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Steve Gallon of Grooby Productions: Pitiful is the Way AVN Awards Treat TS’s He Says 5/8/2009

From Steven Gallon is the owner of one the most popular adult industry companies in the world, Grooby Productions. I first met Steven in the mid 1990’s and was impressed with him the first time I ever spoke to him.

He is a brilliant man and one of the nicest people I have ever met and one of the most respected business owners in the industry. He settles for no less than the best in the business world and has definitely left his mark in the adult industry. He has helped launch many transgender models careers. Beyond the industry, he is a family man who stands up for what he believes in and doesn’t bite his tongue on issues that he finds important.

Ladies and gentlemen….Steven Gallon.

Q: Where did you grow up? Can you tell us about your childhood?

A: I grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne, in Northern England and had a pretty normal life, great family (my only brother now works for Grooby), pretty good school and I was mainly interested in pursuing a career in film making eventually going to the University of Kent.

Q: How did you get into the transgender end of the adult film industry?

A: We’re really a website company, the videos are supplementary to our business and used to promote and brand us as well as increase the bottom line. I started my first websites for fun back in 1996 as a way to get people to send in personal photos of themselves, I had an asian girl site, a black girl site, a white girl site and a transgender site … the transgender one went crazy with hits and girls sending their photos in to be published. Shemale Yum just had a meteoric rise from that point quickly becoming an Adult Verification site before a proper pay site and we were able to commission shoots.

The question, why did I get into the transgender website business might be more enlightening, I’d always had an interest in TS the scene but in the UK there was very little media available, you might remember even on the internet it was few and far between. I’m still fascinated by the whole scene, 13 years later.

Q: How did you become one of the most well known businessmen in the adult

A: Luck, hard work and more luck. I started as a fan and became a businessman fairly quickly when I realized the amount of potential money that could be made by doing this. I think I got lucky by getting some great guys working with me very early on, some like Tony Vee are still with us and of course, our ties with Bob (Bobs-Tgirls) are still strong. These guys were on the TS scene and found us models, we were the first to showcase many of the then unknown stars and are still able to do that. I think having a fair sense on what is right, by working with many of the models myself and making sure everyone got paid, everyone had a good time and nobody had anything bad to say about us, it helped raise our profile fast. The paying members will come where the good content is and we’ve always had the best content, having a personality in the community allowed people to appreciate we weren’t just a faceless corporation, we were into the scene.

Q: I have always known that you treat the transgender community very well,
and so many of the girls have great respect for you, me being one of them.
Why do you think that so many of the fans of the transgender film industry
think that the owners of the companies treat the girls badly, when in fact,
most don’t?

A: A great question which has more than one answer. To be fair, many tgirls (or it may just be industry girls in general) like to play the victim role. They play that role as they know guys will fall for it and try to “save them” from the evil industry. They also tend to identify with the models on-screen persona’s as real people and of course, they’re not, they’re actresses. There is also a jealousy aspect of it, I get to socialize and hang-out with top stars and models as friends, the girls feel comfortable around people in the industry as they know we’re genuine and they know who we are. I think it’s only a very small minority of guys who think like this and of course, whether they’re buying porn or simply surfing a free board when they’re making their moans and complaints, they’re continuing to support this industry.

Q: Another misconception about the industry is that the girls are underpaid
and overworked. Can you clear this up for our readers?

A: This starts from some of the less professional models as well as the same jealous guys as above. The models get paid for their shoots but then they see the company owners driving a nice car and they think that they’ve been underpaid for their work. What they don’t appreciate is that they are a tiny (but essential) cog in the wheel of a much bigger system. Simply getting a model to a shoot, can be expensive, with advertising and studio hire, when traveling we have about a 30-40% no-show of models who were booked and then canceled (or more likely simply don’t show) costing us a loss, after the shoot the model and photographer are paid, the photos and video go to editors, then to webmasters before they are on the site. They then need to be advertised, sent out to affiliates (who take 50% of revenue), customer service, etc.,

Grooby pays less than many companies yet the top (and the smart) models come to work with us time and time again. Why? We pay in cash on the day of the shoot, we work in a good, non-threatening and friendly environment and most models work many times with us over a year. A model appearing on Shemale Yum is going to get picked up by other companies and get a great presence. Transsexual models typically make more than gender girl models in the adult industry by about 40-50% more, if they think they’re getting overpaid or overworked, then they should look for another job.

Q: Because I spent so many years in the adult film industry, I understand
where the term shemale came from. I am not a big fan of the term shemale but I completely understand why it’s used. You would know better than anyone, so please explain to our readers where you think the term shemale started and why it’s so widely used today to describe the women in the transgender community?

A: It’s a terrible word but people need to understand that it’s not descriptive of transwomen but specifically of transgenders in the porn industry. I didn’t know better when I named my first site, Shemale Yum and by the time I did, it was too well branded … over the years I went through periods of calling naming the sites with “tgirl” instead (Black-Tgirls or Franks-Tgirlworld) but more recently we’re back using “shemale” (ShemaleJapan or ShemalePornstar) as it is such a good descriptive word that fans know to search for. If those same fans, take the word and address a transgender outside the realm of adult productions by “shemale” then they’re showing their ignorance and lack of class. On our forums and in editorials we’ve always been very clear about this and about respect. If you look at mainstream porn there is plenty of pretty bad descriptive words that you wouldn’t take into real life.

Funnily enough, the first use of the word was to describe a “masculine lesbian” … and it wasn’t used until the late 1970’s as a term to describe a transsexual in porn movies of that time.

I can see why transgender women are offended by it outside the realm of porn and when it’s used then but frankly, there are more important transgender rights that should take precedence over this.

Q: What do you think drives the adult film industry, is it sex or money or a mixture of both?

A: In transsexual porn more than any other genre, it’s sex and money. We get many models who simply want to be seen out there and want to be a “porn star” … many of them really aren’t model material and I think there is a fantasy element of it but also their is a huge validation in being good enough to be a “female” model and to be desired by men. Of course, the money is factor also, especially for the more professional models but it’s hard for a model to make a full time living in this industry. and I’ve often had to tell prospective tgirls who contact us with this enquiry, that it’s just not possible.

Q: I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this Meghan?

A: I completely agree with you, that there has to be a Plan B in the adult industry because most models and actresses don’t have a long shelf life. I always tell the girls that they need to set themselves up for something beyond the industry. What I did was branch out into music and books, as well as open a restaurant. You definitely have to have that Plan B ready to go at any time when it comes to your future. It’s very important to make sure to save the money you make in the industry, if you can. I also think the girls need to know that just because they’re transgender, it doesn’t mean that they can’t do anything they want to do in their lifetime. The only thing holding you back, is you.

Q: How different are the transgender women today, than when you first started your company?

A: Another great question and I’m glad you asked. The girls are less stereotypical “shemale” than they were in the late 1990’s. You might remember, my favorite shoot of you was on top of the Belage Hotel in Florida, when you started with a track suit, looking more like the girl next door, than starting in lingerie in a bedroom style shoot. This has come with a few drawbacks though, in the 90’s the girls were very well kept. Manicures, pedicures, perfect hair removal, awesome makeup, etc. were part of the course, we now have some models turning up fairly scruffy and less than glamorous, however I’ve seen a few girls recently, like Kelly Shore, Jesse, Mia Isabella and Kimber James who really work the whole “star” thing well. Our most popular recent models have been against type, Hazel Tucker, Harley Quinn, Chrissy, Morgan Bailey and Khloe Hart are much more the tgirl next door type, without implants, fresh faced and very real!

Q: It seems that the adult film industry has become a matter of who can come up with new and twisted ways to have sex, and some are borderline
disgusting. Do you think that some of the movies coming out today are pushing it too far?

A: Absolutely. We’ve always had a safe sex policy and until recently demanded condoms for anal scenes unless they were real life partners. More recently we’ve relaxed this a little for some performers with AIM tests but personally, I’m very wary of it. The current “cream pies” or internal cum shots bothers me and I think we’re in danger of pushing porn too far – especially with the gagging, and choking that seems popular in some videos now. If it’s a specific fetish scene, that’s one thing but it appears in many producers regular scenes and I think some viewers, will take that to be normal sex and think it’s what they can do.

We should be policing ourselves a lot more, before someone does it for us.

Q: When young transgender women come to you saying they want to model, but
also tell you about goals they have in the future beyond the adult
industry do you ever tell them you think that it would be better to stay away from the industry and point them in a different direction?

A: All the time. Firstly, I always tell them that this isn’t a career, it’s to be seen as extra money. If a model comes to us, who is already working as an escort, I know they’re more experienced than the TS whose only “outing” is the internet. They need to know that photos and video of them is going to be around for a long time and even if we removed if from our sites, the content has been well circulated by then. Most girls are realistic about it and come to work for us for a few years and then move on happily but anybody should think very carefully about working in this industry, before they take an assignment.

Q: Grooby Productions is also very charitable towards the gay and transgender community. Can you tell us some of the charities that you take a personal interest in?

A: I think we could be more charitable towards specific transgender charities but I don’t see as many as I’d like, doing the right work (willing to be enlightened!) so we tend to give to various charities that possibly help ie; sex trafficking and child pornography, as well as Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty. We’ve also offered individuals that we’ve worked with help, when they are in dire straits.

Q: Although The Matthew Shepard Act looks as though it may finally become
law, therefore giving us a federal hate crime law, so many young transgender women and men, and gay and lesbian people are the victims of hate crimes often leading to death. What do you think we can do to help end these horrible crimes?

A: I think having the hate crime law is extremely important and I hope it’s recognized when law enforcement officers also discriminate against people based on their personal prejudices but I’m going to go out on a limb here with some advice, specifically on how young transgender women can stop themselves from being a target of a hate crime. They need to stop meeting and going home with guys without telling them that they are transgender. I appreciate the validation and kick that they can get from it but it’s dangerous and they’re putting themselves in harms way. In no way am I condoning, violence against transgenders who do participate in this dangerous activity but people need to take responsibility for their own actions, and the transsexual who is up front and honest with a guy she meets, is probably going to meet a better type of man … and not put herself in a dangerous position.

Q: Can you tell our readers about the Tranny Awards? The first annual awards were this year, I was honored to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Thank you for that. Will there be a second annual awards ceremony and if so, will it be held in a venue?

A: The Tranny Awards is a direct response, to the way the industry standard, AVN Awards, treats our part of the industry. The Best Transsexual Performer, isn’t even invited on stage to collect their award, despite our niche having a massive market share, it’s pitiful. This was the first year and we brought in a panel of judges from all areas of the industry, including as a former model yourself, website owners and fans. Some awards such as the Lifetime Achievement or the Best New Face are my own personal choice but the rest are either member voted or judged by the panel, from a pre-nomination from fans.

We’re hoping to do a small venue for 2009 (in January) and see how it grows from there.

Q: With the economy at a standstill do you notice a difference in the
financial end of your business?

A: Sales have dropped somewhat for our company but nothing like the industry in general. We’re doing ok and we’ve adjusted out business model accordingly. We’re continuing to shoot and we have a number of new sites and projects in the works.

Q: Do you think President Obama will bring about the changes he spoke of in
his speeches?

A: I think the President will try and bring about the changes. President Obama is the most significant change in the American lifestyle and viewpoint in decades.

Q: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

A: I’ve either sold the company and am concentrating on my writing … or still working as diligently at it … but back in Europe.

Q: Can you tell our readers something about yourself that would surprise them?

A: I’m married and have a 9 month old son.

Q: If you could sum your life up in one sentence what would it be?

A: No need for a sentence. Two words. “Be good”.

Q: What advice can you give our readers that they may carry with them
throughout their life?

A: Your word and your integrity are everything. Be a good person and do what you think is right while always trying to empathize with others.

Thank you so much Steven for doing this interview for the Stopping The Hate website. You have cleared up many misconceptions about the industry for our readers. Congratulations on your son, may he grow up to be as smart and wise as his father. I wish you years and years of continued success and I’ll see you at the Tranny Awards in January.

See all of Grooby Productions websites at

See Shemale Yum at


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