Get performer Release Forms, Specifics & Payment Agreement In Writing
Any real agency or true production studio will be able and willing to provide you with model / performer release documentation in advance of any booking or travel. You need and deserve time to read these documents before you are on location. If the agency is reluctant or can't provide you with these documents in writing - you need to seriously consider it's legitimacy. You should also get shoot specifications in writing that list exactly what acts you will need to perform to earn the agreed upon pay.
Finally ask if there are any conditions under which you may NOT get paid - for example if you take off work for 3 days to go shoot and the other performers don't show up or the photographer gets the flu - do you get paid in full, nothing at all or some something in between? These are real life scenarios that more experience performers have faced. Any professional adult performer agency or production studio will have policies they can provide you in writing and should proactively offer this information to you.
Refuse Upfront Fees
These could be signing fees, new account fees, evaluation fees, etc. If an agency has to charge money at the front end it means that there is not enough money at the back end. It also means that the agency probably does not have enough work to be able to survive on commissions, and therefore, not enough work for a performer to survive on either.
If a talent agency tells you that you must use their photographer, watch out. A twist on this theme is when the agency provides the photo session at no charge, then charges you a high fee (example, $700) for a "professional" makeup artist. You will need photos at some point but you should be free to shop around and find your own photographer and makeup artist unless it is outlined in your contract.
If you hear from your talent agency or studio that they are interested in you but you need to go through classes first and it is going to cost you." Again this is money at the front end, which means there is not enough work at the back end. A combination school / modeling / Performer agency has a conflict of interest. For example, SAG (Screen Actors Guild) member agencies cannot offer both.
Guarantees From Talent Agencies
"We guarantee you work." Talent agencies are not employers. They represent you and try to get work for you. Most of the time they don't know for sure what type of job will come in or what 'look' may be needed, thus there is no way a legitimate agency can guarantee you work. The best they can do is to give you an idea of their track record on placements. But remember that past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
Be very careful when visiting porn sites and make sure that you have updated virus software on your computer. Porn sites are one of the number one places where computer viruses are located and can infect your computer without you even knowing it.
Talent Agency Role Vs. Studio
Many of the top adult studios do pay large sums of money, but those are probably not the ones posting on free online classifieds. Most of the big players in the industry get performers through word of mouth and don't need to spam forums and message boards. Not that all these ads are scams as all companies start out small but as a studio grows, so does it's reputation (good or bad) and it's connections in the adult community. If a studio treats their performers professionally and keeps their promises, the need to beg for performers starts to subside.
Just be aware and try to identify early on if you are dealing with the primary producer / studio directly or if you are dealing with a 3rd party like and agency or talent scout trying to get a referral fee. Sure, the agency may be scouting for a major studio that pays $1,500 per set, but probably won't be so fast to mention that they plan to keep 30% of your earnings.A classic scam that we've seen time and again in this industry are talent agents having you do a test shoot or taking your pictures. Talent scouts have no business taking your photos, they can just as easily pass the photos you submit on to the casting directors for a decision. If you get the "come by my apartment for a test shoot" line, you may want run in the opposite direction! So if you get the "let's to a test shoot" line from an agent not a studio, be very cautious and be sure to understand exactly why the test shoot or screening necessary. There's about a 99% chance it's not!
A Modeling Scam
One scam operation targeted a small town in Oregon. A Los Angeles company looking for models for TV commercials ran ads in the local newspaper. Applicants were told to send in some personal information and a couple of snapshots.
After that the company would contact the applicants and let them know whether or not they had the look that was needed. Then the would-be models were signed up for a commercial that paid big bucks and told that a test shoot was needed before shooting the actual commercial.
Contracts, airline vouchers, and lots of official looking paperwork were sent to the would-be models. The company would pay all the expenses except for the makeup artist, for which they required $500 up front. Having a contract in hand and not understanding how the modeling industry worked, the small-town would-be models sent in their $500.
Once the checks were cashed, the scam company vanished. The commercial, contracts, airline vouchers, and guarantees were all bogus. It is easy to con someone who is not educated about the industry. As the song says, "The lure of easy money has a very strong appeal."
Research The Company
Whether it is the talent agency or the porn studio that you are interested in make sure you research them very carefully before you physically go there or sign anything. Also, never pay them for anything. Adult companies are also registered with the Better Business Bureau so you can look them up that way as well. Also beware of the company that does not clearly lay things out for you. All expectations should be clear and covered in advance. Be smart and be educated.