Type of site
|Launched||8 October 2000|
|35,817 (April 2014[update])|
Abbywinters.com (or simply Abby Winters) is a pornographic paysite largely revolving around nude modelling pictorials and lesbian and solo sex acts by female models. It claims all-female shooting crews and prides itself on being at the forefront of the "natural", reality-based porn market. The site was launched in the year 2000 and has since been split into three "mini-sites" known as 'Solo', 'Girl-Girl', and 'Intimate Moments' (masturbation).
Abby Winters originated as an Australian site with Australian participants and employees. It is now based in Amsterdam and intermixes its extensive Australia material with new material shot since its move. In addition to pictures and videos of erotic modelling and sex acts, the site also features a range of both scripted and unscripted 'real world'-type situations, especially in video, such as naked yoga, aerobics, video game playing, swimming, car washing, and so on.
The site is noted for its mix of "core" professional models — of which it only has a few — alongside a massive trove of genuinely amateur models, most of whom had never worked in erotic modelling or video before coming to the company. All material is captured with particularly high-quality camera-work, usually using high-definition video and photography (especially since 2009), together with somewhat atypical "signature" capture angles, and has no models with surgically enhanced breasts. Models wear very little make-up and many have a full patch of pubic hair. In addition, the website claims that its photos are not retouched in any way.
Abbywinters.com in January 2008 had about 30,000 subscribers. Despite its history as an Australian site and its enduringly close association with that country, 65% of Abby Winters subscribers are in the United States.
In 2010, responding to a changing political climate in the Australian government on the question of pornography's acceptability in the country, the company's offices were moved to the Netherlands. Prior to that relocation, the site's web servers had already been based in the Netherlands and the United States for quite some time.
Description of content
The website features female models typically between the ages 18 to 25. With the exception of those who are long-time employees of the organisation, of which there are only a small number, almost all Abby Winters models are completely new to pornography. In photo-based shoots the women are photographed in their own homes and bedrooms and/or in outdoor settings, and usually begin wearing their own clothes and underwear, which they gradually shed. In videos, there may also be candid interviews, but videos on the site involving groups usually have a theme, or at least implied back-story, such as a yoga class beginning fully clothed and gradually shedding garments as the yoga session progresses. By 2009 there were 1200 models featured on the site, with more than 370,000 images and almost 4000 videos. New content was uploaded twice daily.
Wired.com writer Regina Lynn claims that the site portrays sex more realistically than most pornography. Customers are able to suggest scenarios on the site's forum which are sometimes filmed. After establishing a rough scenario for each shoot the production team then lets the performers decide how fast the scene progresses, and which sex acts they will perform. It is claimed that all scenes are filmed by women, some of whom have previously modelled for the site. Models are paid approximately $800 for a solo masturbation scene, and $1,400 for a sex scene with another model.
In 2003/04 Abbywinters.com deviated from featuring only girl/girl sex by filming six boy/girl scenes. All were claimed to be real couples and, as with the females, the males were supposedly professionals. The site featured a boy/girl scene in May 2011 and after December 2011 featured one boy/girl release per month.
The Existence of Abby Winters
In its initial publicity, the company claimed that "Abby Winters" was an real person In interviews with founder and CEO, Garion Hall, and many people employed with and/or modelling for the company, Abby Winters was spoken of as if she was an actual woman personally overseeing, photographing and filming the vast majority of Abbywinters.com material. The status of Abby Winters as a real person was doubted by many commentators from the beginning, and in about 2007 Garion Hall's staff (and eventually Garion Hall himself) admitted that Abby Winters is an alias for Garion Hall, and that "her" story as an empowered and powerful sex-positive female pornographer is completely fictional. The revelation also tended to prove the suspicion among web commentators that Abby Winters models and employees had received coaching and/or training in how to convincingly insist to interviewers, and at events such as conferences of the pornography industry, that Abby Winters was a real person.
Today on the website the Abby Winters fictional "backstory" remains prominent. There is no mention that Garion Hall was the founder of Abbywinters.com, and also the founder and CEO of the company's interrelated companies such as GMBill, which is the site's payment service. The company, having moved from Australia and now owned and operated by Dutch company Abbywinters.com BV, and with its servers being located mostly in the Netherlands, still conveys the impression that it is an Australian company based in Fitzroy, Melbourne: "Where possible, we select local suppliers over mega-corps, to keep our vibrant community of Fitzroy alive.".
On 1 June 2010, Hall announced that G Media was selling the business to his new Dutch company, and would be moving its operations to Amsterdam, Netherlands because of legal problems in Australia (see below for details). The company had been based in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy before their move. It now operates from an office in central Amsterdam.
The company claims to have regularly donated $1,000 a week to various organisations including Samba, ASACP, and other open source projects, as well as health aid organisations. Abby Winters was a "Sustaining Contributor" on the Free Software Foundation's Thank GNUs 2007, and on the OpenBSD's donations list. It also made a A$78,000 donation to the Black Saturday bushfires appeal.
Criticism by former model Liandra Dahl
In 2007 ex-Abby Winters model Liandra Dahl wrote on her blog about privacy problems concerning G-Media sites, which was picked up by the Herald Sun. Dahl was concerned that Abby Winters fails to inform young and inexperienced models that content may be available outside of the confines of the paysite, on file sharing networks, and how their involvement in pornography might revisit them inhibiting their future choices. However, following the raid on G-Media, Liandra reopened her blog to make clear that the Herald sun had "misquoted her" and that she didn't support the new laws against pornography in Australia.
Police raid on G Media
On 16 June 2009, GMedia offices in Melbourne were raided by Victoria Police as part of a wider "Operation Refuge". The Herald Sun article gave two grounds for the raid: that G-Media may have filmed an under-age model, and that G-Media's DVD productions may have contravened Victoria's film classification laws. The report stated that CEO Garion Hall was arrested but released later the same day, and claimed that the raid was made in response to information provided by the paper. GMedia later released a statement stating that nothing had been seized in the raid, and that the police were polite and amiable throughout. In December 2009 CEO Garion Hall was charged by Victoria Police with 54 counts of making objectionable films for gain, and possessing a commercial quantity of objectionable films. According to a post by Hall on the site, the charges against him were eventually dropped and two charges were filed against the company itself. A judge fined the company $6,000 on 28 May 2010. This combination of legal problems, law enforcement encounters, financial penalties, and a less accepting climate for the company's activities, led Hall to move the company out of Australia altogether and relocate it to Amsterdam.
Abbywinters.com is included on a list published on Wikileaks, on 19 March 2009, which is alleged to be the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) blacklist of websites which were due to be prohibited in Australia under the proposed Australian Firewall.
- 2006 Australian Adult Industry Awards – 'Best Adult Website'
- 2007 Australian Adult Industry Awards – 'Best Adult Website'
- 2008 AVN Award – 'Best Amateur Series' for Intimate Moments
- 2011 AVN Award – 'Best Membership Site'
- 2012 XBIZ Award – 'Adult Site of the Year (Solo/All-Girl)'
- 2013 XBIZ Award – 'All-Girl Release of the Year' for Girls With Girls
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- "Thank GNUs 2007". Retrieved 2009-11-17.
- "donations". OpenBSD. Retrieved 2009-11-17.
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- Keith Moor (3 December 2007). "Porn exploiters attacked". Herald Sun. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- "Liandra Dahl Lets Loose". 16 June 2007. Archived from the original on 6 December 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
- "Clearing my name". 16 June 2009. Archived from the original on 24 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
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- Duncan, Edward. "Abby Winters' Hall Issues Statement on Police Raid". AVN. Archived from the original on 20 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
- Keith Moor (29 December 2009). "Alleged child pornography and objectionable films seized from sex site boss Garion Hall". Herald Sun. www.heraldsun.com.au. Retrieved 2009-12-29.
- "Post by Garion Hall". 1 June 2010. Archived from the original on 21 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
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- "Abby Winters won AVN Award 2008". Press Release. Abbywinters.com. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-17.
- "AVN Announces the Winners of the 2011 AVN Awards". AVN. 9 January 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
- "2012 XBIZ Award Winners Announced". XBIZ. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
- "2013 XBIZ Award Winners Announced". XBIZ. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
- Abby Winters website
- Abby Winters press website
- Abby Winters interview with Garion Hall at AdultDVDTalk.com (October 2007)
- Abby Winters interview with Garion Hall by Abby Ehmann (published in ErosZine 12 November 2007)