SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Phoenix's alternative newsweekly New Times has published a lengthy article on the ascendancy of the metropolitan Phoenix area as a hub of adult entertainment companies. The article spotlights performer/entrepreneur Taryn Thomas—a veteran performer who moved back to Phoenix to start her own company, Taryn It Up Entertainment, after spending two wild years in Los Angeles—but also mentions Phoenix-based CCBill, Lightspeed Media, AmateurAllure.com, First Time Video and Aziani.com as examples of the region's increasing role as a major porn hub.
"The adult business isn't what it used to be, especially in the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles, the long-reigning capital of porn in America," the paper states. "But luckily for Thomas, her new company's based in a place considered the next big hotspot for pornography: metropolitan Phoenix."
Also mentioned is porn icon Jenna Jameson, who made Phoenix her home before leaving the industry to marry mixed-martial-arts fighter Tito Ortiz, with whom she now lives in California.
But it is Thomas who, after eight rough years in the business, truly has leveraged the area to her benefit. In 2001, she entered the industry at the age of 18 and made a quick splash, shooting for companies like Hustler and even winning an AVN Award, only to find herself in a downward spiral that included drugs, rough sex and medical problems. By 2006, the 26-year-old New Jersey native had had enough and moved to Phoenix to rebuild her life.
Over the next few years, she kicked cocaine, gained 45 pounds and made a living dancing at strip clubs until deciding to re-enter the industry. She signed with L.A. Direct Models, which hired a personal trainer for her to get back down to her original 115 pounds. Back in L.A., she dove back into work, and in 2007 worked on the film Please Pay My Tuition, where she met and filmed a scene with her future fiancé, Brett T.
Soon, the couple's priorities shifted from the moment to the future, and last year they moved to Scottsdale, bought a large house and started their own production company.
Today, the company appears to be holding its own, and when the New Times reporter spent time on the set of a shoot, Ron Jeremy was there to do a scene, having flown in from Los Angeles for the day's work. While shooting in Phoenix is clearly much less expensive than shooting in Los Angeles—especially when it comes to paying for talent—the couple is very well aware that starting a production company in the current economy is a challenge.
In fact, of all the adult companies in the area, Taryn it Up—which recently finished shooting its first feature film, Vogue Nasty, and has a handful of other projects in the works—is the only studio shooting videos for DVD. Antigua Pictures distributes the company's products.
Of the benefits to shooting in Phoenix rather than Los Angeles, Thomas and Brett say there are many, including lower living expenses and ancillary costs, and most importantly, the number of new and mostly amateur performers available in the area, which boasts several colleges.
"Finding attractive young females to work with in the Valley hasn't been difficult," says the New Times. "Thomas and Brett pay $50 an hour for photo shoots and have already shot several local models for their future website, TotallyTaryn.com. Thomas also plans to recruit exotic dancers from clubs around town."
Steve Lightspeed, the founder of Lightspeed Media, which produces a very popular line of soft-porn websites featuring younger girls, always has been based in Phoenix. He concurs that the area is rife with potential talent, who have become all the more available due to the continuing mainstream acceptance of porn.
"I like to work with new girls who haven't worked for anybody yet and haven't picked up any bad habits," he told New Times. "In L.A., girls get passed around like $2 whores. Here, everybody knows each other and is friendly."
The New Times feature is here.