Forbes: Steve Hirsch Outlines His Comeback Plan Involving Strip Clubs

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from www.forbes.com – “There’s only a few names in the adult arena that people really know — Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler — and then I think it’s us,” Steve Hirsch, founder and co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, the Universal Studios of adult movies, tells me.

Now that Hirsch has distributed porn across America through videos, DVD, and the internet, he’s licensed the Vivid name to Rick’s Cabaret International (RICK), a Houston, Texas-based company that operates dozens of gentlemen’s clubs across the country and is one of the rare adult companies that’s publicly traded and listed on NASDAQ.

Two Vivid Cabaret strip clubs (“The cabaret stands for higher-end properties,” Hirsch notes) will open this year — one in Los Angeles, slated to open in June not far from LAX, and one in New York City, slated to open by the end of the year in Midtown Manhattan.

Adult companies have been forced to reinvent themselves as the proliferation of X-rated content online has made making a buck off showing skin exponentially more challenging. A Wall Street Journal report earlier this year, “Rebuilding Playboy: Less Smut, More Money,” revealed Playboy Enterprises has been focusing on licensing to make up for lost revenue.

“Licensing revenue [for Playboy] increased to $62 million in the year ended last September, from $37 million in 2009, according to people familiar with the matter,” the Journal reports.

Hirsch’s comeback plan is more like a world takeover, as he sees it. The cabarets are part of a larger effort being staged by Vivid to increase revenue. In addition to Vivid.com and adult movies, there’s VividTV, VividTouch, Vivid Cams, and the upcoming Vivid Radio, all of which Hirsch intends to promote in the bi-coastal strip clubs. So far, the company has licensed its name to condoms and vodka.

“We’re always looking to expand our brand,” Hirsch purrs. As far as consumers, he adds, strip clubs and adult movies share “a very similar demographic.”

Interestingly, that’s not quite how I saw it. To me, the idea of Vivid pairing up with a brick-and-mortar gentleman’s club seemed like the mainstreaming of adult having come full circle. Think about it. Most consumers encounter their porn online, on TV, or in a magazine.

As far as Porn Valley, where most adult movies are made, it’s a real place, safely tucked away in the San Fernando Valley. Rarely do the two intersect in real life — unless you happen to find yourself at a porn convention. With an internet-famous porn starlet dancing on a stage around the corner from a Broadway show, there’s no gap between the adult consumer and the fulfillment of his desire. She’s right there, in the flesh, only a lap dance away.

The clubs will be staging adult movie auditions, as well. Who knows, you may be the next big thing.

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