Greg Dumas is the perfect example of a porn guy who isn't a porn guy. "He's just a regular decent guy," I jab at my friend Pete, "exactly like your brother over at Disney." Pete gives me a dirty look, but it's true.
On the other hand, Dumas - who co-founded iGallery in 1996, then worked for New Frontier Media (which bought iGallery in 1999), and now operates GEC Media, a marketing and consulting company he started in 2001 - was weaned on the teat of Mr. Porn.
"It's kind of a funny story," he says. "My ex-wife [he's since remarried] was a private duty nurse. One day she comes home and tells me she got this job in Beverly Hills, but I'm not paying much attention, until she says it's with this guy named Larry Flynt. Then I'm paying attention. This was back in 1993. So she went to work for him full-time, and he and I got to be good friends - in fact, we would go out to dinner at least once a week - and then I became really good friends with his daughter, Theresa, and that's when I ended up working for Hustler. So I have to credit my start in this business to him, even though it was really all a fluke."
Hustler Online is also where Dumas met his longtime friend and business partner, Scott Schalin, in 1995. "He was a real asset to me as far as getting things done," says Dumas, "and that's where we became friends." In 1996, they both left Hustler to go to Club Love and Seth Warshavsky, a gig that lasted all of three months. "Yeah, I was either going to throw [Seth] out of a window, or I was going to slip up and do something else. So we started up iGallery in the summer of 1996, the summer of love, and launched Caf� Flesh and Barely 18 Live right around the same time, and it just took off."
I ask him what the adult Internet was like back then. "The landscape was very sparse. You had Cybererotica just taking off, Python taking off, and Seth getting out there in a big way, bigger than most of us. Then you had a handful of little companies that have since come and gone. So Ron Levi went into the membership business, because he saw that that was where it was all going, and we went into the video-conferencing business, which is what Videosecrets still does. We had our biggest peak in revenue in video upsells in July of 1997, and then all of a sudden it started declining. When we saw the decline, we started concentrating on the affiliate marketing business, like Cybererotica."
The next few years saw a detonation of success within the industry. "All of a sudden there was an explosion, like somebody started raining signups on people, and RJB became this powerhouse, CEN became huge, and they leapfrogged us, and Cybererotica went ape shit, mushrooming into this huge entity, and leaving us in the dust."
The next sea change took place in 1999. "We were looking to expand, to break into the European market, to create a dialer company. It's always better to use someone else's money, so we hooked up with this company called New Frontier Media, which came to us with an interesting proposal to buy us. The deal closed in October 1999, and we sold our company to them for an all-stock transaction."
I ask Dumas if people assume residual ill will exists between him and his former partners. "Yeah, a lot of the time, but I have nothing but respect for the New Frontier guys, and they have never done anything wrong to me. They're still friends of mine, we still work together on different things, and I would never, ever knowingly do anything to hurt them. Scott Schalin and I are still the best of friends, and every time Michael Weiner, who is pretty much the No. 1 guy there, comes to L.A., we work out. It was a relationship like roommates, where at a certain point you say, 'I don't want to live here anymore.'"
Now he spends his time building up GEC Media. "My primary focus has been working with Python on their AVS sites, XXXPassport and XXXGayPass. I was also asked to be on the Board of Directors for ICM registry, the .xxx guys, and I'm a boardmember of the Free Speech Coalition. I'm having more fun than ever. Right now I work out of my house, and I travel a lot, because I still believe in face-to-face contact and love getting on a plane and flying to meet someone and sit in their office sharing lunch with them."
Any advice? "My best advice to people who want to get into this industry is to understand the importance of relationships. Being in a good relationship is being straight and honest and not playing games. I never bullshit anybody and I've never screwed anybody. If you treat people right, they'll treat you right, and you'll have longevity."
As I'm hanging up, Dumas stops me. "Please keep it positive," he says, "I'm a positive person, sometimes to a fault."
That's exactly what I was trying to tell Pete!