AVN Online braves the heat to find out what's hot in the jizz biz. Air conditioner not included.
Hot: It's one word that means a myriad of different things. The word doesn't just describe temperature; it can refer to a feeling, or someone's appearance or way of being. It also can be used to describe someone's place in popular-culture ranking. In the adult entertainment world, "hot" isn't just how someone looks; it's their status in the food chain.
A starlet like Justine Joli isn't just hot for her sexy bod and sensual, come-hither lips. She's hot because she is a name on the lips of every porn producer and fan in the business. Meanwhile, a site can be hot because it's well trafficked or because the content is particularly arousing, while a company can attain "hot" status when business is good and the buzz is strong.
Needless to say, with these definitions of "hot" in mind, there are several performers, sites, companies, trends and new technologies that are eligible for "hot" status. We scoured the industry and came up with a list that, while far from complete, presents a healthy sampling of today's best and brightest. These are the power players who are not only moving and shaking, but also redefining the rules for everyone else. And we think that's pretty darn hot.
With a fresh-faced, Cindy Brady-esque youthfulness that belies a sexual firecracker prone to taking it doggy-style, it's no wonder that this blonde "troublemaker" won the AVN Award for "Best New Starlet."
Her recently launched vanity site with BlazingBucks provides an in-depth look into her world - she writes her own blog! - plus frequently updated content and live webcam shows that should send any red-blooded American (straight) man into a frenzy of lust. Her star power certainly has done wonders for BlazingBucks. "The recent launch of Bree's website has made a significant impact on our program's exposure," owner Mark Blazing said. "She is quickly making us one of the hot programs of 2008."
Olson herself is demure when it comes to claiming her hotness. "Nobody ever tells me personally that I'm hot," she said. "I don't get any compliments, besides over the computer by strangers."
Not that Olson has any issues with that. "It's OK," she said. "I guess it keeps me from getting a big head."
Like Bree Olson, Venezuelan hottie Karla Spice gives off a good-girl-next-door vibe - if the good girl next door is a slut for girl-on-girl action. She was hosting a local TV show and had just started doing some modeling in Venezuela when she was discovered by La Zona Entertainment owner Pacino, who immediately recruited her to join the LatinTeenCash family. "My first impression of her was like ‘Wow!" Pacino said. "I had a feeling she was something special. She has a very fresh look about her that many find attractive, and the combination of girl-next-door looks and a killer body makes for a star in the making."
After a successful test run on Pacino's multi-girl site LaZonaGirls.com, Karla was given her own solo-girl site in the LatinTeenCash program. Since then, her star truly has been on the rise, and not just with the expected demographic. "The amazing thing about KarlaSpice.com is that the site isn't just popular with the Latina market, but it appeals to a much broader audience," Pacino explained. "Solo-girl sites aren't an exact science and are very difficult to maintain. I think a solo girl needs to have something special inside her that comes across to members. Karla has that."
Sounds caliente to us!
Justine Joli definitely is not your average porn star. A redhead with a nasty streak - think Tori Amos as a porn star - the self-described "stripping, acting, blogging, podcasting, ass-kicking, game-playing, anime-watching, hentai-loving, Comic Con-attending, 40 percent lesbian glamour model" has made an impression on the industry with her versatility (country girl one moment, punk-rock troublemaker the next) and her fiery sensuality.
Meanwhile, fans love the enthusiasm that comes across in her performances and on her blog, where she muses on everything from cutting off her hair extensions ("They had to come out. I was having nightmares of being bald by 32!") to her favorite pastimes ("Food and sex, baby. Are there any greater pleasures in life?").
It sounds like she's got her priorities straight.
As a relative newcomer to the industry, SpunkyCash girl Kaydin still has a ways to go before she achieves superstar status, but so far, she's managed to capture the attention of at least one major fan. "Kaydin was brought to me via a photographer (Michael Bell) I'd worked with on several other projects," Spunky said. "As soon as I saw her preview pics, I knew she'd be a perfect fit for us. Affiliates love to promote a girl who looks like she enjoys what she does because it creates a better connection with the members. Not to mention she's got a great body and loves to tease with it."
Kaydin's solo-girl site offers plenty of content for those who would love to get close to the kissable model, who admitted that she is "surprised and honored" to be included in this article. "Hot to me (is knowing) the right thing that someone likes," she said. "I'm not sure why I've caught on with surfers, but a lot of them comment on my eyes and smile, so I hope it's that. But I know they love my perky tits as much as I do."
With her whole career ahead of her, Kaydin hinted that she has "a few projects" on the horizon, while Spunky predicted a future full of fame and success. "I don't think she's reached her full potential yet," he said, "but when she does, she's going to be amazing."
We think she already is.
For Raging Stallion Studios exclusive Steve Cruz, being hot means having "natural confidence, being able to own the space inside your own skin. It's an attitude you can't really describe with words, but you feel it in your groin when a guy who has it gives you the eye - or maybe the cold shoulder."
Not that Cruz would know anything about that. As one of gay porndom's hardest-working performers, he's made himself available to several different studios (Raging Stallion, Titan, All Worlds Video, Falcon and Alphamale, to name a few) and to fans. He frequently appears at events and fundraisers, and recently launched his own brand of condoms via his safe-sex advocacy site HowIRoll.info.
Barely more than 5 feet tall and adorable as all get-out, the Latino stud has carved a niche for himself in an industry that has been slow to embrace ethnic models. But what makes Cruz hot isn't just his sexy furry chest or ability to accommodate the industry's biggest dicks. It's his enduring positive outlook and endearing ability to soldier on, even under pressure. "Truthfully, it's both a blessing and curse," he said of being hot. "You want to live up to expectations, [but] sometimes that doesn't allow much room to be a human being. I have plenty of ugly days. Like, right now, a cold is kicking my ass. But next week, my ass will be fucked by a hot guy, so I really can't complain."
Who doesn't love an optimist?
He might be a newbie to the industry, but Jeremy Hall has already managed to propel himself to superstar status with his deceptively all-American good looks and his ability to deliver dynamic performances every time. Hall has done that not only in movies for top directors in the gay industry, but also for his website, ClubJeremyHall.com, which features exclusive scenes of him getting it on with studs, fans and studly fans from all over the country. "ClubJeremyHall is real sex," Hall said. "There is no script or makeup artist or staged sex. There are just two guys that want to fuck each other. It's my fantasy come true."
His fans seem to share the same fantasy. The site has taken off for Hall, who is quick to dole out advice on the art of being hot. "The most important thing in being hot is confidence," he said. "Be yourself. Don't second-guess yourself or show hesitation when making a move. That's what makes you hot. And when you're hot, you're sexy and fuckable. Who doesn't want to be that?"
There are porn performers, and then there are porn stars. Jake Deckard definitely falls into the latter category, and he shot straight to the top in barely more than a year.
After starting out as a Titan exclusive, he jumped ship to sign up with Raging Stallion Studios and has crossed over into directing (under his own line, Screaming Eagle) and producing. In February, his hard work drew GAYVN's "Performer of the Year" award. "I'm one lucky fucker!" he said. "And what luck didn't get me, I worked for - hard!"
With his chiseled, muscular body and hyper-masculine persona, the sexually versatile Deckard is every gay man's ultimate fantasy, but he's quick to remind his fans that he's more than just a pretty face, big dick and highly fuckable ass. "I want to raise an army of horny young men to join me in my quest to start a fuck tribe and take over the world," he said. "May we all fuck and fall in love over and over and over again."
Ya' gotta love a guy with a goal.
Purchased for $9.5 million and built as the network site for the PimpRoll family of sites, this one-stop online shop for all things X-rated confounded expectations upon its relaunch as a full-fledged pay site and gave skeptics something to learn from. "It's an organized, efficient way to find exactly what you're looking for, when it comes to porn," claimed Marketing Director Don Caro, aka PimpRoll Don. "It's hot because it's so big, but it's also smart in the way that it's designed. It's very intuitive."
Covering "every niche imaginable," Porn.com offers a vast selection of content from a variety of producers, plus lifetime passes to several other exclusive sites upon joining. A user-generated ranking system allows members to rate their favorite (and not-so-favorite) content, one-minute previews help them find just what they are looking for, and weekly profiles of featured models allow surfers to get to know their favorite stars.
Up next: the ability to upload user-generated amateur content. "Our business model has always been about giving the customer as much value as possible," Caro said. "We have an endless, infinite amount of stuff, so once you become a member, you'll probably stay a member for life. It's about being the biggest and the best."
It's only fitting that the most popular adult star has a site to match her beauty, and TeraPatrick.com does the job.
After years of being hosted as part of the JennaCash program, where it was known as ClubTera, this sleek and sexy vanity site found it way onto the GammaCash roster, where it has been re-envisioned and built from scratch as not only a showcase for the exotic love goddess, but also a development channel. "What we have done is only the beginning of a much bigger plan for Tera," said GammaCash Account Manager Joel Drapeau. "Our intention is not only to develop a membership site with her, but also to develop projects that will cover all Internet business."
Patrick is said to be "very involved" with her site, interacting with fans and doing live cam shows and contests. With its amenities - in addition to live shows, there also are movies to buy, photo galleries, interviews, an online journal and original video content - TeraPatrick.com offers fans everything but Patrick's address and phone number. "Since her beginning in the adult business, Tera has been performing like a first-class performer," Drapeau noted. "With our team and Tera's participation, we will keep developing new tools and content for affiliates and surfers, so stay tuned."
An offshoot of NakedSword.com, this fascinating and original website, the cornerstone of NakedSword's foray into original content production, melds the gay adult market with coverage of the mainstream. "We're not as much a blog as we are an online magazine," NakedSword CEO Tim Valenti said. "Whereas blogs are mostly opinion and commentary that report on the same stories as everyone else, TheSword is a source for original multimedia content."
Some of the site's features are gay adult industry news, feeds of blogs and content from other sites, and exclusive stories on everything from Prince Harry being photographed shirtless in Afghanistan to coverage of the presidential election, all offered from a decidedly daring point of view. "What sets TheSword apart is our strong and unique editorial voice," Valenti said. "We're frank. We're bold. We're unapologetic. We built the site around that editorial voice."
Another key element to the site is its partnerships with established companies like TLA Releasing, Frameline and Damron. "We know we can't do everything ourselves, so we partner with strong forces," Valenti explained. "Plus, we're in the unique position of having direct access to the studios and their stars, which is key to creating original content."
Another unique concept that goes outside the norm, this health and fitness site features popular physique model Pete Adonis pumping iron and cooking his favorite health-oriented dishes in skimpy shorts and little else. "There isn't really anything out there like it," Adonis said. "It is a marriage of style and substance in that it has the requisite eye candy, but it also has solid information for someone looking to get into shape."
The idea for the site came when Randy Blue approached Adonis about modeling on his adult site, RandyBlue.com. Adonis declined, but the friends put their heads together and came up with this alternative based on the success of Adonis' site, FitnessWorkoutsInc.com. In addition to Adonis (who is straight), several RandyBlue exclusives will pop up on the site to offer fitness tips and work out on camera. According to Blue, so far, so good. "RandyBlueRipped fits perfectly with what I want to achieve because it adds dimension," he said. "Porn sites tend to be repetitive and lack any depth beyond what's on the surface. RandyBlueRipped gives people a reason to stay, learn, fantasize and enjoy. Isn't that what porn is all about?"
If Penthouse has done nothing else in recent months, it's made its name in mainstream media. After making some important smaller-scale deals, acquiring the likes of Danni Ashe Inc. and Video Bliss Inc. in 2006, the real headlines came once it was announced in December 2007 that Penthouse Media Group International had purchased Various Inc. and its family of sites - including the adult social networking site AdultFriendFinder.com - for $500 million.
It was a far cry from where the Penthouse family of publications stood a few years earlier, when founder Bob Guccione's parent company was forced to file for bankruptcy. A South Florida real-estate developer, Marc Bell stepped in with his capital investment group and took over operations. Bell and his management team have announced their intent to take the company public, and Bell said he expects Penthouse to be four times the size of Playboy by the time that happens.
After being acquired from popular porn starlet Dannie Ashe in the early 2000s, processing company DHD Media skyrocketed under the leadership of President Ron Jenkins. "We really hit our stride a couple of years ago," Jenkins said, "but we've been ‘the quiet company' because we have grown through relationships rather than branding and mass marketing."
The company's recent launch of its IPSP business represents another step forward, propelling the company into the same league as industry giants CCBill and Epoch. "This definitely takes us to the next phase in our business," Jenkins said. "Having ISPS status certainly opens the door to deliver our services to a broader market that we believe is really hungry for the service relationship that DHD Media brings."
While working to extend DHD's technology in innovative ways, Jenkins keeps his eye on the bigger picture. "Our goal is to make sure that we continue to go beyond being hot in the moment by working every day to earn our clients' confidence," Jenkins explained. "This is an industry that rewards performance and commitment. We take our relationships with our clients very seriously, so we work that much harder to make sure that we provide superior performance for all of them."
After a long gestation period, during which its website and affiliate program were drastically overhauled, EvilAngelCash relaunched with a sleek, easy-to-navigate new design and even better content.
It couldn't have come too soon. "As we are moving toward the digital age more and more, it's extremely important that we get up to speed on the Internet," said John Desjardins, Evil Angel's director of Internet. "For a long time, Evil Angel was focused on only DVD product. It felt kind of late in the game for us [to get on the Internet], but I feel great about the new site."
With content offered via Windows Media, QuickTime and an array of other formats, and from a variety of sources, the new and improved EvilAngelCash has extended the Evil Angel brand in a profound way. "I love how far we've come over the last year, and I'm extremely excited about this year," Desjardins commented. "We have a lot of new stuff in the works. It's going to be leaps and bounds from this point on. I have already seen a huge jump from where we were a few months ago. We're definitely going in the right direction, and we're very happy about it."
Capping off its second year, this relatively new program has quickly become a force within the online adult industry. It was launched with just one site, 18YearsOld.com, but it has added other niche sites (including DeepThroatLove.com, EuroHumpers.com, RealExGirlfriends.com and FreaksOfCock.com) and beefed up its webmaster tools.
After offering pay-per-sign-up payouts, the program became even more popular among affiliates. "We offer websites with attitude that convert and retain," said founder Adam Silverman, aka Biggy. "We have good content, good conversions, good retention, and we pay like clockwork. We offer results. People go where they get the best results, and in such a tough market, you need to ensure the highest-quality product."
Still, Silverman said he hasn't gotten too big for his britches just yet. "Unfortunately, ‘hot' status means nothing - only revenue and profit," he said. "And I assure you, there is never a ceiling to that. We still have plenty of room to grow."
An adult-oriented social network, Zivity.com was still in beta testing in March, but it is creating a buzz in the adult and mainstream media.
One of the first adult Internet ventures to seek out and secure venture capital funding, Zivitiy.com allows members to rate submitted content and interact with models and photographers. Under a voting system that lets members decide what content will be published, voters essentially distribute royalties.
The voting system is expected to attract quality content by relying on a selective community to challenge models and photographers to meet high standards. The site is billed as "the intersection of MySpace, Playboy magazine and ‘American Idol.'"
According to Cyan Banister, the site's co-founder and chief strategy officer, "Zivity is the site Playboy should have built."
By March, Zivity had secured $8 million in venture capital funding, with $7 million of that coming from the mainstream companies Founders Fund and BlueRun Ventures. Founders Fund was an early investor in Facebook.com.
Zivity.com is expected to launch in 2009.
TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGY
Is gay the new straight? Based on the number of straight-owned companies that have developed or are developing gay sites to add to their affiliate programs, one might get the idea that homosexually challenged program owners have gotten in touch with their bisexual tendencies.
However, that's not the case. Instead, the addition of gay sites to straight-owned affiliate programs demonstrates just how lucrative gay content can be. "From the marketing point of view, [the] gay market is not that different from straight," FetishFish.com owner Mantas M. said. "Chances are that what works in one will also work in the other."
From Silvercash to GammaCash, the number of gay sites popping up on predominantly hetero programs is astounding.
The trend has drawn criticism from gay webmasters who say straight program owners aren't familiar enough with what gay surfers want. That's not so, their opponents say. "By far, the biggest fallacy in the market today is that programs think that they must hire a gay person to run and build their gay division, and that is just not true," argued Greg TX, director of operations at ShawInternet.com, which owns the gay program RainbowRevenue.com. "[RainbowRevenue] was built entirely by straight guys, and we feel we have done a good job with it, and our conversions and sales prove that theory."
You know what that means. It's time to get your gay on, too, dude.
While the practice of domaining - buying and selling online properties - is not necessarily a new trend, it has become a favorite pastime of webmasters all over the world.
According to Moniker CEO Monte Cahn, there's a reason for this. "Domain investors are beginning to realize that domain names are the equivalent of real estate," he said. "As more people seek to start a new online business venture, they are quickly realizing how valuable those assets are. Smart businesspeople intuitively understand that now is the time to stake their claim on that piece of undeveloped property."
With domain auction prices often in the millions for high-profile domains (see Porn.com), it's clear that this trend isn't going away any time soon. "Domains will always have inherent investment value, with or without content on them or a business model behind them," Cahn said. "What you choose to do with those valuable business assets is up to you."
Transition to DVD
Sometimes, trends go backwards. Take the re-emergence of DVDs as a source of revenue for several affiliate programs. More and more Internet programs like Silvercash, ATK and HowIGotRich are offering their content not only through their program sites, but also via physical product. Why not? It's a relatively inexpensive way to monetize content in untested markets.
The irony is that the Internet was supposed to have represented the demise of traditional content-delivery methods, including DVDs. "The convergence of online competing in the DVD market has become more apparent due to the increase of competition in the online market and the means to monetize the costs for exclusive-content expenditures," Silvercash Albert claimed. "The expenditures that typical affiliate programs experience is now part of the cost of doing business, so it is only in a program's best interests to monetize this expenditure of content by repurposing content for different verticals, including the DVD distribution market."
Of course, the trend is not without its downsides. Offline production houses recently began courting the Internet market, repurposing their DVD content for online delivery. Not that webmasters are all that worried, mind you. "The significance or importance of relationships on traffic trades are deeply rooted, and they are in favor of those who have their initial foundation based in the online market," Silvercash Albert pointed out. "In my experience, for DVD companies to compete online is significantly more challenging than online companies attempting to complete in the DVD market."
Mergers and acquisitions
Penthouse Media Group International's acquisition of Various Inc. captured the most headlines, but it wasn't the only deal that took place in the adult entertainment world.
Adult industry innovator Ninn Worx merged with the worldwide presence of Spearmint Rhino Consulting Worldwide to create Ninn Worx_SR Inc. in July 2007. The merger agreement included Ninn Worx' management of a Spearmint Rhino video production arm.
And there were smaller deals, too. Also in 2007, Shane's World's announced it had acquired Hush-Hush Entertainment, a brand known for its online presence and strong rate of growth.
DeeCash, another strong presence in the online adult industry, has been snatching up companies left and right. Adult affiliate company Mayor's Money announced in February it had been acquired by DeeCash. It was the latest in a string of recent purchases by DeeCash. Previous acquisitions include JoinRightNow, Elite Dollars, Epic Cash and JasonAndAlex.
With steadily declining DVD sales and increased attention on the online segment of the industry, it only makes sense that the coming months and years will see more and more announcements of companies that complement each other joining forces in one fashion or another.
-Ken Knox and Sherri L. Shaulis
This article originally appeared in the May 2008 issue of AVN Online magazine. To subscribe to AVN Online, visit AVNMediaNetwork.com/subscriptions .