Rewind | 2009 in Hindsight: The Producers

Tube Stakes

The proliferation of tube sites that offer free porn clips affected every adult video producer in the industry this year. These sites maintain that the content they offer is strictly user-generated, amateur or scenes that were bought in bulk from companies that were going out of business. But major studio executives suggest otherwise. Their ongoing struggle to protect their copyrights remains one of the single biggest challenges they face entering 2010. “We don’t have a problem with tube sites,” Christian Mann, general manager for Evil Angel, told AVN’s Jared Rutter in May. “We have a problem with tube sites allowing our copyrighted movies to be posted. It is a legal gray area and a long-running one.”

Perhaps Wicked Pictures owner Steve Orenstein said it best. “No matter what product you make, no matter how popular it is, no matter what you sell it for, high or low, you run into the same issues. That’s why—although everyone should still be doing their own individual fight on this—there are many reasons why studios should be working together toward fighting this fight as well.”

The Sasha Grey Effect

AVN’s 2008 Female Performer of the Year became a mainstream media sensation this year after landing the starring role in Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience. The movie, which explores the high-priced escort world, hit theaters and retail stores in May with significant buzz about the 21-year-old porn star in the lead. Publications ranging from Rolling Stone to the Los Angeles Times profiled Grey, whose ability to articulate her views on life and career helped raise her profile in both mainstream and adult entertainment.
In an interview with David Sullivan in May, Grey talked about how she does not view porn as a stepping-stone to mainstream. “I approach this quite differently than most people. I don’t see a difference between adult and mainstream. For me, it is all performance, a way to challenge and diversify myself; I don’t put a solid boundary between the two.”

She continued, “Yet, in the same vein, I know if I actively seek out non-adult roles I do have an uphill battle because I am an adult star. The climate is ripe for change, and I can act, so hopefully, people will see this and will no longer think of me (or adult performers) with a preconceived bias.”

Parody Power

Perhaps the hottest genre in adult during the past year was the porn parody. Takeoffs of familiar mainstream TV shows from past and present became industry best-sellers, frequently occupying the top spots on AVN’s weekly and monthly sales charts. Studios such as New Sensations/Digital Sin and Hustler Video led the charge along with perennial parody producers X-Play, releasing numerous successful spoofs that also kept them squarely in the industry spotlight. Scott Taylor, owner of New Sensations/Digital Sin, told AVN’s Rutter in July, “In a world of declining DVD sales, the parody is the salvation.” Taylor’s company delivered several strong entries to the parody genre with hits such as The Sex Files: A XXX Parody, Seinfield: A XXX Parody, Friends: A XXX Parody and Scrubs: A XXX Parody, among numerous others. Hustler, meanwhile, unleashed titles such as This Ain’t Star Trek XXX, This Ain’t Saved by the Bell XXX and This Ain’t the Patridge Family XXX.

 X-Play, co-owned by Jeff Mullen and Scott David, made their presence felt with Not Married with Children XXX, Not the Cosbys XXX and Not Three’s Company XXX, all of which were distributed by Hustler. Parodies in adult have not seen this type of popularity since their initial surge to prominence in the ’80s. Their impact in 2009 was significant enough that a new category has been added to the 2010 AVN Awards specifically to recognize the best movie from the genre—Best Sex Parody.

This article originally ran in the December 2009 issue of AVN.

See also Tom Hymes’ commentary on 2009. And tomorrow, read about the top 20 sex toys of 2009.