Q&A: Kelly Madison Discusses Road to Success
LOS ANGELES — Award-winning veteran performer Kelly Madison and her husband Ryan have created a lucrative boutique studio with Kelly Madison Media, combining years of performing experience with stylized productions and savvy marketing. The endlessly innovative entrepreneurs have stayed fresh by adapting to consumers’ rapidly evolving desires, while cultivating their own unmistakable filmic brand of sexuality.
Even during the adult industry’s late 90s gold rush, when most porn producers were laser-focused on DVDs before branching out on the web, the Madison duo did the exact opposite. KellyMadison.com came first, and its audience has grown steadily over the years. The couple has now become a major force to be reckoned with, producing, directing and starring in their own uniquely captivating titles.
Among their most successful series to date are “Whiteroom,” “Porn Fidelity,” “Teen Fidelity” and “Kelly Madison’s World Famous Tits.” Popular sites under the company umbrella include PornFidelity.com and TeenFidelity.com, where a steady stream of eager fans flows heavily.
For the 2016 XBIZ Awards, Kelly Madison Media has earned seven nominations, including All-Sex Series of the Year for “White Room” and “Kiss,” Vignette Release of the Year for “Women of the Middle East,” Vignette Series of the Year for “Kiss,” Best Sex Scene — Gonzo Release for “Fuck ‘Em Slutty 5,” Marketing Campaign of the Year and the coveted Studio of the Year.
XBIZ caught up with Kelly Madison to discuss their compelling story and recipe for resounding success.
XBIZ: Tell us about your early days, and how you ultimately became involved in adult.
Madison: I attended college for a few years, and then had to drop out to take care of my ailing father who had Alzheimer’s. I then started a career in sales and made pretty good money. I was going to go back to college in my late twenties, when my mother fell ill to kidney failure. Someday I’ll go back to school, but I highly doubt I’ll continue with medicine; maybe a psychology major this time.
When I met Ryan, I was VP of sales at a computer graphics firm and he was a graphic artist who worked for me. He’s almost 10 years my junior, so you could say that I sort of robbed the cradle. We became involved in the business, initially, through a friend named Rodger, who produced “girl-peeing” videos. Yes, peeing videos, crazy as that sounds. But back in the late 90s, he was making a small fortune with these titles. So, I thought about producing movies myself — not the peeing kind, of course, but possibly girl-girl vids. Ryan also knew Rodger, so he and I came up with the idea to go into adult entertainment together as a partnership.
XBIZ: What are the pros and cons of being in adult, especially as a husband-wife team?
Madison: The pros outweigh the cons. Where else in the entertainment industry can you be a small independent filmmaker with distribution, have a web presence and not answer to a big company or investor? The adult business producer gets to make movies on a small budget and feed an ever-hungry fan base. We get to be sexual, creative and independent, while being free to do what we like. A drawback is that so many adult films are pirated for free on the Internet without a big company or lawyers to back you.
The pros are that we trust each other, work harder than anyone else we know, are both perfectionists and are on the same path in life. The drawback is that, when you disagree with your mate, it isn’t so easy, especially if you have to do a scene together. That can get touchy. But ours is a marriage of practicality and love: What I’m good at, he’s not, and vice versa. I could never do it without him, and I’m sure he feels the same way about me. It’s very comforting knowing your partner and spouse always has your back.
XBIZ: How do the two of you divide company duties?
Madison: Wow, that’s a rough one — we both wear so many hats. We practically do everything but print the DVD covers. Juicy Entertainment does a fantastic job of distributing our DVDs, and our PR people at Fine Ass Marketing represent the top of their field. But everything else is done in-house. We create our own sets, direct our own material — edit, Photoshop, design, as well as handle computer programming, site updates, affiliate programs, advertising, merchant accounting and customer service.
I sometimes direct the intros of our videos, but mainly I handle the art direction, such as how the set and talent are going to look, and so on. Ryan’s ideas and videos have become far more elaborate, and he does the directing, along with being the male talent. Even while having sex, he wears more than one hat! A few years ago I was in all of the videos with Ryan, but since then, I only star in my own Kelly Madison titles and on KellyMadison.com. I’d like to say that I’ve sort of retired, but I feel like the behind-the-scenes work is more intense than ever.
Ryan does the editing and programming end of it, not to mention the affiliate program, as well as starring in 99 percent of our videos and directing them. Aside from art direction and working with models, I handle all of the money and oversee all of the customer service. And, while Ryan handles the affiliates, I pay them, as well as do the bills. All major business decisions are, however, handled by both of us. Ryan also runs KellyFind.com, which is a review site along with free content. It has site discounts and reviews, live cams, as well as photo and video galleries. It’s a pretty big site in itself to run, on top of Ryan handling our production company. So we basically have a small but highly effective crew. You can easily call us the Mom and Pop shop of Porn.
XBIZ: Can you describe the creative processes behind developing your stylized works?
Madison: We just do what we like. We don’t try to follow trends, but we do listen to our site members, who give us feedback all of the time. Sometimes we get a wild hair up our asses and do something crazy like “Get My Belt” or “Women of the Middle East.” We see something in a music video or an image on the Internet, and it just gets ideas flowing. Luckily we have the ability to do what makes us happy. We answer to no one. We’ve always financed our own projects and websites, and we don’t have any partners.
Life just inspires us. If we see something artsy and cool, we try our best to do our own version of it. Ryan comes up with the best stuff in the shower. We’re constantly making ‘product’ because we have four websites that require weekly updates. So, ideas fly around this place like crazy. But we both come up with concepts. I come up with some of the DVD ideas and so does Ryan.
XBIZ: What is your approach to marketing?
Madison: We really just make individual projects that we enjoy doing, with, again, the support of Juicy Entertainment and Fine Ass Marketing. We’re able to get our product out to the public, and our websites have been around for 15 years, so we’re fortunate enough to have a really supportive and lucrative web following.
XBIZ: Which series have been most successful?
Madison: “Whiteroom” has always been a fan favorite. It’s pretty aggressive, and we’re fortunate to have extremely sexually charged female talent who are amazing in all volumes. I like “Romantic Aggression,” Pornfidelity’s “Kiss” and my new fave is “Nerd Girls.” I love these girls who look a bit nerdy and naturally sexy, then act like wild beasts on camera. “Women of the Middle East” was challenging on many levels but really worth it. I personally enjoyed the art direction of “Wanderlust,” which is also one of our newest series. I love that Bohemian chic, hippie, free-love sort of look. The sex in that DVD exudes freedom of sexual expression.
XBIZ: What upcoming projects are you most excited about?
Madison: I mentioned “Nerd Girls,” for which I hope to produce many more titles. It’s just a fun concept to work with. Ryan just completed a new DVD called “Gloved,” which is entirely his baby. I don’t know how that man has the time to continually come up with new ideas, while still editing and performing and running the business. But whatever he does, at least I know that the product is solid and that he puts everything he has into it. He does the work of 10 men. I really can’t say that enough.