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Podcast review: Hot Money

I never wrote about porn. I find it hard to wrap my head around it. It always felt like this unknown creature, and I didn’t know whether it was going to delight me or traumatise me forever.

I don’t personally watch porn, but I the idea that it drives 8% of internet traffic globally always fascinated. So I thought of starting my research through a media I am familiar with and has a very good reputation. The Financial Times.

Hot Money: Who Rules Porn?

The podcast’s very first episode starts with a warning: “This series is full of adult themes and has some graphic sex talk“.
And that’s all the confirmation I needed, to know I was listening to the right kind of podcast.

What is the podcast about?

This podcast is hosted by Financial Times (FT) and it’s about power, finance, and porn. Two reporters started digging into the porn industry, to find out who was behind it all. What they discovered, it’s that nobody knew who controlled the biggest porn company in the world.

How many episodes are there? 

This is a limited series as it’s made of eight-part investigative episodes. Episodes were published weekly, and they are all out now. Part of the Pushkin industries. 

hot money FT

Who runs it?

Reporter Patricia Nilsson and her boss and editor, Alex Barker, interviewed many of the porn industry players. Guests included bankers, porn stars, bankers who became porn stars, a New York billionaire who changed the industry with one single text message, and many more. 

Give it a listen on Spotify or Apple

Who is Patricia Nilsson?

Patricia Nilsson, co-host of Hot Money, is a reporter with the FT. In her daily job she covers a wide range of industries including retail, cannabis and — yep, you got it — porn. She started at the FT as a data analyst and then became a reporter. Patricia grew up in Sweden but was raised Polish. She has lived and worked in Shanghai and Istanbul, but now resides in London.

The whole industry depends on performers to literally bear it all. But basic information about the businesses runs the industry, are kept like a state secret. I kept finding names that weren’t names, and companies that weren’t companies. It often felt like i was wondering around a maze. You know that strange sense of never knowing where you are going, how anything is connected, turns that lead to unexpected places. Like those murky transactions that Kelly Holland talks about. What were they for? What were they hiding? Who or what is behind the business of porn? And you know what? The Financial Times, we call it the FT, they encouraged me to keep going. To report this out. And my boss, he got sucked in too.

Patricia Nilsson

Who is Alex Barker?

Alex Barker, co-host of Hot Money, is the global media editor at the FT, leading coverage of the entertainment, advertising and news business. He has reported for the FT for 16 years, filing stories from more than 30 countries. Alex has spent most of his career covering politics and diplomacy and was the FT’s Brussels bureau chief on the night Britain voted to leave the European Union. He lives in London.

That’s me, Alex Barker. I manage Patricia’s team of business reporters. But my main job is writing about the media industry. (...) When Patricia asked to look into porn, i knew it wasn’t exactly the Facetime cup of tea. But it was different, and intriguing, and only career threatening if we botched it up. So i said sure. See what you can find. And bit by bit, the story of the power behind porn drew me in too.

Alex Barker

Who else works on it?

This series is supported by many FT employees, including executive producers, associate producers, sound designers, editors, music composers, a fact-checking person and many more.

What really goes on behind the porn curtain?

The hosts reveal interview by interview what goes on behind the screen, who the players are, how the industry evolved and where it is now. It’s shocking to hear about the ‘Darth Vader of Porn’, about ‘kinky finance’, how Visa and Mastercard regulate a lot of what can be paid for, and what is on the ban list (of course period is on the ban list, ugh), and more.

I recommend a listen, each episode has a strong focus on a topic, or a person, a company, putting the pieces together one by one.

It’s eye-opening.

sexy man silhouette
ropes thigh
boots fishnets