AEE Seminar: 'Girls, Girls, Girls'

LAS VEGAS - Despite its title, which made it sound like "Meet the Starlets" (the subtitle "The Growing Power of Women in Adult Entertainment" was more to the point), this lively discussion of women in porn and female consumers drew strong reactions from a sizeable audience on Day 2 of AEE.

Kelly Holland, Penthouse Films executive producer and president of Chick Media, kicked things off with a rambling but passionate keynote speech that totted up the gains made by women in positions of power in the adult industry.

The first thing she did was to "challenge the name of the seminar," which did not jibe with "the gravitas of the women on the panel."

It was indeed an impressive group (pictured, from left): Kim Airs, marketing director of Pipedream Products; Evil Angel's Karen Stagliano; Bay Area-based entrepreneur Nenna Joiner; Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition;  Wicked Pictures executive Joy King; Babeland CEO Rachel Venning; Pink Visual/Yappo's Kristin Wynters.

Holland ran through a litany of other women executives and female porn directors and concluded that they are having "a major impact on the business."

But what everyone really wanted to get into was less self-congratulation and more sales strategies: how to focus and refine the marketing of adult products to female consumers. The nitty gritty was, in Holland's words, "The women's market: how can we monetize it?"

One of the problems, she said, is that the marketing model for porn, from its earliest days, has been predicated on a strictly male consumership. "We're still marketing through the old male-centric pipline."

Women, she said, have to be reached by different means, and she pointed out a few companies that have figured out how to do that, such as Sinclair Institute, Passion Parties, and women-owned stores like Babeland.

The upshot was that there is an enormous untapped market of women who would be eager to buy porn DVDs if the marketing pipeline could reach them.

"They're not marketing to us because they don't think we're sexual," Duke said. "Women have brains and we make decisions for ourselves. We get to own our sexuality."

"Women want to see female pleasure," Venning pointed out, which led King to praise the work of director Laurent Sky, who has just shot a movie for Wicked in which "he focused on every woman having an orgasm."

Venning noted that producers rarely take into account the diversity of the women's market. "Women don't just want one thing, they want a lot of things," and stated categorically, "The women's market is growing as the economy is shrinking."

Babeland publicist Alicia Relles, speaking from the audience, pointed out that a full 25% of the 10,000 copies sold by Tristan Taormino's first Vivid movie were sold by Babeland, on line or in one of their stores.

The consensus of the discussion was that adult manufacturers, for their own good, should stop marketing solely to men. "The traditional DVD market is drying up," Holland concluded, "and there's a huge potential women's market that they're just not going after."