CHATSWORTH, Calif.—Mike Esposito has been in the adult business for a long time. We're not saying he sold Eve the apple, but a long time. And now he wants out ... more or less.
"It's time for me to move on in life," Esposito told AVN in a recent interview. "I've passed the business by. When you get old and you're set in your ways, the people that you used to deal with on a long-term basis are not there."
"A 30-year-old doesn't have the same kind of ideas and feelings as I have," he continued. "They don't have the street smarts. The guys I dealt with when this industry first started, they all had street smarts, and if you went broke, each one of them, they'd push you up, elevate you or prop you up again so you don't make the same mistake. I'll tell you who has his hand on the pulse of the industry: this kid at New Sensations [Scott Taylor]. This is a bright kid. This kid is a good kid, too, and he's an honest kid. This kid is a throwback, along with Dion [Giarrusso]; they're throwbacks. Now, everything is 'Me, myself and I.' ... Do I want to deal with guys like that? Do I want to deal with guys who look to undermine you? Do I want to hear, 'Whatever Michael's charging you, I'll charge you fifty cents less'? I don't want to hear that. I want it to be like the old times. The old times are gone. Norman Arno's gone; Fat Sandy, all these guys are gone."
Apparently, the straw that broke the camel's back was Esposito's acquisition of a sex tape made by Real Housewives of New Jersey star Danielle Staub.
"I tried to deal with a guy who I knew for 30 years on a celebrity sex tape," Esposito said of Danielle Staub: Raw, which eventually found distribution with Hustler Video. "And I told him very nicely, I said, 'Listen, this is my last hurrah. I'll give you the tape; all I want is a fair shake.' Well, I got everything but a fair shake, so I never gave it to him, and he promptly said that he declined it. That's when I really got sour. All I wanted was honesty and loyalty, friendship, and that was the last spike in the coffin. And I'm not happy about it. I'm so dumb at times, I can't believe it, because I always feel that people are going to treat me as I treat them, and I always get disappointed 99 out of 100 times. And I say to myself, what am I doing with these people, and why? Right now, I want to get out; I want to do a little mail order."
But what Esposito mainly wants to do is sell Gentlemen's Video, a nationally known name among adult retailers, with its catalog of roughly 700 videos—largely niche titles featuring squirters, MILFs, midgets, "Mr. 18-inch," lesbians, interracial, she-males and a core group of Golden Age of Porn compilations—as well as pressed DVDs, blanks, package inserts, slicks, DVD packages, even a shrink-wrapping machine.
The thing is, though, Esposito's rather particular about who he'd sell the business to.
"I'm not going to sell it to just anybody; I've got to sell it to a person that I respect," Esposito declared. "I've got to sell it to a person who's got the ability to pay over a long period of time; somebody that's stable. You need stability. If I'm turning over four or five hundred thousand dollars' worth of materials and asking for less than that, I've got to have a little confidence in them. What I'm trying to say is, I need a marketer, not to take the product and bastardize it, not to take the product and engulf it in itself and make 4-hours and swallow the material. And I've got everything. I've got the Golden Age of Porn line, eight or nine of them. I've got about 700 titles, but I've got about six, eight Golden Age in the can; I've got about 30 Golden Age of Euro in the can; I've got three storyline movies in the can; I've got two more coming. I'm tired of fighting this everyday thing. This is made for a company that's already in existence, who has their hand on the pulse of the industry, that would just fall in and it would make sense for them. It's not that he has to dig in his pocket every month to pay me; I've got enough titles and enough business that it'll pay itself. I've just got to find the person."
"I feel that a person who truly understands marketing, and brings this into their fold, would automatically have a customer base where he already has a customer base, but instead of getting 10-piece orders, he'll be getting 20-piece orders for doing the same work, for getting the same fax or email," he continued. "And if someone takes over, what they will find is that with a little massaging and a little retooling and a willingness to work with people, they'll make money from the first day. It's not like he has to start from scratch; I'm giving them everything, and in return, with the little mail order business I'll have, I'll be buying from him. And VOD could be worked out."
Esposito understands that much of his catalog consists of niche movies, but to him, that's a plus.
"I'm a cottage industry within a cottage industry," he said. "I am not in the pretty-girl business; I never pretended to be in the pretty-girl business. What I'm doing right now is, I'm fulfilling orders that are ever-rentables. See, George Atkinson told me one thing: He told me about ever-rentables. Ever-rentables are like, The Godfather is an ever-rentable. Casablanca is an ever-rentable, The shelf of a new title, straight title, is less than 30 days. Here's an ever-rentable: Golden Age of Porn: Jeanna Fine. Golden Age of Porn: Jill Kelly. Golden Age of Porn: Annette Haven. Mr. 18" and The One-Eyed Monster. I'm the one who owns the rights to John Holmes' gay movie. These are movies that will always sell. Why will they sell? Because they have a special value to them, in the sense that a new crop of people always watch them."
"It's like Snow White; every six years, we get a new crop," he continued. "There's some kid that's 17 years old right now that's a chubby-chaser. He doesn't know it yet, but the next time you go to Outback, take a look around and you're going to see this big girl with this drink of water; or you're going to see this tall girl with this little guy, because opposites sometimes do attract. But it's a market. I know the magic formula: It's not what you get out today; it's what you put out for the whole year, and that's what separates the men from the boys."
But Esposito's point is, he's tired.
"At my age, there's other things I want to do," he explained. "I want to take my wife to Santa Barbara for lunch on a Friday; I want to build an annuity with a mail-order business; I want to smell the roses a little bit. I want to be able to give it to someone that shares the same beliefs, or is probably smarter than me in the industry. There are several guys that can run with the ball and run with it very well. I'm not asking a lot. I'm asking payments. I'd go down so far that I'd be giving it away, and I'm giving up a lot at the beginning to get a miniscule return. Here's the one thing: If people are interested, they've got to come here. I'm not talking on the phone. There's only one or two guys I'd talk to on the phone; the only reason why is, they're not in Los Angeles. I want to do it in a professional manner and do it and draw the contracts, show them the warehouse, and I think that's important."
A partial list of Gentlemen's Video's titles can be found here.
So ... any of you veteran adult business owners interested? If so, you can reach Esposito at (818) 700-7785 for an appointment ... and it's probably not necessary to wear a tie to the meeting.