CHATSWORTH, Calif.—Industry veteran and AVN Hall of Fame Founders Branch member Christian Mann, who has served as general manager at Evil Angel since 2008, reportedly passed away Wednesday after fighting bile duct and pancreatic cancer for approximately a year and a half.
Mann first made made his condition public with this open letter that he penned to the industry at the end of January 2013. Earlier this month, he chose to enter the care of hospice when the treatment he was receiving for his continually growing tumors appeared to no longer be working. Wedensday morning, Mann's wife Melissa posted to her Facebook page: "Over the weekend, Christian's condition has deteriorated rapidly. Because I have not left his side for three weeks, I do not see the changes as starkly as others who visit, but there is no mistake this time. I do not believe he is in pain, and my only hope now is for a swift resolution."
Late Wednesday evening, reports began to surface on Facebook and other social media that Mann had succumbed to his illness. An immediate outpouring of grief and condolensces spread throughout the adult cyber-community.
Perhaps the most succinct sentiment summing up the universal feelings of all came in one of the first tweets to appear about the breaking news, at around 9:30 p.m., from Evil Angel director Kevin Moore: "The industry lost a giant tonight. I can't fathom the business without him."
Paul Fishbein, founder of AVN and a long-time friend of Mann, had this to say:
"Obviously there are few people I was as close to as Christian," Fishbein said. "He was the brother I never had. Some of the best times of my life were with Christian. And even though I've known for a while this was coming, I'm just devastated."
Mann's tenure in adult saw him wear many assorted hats, but predominant in his legacy was his longtime run as owner of Video Team, where he brought ethnic and niche fare into the forefront of the market with such lines and series as Afro-Centric and No Man's Land. He sold Video Team in 2006 to Metro Media but remained with the company until making the move to Evil two years later.
Mann was brought up on federal obscenity charges in Texas in 1989, and prevailed in his trial there. When Evil Angel founder John Stagliano was facing his own such charges more than 20 years later in Washington, D.C. (which were dismissed in July 2010), Mann was elected to the Board of Directors for the Free Speech Coalition, an organization in which he had been active for many years and remained so up until the final stages of his cancer battle.
Evil Angel CFO Adam Grayson offered the following thoughts on Mann: "We've been working together here for five or six years now … I've gotten to know him really well here at Evil Angel; we worked really close together.
"His father was in the magazine printing business, and he started working for his father, which was his entre into this little world. I know he did sales at CPLC for a number of years, and then I guess either before that or after that he worked in sales in the gay video business for a long time, and he pretty much ran Catalina for several years when Bill Higgins owned it.
"I started January of '09, which means Chris started August of '08. We didn't really know each other; it was actually Joey Silvera who got me the meeting here. We're both guys who've been around the block, he a lot longer than I, but we just hit it off professionally. We just really had a common vision for this company, and where it was and where it should be, and a rough outline of how to get there, and it really became a great three-headed attack. Christian was really the sales and marketing and operational guy; John was obviously the creative genius, and I'm sort of the dorkey financial technology guy, but it was really nice. The three of us worked together well and got along. Our expertise didn't really overlap that much, so everybody sort of had their little fiefdom.
"The biggest business contribution was probably, we were running all of our internet in house, and frankly, doing a not-so-good job at it, because it really wasn't our core competency. It was Christian who really steered us toward a long-term partnership with a web technology company which ended up being Gamma. We did that deal in the fall of 2009, and we are actually coming up on the five-year renewal, and that deal has been a game changer for this company.
“There was a lot of status quo when Christian and I got here. He was always forward looking in saying, 'Why do we have three people doing this job where if we just improve the software or we improve the process, we could have one efficient person doing it.' If you do enough of those, they sort of add up into a lot of increased efficiency and a lot of savings."
Mann himself shared this recollection from the beginning of his career in an issue of AVN devoted to the 30th anniversary of the AVN Awards: “I officially started in the business in the summer of 1979 when I was 18 years old. My job was packing magazines in my dad’s warehouse and delivering them to our local customers in the beat-up company van. Seven months into my job, on Valentine’s Day 1980, I was delivering a van full of How to Enlarge Your Penis magazines to CPLC in Central L.A. As I turned the corner, I saw the entire block swarming with news media trucks ... and the CPLC parking lot was filled with big guys wearing FBI windbreakers. I knew enough to not stop and instead made my way to the nearest phone booth to call my dad who had been worried because he knew raids were going down all over the country ... and he couldn't reach me in the days before cell phones. This wasn’t my first day on the job, but it remains one of my earliest and most vivid memories from my freshman year in our business.”
Industry veteran Howard Levine provided the following words of remembrance this morning:
"Chris passed away last night.
"I have known Christian Mann for close to 30 years. He has been a good friend for all that time. I remember the first time I met Chris, he was stepping out of a limo to visit the sales people at General Video West. He was working for the gay movie company, Catalina, and I knew for sure he was gay. I was wrong.
"I was so impressed. The limo, the crisp clothes, he looked successful. I wanted that. He was inspiring.
"Christian is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met in my life. He has always been a great advisor. His even temper and quick wit was always a great refresher in a tense conversation.
"He seemed to do what was logical; he made good decisions.
When I became clean and sober over 8 years ago, he was the first person I called. He was very supportive and gave me a direction that I have followed ever since. Once again he was an inspiration. But this time it was for living, not success.
"I am so grateful that I was able to call him my friend. I will never understand how such a great guy, someone who is of service to so many, someone who is so caring, gets dealt a hand like this. No one said life is fair, and this proves it to be so.
"This world was a better place with him here. I know I will miss him terribly. My condolences go out to his wife and kids. He will be missed.
"I know I will see him further down the road."
Check back on AVN.com in the coming hours for more memories of Mann and his long career.
Photo of Christian Mann courtesy of Melissa Mann's Facebook page.
Click here for more remembrances of Mann.
Click here for a statement from Evil Angel.
Click here for information on a celebration of life for Mann.