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Adult Video Suppliers Rally Against Cheap Product

31 Jul, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Adult entertainment is undergoing a makeover. Suppliers are pushing the technological envelope like never before, with at least two companies, VCA and Metro Interactive, producing DVDs in which the models — ahem — perform to voice commands.

Meanwhile, there is an industrywide push to improve the quality of the product, with better production values and, of course, higher prices.

The driver: ‘A'-list manufacturers who want retailers to stop bringing in the cheapo stuff because they believe it gives their industry a bad name. They're also relying more and more on mainstream video stores and want to sweeten the pie as best they can.

“Consumers aren't stupid,” said Howard Levine, VP of sales for Vivid Interactive, during a panel discussion on marketing adult entertainment. “They see this cheap stuff and they don't come back. It's ridiculous.”

Levine also railed against retailers who bring in primarily lower-priced catalog and “four-hour compilation” titles.

“If everybody stops buying new features, there's nowhere for catalog or compilations to come from,” Levine said. “If that's all you're buying, you're losing money.”

Overall, panelists said that the adult entertainment business is in above-average health. “Our industry has never sold more adult product,” said Marty Turkel of VCA. “And every time you turn around, three or four more manufacturers pop up. This seems to be an industry that is not squeezed by recession.”

Turkel noted that even “mainstream video stores like Movie Gallery are buying more than ever, at higher prices.”

Expect “more serious marketing campaigns, from the distributor to the consumer level,” according to Private USA's Mara Epstein.

Roaming through the suites here at the VSDA convention, there was further evidence of this trend toward higher-quality product and more mainstream distribution.

Andy Green of Pleasure Productions said that, of the 4,000 retailers who buy his product, only about 1,500 are adult-only stores. “The majority are mom-and-pops, mail-order and Internet sites,” he said.

Mischa Allen, publications and marketing director of VCA, was demonstrating the company's upcoming Double O Blonde release, which includes a DVD movie and a headset that plugs into the user's computer.

Insert the disc into the DVD-ROM drive, load the bundled DVD player software, click on the “Fantasex” option, and star Tawny Roberts will do whatever she's told. The action's all on screen, from the viewer's perspective. “We can go further with technology because we're not so hooked on the story line,” Allen said.

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