7-Eleven Returns To Porn

Gretchen Gallen
DALLAS, Texas -- It may have been a troubling year for traditional porn magazines like Al Goldstein's "Screw" and Guccione's "Penthouse" as the full effect of the Internet takes its toll, but 7-Eleven is betting that the era of skin magazines is not over yet, despite what circulation numbers are reflecting.

Much to the begrudging of many family advocacy groups and anti-porn crusaders, the world's most popular convenience store announced plans this week to return porn to its shelves after a 17-year ban.

According to the store's management, an estimated 5,300 nationwide chain stores will now offer adult entertainment publications, among them the 50th anniversary issue of Playboy.

The convenience store chain stopped featuring porn around 1986, due in part to pressure from family and child advocacy groups and the more negative public perception of porn during that time period.

According to a representative for the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families, which played a strong role in getting 7-Eleven to eradicate porn from its magazine offerings in the mid-1980s, 7-Eleven was once one of the largest distributors of porn magazines in the U.S.

There is also speculation that 7-Eleven based its decision to re-stock porn based on the recent upsurge in porn's popularity that has swept the nation through every media outlet, including mainstream television, cable, and the Internet.

In response to 7-Eleven's decision, many critics are predicting that the convenience store chain will suffer a loss of business. There are also grumblings among advocacy groups over a possible boycott of the convenience store chain.

But according to recent statistics, there is still a confirmed demand for porn magazines, which many of the top porn publishers contend will always have a market niche no matter how much the Internet has dominated the adult entertainment industry.

Even porn mogul Larry Flynt, publisher of "Hustler" magazine and numerous Hustler-branded websites, believes that while the future of porn is on the Internet and many adult magazines have been hard-hit by sagging sales, newsstands are still selling adult magazines, just in smaller quantities.

According to Flynt, there will always be an adult marketplace for people who want to actually hold porn content in their hands, as opposed to viewing it on the Internet.

According to reports, just over a month ago, Al Goldstein, the publisher of "Screw" magazine filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with plans to reduce overhead and relaunch the magazine in the near future.

Bob Guccione's General Media, the parent company of Penthouse International, also filed for Chapter 11 protection, although the magazine will continue to publish as the company restructures.

According to Wired, "Penthouse" has seen its circulation drop from 1 million to 565,700 over the past five years.

"The magazine may remain the cornerstone for the name brand, but in the future, the real money will be made elsewhere," magazine specialist Samir Husni told Wired, adding that while hundreds of new adult websites launch every month, only 30 new sex magazines launched last year.

"Purveyors of adult fare must expand beyond traditional publishing methods to survive," he concluded.

7-Eleven operates, franchises, and licenses more than 6,000 stores in the United States and Canada and licenses approximately 17,000 stores in 17 other countries and territories throughout the world.

During 2001, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $31 billion.