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Marc Dorcel: French Porn Heavyweight Toasts Milestone Year

Bob Johnson

It takes the kind of mettle to withstand economic downturns, changes in consumer buying trends, new technologies — and in the adult industry, coping with ever-changing laws and attacks from conservative zealots — to succeed as an international brand for 35 years.

But Marc Dorcel, France’s preeminent purveyor of porn has done just that.

One of our priorities is to innovate without forgetting our basics: quality of content, products and clients’ satisfaction. -Gregory Dorcel

Now led by second-generation and son Gregory Dorcel, the company’s namesake founder Marc is credited with laying the solid foundation. Described not as a salesman, but rather a craftsman by his son, “the Master of Pornochic” instilled the permanent quest for quality, client respect and satisfaction into the studio since 1979.

Six major milestones have helped build the Dorcel empire since the early days when Marc transformed his glossy paper erotic picture story to film, says Gregory, who joined the company in 1996 and has sat in the big chair next to dad as managing director since 2000.

Now with a reach that spans more than 56 countries with three TV channels, adult novelties, sex shops, VOD services (Dorcelvision), a women’s porn site, a magazine, and crowdfunding site (Mydorcel.com), the company has transcended the simple moviemaking that began in 1979 with “Jolies petites garces” (“Pretty Little Bitches”).

After the debut of the “Pretty Little Bitches,” Dorcel the younger points to 1996 when the studio signed its first-ever contract girl, Laure Sainclair as another watershed moment in the company’s history. “She incarnated the true ‘Dorcel Girl’: charming but never vulgar, and presumably innocent,” Dorcel says.

The company even boasts that the success of its early VHS tapes was so huge that the brand probably contributed to the development of the video recorder in France.

Dorcel also gives credit to CANAL + — the first TV channel in the world to have broadcast global adult content to a wide audience as one of its early progenitors. “The channel always looked for high-quality programs. And thus Marc Dorcel became one of the main content providers for mainstream audio-visual groups. Also, some mainstream broadcasters contributed, without knowing it, to our history: But some did not have much respect for adult content and treated low quality programs the same way as high-quality ones. This is what urged us to also become a content broadcaster and distributor as well as a renowned producer,” Dorcel notes.

Other key milestones included Dorcel’s introduction of its first multilingual DVD in 1998 that was distributed in 13 different languages; Dorcelvision, its first VOD service in France in 2002; the debut of DORCEL TV in 2006 (that’s spawned three other channels and acts as a content provider and distributor for operators worldwide).

But never one to rest on its accomplishments, Dorcel saw the potential in novelties and in March 2008 launched its online marketplace, DORCELSTORE that offers a wide array of novelties, films and sexual enhancement products.

“All this has made Marc Dorcel one of the most important global media groups in Europe,” Dorcel says.

Of course, films are the company’s stock in trade and continue to set it apart because of high-end production value, top international talent and edgy directors.

Dorcel singles out the film “Mathilda’s Perfume” as a benchmark success, noting that the title was one of Europe’s biggest feature films on video. Other production achievements included “Casino No Limit,” that boasted the highest European budget, coupled with substantial marketing, “Story of Laly,” a film with a real TV star that sold more than 100,000 copies, “Mademoiselle de Paris” the first adult movie ever crowdfunded by more than 1000 web users, and “Inglorious Bitches” directed by Max Candy, a European and American production that garnered worldwide awards. All were movies Dorcel counts as the company’s biggest hits.

Like any other production company, the dawn of the Internet presented challenges and opportunities and forced Dorcel to either adapt to the new technology or rest on its movie-making laurels.

Dorcel responded, noting that the web allowed it to develop as a premium brand globally while at the same time opening it up to content piracy — a battle being fought across the world. In an effort to use technology to its advantage, the studio began developing 3D content in 2010 that Dorcel says gave it a head start in understanding the wide spectrum of new technology.

“Technology has a huge influence, but we often regret that today’s content is often produced according to technology and distribution issues, and not according to consumers’ desires. One of our priorities is to innovate without forgetting our basics: quality of content, products and clients’ satisfaction,” Dorcel says.

With watchwords devoted to media inventiveness, Dorcel says it has a true love story between content and devices in the name of pleasure for all.

The executive promises that after many years of major technology innovations including VOD and 3D, 2015 will be dedicated to excellence in content, products and customer service.

But Dorcel’s not alone as a premiere European adult company. If there’s one major rival it has to be Private Media that also has a long-standing reputation for high-end porn with an international flair.

When asked how it views itself alongside its Barcelona, Spain-based competitor Dorcel says as a French company, its Latin and European culture sets it apart. “France is the country of luxury, lingerie, ‘femme fatale’ and what characterizes Marc Dorcel is the association of luxury and perversion, all in a sophisticated, high quality and classy universe. Our specific positioning is very alike haute couture, therefore it seems that these values can be attractive worldwide, whatever the culture.”

“In the past, Private has done wonderful things, especially in terms of marketing and I remember looking at them with envy. Unfortunately, today, there are practically no producers left in Europe that can heavily invest in content anymore, if only to offer scenes on the Internet,” he adds.

Now with more than 800 titles and international partners that include Wicked Pictures in the U.S., Harmony Films in the U.K., VPS in Germany, IFG in Spain, ATV Group in Italy, and Sirina TV in Greece, along with more than 10 mainstream audiovisual affiliated groups, Dorcel sees nothing but a bright future ahead.

The executive also believes that the current acceptance of porn in the mainstream will only continue to open new doors.

Commenting on the once taboo stigma of porn, Dorcel says for the most part it no longer exists. “Today, this is not really an issue. Indeed, we estimate that 80 percent of men and 60 percent of women get access quite regularly to porn: that makes it a mainstream content.” He worries however that minors can still easily access online porn and wonders how long it will take before governments around the world take broader action?

But always optimistic, the self-described “creator of stylish sex” is on track to continue its run of providing high-end productions with its hallmark “voluptuous actresses” and adjusting to provide new conduits and products as more technologies evolve.

“Over the long term, we will keep asserting our difference by investing even more energy, time, money in our products and contents,” Dorcel says. “We’ll also keep being opportunistic and take advantage of new opportunities.”

A family company, Dorcel’s current catchphrase, “The secret of eternal pleasure” describes its recipe that combines dreams, casting, sophistication, innovation, stimulation and lust in its vast array of products. A mix that’s obviously worked for 35 years.

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