Interview with Athena Hollow of Geek Girls Online
Athena Hollow is the geeky mastermind behind alt porn site Geek Girls Online. She is a webmaster, a model, a cam girl, and a site designer. Plus she shares my concern for creating and promoting ethical pornography. I’ve been privileged to know Athena since her early days in the porn world as I was the photographer for her first set on EroticBPM and I’m excited to introduce her to those of you who may not know her. And after doing this interview with her I have a profound need to see her singing naked.
Garnet Joyce: How did you decide to start performing in porn and why do you continue?
Athena Hollow: I actually came up with the idea as a joke, my freshman year in high school. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a singer. I spent all of my schooling years in choir, solo competitions and talent competitions, subsequently winning a vast majority of them. Even at 14 though, I knew that I’d have to have some sort of ‘edge’ to get noticed at all. This wasn’t too terribly long after the Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee sex tape came out, and I remember reading about it EVERYWHERE. “What a novel idea!” I thought. My first day of English class, our teacher had us write an essay on what we wanted to do when we were adults, and I wrote one about how I wanted to do porn so that when I started to get known as a singer, it would come out in the tabloids and I would be the talk of the town. This subsequently would get me more notice, and therein make me more famous.
After I turned 18, I applied to and got accepted to EroticBPM and realized that I actually greatly enjoyed being free and not having to ‘live up to’ anyone’s standards but my own.
GJ: What companies, besides your own, have you worked for? What inspired you to work with these companies?
AH: I started on EBPM and the original Naughty Goth. I also worked with City Kittie once, and have since also worked with The Dangerous Dolls & Blue Blood. I’m sure there are others, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind.
With EBPM, I happened across the site a year or two before I turned 18. I thought I had found home, even before I was legal. Within a month after becoming of age, I joined the forum and applied. I realized I was accepted for who I was, not what I looked like or how I dressed. This really stuck out in my mind and have used EroticBPM as my baseline for any company that asks me to join their ranks.
The rest just kind of happened. I was asked by Joey from Naughty Goth to apply to his site; I don’t even remember how I found City Kittie but I believe it was Funkatron (one of my photographers) who suggested it; The Dangerous Dolls I found out about from some models that applied to GGO and apparently Funkatron showed Amelia G & Forrest Black the pics from a set we shot and they really liked it, so I showed up on Blue Blood’s Barely Evil.
GJ: Why did you decide to start GGO? How do you feel it is different from other porn sites – mainstream as well as alt porn?
AH: It was actually a suggestion that came from the fiance. He was talking to a girl on WoW and she mentioned something about there being a lack of geek related porn. He told me, we both worked on it originally, but she became my baby and he is still rather pissy with me about stealing it all for myself. :laugh: Seriously though, I felt it was necessary to bring the idea that you can be a geeky/nerdy/dorky girl and still be seen as a beautiful creature. There’s also the fact that most people don’t realize that geeky girls seem to have the biggest kink side, next to Catholics.
It’s different from other porn sites because it’s a much larger niche. Most porn sites have one type of girl in mind, be it tattooed & brooding, ‘plastic’ blond barbies, or somewhere in between. We, on the other hand, have every body type, look, and personality imaginable. We aren’t going for a ‘look’. We go for key things that make the women on our site feel more empowered by their careers, games, anime, movie choices, etc. With all the varying things that can have you classify yourself as a geek, it’s easy to get a large and eclectic group of models who might not have any one thing in common, yet still be nerdy.
GJ: How do you define ethical pornography?
AH: Always being upfront about as much as possible. Total transparency. When we first started, we offered cash as an option for our models, after a mere few months, we realized that this just wasn’t going to happen. The economy was devastated which in turn left us using every penny to either barely survive or barely pay our hosting fees. Sometimes, not either. When this happened, we let the models know that we just weren’t going to be able to offer that option, at all. We gave them the option to have their sets taken down so they could use them on other sites and still make the money they so deserved. Many of them chose to keep the sets on GGO merely because they liked the fact that we were honest about it.
Our customers are also people we are completely honest to. If someone has a problem, we jump on as fast as we can to get it resolved. We have had 2 charge-backs in the entirety of the life of GGO, and both have been tracked back as being a sham that a scheming affiliate was doing.
Keeping your word to the best of your ability, not going out of your way to start trouble with other people, not putting your models and customers in the crossfire of your personal drama. Those are all things I think are required to be ethical pornographers.
GJ: Have all the companies that you’ve worked with been ethical? What kinds of standards have they followed? Was there anyone you thought was unethical (no need to include names)? How was working with them different and do you plan on working for them again?
AH: Most of the companies I’ve worked with were ethical. They have always been very awesome to me, even in times of distress. There was one unethical company I worked with back in the beginning that used my content on other sites that they owned, without asking me first. That kind of pissed me off considering they hadn’t licensed the content for that reason, I wasn’t informed about the other sites until some friends stumbled on them, and it was just an all around hassle trying to explain why I was appearing on a mainstream looking teen site.
One other company I have worked with that had some bad blood spilled over working with an extremely unethical company, and it caused a huge rift in the alt porn industry as a whole. I do hope that it is repaired, but it is unlikely that will happen. Unfortunately, it only takes one bad decision to tarnish your reputation and be seen as a possibly shady company, even if it is guilt by association.
There are a few sites I will work with again, but for the most part I choose to focus my attention on my own. There’s less drama that way.
GJ: How do you feel your experience working in front of the camera effects how you run GGO?
AH: I feel I am much more comfortable talking to models without worrying about offending them than most site owners are. They all know I’ve been around the block a few times at this point and chances are, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve also been around to see the rise and downfall of many a site over the years and that has helped me make decisions on how to do certain things on GGO. If you don’t learn from history, it’s doomed to repeat itself.
GJ: How do you find and choose your models?
AH: Originally, we posted a lot on xpeeps.com and LiveJournal communities. Since then, nearly every model has found us through word of mouth, various blogs, and stumbling upon us looking for geek porn.
Since we don’t have a specific ‘look’ we go for, we just make sure that the girls feel they are geeky in one way or another. There is no invisible bar we set. The only times we’ve ever said no to a model is when they’ve turned out to be super high upkeep. (Note to any one out there looking to get into the alt porn industry: Emailing and constantly messaging the site owners is a great way to guarantee you don’t get on their site. It’s pushy and makes us feel like you are going to be way more trouble than good.)
GJ: How does raising a daughter influence your work in pornography and how do you plan on teaching her about what you do?
AH: It actually hasn’t changed my job, other than not being able to shoot content during the day while she is awake. I absolutely plan on teaching her what I do. I don’t hide it from anyone. I don’t necessarily throw it out during an introductory meeting, but if someone asks, I tell them. She’s only 4 and she has an idea of what mommy does for a living. She wakes up randomly when I am camming, and asks if I’m on cam when I walk by her room in my work clothes. She doesn’t exactly know what that entails, per say, but she does have a basic idea at least.
GJ: Do you think there is anyone making ethical pornography in the mainstream porn world? If so, who?
AH: I’ll be honest, I pay absolutely no attention to the mainstream porn world. I rub elbows with some site owners on a few social networking sites I belong to, but I wouldn’t be able to name a single thing any of them have done. I’ve never been associated with that portion of the industry, and with as much goes on in alt porn, it’s hard enough keeping up with just that.
GJ: If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is interested in making ethical pornography, what would it be?
AH: Follow your conscience. If you don’t have one, hire one. If you wouldn’t like being treated a certain way, don’t treat your members, co-workers, talent or ANYONE that way.