Executive Suites: AEE Exhibitors Talk About What Lies Ahead

This article originally ran in the March 2015 issue of AVN. To see the issue, which features coverage of AVN's January shows, click here.

LAS VEGAS—When mainstream reporters come to AEE, their eyes are quite naturally drawn to the show floor, where there’s an adult performer around every corner and lots of quirky sexually oriented products to peruse. But there’s another AEE, and it takes place far away from the public eye, in the suites housing adult companies who are there primarily to meet buyers and hang out with colleagues.

One such suite is where AVN found Airerose Entertainment Vice President Adam Hasner, who took some time out from his busy schedule to talk about what’s up with the studio, which was named Best New Imprint at the 2015 AVN Awards.

“We’re handling a lot of titles, a lot of good features coming out of the gate strong for the new year. We’re coming out with more releases per month; we’re trying to come up with different concepts to separate us from everyone else,” he said.

The most exciting of these is Airerose’s new star showcase series. “We’re doing something different this year, so when we do the showcase titles, we’re getting an in-depth look at the girl’s real life as well,” Hasner said. “That series will be called All Access, so the first title will be All Access Carter Cruise; then we’re going to do All Access Jillian Janson, and then All Access Bonnie Rotten; those will be the first three.”

The first of these, All Access Carter Cruise, will street April 9, and its star is not only AVN’s 2015 Best New Starlet—she’s also Airerose’s official spokesperson. “At this point, she’s going to be featured in a couple of movies,” Hasner said. “She’s doing a great job; we’re very happy with her, and she’s a great face for the company.”

Hasner also heads up DreamZone Entertainment, which he says will “pick up production in 2015. I have a couple of scripts being written for us. We’ll be doing feature films. I can’t say too much, but we’re just going to go the feature film route. … I have a mainstream writer who writes mainstream films, who’ll be doing scripts for us.”

Another industry leader AVN tracked down in his suite was Mile High Media’s Jon Blitt—the man behind the powerhouse studio  Hard X, where AVN’s 2015 Director of the Year works exclusively. 

“Right now, we’ve got three new lines coming out this year. One of them’s gonna be a high-end transsexual line, story-driven. We also just launched a new gay line, Icon Male, which we started in July with one title a month. We went to two titles a month in September/October, and we’ll be continuing like that, and that’s directed by Nica Noelle.

“Nica’s going to be doing a similar type line, only focused on transsexuals, and it’s full story-driven. I believe it’s a unique product on the market; I don’t believe there’s anything similar out there that I can see. Nica had done two at AEBN but then they stopped the line, so now we’re kind of picking it up and doing that product. We’re also expanding the Erotica X/Hard X brand this year, and we’re going to add two new lines to that, to drive Mason crazy with: Fetish X, which is like an intro to fetish, very erotic, and then as well, we’re going to be doing a line called Dark X, which is going to focus on also soft, interracial high-end product.”

Blitt said that he will be adding at least a couple more titles a month for Erotica X and Hard X. He’s now got veteran shooter William H. working on Hard X lines, and he added, “We’re probably going to have another director on the Erotica side as well.”

Given that Hard X has found such success with star showcases—this year both Anikka 2 and Allie earned multiple AVN Awards—it’s not surprising there are more coming soon. “Probably April or May, we’re going to have a Mia Malkova one, because she’s our contract star now, for the O.L. company, which is the Erotica X/Hard X brands,” Blitt said.

Another regular suite holder at AEE is Devil’s Film, with representatives Steve Volponi and Eric Gutterman there to meet with customers, both old and new. Volponi sat down with AVN to talk about the company. “Sales for DVD have been steady, basically the same as last year—up a little bit, actually. Our VOD and broadcast is up, numbers overall have been great, and we’re just going to stick with the same plan as what we’ve been doing. We created some new lines, since we noticed that some people have jumped on our family niche bandwagon, so we created a couple of new things—Angelic Asses, Chocolate Cheerleader Camp, Seduction of ...—which are doing fairly well for us. We’ve rebranded, as you know; we changed our logo. We got some feedback on that; some people didn’t realize it was Devil’s anymore because there’s not the prominent little Devil girl or what-not, but with new ownership, we felt we needed to upgrade everything.”

That ownership change—with Pipedream Products chief Nick Orlandino taking over—has been a real boost for Devil’s. “Thankfully, we have a guy … who lets us run with it,” Volponi said.

“We’re niche; we’re going to continue doing that,” Volponi said. Some of the most successful niches have been GILF porn, interracial and ethnic, and—of course—transsexual porn. The prominence of Devil’s in the latter niche was documented by the studio’s win at this year’s AVN Awards for Best Transsexual Series, which went to America’s Next Top Tranny, 

“On the tranny side, we have a couple of new lines,” Volponi said. “We’re gonna do something different; probably a parody thing, but I’m not gonna say too much just yet. And we have a new one that did pretty well because of the name I think—Tranny Ho’s and Pantyhose—so that was another niche we put together.”

As far as ethnic titles, Volponi said, “Gangland’s up to like 90-something, so we started Blacked Out … a classier version; not so much a gangster thing. I wanted a cleaner cover, better-looking guys … better locations, better talent.”

In addition to the various companies AVN talked to who were currently shooting new content, there were also many at the show who were looking to monetize existing classic content. One of these was Bruce Mendelson of Legend Video. “After almost 30 years, we’re still around and still kicking, putting out product that the DVD marketplace is asking … products that the stores can sell at a good price, and that’s what we want to give everybody: service and good-priced merchandise and well-merchandised product.”

Mendelson added, “Right now, we’re not shooting, but our catalog is approximately 3,000 titles. We still have the old Scotty Fox and Jerry Tanner films, and everything’s still selling along with Tera Patrick and Brianna Banks; we shot them years and years ago before they were stars, so we have Collector’s Editions on those two stars, and we’re just loving it.”

Back on new lines and new content, AVN checked in with two companies who both launched fresh imprints right around the time of last year’s show, and both celebrated big sales gains in 2014.

Chuck Zane of Black Market talked about Girl Co., the new girl/girl line. “We came out with it last  January, so it’s been about 11 months now in the market, and it’s going gangbusters.”

Zane added that the series is produced by Black Market chief James Melendy’s wife. “It looks really good,” Zane said. “She does a lot of work on it. I won’t say she directs it, but she’s on the set; she’s there and she shepherds it through, and she’s heavily involved in production.”

Zane also noted, “We have our new all-hardcore line, Tug Zone, and Illicit Behavior, our other new line. So since January, 2014, we’ve come out with three new lines: Tug Zone, Illicit Behavior and Girl Co.”

However, this doesn’t mean Black Market is ignoring the company’s original strength: interracial and black-on-black. “It’s now one Girl Co, one Illicit Behavior, one TugZone and one Black Market; that’s what we’re trying for. There might be two TugZones in a month, but one a month of each line is what we’re looking to put out.”

Also talking about a strong past 12 months was Michael Adam of Metro, the visionary behind the BDSM-oriented Deviant Entertainment line (which won an AVN Award for Best BDSM Release for its title Brandy Aniston Is Fucked). “The big push here is, after last year, when we premiered the first title from Deviant at [the 2014 AEE], the big push was most importantly to come in here and  have a much longer, more cohesive, more filled-out line. I’m 13 titles now into it, and the other really exciting thing is for a brand-new label that’s been around for only a year, we got eight [AVN Award] nominations against the only eight movies we released that qualify, so that was really cool,” he enthused.

Steve Schott, David Peskin and Diego Passos were in the TWM suite—also known as Third World Media—to sell the company’s varied offerings. “As far as what I’m pushing here at the show,” Peskin said, “we came up with some fabulous show specials from our series, Latin transsexual product, to Asian product that we shoot in Japan from straight to transsexuals; Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, Russia, all over Europe—came up with some great show specials on over 600 titles to 800 catalog. We’re looking to grow.”

Part of that growth comes from Grooby Productions transsexual titles, which have been carried by Third World for about seven years. More recently, Peskin said, “We did a distribution deal with MenAreSlaves.com, which is femdom content. It’s one of the largest female domination sites on the net.” The first release, Balls Destroyed , already garnered the line’s first AVN Award nomination, Best BDSM Release, in the 2015 awards. “So, new releases there,” Peskin said, “and we just did another distribution deal with a company in Japan and have been bringing brand-new direct Japanese imports.”

Added Schott, “There’s so much shit going on, our heads are spinning.” In particular, he noted, “Grooby is doing the first-ever cosplay comic parody, called the Trantastic Four. We’re real excited to be putting that out, probably in another couple of months or so. We’ve got some big releases coming up this year, for sure, including Transsexual Housewives of Hollywood, a new Grooby big-budget feature, which should be out at the end of February.”

Industry veteran Howard Levine, head man at Exile Distribution—which handles Forbidden Fruits Films, Severe Sex, AMKingdom, Hot Mess, Cutiepie Films, Pornstar Empire and the Tabu series from Standard Digital—the meetings he has scheduled through AVN’s VIBE program (an invitation-only program that schedules meetings for major buyers) are a key part of his AEE experience. The feisty, outspoken salesman is never shy about offering critiques of industry events and media, but he had nothing but good news to share about his participation in the program. “We were busy from 9:30 in the morning until 6:30 at night,” Levine said. “Timothy and his crew did a great job on the VIBE suites. We will definitely be back next year.”