Owner Jack Avalanche wears his sleeves rolled up managing his boutique program, CherryPimps.com.
He’s the kind of entrepreneur with the hands-on approach who’s persevered and prospered by keeping it simple — “keep shooting quality content, listen to your members, and give them what they want,” he says.
Yes there are droves of customers we lost due to the tubes, the free content, the piracy, yada yada — but they’re gone. Get over it, grow up and deal with it.
And over the years, he’s found a loyal legion of porn fans (as well as affiliates) who keep on coming back for more quality content involving the hottest adult stars performing live and in high definition.
XBIZ World wanted to learn more about how Avalanche built his company from scratch, how he balances the frenetic day of running a program like CherryPimps, and where he sees the future of adult entertainment in this Presidential Suite interview.
XBIZ: How did you get your start in the adult entertainment biz?
AVALANCHE: Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a chronic workaholic, and back in 2002 after I had just finished my master’s degree I found myself bored. Despite working day to day in real estate as a sales trainer I needed something challenging to fill my extra hours. We — my wife and I — began selling gifts and various things on eBay, eventually moving onto lingerie, which inevitably led us to adult. In the beginning we dabbled in blogs, TGPs and other various free sites until 2004 when I felt comfortable leaving real estate given our belief that the demise of the industry was quickly approaching. At that time I went full time and liquidated all of our real estate properties and began building CherryPimps. As things began to grow my wife left her job in real estate about two years later.
XBIZ: How did Cherry Pimps come about, and how has the company evolved?
AVALANCHE: When we began to build CherryPimps, we didn’t have all of the assets that many of the programs had and didn’t have the history in the business. So we set out to create a boutique program that offered quality content and personal service. We never claimed to be the biggest or the best, we just did the best we could and ultimately hoped that was enough. Over the years we’ve built a solid base of fans and affiliates who know us and believe in the product we offer. And to this day we often used the mantra that “we’re NOT them” because we’re still, after almost 10 years, ultimately a boutique program. As the owner I still often answer support emails, fix bugs, work day to day, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
XBIZ: What are porn fans really looking for these days?
AVALANCHE: This gets asked a lot by people asking why anyone pays for porn anymore and to me the answer is simple: People like to be loyal, they like to belong and they still appreciate a quality product. If you treat them like a number they will leave. Yes there are droves of customers we lost due to the tubes, the free content, the piracy, yada yada — but they’re gone. Get over it, grow up and deal with it. It hurt the small guys like me a lot more than it did the big guys who just added another cross sell. Keep shooting quality content, listen to your members, and give them what they want and you will persevere.
XBIZ: How does social media come into play with driving traffic to your live shows?
AVALANCHE: We've found it to be a very fruitful source of quality members. When we first partnered with Streamate to begin offering feature porn star shows we knew that focusing on big-name stars would allow us to not just capitalize on each star’s fan base, but most importantly draw from their social media followers and fans. We currently shoot upwards of 40-60 porn stars a month and if you imagine each girl averaging 100,000-200,000 Twitter followers, then you can see us reaching a pretty diverse group of porn fans. A lot of companies can sell you Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and whatnot. But none of those get you real results.
XBIZ: What’s your take on the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s insistence that porn be shot with condoms only?
AVALANCHE: I'll begin by stating that we are a condom studio, whether we like it or not, simply due to the fact that it’s the law. We shoot upwards of 120-150 scenes a month and just moving out of state or going underground wasn’t a realistic option. Thus, we pull film permits and we have a permit issued by the Los Angeles Department of Health, and we make every effort to be OSHA compliant.
However, we feel the AHF has been on a witch hunt for some time and their energies could have been spent much better elsewhere, which may prove even more true by the recent allegations being brought against them on various fronts. On the other side, I also think the adult industry as a whole could have done a much better job if we’d come together and found a common ground to negotiate from. We are ultimately all here to make money, and while I’ll probably catch hell for saying this, we aren’t doing this as an exercise of our freedom of speech or expression. This is ultimately a business. As we continue to push forward both our fans and performers appreciate our position, and we’ve had no problems thus far.
XBIZ: Some mention that virtual reality combined with haptic technology as the next big thing for the online adult and live cams industries. What are your thoughts on the future of adult?
AVALANCHE: First and foremost the haptic technologies seem to be something that has been popping up regularly over the past few years. The issues I’ve seen first and foremost is the cost of the equipment for the consumer and the lack of complimentary content for use with said equipment. I know there are a few new pieces that popped up over the last year that still require the guy to stick his junk into a machine with plugs, gears and more, which to me seems problematic.
With the addition and evolution of virtual reality I think that could be the missing component to make it successful. Whether it’s something as simple as a Fleshlight and a VR system, it could set the industry up for the next frontier.
These technologies as it applies to live cams seems problematic as many live cam shows are geared to the group, and I think these technologies in the area of cams would be more suited more to individual shows. Individual shows are still very prevalent, but this again gets back to cost and whether it is feasible for the performer to have the necessary equipment to broadcast in such a way to make the users’ equipment functional. And, I know there are some pieces of equipment out that there do that, but from history we know that just having the tech isn’t enough since we know one large company in adult closed down their system as it just wasn’t viable.
XBIZ: Can you name a person in the adult industry who has had a tremendous impact on you?
AVALANCHE: I'd probably have to split this between two people — Liz and Bode from Streamate, and the team they’ve built. We began working together more than six years ago and it’s been reassuring to see individuals who are clearly very successful, yet still grounded. Their success in the live cam market is no surprise as their deep history in the adult industry combined with no fear of hard work has paid off exponentially. We’re happy to be part of their team bringing the hottest and biggest porn stars to their network through our feature shows and exclusive contract stars.
XBIZ: How important is it to attend and be active at online adult trade shows?
AVALANCHE: I think it's very important to keep the human component of our relationships intact. We often find ourselves dealing with people for years without ever shaking hands or having a real conversation — and no, ICQ and Skype doesn’t count. I don’t think there is any real substitute for a real face to face conversation. We regularly visit trade shows and use them as an avenue to reaffirm our existing relationships, possibly expand them, and ideally create new ones.
XBIZ: What's a typical work day like?
AVALANCHE: Usually up around 6 a.m. as our son or daughter, or both, are screaming for breakfast. I try to spend a bit of time with them in the morning then disappear to my office around 8 a.m. or head out to our production studio. We have a three-story home and the 3rd floor is my home office; our production studio is about an hour away in Los Angeles. When working from home I’ll usually spend the day till around 6:30 p.m. working on new site projects, production schedules, or buried in email. When I’m at our studio, it’s usually for meetings with our contract girls or our production team. Whether at the home office or at our studio, we try to be home for family dinner around 7 p.m. and then we put the kids to bed. Around 9 p.m. I’m back in the office as our European design and programming teams come online at 10 p.m. We’ll review projects and to-dos so I can get to bed by 11 p.m. or so.
XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?
AVALANCHE: That's a very tough question as I can’t say that I ever switch off. But over the past four years I’ve welcomed a son and daughter into the mix and they have certainly changed things. I make a point to unplug every night for a few hours and I try to leave my weekends to them. That is until football season starts and then Sundays are shared with my Chargers when they let me watch.