Steven Grooby Interview

Wendy Williams interviews Steven Grooby of Grooby Productions

Steven Grooby is the Founder & CEO of Grooby Productions. He is from the UK but relocated to the USA (via two years in Amsterdam) and ran Grooby for 10 years in Hawaii before moving the office with its staff intact to Los Angeles. Although he has been a photographer, webmaster, caterer, driver & party-goer with his company, most of his time now is spent marketing, working on new projects and traveling the world to meet up with the many producers that work for Grooby. He is also one of the few representatives from the transgender niche to attend adult trade shows throughout the world and is often asked to appear on panels.

Steven Grooby

Wendy: Tell our readers about the Grooby brand and websites?

Steven: Grooby has been around since 1996 and features numerous websites, mainly in the transgender niche, DVD’s social networks and more. We see ourselves more as a lifestyle company than just porn and we’re looking to extend that. We’ve featured more transgender models from around the world than any other company and current produce over 180 scenes per month worldwide. We’ve been developing our “Grooby” brand to be recognizable along all things adult entertainment related to transgenderism.

Wendy: You are credited as one of the first transsexual websites on the internet, when did this begin and how?

Steven: It began when I started looking on the internet for free porn in a few niches, I’d always had a passing interest in the very little TS content that was available and from gathering and swapping content on newsgroups I began a few little free site, for “Asian Girls”, “BBW Girls”, “Amateur Housewife” types and “Shemale”. The shemale one was by far the more popular and soon I’d ran out of bandwidth. I open an AVS site (Adult Verification Service) which were the first easy to built adult sites and rented a little server space, and I started making a few hundred a month. I was contacted by a guy (The Commander) in Texas who offered to shoot some sets for me for $150 per set, sent on film rolls and from that eventually managed with some help, to get a site set up on Ibill charging $10 for 3 months access. Showing brand new content and user submitted content, the results were tremendous and my personal income went 40x practically overnight. Less than a year later, I invested in a trip to Thailand and launched Ladyboy-Ladyboy at the same price point, showing 1 new set (about 50 images) per fortnight. Although there were other TS based paysites, we were the first shooting exclusive content that nobody had seen and that was the key (and has continued to be) to our success. Unique content at a fair price.

Wendy: How has the TG side of the Industry changed for the good and worst since you began?

Steven: It’s only gotten better. Back when we started in the late mid-late 1990’s, not many girls were online so we really had a job hunting down new models. Photographers used to frequent clubs, call newspaper ads, and hunt on the streets. That’s all gone. You couldn’t find a tgirl model worth photographing on the streets anymore, thankfully. We now rarely would seek out new talent, they apply to us – or we meet through referrals from existing models. I think the internet has helped a lot of transgenders make a leap to come out and transition earlier than they may have done in the past. Seeing other similar type girls being presented online, has given realization to a lot of girls, especially those in more rural areas, that they have peers and role models and that it’s okay to be who they want to be.

Grooby Girls

Steven: As far as porn, in the heyday of the industry which was the early to mid-1990’s, you could practically release any old shit, and it would be profitable within a week. Lot’s of companies who knew (or cared) very little for the TS niche, set up sites buying in cheap content from S.America and Asia without any real ideas on how to sell it. Those days are gone – and those sites have disappeared with it. Over saturation of poor content, the advent of the tube sites and piracy and the ability for girls to engage their fans direct as well as consumers demanding a better product, have caused that. So now, if we’re launching something new, we don’t expect to be in profit with it for 3 yrs or sometimes longer. We don’t take anything for granted. We have to be a little more clinical and cold-hearted in our decisions and we have to listen to the memberships and what the consumers want.

I think what is interesting is the type of models we now see. In the 90’s and early 2000’s nearly all TS models fit a stereotype of big boobs, very (ultra) feminine in how they presented themselves, etc. but fast forward a decade and the spectrum has widened considerably. Alternative types, girls who present themselves in a more “girl next door” way, girls who don’t identify in traditional gender stereotypes, etc. It’s a very exciting time and I’m proud to have helped grease the wheels for that to happen through our websites.

Wendy: What do you credit your success of maintaining a presence all these years?

Steven: There are many things but by far the most important and what is common with everything facade is a love of what we do. It’s always been a policy to show as wide a spectrum of models as we can, body types, backgrounds, ages and types as well as various levels of transition from early transitioning models through to post-op models and I think that has appealed to many. Our ability to engage both the customer, fans and models directly has served us well & I believe our customers know that we’re far from a faceless corporation who has little interest in the niche, they’re coming along for the ride with us.

Wendy: What can members expect with your flagship site ShemaleYum.com?

Steven: I think anyone with an interest in online adult transgender content has had to have came across content from this site. 18 yrs, 1800 unique models and over 1/2 million photos. You can follow the history of online TS porn from early models shot on photographic film and scanned, to the HD digital content we see now. Every week we present 7 brand new scenes of mainly N.American and a few Euro models of all types. There generally is something for all tastes as we feature brand new first timers and the established stars who have their following.

Shemale Yum

Wendy: How as the “mold” of the Transsexual “Pornstar” changed over the years?

Steven: As I alluded to earlier, the traditional “pornstar” of the 1990’s – would have had appeared as ultra-feminine and manicured. I think this was an initial appeal of TS’s to a lot of fans as the tgirls became more feminine than gender females. Now we have so many different types of girls, many of them who are privileged to have been brought up in a society that is more accepting of people not fitting into a “normality” stereotype as they might have been in the past. This means they can transition earlier, get better medical help and seem to be more comfortable with who they are. Many of them are into other girls and tgirls in their personal lives and many have been able to have a better education than the pornstars in the 90’s/2000’s. This means they’re far more in control of their own image and brand – and they seem to be in the industry far more by choice, than necessity or lack of other options.

Wendy: BlackTgirls.com is one of the most popular and successful niche sites among the TG umbrella, why do you think it continues to succeed?

Steven: Black Tgirls is the only site of it’s type featuring just what it says on the label. Many of the photographers are black, and many of the male performers we use are black. There has long been an adage in the adult industry that black people don’t pay as much as other ethnic backgrounds, for their porn, but Black-Tgirls is an exception to that. It’s continues to succeed by the same methods that the other sites do, we continue to deliver what the people want, at a fair price and we listen to what they have to say.

Wendy: You started the Tranny Awards in 2008 and now call them the Transgendered Erotica Awards. Why did you feel the need to start such an awards show and why the current name change?

Steven: The award show came about from my frustration at AVN. At the time, no TS model had even been on stage to collect an award – and selected the winning models, clearly didn’t have their finger on the pulse of the industry. It just seemed that they’d look for the girl who’d had the most publicity that year. Personally, having had one of our DVD’s nominated every year for over 12 yrs – and knowing our production was better, yet never once winning did irk me also. So we decided to just start our own online awards to honor the models who deserved some recognition. For the second year, we decided to do small production at Cobra which turned out popular and this continued to grow into what it is now. A two day event that attracts transgender models, fans and industry representatives from all over the world. It was important from the second awards (the first one in a live venue) not to make this a “Grooby” show but to be inclusive of all the other companies working in the TS niche and I’m happy to say, that every important company has some input. The show is about honoring the models and people that make this industry what it is.

We’d had a little flak about using the word “tranny” as the show title, which I never had an issue with as it’s industry specific. If it was a non-adult show, I can understand the problem but it was clear we weren’t getting as much media acceptability as we should. In summer, 2013, we made the decision that to get more mainstream exposure and hopefully attract sponsors that worked with transgenders but weren’t adult-industry specific, to make a name change. I liked the acronym of the Transgender Erotica Awards and the after party being The TEA Party (which was inspired by Alice in Wonderland and English tea parties, not the politic group who stole it as their moniker). I think it’s been accepted quite well and we’re seeing the positive affects of it already.

Transgendered Erotica Awards

Wendy: Why do you think the “straight” side of the Industry is so threatened with crossover talent from the transsexual side?

Steven: I don’t think it is. I think a small vocal minority kick up a fuss which is then picked up by a few fire branders on social media, who blow it out of proportion. If a performer doesn’t want to work with another performer, then I think that’s their prerogative. I think the issue comes down to when they then start spreading unfounded rumors or showing their own ignorance in public about heath concerns.

Wendy: What type of male models are needed and successful in the TS side?

Steven: Decent looking men, with some good penis size, who can maintain an erection, who can show up on time and who can top. We’ve actually got a good roster of male talent right now.

Wendy: Who do you think are some of the MOST successful (not popular) Transsexual Models and why do you think they were able to succeed in such a competitive market?

Steven: Without knowing their bank balances, I don’t know how successful they are, if success is not measured in popularity. I’d look at someone like Foxxy as a success. She always seems to be able to get work, she seems like she leads a good life and enjoys what she does. Her ability to succeed for over 10 yrs, is down to now only her looks and performance but her professionalism – being their on time, being prepared and having an awesome attitude. You’ll find other models like Jessica Foxx, Yasmin Lee, etc have the same quality. Success should be measured by longevity (if wanted) as well as the ability to make a decent living and importantly, enjoy what you do. I think a model who can do this for 5 years is successful. On the flipside, every year we see new models who are given a rush of shoots across the sites, huge social network presence and then they quickly disappear. If they got what they wanted from the industry – then who are we to not say that they were successful.

Wendy: How has social media changed the way you promote?

Steven: Not really, it’s just made it easier. We’ve had a highly visible presence on newsgroups in the 1990’s and then forums such as HungAngels.com and HungDevils.com since 2003, I recognized the importance of these and was lucky enough to be able to buy both forums. We use these as a media outlet and we have a large amount of blogs to also get the message over. A number of the Grooby team have Facebook and Twitter presences and I’m very active on both. Facebook has been a great medium to attract new models and to work with our existing models on mutual promotions. When we launched our new fun Groobygirls.com blog a few months ago, we also launched a Facebook page which has became very popular. I also like the social media as forum to debate people who have issues with the industry or our company, I’d rather be very transparent in our business then to have disgruntled individuals spreading untruths or assumptions.

Wendy: Speaking of Social media, can you give us some of your social media sites to check out?

Steven: Hungangels.com is an awesome forum. It used to be a bit wilder in gossip, and fighting but we’ve calmed that down and it’s just generally a good place to talk about all thing trans related, although definitely is adult orientated. GroobyGirls.com (and the Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groobygirls) are a lot of fun – and you can get to see a lot of girls selfies there. Also my personal Facebook at /groobysteven/ would be worth adding if people want to know about the industry or what we have going on.

Wendy: What is the biggest misconception about transsexuals or transsexual Porn you have encountered with the civilian public?

Steven: The old one … that it’s gay!

Wendy: Any upcoming projects you would like to share or have us watch out for?

Steven: I don’t really like to talk about things, until they’re good – but 2015 is going to be another fun year. We’re restructuring the whole company from the ground up and looking at every aspect of it – all sites will be fully responsive to every device and have a new look. We have a least one, maybe two, region specific sites in the works as well as a new venue for models to produce their own content and sell it, very easily. That’s always been one of my ambitions, to enable girls wanting to produce themselves to have a venue to sell it.
We’ve just about finished Femout.com which is a site for very early transitioning models and different to anything we’ve done. We’re going to see how it grows and develops, that’s certainly a one that could be an interesting project.

Grooby Girls

Wendy: Please leave us with any links to check out your online portfolio?

Steven: The best place to go is http://grooby.com – we’ve redesigned it recently and it has a lot of links. I’d love people to check out TSErotica.com which is a recent site, in which customers can buy one scene at a time.

Thanks Wendy!

Follow me on Twitter: @GroobySteven
Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steven.grooby

Wendy Williams is a performer, producer and publicist. Find her on Adult DVD Talk at adultdvdtalk.com/wendywilliams and on Twitter @TSWendyWilliams.

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