Adult Becomes “Adult”

Stephen Yagielowicz
The inaugural XBIZ Hollywood show was a defining moment in adult Internet history that marked a turning point for the business of online adult entertainment: yes, in my opinion, 2007 was the year that the industry finally grew up.

There are several examples that point to this maturation: the first of which is the tone of the event and makeup of its participants: held in a venue that exuded “Old Hollywood” luxury, you saw a higher percentage of suits – and a much lower number of drunken 18 year olds looking for the next open bar – than you would at many adult shows. Business was what everyone was here for, but with plenty of fun to go around as well.

Another note on the participants: there were many new faces there; but they weren’t necessarily those of new people – meaning, it’s not that there was a lot of newbies, it’s that XBIZ Hollywood attracted a broad audience, with a lot of representation from the offline adult industry, including producers and others from the Valley, as well as folks that don’t typically attend the more ‘party-oriented’ industry gatherings.

A further indication of our maturation into a true industry was the unprecedented meeting that took place with the leaders of the FBI’s 2257 inspection team. It was phenomenal to have the opportunity to hear from the chief inspector the details of the inspection process; with the volume of questions that were answered – and the way they were answered – leaving many operators feeling much more comfortable about it all. The FBI is treating the 2257 inspection process in the same way they would treat any other industrial records inspection; a sure sign that we are now, indeed, “an industry.”

Even the most passionate of those expressing opposition to .xxx did so in a respectful and professional manner, illustrating the difference in maturity level between those operators that are shaping the future of online adult entertainment and the “keyboard warriors” – when the chance to address ICM’s Stuart Lawley directly came up, these punks showed themselves for what they are: all talk and of no consequence when and where it matters. I stood up to the microphone. Where were they?

I moderated two of the Master Classes: the first one featured Ali Joone of Digital Playground and eminent producer Andrew Blake. Both screened reels of their work and discussed the finer points of production, artistic vision and depicting erotica. Anyone in the video or production end of the business knows of these two producers and realizes what a coup it is to be able to pick their brains.

The second Master Class I moderated focused on recruiting and retaining productive affiliates – something of vital concern to all program owners and affiliate managers. Featuring Albert from Silvercash; Rainey from PrideBucks; Mark of Naughty America and Attorney Spencer Freeman of Adultlaw, this panel delved into the nuances of cultivating affiliates and illustrated the type of high-level, nuts-and-bolts information available to attendees of XBIZ Hollywood.

And so went all of the seminars and Master Classes; success following upon success, right on through to the final presentation: the keynote address by Hustler’s Larry Flynt, where sitting in his gold-plated wheelchair, he remarked that if he had to do it all over again, he would – but he would also wear a bullet-proof vest! Flynt received a standing ovation for his presentation, which focused on politics, free speech and the state of porn today.

The annual XBIZ Awards show was off the hook, as usual. Dawn and I had the pleasure of joining Mark, Greg and a couple of the girls from the 2much.net team, along with our friend, Nancy from Gammae, in the 2much booth – the best seat in the house! The quality of the event, the winners and the awards process, all helped fuel my belief that things have truly gotten serious.

Marc Jarrett from Password by Phone; Halcyon, now with Tramp Stamp Studios; Vic from Kick Ass; Michael from Chameleon; Joan from ASACP – the list of people that I spent and enjoyed time with went on and on, and it was all positive. For the first time in a few years, I feel very optimistic about the future of this industry – an optimism that comes from feeling that we have finally grown up, and that more people now “get it.”

So much happened at and around this show; some of which I’ll tell you about another day – some of which I’ll keep to myself. All in all, this was one of the best shows that I’ve been to and that’s saying something.

But “show” isn’t the right way to describe XBIZ Hollywood: as my friend Jason Tucker put it, “this really isn’t a ‘show’ – it’s truly a conference” and that perhaps sums it up best. This was business, and it rocked. Thanks, Helmy.

I can’t wait for our Vegas event coming in July. I hope to see you there!

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