I’m Interviewed by Alesia Pleasure; Porn Piracy: Who On the Inside is Getting Paid Off ?

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As much as I wanted to continue with a recap of The Amber Lynn Show, Blog Talk Radio isn’t currently offering the show. It was available Saturday but now the link is a gobbledygook of HTML. [That problem was corrected as of 11:05 AM PT]

I was on Alesia Pleasure’s Internet show this past week, and we talked about a broad range of subjects from porn piracy to porn investors.

New York Joe, Rebecca Bardoux’s old sidekick, shows up as Pleasure’s sidekick. Pleasure noted that I own AdultFYI which I told her all came about by accident, that I had been running AVN many, many, many years.

Pleasure voiced surprised because she had tried googling me for bio, and I told her that the Gene Ross that shows up is a former B movie actor. In fact, I got an email long ago from a woman named Erin. Thinking that this was a woman I knew from way back, I continued the conversation only to discover that, wrong Erin, and that she was emailing who she thought was this Gene Ross actor.

I told Pleasure that when I left AVN I went with Rob Black and Extreme Associates then started up AdultFYI which has been around for 11 years. Pleasure asked me, judging from my own experience, if I thought the business was going to survive.

“We’re killing ourselves, we’re going to have to figure how to do it the least painful way,” I told Pleasure.

“We’re making a lot of mistakes and I’m trying to write about them on my website. But people in this business don’t want to hear, and they don’t want to be lectured. Everybody has their way of doing things. You can only lend your impressions and you opinions.”

Before I got into the adult industry, I was in the PR business 18 years and dealt primarily in politics and lobbying.

“What I see our industry doing is all wrong and cockeyed,” I said.

“We’re going to get our heads beaten in on AB 332 if we continue to go down the road we’re going.”

I harkened back to the Cal/OSHA meetings of three years ago and noted that the industry had an opportunity to come to an accord on safety regulations and hammer out a truce, an agreement with the Cal/OSHA people.

“We could probably have walked away clean and clear with a tactful approach. I’m not going to name names, but people at that meeting began yelling and screaming at Cal/OSHA. ‘We’re not going to do this; you’re not going to make us do that.’

“That’s not how you approach people in the political sphere. You have to go with an amenable attitude. Let’s sit down talk this out and be rational. But people from our side began screaming; Cal/OSHA women started crying and Michael Weinstein who was there at the meeting took the tact that if we want to be scumbags he’s going to treat us as such. That began the downhill spiral.”

Asked my take on piracy, I said the cow’s out of the barn, the horse is out of the stall and the chickens are out of the coop.

“What do you do? You have to think smart and go, what’s my next delivery platform that nobody can pirate, or one that’s going to take awhile to figure how to crack.”

Pleasure said the mainstream has the same problem and I told her I could give a shit less about the record business, that the porn industry is our business and we’re the ones making money out of porn.

“Let the mainstream studios and the record companies take care of their problems. We need to care about ourselves because no one else is going to.”

Pleasure asked how do you go about doing this, and I suggested, judging by the sanctions leveled against John Steele and his group of merry copyright lawyers, not by the way porn’s been strong arming suspected copyright violators.

“The judge in that case said the lawyers were behaving like a bunch of crooks and even let the word RICO slip into the conversation.

“Once again porn gets the black eye,” I continued.

“I feel for any porn company owner who’s having their material stolen, but you wind up hiring a bunch of wharf thugs from a union movie. There’s more delicate ways to handle these situations.”

I told Pleasure how in industry meetings in Cancun years ago I brought up some measures the Free Speech Coalition should be taking and was told basically to go sit in a corner.

“We’re not even an acknowledged lobbyist in Sacramento any more. I wonder how that happened.”

I told Pleasure that we had a representative named Mike Ross who was a gung ho guy that apparently had personality conflicts with certain members of the Free Speech board and was never heard from again.

“We’re flying by the seat of our pants.” I told Pleasure in our supposed multi billion dollar a year business we might be down to our last million.

“Everyone’s squawking and crying about getting paid, along with the piracy issue. Money is an issue.” I told Pleasure that actresses aren’t getting the work they used to because there are too many actresses.

“And I’m part of that problem. One of the issues I had and walked out of AVN for was the fact the porn was being played up as this huge international entity, and we’re all going mainstream and everyone can make zillions of dollars.

“What did we wind up doing? We created the California gold rush. We got everybody clamoring to get in. At one time it used to operate like an exclusive country club. You could not come into porn and open up the XYZ porn company. Otherwise you’d get visited by a couple of guys with funny looking noses. That’s the way it was. It was the old guard. Things have changed. Now everybody with a camera starts a company.

“You have a flood of product on the market. And all of these girls are reading about Jenna Jameson, and porn goes mainstream. Everyone wants to become Jenna Jameson so you have a ton of girls working and not enough work to give them.”

Pleasure wanted my take on Farrah Abraham.

“God bless her,” I said.

“But the money she got..” said Pleasure.

“I don’t know if she did,” I said.

“This could be typical BS porn stories. She got $1.5 million? Subtract a million. Nah, maybe she got $300,000, but I don’t think she got $1.5 million unless you include residuals and a projection of what sales would be. But she didn’t get $1.5 million, and, like, porn, you got to wait six months to get paid.”

NY Joe mentioned that no sooner is a porn release streeted that it’s already on a tube site. I ask him how do you think that happens?

“That means somebody who gets their hands on that movie is somehow getting it on the tube site,” I said.

“Would I be wrong in saying, oh, is it an inside job? Is it somebody from the duplication lab? Is it somebody from the editing dept. Is it somebody from authoring that is somehow getting paid to see that this movie winds up over there? I don’t know. Call me crazy for saying that. How else does that happen? Same thing happens in mainstream. You grease the right palms and anything can happen.”

A caller raised the question about big companies who have “investors” who want to hide money from their divorced wives, etc. The caller also brought up the subject of mom & pop stores. I noted that porn in its heyday had something like 28,000 stores, but, according to stats provided by Fox News a couple of months back we’re down to something like 3400.

“Let’s address the issue of investors,” I told this guy. “I’ve seen it happen time and again. There’s a porn investor cemetery. It’s maybe as big as Arlington. The tombstones belong to doctors and lawyers and anyone who came into the porn industry thinking they were going to double or triple their money.

“It didn’t happen. All these guys to a man got screwed. I’ve had lunches with guys who were mainstream Hollywood people who wanted to invest in porn.

“Maybe you should invest in something else, I offered. ‘Oh, no, I was told…’

“I had one guy who didn’t listen to me and came back months later. His name was Ralph. Ralph told me he got screwed big time. ‘We got one movie done and the second didn’t get finished because the director got drunk and…’

“I think the days of investors are over. Back then we had the porn gold rush. I was at the houses of some of these investors who decided to become porn company owners. And they all lost their ass because they’re presented pie-in-the sky figures that no one can make good on. ‘What happened? Oh, it’s the distributors, the network, they take credits and return half your product..it’s going to take longer than I thought to get your money back.’

“The investor, goes, I got screwed. Then there was the other investor. He came in and got a blowjob or laid by the top actress in the cast. And that’s all he cared about. He put up his $45,000 and had the time of his life for a couple of days. But that’s how it worked.”

NY Joe was quick to agree that when you go to these trade shows you’re lent false impressions as to the state of the business.

“That’s the thing that has always baffled me,” I said.

“Especially about the trade shows. Where’s the money coming from? Because it’s not coming from this business. At the most, companies are selling between 300 to 500 pieces of a new title. Before, the average was 7500 and 8,000 pieces in the glory days. Do the math, 3400 video stores, 500 pieces and a US population of 300 million.

“Dare I say not too many people are getting to see this movie? People are putting out figures that parodies, 10,000 pieces are going out the door. I would love to see the paperwork on that one. I don’t buy it. I’m think, okay, these guys are in the porn business but maybe they got something else going on.”

“One company I won’t mention by name. They were very big in the gonzo market, but their money came from offshore gambling. That’s what underwrote the costs of the company. Guess what? Some legislation happens, Congress does this and it puts a real dent into that gambling operation. Guess what again? This company’s not around any more. Go figure how that happened. All I’m saying is maybe there’s things going on with some of these companies to keep them afloat. Dare I ask?”

“You notice with Steve Hirsch there’s no more Vivid girls. There’s Farrah Abraham. That’s his new business model. Then no one’s figured this out, oh, condoms, you’re not going to be able to sell porn with condoms.

“How the heck has Wicked Pictures been doing so well. I can’t abide by this argument that condom movies won’t sell, but no one really tested the waters other than Wicked. Everybody else just said, flat out, we’re not going to sell, we’re not going to do it. And that’s the argument that perpetuates.”

NY Joe raised the specter of shooting in Canada or overseas. I wondered how much traveling costs would add to the already meager budgets.

“We have it good out here [California],” I said. “California is the place you want to be. Okay let’s work it out so everybody’s happy and lives happily ever after. But, no, this had to become a combatant situation.”

Pleasure asked how long before we hit rock bottom.

“Not long if you keep screwing the consumer by offering comps as new releases,” I said.

“When I was running AVN, we had it good because there was no such thing as the Internet. Porn news was filtered through magazines. The consumer read the reviews and about this movie and that movie. Now you can find out anything you want, find free content, and you’ve got a buyer who’s way more savvy.

“No wonder no one wants to buy porn especially when you have a ‘new’ movie and there’s five scenes on there from five years ago. Everyone’s getting smart. No longer can you take the three card Monte game to the sticks and fleece the rubes. They know how the game works.”

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