You know our economy is in really deep trouble when no one spends money on pr0n.
Sure, people once believed the adult entertainment industry was recession proof, as porno movies, at a certain point, actually made more money than legitimate Hollywood flicks.
Comparing it to the alcohol industry, the ubiquitous Ron Jeremy said, “When times are good you drink, when times are bad you drink.”
But now reports are surfacing that since taking a slide several years ago, the X-rated biz still hasn’t recovered.
“Americans Consuming Less Pornography” read the headline in the Hollywood Reporter, and the story also tells us that revenue in 2010 has gone down from $899 million from $1 billion in 2008. What’s hit the adult industry is what’s also hit the music business and mainstream Hollywood: people taking content for free.
According to an earlier report in the L.A. Times, adult pay per view went down 50%, and one porn star, Savanah Stern, told the Times where she was once making $1,000 per sex scene, she was down to $700 a scene, and where her yearly income was $150,000 a year, she was now down to $50,000 a year.
Back in 2007, I spoke to Bill Asher, President of Vivid Entertainment Group, and he said movie pirating was then already a problem in the adult biz.
“If you go to these sites that have video sharing, the number one product on the site is adult, the number one brand of adult that’s being shared, or stolen if you will, is Vivid. So it’s always been a big issue for us.
“But our take on it is a little more like independent bands think,” Asher continues. “Until these sites get shut down, we’d rather there be Vivid content on there. Let people get a taste for our movies. For us, it’s good advertising. With adult, remember we’re putting out a new movie every four days, so what you pirate today will be out of date four days from now.”
Two years later, Asher told L.A. Times reporter Ben Fritz, “It had never crossed our minds that we’d be competing with people who just give it away for free.”
Another problem that may have hurt the adult industry is over exposure.
Asher told me, “Adult is very competitive. There’s only a handful of major studios. With adult, there’s so many guys out there doing so many things, you have to come up with some way to differentiate yourself. In adult, 11,000 movies get made each year. If you’re just one of the thousands, you’re not gonna stand out. So everybody has to have some kind of niche, that’s why you feel you have to be the first to do everything in this industry.”
As one porn producer told Rolling Stone, “We were always worried about the government killing our business. Ironically, we ended up flooding the market and killed it ourselves.”