Meet Joel Drapeau, Gamma Entertainment’s affable and longtime director of sales.
Drapeau probably doesn’t need an introduction for many of those who work in the field of adult entertainment. He’s a regular when it comes to industry conferences, often seen on panel discussions or schmoozing it up during networking events or perhaps he’s swinging the clubs during some of the tradeshows’ golf tourneys.
I believe we are entering into a new era of adult filmmaking, one that really challenges the status quo of what porn should and should not be. The trends I’m noticing have more to do with this new era than any specific niche or starlet. It’s not what is being shot so much as how it is being shot. - Joel Drapeau, Gamma Entertainment
Over the course of his 13 years at Montreal-based Gamma Entertainment, Drapeau’s been involved in critical decision-making to help build the company, which offers some of the best affiliate programs in the biz as well as a blue-chip traffic network, into where it is today — a profitable and progressive enterprise that looks glowingly forward at the future of porn.
In this XBIZ World interview, Drapeau discusses his career at Gamma and hints of the latest trends he’s been witnessing.
XBIZ: How and when did you get your start in the adult entertainment biz, and what is your role at Gamma Entertainment?
Drapeau: When I decided to change the direction of my studies at the university, I took a few months off to work, make a little money and figure out what I wanted to do exactly. I started working for a company doing door-to-door sales, selling restaurant deals, oil changes and many more.
I was always in the top one percent in sales, but after 10 years of long hours and knocking on doors, I wanted to see something different. So in 2002 I went online and saw an ad from an adult entertainment company looking for a sales rep. So I decided to apply, just to see how this porn company operates — and also hoping to take in a glimpse of a few boobs.
The minute I walked into Gamma Entertainment offices, I was very impressed about the set up. I thought I made a wrong turn and ended up in a lawyer’s office. A few days later, I started as the affiliate manager for Pornication.com, a live cam property that Gamma had bought at the time.
Over time, my role evolved and I received new responsibilities and different products — but the same great work environment. Thirteen years later, I handle all B2B services Gamma has to offer to other adult-oriented companies. This allows me to be creative in the development of products, and also continue being on the sales side of things.
XBIZ: What does Gamma Entertainment exactly offer?
Drapeau: Since 1996, Gamma Entertainment has been offering the best paysites on the web. For those who are old enough to remember, Gamma was one of the pioneers of reality porn with Brunob.com. Lots of people still tell me that they received their first payout check from Gamma! These days Gamma still offers the best affiliate programs — FameDollars, BlazingBucks and BuddyProfits. We also own the highly productive ad network AdXpansion. Many other products are offered under our B2B platform, like email marketing and premium channels. We continue to develop new, innovative and profitable products.
XBIZ: What trends lately have you noticed with online adult consumption, and what are porn fans really looking for these days?
Drapeau: I believe we are entering into a new era of adult filmmaking, one that really challenges the status quo of what porn should and should not be. The trends I’m noticing have more to do with this new era than any specific niche or starlet. It’s not what is being shot so much as how it is being shot.
For example, directors like Greg Lansky are revolutionizing the way consumers enjoy anal or interracial content by preserving the hardcore nature but presenting it in a way that is both visually compelling and utterly beautiful. Suddenly, it’s glamorous to do your first anal ... a right of passage models can be proud of. Not the sign of decline into debauchery.
It’s similar with what we’re doing at Girlsway involving Stills by Alan and Bree Mills: We are totally breaking down the concept of standalone web content and producing lesbian erotica in the same way that TV channels produce shows. It’s not just about our fans getting off ... it’s about getting off and being equally excited for next week’s episode because the stories and characters are so compelling. Other trends include the rise in importance of good scripts and companies that are willing to work hand in hand with models to promote content, not just shoot them and lose them.
XBIZ: How about trends for the gay content side of the biz?
Drapeau: You can see this happening in both the straight and gay content side of the business. The progressive porn companies out there are quietly changing how fans view their adult content, and within the next few years I think this new wave of filmmakers will leave a lasting impact.
XBIZ: How about trends in the affiliate business. What have you noticed?
Drapeau: Affiliates are definitely not as big as they were a few years back. We are seeing the same things in affiliates that we are seeing in other spheres of our business — a lot of mergers and acquisitions. We recently saw the same thing that we keep seeing in tubes over the last years, like when RabbitsReview acquired TheBestPorn. I think we will keep seeing this happening over and over again.
XBIZ: Has social media been a big player for Gamma?
Drapeau: Social media prior to the Girlsway launch really helped hype the new studio and create a brand even before its launch. While many sales don’t come directly from social media (i.e.: a link from one of our social profiles or models talking about us) the branding it provides helps boost our organic sales and plants a seed in a user’s mind that when he thinks about lesbian porn, he’s more likely to search us and purchase a membership.
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 viewing adult content?
Drapeau: Personally I have a doubt in the success of VR porn, I still think it’s “gimmick porn.” The setup to watch your porn is quite a big rig, and I’m not sure people will get on the bandwagon. I still think a lot of people hide to go “take care of business” and watch their porn. I do hope I’m wrong and VR porn will take off, but I can’t see myself walking around the house with big glasses and disappearing for a few minutes. Obviously more people are watching porn on their mobile devices, so adapting your sites to it is a no-brainer these days.
XBIZ: Can you name a person in the adult industry who has had a tremendous impact on you?
Drapeau: There are way too many people that I look up to in this industry. People I work with on a day-to-day basis in the office inspire me by their knowledge, passion and innovation they bring day in and day out. As far as people in the industry, it’s no secret I hang out with a small group of people who I like because of our friendship, but that is because I look up to them because of their work. If you are not on this list, I still love you !
Charles Rousseau, who teaches me on a day to day basis. He taught me to be creative, innovative and always pushing new boundaries;
Harmik Gharpetian for his people skills; Michael Klein for his wide business experience;
Tony Morgan on how to respect and treat people right;
Josh Marcum for the way he knows so many small details that end up making a big difference; and,
Ed Kunkle for well … being Ed. Seriously for his serious work ethic, which surprised me at first.
And a special mention to Stinger. After years of him looking up at me, I’m so proud that it’s my turn to look up to him. He’s like my special-ed kid that finally made it.
XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?
Drapeau: I’m a huge sports fan and, like all Canadians, I love hockey! I watch, play and eat hockey. It’s by far the best sport in the world. I also love to cook. In fact, I will be launching a cooking blog for fellow industry people who share the same passion … stay tuned!