Porn Is Not a $4 Billion Industry. Think Before You Swallow.

While in the midst of a report sharing the facts and quelling the irritating telephone game that always starts following a report of adult industry disease "outbreaks," I came across a dear friend.

"The $4 billion industry..."

I pressed pause on my boom box (today's a Hot Chip day, following Friday's rad show at the Hollywood Bowl), finished my Red Bull (sugar free, duh) and hit up my buddy Kristen Kaye, executive director of business development at adult trade organization XBIZ.

"They're using that old number again," I told her. She chuckled.

"$[Insert random digit here] billion industry" is a common phrase used to describe the adult industry's annual revenue. Attempts at studies, both in and out of the industry, are popular and often fruitless. Any dollar figure shared (only a handful of adult companies are publicly traded and required to reveal income figures) is likely to be as real as the triple-D breasts and explicative-laden orgasms that make porn so much fun to illegally download watch.

Joanna Angel
Joanna Angel

I was involved in one such research attempt while associate editor at adult trade organization XBIZ. Pulling any personal business information - factual or not - from these company owners was a feat and the end result could only be taken with a grain of salt and a tequila shot.

The most common figure tossed around is $4 billion, a figure attributed to adult media group AVN in 2001.

"Though you're unlikely to pull authentic annual revenue reports from the adult companies that aren't publicly traded, I don't think that it was much of a stretch to say that adult was a multibillion dollar a year business in 2001," AVN Associate Managing Editor Steve Javors told AfterDarkLA.

But that was almost a DECADE ago, a time when DVD revenue was rising and Internet sales via video-on-demand and monthly memberships had yet to see the dramatic fall that has most recently sent sectors of the industry into a bit of a panic.

"Wait - we have to do WHAT? Wake up, put on clothes, and WORK to make money? Does anyone remember how to do that?"

"That year [2001] was just the beginning of a highly profitable decade for adult entertainment companies up until the past couple years where revenue has been down virtually across the board as a result of free porn on the internet, tube sites, piracy and oversaturation," Javors said.

Though media outlets still reference the multi-billion-dollar numbers (understandably so - what else is there to quote?), keep in mind that regardless of how many surveys were sent out or on-the-record conversations were recorded, there's no way to truly know how much money adult companies make.

"The adult industry has always been a private realm founded by and structured around savvy business minds who founded sex-centric companies as million-dollar side projects," Kaye told AfterDarkLA. "It's all about perception - whether they're making a dollar or 14 billion, no smart business owners will reveal true numbers."

The industry is like a big men's locker room. We're all sitting in the steam room with towels covering our junk sharing our trysts from the weekend. You'll never know if Jim actually banged a Laker Girl AND won the lottery doing doggy style, but he certainly looks like a stud and is wearing a new watch, so you give him the benefit of the doubt.

Just keep in mind that along with the rest of the world, a lot has changed in less than 10 years. New technologies, changing policies, crumbling economies. Just like you and me, the industry has traded in its gilded private jets and Las Vegas glitter parties for hybrid Corollas and two-for-one wing night at Hooters.

Porn will never go away but the adult business isn't recession proof. They've gotta pinch pennies, too.


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >