Inside the Reality Show Where Aspiring Porn Stars Compete for Stardom

PHOTO: "The Sex Factor" contestants are seen here running through a taping of an episode. The main condition for entry is that contestants couldnt have any prior experience in the porn industry.PlayABC News
WATCH Contestants For This Reality Show Compete for Porn Stardom

Like so many starlets before her, Allie Knox went in search of fame and fortune, but after striking out in mainstream Hollywood, she’s turning to porn.

“I’m sitting on this huge amount of student loan debt,” she said. “That’s kind of why I just need to really step up on my game in this business.”

After striking out in mainstream Hollywood, Allie, which is her stage name, is now betting her future as a contestant on a new reality show called “The Sex Factor.” On the show, which is currently in production, eight women and eight men compete for “porn stardom” and a $1 million prize. That’s right, they have to have sex on camera.

“They’ve actually already had sex on camera to audition,” said Buddy Ruben, the brains behind this Internet-porn-meets-reality-TV operation. “Part of the casting process.”

Ruben has no TV experience or porn experience, for that matter. He’s a former Silicon Valley software salesman.

"I would say I enjoy porn as much as the next guy, no more, no less,” he said.

Contestants on “The Sex Factor” answered a casting call on social media and sent in audition tapes. The main condition for entry is that contestants had to have no prior experience in the porn industry.

Ruben said they made that condition because “otherwise you just go to the thousands of porn websites and watch some star who has a bunch of scenes out.” In an overcrowded porn marketplace, where a lot of content is now available for free, “The Sex Factor” is hoping for a hook.

“I’m not here because I want to have sex with random people,” Allie said. “I’m here because I think this will elevate me to the next level. It will drive a lot of traffic for me. It will open a lot of doors.”

Porn actresses pull in between $500 and $1,500 per scene. Established porn stars can make millions. Jenna Jameson, who parlayed porn into mainstream fame brings in $30 million a year. Then of course there was Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton, whose leaked sex tapes partly fueled their celebrity.

For “The Sex Factor” contestants, maybe having sex on camera isn’t such a big deal anymore. One contestant named Paige Jennings, a Wall Street intern who sent saucy office selfies as her audition reel, has apparently already landed a six-figure porn deal.

“The ideal candidate is really someone who is just down for whatever,” Ruben said. “They’re exciting, they’re fun to watch. They don’t get nervous.”

Contestants have to perform sexual acts in front of a panel of four porn judges, who decide who moves on to the next round.

“For a male performer, [it takes] mechanics,” said Keiran Lee, a British porn star who is also one of the judges. “But you also have to come across right… make a career out of it.”

“Some of them could regret it, if they don’t go the right path, if they let it get to their heads,” Lee added.

In episode one, season one, some of the contestants, like Mike, a construction worker from New Jersey, struggled with performing in front of the judges. But Allie impressed them.

“I want to be a star,” she said. “Lots of people have sex with strangers a lot, for nothing… the only difference is there’s a camera… I was kind of worried about what my mother would say and then she and I had a conversation and she just knows this is what I need to do to get to my next step and she supports me.”

Another contestant named Shawn, who uses the stage name Buddy Hollywood, also claims his mother is supportive.

“Because I’m a sex addict and I like to have sex and I love women, everything about them,” he said.

Two winners, one man and one woman, will split the $1 million prize, cash upfront and a three-year porn contract.

Despite all the strings attached, Ruben is adamant that he is not exploiting the contestants for money, but rather giving them an opportunity to get pointers from the best.

“You’re not getting paid for your appearance on an episode on ‘The Sex Factor,’” he said. “What you are getting is the support, guidance, and mentorship, not only five of the hottest and most talented experienced stars in the world, but also from a business perspective.”

As to whether the show will ever make it to television, Ruben wouldn’t say, only that they will “have a big announcement in the near future.”

ABC News' Nick Watt contributed to this report