WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The recent 2018 XBIZ Show offered a new series track called “XBIZ Talk,” which offered conference attendees the opportunity to listen to six leading players in the adult entertainment industry who spoke about their own personal experiences, business perspectives and predictions.
The all-new slate of “talks" took centerstage over two days this week at the XBIZ Show. XBIZ Talk was held at a dedicated conference hall at the Andaz hotel in West Hollywood, Calif.
JuicyAds owner Juicy Jay; X-Art.com owners Colette and Brigham Field; performer and virtual reality pioneer Ela Darling; Adam Grayson, Evil Angel’s chief financial officer; Bree Mills, Gamma Films head of production; and Studio 20 owner Mugur Frunzetti each offered short-but-concise “talks.”
Juicy Jay, who founded and operates the JuicyAds ad network, led off the talks with his monologue titled, “Strength Through Adversity: Motivational Life Lessons and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
In his talk, Juicy Jay broke down the boundaries between home life and business, and how they directly affect each other in both negative and positive ways.
“It’s impossible to separate your personal life from your business,” he said. “They effect your life in profound ways. Everyone has the ability to be successful. I don’t believe in fate.”
Juicy Jay went on to discuss his start in internet commerce — when he entered mainstream affiliate marketing when he was 17, earning much more money that he ever could make if he went to school and got a degree. Later, after the money came rolling in, JuicyAds was born.
“The truth source of the success and motivation was failure,” Juicy Jay said. “The path to success and happiness is not a straight line.”
Juicy Jay elaborated how he almost lost everything after trying to save a dysfunctional marriage, which finally resolved itself in divorce.
“Partners we choose are incredibly important to our lives,” Juicy Jay said. “My divorce almost ended JuicyAds, and I fought for almost three years to end that parasite.
“You have to understand, if you are not happy it will impact everything and everyone around you. The best advice I can give is that no matter what you are doing, find happiness every day and you’ll be more productive than ever.”
Field, the owner of X-Art.com, the well-known purveyor of beautifully shot erotic content, was joined in her XBIZ Talk with husband Brigham Field.
An XBIZ Talk called "Selling Sex Through Art” mapped out how she and her husband left the real estate and marketing industries to shoot erotic videos with fashionable taste.
Colette Field described how the couple continues to be "lone wolves” of the adult film production business and have become self-reliant in many ways without much industry support (in fact, the 2018 XBIZ Show was their first experience at an adult B2B convention).
She also shared how she casts talent and directs productions.
“Directing other people having sex is kind of strange,” she said. “You don’t want to hurt performers feelings, because you want them to feel like they’re the most beautiful. But you really do want the best shot. So, you really have to be instructive — like saying, “raise your butt a little higher, or move your breast a bit.'
“We are really artistic,” she said. “So, we want to get it right.”
Field also outlined potential ways that adult companies can thwart rampant piracy occurring on file-sharing sites by creating an iTunes-like micropayment system. X-Art.com historically has been a site where thieves commonly poach and share content on file-sharing programs, she said.
“People know that they need to pay for their porn — including the next generation of porn fans, who are not accustomed to not paying for it.”
Darling, the adult performer who is considered a leading innovator by helping introduce virtual reality to the adult cam space, delivered a talk titled, “Not Being Afraid to Take Risks.”
Darling’s presentation was intended to encourage people to take chances and to challenge themselves, but turned into so much more, as she touched on issues facing performers, including stigmatization that can last a lifetime — a lifetime, that for some who lose hope, is sadly cut short.
“Things we all see and face as performers, but we rarely articulate out loud. That can accumulate to the point of driving you to the edge,” Darling said, noting several people in our industry have been driven to that edge over the past year.
Noting the myriad issues performers face do not have a single solution, Darling outlined steps that can be taken to protect and promote one’s career, citing the value of support systems — even having a good friend to talk to — among other helpful actions.
“Cultivate honesty on social support groups and share the weight together. Cut each other some slack,” Darling said. “Understand that your value is not a metric measured by your success or longevity as a porn star.
“No matter how great or poor your success in porn is, your personal value extends far beyond that.”
Grayson, Evil Angel’s chief financial officer, offered his views about running an adult entertainment enterprise with a talk called, “Changing With the Times.”
Grayson, who shared insights and anecdotes about his journey through adult, described how he joined Evil Angel in 2008 to help lead the financial and technology side of Evil Angel, a company founded by gonzo pioneer John Stagliano.
He was handpicked by late Evil Angel general manager Christian Mann, initially as an interim replacement for the head of its online operation, after selling SearchExtreme.com, which he ran for about 12 years.
Grayson, who holds an MBA, right out of the gate helped transition operations of the studio’s websites to Gamma Entertainment for distribution and had a hand in repositioning the brand and the company’s heavy general expenses — all with Stagliano’s blessing.
“No one likes to talk about change; I, however, like to call it ‘disruption,” said Grayson, who explained how Stagliano, too, knows about “disruption.”
“His first disruption was his ownership model,” Grayson said. “He believed deeply that the person who is holding the camera should own the content. And that became successful for John. And soon after other directors came calling.”
Grayson said that customer tastes are always shifting, and that to stay relevant filmmakers have to change with their fans.
“Fundamentally, Evil Angel is a distributor,” he said. “But that’s like a dinosaur. The idea of making a living by putting DVDs in boxes is like the dinosaur.”
“There’s a value chain between content creation and consumers,” he said. “And companies need to evolve to access [new customers].”
Mills, Gamma Film’s head of production and vice president of the company, spoke on “The Business of Being Creative.”
Mills started producing for Gamma about five years ago, and currently she’s charged with the production of about 100 scenes a month for various imprints, including Girlsway.com, Fantasy Massage, PureTaboo and 21Sextury.
She credits her imaginative vision and passion as reasons she’s earned accolades with not just Gamma’s management, but with performers and fans.
“I’m a writer director and producer, but at the core of who I really am, stripping it all away, is a storyteller,” Mills said. “I have a very vivid imagination I’ve used story telling as a secret weapon my entire life. It is how I’ve made friends, pitched ideas.
“I’m so blessed that I am a storyteller within the adult space, because I believe we are in a real renaissance period within adult content where artists, filmmakers and performers are constantly challenging the status quo of what adult content can be.”
Mills described the production process for ideas — 50 percent of the ideas come from fans, and 50 percent from her own “mental porn factory.”
She discussed her interest in porn, starting with selling vintage blue magazines on eBay in the early 2000s. That interest opened her eyes into what drives consumers to what they are searching for — certain fetishes.
When Gamma decided to get into the original adult film business, Mills was propositioned with heading its film group. She leaped at the chance, she said, first with the relaunch of several all-girl massage sites.
“The success of the all-girl massage sites under a new vision gave me the confidence to pitch an idea that was at the time unprecedented — that was to pitch to Gamma’s owners an all-girl network — the Girlsway.com network — which we launched in 2014.”
“It is not just about being creative yourself and having great ideas, it is about who you surround yourself with. And the best thing to do as a creative leader is to build yourself an army,” she said. “Gamma Films is now a core group of artists and filmmakers — producers, directors, editors, hair and makeup artists. Rather than hire a bunch of third-party shooters, I wanted to grow a core group using the same resources for what we shoot in Los Angeles.”
Frunzetti, Studio 20’s founder and CEO, offered an XBIZ Talk on "Leadership Through Passion," which focused on how his company’s vision has found success — creating a camming enterprise that offers attractive models without an emphasis on sex.
He founded Studio 20 in Bucharest in 2013, and after expanding to half dozen studios in Romania — from Cluj-Napoca to Bucharest Unirii — Frunzetti opened one in Hollywood, Calif. Now, Studio 20s also can be found in Budapest and Cali, Colombia.
“I think it is essential for anyone getting into business to try to see what will happen in the next five or 10 years,” he said. “And how he will make a difference, because if you just go with the flow, you’ll just be at the bottom of the flow.”
Full of passion for his company, Frunzetti admitted that when the cam biz first started, things were booming, but today things are different. “The cam biz is going to keep growing but not so fast,” he said.
To succeed in changing times, “It is important to have a vision, be realistic and to put all of the assets you have in the business,” Frunzetti said.
“You can’t expect anyone to help build your vision. You have to do it yourself.”
Pictured: Bree Mills, Gamma Film’s head of production, delivers an XBIZ Talk at the 2018 XBIZ Show