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We Talked to a Famous Adult Actress About the Promise of Virtual Reality Porn

The VR porn hype train has left the station, but its success is still unknown.

Note to readers: Several links in this story lead to NSFW websites.

There are a couple key reasons why virtual reality porn may not be the adult entertainment industry's savior, as some may have you believe.

Vicky Vette, an adult entertainment star who last week was inducted into the Adult Video News Hall of Fame, told Motherboard in a recent interview that while there's plenty of excitement surrounding virtual reality in the industry, there are some doubts about the technology's mass appeal.

"[VR porn] has a lot of possibilities," said Vette (who with 720,000 Twitter followers is by far the most popular person on the social network who follows me).

But as she sees it, one key factor that may prevent the widespread adoption of VR among potential customers is the sheer cost. An Oculus Rift and required PC is expected to cost a combined $1,500, according to Oculus VR, the company behind the virtual reality headset. While cheaper options are available, including Google Cardboard, they're "not particularly sexy," said Vette. My own experience with Google Cardboard and a VR porn tube site bears that out: It's not exactly easy to, uh, watch, while holding Cardboard up to your face.

Not to mention it's a conspicuous cost. "Imagine a wife's reaction to a husband who is not into gaming running out and buying [an] Oculus Rift and a gaming machine?!" said Vette. "He'd have to have a great reason other than 'I am suddenly into World of Warcraft.'"

Vette knows a thing or two about production costs. While earlier in her career she performed for many of the well-known production studios, these days she focuses her efforts on her own website, where she and her colleagues regularly produce exclusive content for paying members (prices start at $25 per month).

Vette estimates that producing a single VR video would cost around $10,000, including the price of the necessary cameras and related hardware, editors, and on-screen talent. And that's on the conservative side, with other estimates putting the cost of VR porn production north of $100,000.

"We really, really want to make VR porn, but there have to be enough eyeballs to see it and a way to protect it from being stolen as soon as it's released," she said.

Another factor: Wearing a VR headset leaves the wearer vulnerable to, well, being caught.

"A [VR headset] is also hard to hide," said Vette. "You can't exactly pull it out at the office or conceal it from a wife/significant other. Imagine the embarrassment if a guy is at home 'enjoying' being immersed in a VR threesome and his wife comes home early from the mall!"

It's still unknown exactly how much VR porn is actually being produced in the industry, but Naughty America, a popular adult entertainment website, told Motherboard that VR—which is described as a "completely new experience"—currently makes up between 5 and 10 percent of its overall content production, a percentage that may "ramp up" amid demand from members and as more and more devices like the Oculus Rift are released (the company currently releases about one VR video per week).

Still, for all the excitement surrounding VR, Vette is actually betting on a different experience to keep her fans engaged—and paying their subscription fees: real interaction, via live camshows and other one-on-one media.

"What VR doesn't have, despite all the bells and whistles, is actual interaction with the star of your dreams," said Vette. "What would you rather have, a virtual video of me that you watch and eventually get bored with, or me on your phone in real time getting off and chatting with you?"