Hot Video Founder Franck Vardon Passes—UPDATED

PARIS, Fr.—Franck Vardon, founder and owner of the premier French adult video magazine Hot Video, has died of a heart attack. He was 58 years old.

"It is with great regret and sadness that we inform you that Franck Vardon, founder and owner of Hot Video magazine, passed away on Saturday, 11th January," reported Hot Video spokesperson Gerome Lorenzo, one of Vardon's top associates at the magazine.

Hot Video, founded in 1989, and currently published by VCV Communications, quickly rose to prominence as the go-to magazine covering all things adult-related in France. At its peak during the 1990s, its circulation topped 100,000 copies per issue, though as is the case with many print magazines, that has dropped to about half that amount presently, even as the company has expanded within the past decade into cable TV and VOD offerings in the French marketplace.

Hot Video was also the sponsor of the Hot d'Or ("Hot Gold") awards, which were first given at a gala awards show which took place during the Cannes Film Festival in 1992. The awards celebrated the best in adult video worldwide, and many American actresses, actors and companies were recipients of Hot d'Ors. The award show was discontinued in 2001, though in 2009 they were resurrected for one year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the magazine. The magazine was also responsible for launching the "Salon de la Video Hot" trade fair in Paris in 1996, which drew tens of thousands of attendees.

"Franck and I have been friends for 25 years and I am so shocked right now, I can't begin to explain my sorrow," said Paul Fishbein, AVN founder, who currently co-owns the X3Sixty Network. "Hot Video and AVN stood side-by-side as international partners for many years and the relationship continues today as Hot Video's VOD system is the French home for our Adult Insider show. Franck was a gentleman, a terrific family man and a genuinely nice person. It may seem like a cliché, but in this case it's true that he will be really missed."

Another longtime friend and associate is director Axel Braun who, together with his father Lasse Braun, provided much material to Hot Video over the years, and friendship to Vardon himself.

"Franck was a very charismatic, jovial guy with a larger-than-life personality," reflected Braun. "He lived his life with the same passion which he infused in his business, and his premature passing is a tremendous loss for the French adult industry."

Producer/Director Eli Cross, who shot one of Hot Video's few original productions—Kiss of the Strangler, with James Deen and Kimberly Kane, released in France but not in the U.S.—also considered Vardon a friend.

"Franck was a terrific guy," Cross told AVN. "He was one of the legends of the business, a really good guy. This is one of those rare occasions where it's a genuine loss, and it's a shame, and I can't quite imagine what Hot Video is going to be or how it's going to continue without him."

Wicked Pictures owner Steve Orenstein was also taken aback by the loss.

"I'm surprised to hear the news, and it's a terrible tragedy, since Franck wasn't that old," Orenstein said. "We've done a lot of business with him over the last 20 years, had a lot of great meetings and enjoyed a good time with him, and I'm very sad to hear that he's passed away."

Hot Video will continue to be published, and with Vardon's passing, his associate Alexandre will be present at the Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) in Las Vegas this week to fulfill all of the meetings which Vardon had previously scheduled to take place at that event.

UPDATE: Vardon's associate Gerome Lorenzo released the following statement:

Franck was 58. He was born and raised in Paris. He used to work for Hachette Filipacchi Media before launching his first magazine in 1985, Projexion Privée, an adult magazine. In 1989, he stopped Projexion Privée and launched Hot Video Magazine. The idea behind Hot Video was to mix hardcore pictures with news and coverage of the adult industry all around the world, from LA to Tokyo, from Russia to Brazil. Quickly, Hot Video became the most sold adult magazine in Europe.
In 1992, inspired by the AVN Awards, Franck had the idea to create an award ceremony that would take place during Cannes Film Festival, the Hot d'Or, which earned huge notoriety. Last year, in 2013, he launched a TV channel, Hot Video TV, broadcast in France.
Franck was a pioneer and a great professional, highly appreciated by his employees, always pushing them to give their best. For him, the adult industry deserved the same coverage and professionalism as any other industry. His motto was, "Always one step ahead."