Inside the world of a porn fluffer
Erica Black is on set, poolside at a mansion in Bondi during the late ’90s. There’s a director, crew, a naked man and two naked women for a Playboy UK production of a hardcore porn film. She has one job… to ‘fluff’
It’s a world so many of us first meet on the cusp of adolescence; with its instant availability and perfectly curated content, pornography is a rite of passage. Avid viewer or not, you know what it’s there for. It’s equal parts theatrical and titillating and there’s always something for everybody. But what you might be surprised to know is that getting hard is hard work. So much so that the industry invented the role of a ‘fluffer’.
Don’t let the adorable term fool you, the origin of a porn ‘fluffer’ was to work alongside the set’s producer to ensure the minute the male performer needed to be, he was ready to go, and blow. While there was no official technique or universal method, a ‘fluffer’ was there to fluff up a man’s libido, doing whatever it took. Turns out the Golden Age of Porn (1969 – 1984) had such a massive demand on the industry; men were signing up to take part in pornographic films in droves, with or without a libido.
As the ’90s swooped in, so did prescription drugs, and ‘fluffers’ slowly morphed into a logistical and administrative lifeline for the entire porn world. Enter Erica Black. At the time, Erica was 19, studying Political Science at the University of New South Wales when she got her first taste of the ‘fluffer’ world. ‘Bad Mike’ as she ominously refers to him, was a UKbased porn director living in Sydney on the lookout for potential stars.
‘He would ask me, “Babes, if you can get some students, put a notice board up” – this was before digital – “and if you get me a hot student, I’ll give you 10 per cent of the fee”, which was $5,000 a day; good money! I would think to myself, I’m not getting some poor girl into this,’ says Erica.
While she wasn’t looking for a job in casting, she was able to offer the ‘fluff’, especially for $800 a day. ‘In the ’90s, the role of a ‘fluffer’ had changed. I had to regulate all the intake of the drugs they were on. Then I would clean the rooms and assist on set,’ she explains. Gone were the days of fellatio favours – Erica was expected to be an onset nurse, cleaner, executive assistant and was even required to make lunch. ‘I had to keep all the Viagra regulated – they were like hungry pigs. All the boys would take GHB (gammahydroxybutyrate) to get super horny. It was really dodgy,’ she says.
One production, Erica recalls being on location with ‘Bad Mike’ in a mansion in Sydney’s Bondi, fit with lush interiors and a fulllength pool. The film was commissioned by Playboy UK and involved backtoback scenes. She says she was shocked by the amount of takes it took, some lasting over an hour to film.
‘The boys were misbehaving, wanting more and more [drugs]. I was on strict instructions from “Bad Mike” to keep them in line, so to speak. They’d want to eat them all – it was too much,’ she details. As for the women, Erica recalls instances of them being less than excited to be there.
‘There was a room where they had to wait and my job was to talk to them and make sure [they were OK]. The director didn’t care if they wanted to do it or not – but I just had to make sure they knew what they were doing. Kind of like a showrunner. I was across the timelines on set, making sure they were all dressed... really, in not much.’
Unbeknown to ‘Bad Mike’, Erica says she did try to convince the women to leave, adding that she would have a lot to answer for if the women had actually bailed. ‘I would look after all the girls needs – from lunch to lingerie.
‘Being on set while two strangers had sex in front of an entire crew was completely normal,’ explains Erica. ‘Everyone sat there, and then we’d have a cigarette break and would chat about other things.’
As for the aftermath, Erica’s work as a ‘fluffer’ seemed to know no bounds. ‘“Bad Mike” would insist I had to change sheets and clean the sets. I thought I’d be scooping up cum from everywhere, but it never got that bad, though it did go up the walls... that was never fun.’
As for whether or not Erica would ever return to the industry... she says it’s a definite no. Come 2018, her ‘fluffer’ days are over. She’s traded in porn for Pommery, and is enjoying film sets of a different kind. She’ll be starring in upcoming reality TV series My Fabulous Life, alongside some of the country’s most eccentric personalities.
Erica issues a hard warning to those looking to venture into the industry: ‘Every set is different – it’s a risk. No one really cares about what you’re going through. It’s a dogeatdog world and an exploitative industry. Women in my opinion – the majority anyway – don’t want to do it.’
‘I was on strict instructions to keep [the boys] in line’