First it was the porn recession. Then it became a porn depression. When the porn trade industry show and awards shrunk a large percentage and moved to a smaller venue this year, we got articles about porn’s financial meltdown — which by all accounts, is also a portrait of an industry that, like newspapers, is dying at its own hand. A director friend was told this year by her studio (a very famous one) that her job required her to attend AVN: it seems the industry is now held together by maintaining appearances. The faithful maintain the crisis is to be blamed on the evils of file sharing. Meanwhile industry outsiders and those making a mint outside AVN’s old porn culture watch grandpa screaming at the kids to get off his lawn — while quietly adapting to online business models and social networking principles.
A lot of it has to do with poor product delivery choices and not diversifying delivery methods: the porn biz is reliant on the DVD. Not good: the DVD was introduced in 1997, and as of 2009 DVD sales in porn were down by 50% from 2004. It seems that a business which is known for over-recycling footage (and starlets) had better hope that polycarbonate is recyclable, lest they end up collecting cans.
What can be done with all that porn? It’s still perfectly good porn; why not make it easier and cheaper to watch, and give it the attention and cataloging care the original companies couldn’t be bothered with… and make money off of it in the process? That might be what the guys at AmericanVice (now defunct – dead by 10/11) thought, but they probably thought something really snarky and funny at the same time. That’s how they roll. Like superstar porn baron Kink.com, AmericanVice has been exclusively online since the start, taking all those porn movies and cataloging them like a couple of grandmas arranging lewd literature, but maybe if the grandmas were played by Bill Maher.
I met American Vice on Twitter, where all the pervs go to pick up wide-eyed writers. They rambled about some “porn revolution.” I always think it’s adorable when webmasters go off their meds, so I paid them a visit. After a few clicks around their site and despite the clasically porny presentation, I was swooning; then I read XXXpwnage’s review and it all made sense. I had to ask them why they thought they were a “revolution.” AV webmaster Reg Berkeley crawled out of the fort he’d made of Dirty Debutantes DVDs in his living room to tell me,
If you scratch beneath the smutty surface of our DVD site, there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. From day one, we refused to accept the notion that the average raincoater is a moron. Our approach has been to do something not only different but have it be utilitarian to the consumer.
What this means is that there is a ton of TLC that goes into AmericanVice. We patented our own search interface (RebelSearch) and have employed unwavering standards to the site – hand-selected screen captures, impeccable actor database and strict meta-tagging.
But mostly, our secret sauce is our editorial reviews of every scene and DVD. You can certainly appreciate the magnitude of what we’ve accomplished since 2006. My partner is a Cornell grad, and you can guess where I went to school. Our style is National Lampoon, Kevin Smith, Dennis Miller, etc.
Check it out and kick the tires. We’re the #1 site on PornUsers…so our small following of people dig what we do!
Part of the AmericanVice secret sauce (hey, keep it clean) is the search; they really got what old porn missed — mainstream porners made it near to impossible to find what you wanted, either out of malice (hoping we’d buy more) or out of stupidity (I can haz spellchek in pr0nz?). Just this past week, Reg emailed me to excitedly announce that they’d launched their mobile site: features 2,500 DVDs and 15,000 scenes, ready to play automatically on the iPhone, or download on Droid.
Now I’m off to make my fort (and cat fort!) out of all my old Vivid Alt and Vivid Ed boxes. Maybe I should call Eon to come over and help.
Update: AmericanVice is no longer in business. So much for that model of trying to re-sell all those old porn DVDs…