Adult in the City of Angels

Alex Henderson
The adult entertainment industry is an international success story, with prosperous adult companies making their mark in places ranging from Seattle to São Paulo.

But the city that continues to reign supreme as the adult entertainment capital of the world is, without question, Los Angeles, which boasts not only the long list of major adult film and video companies in the San Fernando Valley but also a sizable adult webmaster community where one finds companies such as LatinCash, Burbank-based Nichepay and Price Communications/SilverCash in neighboring Riverside, among numerous others.

And if one asks an adult-oriented entrepreneur what makes Los Angeles special from an erotica standpoint, one word that comes up frequently is "resources." Los Angeles offers a wealth of resources for adult-oriented entrepreneurs ranging from erotic models and actors to website designers, entertainment lawyers, makeup artists, talent agents, photographers, managers, sales and marketing experts, publicists and accountants.

XBIZ discussed the reasons for Los Angeles being the adult entertainment capitol of the world with some local residents who are well connected in the adult industry, including Michael H. Klein, who oversees broadcast operations for Larry Flynt's LFP/Hustler empire in Beverly Hills; Adella O'Neal, director of public relations for the Van Nuys, Calif.-based Digital Playground; and Diane C. Duke, executive director for the Free Speech Coalition. All of them said that while a Los Angeles address is not essential for an adult company, the city's abundance of porn-friendly resources certainly gives it a sizable advantage.

"LFP has developers and designers in all parts of the world working on our websites," Klein explained, "and our attorneys are located in the New York area. But the main brain trust of the adult entertainment industry is here in Los Angeles. It's really just a question of easier accessibility.

"You can use people from all over the world — and there are talented people all over the world — but it is best to be in a place where you have easier access to more of the resources that you need, and Los Angeles offers that."

Klein, a seasoned broadcasting veteran who had such major names like Playboy, Showtime, SpectraVision/OnCommand and Bravo on his résumé when he joined LFP, added that for an adult-oriented entrepreneur as diverse as Flynt, being Los Angeles-based is a major convenience.

"Larry Flynt is involved in many different aspects of the adult entertainment business, from video production and distribution to broadcasting to retail stores to Internet operations as well as magazines," he said. "Larry's fingers are in a lot of different things, and it is best to have our headquarters in Los Angeles because there are so many resources here that allow us to move quickly. If your adult business is only one thing and that's it, maybe it might be easier for you to remain wherever you are located. But if you are going to be a multiple-platform adult entertainment company, it is better to be here in Los Angeles."

Describing Los Angeles as the adult entertainment capital of the world does not mean that the valuable resources one needs to operate an adult business cannot be found in other cities. There are talented intellectual property lawyers in Miami and New York and experienced nude models in Las Vegas, and there are skillful website designers in Boston and Phoenix who have no problem making an adult website look great. But the thing that makes Los Angeles special in terms of adult-friendly resources, Duke and O'Neal both stressed, is the fact that those resources are so plentiful in Southern California, and one of the reasons for that, they said, is the mainstream entertainment industry.

O'Neal pointed out that the abundance of people who move to Los Angeles to be in mainstream entertainment (be it Hollywood films, the music industry or television) often have skills that prove to be equally valuable in adult entertainment.

"Everything you need is in this area because of Hollywood," O'Neal said. "There is tremendous runoff. Everyone is going where the money is. We get 30,000 to 40,000 new people every month in Los Angeles, and a lot of talented people come here. There is just so much going on here, and it gives everyone more experience and more knowledge. There is such an overflow of people who are unemployed in Hollywood that they can easily come into the adult industry and find something to do."

A skillful website designer who moves to Los Angeles in the hope of designing Internet sites for record companies may realize how successful and lucrative the city's adult webmaster community is and decide that designing adult sites is an attractive career option.

A musician-composer who heads to Los Angeles in the hope of becoming a record company A&R person may discover that composing music for adult films is an exciting possibility. And a photographer who moves to Southern California to take pictures of alternative rock singers and rappers may learn that photographing erotic models for Los Angeles-based adult webmasters is an excellent way to make money.

Of course, there are many people who do move to Los Angeles for the sole purpose of pursuing careers in adult entertainment, but even those who don't necessarily have the adult industry in mind when they sign their first lease on an apartment in North Hollywood or Santa Monica can become valuable resources for local adult businesses.

"People who move to Los Angeles because of the mainstream entertainment industry may not be thinking about the adult entertainment industry when they first get here," Duke noted, "but after they have been living here, they realize that adult entertainment is available to them as a career path. The fact that Los Angeles has the mainstream entertainment industry gives the adult entertainment industry a lot of resources to take advantage of; so I think there is a lot of shared talent. You have agents here, you have camera people, you have website designers, you have so much talent that comes here, and some of that talent ends up in the mainstream entertainment industry, while some of it ends up in the adult entertainment industry. Talented people come to Los Angeles for the entertainment industry in general, and some of them end up in adult."

Examples of resources that have been shared by the mainstream and adult entertainment worlds include publicists such as Brian Gross and Andrea Martin. Gross has strong mainstream credentials and is well connected in the music industry, but he has also represented adult entertainment heavyweight Phil Harvey, who, as the president of the North Carolina-based Adam & Eve, oversees the largest erotic mail-order company in the U.S.

Martin, meanwhile, has represented mainstream clients as well as the famous fetish-neo-burlesque model Heather Sweet, aka Dita Von Teese. And on the legal side, Los Angeles-based attorneys who represent clients in mainstream entertainment also can be a valuable resource for adult businesses.

Adult companies, like mainstream entertainment companies, need attorneys who understand the complexities of intellectual property law, and intellectual property lawyers are plentiful in Los Angeles. Similarly, the services of 1st Amendment lawyers are used by both mainstream and adult businesses.

A concern that some of the younger adult entrepreneurs may have about Los Angeles is the city's high overhead; Los Angeles is among the most expensive cities in the U.S. But Digital Playground's O'Neal emphasized that the overhead of operating an adult business becomes much less of an issue when one considers how many resources are available to Los Angeles-based adult entrepreneurs.

"I think that, in a way, you actually save money by being in a location that has all of the resources that you need," O'Neal said. "If you are having to travel for your resources, then your overhead is going to be even higher. But if you need editing facilities, we have them here; if you need makeup artists, we have them here. All the way around, we just have everything in place in Los Angeles to make us flourish."

Another thing that draws adult-oriented entrepreneurs to Los Angeles, according to Klein, is an abundance of networking opportunities. People in the adult industry have parties and social gatherings outside of Los Angeles, but in the city, Klein explained, those events are especially common.

"It is easier to attend the important social events here," Klein noted. "A lot of times, you get some good business out of those social events. So many of the photographers, writers and directors in the adult entertainment industry are congregated in this area, and it is easier to have meetings with them when they are at your fingertips."

Duke noted that the adult webmaster revolution had somewhat of a decentralizing effect on the adult industry in the 1990s and 2000s; in other words, a long list of adult webmasters with smart business models have prospered in cities other than Los Angeles.

Other cities, she predicts, will continue to grow in terms of offering adult-friendly resources for adult webmasters. But the San Fernando Valley, Duke pointed out, still boasts the heaviest concentration of adult film studios in the world, and Los Angeles' infrastructure for adult entertainment in general, she stressed, will remain strong for generations to come.

"The Internet has really changed the face of the adult entertainment industry — I've heard that over and over again in my conversations, and adult entertainment is happening abundantly all over the country," Duke said. "A lot of cities in different parts of the country, including Miami, New York and Phoenix, are hubs of adult websites and adult talent. But the thing that is important about Los Angeles is that it has such a strong infrastructure for adult entertainment. Los Angeles is always going to be an important player in the adult entertainment industry because there is so much talent here and because there are so many resources here."