Inside Nigeria’s porn industry
Ever wondered what became of the hundreds of Nigerian ladies deported yearly from Italy and other parts of Europe where they had sojourned on sex trade? Ever heard of one success story out of the much-publicised scheme designed to give a new life to those victims(?) of human trafficking? In other words, have you ever seen one former comfort-girl, plucked from the glitzy life of Torino, now sweating it out as a waitress or apprentice fashion designer, all in the name of rehabilitation?
In more ways than one, the Italy returnees, already used to measuring their essence in dollars and Euro, have proved that the leopard cannot really change its spot. Wanting in skills and good academic qualification, the last thing anyone heard about these girls was the unsuccessful bid, of some of the most desperate among them, to return to Europe. For those that went underground, never to be heard of again, the conclusion was that a few truly slipped across the border while the majority stayed back in the country to do other things.
Those “other things” may never had been known but for a discreet newspaper advert tucked away in the crowded pages of society magazines including Fame, Encomium and City People. The message was innocuous and simply informed the reader of the availability of a collection of adult home videos made in Nigeria. The advert further listed the addresses of some distributors in Lagos, Ibadan and other cities where these items could be purchased. The year was 2001.
Like a wildfire, the news spread across the cities. In their hundreds, possibly thousands, connoisseurs of illicit tastes trooped out to these stores to get copies. Some were lucky. Among the home-grown porn on sale were videos with explicit titles as Valentine Sex Party, Oba’s Nine Daughters, A Forest of Flowers, The last Nigerian Virgin and Allen Avenue. Hotter than hot cake, the producers of those porn smiled to the bank, but only for a short time. Vice squads in Lagos and other cities swooped on the distributors, confiscating hundreds of cartons of porn. It is not on record that any of the producers or distributors was charged to court. The X-rated industry suffered what the players merely saw as a teething problem.
The producers returned to their underground and to the drawing board. As they figured out, even at the outset, their only headache was distribution. Getting ‘raw materials’ for their kind of business was no big deal. With the deportation of Nigerian prostitutes from Italy, Lagos especially was crawling with idle girls, rearing to do what they knew how to do best, even before the camera. These ‘veterans’ would later serve as mentors to their home-base counterparts, who displayed at the very first opportunity, a knack for quick learning.
There were also no short supply of unemployed young men who, uncertain of their next meal, were eager for a few thousand naira to play the role of studs in dirty flicks. Encouraging as the public response to their products was, they could not penetrate the market, certainly not through the conventional route that employed major distributors who for legitimate movies, control all aspects of distribution from duplication, marketing and delivery to the collection of revenue. For the various amateur porn production companies, however, the roadblock just must be dismantled. They even formed an association to fight their common enemy. Like brothel owners and other counterparts in the vice industry, they too forged a pact with law enforcement agencies. It was only a matter of time before they began to rise from the ashes of their debacle.
In the beginning
When in 1996, the home movie Domitilla was released, it immediately became a box office hit, grossing over N70 million to the producers and pirates alike. The mad rush for the flick had little to do with fantastic acting and certainly nothing of technical wizardry of the director – even as these were not lacking.
Being a tale of prostitution and city girls, Domitilla’s only magnetism was a whiff of sex. Poor movie watchers had gone for it in the conclusion that the movie would parade some flesh, raunchy scenes and possibly frontal nudity.
Right from the moment the seductive posters hit the streets and titillating radio jingle the airwave, the rush of hormone translated into a manic rush for the videotapes. Though Domitilla was such a commercial success the movie title crept into the Nigerian lexicon, if anybody expected it to be Nigeria’s first erotica, they cursed silently after watching it.
Whatever the promises and failings of Domitilla, the movie proved that in show business as elsewhere, nothing sells like sex. Already, a huge appetite had been provoked which Kenneth Nnebue cashed in on with his production of Glamour Girls. The latter was more successful if only because it was more daring. Smart in the ways it manoevered withiniron cage of censorship, Glamour Girls was able to show some flesh; that of an unknown Eucharia Anunobi in a bathtub scene with Zack Orji. A star was born just as Eucharia emerged Nigeria’s first sex symbol. Movie viewers went on to dub her “Nigeria’s Sharon Stone” and Eucharia lived up to that name, shedding her clothes in more films including Theo Akatugba’s Native
If Eucharia had any claim to Nollywood’s sex symbol, she got a good run from actresses like Barbara Udoh, Halima Abubakar (nicknamed the wild cat) and Bimbo Akintola, the busty graduate of University of Ibadan who, it was revealed by her former boyfriend (actor Yemi Solade) never wore anything under her dress. The bad girls’ club would received a boost when Shan George shocked her pastor, dramatically shedding her good girl image only to snap up in rapid succession, semi-nude roles which she intepreted with leather outfits that left little to the imagination. Tried as she did to be certified queen of erotica, Shan was eclipsed by an unknown but daring actress named Cossy Orjiakor who took Nollywood by storm with her uninhibited spirit and watermelon chest.
With actresses like Angela Phillips, Foluke Daramola, Ronke Oshodi, Grace Evaly and Jennifer Eliogu, Cossy certainly was not the first woman to come to Nollywood with voluptuous breasts. Though good acting ability was not one of her strong points, she became an instant phenomenon with her generous display of her most prized assets, in the process building a cult following of drooling perverts.
With a degree in Accounting and a Masters in Management from the best of schools, Cossy never pretended to anyone that she could act. Her ticket to fame was her natural endowment and with that chest she redefined sex on the screen, not only taking it to the roof but dismissing the likes of Eucharia Anunobi and Shan George as “old school.”
Before Cossy, Nollywood’s video features fell into five clearly distinguishable genres: Voodoo, love stories, epic, comedy and gangster movies. With Cossy, sex or erotic thrillers was blatantly added. Movie producers raced to her with scripts specially written for her. With films like Outcast and Itohan, the story lines all had excuses and sequences for Cossy to bare her body. The busty actress did not disappoint anyone. She proved herself a happy exhibitionist even as she became the target of housewives’ venom. As it turned out, Cossy’s mammary glands were as sought after outside film location as inside it. On TV stations across the country, the girl from Anambra State became the subject of heated debates among clerics, academics, film critics, bigots and liberals alike.
Cossy had over 15 movies to her credit, but in what would amount to a conspiracy to yank her off the screen, producers began to drop her like a hot potatoe. With the Censors Board banning almost all her last movies, the producers having incurred huge losses were unwilling to gamble anymore with her boobs.
One man however, who continued to gamble with Cossy was the dimunitive music promoter, Gbenga Adewusi. A shrewd businessman, Adewusi was the pioneer of lecherous music videos in Nigeria. Having watched with delight the commercially successful marriage of porn and Hip-hop in America, the CEO of Bayowa Films and Records International was hell-bent in procuring local materials’ to produce his own version of Luke’s Freakshow, Hip-Hop Honeys, Snoop Dogg’s Diary of a pimp and 50 cent’s Groupie Love and And the Lord said … Let there be Pum Pum, among others.
Styling himself as an avant garde, Obesere – the popular Fuji musician, notorious for his gutter lyrics – was a natural choice for Bayowa’s project. Together they produced Gogo Night in 2000 which unbelievably showed glimpses of pubis. To this day, it remains a mystery how Bayowa was able to navigate without drowning the stormy waters of both the National Film and Video Censor’s Bard (NFVCB) and the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) which had variously yanked off air Femi Kuti’s innocuous Bang Bang Bang and Zule Zoo’s Kerewa.
Allegations of heavy inducement were rife but having tested the waters, Bayowa raised the stake even higher. He had gone ahead to sign on the voluptuous Cossy who was only too happy to lead a pack of other skimpily clad ladies to wiggle, pout and titillate in a succession of X-rated musical including Apple Juice, His Excellency, Fuji Gyration and G-String Carnival. Clips of these raunchy videos were advertised on television and while some viewers concluded that Cossy had finally gone off the hook of sanity, the actress cum erotic dancer was reportedly coveted by rich politicians and their sons. For all her recklessness’ and ‘plain naivety’ Cossy silenced her critics when she acquired a choice property in Lekki.
If Cossy was an embarrassment to her folks back home, the emotion was nothing compared to that elicited by Kano-born Halima Abubakar who like Cossy Orijiafor came to Nollywood with an open mind. Having weighed the odds against her, Halima was quick to put a tattoo to her breast and flaunted it in the right places. She was soon linked with half a dozen footballers including Celestine Babayaro. Yes, Halima got a few roles in the movies but she got more doing seductive scenes in the private homes of the rich and mighty. Unlike Cossy, she added class to her art, and even did a photo shot for T&B Lingerie in Paris. Among others thing, she has done a calendar job in South Africa.
The real McCoy
Sex musicals may have assumed a new trend with Obesere, not only taking to cross-dressing on stage but recording and marketing his life concerts with strippers in London, the real McCoy in the porn business however remain the faceless producers with underground outfits mostly in Lagos, Benin and Port Harcourt.
In the chase of locally-made hardcores, Saturday Sun gathered that commercial porn production effectively began in 1999 months into the advent of democracy, however sex videos in Nigeria actually began to rear their heads under military regimes between 1995 and 1998, but especially under the Abacha junta when debauchery so permeated the corridors of power it became official pastime.
If anything, the flick Glamour Girls 2, exposed the depravity and kinky sex Nigerian ladies trafficked to Italy were subjected to. In the movie, Tina Amuziam, chasing the big buck,was cajoled by her husband (Zack Orji) to sleep with a dg just to satisfy the pervert taste of a white client. Naturally, Nigerians felt such act was only possible in the realm of make-believe. In 1998 however, they were shocked to their marrow when a sequence of events revealed that what was going on in real life was even more outrageous.
It started with a female undergraduate of a university in the South East who was admitted to a hospital with acute itching. For days, the girl was scratching and yelling like a wild animal. In a case widely reported in the papers, no one would had been able to fathom what was going on until another girl died of the same acute itching, thus forcing the first female student to a confession. Knowing that death was imminent and unable to bear anymore the uncanny itching, she told doctors that she and her late friend had been forced by a German expatriate to sleep with his Alsatian dogs. For a handsome fee, they had sex with the randy canine while the expatriate recorded the scenes on video.
When police raided the home of the expatriate, stacks of pornographic videos, all showing naked Nigerian girls were confiscated. At his arrest and interrogation, the German said the sex videos were for his personal pleasure, the police however had reasons to believe the X-rated tapes were exported to Europe for commercial purposes.
Whichever, the national outrage that greeted the sex-with-dogs story did not subside until the government said the offending expatriate had been deported. Even at that, tongues did snot stop wagging as people asked one another how long ago such bizarre sex activities had been going on in the country unnoticed. At the end, enough information trickled out to suggest that the major culprits in the making of porn videos in Nigeria were military officers, expatriate workers, politicians, businessmen and oil workers stationed in Warri, Eket and Port Harcourt.
Saturday Sun’s investigations revealed that until 1999 most of the porn videos produced in Nigeria were done by amateurs, often notorious hedonists, who with a handful of dollars and expensive gifts got university girls to do their biddings. It was even said that with the help of hi-tech cameras, the porn makers filmed all the kinky sex scenes in their private homes without as much as the girls having a clue to the fact that they were being recorded.
In 2001, however, when police raided those porn outlets in Lagos and Ibadan as advertised in some tabloids, the commercial nature of the confiscated videos was never in doubt. They all bore the marks of professionals. What more, the naked women in the videos were not innocent, dew-eyed debutantes rather scorching femme fantales who had lost their inhibitions to dirty lucres.
They left no one in doubt, having long turned their bodies into sex machines that could be manipulated to achieve desired erotic effects. Their naunces were not something picked up from the frivolities common on Nigerian campuses, rather from exposure to an international sex industry alive with all its gaudy sophistication. Though it was not branded on their faces, the lingos and mannerism of most of the ladies in the sex videos strongly suggested they were deportees from Italy. Evidences would emerge that x-rated videos like Oba’s Nine Daughters did not only star former victims of human trafficking, the productions were financed by former madames, some of whom had as many as 30 girls in their carted back then in Italy.
With the police hot on the heels of porn distributors in 2001, not every movie lover who wanted copies of the domestic porn was able to do so. As the producers were driven farther aground, the video tapes became one of the scarcest commodies with prices reaching as high as N2,500 per copy. As Saturday Sun discovered, the tapes and CDs are available, they are not necessarily displayed on the shelf. In fact, the retail control was such that only those who truly desired porn could get them only after due perseverance.
The first tape that Saturday Sun procured was Valentine Sex Party and this was at a shop (address witheld) that sold exclusive male accessories from cologne to spanish fly aphrodisiac. The shop in question is located inside a shopping plaza befind Habib Platinum Bank at Adeniyi Jones’ side of Allen Roundabout, Ikeja.
Valentine Sex Party turned out to be striptease work performed by Nigerian girls at an unindentified club possibly in Ikeja, Apapa or Lagos Island. The girls were all attired in sexy party dresses that included the shortest of minis. To the beats of reggae and Makossa, they swayed and twisted. Every movement exposed their crotches and as simulated passion rose to crescendo, they abandoned themselves to their male partners who were they in their movie to play the role of Val dates. The producers of this porn did not give their names but the beer posters in the background, pidgin English and mannerism of the actors oozed Nigeria.
Among the tapes purchased by Saturday Sun four had same flavour as Valentine Sex Party. Each were shot in a club or private home using different amateur actresses. None of them had the names of the producers. In fact, except for the one entitled Allen Avenue, the rest had no titles. Someone had merely used a typewriter to write “Nigerian Sex Film”, cut them out with a blade and pasted them on the tapes. It was only Allen Avenue that had something close to a story-line.
The camera tracked some girls standing on the popular street. Next, they were engaged in what was supposed to be dialogue with male customers in flashy cars. The scene changed to a mansion which gate had been flung wide open. About eight cars parked with party-freaks glide in and the girls are deposited in a swimming pool.
Another porn outlet discovered by Saturday Sun was on Awolowo Way Ikeja, at a building next door to MEB Eye Clinic. Inside a shop, aptly named Love Shop, that sold foreign adult magazines, perfumes, lingeries and wait for this, dildos, this reporter purchased a Nigerian porn entitled ‘A Forest Of Flowers’.
This film turned out to be one the most adventurous of local x-rated videos. To leave you not in doubt of what you have in your hands, the girls in the porn spoke Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa languages. This sex movie actually had a plot, and a rural setting. It began with four village girls on their way to the farm. While they dwell on the latest gossips, they are unaware of some randy villians laying in ambush. When the attack eventually came, it was no surprise to anyone. And while the girls were supposed to be dealing with rapists, they actually helped their attackers to have their way. The snag for the producer was that though beautiful girls were used, the male actors couldn’t play the studs. Most of the time they couldn’t get it up or had come too quickly.
To salvage the production and at least stretch it to one hour, the hands of a desperate director could be seen behind the camera as he motioned on the girls to give the rapists blow job. Next, the boys were seen drinking bottles of stout as if that would keep them going.
Investigations by Saturday Sun revealed that the producers of A Forest Of Flowers are actually husband and wife named Charles and Sandra Ekwunife. Both are the publishers of a porn magazine called Better Lover which the lawyer husband initiated in 1996. According to a male hairdresser who was part of another x-rated movie produced by the couple, the a videos were shot in the coconut groove of Badagry.
The Ekwunifes, having made millions in publishing went into movie production to expand their empire. They are also linked with the love shop and the importation of sex accessories. Having long dumped his wig, the husband styles himself as the Hugh Hefner of Nigeria. A journalist who after NYSC, started out writing for Better Lover told Saturday Sun that while he was there, the Ekwunifes had close to thirty girls in their employ.
Awed by the soaraway success of the Ekwunifes, another porn publisher, by the name Peter Rock jumped on the x-rated video bandwagon. A professional cartoonist, Rock was said to have taken some girls to Cotonou in neighbouring Benin Republic having convinced them the movie was meant for foreign market. The cartoonist allegedly ran into problems in the French-speaking country and had to abandon the production.
Beside Rock, Saturday Sun gathered that a host of youngmen who cut their teeth under Ekwunife left to set up their own porn magazine. One of them simply called Prince is the publisher of a junk entitled Forever. Operating out of an apartment in Egbeda suburb of Lagos, Prince had learnt all the baits to hook young and sometimes unsuspecting ladies. For as little as N6,000 these girls are made to pose nude. One particular girl who it is not known what she was told before she bared it all reportedly came to the Egbeda office weeping profusely after she saw her nude photos published in a ragsheet and displayed at newstands.
At the last count, Nigeria’s porn industry had as many as twenty production houses, some of them owned by former sex workers deported from Italy. Among the latest works in the market is Nigeria Hottest Mapouka Sexy Dance, produced by Crazy World Entertainment which has an outlet at Ubakason Plaza, Alaba International Market. Others are Nigeria Flying Girls and Sweetest Taboo produced by Climax Productions and Nigeria Mapouka Uyompem produced by Sontec Digital Production Ltd in collaboration with Tonard Internation Ltd.
Having identified porn as a new money spinner, quite a number of Alaba businessmen are putting their money into porn business. One x-rated clips called Mapouka Legends has the photo of actor Jim Iyke on its cover. It is not a ruse. The video actually had a 7-minute clip of the actor at a nightclub simulating sex with different girls who patiently lined up waiting for their turn.
Saturday Sun gathered that local porn producers have become prolific, churning out videos, many of which are exported to neighbouring African countries like Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast.