That pleasant odor wafting through the new combined quarters of Red Light District and Platinum X doesn’t just come from the fresh paint and carpeting — it’s the sweet, heady smell of success.
The jointly owned companies, among the first of the gonzo-porn startups, have zoomed to the forefront of that segment of industry with a brand name that’s synonymous with the genre. Their facilities, once over a mile apart in Chatsworth, are now under one big roof.
The two-story building on Nordhoff Street is the house that gonzo built—or rather, modified—and company owner David Joseph is eager to show a visitor from AVN.com every inch of its 34,000 square feet.
Joseph bought the building a year ago and spent five months reconstructing it. “Everything is new,” he said, “the ceilings, the air-conditioning, the heaters… We planned it all, but it turned out better than we anticipated.”
After just six weeks occupancy, everyone feels right at home. “Everybody smiles. Notice that?” Joseph asks as he introduces various personnel. “Everybody thinks this is their building. It’s great for the morale.”
The layout is simple: administration upstairs, production downstairs. “There are 50 offices and all of them are full,” Joseph says proudly.
It’s a worker-friendly environment, with a kitchen and lunchroom and seven spacious bathrooms, each equipped with a shower. In the northwest corner of the top floor a gym is under construction, for the use of all employees.
Downstairs in the post-production area are three editing bays and a quality control bay, plus a graphics department. The 2257 room, where records are kept, sits between pre-production quarters and a comfortable conference room. A well-secured vault holds the master tapes for both companies.
There’s a makeup and changing room where pretty girls are primped and painted before being dispatched to Porn Valley locations to get their brains fucked out. (Visitors to Red Light’s cramped former digs often found the makeup chair in the lobby.)
Upstairs, the sales personnel all have private offices. The quarters of general manager Ralph Ceglia, Joseph’s second in command, feature large windows overlooking the warehouse.
An air-tube system (“just like Costco”) carries order forms and other documents between the sales staff and the warehouse. “It’s so efficient,” Joseph enthused.
“I just wanted everything to be right from the beginning,” he continued, like the proud papa of a firstborn child. “All the directors are ecstatic. They love [the building]. We’ve all grown so much together.”
RLD-PX has 16 directors and those who live locally each have their own quarters. A special space is shared by out-of-towners like Jewel De’Nyle (newly married in New York) and Euro guys Steve Holmes and Toni Ribas.
“All the directors have access to each other,” Joseph said. “It’s important to me that people get along. We’re all working together. We’re really a team. We’re all equal. That’s our goal, and I think we’re there.”
RLD-PX release 17 titles a month, eight from each company, plus one from the newly created Red Light District Films.
In his office, director James Avalon, who has helmed the first three RLDF features, is working with the strongest computer in the building. It’s enabling him to put finishing flourishes on his new Hi-Def feature, Bustful of Dollars, a comedy about a gonzo-porn director (played by Manuel Ferrara) who wants to make a big-budget Western.
Sharing one of the larger offices are Larry and Debbie Schwarz. The couple who used to manage Platinum X are now in charge of joint promotional operations. Larry is director of public relations, Debbie is manager, reviewer promotions. They set up all the video expos and conventions and handle publicity for magazines and Websites.
The rear of the buiding is taken up by the cavernous warehouse — two floors high, clean, quiet and seemingly well organized. In a glassed enclosure sits a Rube Goldberg-esque contraption that Joseph says is the packaging machine. RLD-PX does all its own packaging, DVDs and VHS. (Replication and printing are outsourced; everything else is taken care of in house.)
Although Platinum X has halted VHS production, RLD still manufactures a small portion of the format. “We’re doing okay with it,” Joseph said. “We’re going to keep doing it until it dies out completely.”
RLD-PX DVDs will soon have something new: a tear tape (the kind used on cigarette packs) at the bottom of the package. It’s just the latest of several packaging details that are “making piracy a little more difficult.”
The building is big enough to accommodate RLD-PX’s continued growth and expansion, at least for a while. “We’re good here for up to five years,” Joseph said. “We work together and move forward.”
Or as PR director Schwartz puts it, “The overall direction of the company is strong and progressive.”
One quick tour of their new facility is enough to prove just how true that assessment is.
Red Light District-Platinum X, 20339 Nordhoff St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. 818.886.6821. 818.886.6829 fax. For sales call 800.288.1077 or email Ralphc@rldv.com.