“What we’re going to discuss here is of an adult nature. If you are offended by such topics or images, you should leave now. No? Okay, let’s begin then.”
This is how Jay Kopita (Vice President of adult industry news site YNOT) introduced himself and other speakers yesterday at the “Adult Industry Trends & Their Mainstream Implications” SXSW panel, which included Violet Blue (renowned sex author and columnist), Luana Lani (model), and Mark Daughn (professional photographer). After a short introduction of the panelists and their credentials, the audience was treated to a slide show, with more information about the people on stage, including revealing pictures of Lani and models that Daughn has shot.
“Even if you get nothing out of this panel, at least you got to see that,” said Kopita.
Acting as the moderator of the panel, Kopita dove right into the topic and asked, “Does porn drive the mainstream or is it the other way around?”
“We’re not innovating anymore. Mainstream industry has way surpassed us,” said Daughn.
“Yeah, what we’re doing is cheapening adult content by giving it away for free. Combine that with piracy and the economy going down the shithole five or so years ago, and it’s a perfect storm,” Kopita said.
However, Violet Blue clearly let it be known she had other thoughts on the subject.
“I disagree with just about everything you just said,” said Blue. “What porn has done is produce more content, more cheaply, but it’s never been on the cutting edge of technology. In fact, porn has been racing to keep up.”
There was evident disagreement between Kopita and the rest of the panel about what constitutes being in the forefront of trends, with him focusing more on the business end. Even when Kopita tried using the rise in webcam usage as an example of technical advancement, Blue pointed out that the porn industry was simply using what came before.
“Porn didn’t invent webcams,” Blue said.
Daughn was even more frank, and looked a bit heartbroken, when he said, “We’re all shellshocked over being left behind by technological advances and piracy.”
Blue cited Kink.com as a positive model to follow because of its interaction with viewers and for being an internet-only business. The website, specializing in BDSM experiences, purchased the San Francisco Armory in 2006 for $14.5 million, which it uses today as a production studio. Kopita agreed that Kink.com follows a strong business model and says that the armory “even has bars and a few people who work there that live in it.”
“They also hire within the tech industry instead of hiring Joe their friend to slap up a website,” said Blue about Kink.com.
Luani Lani had been quiet until this point, but spoke up to say that like Kink.com, collaboration with fans through her site, that she owns, breaks down barriers between herself and viewers to create relationships and loyalty to her as a brand.
Kopita spoke about how the adult industry has completely embraced Twitter, but Blue spoke up again here to disagree with him by saying the performers have embraced it, not the companies who they work for.
“That’s a good thing,” said Blue, which everyone on the panel agreed with.
Based on restrictions to get apps made for iPhones and iPads, everyone on the panel agreed that it’s a waste of time to develop one when it’s not possible to have adult-oriented apps in the market.
“Twitter and Tumblr have more liberal policies on content and they’re thriving. It’s a matter of risk,” said Blue She went on to say that, “Piracy hasn’t killed the industry, but lawyers have.”
Overall, there was an obvious dividing point between the older members of the panel like Kopita and Daughn and the younger panelists of Blue and Lani. While the older panelists were grasping at anything to claim as technological innovation on porn’s part or lamenting the money lost by piracy, the younger panelists discussed that a change in perception of what porn is and how people experience it needs to happen for the industry to thrive.