Top 50 Newsmakers '09
In 2009, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld 18 U.S.C. § 2257, the federal record-keeping law in the long-contested Connections case. According to Los Angeles attorney Gregory Piccionelli, “The majority opinion is a piece of pretzel logic that utterly fails to address any of the well-reasoned arguments made in the original 6th Circuit panel’s invalidation of the regulations.” “It is, pure and simple, an outcome oriented opinion by the majority, comprising mostly conservative Republican-appointed jurists, that, as we expected, were going to save 2257 at any cost,” Piccionelli told XBIZ. “It is both sad and dangerous that conservative culture warriors occupy seats on many of our highest courts.” As for the future of the statute, attorney Lawrence Walters said “now that the law has been upheld, 2257 inspections could resume at any time.”
Adam & Eve/Phil Harvey
It was an aggressive year for Adam & Eve, which expanded its retail stores, increased profits and in the latter months of the year re-signed Bree Olson and added newcomer Alexis Ford and veteran Teagan Presley as contract stars. The company put out several high-profile releases this year, including the blockbuster “The 8th Day.” Olson and Presley are proven superstars capable not only of turning in award-winning performances, but also possessing the ability to provide strong personalities to front Adam & Eve. If Ford has the same qualities, 2010 should be an even more successful year for the company. Company founder Phil Harvey also kept himself in the news — he gave the keynote speech at the Free Speech Coalition membership meeting in February, won an XBIZ Award for his lifetime contributions to the business and recently made a generous donation to the FSC litigation fund.
Video-on-demand network AEBN/NakedSword formed one of the industry’s largest gay adult entertainment companies this year when it merged with Raging Stallion Studios — a move that encompassed production and distribution, as well cross-platform online content and delivery systems that stretch across several countries and continents. NakedSword and GunzBlazing also partnered to launch a comprehensive new affiliate program. The company also teamed with Blu Cigs to release a product that allows users to “electronically” smoke cigarettes without actually inhaling or releasing anything harmful. In addition, AEBN made a splash with its new video-haptic device, the RealTouch, which uses haptic technology along with encoded content from AEBN’s vast adult library. “RealTouch creates a true virtual sex experience that syncs with the performer on screen,” AEBN’s Jim McAnally said. “You’re not just watching the movie; you’re part of the action.”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed formal complaints against 16 adult entertainment companies with Cal-OSHA in an effort to push for mandatory condom legislation. “AHF’s Cal-OSHA complaints will assert that the films demonstrate unsafe — potentially life-threatening — behavior in a California workplace, as the sexual acts filmed without participating performers using condoms depict the unprotected exchange of bodily fluids,” the group said in a press release. Earlier, the group also sued Los Angeles County alleging that public health officials did nothing to stop the spread of STDs after it was reported that a performer had contracted HIV from a person outside the industry. In October the group protested outside the downtown LA Marriott hotel for making non-condom porn available for guest rental.
For the first time since 2004 the Los Angeles adult industry was faced with an HIV scare and AIM Healthcare was again at the center of the issue. Besides doing everything possible to quarantine performers, track Patient Zero and ensure as few performers as possible were affected, AIM also had to fight off a suit by Cal-OSHA seeking the clinic’s records. AIM won the suit in October, but the clinic was left in dire financial straits. That led to a benefit for AIM at Hollywood hotspot Les Deux. An overwhelming industry turnout showed the adult business’ deep support for AIM and the services it provides.
ANME Founders Show
After a several-year hiatus, the ANME Founders Show returned to southern California for three days in July. The five founders — Pipedream, Doc Johnson, California Exotic Novelties, Nasstoys and Topco Sales — joined other exhibitors and all had their products on display for the show, which was limited to exhibitors and buyers for distributors and retailers. The show gave companies the opportunity to unveil new products and new technologies and to get important face time with buyers at a time when all companies in the adult business are struggling with economic issues as the country’s recession continues. Many of the companies said they were cutting back on the introduction of new products and focusing on items with reasonable price points.
Aggressive marketing and ‘70s nostalgia have worked in favor of Arrow Productions, which has been busy licensing everything from clocks and comic books to beer pong tables and Guitar Hero drum kits for classics like “Deep Throat,” “Debbie Does Dallas” and “The Devil in Miss Jones.” Claim to those titles wasn’t completely clear, though, and VCX claimed rights to “Deep Throat” and “Devil.” Arrow filed a trademark and copyright infringement and counterfeiting suit against VCX. Arrow claimed ownership of 16 “Deep Throat” movies as well as a pair of Linda Lovelace titles. The suit remained unsettled at press time.
European retailing giant Beate Uhse continued to grow, taking over Holland-based Playhouse Group. Playhouse, one of Europe’s leading wholesalers of films, sex toys, lingerie and wellness products — including ownership of 8,000 film titles — had 2,400 trade accounts in 42 countries. “This acquisition is of especially great strategic significance for our group,” Beate Uhse COO Serge van der Hooft said. “It will open up entirely new opportunities for marketing products, especially via new media channels. We believe the future is clearly to be found in the digitalization of erotica.” Playhouse sold its products through the traditional retail supply chain and Internet platforms as well as new media channels such as IPTV, VOD and mobile value-added services.
Burning Angel/Joanna Angel
Burn, baby, burn. Another year in porn and another onslaught of headlines for adult’s inked beauty, Joanna Angel. Online, Angel made waves by launching an affiliate program for her Burning Angel label. On a slightly smaller, interactive screen, Angel made news by partnering with mobile content distribution company Totalmass to develop paid iPhone applications. But it wasn’t all about new media. In a nod to the world of print media, Angel launched Burning Angel Magazine. All that, and Angel managed to find time to shoot some porn, most notably, “LA Pink,” a spoof of the popular reality show “LA Ink.” Oh, and not to be leave any stone unturned, Angel’s Topco toy line also got some new additions, including a new cockring, double dong and silicone anal plug made to resemble brass knuckles. Topping off an already big year, Angel also managed to snag a role in “Haunting Kira,” an indie horror film that’s currently in pre-production.
California Exotic Novelties
California Exotic Novelties celebrated its 15th year with a yearlong rollout of new products. It also unveiled a new website and catalog (complete with a glossary) to spotlight its massive product lines. The barrage of new products included an expansion of the Wicked Toys line, mix ‘n’ match interchangeable vibes, new massagers, new website, Couture Collection, Sterling Collection bullet vibes and the debut of iTap technology. The iTap collection featured vibrators activated by a tap of the finger. “The best innovations are the ones you don’t have to think about,” CalExotics Vice President of Sales Jackie White said. “We’re always working to remove the barriers between our products and customers.”
When the organization sought five years of records from AIM Healthcare after it was reported one performer had tested positive for HIV, Patient Zero and AIM fought back in the name of privacy and won. Alameda Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith said Cal-OSHA was not acting within its jurisdiction in subpoenaing the data. State health and safety investigators did visit the AIM offices in June seeking information about 18 HIV-positive cases that the clinic has reported to LA County health officials since 2004. Judge Smith denied the request for information, saying, “Once [Patient Zero’s] identifying information is revealed, the disclosure cannot be undone.” Later, Cal-OSHA was seeking information on adult shoots from production companies and talent agencies.
Cezar Capone Productions
While Porn Valley may still be the focal point for the American adult industry, Florida has become increasingly influential and Cezar Capone among the leaders from the state. He signed two girls, Britney Pierce and Morgan Dayne (the former lasted only briefly; the latter took a contract from Digital Playground, changing her name to Rio Valentine) and then inked Platinum Media, Suze Randall and Emily Rigby to distribution deals. He also signed an agreement with GameLink to provide VOD services for Cezar Capone Productions. Capone’s movies routinely feature some of the hottest amateur talent in Florida.
Chi Chi LaRue
There is a reason why LaRue is the gay industry’s best-known personality. What hasn’t she done? Award-winning director, emcee at this year’s Cybersocket Web Awards, Grabby Awards co-host, fundraiser, Channel 1 principal, regular DJ at the weekly Garage nightclub (at Here Lounge in West Hollywood) and this year even opened a brick-and-mortar store in WeHo, Chi Chi LaRue’s. The store was nominated for a 2009 StorErotica Award in the Independent Store of the Year category. At a time when retail stores are struggling across the country, Chi Chi’s move was all the more daring and by all accounts has been very well received. A lesser name — and one less dedicated to the industry — may not have fared so well.
The adult industry mourned the deaths of five legendary figures this year. See our Sidebar on Page 48 for tributes to Buck Adams, Henri Pachard, Jack Wrangler, Marilyn Chambers and Richard Montfort.
2009 was a very big year for Digital Playground, which released “Bad Girls,” its 100th title on Blu-ray. But the studio didn’t just limit itself to DVDs; on the web it relaunched its website and began doing live webcam shows. But it wasn’t all good news. Although Digital Playground had trademarked the term “virtual sex” in the 1990s, the studio lost a WIPO dispute to Network Telephone Services over the domain VirtualSex.com. On the contract girl front, Digital Playground inked deals with Kayden Kross, McKenzie Lee, Rio Valentine, Raven Alexis and Janie Summers. Meanwhile, the studio’s flagship franchise, “Pirates,” continued to garner mainstream media attention, but at the University of Maryland, officials balked at showing the film when state lawmakers threatened to pull funding for the school if it went ahead with a screening for students. To date, “Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge” has been screened for more than 2,000 college students across the U.S.
Doc Johnson continued its reputation as a cutting edge leader in the adult toy market with this year’s release of a line of aluminum vibrators. The Aluminum Collection marked the company’s second foray into alternative materials. The company also made strides on the hygiene front, releasing its Platinum Silicone line of dongs, dildos and plugs. As for cracking the B2C market, Doc Johnson scored big with a favorable showcase on the CBS show “Rules of Engagement,” which dedicated an entire episode to sex toys. Chad Braverman, Doc Johnson’s director of product development and licensing, called the publicity coup a “homerun” for the company, and said that favorable network coverage goes a long way to helping bring sex toys into the mainstream. Doc Johnson also expanded its well-known glass line of sex toys, adding The Topsy Turvy, Awesome Blossom, Magic Stick and Ben Wa Balls to its arsenal.
One-thousand adult films is nothing to sneeze at, and Elegant Angel made its 1,000-milestone a picture to remember with the release of “Busty Cops on Patrol.” The gonzo film, which was released on Blu-ray too, starred Gianna Michaels, Shyla Stylez, Jada Fire, Claire Dames, Charley Chase and Kagney Linn Karter. But Elegant Angel didn’t rest on the laurels of its vast library; instead the company pressed forward, launching a new gonzo line called “Starlets,” which focuses on up-and-coming performers. But perhaps the biggest news from Elegant Angel came in September when the studio released four star-driven movies. Tori Black, Eva Angelina, Kristina Rose and Alexis Texas each got the nod in Elegant Angel’s star-powered September push. The studio also attracted top talent for its “Performers of the Year” series, which featured Jenna Haze, Alexis Texas, Gianna Michaels, Sunny Lane, Shyla Stylez, Rebeca Linares, Bobbi Starr and newcomer Kristina Rose.
It was distribution deals galore for gay content producer and distributor Euro Media, which inked a handful of agreements while managing to cast off its Eurocreme name in September in favor of the rebranded moniker. The year got off to a good start when Euro Media (at the time Eurocreme) signed a distribution deal with Raw Films. But that move turned out to be the beginning of a yearlong deal quest that saw Euro Media capture a sizeable chunk of the gay market. Euro Media took on pro/am website CockyBoys.com, helping the Internet company break into the DVD market. Euro Media also signed an exclusive distribution deal with Satyr Films, and followed that deal up with an exclusive agreement with Ayor Studios for North American DVD distribution.
Evil Angel/John Stagliano
Evil Angel founder John Stagliano had his share of legal woes this year, with Justice Department attorneys filing a pre-trial motion in late August to exclude from evidence the personal views he made public to several media outlets after his indictment on seven counts of obscenity in 2008. Stagliano’s attorneys claim that the government’s motion to exclude his opinions seeks to undermine his right to a defense by attempting to silence him. Beyond his legal issues, John Stagliano made headlines in 2009 when his Buttman Magazine became available in digital form, while flagship website, Buttman.com, received an overhaul and live production of a streaming feed for members. Stagliano was also named FSC’s Man of the Year, and enjoyed some good year-end news when his company, Evil Angel, entered into a deal to have its Internet operations taken over by Montreal-based Gamma Entertainment, becoming part of the FameDollars affiliate program.
Extreme Associates/Rob Black/Lizzy Borden
Extreme Associates partners Rob Black and Lizzy Borden will each spend a year and a day in prison it was announced July 1. The two plead guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to distribute DVDs purchased by an undercover U.S. postal inspector in Pittsburgh. Black, and his wife Borden, also received two years of supervised release. The court formally dismissed nine other counts at the 55-minute hearing in front of U.S. Judge Gary L. Lancaster. The case raged for much of the decade and began when an undercover U.S. Postal Service inspector bought porn videos through Extreme Associates’ membership site, ExtremeAssociates.com, in 2002. A federal grand jury indicted the couple in August 2003 on 10 counts of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., mailing obscene or crime-inducing matters and transporting obscene matter for sale. A federal judge dismissed the case in January 2005, but the Justice Department appealed that ruling before the 3rd Circuit, which overruled the judge. The U.S.Supreme Court declined to hear Extreme’s appeal and sent the case back for trial.
Credit porn star Amber Lynn with helping to get her brother, performer-director Buck Adams, into the business. The two kept their relationship a secret until they were forced to reveal it in order to avoid working with each other. Adams, who made a living as a professional boxer and bouncer before beginning his adult acting career, went on to appear in more than 600 titles. An inductee to the XRCO Hall of Fame as well as the AVN Hall of Fame, Adams made his directorial debut in 1988 with the movie “Squirt.” David Sutton, president of classic-film distributor VCX said Adams was a “hero” to the editors at his company. Adams, who battled drugs and alcohol and survived several heart attacks in the 1990s, died of complications from heart failure. He was 52.
In a career that spanned from porn’s golden age in the 1970s to today’s go-go gonzo culture, director Henri Pachard saw it all. Equal parts filmmaker and “dirty-minded pornographer,” director Roy Karch called Pachard “one of the true gentlemen of our business.” Pachard is credited with writing and directing more than 300 adult films, including such classics as “Outlaw Ladies,” “October Silk,” “The Budding of Brie” and “Babylon Pink.” Pachard was survived by a wife and two adult sons, one of whom is adult entertainment cinematographer Ralph Parfait. Pachard, who worked up until a year ago, was 69. To honor Pachard, LFP Distribution released “Back Strokes & Toilette Fantasies: An Ode to Henri Pachard.”
Complications from lung disease robbed the world of Jack Wrangler, a star of more than 80 gay and straight adult film productions. Director and Channel 1 Releasing principal Chi Chi LaRue called the pop icon a “gay hero,” in reference to Wrangler’s pioneering work as one of the early celebrities to bring positive attention to the gay community. After adult, Wrangler, who began his career as a child actor, had a successful run as a theatre producer, director and composer. In 1997, he conceived the Broadway production “Dream: The Johnny Mercer Musical.” His best-known adult titles included: “Behind the Green Door, the Sequel” (1986), “Kansas City Trucking Co.” (1976), “A Night at the Adonis” (1978), “Sex Machine” (1980) and “The Devil in Miss Jones: Part II” (1982). Wrangler was 62.
At 19, Marilyn Chambers turned the world of adult entertainment upside down when the former Ivory Snow model appeared in the 1972 Mitchell Brothers film “Behind the Green Door.” Alongside “Deep Throat,” the film is considered to be a classic that helped bring porn to the mainstream. In the years following “Behind the Green Door,” Chambers appeared sporadically in adult films and instructional videos. In 2008, she was honored with the XBIZ Lifetime Achievement for a Female Performer. Chambers was also known for her work in independent films, most notably David Cronenberg’s 1977 film “Rabid,” where she had the starring role. Chambers died of a cerebral hemorrhage and aneurysm related to heart disease. She was 56. News of her death was reported in outlets ranging from Time magazine to The Providence Journal, her hometown paper.
Veteran still photographer and director Richard Montfort left behind more than just a body of work when he passed away in his Burbank, Calif. home this year, he left a lot of good friends as well. “He wasn’t just a director, he was a good friend and I will miss him terribly,” Hustler Video Creative Director Drew Rosenfeld said. “Richard always had these fun and crazy ideas. He was so passionate about everything he did.” Montfort, who began his career shooting box covers, caught the eye of director Bobby Rinaldi in 1999 when he shot the box cover art for “Heat.” From there, Montfort went on to direct his own films — more than 50 titles in all. Most notably, he directed several editions of “Asian Heat” and “Barely Legal” for Hustler. But Monfort never put down his still camera, remaining one of Hustler’s top photographers until his death. Montfort was 53.
After a decade on the market, the Fleshlight reached a historic mark, clocking its two-millionth sale in 2009. To celebrate the milestone, the company rolled back its prices to the original level of $49.95 for one month. The company also made strides with its Fleshlight Girls line, which features some of porn’s biggest names. This year’s additions include Jesse Jane, Eva Angelina and Teagan Presley. Fleshlight also cashed in on 2009’s vampire craze, releasing the Vampire-themed Succu Dry and Count Cockula as part of its Sex in a Can line. In B2B news, the company revamped its affiliate site based on feedback from more than 6,000 affiliates. In addition to a cleaner user interface, Fleshlight added rotational banners that automatically update content, enhanced statistics aimed at improving sales and optimizing current campaigns, reorganized promo tools and easier link code navigation.
Free Speech Coalition
After a year of bad economic news, the Free Speech Coalition took a humorous approach to its annual fundraiser, dubbing the event the Bada-Bing Bailout Bash. Nina Hartley emceed the affair, which honored Hustler founder Larry Flynt (FSC Legacy Award), Peggy Oettinger, CEO of Sinclair Institute, (Woman of the Year) and Evil Angel founder John Stagliano (Man of the Year). In the courtroom, the FSC continued to challenge the legality of 2257 regulations in a Philadelphia lawsuit seeking to enjoin the Justice Department from enforcing 18 U.S.C. § 2257 and 2257A. While in Utah the FSC lost ground when a federal court there tossed out a lawsuit challenging that state’s email registry program. Closer to the pocket book, the FSC managed to beat back a California porn tax, shooting down the proposed 20 percent hike in committee. Stepping away from advocacy, the FSC also published its first Health and Safety Manual for Adult Business as well as a code of ethics, which was originally crafted in late 2008. But the FSC’s biggest move to help better the industry’s image, came with the decision to launch the Free Speech Alliance, a consumer-facing body designed to help educate consumers about issues related to free speech and adult entertainment.
Adult-oriented IPTV set-top boxes lost their wires, trimmed some size and got a bit more discreet in 2009, when FyreTV rolled out its new BoXXX, which lets users watch streaming adult content on a television anywhere in their house. Fyre spokesman David Jones said the company decided to go smaller and wireless after learning that much of its 10,000-strong customer base preferred to screen content in their bedrooms, which typically have TVs, but not wired internet access. The company promoted the new BoXXX with a booth at the Adult Entertainment Expo in January and hit the B2C market hard with ads in magazines like Maxim.
After taking a year off, Girlfriends Films brought back its kinky series “Twisted Passions” citing strong consumer and retailer demand. The latest volume features a fetish tinge, showcasing foot play, bondage and public sex, and stars Julia Ann and Rayveness. Rayveness joined India Summer and Prinzzess as the first contract performers for Girlfriends Films, which inked the trio to exclusive contracts for girl-girl productions. As for new content, the lesbian-focused studio came out with “Mother-Daughter Exchange Club,” a new line that plays off the mixing and mingling of mother-daughter pairs. The inaugural film, which starred Lexi Belle, Diamond Foxx and Nikki Rhodes featured the tagline: “Mother Knows Best!”
Who says mergers are out in a down economy? Certainly not Here Media, which was formed in January as part of a merger between Here Networks, PlanetOut and Regent Entertainment. The deal resulted in what many described as a GLBT entertainment powerhouse that encompasses television and film production and distribution, magazines and books, as well as digital properties. But the deal did not include Unzipped Media, which publishes gay adult magazine properties that include Men, Freshmen and the flagship title, Unzipped. As for Unzipped, the magazine scored big in August with a cover that featured comedian and activist Margaret Cho, who later talked to E! Entertainment Television’s “Chelsea Lately” show about what it was like to be the first woman on the cover of the magazine.
This year marked the second year in a row that Jenna Haze stood out as arguably porn’s biggest star. In January she announced the formation of Jennaration X Studios, her own production company to be distributed by Jules Jordan Video, and in February, won an XBIZ Award for Female Performer of the Year. In fact, Haze won that award at three major awards shows solidifying her status as a superstar. Haze has attended porn conventions all over the world, feature danced across the country and made her directorial debut with “Cum Spoiled Sluts,” her company’s first movie.
With a renewed Adam & Eve contract, Kayden Kross kicked off the year in the spotlight as cohost of the star-studded 2009 XBIZ Awards. While juggling feature dancing gigs and in-store appearances nationwide, Kross starred in Adam & Eve’s tentpole feature, “The 8th Day.” The big budget, non-spoof sci-fi story featured Kross as a beauty that wakes up from a time capsule in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by raw sex. Her crossover star potential was exhibited when Kross made it into the final eight contestants in the Search for the Ultimate Spike Girl contest. Kross was up against 46 other women including several Playboy models, NBA and NFL cheerleaders, a personal trainer, a TV show host and a professional car racer. She closes the year strongly as Digital Playground’s newest contract girl, which becomes official Jan. 1.
LA Direct Models
The first thing on the agenda for LA Direct Models when the New Year came was expansion. The talent agency started representing directors and makeup artists and thus provided a one-stop shop for creating an adult movie. With its expanding roster, LA Direct Models proved to be the biggest adult agency around. Over the past year the agency added many new performers keeping its roster at more than 100 clients. When UFC fighter War Machine decided to enter the adult arena as a performer, he tapped LA Direct Models for representation. The company remains the most dominant player when it comes to representing adult talent.
Hustler celebrated several milestones this year, including the 10th anniversary of its retail store chain Hustler Hollywood and 35 years of Hustler magazine. Adult pioneer Larry Flynt didn’t slow down despite the economy and legal battles against family. Larry Flynt made headlines worldwide when he joined Girls Gone Wild’s Joe Francis in a request for $5 billion bailout for the adult industry. Hustler Video Group streamlined its operations by moving its offices from the LFP building in Beverly Hills, Calif. to the LFP studio building in Canoga Park. The company’s parodies topped sales charts, with releases that included the Palin political porn parodies, “This Ain’t Star Trek XXX” and “This Ain’t Saved By the Bell XXX” among several others. With the launch of Flynt Media Corp. by Flynt’s nephews, Dustin and Jimmy Flynt II, Larry Flynt quickly fired back with an infringement suit. With the law on Larry Flynt’s side, Flynt Media Corp. continued operations but under guidelines set by the U.S. District Court that included disclaimers stating no affiliation with Larry Flynt.
This year Liberator products made appearances in mainstream Hollywood movies “Jack Goes Boating” and “Born to Be A Star.” The company’s Ramp also appeared in popular mainstream comedy “Burn After Reading.” The company also participated in several strategic partnerships, including one with the Pink Pony gentlemen’s club for a line of pole dance instructional videos, exotic dance wear, stripper poles and stages. The company also partnered with Real Doll for a series of humorous and instructional videos available in the “Backstage” section of Liberator.com. It also signed an exclusive deal with VEX Latex Couture to manufacture, market and distribute a line of apparel and accessories worldwide. Through its partnership with Houston-based adult retailer Eros1207, Liberator opened two LoveStyle Stores within two Eros1207 Houston area stores.
As the star of Hustler’s Sarah Palin porn parody dynasty, Lisa Ann became a recognizable face in mainstream media following her appearance, again spoofing Palin, in the music video for “We Made You,” the first single from multi-platinum rapper Eminem’s comeback album. Following the video’s premiere, Ann appeared on tabloid entertainment news program “Inside Edition” to discuss her adult career, her political leanings and the music video. Popular mainstream celebrity news source TMZ featured Ann in attendance at the AIM Healthcare fundraiser Nov. 11, and her thoughts on the economy’s effect the adult industry were featured in a CNN.com report. Within the adult industry Ann is among the most in-demand and respected stars. As a talent agent, feature dancer and performer, Ann added director to her resume with her debut for Justin Slayer International. She made headlines on the gossip sites once again later in the year after rumors of her dating Rob Kardashian surfaced.
Producer/director Max Hardcore surrendered to federal authorities in downtown Los Angeles this year and began his 46-month sentence after a 2008 obscenity conviction. Cable news channel CNBC covered Hardcore’s entrance into prison as part of its special program, “Porn: Business of Pleasure,” in which correspondent Melissa Lee accompanied Hardcore. ”Society has spoken, and they’ve demanded it,” Hardcore says of his videos. “There’s more people buying my videos than people protesting my videos. When I was put on federal trial in Tampa, Fla., there were no protesters. There were no picketers. There were no people angrily denouncing me as I came in and left the courtroom.” Hardcore told XBIZ he will continue to fight the conviction.
In March, Michael Lucas was inducted into the GAYVN Hall of Fame. His company, Lucas Entertainment, picked up a pair of trophies as well. However, it was not his recognition, but a confrontation with performer Brent Corrigan that stirred the gay adult community. Following a speech at the GAYVN’s by Joan Irvine of ASACP, Lucas rushed the open microphone, denounced Corrigan and upbraided the GAYVN judges who nominated him, stating that Corrigan’s controversial past as an underage model and his continued employment in the adult field sets an unwelcome precedent. Overcoming the drama of the event, Lucas and his works were profiled in several mainstream news articles. New York Magazine profiled the director and performer, and following his release of the “Men of Israel,” the Los Angeles Times examined the movie in reference to Jewish identity and pop culture. Lucas’ “bold move to promote Israeli culture” was shot on-location with an all-Israeli cast and has generated scads of publicity.
Mile High Media
This year Mile High Media debuted the first title from its new studio specializing in reality content, Reality Junkies. “Office Perverts,” directed by Kevin Moore and starring Lexi Belle, Madelyn Marie, Shyla Stylez, Francesca Le and Ann Marie Rios features reality based vignettes set in the workplace with great sex as the focus. Reality Junkies retained Moore and Bobby Manila to direct the company’s other lines. Mile High Media also distributes Sweetheart Video and its hardcore boy/girl line, Sweet Sinner. The company’s exclusive director Nica Noelle appeared in an interview with “Nightline,” in which she discussed making and marketing porn for women. Sweet Sinner, this year, captured performer Samantha Ryan’s first boy/girl scene in years with Manuel Ferrara in “Gigalos.”
National Community Standard for Internet Obscenity
In a ruling of particular interest to online adult businesses, a federal appeals court has decided that a national community standard to define Internet obscenity is more appropriate than a local one. The appellants, Jeffrey Kilbride and James Schaffer, who were convicted on charges of fraud, conspiracy, obscenity and money-laundering, argued that an unconstitutional instruction allowed a jury in Arizona to convict them of obscenity based on lay witness testimony as to community standards existing in places all over the U.S. The court agreed, saying that a national standard is more appropriate for Internet communications and that the lower court failed to instruct the jury to that standard. That opinion, written by Judge Betty Binns Fletcher, also said that the 9th Circuit panel’s decision joins U.S. Supreme Court Justices O’Connor and Breyer’s holding that “a national community standard must be applied in regulating obscene speech on the Internet, including obscenity disseminated via email.”
New Sensations/Digital Sin
The company entered the parody fray in a big way in 2009 with “The Office: A XXX Parody” and followed with over a half dozen more in short order. New Sensations signed some big deals this year, too, making AdultDVDEmpire.com the exclusive VOD provider for its parodies, inking a distro pact with Sexsense and signing up to distribute titles from Amy Ried’s Riedemption label. Advance publicity for its “X-Files” parody brought the firm another kind of attention, too, as 20th Century Fox sent a “cease and desist” letter that prompted New Sensations to change the title to “The Sex Files: A XXX Dark Parody.” The report went on to say that “Sex Files” was “arguably the largest-scale adult production” to use the pricey Red One camera. Contract girl Ashlynn Brooke remains as a positive face for the company and one of adult’s most popular stars.
2009 saw HIV return to the headlines with reports of an HIV+ performer within the adult community; followed by quarantines, calls for investigations and demands that condoms be required in all porn productions. Additionally, issues of privacy came to the forefront over the identity of Patient Zero, the adult industry performer who was found to be HIV+. Patient Zero asked the court to seek an injunction against Cal-OSHA and AIM because releasing patient-identifying information would violate her right to privacy and harm her irreparably, according to a suit filed by ACLU attorneys. Alameda Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith, in her ruling, said that “once [Patient Zero’s] identifying information is revealed, the disclosure cannot be undone,” and that Cal-OSHA could carry out its probe with a variety of other options. The unidentified female performer allegedly tested with AIM June 4 and then shot a scene the next day with the results not back yet. Patient Zero did not infect any other performers.
Private Media Group
Private Media Group made a splash in 2009 with several high-profile deals and acquisitions, including that of VOD and online retail giant GameLink and gay content distributor Sureflix Digital. Braincash also inked a deal with Private to launch FirstSexVideo.com, while a deal with Twistbox Entertainment helped Private enhance its mobile offerings. Another avenue the company targeted is IPTV, contracting with 36 major platform operators in 18 countries to penetrate more than 75 percent of the European IPTV market. As part of its effort to expand in Europe, Private combined its affiliate program, PrivateCash, with GameLink affiliate program GameLink Partners. An expansion of its DVD distribution agreement with Beate Uhse AG in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, further strengthened Private’s brand — as did deals with Bluebird Films and Kink.com founder Peter Acworth, under its Private Independent label. GameLink founder Ilan Bunimovitz, became CEO of Private this year, replacing Berth Milton, who remained president and chairman of the board.
Will Sasha Grey be the first adult superstar to truly “make it” as a mainstream actress? Her trajectory in 2009 makes a good argument for it, although the media maneuvers started back in 2007 with her appearance in the artwork of The Smashing Pumpkins’ album, “Zeitgeist.” After 50-plus adult features, Grey landed a starring role in eccentric auteur Steven Soderbergh’s mainstream flick, “The Girlfriend Experience,” and finished her apparent conquest of the print world with a six-page layout in December’s Playboy, an eight-page spread in the German GQ and the New York magazine feature, “Sasha Grey and the Top Ten Adult Stars Gone Legit.” She also modeled for American Apparel and is on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2009 Hot List. In May, Grey formed her production company, Grey Art, and inked a DVD distribution deal with New Sensations and an output deal with Spice Digital in August.
The Screaming O
The adult novelty firm introduced its Rock On line of sexual enhancement products, bringing something “cool and sexy [to] get the party started,” according to Screaming O partner Keith Caggiano. Rock On products are drug-free and made of natural ingredients to increase stamina for men while intensifying pleasure for women. In February, the XBIZ Awards recognized The Screaming O as Toy Manufacturer of the Year, following two years in a row as winner of the Women’s Health Magazine Annual Sex Award (2007 and 2008). The firm also marketed two new products exclusively to the gay market. The O Man is a reusable vibrating pleasure ring with replaceable batteries whose “baller attachment [goes] underneath the vibrator” for “full package enjoyment.” The O Boy, which upsells to the O Man, is a disposable vibrating ring that comes in a quickie kit “perfect for the man-on-the-go.”
Eva Angelina officially returned to performing when production wrapped in April on “Deviance” for new production company skinworXXX. Angelina became an executive producer and coowner of skinworXXX in April, and along with Teagan Presley, was introduced as one of the firm’s premier contract performers. The studio showed off its high-tech chops with “Deviance,” which is available on DVD and VOD, with the disc including standard definition plus full DVD resolution, and portable formats for iPod Touch and iPhones. skinworXXX also released an iTunes-compatible HD digital copy that plays in SD on an iPhone and in HD on a PC, Mac, Apple TV, XBox 360 or PlayStation 3 gaming system. Meanwhile, toy manufacturer Fleshlight added Presley to the Fleshlight Girls collection, and refurbished its website to feature new landing pages, content and all the top-rated video titles from a new partnership with skinworXXX. The company released its first movie, “Sun Goddess: Malibu” with Bree Olson and Sasha Grey joining in the all-girl romp.
Porn companies seeking to break into the mainstream might take a lesson from adult novelty giant, Stockroom. Its Scott Paul Humiliator mouth gag was featured in a major scene from Sacha Cohen’s trés gay movie, “Bruno.” Stockroom personnel reported that the movie crew purchased “several thousand dollars worth” of product after “going through our catalog.” The company broke new ground in the music business, too, as heavy metal sexpot Lita Ford released a single, “Bed,” exclusively on Stockroom.com. The tune celebrates the adventurous delights of bondage, kink and “power exchange,” and inspired Stockroom to launch the Lita Ford Erotic Fiction contest, as well. Coming full circle back to its first love — great toys for great sex — the firm staffed a booth at the International Mr. Leather Expo with Raging Stallion hunks Steve Cruz and Bruno Bond, who introduced new products from the Stockroom male catalog.
The movement to draft Wicked Pictures contract performer and director Stormy Daniels for the U.S. Senate went into full swing in 2009, with the formation of a committee to explore a potential campaign. The Daniels campaign set up a website, TeamStormy.com, which is accepting donations online. The original DraftStormy.com site, which initially supported Daniels as a Senate candidate, remains online. Daniels continued her “listening tour,” which held meetings throughout Louisiana where she sought the Senate seat of first-term Republican David Vitter, a conservative who was allegedly implicated in the investigation of “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey last year. Daniels also made headlines by hosting the 2009 FAME Awards Show in Los Angeles and made a number of appearances, including a visit to Castle Megastores; dancing at Diamond Cabaret’s 18th anniversary; and performing on ImLive.com. Mainstream picked up Daniels’ senate run in a big way. She was featured in segments on CNN, NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” ABC’s “Nightline” and on many news channels.
Teravision/Tera Patrick/Evan Seinfeld
After seven years together, Tera Patrick and Evan Seinfeld split in September, although like all good post-modern married couples they vowed to keep their company going together. Perhaps the real story will be featured in Patrick’s book, coming out Jan. 5, that is billed as a “no holds barred tell-all that takes a look at the struggles Tera has gone through to find true love, happiness, success, and peace.” Sounds about right for arguably the biggest name in the business. Seinfeld, meanwhile, will continue with his Iron Cross productions, including his signature RockStarPimp line, and has been making music with both Biohazard and the Spyderz. Patrick’s “Reign of Tera 3” had a huge online debut with its overdoses of anal and Asian. It was a hot, hot summer for Teravision, what with its newest contract star, Lupe Fuentes, making a high profile interactive debut in September.
The gargantuan gay company continued its high-tech refinements in 2009, deciding to release all director’s cuts on Blu-ray, spurring its competitors to play catch-up to the benefit of all gay porn lovers. After starting the year with a second consecutive XBIZ Award as GLBT Studio of the Year, Titan made a number of strategic personnel maneuvers through the year, locking up hot Brit newcomer Christopher Saint (“Eye Contact”), extending its production deal with veteran writer/director Joe Gage, signing the youngest-ever TitanMan (Will Parker, 22) and planting a big French kiss on François Sagat by giving the Gallic beefcake a stylish web makeover. Finally, in collaboration with Titan Media, novelty leader Doc Johnson released three Nite Stix models, all flexible rubber, including the 10-inch Trainer, 12-inch Slave and 15-inch Warden. All have grip handles and come with a sample tube of TitanMen Titanium lubricant.
The adult novelty juggernaut released a staggering (and stagger-worthy) 87 new items in February, and contributed products for the production of an independent television series, “Sex Ed: The Series.” Topco invited fans of the Penthouse City Toy collection to submit erotic stories, and announced 10 finalists and four winners in July. The winning entries were published in Penthouse Letters magazine, and earned their authors from $100 to $300 in sexy goodies. Topco put its money where a lot of folks’ mouths apparently want to be when it debuted BBW star April Flores’ Voluptuous CyberSkin Love Toy, followed by a one night gallery exhibit of limited edition artist renditions of the product. On the legal front, the company prevailed when the Supreme Court declined, without comment, to hear Know Mind Enterprises’ appeal in the borosilicate glass case.
The veteran company, with second-generation owner David Sutton at the helm, is serious about preserving the Golden Age of erotica. By re-releasing quartets of titles throughout the year under its Cal Vista Classics banner, VCX turned 2009 into an historical march through the porn business. Titles released thus far include “Moving In,” “Apartment Girls,” “Dangerous Curves,” “The Black Mystique” and “Wild Oats.” Ron Jeremy (“at his peak”), Herschel Savage, Bunny Bleu, Amber Lynn, Tom Byron and Annette Haven, among countless others (many uncredited), appear in the Cal Vista Classics in all their remastered glory. Despite this progress, in another important area VCX ends the year the way it began, embroiled with Arrow Productions in a case of dueling lawsuits. Arrow initially undertook the suit to protect its claimed ownership of the “Deep Throat” trademark and copyright, later expanding it to include “The Devil in Miss Jones” and other titles.
Vivid Entertainment/Steve Hirsch
Industry leader Steve Hirsch led his Vivid Entertainment in a wellplanned assault on mainstream entertainment in 2009. Reacting to the public demand for celebrity sex, Vivid offered rapper Ray J a production deal back in 2007 following release of his Kim Kardashian tape, and has continued the celebrity solicitations into 2009. Former Miss USA and soap star on NBC’s “Passions,” Kelli McCarty, starred in “Faithless” for the studio, which also released the Shauna Sand sex tape despite a C&D letter. Vivid released “Throat,” a contemporary take on the classic “Deep Throat,” the making of which was featured in the Showtime series, “Deeper Throat.” Axel Braun is happy about his new distribution deal with the industry giant, while controversial former beauty queen and new right-wing heroine, Carrie Prejean, is none too happy about Vivid wanting to release a sex tape she’s in. The Vivid Girls remain a force, hosting parties and appearing at conventions all over the country.
In an effort to keep the Web 2.0 community informed of all the latest adult entertainment news, XBIZ launched its Twitter news feed this year. However, the move paled in comparison to the company’s launch of the XBIZ.net social network, built to connect members of the adult entertainment industry and to facilitate new business opportunities. Connections were not the company’s only focus this year, as XBIZ Research published the first adult entertainment market study, shedding light on the industry, which while having decades of business success, previously had no professional research data to accompany it. XBIZ may have made its biggest headlines this year, however, when Sen. Orrin Hatch cited an XBIZ news report during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of David Ogden for deputy attorney general. The report detailed Ogden’s legal representation of numerous adult brands, including Playboy Enterprises and PHE Inc., parent company of Adam & Eve. In other news, The Free Speech Coalition tapped XBIZ President and founder Alec Helmy to join its board in 2009. XBIZ also hosted the FSC’s annual meeting at its State of the Industry Conference along with a special forum on the 2257 regulation revisions.
The hits just keep on coming from Jeff Mullen and Scott David’s X-Play. The company that commercialized the modern porn parody has been on a role for a few years now, but 2009 stood out as its best. From the hugely successful “Not the Cosbys XXX” to the scripted comedy of “Flight Attendants,” director Mullen (under the nom de porn Will Ryder) keeps churning out the hits. He won the XBIZ Director of the Year Award – Individual Project for “Not Bewitched XXX” and was interviewed by Newsweek about the porn parody trend. A masterful promoter, Mullen always ensures his movies generate scads of buzz and then backs it up with glowing reviews of his work that consistently state that his parodies are the best in the biz. If 2009 was the Year of the Parody, Mullen should be crowned its king.