Home > Features > The War on Hotel Porn • Bookmark   • Newsletters   • Register Search Options


The War on Hotel Porn

The War on Hotel Porn

November 27, 2006
Text size: 
Get XBIZ News
XBIZ Research
Will virtual reality boost the paysite market?
Yes, it will soon
Yes, but in a few years
Out of 151 votes. Results based on votes submitted by members of XBIZ.net social network.

" losing the income that they get from adult video is probably more serious to them than being criticized by the American Family Association "

As a rule, large mainstream corporations do not like to publicize their involvement with adult entertainment, but they do not mind profiting from it.

Erotic entertainment has been a major source of revenue for mainstream companies that include cable giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Internet service providers, satellite television providers such as DirecTV and EchoStar and numerous large hotel chains. Not all hotels in the U.S. offer adult pay-per-view films, but the ones that do (a list that has included hotels in the Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Radisson, Sheraton and Hyatt chains) are profiting nicely from them. In-room PPV brings in, according to some estimates, more than $500 million in revenue for the hotel industry annually. And that fact is not lost on the Christian Right, which has been declaring war on hotels that offer PPV erotica as well as PPV suppliers such as LodgeNet and Denver-based OnCommand — LodgeNet's main competitor.

A New Campaign
In August, a coalition of 13 Christian Right groups took out a full-page ad in USA Today urging the Justice Department and the FBI to launch a thorough investigation of hotel room erotica and calling for possible obscenity charges against "those who produce, sell and distribute hardcore porn." The ad did not mention any hotels by name, though LodgeNet and OnCommand were cited as the two companies that are largely responsible for flooding U.S. hotels with "highly alarming and pornographic video content."

The coalition, which is calling itself the Campaign for Corporate Responsibility, is spearheaded by Christian fundamentalist Phil Burress' Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values (CCV) and also includes, among others, the Family Research Council (FRC), Morality in Media, the American Decency Association and the Concerned Women for America. The USA Today ad was not the first time CCV spoke out against the availability of adult films in hotels; in 2002, a Marriott in the Cincinnati suburbs and a Travelodge in Newport, Ky., stopped offering adult PPV after being harassed by CCV and threatened with possible obscenity charges by local prosecutors. No charges were ever filed. It was also in 2002 that CCV launched CleanHotels.com, a website where one can make reservations in hotels that do not accept adult PPV.

Layne Winklebleck, legislative affairs associate for the Free Speech Coalition, has no problem with religious organizations recommending porn-free hotels to their followers, but he definitely has a problem with the Christian Right trying to deprive hotel patrons of adult PPV if they want it.

"I don't think that recommending so-called clean hotels over other hotels poses any threat to the 1st Amendment," Winklebleck explained. "The other part of their effort, however, has to do with trying to talk Justice into taking action against PPV adult entertainment, and that is the part I see as dangerous because it's part of an overall trend toward theocracy in this country. It's part of a trend in which religious rightwing groups have an inappropriate level of influence over government at the moment; the Republicans have been pandering and catering to that segment of their constituency, and that's a problem because the further we get down that road, the scarier it is."

How much further Burress and his allies will get in their campaign against adult PPV in hotels remains to be seen. Winklebleck and others interviewed for this article (including Chicago-based 1st Amendment attorney J.D. Obenberger and Mark Hamilton, co-owner of the adult-oriented, Los Angeles-based Pulse Distribution and a former executive for Larry Flynt's LFP/Hustler organization) all believe it is most unlikely that Burress' efforts will lead to multiple obscenity charges against hotel chains, OnCommand or LodgeNet.

"You're dealing with mainstream businesses, many of which substantially contribute to the Republican Party and are generally supportive of things the president likes, and I think this administration is disinclined to go after mainstream businesses," Obenberger said. "The mainstream businesses in question are big, institutional and probably Republican, which makes it less likely for them to be prosecuted. I don't think these mainstream companies are shaking in their boots."

Trying to convict OnCommand, LodgeNet or Marriott of distributing obscene material would be "a nightmare for most prosecutors," Obenberger stressed — not only because those mega companies can afford the best defense attorneys, but also because of the Miller test for obscenity, which was established with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Miller vs. California in 1973.

Miller Test
The three elements of the Miller test are: 1) a prurient interest in sex when contemporary community standards are applied, 2) patent offensiveness, and 3) an absence of serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value when taken as a whole. Winklebleck said that even if a prosecutor did manage to bring obscenity charges against a large hotel or a PPV provider, defense attorneys could easily use Miller's contemporary community standards element to defend themselves by showing a strong local demand for the adult material in question — even in a highly conservative area.

Examples of typical adult PPV in hotels, Winklebleck noted, include Vivid Entertainment's films and Hustler Video's Barely Legal series. If a defense attorney could show jurors data proving that Vivid and Hustler have a sizable customer base in their area, he/she could present a robust defense, Winklebleck said.

CCV and the Family Research Council have been arguing that one of the reasons to abolish adult PPV from hotel rooms is the need to protect children. But Hamilton, who worked in the hospitality industry before getting into adult entertainment, asserted that in fact, hotels and PPV companies have been going to great lengths to make sure that adult hotel PPV is only accessed by adults.

"Hotel chains and hospitality providers are already very sensitive to local communities," Hamilton stressed, "and their programming and editing standards reflect that sensitivity. There will always be efforts to remove the availability of adult programming from hotels; however, these efforts are unlikely to gain any momentum as long as hospitality companies continue to provide parental controls."

Hamilton added that the Christian Right's war on adult hotel PPV is silly in light of the fact that many hotel rooms now offer high-speed Internet access. Removing adult PPV from such rooms, he said, would not prevent hotel patrons from visiting sexually explicit websites on their laptop computers in those rooms.

"The Family Research Council is targeting responsible companies who go out of their way to make sure that only adults can access adult programming," Hamilton explained. "The Family Research Council will only be moving consumers from one viewing device to another if they restrict adult programming on hotel televisions."

Negative Publicity
Burress and his allies are hoping that if they give hotel chains and PPV providers enough negative publicity, those businesses will decide to offer mainstream films exclusively.

But Obenberger and Winklebleck both said that PPV erotica is simply too beneficial to many hotels' bottom lines for them to give it up without a fight.

"These hotels have very high overheads," Obenberger emphasized, "and losing the income that they get from adult video is probably more serious to them than being criticized by the American Family Association."

"Hotels really do operate with a smaller profit margin than most businesses. It is very, very expensive to build and maintain hotels and pay a large staff of employees, and I don't think they would be offering adult material if they didn't realize that it was important to their revenue posture.

"I think that's why most of the hotels are not going to be intimidated by any of these bible thumpers. The revenue they get from adult material is simply too important."


E-Stim Basics: Selling Customers on Powerboxes as Pleasure Tools

Electrosex is a commonly misunderstood pleasure practice for good reason: Most of us have negative associations with electricity; maybe we’ve been shocked after rubbing our feet across a carpeted... More »

Search Oftentimes Is Left to Chance

Adult content is frowned upon in search, whether in paid, organic or social. With the big algo updates from the past few years, Google has cleaned up search, trying to get rid of spammy and low-quality... More »

Five Tips to Generate Repeat Business

A $50 sale is great. But what if you could get that same $50 sale to come back four times in the next few months? Here are some ideas how to achieve that. 1) On your receipts, you should have an option... More »
Stay informed of the latest industry developments. Get XBIZ newsletters delivered to your inbox. Subscribe today!
Enter email address:

* To manage existing subscriptions click here.

Submit your press release to
multiple news outlets with 1 click.
Subscribe to RSS news feeds or
add free content to your website.
Access XBIZ news and articles
with your mobile device.
Subscribe to XBIZ Premiere magazine, the industry's leading adult retail trade publications, delivering the most timely and comprehensive business news and information to producers and retailers of adult products.



Nov 04 - Nov 06
Edison, New Jersey

2016 Inked Awards

Nov 05 - Nov 05
Edison, New Jersey

XBIZ 2017

Jan 09 - Jan 13
Hollywood, CA

XBIZ Awards 2017

Jan 12 - Jan 12
Los Angeles, CA
Everyday thousands of business professionals browse XBIZ's industry directory for quality products and services. Not listed yet? Your company could be losing potential new business. Submit your company today!
Use XBIZ RSS feeds to stay informed of the latest industry developments or as a content syndication tool for your website!