LOS ANGELES — XBIZ 360°'s Digital Media section got underway on Thursday with packed crowds attending an array of informative seminars and keynotes.
The afternoon was highlighted by a pair of keynote speeches, one from Alec Helmy, XBIZ's founder and president, and another from adult film pioneer John Stagliano, Evil Angel's founder.
Helmy, after an insightful prologue by industry attorney Greg Piccionelli who has known and worked with the XBIZ founder for years, gave in capsule summary a rundown of his life, passion for technology, entry into the adult entertainment world and his views on the future, as well as the personal lessons he's faced in the business.
Not only a publisher and digital pioneer, Helmy has been at the forefront of the online adult biz and also is responsible for XBIZ's trade events, executive summits and awards show, as well as the ASACP, an organization he founded that advocates for child protection in the online space.
Helmy said that he continues to see bright roads ahead for the future of the business because the industry is a huge global pie that offers a lower barrier of entry, unlimited ways to mix things up and is ripe for true innovation. But the punctuating mark, Helmy said, is sex. "Let's face it, sex sells," he said.
As for trend in technology, Helmy said that the most successful online adult companies will jump on key trends in technology by incorporating responsive design technology, where one site can offer content on multiple devices; offering high-definition entertainment; employing gamification, where customers are retained through engagement; and using HTML5, the next web standard.
Helmy offered the packed audience of about 250 attendees some choice words on success and provided a list of do's and don'ts.
"Follow your passion, create something you truly believe in and offer something of better value," Helmy said. "As for don'ts: Don't rely on the industry, aim for market share, and go with your gut if you don't know enough information. And by all means, don't snooze."
Stagliano, who followed Helmy's keynote speech, discussed politics, the changing adult film industry and the Internet, as well as what's he's had to deal with the law.
Stagliano, a longtime Porn Valley producer and business leader, has proven himself as a tireless crusader for freedom of speech on behalf of the industry. In 2010, Stagliano won one of the most high-profile legal battles in the history of adult entertainment when he overcame a federal obscenity prosecution that generated nationwide attention.
Stagliano first off wanted to talk about politics, particularly "additional regulation coming in that will be used with force." Stagliano, of course, was speaking of L.A. County's Measure B and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which sponsored and advocated for the law that makes condoms mandatory in porn productions and requires adult film and health permits.
"Now we have someone that has come around lying to the government and lied to the press," said Stagliano, referring to the AHF's leader, Michael Weinstein, who spearheaded efforts to regulate the local adult film business.
Stagliano noted that the local porn production business now is in a pickle over the condom law and that he regrets what has transpired through the years over the issues of infectious diseases and filming porn, particularly since the HIV scare in 2004, when former performer Darren James came back with the virus from a shoot in Brazil. James in recent years has criticized the industry for failing to protect actors from infection.
"The industry will have a tough time solving the issue," Stagliano said. "We could have had a grassroots-on-the ground in-the-trenches kind of way to figure out this problem, but now instead we have the government imposing things on us. And that to me looks like a bad situation, and hopefully we can change that trend."
Stagliano also discussed Evil Angel's ventures into the Internet with its online partner Gamma Entertainment and how his company has adjusted to modern-day realities when it comes to porn production.
Stagliano in the past year released vampire epic "Voracious" on the web. The episodic web serial on EvilAngel.com, started as an online project and then was packaged later in a complete, multidisc box set. The combined production clocks in at more than six hours broken up across two discs.
"The Internet in the past 15 years has introduced new things into the world of pornography," said Stagliano, who noted that online porn has taken a chunk of revenue from companies that market DVDs. "But that is OK, because the Internet has brought us so many new things, new ideas."
Thursday's XBIZ 360° also offered seminars, including "Interactive Sex: The New Face of Adult Entertainment," which brought together industry experts — Douglas Richter, senior authorized consultant for AWEmpire; Oren of ImLive; AK of DatingGold and Tanya Fathers of Dating Factory — discussing the future of the biz with moderator Stephen Yagelowicz of XBIZ.
Another seminar, "Mobile Adult Entertainment: A Paradigm Shift in the Making," featured speakers Joey Gabra of Affil4You, Chi Lee of Reporo, Jesse of Mikandi, Quinn VaVerka of Adult App Mart and moderator JoeD of DeclineCash.
XBIZ 360° also included a workshop featuring longtime Internet marketer Brad Gosse, who explored how some websites outshine others by focusing on better customer relations. Gosse took a close look at 11 paysites, detailing the sites' good, bad and ugly features.