Six years ago, the adult entertainment industry feared that the then-new Bush administration would spearhead a high-profile crackdown on their business.
Instead, adult entertainment, in part fueled by online opportunities, has grown and slowly gained public acceptance. Top adult performers like Jenna Jameson have even become well-known enough to write bestsellers, like her How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale.
"The mainstreaming of pornography is a reality and is moving forward," declares Tom Hymes, publisher of trade magazine X-Biz.
But for the most part, the mainstream press still struggles to deal with the taboos surrounding adult pornography. Sex may sell, but many outlets blanch at covering the industry too favorably or often.
"If we get a call, it means they're already working on something," notes Joy King, Wicked Pictures' special projects VP. "Those calls often come during sweeps weeks."
"There's still a 'ghetto-ization' of adult entertainment," adds Diane Duke, executive director of the industry legal group, the Free Speech Coalition. "I get calls from local reporters covering disputes involving adult book stores, and the media does give us fair treatment for specific stories. But there is still often the impression that adult entertainment equals bad."
To combat this, Katy Zvolerin, PR director for Adam & Eve, recommends traditional communication tools. "I use PR Newswire for releases, and we get a lot of online hits off of that," she says, adding that she also media trains many of the company's "contract girls." "We let Middle America see that the girls coming into it look at this as a business."
Though many adult pornography companies are small and privately held, there's little doubt industry revenues rival that of theatrical movies. It's these business angles - and related tech stories - that may offer the best general media opportunities going forward.
"Every issue facing Hollywood is being faced by the adult industry," says Hymes, citing industry consolidation, piracy, and the slowing of DVD sales. He adds that outlets such as the LA Daily News, which covers the San Fernando Valley (where the bulk of US adult industry is based), are starting to look at the industry's positive impact on the local economy.
"There's always a tech story for adult entertainment to tell," says Zvolerin. "Right now it's HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray, so we're getting calls from tech reporters. A lot of that is because adult entertainment has led in the adoption of other technologies in the past."
PITCHING... Adult entertainment
Adult content has driven consumer adoption of new technologies like DVD and streaming online video, so use that angle to woo mainstream reporters
Mainstream men's titles like Maxim and FHM will cover adult stars, but not consistently, so better avenues may be online men's and entertainment sites
Consider leveraging the resources of the Free Speech Coalition in an adult-themed pitch to drive home the fact that viewing this content is an individual choice