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November 02, 2001 12:26am
No Hard Times for Porn Industry
Source: ManNet/Daily News

(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- Terrorist attacks, war in Afghanistan and a faltering economy are not having an effect on one of the San Fernando Valley's most robust industries: adult videos.

Some of the area's top manufacturers of explicit films and DVDs said this week that their orders are up by as much as 20 percent since September 11 while smaller companies and video stores said business has remained steady.

"Our industry is, for the most part, recession-proof," said Jim Monroe, vice president of Van Nuys-based Vivid Video [http://VividVideo.com], one of the world's largest producers of explicit adult entertainment. "When times are good people still want to stay home and watch the movies and when times aren't so good, people tend to cuddle up at home even a little bit more."

The Valley has long been home to the booming adult film industry, which generated more than $4 billion in sales and rentals last year nationwide, according to Adult Video News [http://AVN.com], the industry's main trade paper. Although 2001 sales figures will not be available until December, Adult Video News Editor in Chief Mike Ramone said he doesn't expect any kind of drop in business with more than 11,000 new hard-core titles being released annually.

"I have heard from retailers that immediately after the attack, business went down with everyone staying home glued to the tube," Ramone said. "But then shortly thereafter, it went through the ceiling. I suppose people still need their distractions even in wartime."

Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County [http://LAEDC.org], said the adult film industry has historically weathered hard economic times. "If they had reported as being down, it would be a big surprise," Kyser said. "It's sort of the industry that dare not speak its name but it's one of the strong growth areas. People may not approve but, obviously, there is a demand. It seems to be a very, very solid industry."

According to the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., adult films account for approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of filming permits filed in Los Angeles County. The industry is able to weather tough economic times on the production side because they have small budgets, use small crews and minimal sets.

And the financial commitment from the consumer is also minimal.

"In a slowing economy, people might not take vacations or buy cars but they still want to go to movies, watch television or rent videos," said Morrie Goldman, vice president of the EIDC.

Monroe said the astonishing rise in popularity of DVDs has added handsomely to Vivid Video's bottom line and to the adult film industry's health overall. "We have seen a continual increase on DVDs the last 12-15 months and we are taking advantage of the technology," Monroe said. "We don't have a [Martin] Scorsese or [Francis Ford] Coppola to add director's comments but the more interactive we make our titles, the better."

Confident of continued strong demand, Canoga Park-based Wicked Pictures [http://WickedWeb.com] has no plans to scale back on the 48 new DVDs and VHS films it produces each year and sells to distributors. "Obviously, September 11 affected everyone to some degree and all anyone was concerned about was watching the news every night to see what was going on," said Wicked Pictures President Steve Orenstein. "Then it started changing when people were looking for anything but the news. Right now, business is good again and going as usual."

The president of a Van Nuys-based printing company that makes boxes for DVDs and videos for more than 200 porn companies said the only concession he has had to make to national events is to design machine-sealed mailing envelopes because of anxiety over the anthrax scare.

"With Christmas season coming up, we have seen orders for DVD boxes go way up and we are expecting a very busy Christmas season," he said. "There had already been an increase in home entertainment but now people are really seeking the security of being entertained at home."

While heterosexual porn films, which make up 90 percent of the market, have continued to sell and rent at a steady clip, sales of gay porn films are taking a hit, said Greg Randall, general manager of Colt Studio [http://COLTstudio.com] in North Hollywood, which produces gay-theme films and calendars. Randall said the reason is likely because gay-theme videos and DVDs usually retail for more than $40, significantly higher than other adult films. "The straight market is so heavily saturated they are practically giving it away," Randall said. "Things are usually pretty steady in this business but we are having to be a lot more aggressive in trying to move product."

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