February 2, 2011 (Updated July 9, 2016).
When Grooby Productions owner Steven Grooby launched Shemale Yum in 1997, it was the first trans paysite to produce original content. The success of that site, based on its loyal following from the beginning, inspired Steven to launch sister sites such as Shemale.XXX, Ladyboy-Ladyboy, Ladyboy.XXX, Brazilian-Transsexuals, Black-TGirls, Black Shemale Hardcore, Frank’s-Tgirl World, Shemale Japan, Shemale Japan Hardcore, Shemales From Hell, The Grooby Archives, Third World Shemales, Shemale.Porn and a genetic girl site – Asian American Girls.
In December of 2014, Grooby Productions and ModelCentro announced their partnership in the new Grooby Network platform. “It’s with great pleasure that ModelCentro is teaming up with Grooby to target the transsexual niche,” ModelCentro founder Stan D’Aman stated. “We’re confident that the collaboration of efforts will empower TS models and pay off for both parties involved! “We’ve worked with Adult Centro on other projects, but when Stan told us about ModelCentro, [we] immediately recognized how well it would work with many of our models,” says Grooby Productions owner Steven Grooby. “These models love creating content and interacting with their fans, but the process of building a solo website was too problematic for them. This is the easiest system I have seen and the addition of the .XXX domain name is an added bonus for the models,” Grooby added. “We’ve a number of Tgirl sites in the works and I’m excited about what we can do together.” ModelCentro provides all the necessary tools for models to create, customize, and run their own membership site, including hosting, billing, design, domain registration, and a live cam. The platform empowers its models, with no previous experience or technical expertise required — only a willingness to work with a simple interface and interact with fans.
Here’s some of the models that already operate their websites through Grooby Network. The models currently using Grooby Network v1 will soon be upgrading to v2: Athena Addams, Brittany St Jordan, Chelsea Marie, Crona Valentine, Domino Presley, Eva Cassini, Francine Gurchik, Holly Parker, Jane Starr, Jamie French, Jordan Jay, Kacy TGirl, Korra Del Rio, Krissy4U , Kylie Maria, Lina Cavalli, Lola Minaj, Mia Maffia, Michelle Austin, Robbi Racks, Tasha Jones, Trixxy Von Tease, and Wendy Summers. If you are driven and make lots of content, there is NO LIMIT to how much money you can make. So if you think you’ve got what it takes, head on over to modelcentro.com/home/registration!
Femout.XXX is the first Grooby website to focus on girls in different stages of transition. It was originally launched as an “academy” for new amateur models. Many of Femout’s models have since “graduated” to other long-running Grooby websites. All of these the websites are updated weekly without fail and feature thousands of the world’s most stunning models.
Bob Maverick, who was an original Grooby photographer before branching out on his own, came back to the fold and Bobs-Tgirls is now powered by Grooby Productions.
Grooby also acquired ownership of PI Ladyboy in the Summer of 2016.
Grooby also decided to create a site dedicated to the fine art of Tgirl on Tgirl porn and TGirls.Porn was launched to tremendous success!
Caramel: Hi, Steven. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me. It’s a great honor for me as you were the first webmaster to provide what I was looking for in adult online entertainment and it’s no secret that I think you’re the best at it out there today. There are so many different takes on the origin of your nickname “seanchai.” Can we settle this here once and for all?
Steven: When I started the sites it was for a bit of fun, no intention of being a large business so I decided to come up with a moniker. Given that I’ve a Anglo-Scots-Irish background and our clan were the “storytellers” in Scotland, I used the Celtic name “seanchai” … which means just that, “seanchai”. Some people thought I was Asian, some that my name was Sean. In the business side of what I do, it’s either Steven or Steven Grooby. Most people know my real name but I’ve retained seanchai (pronounced with all the vowels see an kaa ee … or thereabouts).
Caramel: 11 years ago, I thought you were an Asian webmaster named Sean, when you founded Shemale Yum and then Ladyboy-Ladyboy. The average fan of your websites probably imagines you shooting beautiful transsexuals in lavish sets 24-7 and having your pick of the litter as if you have a harem. Many don’t know that running a prominent adult company involves spending hours at the computer working with your staff and customers. I have to admit that even when I first subscribed to Shemale Yum the year it was launched, I imagined you having a “swinging from the chandeliers” lifestyle. What is it like being Steven Gallon on an average day?
Steven: Haha … if only they knew. I akin myself to something Keith Richards said, along the lines of that everyone expects after a gig for him to go partying, when he usually goes home, has a cup of tea and watches the footie. When we started the company, we were the only people shooting and we were “stars” in that the girls loved us, we were traveling the world, getting into trouble in some seriously fucked up places (searching for new models) and did have our pick of the bunch … but seriously how long can you do that for? A typical day would be to arrive at the office around 9am, work with the designer and affiliate manager on what they’re doing and then spend the next 8+ hrs in front of the computer … checking our site forums and answering questions, arranging new business, corresponding with models and photographers, setting updates for the coming weeks, etc, etc. Most of my job is being the hub and then delegating. We’ve about 18 support staff worldwide and about 17 photographers so a lot of working with them. Until a year ago, I’d get home and have that cup of tea and watch the footie … but now I take my son out for a walk (I walk and he gets pushed) which is a lot of fun. As a business owner, there are no weekends off and no nights off – but that’s the price you pay for doing something you love.
Caramel: Congratulations on being a daddy. The August 2008 edition of AVN Online magazine mentioned you in an article about brand name leveraging in the same thread as Hustler magazine. Was it ever a conscious decision for you to create an online empire in the tradition of Hustler, Playboy and Penthouse? I’m asking this question particualrly because in the world of transsexual adult entertainment, you’re today’s Internet version of Larry Flynt, Hugh Hefner or Bob Guccione.
Steven: I was surprised as anyone to see us alongside Hustler. I’m a big fan of Larry Flynt especially the fact he’s so politically opinionated and also likes to surprise his viewers every now and again. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but a pure business one. When we spun off an Asian site with Ladyboy-Ladyboy it was instinctive that there should be enough revenue to support it, Black-Tgirls was the same. Not every site has been so successful, we’ve had failures but as part of an “empire” the more profitable entities help support the lesser ones and that’s always been integral. I’ve also made it a point to do some very specific things within our company, only working with exclusive photographers and showing exclusive content, allowing public forums for feedback and making the sites very personal by having named webmasters and photographers.
Caramel: I see you as a handsome and masculine straight male with an attraction to both genetically born women and transsexual women. How old were you when you began to develop an interest in transsexuals?
Steven: Thanks for the compliment … you’ve obviously never met me! Masculine and straight yes. I developed an interest in the concept of transexualism in my early teens, I remember seeing a few photos and just thinking it was totally strange but exciting. I have a lot of ideas where I’d like to cross over into mainstream (not porn) in the future, but it’s having the time. I’ve always maintained that the attraction of men to transsexuals is a naughtiness … a forbidden fruit and that it’s a very visual attraction, more than any sexuality or sexual function.
Caramel: Most men I hear from do think of transsexuals as naughty, forbidden fruit, so to speak. I get the “shemale” sex object thing just like I got the “chocolate fantasy thing” before I began transitioning. However, there are also a lot of guys who respectfully treat us like women. They’re harder to find, but out there. Fortunately for both of us, both types enjoy ts adult entertainment, and more and more every year.
Everyone has to start somewhere and I think you’ve paid your dues just like everyone else does; at the beginning. You didn’t just create Shemale Yum overnight. Is it true that your Internet beginning was with Geocities sites?
Steven: Actually I’d forgotten it was a Geocities site but of course, the original site was. Then, a bit free hosting I had attached to my ISP. All the sites were grooby.com/~yum or /~asian back then. After a few months of busting the free hosting I bought a little and put an AVS site up, making $10 a sale … which then eventually ended up as a paysite, $10 for 3 months access. It just took off from there.
Caramel: There are a few current “It Girls” and one of them is Kimber James. When you launched her blog, did you have any idea it would end up with a #1 Google ranking? I mean, I had a good feeling that she’d rise to stardom at first glance. Did you have that same instinct?
Steven: I blew it with Kimber James. Gia Darling actually tried to put the two of us together, before she’d worked with anyone else. She didn’t have the boobs and was Gia’s assistant at the time. I wasn’t able to do the shoot myself and handed it off to Buddy Wood, but they never got it together for a while and she premiered on DVD. We should have been the first. Kimber is the closest TS I’ve seen to crossing over to the mainstream porn industry to date. She’s got an awesome look and photographs incredibly well, I was worried that her appeal might be limited by too much of the “same look” but she’s changed it up recently and really just looks awesome. The blog we run was intended to promote Shemale Yum and her DVD originally (of which she is on a profit-share) but I think we’re one of the biggest affiliates to her website, so it’s worked out good for both of us and as you know, we have a few other models fan blogs. Girls I was spot on with, knowing they’d be the “It Model” … were Khloe Hart & Hazel Tucker … but you didn’t have to be a genius to guess a them.
Caramel: I’m a serious Gia Darling fan, for her work and business sense. Khloe is sensational in print an on screen and I can’t go on enough about Hazel, yet another “It Girl” and a sweetheart.
Let’s say there’s a Grooby website fan who’s fairly young, in good shape, pretty well hung and can perform in either top or bottom roles. Where would he have to go to do a shoot with one or more of your models? Must he be in Los Angeles, New York City or in Las Vegas?
Steven: If there was a male performer like that, ready to go and in any of those cities, we could get him work, but male performers need to realize, their payments are far less than the tgirl model in our productions. Those that can get to Vegas could probably work on TranSex Domination as well as other productions to make it more worthwhile.
Caramel: You’ve described your blog “Fallen Angels and Lost Devils” as the hardest blog you’ve ever had to write. Anyone with sense doesn’t have to ask you why. It’s mission is to honor and inform about all the transsexual models who have died in the industry. I really don’t have any questions about it but I wanted to give the blog a plug because it was an extremely thoughtful thing to do.
Steven: The “Fallen Angel’s” Blog was a good place to put all the girls together (and the few guys) and really illustrates how young and violently many of the tgirls are when they die. It doesn’t really touch on Thailand or the PI either as it’s too hard to verify there and I’d estimate as many as 10% of the models on early Brazilian Transsexuals updates may have passed. I’ve been personally affected by a few of these. Obviously the three photographers who worked for us, especially Eric in Thailand whose death from cancer was tragic but also Lisa Kage was a very good friend and various other girls I’d had contact with over the years.
Caramel: You’ve had nice things to say about SMCRevenue, a company I trust which produce sites like Kimber’s and Shemale Club and many more. The content is great and their customer service practices are honest and reputable. However, there are also some shady sites out there. I promoted two major companies and when I learned that they’d resorted to pre-checked cross selling, I stopped promoting them. I know that you’re a teddy bear, Steven, but I’ve seen you enraged over websites who upsell with pre-checked cross sales and I wouldn’t want to be on your bad side. You’re passionate about integrity and have no tolerance for companies that burn customers by tricking people into accepting extra fees. It drives disgruntled customers away from signing up to reputable sites and in some cases, they’ve had to cancel banged credit cards to end charges. What can we do to protect customers from getting burned and put disreputable companies out of business when what they’re doing is legal? The laws allow them to work their way around the rules of what’s right and what’s wrong so do we try to get those laws changed or go after the websites one by one?
Steven: I’m a terrible salesman. Absolutely useless. I can only sell products that I believe in which is why my own companies sites are an easy sell, I stand behind them 100%. There are plenty of other good companies out there, the job that Isa has done with SMCRevenue is awesome and I love promoting them as well as some of the solo girls sites like Krissy4u, Wendy Williams, some of the sites from BluePixels, etc. They’re easy sells because they run reputable companies, with great content and don’t rip off the consumer. There will only ever be so many consumers out there willing to buy tranny porn, if they get ripped off once or twice then they will just quit joining sites altogether. Those sites are short term business minded and effectively driving the consumer to search out free pirated content. I advocate and encourage all affiliates not to do business with companies who pre-check a cross sale or make it difficult to cancel. It may be legal at the moment, but it’s poor business ethics. I’d ask every fan forum and blog to name the companies NOT to do business with… I’ll start, TrannyPay…they rip off their customers by doing pre-checked cross sales.
Caramel: I love BluePixels sites also and I’m exited about interviewing Luci May from that group this week.
Shemale Japan is one of your most successful websites to date. Many of us immediately embraced the opportunity to see Japanese new-half photos and videos without those annoying mosaics which prevented us from seeing the models’ genitalia. Now that you’ve conquered the majority of adult transgender content from Asia, would it be possible to take on China?
Steven: Shemale Japan has been one of our fastest growing, but it’s got a long way to catch up with Shemale Yum, Ladyboy-Ladyboy, Franks-Tgirl World, Black T-girls or Brazilian Transsexuals. I’ve had so many mis-hits with getting a Japanese producer. I knew the potential for a great website was always there, but the Japanese are almost impossible to work with being a gaijin. When Hiro contacted me, I was on a plane to meet him in Tokyo within 72 hrs, we completed the deal in 72 hours and launched the site 4 months later. We’re still planning a full Japanese language roll-out of the site. The difference with China is that porn is illegal, although they’re opening up a lot and there are even sex shops (selling toys and novelties but not photos/videos) it’s near impossible to shoot there. I have a number of Chinese shemales ready to work but it could be years. You can be assured though, that we’re constantly striving to look for new places and avenues.
Caramel: Oh, there’s no doubt in my mind and I’ll be right there whenever something new comes up. So what do you have up your sleeve for us next?
Steven: I’m not a big fan of announcements before a site is due to be launched which is why we spring them on you quite fast. What is not a secret is that the huge reworking of Shemale Yum and BlackTgirls will follow through to Franks-Tgirlworld, LadyboyLadyboy and Brazilian Transsexuals in the following months. It’s a mammoth task, as every set and video needs to be re-added to the new database and categories added for each, before the graphic interface is designed and made user friendly, but the experience it gives the users is the best of any transsexual websites around. We will have one all new exciting site within the next few months – and hopefully one more later in the summer – and then onto a major project in the transgender niche which is a bit of a departure for our current business models … stay tuned!
Caramel: Thank you so much, Steven.
I had a feeling that Steven wouldn’t reveal Grooby’s next big project, but I just had to ask anyway. I wouldn’t have told either. The element of surprise is a powerful weapon and competition is fierce out there. I hope that a lot of readers out there will pay special attention to our discussion about pre-checked sales and if you ever have a question about a website you’re debating subscribing to, just write me here so I can look into it for you. I do my best to stay in the loop about questionable practices, to discuss issues with the pros and deliver an informed rapid response. I’m not like a restaurant critic who gets a free meal for every review I write. I pay my hard-earned money for memberships also and don’t want to get ripped off any more than you do. I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview. For updates, follow @groobysteven on Twitter.