Category Archives: Pink Visual

SOPA and porn parodies: closer than you think

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 marks an intriguing confluence of events. No, it’s not some sort of Mayan end-of-the-world situation, but it is the day on which Wikipedia, Google and a number of other big websites will be protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). It’s also the day on which the Adult Entertainment Expo kicks off in Las Vegas.

How on Earth are the two related? Bear with me.

I’ve written before about how SOPA has the potential to kick off the equivalent of an internet Cold War. If enacted, the legislation would give U.S. authorities power to block certain websites. The target would be file-sharing enablers such as the Pirate Bay, but could also encompass other undesirable websites, which historically has meant porn. But that’s not the tree I’m barking up today.

At this year’s AEE, porn titan Vivid is going to be touting its latest big-budget production, a triple-X “parody” of Star Wars that is being released this month. Watch this trailer - which is perfectly safe for work, given that it’s completely devoid of even suggested sex or nudity - and you’ll see why I put the word parody in quotes:

On a related note, if you Google search “superhero porn parody,” my blog shows up on the first page of results. Needless to say, my mother is proud. But seriously, this development seems to be the explanation for why a post I wrote on the topic back in October continues to get big traffic. Somehow, I’ve become an authority on superhero porn parodies. And just like anyone who shoulders a dubious distinction, I guess there is a certain pride in it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in copyright, Pink Visual, sex


Writing and porn: not so different online

The Mesh web conference kicks off in Toronto on Wednesday and yours truly will be taking part in a panel discussion titled “How Adult Entertainment is Reshaping the Internet – and vice versa.” The discussion will be moderated by Mark Evans, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with both at The Globe and Mail and the National Post, while fellow panelists will be Patchen Barss and Allison Vivas. I’ve talked about Patchen and his book The Erotic Engine before while Allison is president of Pink Visual, an adult entertainment company I’ve grown quite fond of (I’ve never actually seen any of their content, but I like the people who run the company).

It’s funny because I’ve been thinking lately about the changes that the profession of writing is currently undergoing. From journalism to book writing, things are very much in a state of flux thanks to the internet. The old ways of making money are rapidly disappearing, while the new ways - if there ever will be such a thing - are not yet completely apparent. In that way, the businesses of writing and pornography are not all that different.

I’ve jokingly compared journalists and porn stars before - we both deal in inches and we both screw people for money - but there is actually a serious side to it. As the media industry-watching folks at Poynter have suggested, both industries are currently plagued by the notion of “free” - people have become accustomed to getting both their news and their porn for free, which is really messing with the economics of how to supply either.

I documented the porn industry’s problems in a lengthy piece for earlier this year. In the writing business, this is having some really bizarre effects - some of which I’ve directly experienced in the six months since going freelance. Generally speaking, the news outlets with the biggest audiences and largest reach tend to pay the worst. Indeed, the Huffington Post - one of the biggest news sites around - has achieved some notoriety for achieving its status on the backs of bloggers who worked for free, some of whom are angry that the site was sold to AOL for hundreds of millions. Print publications, meanwhile, tend to pay better even though their readership isn’t at the same level as these larger sites. That seems pretty skewed, although it’s probably still reflective of the fact that while advertising is migrating to online, a good chunk of it still resides in print.

In light of that weird fact, I’ve started to wonder about whether writing isn’t where writers are ultimately going to make their money. Regardless of whether they’re suing the Huffington Post or not, a good many people wrote for - and continue to write for - that site and others like it for little or no pay. They do it for other reasons; some like writing for fun while others like the exposure that such a giant site gets them. In that vein, writing is almost a form of advertising for the individual that - hopefully - leads to income coming from other sources.

Over the past few months, I’ve been invited to take part in some workshops and speaking engagements, all of which have called on my expertise - real or alleged - on certain subjects. Some of them were paying gigs that actually paid better than a lot of the writing jobs I’ve taken. And indeed - by earning income from these sources, I’m freed up to write more of what I want, which means I can take on jobs that pay less, if anything. Most importantly, I’m freed up to embark on entrepreneurial writing, which is sort of how I describe writing books these days.

I’ve blogged before about the revolution the book business is going through and it seems to me the changes there are a little clearer to predict than in the journalism world. Under the old system, authors would get paid in advance of writing a book, which supported their effort. Under the emergent self-publishing system, that dichotomy is flipped - authors earn their money after they write the book. It’s clearly a higher risk, but it holds the promise of a much better payout, as a piece in the New York Times recently spelled out.

Book writing is necessarily becoming more entrepreneurial, which is both good and bad. Ultimately, writers are earning far more freedoms and opportunities, but the downside is they’re having to become more than just writers. Some may hate that, but I quite like it.

Perhaps the answers for the porn business are similar. Here’s a crazy suggestion: what if porn stars were to accept that the sex they have on video is done for free, with their income coming from other places? For example, let’s say a gal starts her own site where she posts videos of herself having sex for free. It’s not hard to imagine that such a site would become successful, making the proprietor a star pretty quickly. The gal could then use her fame to book herself into well-paid appearances at strip clubs across the land. In other words, she’d be a highly paid stripper - the porn is just the advertising vehicle. It’s the “freemium” idea taken to its extreme.

The effects of such a scenario would be similar to the book business: the entrepreneur (porn star/author) would keep most of their earned income while the distributor (porn company/publisher) would be cut out of the equation. I know a lot of authors like the idea. I wonder what porn stars might think?

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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in journalism, Pink Visual, sex


Adult firms get smart with CES press

I’ve been watching the recent weather woes, first in London and now in the eastern United States, with great interest, given that a week from now I’ll (hopefully) be on a plane to Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. I’m pretty nervous about my flight given that I have a stop-over in Chicago, which isn’t exactly renowned for its good weather.

I will, however, stop right there because I learned my lesson earlier this year about trying to forecast my flying experiences. Let’s just say I’m working on plans B and C to get to Las Vegas in time for the show, just in case.

I’m actually very much looking forward to CES this year, largely because I won’t be on a deadline to cover the big headline stuff. This year, I’m going to be combing the floor for the stuff that isn’t likely to get as much attention, and perhaps looking for tech that’s going to be big in the near future, not necessarily right now. Aside from that, I’ll also be looking at the main stories from a bit of a different perspective. CES thus looks to be a very different - and potentially fun - experience for me this year.

For the last couple of years, I’ve also dipped my toes into that other show, the Adult Entertainment Expo - for professional purposes, of course. One thing I’ve wanted to do in previous years out of pure curiosity but haven’t is check out the big Adult Video News awards, also known as the Oscars of porn. This year, I’m finally going as part of a story I’m writing for I may never go to the real Oscars, so this is going to be the next best thing. I’ll have full reports here, of course.

One interesting trend I’m already seeing is how adult companies are ramping up efforts to court reporters covering CES, although not in the ways you’d expect. We all know that a porn expo isn’t exactly a hard sell to the nerds who cover technology, but this year porn companies are getting practical. One of the typical problems with CES are the facilities set up for media to get their stories out - there often aren’t enough computers or internet connections for laptops in the press rooms, and the wi-fi is crappy at best.

To that end, I’ve seen invitations from at least two AEE exhibitors - Pink Visual and sex toy maker Fleshlight - offering up their facilities to journalists looking for a hook-up. (An internet hook-up, that is.) If the CES press room is full, these companies are telling reporters to come on over and use the connections at their booths.

That’s actually very smart. If you can’t lure the nerds with porn, why not give ‘em what they really want: internet access.

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Posted by on December 28, 2010 in AEE, AVN, CES, internet, Pink Visual, sex


Adult firms committing suicide by lawsuit

When some heavyweights of porn, including Hustler, got together last month to try and hammer out a plan to stop illegal file-sharing of adult content, a lot of people in the mainstream were watching. Some of those involved in the meeting, such as Pink Visual president Allison Vivas, promised that the so-called “content protection retreat” wasn’t just a talk-fest, but that concrete actions had been agreed on and were imminent. Indeed, the group plans to “effectively drive those who engage in adult content piracy completely underground by January 2012.”

It looks like the results of the meeting are taking shape in the form of lawsuits against people who are file-sharing porn over Bittorrent. According to ZDNet, about 30,000 people have been named in various lawsuits in the past few months, which is more than the U.S. music industry sued over the course of a few years.

While the film and music industries gave up on suing individual users, the adult industry - or at least those companies involved in the retreat - believe they have a secret weapon that will let them win where others have failed: shame. Aside from suing individuals who have downloaded their movies, the porn companies intend to publicly name these people and what they stole. So, other than a potential legal penalty, downloaders may also have to deal with the social repercussions of everyone knowing that they were guilty of watching Super Horny She-Males 7 (I made that up, although it probably does exist).

The producers are using a number of clearing-house-type legal companies, such as the Adult Copyright Company and the Copyright Enforcement Group, to file lawsuits on their behalf. The porn companies are finding this setup quite appealing because they don’t pay the lawsuit chasers a penny unless they get results. As for the downloaders who risk being exposed, they have a convenient option: they can log on to a website and settle out of court to avoid being shamed, with at least one of the lawsuit companies setting $1,500 as the correct amount.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that watches out for people’s rights online, has significant problems with this approach, largely stemming from privacy issues and whether the lawsuit companies really know what they’re talking about when it comes to intellectual property. The EFF also thinks this could lead to online scams arising, where people pay settlements to fake websites. The ZDNet story sums up the EFF’s issues quite well, even if it is full of every wink-wink double entendre and cliche you’d expect in a mainstream news story about porn.

I too have serious problems with this approach, basically because the punishment does not fit the crime and because it’s a potentially suicidal move for the adult companies involved. In the first instance, if someone downloads a porno and then shares it over Bittorrent, yes, they’re costing the producer money. That could probably be quantified in court, and the offender made to pay it back if found guilty.

However, the shame/blackmail aspect is simply abhorrent. On the one hand, the pornography industry has for ages argued that what people do in their homes is their own business, and it has profited immensely - both financially and legally - from that stance. Now, they want to turn that argument against their own former-and-potentially-future customers. It’s the worst kind of hypocrisy. Yes, porn companies are mad about people stealing their product, but resorting to blackmail to fight back? So much for the supposed moral high ground they’ve spent decades building.

Worse still, by exposing what people have watched in the privacy of their own homes, the porn companies could also ruin their lives - and in some cases jeopardize them (as ZDNet points out, there could be serious problems for someone in the military who is found out to be watching gay porn). We all know what that will lead to: more lawsuits. And those ones will be big and, certainly in some cases, entirely justified.

The film and music businesses gave up on trying to sue their customers because they smartly figured out that the monetary return they’d get by doing so simply wasn’t worth the damage to their own brands. Just ask Metallica, a band that no one takes seriously anymore. As I said, the mainstream was watching to see what came of this content protection retreat - they must be laughing now.

What I find especially galling about the whole situation is how adult companies time and time again try to stress how technologically innovative they are. There’s nothing innovative about lawsuits, especially when they’ve been proven not to work - at least not without blackmailing potential customers. We should all know by now that the internet is killing old business models left and right, and using courts to try and keep them alive just isn’t the way to go.

How this is likely to shake out is that Old Porn - the likes of Hustler et al - are going to die off, to be replaced by smaller adult companies that are indeed more tech savvy, and who know that innovation is the real secret to success in the industry (the slow death of Playboy is a perfect case study). Suing customers certainly isn’t the way to survive.

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Posted by on November 18, 2010 in hustler, internet, Pink Visual, sex


There’s still lots of money in sex online

And they say that sex doesn’t sell anymore on the internet? Tell that to the mysterious company that is paying $13 million for the domain name That’s a huge outlay just for the name, so whoever is buying it must think there’s still a ton of money to be made from sex online despite rampant piracy of porn.

The company that bought the domain, Clover Holdings, is registered in the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, which means that it must be totally on the up and up (I say that with sarcasm). The domain name actually has a long and checkered history and was even the subject of a book.

To make a long story short, it was first registered by Gary Kremen, the same guy who started, in 1994. A rather shady fellow named Stephen Cohen managed to actually steal the domain from Kremen by lying to the registrar, which kicked off a monumental court battle that ended with Cohen fleeing to Mexico. Anyhow, the domain was eventually transferred to Escom LLC, a similarly mysterious company based in California. Escom went bankrupt and has now sold the domain to Clover, subject to court approval.

The sale would be one of the richest in internet history. PC World has a list of some of the other most expensive domains - interestingly, is near the top at $9.5 million.

In related news, a number of big adult companies have banded together in an effort to force tube and torrent tracking sites, such as Pirate Bay and Isohunt, to adopt filtering technology that would prevent their content from being pirated.

“While there is nothing new about adult companies gathering to discuss content piracy and what can be done about it, what happened at the CPR went beyond mere discussion,” Pink Visual president Allison Vivas told adult news site Xbiz. “Attendees didn’t talk about what could be done; they talked about what they will do and made commitments to follow through on those things.”

That’s actually quite surprising. Porn companies like to present themselves as the progressive vanguard of new technology, so it’s odd to see them adopting such an old-school attitude. Going after piracy has not worked at all for record labels and Hollywood, so there’s no reason to expect the adult companies will have any better luck.
The solution for porn will be the same as it is for mainstream entertainment: the old models of doing business need to be discarded and replaced by innovative new ones, which can only be arrived at through experimentation, not lawsuits.
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Posted by on October 22, 2010 in internet, Pink Visual, sex


3D porn in Imax? Not bloody likely

People compete for the strangest things: there’s an awful lot of chest thumping going on right now between smut producers over who can rightfully claim to have filmed the first 3D porn movie.

Last week, a group of Hong Kong film makers said they were on track to do so with their production, 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, which will apparently be released in May. Some reporters, including those with wire service AFP, fell for it and reported it as the first.

However, we learned back in May that European porn makers had gotten there first with Kama-Sutra, a movie that was filmed in honest-to-goodness 3D, as opposed to post-processed to include the effect (it’s therefore more like Avatar than Alice in Wonderland or Clash of the Titans).

Not to be outdone, the Hong Kong producers are beating the drum again and claiming that their production will not only be 3D, it will also be the first 3D porn film done in Imax. I have trouble believing this, given the higher expense of filming in the bigger format. Consider that the only directors who can afford to film in Imax are the likes of Christopher Nolan, who can pretty much offset the higher costs through the massive returns the non-Imax version of their films are guaranteed to bring in.

A porn film in Imax, on the other hand, would be shown on very few Imax screens - if any at all - which is why I’m inclined to think this news is of the poppycock variety.

In any event, any claims of creating the world’s first 3D porn movie by filmmakers today is wrong. Not only have producers such as Pink Visual been creating stereoscopic porn since last year, there were also plenty of films produced in the seventies during the previous wave of 3D movies.

Perhaps the most disturbing news to come out of the 3D porn camp, however, is word that director Tinto Brass is doing a 3D remake of his 1979 film Caligula. Great Caesar’s ghost, as if that movie wasn’t horrific enough!

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Posted by on August 18, 2010 in 3D, Pink Visual, sex


iPhone jailbreak means porn is on the way

It didn’t take long for someone to suggest what the real effect of the new rule that allows “jailbreaking” of iPhones in the U.S. will be: it’s going to lead to an upturn in mobile porn. And as anyone who’s been following the situation knows, that must really have Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ panties in a twist.

If you missed the news, the U.S. Library of Congress, which oversees the Copyright Office, on Monday enacted a number of exceptions to the Digital Copyright Millennium Act, or the law that governs how Americans are allowed to make copies of electronic content as well as the level of access and power they have over the gadgets they own. Two of the big new exceptions to the DMCA include the right for consumers to unlock their cellphones so that they can be used on different carriers, and the right to put whatever software they want onto their devices.

Apple maintains a tight grip on the iPhone and only lets users put apps it has approved onto it. Naturally, the company fought against these exceptions and is none too pleased they got passed. The ruling will allow people to “jailbreak” the phone and load on whatever software they want.

As NetworkWorld touched on, we can expect an influx of porn apps for the iPhone since they have now effectively been declared legal. They won’t come through Apple and iTunes, of course, but from third parties. A couple of analysts have speculated that a “red light app store” is likely to arise.

The downside of the Library of Congress’s exception is that the iPhone has been considerably opened up to hacking and malicious attacks. You can bet a number of rogue software developers will create virus- and malware-laden apps that unsuspecting users will inevitably load onto their iPhones. Apple wasted no time in saying that jailbreaking the iPhone will void its warranty, which is a completely understandable and warranted position for the company to take. After all, if you want to mess around with your device and do whatever you want with it, you should have that right, but you should also do so at your own risk.

On the plus side, respected companies that have had their apps blocked by Apple are now free to go to town. I can’t imagine it’ll be too long before Google launches its Google Voice calling service, an app that was prohibited on the iPhone because it threatens cellphone carrier revenue.

The same holds true for the larger or “respected” adult companies - the likes of Playboy, Digital Playground and Pink Visual, among others. It’s probably only a matter of time - possibly even days - before one of them announces an app for jailbroken iPhones. And because these are established and credible brands, users can be reasonably confident that the apps will be safe to install.

Again, Steve Jobs must be apoplectic by this turn of events. This is the man who recently declared the iPhone “free from porn,” even though users could still access adult content through the device’s web browser. Keeping his app store porn-free, though, seemed to be a source of pride.

An analyst in the NetworkWorld story estimated that only 4% of iPhone users had a jailbroken handset, so the new DMCA exception probably won’t have much of an impact. Given the historical trends regarding porn and technology (detailed at length in Sex, Bombs and Burgers!), I’d disagree and say the new rules will have a big effect.

Before the exceptions, there really weren’t that many reasons to jailbreak your iPhone. There are few industries that face as much demand as the adult business, and now that porn apps are officially allowed onto the iPhone, producers will move to fill the supply side. Porn apps are therefore likely to spur more jailbreaking, especially if Pink Visual and the gang manage to come up with some innovative and intriguing apps that actually make it worth the risk of voiding Apple’s warranty.

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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in apple, copyright, digital playground, iphone, Pink Visual, playboy, sex


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