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Personal Projects

My personal projects gravitate towards taboos, including the many facets of human sexuality. Despite their universal appeal and the sea of data that sloshes around them, these risqué topics remain largely unexplored by academics and journalists. 

I sail to any shore that attracts my interest. My only goal – to find out more about the things that make our hearts beat fastest.

Deep Inside: A Study of 10,000 Porn Stars

Deep Inside featured

Since it was published in February 2013, my analysis of porn performers, Deep Inside, has had more than two million unique visitors. Until PornHub launched its insights blog later in 2013, my analysis represented the first and only major data-driven exploration of the porn industry.

Deep Inside remains my most circulated and cited project to date, having appeared in the international press, popular science and art books, academic papers, magazines, and more.

Original findings included:

  • The typical female performer wasn’t a blonde with big boobs – she was a brunette with 34B breasts.
  • The most common age for women to enter porn was 22, with an average career length of three years.
  • The most common female role appearing in film titles was ‘teen’, followed by ‘milf’, then ‘wife’.
  • The most prolific male porn star had sex with 1,127 different women on screen.

Cupid on Trial: A Four Month Online Dating Experiment

Cupid on Trial

Before dates were arranged through swipes and live chats, singletons sat behind their keyboards and sent long messages back-and-forth on dating sites. That meant reading potential suitors’ personal descriptions as well as rating their attractiveness based on photos. 

Cupid on Trial was my four-month experiment to test how different the online dating experience was for men and women. I created ten dummy profiles, all with the same generic, gender-neutral personal descriptions, but with different photos ranging in physical attractiveness. Then I set them loose on both sides of the pond.

I expected the more physically attractive people to receive many more unsolicited opening messages than the less attractive people. What I didn’t expect is that the women would receive twenty times more messages than the men.

Original findings included:

  • The two most attractive women received 83% of all messages across both genders.
  • One-in-three men who viewed the most attractive woman’s profile sent her a message.
  • By the end of the experiment, the two best-looking men combined received five fewer messages than the third and fourth best-looking women.
  • It took two months, 13 days for the most popular woman’s inbox to fill up with over 500 messages. It would take 2.3 years for the most attractive man’s inbox to reach the same level.

Death in Texas: Analyzing the Last Words of 478 Death Row Prisoners

Death in Texas: Analyzing the Last Words of 478 Death Row Prisoners

More people are executed by capital punishment in Texas than in any other US state. In fact, one-third of the nation’s executions since 1976 have taken place in the Lone Star State. 

Moments before the deadly chemicals are piped into the condemned’s body, they are given the chance to say their final words. These dark utterances are published by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

I analysed a total of 41,000 words from the last statements of 478 death row prisoners to discover interesting patterns and themes. 

On average, a condemned person spends just over 10 years on death row before execution, which gives them plenty of time to choose their final remarks…

Orginal findings included:

  • Eight in ten choose to make a last statement; the others say nothing at all.
  • The most used words were ‘love’, ‘family’, ‘thank’ and ‘sorry’.
  • The most used three-word phrase was ‘I love you’.

Dirty Words: A Probing Analysis of 5,000 Escort Reviews

Dirty Words: A Probing Analysis of 5,000 Call Girl Reviews

When you want to check that a hotel is up to scratch before making a booking, you visit TripAdvisor.com. When a john wants to check if a sex worker is worth visiting, he visits Punternet.com. 

In 2011, I analysed 5,000 reviews of British sex workers (called ‘field reports’) extracted from Punternet to explore how men use language to review their escort experiences. 

Original findings included:

  • The ‘girlfriend experience’ was more popular than the ‘pornstar experience’.
  • Foreplay ranked 16th in the top 20 list of most mentioned sex acts. Oral sex without a condom (‘OWO’) ranked first.
  • The average cost for a UK escort was £103 ($161) per hour and the average duration of a session was 75 minutes.
  • Punters cared most about the location being clean, discreet and having safe parking.
  • They made the most remarks about the escorts’ hair, breasts and figure.
  • The most popular adjectives to describe the women were slim, nice, lovely, pretty and attractive.

Life of a Call Girl: Fantasy vs. Reality

Life of a Call Girl: Fantasy vs Reality

After analysing how men reviewed sex workers in Dirty Words, I decided to explore the topic from the other side. What do the women who offer sex for cash think of their clients?

There isn’t a public database of escort reviews of punters, so I reached out to hundreds of British escorts with one request: tell me about your life. And—on the condition that their words remain anonymous—they did.

Original findings included:

  • The average sex worker lost her virginity aged 16.5, six months under the national average for women.
  • On the days she works, the average escort sees two clients, for a total of two hours and makes £290.
  • She works a 10-hour week, which puts her yearly salary at about £50,000.
  • The women described the average client’s attitude towards sex as primarily being respectful, nervous and eager.
  • Four in 10 women ‘sometimes’ genuinely climax and a similar number reported ‘sometimes’ feeling turned on.
  • Eight in 10 said they wouldn’t consider dating a client.

Commissioned projects

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    Data Noir logo

    Juicy updates in your inbox

    My newsletter, Data Noir, will notify you via email when I publish projects, including bonus findings and musings on the (frequently NSFW) topics I gravitate towards.

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