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Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler, and Joe Francis, the man who created “Girls Gone Wild” will approach the U.S. Congress and ask for a $5 billion bailout package for the adult entertainment industry.

I’m surprised many of those words go together in a sentence without my computer either a) exploding or, b) automatically downloading ridiculous amounts of pornography.

Before we start talking about whether or not Congress will answer their request (to spare you the suspense it’ll be an astounding “no” vote) there are some peculiarities about the whole situation that make this sound like nothing but an extensive publicity stunt.

The timing of the announcement, in the week prior to the Adult Video Network’s Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, gives the first impression of an elaborate publicity stunt to help lure in otherwise indifferent consumers (I doubt the “hard-core” porn enthusiasts would miss out on the industry’s largest convention).

Size of the package. All puns aside, the amount being asked for is substantial. While it is dwarfed by the American auto manufacturers bailout, relative to the size of their businesses, Flynt and Francis are asking for the moon. The annual revenue of the U.S. adult entertainment industry in 2007 was $12 billion. So, $5 billion / $12 billion = 41.67%. Keep that in mind.

One figure that keeps coming up is the fact that porn DVD sales dropped 22% in the last year, compared to only a 5.5% drop in mainstream home entertainment. Despite that discrepancy between the two, I still don’t see how losing 22% of your DVD revenue (which of course ignores online distribution) justifies asking for twice that back from Congress. I’m no mathematician, and may be painting this whole picture with broad strokes, but I hope it’s obvious enough that Flynt and Francis asked for an enormous sum.

Flynt’s reputation is anything but stellar. This is a man who once wore the American flag as a diaper in court. He placed an ad in the Washington Post in June 2007 offering $1 million for documented stories involving sex with current congressional members or high-ranking government officials. I doubt that Congress is enthusiastic about him coming to them asking for money.

I will admit, Flynt has done his best to try and frame this issue into one about health, productivity and morale, and not smut. Some Hall of Fame soundbites include:

“People are too depressed to be sexually active,”

“This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such, but they cannot do without sex”

“With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind. It’s time for Congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America.”

The major issue is that his solution isn’t about giving out free porn or toys to jump start the American libido, it’s to put money in the coffers of the already wealthy porn-producers like himself. Flynt’s net-worth is considered to be around $400 million. He prides himself on being a self-made man, a libertarian, even, creating his fortune by starting with an $1,800 investment in a bar in Dayton, Ohio in 1965. It seems like he, and other free-wheeling capitalists, have a soft spot for socialism when times are tough.

Ultimately, if, in a bizarro world, Flynt and Francis were to be given their stimulus package it is beholden on them, in the same way it is (or ought to be) on the auto industry to address the shortcomings of their business model, namely combatting piracy and falling behind in innovation.

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2 thoughts on “porn industry bailout a great gimmick, but no silver bullet to slumping industry

  1. At least we can expect an eco-friendly porno industry … recycled paper, no animals should be forced to do anything they don’t want to ( ‘Assistant, go fetch another goat, this one is unyielding’) and of course, biodegradable porno stars …

  2. Will Congress bailout plastic surgeons next?

    Examine the wrinkles in the shrinking cosmetic surgery biz!

    Read – ECONOMY SAGS, BUSTLINES DROOP at:
    andeeroo.wordpress.com/

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