opinion

Wayne Hentai: Pornslinger

Gram Ponante
Now that Hillary Clinton has stood up for a vilified profession, the "real Americans" known as Washington lobbyists, I finally have the courage to put in a good word for a class of people that, but for several bad apples who smear the whole profession, are hard-working, bright, and conscientious folk: Porn Valley's publicists.

I spoke recently with the Dean of Adult Industry publicists, Wayne Hentai.

Only one of the publicists working in the adult business today has a journalism background. Wayne Hentai, director of Hentai Public Relations of Canoga Park, ran the news desk at the University of Hawaii student newspaper and, following his graduation with a degree in journalism, worked as a stringer for Pacific Business News. After a year in Taiwan employed by an export company, he accepted the newly-created DVD editor position at Adult Video News, a trade publication.

"Business reporting is very good training for an understanding of money, retail, law, technology, and distribution," he said, "which, along with naked ladies, is what the adult industry is all about."

In the mid-1990s, when adult company heads realized that competition and cheap, increased replication had increased to the point that porn no longer sold itself, they took a cue from Hollywood and hired publicists to tell the world, which at that time meant AVN, that their product was better.

Prior to this, company sales reps and the owners themselves acted as publicists, but in the face of an onslaught of comparable content from competitors, Publicist became a job description unto itself.

The publicist's job, at first, was to get articles into AVN. The good publicist's mailing list has increased by one with each media outlet that has appeared to address AVN's deficiencies or to take a run at AVN's dominance.

"Respecting the editor's job is the key to getting your client's stories published on a website or print publication," Hentai said. "If an editor has to rewrite press releases because they don't appear to be in English or if there's no news enclosed, that tends to breed ill will."

Hentai is correct, but bad or not, press releases still get printed. Editors have resorted to creating aliases to hide their shame of printing these things as news stories or have, like AVNOnline and XBiz, created a PR ghetto where press releases languish unedited.

At a recent seminar conducted by XBiz editors in Las Vegas, Hentai's work was singled out as the type of material magazines look for.

"I don't care if we get nine press releases from Wayne a day," Associate Editor Anne Winter said. "We print them because they are relevant and well-written."

And because they are not filled with references to Hentai.

"The most important thing to remember is that the person signing the checks should be the person getting the publicity," Hentai said. "I stand in the background. Writers don't want to write 'Lexington Steele's publicist said'."

Then why do publicists get away with that?

"No comment," Hentai said.

I think because porn is a visual medium that adult companies and the publicists they've hired have not emphasized a command of English as a priority of the job. Instead, a steady stream of newsless "press releases" have issued from companies, and because trade publications nominally need words that will go along with the advertising, these press releases provide excellent filler.

So trade publications and the publicists that fed them created a mutually parasitic relationship that threatened the real news editors tried to print. As in the mainstream world, a story unfavorable to an advertiser was toned down or killed. Eventually editors, who were never the managers of the publications, learned to avoid particularly thorny issues within the industry and instead pointed their anger outside, at external threats to the adult industry, such as the government or annoying copyright law.

Most publicists, then, thrive in an industry ducking for cover under a low ceiling of expectations, hence press releases an eighth grader would be embarrassed to write (or for which would at least get a D).

Hentai is different, and frustrated.

"There's no shame in using a spell-check," he said, "but I wonder when people will start connecting poor press with poor sales?"

I think this a long way off. I recently had a conversation with a porn director who said that he reads the various adult sites every day, hoping his name will be mentioned. I had counseled him that I would not run a press release that was written just for the sake of having a press release out.

"You don't invent a reason to send out a press release," I said.

"But everyone else is sending out press releases," he said, and he meant it, and it's true.

"But they look like idiots," I said, and I meant it, and it's true.

"The adult industry is a bubble," Hentai said, "and the people in the bubble aren't the ones buying adult products. Are you getting all your porn for free?"

"Yes," I sobbed.

"Presss releases need to be written for the people actually buying the product, because they are judged by the same standards as any other press release."

"So 'Good enough for Porn' isn't a business model that works anymore?" I asked.

"Five years ago, maybe," he said.

Hentai currently represents several clients, including Lexington Steele's Mercenary Pictures, Porn Week, American Xcess, Third World Media, Sinsation, and Lethal Hardcore. He works for smaller companies on a case by case basis.

I mentioned my conversation with the director who just wanted to see his name in print.

"Can't you feed someone's vanity and take their money at the same time?" I asked.

"I tell my clients that putting them in the best light sometimes means not writing something every other day," Hentai said. "You need a good balance of actual information to publicity or the project is doomed to collapse under its own hype."

Previously: Iran calls porn performers "Corruptors of the World"; Adult industry to sic itself on bad grammar; Passages; Continuing education credits

See also: Hentai PR

More Articles

profile

WIA Profile: Bree Mills

Women In Adult ·
trends

Adult Film Producers Discuss Enduring Appeal of DVDs

Alex Henderson ·
trends

Adult Stars Share Tips, Secrets for Career Success

Melissa Santana ·
profile

On the Set: Kay Brandt Blazes Trails in 'Naked'

Shawn Alff ·
profile

2017 XBIZ Trans Performer of the Year Reigns Supreme

Shawn Alff ·
opinion

Dr. Marty Klein Confronts America’s 'Porn Panic' in Latest Book

Ericka Rachelle Mendoza ·
Show More