The Vision of Teravision
It is not until you enter — met by the smell of fresh paint and new furniture — that you see the difference. Instead of the typical 1980s office artwork that tends to adorn walls like these, blown-up covers of Penthouse, Playboy and other top magazines line the wall, with one familiar face on all of them: Tera Patrick.
Beyond the lobby, inside an office with orange walls is Evan Seinfeld, Patrick's husband and business partner famous for fronting the band Biohazzard and playing character roles on shows such as HBO's "Oz." He sits with two girls who are interested in becoming part of the Tera Patrick Agency. They focus on filling out a questionnaire.
"Tell me about the other agencies you've been working with," Seinfeld says as he fields emails on a laptop.
The girls lament that they haven't been working as much as they'd like — only twice a month.
Seinfeld raises an eyebrow. "We can't make people hire you, but you girls are pretty — you'll get more work," he assures them. "You girls shouldn't have to be hustlers; you should be concentrating on performing. But you also shouldn't be doing anything you don't want to do, so make sure you write down what your boundaries are."
His phone rings. He looks at the call display and smiles. It's Tera, enjoying a spa day while Seinfeld takes care of business, which he's been doing since very early that morning, starting with meetings at the Vivid offices.
The business of being Tera Patrick is booming right now, but two years ago it almost came to an end. After a successful run as one of the top girls in the industry, Patrick walked away from a contract, intending to retire.
"I was two-and-a-half years into my contract when I met my husband, who sat me down and made me look at my career," Patrick said. "We were getting married and he was finishing a new album with his company, and he said, 'Why don't we open a production company? It would be a great way to brand your name.' And I was like, 'of course.' It made perfect sense."
Patrick ventured out onto the feature dance circuit with Seinfeld by her side to raise the money to fund their new career path.
Patrick said: "Evan and I did this all on our own — we funded everything ourselves. Nobody gave us a penny. We literally started from scratch" — and they found an ally in Vivid founder Steve Hirsch.
"Evan said he didn't know anything about running a porn company, but Steve Hirsch was interested in taking us under his wing," Patrick said. "What better person than Steve Hirsch to partner up with? Steve came at me and said, 'Hey, I'd really like to have you as part of my family, and not only can you be a Vivid Girl, and I'll promote you as a Vivid Girl, but I'll teach you what you need to know about distributing, and I'll help you guys get off the ground.' And it was the push I really needed. I wanted to expand my fan base, and Vivid was definitely instrumental in that."
Birth Of Teravision
And so Teravision was born, starting with the release of "Tera, Tera, Tera," which quickly became a top seller, followed by "Reign of Tera," which debuted at the top of sales and rental charts. But before Patrick started focusing on launching a new life on video, she worked on re-launching her image online, in particular her web presence, with help from the wizards at Club Jenna Inc.
"Starting my website was really hard," Patrick said. "I had to create my own website — ClubTera.com — where my fans could see pictures of me, video of me and my daily diary where they could really see the real workings of Tera Patrick and Teravision. ClubTera.com is doing really, really well after launching in 2003. Now I have archived material, old magazine covers, hardcore content, all my movies, fashion galleries — my fans like to see me with clothes on, too! I've really enjoyed it. It's such an amazing way to connect with the fans."
With the website up and running, the next step was to take a look at branding Patrick's name, something that Seinfeld takes very seriously.
"We have the Tera Patrick Collection of sex toys from California Exotic Novelties, a pilot for a reality show that's being represented by William Morris, herbal sexual-enhancement products that we're currently shooting commercials for, and eventually we'll be launching an auction site that will focus on selling memorabilia," Seinfeld said. "Tera's fans have been asking for it, so we're going to give it to them."
Similarly, it was because of inquiries from talent that the idea for the Tera Patrick Agency was born.
"I'd be on the road dancing, and all these girls would come up to me and say, 'Oh my God, I love you and I'm thinking about getting into the business. How do I get in?'" Patrick said. "I never had an answer for them because there really isn't an answer — what am I supposed to say, just pack your bags and move to Los Angeles? You could go to anyone and have them take pictures of you for a website, but I always warn the girls that they're exploiting themselves if they do that. They really need to make sure that this is something they want to do before they do it. So we talked about it, and Evan was like, 'We could promote girls — we could introduce girls to the business.' "
The Tera Patrick Agency currently has 15 girls in its roster that are being added to the website for booking, but it's not the agency's mandate to snap up anyone who walks in the door. In addition to adhering to a strict screening policy that stipulates against drug use and employs a "No List" of companies it won't book girls with, Patrick's agency is careful to school the girls on how their choices will affect both their lifestyles and careers.
Patrick added that she does not take a percentage of her clients' money and that she earnestly hopes to play a hand in launching some successful careers.
Content Shoots Gone Awry
"We're in an industry that has virtually no regulatory conditions, and we need help here," Seinfeld echoes. "When a girl shows up to do a blow job and she gets to the set only to find out it's a gang bang instead and she's afraid to call her agent, or when I hear stories about girls being traumatized because they're shooting with someone who's not above board, that's a problem, and we won't put up with that at our agency."
Between Teravision focusing on movies, ClubTera.com focusing on the Internet aspect and the Tera Patrick Agency focusing on talent representation, not to mention all of the licensing opportunities coming down the pike, Seinfeld is optimistic about his and Patrick's business partnership flourishing for years to come.
"We watch what other people do, and we take notes on what we like," Seinfeld said. "Tera would like to have some contract girls at one point."
As for Patrick, she seems to have found her calling. Teravision this year will shoot about eight videos and will be releasing a new interactive video in the fall. Patrick may even start a gonzo line.
"This business bears my name — it's Teravision," she said. "And I have to put out a superb product whether that be my videos, my website, or me showing up for a dance appearance or a trade show. I'm trying to create a standard."