CHATSWORTH, Calif. - 2007 was a tough year for the porn industry. The plight of adult video producers made headlines in the New York Times, USA Today and other mainstream news outlets, as the internet continued to take a bite out of DVD sales in an already oversaturated marketplace.
The industry weathered increased government scrutiny as obscenity prosecutions and FBI inspections placed numerous companies on the defensive. JM Productions scored a vitally important victory in the Five Star Video trial, but this year's federal indictments of Max Hardcore, Movies By Mail and Ira Isaacs remain unresolved.
The federal 2257 record-keeping law remained one of the biggest stories affecting the porn business, as the FBI met with adult producers for the first time and inspections continued on both coasts. Thanks to the brave efforts of GVA's Rondee Kamins and attorney Mike Murray, 2257 was declared unconstitutional in the Sixth Circuit... but at year's end, proposed changes to the law have not yet been decided.
Larry Flynt launched another dirt-digging expedition on Capitol Hill, this time undoing the hypocritical Senator Vitter. The Hustler publisher also made the news following the death of Jerry Falwell, looking back on his landmark court victory and speaking out about his memories of the Moral Majority leader. In a move that angered anti-porn politicos, Flynt threw his weight behind Dennis Kucinich with a political fundraiser held at LFP headquarters.
The Free Speech Coalition hobnobbed with another presidential candidate when Sen. Mike Gravel attended an FSC dinner. Under the leadership of Diane Duke, the organization experienced a deja vu in its fight for the industry's right to free expression, lobbying against the same California porn tax it opposed a decade ago.
Local NIMBY politics continued to plague adult retailers across the nation, with many communities drafting ordinances designed to zone out sexually oriented businesses while dodging First Amendment lawsuits. AVN reported dozens of stories in 2007 related to retailers' legal battles; the ongoing saga of John Cornetta's Love Shack store in Johns Creek, Georgia and the harrassment of Greg Sakas' Pure Bliss in New Bern, N.C. are among the year's most striking examples.
Significant mergers and acquisitions this year included the alliance between Ninn Worx and Spearmint Rhino, GVA's takeover of Good Vibrations and Shane's World snapping up Hush Hush Entertainment. The popularity of amateur porn was a notable trend, as evidenced by Wicked's recent distro pact with AbbyWinters and Homegrown Video's move to the Pure Play roster. Anabolic split from longtime sister company Diabolic, while on the Euro-porn scene, director Pierre Woodman launched his company Woodman Entertainment as a global porn juggernaut.
Private Media Group and Penthouse inked major broadcast deals this year, with Private simultaneously making big moves into the mobile and VOD markets and Penthouse stunning the online sector with the $500 million purchase of Adult Friend Finder.
Celebrity sex vids continued to generate salacious buzz and profits for adult studios, though the featured celebs seemed to reach more absurd depths of obscurity with each successive release. Vivid scored a megahit with Kim Kardashian Superstar (a reported $1 million acquisition and the first day-and-date release for both DVD and download-to-burn), but Red Light District ultimately delivered the year's hottest serving of celeb sleaze with Amy Fisher Caught On Tape.
The emergence of new technologies and delivery platforms also defined the year. Coming out of the January 2007 AEE and CES, the mainstream media debated porn's role in the so-called format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Vivid made Debbie Does Dallas...Again the first licensed and copy-protected Blu-ray disc, Wicked released Curse Eternal as the first 1080p adult HD DVD, and gonzo studios including Zero Tolerance and Anabolic also began releasing in the next-gen formats. With Pirates now setting sail on Blu-ray, Digital Playground is betting that 2008 will be the year that hi-def porn finally penetrates the consumer market.
As geeks debated the commercial viability of 1080p anal scenes, high-end studios spent some of the biggest porn budgets in recent memory on ambitious hardcore features. Wicked's Operation Desert Stormy, SexZ Pictures' Upload and Adam & Eve's Eden bucked the low-budget trend with impressive displays of flesh and firepower, and John Stagliano wrapped his Fashionistas trilogy for Evil Angel in grandiose, sex-drenched style.
The deaths of performer Haley Paige and director Chico Wang, the murder of Cobra Video's Bryan Kocis and a tragic road accident involving performer Brian Surewood were among the most scandalous porn-related headlines of 2007. "Girls Gone Wild" mogul Joe Francis faced an onslaught of legal troubles and remains in a Nevada jail, where he continues to proclaim his innocence.
2007 will be remembered as the year Jenna Jameson announced (then denied) her "retirement." Targeted by tabloids and online keyboard-jockeys, the legendary sex performer gave an exclusive interview to AVN in which she divulged some of her mainstream crossover plans and dished about her relationship with fighter Tito Ortiz.
Tera Patrick and Evan Seinfeld made waves with a slew of mainstream TV appearances, the monster-selling inTERActive and Teravision's release of Broken, the hardcore directorial debut of ex-Jane's Addiction axeman Dave Navarro. If you watched the E! channel or VH1 in 2007, you probably saw Evan and Tera; if you attended a porn convention, you definitely saw Navarro.
Sunny Lane and SexZ Pictures girl Hillary Scott were porn's nubile poster children of the year as the mainstream media made its obligatory tour of the triple-X trenches. Behind both girls was the relentless PR machine of X-Play/All Media Play producers Jeff Mullen and Scott David, who continued to cultivate their roles as the party-crazed Barnum & Bailey of smut with the perfectly timed Hustler Video hits Not the Bradys XXX and Britney Rears 4. Kick Ass' Mark Kulkis caused a memorable stir with his post-Imus release of Nappy Headed Hos ("not racist!").
Following are links to 25 stories that made an impact on the adult industry in 2007, and remembrances of those who passed away this year. As we look forward to AEE and our 25th annual awards show, AVN wishes the adult industry a healthy and happy 2008.
AVN's Mark Kernes, MJ McMahon, and Dan Miller contributed to this story.