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PR and Porn Part 5: Joanna Angel, the Brand

In yesterday’s fourth chapter of our week-long “PR and Porn” series, Burning Angel CEO Joanna Angel described the steps she took to establish her brand once she decided to plot a career in porn.

In today’s final chapter, she describes some PR stunts that her company uses to promote their products, discusses how the industry has changed over the past decade, and talks about things that would surprise people most about her business. 

Now that Burning Angel is an established brand, how do you promote new products and releases?

“We just put it on our website, promote it on Twitter, make sure the distribution company gets it into as many stores as possible, and send out press releases. Our individual girls will also promote it to all their fans.”

Sounds fairly simple, right? Has Burning Angel ever pulled any big PR stunts?

“We’re not really into stunts. People do get a kick out of the fact that I’m Jewish and grew up very religious, so I recently did a Chanukah-themed move called “8 Guys, 8 Nights”. We found a royalty-free dreidel song and put it on the trailer; we had a guy standing in the shape of a menorah at the beginning of the scene. People liked that a lot.”

“Last year for Halloween, we made a black-and-white Frankenstein parody, and this year we’re doing a parody of The Evil Dead. We don’t do quick and easy, because I take what I do seriously and I hate it when porn becomes a circus.”

What role did Burning Angel play in the current popularity of “alt-porn”?  

“I don’t want to take credit for people’s careers. But it’s different today and people are exposed at a younger age. I know 19-year-olds who are fans, have my movies and come to conventions to meet me. I give Burning Angel a little credit, but it was just a matter of time before porn opened to a younger demographic, and most younger people aren’t looking for bleached blondes with fake boobs—they’re looking for someone who might sit next to them in class.”

That’s where Burning Angel comes in. As demographics and viewership grow, is it easier for women to become successful in the industry?

“It’s definitely easier for women to get into porn now. With webcam sites, if you make a clip with friends and sell it online, you’ve technically made porn. But it’s a lot harder now to make a name for yourself.”

“Porn stars used to be untouchable—they’re more human now. Every big star talks to fans on Twitter and does webcams. I answer a lot of my fans just like Lady Gaga does. But it’s hard to be a real porn star now. Why? Because porn isn’t as elusive as it used to be. Streaming did some good things, but ultimately it made porn less valuable—that’s something everyone struggles with, and it’s the same thing that happened to music.”

What’s the key to standing out in the business today?

“What worked for me may not work for everyone. There was a time when all you had to be was hot and that was it. Now you have to be a good performer—that’s what made Jenna Jameson stand out. And like I said, you can’t be cold–you have to engage with fans on some level: answer fan mail, spend 10 minutes with each person at a convention and make special videos for people. Girls who are really big do everything.”

“I wouldn’t recommend following an independent path like I did, because it’s a difficult time right now. But everybody’s got to do what feels right.”

What do you plan to do to further expand your brand in the future?  

“We want to keep doing what we’re doing and to also do more things offline. We have a clothing line, a sex toy line, things like that. Again, like in the music business–it’s hard to make money on recordings. You need to have tangible products.”

What would surprise people most about what you do?

“I don’t think people realize how much work goes into porn. People treat it as a joke, and that’s OK, porn can be funny. But sometimes it’s insulting.”

“A lot of people aren’t ready to do the work. Many left when the streaming sites came up, because they couldn’t make easy money any more so now they’re running gambling sites. But the directors who are still in the industry work their asses off. They’re smart, creative people. The business owners are business owners.”

“People are surprised to learn that I went to college. Why? I own my own company, and most people who own companies as large as mine went to college. The common misconception in the mainstream is that all you have to do to succeed in this industry is point a camera at two people having sex. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Yes, you do have to deal with the stigma of people looking down on you. But it’s not just this world of easy drugs and money. It’s not that simple at all.”

That’s it for our look into the meeting of pornography and public relations. Be sure to read the first four chapters. We want to thank Joanna Angel and Brian Gross for giving us such great interviews, and we hope you found the series as fascinating as we did.

On a final note, one of the most interesting things we learned from Joanna is that, while she was living in Brooklyn and starting her business, she happened to take a course in screenwriting…at Mediabistro! Seems like we’ve helped train some of the top creative minds across a wide array of industries, no?

Mediabistro Course

Public Relations

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