Women On Top: 1

Joanne Cachapero
From in front of the camera to behind the scenes, women in the adult business are making their influence felt as innovators and decision makers.

At a time when women are emerging as a new, lucrative market for adult products, the past decade also has seen more women in high-powered positions with some of the biggest companies.

XBIZ looks at some of the women making their marks on adult, how they got where they are and their views on opportunities for women in the industry.

Teresa Flynt
Her father, Larry Flynt, rules over Hustler/LFP, the multimedia empire that is the world's largest producer of adult content. But Teresa Flynt's achievements in the industry stand on their own.

In 1998, as vice president of retail operations at Hustler, Teresa Flynt developed the business model for Hustler Hollywood Stores, creating a boutique-style format for brick-and-mortar retailers that revolutionized the marketing of adult products.

Flynt holds a degree in business and marketing from Mount St. Mary's College in West Los Angeles. In her new role as vice president of licensing, she is pursuing ideas for new product lines and expecting continued growth into more mainstream markets.

"I went to my father because I wanted a new challenge and to be able to help him in another area that I felt Hustler wasn't expanding into enough," she tells XBIZ.

"Hustler has become a brand, and it's a cool word," Flynt adds. "It says a lot and is synonymous with being a rebel. A lot of people are wearing it, so that's what I'm working on. I just got a new lingerie deal with a company called Rene Rofe (pronounced "row-fay"). But I'm also looking to do Hustler denim jeans, Hustler shoes, Hustler eyewear and more products."

Marilyn Chambers
Typically, women are the main attraction as performers. While the influx of talent gets larger every year and career longevity grows shorter, a few women have used their unique attributes to establish superstar status and also change the way society perceives female sexuality.

One of the first was Marilyn Chambers. In 1972, Chambers, an aspiring model and actress, starred in the Mitchell Brothers' "Behind the Green Door" as Gloria, a young woman kidnapped and forced to perform live sex acts onstage.

With girl-next-door looks and a blazing sexuality, in many ways Chambers embodied the sexual revolution of the 1970s.

When Chambers appeared as the "mom" on boxes of Ivory Snow almost simultaneously with the film's release, the ensuing publicity catapulted "Green Door" and Chambers into the ranks of X-rated legends alongside "Deep Throat" and Linda Lovelace.

"It was a big deal, but we didn't know it was going to be," Chambers said at the 2005 FOXE Awards. "When I was the mom on the soap box, the controversy was to the extreme, and so it became a PR man's dream."

Before signing to do "Green Door," Chambers reportedly made the unprecedented move of negotiating for 10 percent of the movie's box office gross. A huge success, the film was quickly followed with 1973's "The Resurrection of Eve," again starring Chambers. Combined, both movies are said to have grossed close to $30 million.

Danni Ashe
As the Internet continues to revolutionize the industry, one woman revolutionized the Internet. Danni Ashe was crowned "the most downloaded woman on the Internet" in 2000 by the Guinness Book of World Records, back when it was still feasible to calculate downloads.

A former exotic dancer turned dot-com pioneer, Ashe founded Danni's Hard Drive in 1997 and quickly established one of the world's busiest adult websites. With exclusivity and broad audience appeal, the site was soon using as much bandwidth as the whole of Central America combined and, in terms of traffic comparisons, Ashe was more popular online than several mainstream celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, Pamela Anderson and Martha Stewart.

Danni's Hard Drive continues to experience growth, according to Ashe. She acknowledges that a big part of the site's popularity is due to making the right moves at the right time, and she has plans for moving into the future.

"I'm not sure that anyone will be able to replicate the success of those of us who were Internet pioneers," Ashe tells XBIZ. "As with any new technology that brings content to the consumers, those who leverage it first and are able to quickly dominate the market have a huge advantage. That said, there are a number of new technologies, from MP3 players to mobile phones, that present an enormous opportunity for the adult entertainment industry — and Danni's Hard Drive intends to establish leadership in these new media markets as well."

Marci Hirsch
Also following in the family footsteps is Marci Hirsch, vice president of production at Vivid, the company founded by her brother Steve in 1984.

In the early 1970s, her father, Fred, left his job as a stockbroker to open an adult film distribution warehouse in Cleveland.

Eventually, the family moved to the San Fernando Valley, where the senior Hirsch founded Sunrise International Distributors and Adult Video Corporation.

"Growing up, when I worked for my dad, it was 8mm. There was no big post-production department like there is now," Hirsch tells XBIZ. "I worked for my dad from the time I was 18 to 24. I came to work for Vivid 14 years ago." After leaving her father's company, Hirsch attended college, married and had two children.

Before assuming an executive role at Vivid, Hirsch says, "I became a production manager. For the first two years I was on set all the time and learned how that all works."

While currently overseeing production and post-production at Vivid, she says her title doesn't describe other multitasking responsibilities that come with the job.

"I deal with all the girls and the trade shows, the scheduling," Hirsch explains. "I deal with international sales and licensing."

With a reputation built on "couples" content and the softer side of hardcore, Vivid achieved success by capitalizing on a large roster of exclusive contract girls. According to Vivid's website, the list currently numbers 32, with some of the biggest name talent in the business.

Hirsch points out there are more career options available to ambitious adult actresses who develop both their onscreen and off-screen talents. Jenna Jameson and Tera Patrick, both Vivid contract girls, have expanded on their popularity as performers to start their own production companies and branch out into other areas of the entertainment media. Recently, Vivid star Savannah Samson completed shooting on a movie for her own production company, as well as an upcoming release, "Savannah Gets Black-Maled" for Vivid's Black-Maled line.

Samson also has launched her own wine label, whose first offering, a 2004 Sogno Uno vintage Italian red, was recently rated 91 points out of 100 by wine guru Robert Parker. And both Samson and Hirsch were profiled in a January episode of "Secret Lives of Women" on the WE Network.

In part two, we'll look at Suze and Holly Randall, Sharon Mitchell and Michelle Freridge.