Keeping Up With the Joneses

Steve Javors
The hardest part about picking out trends in the adult marketplace is deciphering whether they are just flash in the pan moments, or movements that are part of a larger sea change. This is a notoriously fickle business — what’s hot today is old news tomorrow — so for certain trends to take root and gain momentum there has to be validity in the initial results in order for others to follow suit.

Certain trends just have a way of tapping into the cultural zeitgeist and taking hold. Who can really explain the popularity of pet rocks, bellbottom jeans and sea monkeys?

Businesses need to tap into trends to stay current and relevant in today’s ADD society of distraction. Some trends are profound, while others are minor, but both kinds have the potential to change the way business is done.

Our list of five trends in the adult video market listed below range from technological ones to changes in the traditional sales model. Each one has played a role in shaping the industry within the past year.

The adage “what’s old is new again” certain rings true for the bumper crop of MILFs, Cougars and other varieties of “mature” ladies who have recently rejoined the ranks of performers. Due to the popularity of the MILF genre exploding, there is a big demand for um, shall we say “seasoned” females. And it’s not just some generic Suzy Bigtits coming back for a piece of the spotlight — we’re talking about big-time stars.

While many are skeptical when a porn star announces his or her retirement, figuring they usually come back at some point, it’s always a cause for celebration when return, and it also provides the companies they shoot for a new marketing angle for their movies. Remember how much of a stir Tabitha Stevens’ “comeback” generated? — and this was only for one blowjob scene!

Returning to the Blue Screen all in recent time have been Shayla LaVeaux, Brittany O’Connell, Amber Lynn, Ginger Lynn, Lisa Ann, Roxanne Hall, Friday, Nikita Denise, Monique and Lola. Even Tricia Devereaux made a triumphant return in front of the camera for a hot scene with toys for Evil Angel’s “Defend Our Porn.” Fresh off of the end of her contract with Wicked Pictures, Julia Ann has hit the gonzo circuit with a vengeance.

Prior to the recent MILF craze, barely legal teens were in vogue and now the pendulum has swung back. This is one trend we don’t want to see end.

While much has been made about the decline in sales of physical media, porn on Blu-ray could provide the shot in the arm this industry needs in tough economic times. From the VHS videocassette player, which ushered in viewing porn in the privacy and comfort of one’s home, to the DVD and now the Blu-ray disc, the adult industry always is at the forefront of technology.

After initial reports that Blu-ray replicators would not handle adult material, those fears proved to be unfounded. While overall industry adoption to the nextgen format has been slow, a handful of studios are producing same day-and-date Blu-ray and standard definition release dates. Digital Playground leads the way in both high-definition and adult Blu-ray production. Just last month Kick Ass Pictures and Evil Angel released their first Blu-ray releases. Vivid Entertainment, Wicked Pictures, Hustler Video, Anabolic and Zero Tolerance also are ramping up Blu-ray production.

Regardless of the Chicken Littles who believe the death of the DVD is sooner rather than later, porn on Blu-ray is the future physical media of home video.

“I always thought [standard definition] DVDs were an intermediate platform,” Joone said. “As a filmmaker, you always want the best quality medium out there. Over the past three and a half years, we’ve been shooting, mastering and editing in hi-def. Consumers are buying bigger and bigger TVs, and honestly, the quality of a standard DVD suffers and falls apart when shown on progressively larger screens.”

Long live Blu-ray!

Sometimes a company does something so unexpected that it could have a ripple effect within the industry because of its sheer inventive risk-taking, or because the chances for a big return is great. Pure Play Media made such a move when it announced in early August that it was effectively cutting out the middeman and would begin selling direct to retailers, effective immediately.

The adult industry has traditionally operated on a tiered distribution system: the studio or distributor sells it to the wholesaler, who sells it to the retailer, who then finally sells it to the customer. Pure Play CEO Richard Arnold has chosen a more direct route for his goods, but it’s no doubt a more complicated proposition.

Instead of dealing with a few handfuls of distributors, now there could potentially be thousands of new accounts for each brick-and-mortar store. The company will have exponentially higher overhead: shipping costs, employees, warehouse space, etc. But the new arrangement allows for greater control over its products and of course, increased direct revenue.

Arnold feels that it’s the strength of the studios he distributes that allows him to take this gambit.

“We feel that we have a strong enough studio selection that we can do our studios better justice by selling direct to retail,” Arnold told XBIZ. “In other territories where we do direct to retail our sales are proportionally higher than in the U.S. under the old method.

Pure Play distributes for Private, Homegrown Video, Naughty America, Seymore Butts, Score Group and others.

The main advantage to retailers, Arnold said, will be in ordering back catalog items

“We always expected to do well in new releases, but we’re going to win or lose this battle in the catalog end of the business,” Arnold said. “It was very difficult for a retailer to get catalog because it was a cumbersome process. Wholesalers don’t carry it — they can’t carry everybody’s catalog — so if a retailer wants a catalog item, they have to contact their wholesaler, the wholesaler contacts us to find out what we have, we tell the wholesaler and then the wholesaler goes back to the retailer. And then it has to be shipped from us to the wholesaler to the retailer.

So while doing direct-to-retail isn’t an industry trend, it could prove to be so successful with PPM leading the way they’ll have kicked off a trend on their own.

Calling Jeff Mullen! Not since the X-Play honcho and director (under the Will Ryder pseudonym) brought “Britney Rears” into the public consciousness has the porn spoof gotten so much traction within the industry and in mainstream. How many hundreds of plugs did Howard Stern give the series when it first launched? The first installment, starring the longdeparted Jessica Sweet, has gone on to be one of LFP’s best-selling titles.

Now it seems like there are new spoofs announced practically every month; Mullen’s success has spawned a cottage industry of sorts. From spoofing “Punk’d” to “The Munsters” to “Bewitched” there is an endless amount of mainstream fodder from which to cull from.

Part of the reason for the success of the spoof is that there’s already some recognition on the part of the consumer. After all, who doesn’t know these classic TV shows? The formula also lends itself to great porn. Funny (mostly cheesy) dialogue and hot sex mixed with a mainstream element makes a winning combination.

We all know there is tons of free porn on the Internet and most of it is on tube sites — clones where the surfers are treated to free video clip after video clip where most of the content is stolen. While the tube site format itself is just a business model (there are legal and illegal ones) with just a few keystrokes, one could find entire ripped members areas from Reality Kings or Brazzers, or the latest Jules Jordan DVD.

As consumers flock to the Internet in droves to view porn, tube sites have exploded in popularity. I mean, why pay for something when it’s readily available for free?

Like it or not, tube sites are here to stay. With most tube sites setting up business offshore, litigation is unlikely to stop them. A few content producers have launched their own legit tube sites offering sponsored content in order to combat the wave of online piracy.


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