Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.
Michelle Liss is nearing two decades in the pleasure products industry, and according to this well-known pleasure power player, life is still looking peachy from behind her desk at Paradise Marketing headquarters. Like many of the industry’s OG sales executives, Liss got her start pushing papers for major adult video production outfits. And like most old-schoolers, she fell in love with a career that started out as just another way to pay the bills and stuck with this gang of crazy dildo and lube slingers for life.
I never thought this would turn into a career for me, but it has and I absolutely LOVE what I do and love everyone I get to work with and be around.
To the relief of Liss’ colleague partners-in-crime, we couldn’t get her to spill any scandalous stories. Liss instead chose to gush about the folks that inspired her to stick around since her days of working as an office temp and the empowered women that paved the way for the sexual freedom revolution. Though Liss may be too humble to say so herself, we’d count her as one of the amazing women whose presence has made this business a better place. Without further ado, Michelle Liss is our Woman of the Month, and if you ask us, this one’s been a long time coming. Take it away, Michelle!
XBIZ: So what does it feel like to arrive at year 19 of your pleasure industry career?
Michelle Liss: I never thought this would turn into a career for me, but it has and I absolutely LOVE what I do and love everyone I get to work with and be around. The people in this industry have become family to me.
XBIZ: What did you do before you worked for America’s No. 1 condom and lube manufacturer?
Liss: I started off back in 1999 as a temp, then an assistant, and then I went on to VHS sales at Vivid for about six years. From there, I then worked as a sales rep for Red Light District and many other companies along the way. I fell in love with the industry.
XBIZ: How did you wind up with Paradise Marketing all those years ago?
Liss: I met Dennis Paradise back in the day when he made condoms for Vivid and we stayed in touch through the years. I would always joke with him about hiring me and he never had anything available. I moved back to Chicago for a couple of years and I was lucky enough to get a call from Dennis saying he had a position for me. I have now been here for just over four years and I couldn’t be happier.
XBIZ: What industry figures helped contribute to your career success?
Liss: Howard Levine, David Joseph and of course Dennis Paradise. I have to say, pretty much everyone who has been around and has a passion for what they do inspire me everyday!
XBIZ: How did you progress to where you are now at your position within Paradise Marketing?
Liss: I started in this same position, as a matter of fact. I am the only sales rep at Paradise Marketing. Everyone here contributes to the sales, especially Wayne Decker, the COO. We all work as a team here.
XBIZ: What are the best parts of your job?
Liss: The best part about my job … is the job itself.
XBIZ: What female industry pioneers have influenced your success?
Liss: Back in 1999, there weren’t many women of “power” in this industry The female pioneers who influenced my success, I have to say, are Joy King, Marci Hirsch and Susan Colvin. When I first started in the pleasure industry, these were the strong women who I saw work incredibly hard. I have so much respect for them and many others who continually show that women play a huge part in the success of this industry.
XBIZ: How have women’s voices changed the pleasure industry over the years?
Liss: As I stated before, there were few women of power in this industry when I started. Over the years, so many more women have joined the industry and all are kicking ass and taking names! I’m truly blessed to be able to work with all of the remarkable women who are proving that we are just as capable, if not more in some instances, of becoming successful in this industry.
XBIZ: Tell us a memorable or humorous story from your time in this crazy career field.
Liss: I have so many memorable and humorous stories from my time in this industry. This may be hard to believe, but I don’t think most of them are appropriate to publish. Another reason this industry is the BEST and I wouldn’t change a thing!
XBIZ: What exciting things are coming down the pipeline for you this year?
Liss: Everyday something new and exciting happens. This year will be my first time attending eroFame in Germany. I am excited to be focusing on international sales going forward, as well as domestic sales.