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Naughty America

Sam Williams
It takes a family to create quality Internet pornography.

That's the philosophy, at least, of Naughty America, a San Diego, Calif.-based company that takes pride in living outside the adult industry mainstream by, paradoxically enough, embracing the traditional themes of the skin trade.

With fantasy site titles such as My Friend's Hot Mom, My Naughty Latin Maid and flagship site Naughty America House, Naughty America's creative team has provided a safe haven for adult Internet users less interested in seeing the latest ways used to humiliate Japanese women and more interested in traveling back to the days when porn viewing amounted to a handed-down copy of an older brother's Playboy magazine.

"Seeing all this adult content being produced, we just felt like it wasn't appealing to our level of fantasy," Sales and Marketing Director Mark Bauman, aka "Ace," says, summing up the company's "the Difference Is Here" slogan. "We try to keep all slang out of our videos. We don't demean our women or disrespect them in the videos."

In other words, says Bauman, where other Internet video companies go for shock value and envelope-pushing content, Naughty America has found its audience at the other end of the porn-viewing spectrum: guys who want to get off and yet still feel good about themselves an hour later.

"I think a big part of our content is that the girl looks like she's really enjoying herself," Bauman says.

While not exactly softcore, the company's content obeys a rigorous branding aesthetic built around classic fantasy elements: horny moms, busty coeds and over-generous schoolteachers. In the Naughty America world-view, sex is seen as natural, fun and, well, American.

At the latest Adult Entertainment Expo, the company's house-shaped booth even featured a white picket fence, earning rare marks for style and originality from many onlookers.

Originally launched in 2000 as SoCalCoeds.com, the company takes pride in its peripheral position, both in terms of geography and business style, to the overall adult entertainment industry.

"The majority of our production is up in Los Angeles, but this is home," project manager Dusty says of the company's San Diego-area headquarters.

A similar mentality applies to the Naughty America business strategy.

Although the company briefly flirted with the trendy affiliate business name SoCalCash, it decided to dump the name for something a little more timeless. Too many rival sites were sporting the word "cash" in their affiliate site names, Bauman says, an indicator not only of market saturation but also of a fundamental weak spot in the web business model, namely an over-dependence on webmasters to fuel traffic.

Affiliates Welcomed
The company still relies on webmasters, offering copious amounts of free galleries and a 60 percent revshare of the $24.95 monthly membership fee.

At the same time, however, it also relies heavily on keeping its own 40 percent share of the per-member revenue stream running as long as possible. Emphasizing fantasy over instant gratification and stability over buzz, the company re-pitched itself as the kind of website willing to build a long-term relationship with its customers. From the iconic logo, a horizontal silhouette of a woman's naked bottom that echoes the classic Playboy bunny logo, to a production schedule built around 30-minute television-style vignettes to an aggressive no-minors-allowed policy, the company has fashioned an "Ozzie and Harriet" meets Jenna Jameson alternate universe to distance itself from the fly-by-night nature of most adult Internet offerings.

"We wanted to establish an identity and brand to go along with the name," says of his role in policing the Naughty America brand image. "We wanted something that didn't have the usual adult entertainment feel to it. For somebody who may be skeptical about adult online entertainment, we want the site to trigger something, to make them to click around and say 'You know, this isn't what I expected.'"

Enforcing that directive at the video level is a duty that falls on company production manager Laura D. A former wedding photographer who started working with Naughty America in 2002, she labels the company's content as "hardcore vanilla." The sex can be intense, she says, but never off-putting.

"The rule is we don't do anything we wouldn't do in our own personal lives," she says. "That helps from a production perspective, believe me, because many times I can get the girls to knock out two scenes in one day. It's easy for them to shoot two scenes in a day when they are easy and fun."

Seduction With Style
Naudia Nyce, a female performer who has appeared in three Naughty America "skits," each revolving around a strong seduction motif such as a female driver attempting to talk a police officer out of a DUI ticket, agrees.

"They don't ask you to do a lot of crazy stuff that the other porn companies want to see," she says. "Just simple stuff. The kind of thing any Mid-western housewife would be fantasizing about."

Putting an emphasis on fantasy might seem a little arcane, not to mention risky, in an arena where most competitors are only one or two mouse clicks away, but Laura D. says a good fantasy format will outperform the standard gonzo shoot in terms of multiple viewings.

Throw in predictable, TV-like viewing scheduling, a little humor and maybe an inside joke for the truly devoted viewers, and you've found a way to keep the average member around for another month, adding another $24.95 to the corporate bottom line.

"Of course, many of our customers fast-forward to the good stuff," Laura D. says. "But there are many who want to see the 5-10-minute buildup in the beginning."

One way Laura D. knows this is because of frequent comments on Naughty America Country Club [www.naughtycountryclub.com], an online forum on which viewers can discuss favorite scenes and even suggest future scenes and actresses.

In addition to shoring up audience loyalty, Naughty America Country Club helps Laura D. and her production team, led by director Brett Brando, survive a production cycle that demands up to four hours of fresh content per week.

"There are only so many ways you can have the student beg the professor to help her get an A grade," she jokes. "The message board is a valuable tool."

Christian X., a male performer who has appeared in more than 30 Naughty America productions since entering the industry two years ago, says he appreciates the viewer feedback.

"You know what the fans like and don't like, and it helps you," he says. "In my third scene with the company, we were in Vegas and one of the members from the site was in town as well. They let him come on the set. It was really cool. I don't know of many other companies that would do that or would want to do that."

Such are the benefits of a "family" atmosphere, says. Granted, the company's definition of family differs slightly from Dr. James Dobson's, but the notion that viewers, webmasters and performers each have a stake in the Naughty America's continued success has given the company enough goodwill to find a safe, middle ground between commodity porn purveyors and such high-end production houses as Wicked, Vivid and Digital Playground.

Expansive Direction
Looking to expand that middle ground, Naughty America has spent the past year experimenting with new platforms. The company delivers iPod-compatible versions of its videos for free to its paid members and has taken to issuing DVD compilations.

The boldest experiment, however, is the newest. This spring the company is launching "Naughty America The Game," a "Sims"-style virtual world in which members, acting through their customizable cartoon avatars, can chat, flirt and have sex online. Rated Adults Only, "The Game" is an attempt to push the Naughty American brand presence into a totally new realm while at the same time taking advantage of existing brand loyalty.

In other words, "The Game" may be driving the media attention at the moment, but it is the 30-minute Internet "vignette" that remains the heart of the Naughty America business model. It all goes back to the 2002 decision to switch away from a webmaster-centric marketing plan toward something that keeps members within the Naughty America network as long as possible. The best way to do, Bauman says, is to avoid any indication that the company is simply coasting on its existing five-year supply of proprietary content and looking elsewhere for fresh profits.

"Our whole business is based on the guys that stay," Bauman says. "We try to come out with a new site once a month. As long as we maintain more members coming in than members going out, we're in good shape."

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