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PR and Porn Part 2: The Insider

In yesterday’s first chapter of our week-long series “PR and Porn,” we introduced you to Brian Gross: PR pro, agency founder and one of the top publicists currently working in the adult entertainment industry.

Today Brian goes into greater detail about how the industry runs—and points us toward one of his most unique and successful clients.

You may have wondered how the adult film industry looks from the inside. When asked who wields the real power in the business, Brian says:

“It’s definitely the producers—the heads of companies like Adam and Eve, publishers like Larry Flynt at Hustler, etc. You have leaders like John Stagliano of Evil Angel, who almost went to prison for defending his first amendment rights as an artist. Then you have female entrepreneurs like Allison Vivas of Pink Visual who has made her name in the mobile world as well as the production world (Ed. Allison has quite an interesting bio).”

“As a publicist, you find very passionate people in every industry and you cling to them, because you’re excited by their energy and what they’ve accomplished.”

Many of these power brokers, however, have watched in horror over the past few years as the Internet dramatically changed their business model. What began as a huge new revenue stream quickly turned into a nightmare due to an explosion of torrenting and streaming sites. As Brian says, many producers have “had to figure out how to monetize in different ways”, just like the music industry did in the days of Napster.

Copyright infringement is a tough challenge to fight, but Brian notes that “Plenty of people are still doing quite well. The strength of brand and content and marketing prowess is what will make the difference between successful and struggling companies.”

This statement is key to understanding why BSG PR’s services are so popular. If Brian’s clients plan to “…take what is still considered a risk in our society by being an adult film performer, [then] they want to make the most out of it”–and expanding their personal brands into all relevant outlets is key.

Yet, despite the fact that an increasing number of adult performers like James Deen and Sasha Grey have begun appearing in more traditional films and TV shows, Brian doesn’t see a major breakthrough for the porn industry in terms of mainstream acceptance:

“When you’re making a mainstream film and you cast someone from the adult industry, it will add some notoriety to the project. This trend will continue, but I don’t think the industry will ever be a truly mainstream entity, nor do many of the people in the business want it to be. It’s very similar to rock music in that it has to have some sort of edge to exist and thrive.”

Adult entertainment may be a “fringe” industry, but as Brian tells us, the role of the porn PR man (or woman) is not so different than that of any other entertainment publicist; it’s all about “constant communications and understanding your clients. There are people out there who absolutely do not know what a publicist does, but anyone reading this will know the trials and tribulations of working in PR–you get in, you make your relationships and you work hard. It’s a never-ending learning experience.”

When pressed for an unusual PR story, Brian gives us this nugget:

“A client of mine put out a title filmed and produced in Israel, and on the box cover he put the kosher sign. We received a cease and desist letter from a rabbi on the east coast who owns the symbol, and I sent it to a friend of mine at TMZ; Harvey Levin is still blown away by the fact that the kosher sign is copywritten.”

Our final and favorite question: What would PR pros find most surprising about the people who populate the world of porn?

“I think people would be pleasantly surprised at the business acumen of many of these professionals. I think there are plenty of people who think girls do this as a last resort, and its simply not true. There are plenty of women who have strived to work in this industry—whether they start their own business or they just want to build up their own personal brand.”

One particular performer and entrepreneur came to mind:

“I’ve worked for a long time with Joanna Angel, who has a company called Burning Angel Entertainment. They are very passionate about the films they make and eager to satisfy the desires of their fan base—a lot people love them and are dedicated to the company.” Sound interesting? We certainly thought so.

Brian makes things happen behind the scenes–but what about the business that goes on in front of the camera? We were fortunate enough to talk to Joanna Angel last month, so be sure to check back tomorrow for the first part of that interview and learn more about how she built an enduring brand and made her way to the top of the industry ladder.

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