adult site. Len at the height o the dot-
com boom, inestors in the U.S. were not
too keen in inusing equity in the adult
entertainment sector.

1hey also hae to contend with ly-by-
night operators, including adertisers who
disappear ater signing up some members
and not paying sites that reerred their
isitors, suracing later under a new name.
1
1here are also those who manuacture
clicks, ripping o adertisers.

But the problems that aect end
consumers hae to do with the dirty tricks
played by adult webmasters. Since the
name o the game is click-throughs,
unethical porn operators, particularly ree
sites that lie o pay sites do whateer
means possible to increase traic and
manipulate clicks to earn money.
lor instance, there is the so-called hot-
linking. 1his inoles the notorious pop-
up windows that open new ones as you
close them as well links that go nowhere,
going around in circles.
1hen there is blind-linking. 1his inoles
registering a hit on a click-through
program without actually leaing the
original site.

1here`s also the annoying exit console.
1his is a pop-up window that has seeral
banners which appears when a isitor
exits the page, bringing him back to the
original site. 1his looping trap is called
circle jerking.

1here`s the so-called illegal link syntax, or
alse adertising, wherein sites put up
banners with reerences to hard-core
behaior to entice isitors.

Some o these sites do not een hae
content, just a bunch o links, most i
which are links back to them, thus
increasing their site stats. More and more,
it becomes diicult to ind actual porn
online, as lusty surers are tricked into just
clicking on links endlessly until they gie
up.

Boogie Sites

Porn sites, or as they preer to be called,
adult entertainment sites, are just the tip
o the iceberg. Celebrity nude sites like
Manyakdotcom are popular but are in the
outer ringes o the industry. 1hey may
still be cause or alarm -- een porn
operators agree adult sites should be o-
limits to children -- and there may be
copyright and priacy issues inoled. But
they`re not the real problem.

\hat`s more rightening is the
underground online sex business --

Sidebar: How Sex Shapes 1echnology
t`s true that necessity is the mother o
inention. But there are only two
things that drie the adoption o
technology: sex and games, with the latter
a distant second. lere are a ew
technologies drien to commercial success
by the sex industry.

1CR.
1he porn industry was the irst to adopt
this new medium to widely distribute its
products. Up to 1983, X-rated ideos
accounted or 5 o all rentals and sales
o ideotapes, now down to 25.

Pa,errier
A third o pay-per-iew cable 1V
reenues come rom the our major adult
channels.

Pbove .e
Phone sex is a >2 billion a year industry.

itv
One o the earliest moies was an 1896
stag ilm. 1he American porno ilm
industry was thriing by the 1920s.

Mivitet
Beore the Internet, the lrench were
using a proprietary online serice in the
I
early 1980s called Minitel. One o the
most popular applications was sending X-
rated messages to a point that they
oerloaded the system.

CDROM
Adult CD-ROM titles looded the market,
promising an interactie, multimedia
experience, the irst being Virtual Valerie.
About 20 o the consumer CD-ROM
market is controlled by porn producers.

treavivg riaeo ava avaio
Porn site operators perected ull-
streaming ideo and audio on the \eb.

covverce
\hereas surers were hesitant to purchase
online using their credit cards, they were
more than willing to gie their credit card
numbers to adult sites. And this helped
deeloped e-commerce.

1erificatiov ava regi.tratiov .,.tev.
Adult sites pioneered cryptographically
authenticated password registration
systems that preent minors rom
accessing their sites. 1hey also ound a
solution to stolen passwords.

!eb grabic. ava covre..iov tecbviqve.
Porn site producers are on the cutting-
edge in compression technologies or
\eb graphics and ideos to ensure quick
downloading on dial-up modems.

Pa,vevt .,.tev.
Seth \arshasky, online porn king,
recently launched Interund linancial
Serices as an easier and aster alternatie
to credit card payments.

earcb evgive.
Adult sites are notorious or manipulating
search engines, showing up at the top o
the lists o results, een or non-porn
related searches.

Sidebar: Manyak Master
ew lilipino sites can be considered
a classic in the sense o pioneering
and enduring. \hile hardly anyone
would acknowledge it, Manyakdotcom is a
true classic. \e talked to its webmaster,
illiied by some and hailed by others.
1. \hen did you put up Manyakdotcom
I put up the site ,in 1998, when I was ery
bored. A bunch o riends and I were
playing around, suring the Net and trying
to look or lilipina nude celebrity sites.
\e wanted to see pics o such actresses
like Rosanna Roces, Maria Isabel Lopez,
Anna Marie Gutierrez and other beautiul
lilipina women. 1o our surprise, most o
what we ound back then were mail-order
bride sites and nothing at all about the
celebs that we all know and loe. It made
us think that i this is how lilipinas are
known to the world, then we should try to
change that and show eerybody on the
Net the wonderul women that we hae.
Our objectie is actually ery noble!

2. \hat made you think o putting it up
I want to make it clear right now that I
didn't do this or the money. It actually
started
out as a ree site, but quickly ound out
that adding eatures to it costs money. \e
had to igure out a way to recoup some o
it. Beliee me, i we could ind a way to
make it a ree site we would. \e're not the
greedy bastards that some o you might
think!

3. Are you making money rom the site I
so, how much a month
It makes a decent amount o money, but it
luctuates a lot. At our peak, the site was
grossing about >3,000 a month. 1his was
during the time that the Senate made a big
uss about nudity on the Net. Right now,
it aerages around >1,000 a month. But i
you actor in the costs o web hosting,
l
bandwidth charges, and other
miscellaneous stu, it comes out to like
>200 a month, which isn't a really big deal.

4. low does one make money rom an
adult site
1here are seeral ways. I hae chatted
with seeral other adult webmasters who
make upwards o >10,000 to >20,000 a
month, net. I can think o three ways to
earn money rom these sites:
a. 1he easiest way is to sell ad space, but
this doesn't generate as much reenue as it
used to.
b. Another way is to hook up with an
adult eriication serice, such as
AdultCheck. 1hey are in the business o
selling passwords to adult sites that are
ailiated with them, or a ee. 1hey are a
good deal because their passwords gie
you access to all o their member sites,
meaning i you buy a password or
ManyakDotCom, you buy a password or
the other thousands o member sites as
well. 1he catch is that they get a
commission or each
signup, which is about 30, i I'm not
mistaken. 1he adantage o this is that
you do not hae to worry about credit
eriication, collection, and password
maintenance because eerything is run o
their backend systems.
c. Another way is to host your own
membership. 1his is only or sites that
expect the most amount o traic and
igure that their signups can handle all the
costs associated with it ,credit-card
ericiation, bandwidth, webhosting,
serers, etc.,. Most o the high-end sites
do this, and they also make the most
money.

5. \hat`s your site traic
Site hits aerages around 10,000 per day,
with about 4,000 to 5,000 unique isitors.
So or the month, that would be around
300,000 hits. Most o the traic comes
rom the US ,around 40,, ollowed by
long Kong. lits rom the Philippines
come in ith.

6. low much time, money and eort do
you spend monthly to operate the site
About 1 to 2 hours a day to check and
respond to e-mail. About 8 hours a month
to actually maintain the site. I also hae a
partner that spends a lot o time designing
and redesigning the site. As or money,
like I said, about >800 a month. In terms
o eort, not as much as I used to. My
partner basically handles a lot o the
updating now.

. \hat's your day job
I am an I1 proessional - I am a geek and
proud o it!

8. Do your riends and amily know about
this
\eah, they do know about it.

9. \hat's their reaction
My amily was appalled by it at irst, but
then they igured it's really none o their
business. A lot o my riends think it's
cool and loe the website.

10. lae you been harrassed or criticized
by certain groups
larrassed, not really anything that I gie
any notice. Criticized, constantly. I hae
receied e-mails rom seeral actresses ,or
at least they claim to be, that I eature on
the website. I just say "yeah, right...".
Unless they can really proe that they are
who they say they are, I don't gie a rat's
ass. I also receied an e-mail a ew years
back claiming that she worked or Senator
Miriam Santiago and that there were plans
to ile a class-action suit against me. My
reaction to that "And monkeys ly out
my butt!". 1he only criticism that I really
listen to is rom the isitors o the site. I
eel that they are the ones that
understand what I'm trying to do.