Amateur Content a Bright Spot in South Africa's Hurting Porn Industry

Sep 22, 2014 8:45 AM PST

DURBAN, South Africa — Like most global adult businesses, South Africa’s porn purveyors have been hit hard by free Internet porn and piracy.

But the city of Durban, once South Africa’s Mecca of adult products has gotten really slammed, losing 70 percent of its sex shops in the last five years. Add to that a 90 percent drop in DVD sales and you have a perfect storm for a dwindling market, according to a report on

What’s even more harrowing are the prohibitive fees charged by the country’s Film and Publication Board (FPB) just to make a movie legal for distribution

“This is the case for every movie, from those shown by NuMetro cinemas to the ‘Harry Potter’ movies people keep at home. The difference is that ours would be given a Sex R18 rating,” said Peter van der Merwe, a distributor who owns the Fantasy sex shop.

He noted that that in 2007 there were probably 3,500 porn movies classified by the board, but now he’d be surprised if there were 100.

And like porn all over the world, amateur movies — especially locally produced — are becoming more and more popular, further hurting commercial products. Producers just don't want to bankroll expensive films that will only have a few thousand sales.

The inherent problems, according to the report, have stymied an industry that was generating as much as $100 million a year.

But if there’s any bright spot to the situtation it’s not bucking amateur porn, but embracing it and creating more homegrown DVD content.

Joe Theron, head of JT Publishing, a major distributor of adult films said, “People want to see the local girl — there is a certain novelty to it, and there will always be a market.”

“I don't think that consumption has died. It has actually increased. But it has increased in another direction.”

Local director Tau Morena who has a ready stable of local talent said producers are trying to monetize the demand for amateur content by marketing it as DVDs.

“There’s a niche market, and I’d be able to move around 5,000 copies. It’s not much, but it is something,” Morena said.

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