When Even Sailing Fails to Scale

Savannah Stern

I hate to say it, but this piece entitled “Tough times in the porn industry” in L.A. Times was the most interesting article that I read today.

The so-called democratization of all professions, lowering of barriers to entry, etc. via technology is pure bullshit. It has only created an environment where the disparity in earnings between industry superstars and everyone else is even greater. Others (e.g., Taleb) have already talked about this characteristic of so-called “scalable” professions. Thus, what technology giveth (by way of example, to the historically non-scalable trade of prostitution), technology taketh away.

And consequently there’s less pie to be divided as well.

The adult entertainment business, which was previously in the vanguard of home video, satellite and cable television and digital distribution, now finds itself leading the rest of the entertainment industry in losses from them.

“The death of the DVD business has been more accelerated in the adult business than mainstream,” said Bill Asher, co-chairman of adult industry giant Vivid Entertainment, who estimates that his company’s revenue is down more than 20% this year.

“We always said that once the Internet took off, we’d be OK,” he added. “It never crossed our minds that we’d be competing with people who just give it away for free.”

In the old days, a pretty girl couldn’t stop for a pack of smokes at a 7-11 in North Hollywood without being offered $700 by a total stranger to be in a film with someone’s dog.

Not that it needs or deserves to be saved, but the only way to save pornography (and all other forms of copyright protected expression) is to destroy the internet and all of its functional equivalents.

Artists of the future are going to require a syndicate of some sort. A powerful organized religion will do.

More than ever, we need quality control and toll booths. And someone to vigorously disinfect the chrome poles.

57 Replies to “When Even Sailing Fails to Scale”

  1. Doom, are you asking the post author for links?

    The LA Times article was actually pretty funny. Check out the money quote wherein someone said, “We thought once the internet took off we’d be OK” (paraphrased). Uhh, lots of companies said exactly that about the internet .. remember the dot-bomb fiasco of the late 90s? (anyone still holding pets.com shares waiting for a comeback?)

    True story: one of the gals working at one of our regular shippers says she used to work as a cosmetologist in the pr0n industry. Her specific job? Bleaching assholes. (I kid you not) Apparently pr0n stars have them bleached so as to look a certain way in closeup shots. We had quite the laugh over that one.

    What a nasty, sleazy industry .. go check out the article linked in the left of the two pictures down in the body of the article: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-pornindustry-jan2003,0,1780031.story

    I hate the fashion industry, but for a whole other set of reasons. Basically, they model and show off and photograph the clothes on extremely skinny gals my height .. then the clothing vendors get the basic fashion design and rework the look (imperfectly) for the shorter, wider set .. and in all the subsequent advertising for those clothes, the models shown are the ones with unusual builds relative to most of the women who’ll be buying the clothes. It’s a total rip-off. The stuff you can wear if you’re above 5’11” and in single-digit sizes is not always stuff that looks good on shorter folks ~ and most women just aren’t sized that way.

  2. “We always said that once the Internet took off, we’d be OK,” he added. “It never crossed our minds that we’d be competing with people who just give it away for free.”

    @Nudge, yeah, I thought that was the best part of the article too!

    When you hear someone mellifluously purring over the PA, “Consuelo, two bleached assholes and a full Brazilian por favor,” you know that either you’re dreaming about Ipanema or you used to work in porn and it’s just another flashback.

  3. Savannah Stern is adjusting to that reality. She’s shooting scenes for her own subscription website and planning a tour of exotic dance clubs to earn money from her name while she can. After that, she hopes to go to college for an interior design degree and work in her family’s real estate development and contracting business.

    this girl wants to go from porn to real estate. i always thought that porn whores were kinda smart, wrong again.

    i’ve long thought that ya need to be kinda stupid to pay for porn. i first signed onto the internet in maybe 1995. i was fucking amazed, at the time. it was like an infinite porn mag. movies were tough cause of the download times. i’ll never forget that my first internet account was long distance dialup and maybe $3/hr, something like that, for the service. the first month i had like a $1000 phone bill and a $1000 aol bill. that was not free porn. today, i stream all the butt fucking i ever wanted to see and and it dosen’t cost me a nickle. the wonders of the modern age are wonderfull.

  4. Bunn, those tires look like they’re due for a rotation.

    And speaking of rotation, it that lady the wife of an LA CEO, a porn star, or both?

  5. Bunn, did you see this article?


    “At a certain moment in the not too distant future, consumers will finally have to acknowledge their own guilt in the destruction of our paid culture. We have to collectively recognise that it’s not file-sharing sites like Pirate Bay or radical new political parties like the Pirate Party which are killing the music, newspaper and movie industries. Instead, we are collectively killing our own culture by refusing to pay for it online. Each new Spotify or Pirate Bay is, therefore, one more nail in the coffin of the traditional media business.

    While many are critical of Rupert Murdoch for his own historically piratical approach to business, there is no doubt that he is one of the few people brave enough to stand up to the new Vikings. Murdoch is explaining what should be a self-evident truism to a public now intoxicated by the feel-good ideology of free content. Murdoch is saying that real media businesses, such as his own News Corp, can’t operate without being paid for their content.”

  6. “…consumers will finally have to acknowledge their own guilt in the destruction of our paid culture.”

    Let it burn, I say! Screw these losers who put their precious content on-line for free. They deserve to be robbed. Their so-called business model doesn’t even factor in a vague fuzzy notion of directly getting paid. This is like dot com foolishness all over again.

    I pay for WSJ and take whatever else I want for free. Good on you Murdoch! Erect those ramparts. Price out the riff raff. Make the content so good that people would rather read than eat.

    The publishing and music industries both need to die anyway, so I’ll do my part to hasten their destruction. As to “collectively killing our own culture by refusing to pay for it online”… please. Like I said before, the least impractical solution at this point is to shut down the internet as we know it and start over from scratch. The funny thing is that the monkeys are the victims even though they are getting stuff for free. Electronic pacification of populace complete. Soon we can move onto the next phase of separating them from their tangible property. A quid pro quo of sorts coming soon to a totalitarian regime near you.

  7. Looks like you’re stuck with me and chopper while Bif is rolling deep cover. On behalf of JR, I extend ZK condolences.

  8. besides, i’m figuring on getting ahold of some unemployed porn whores and start staging live sex shows. the monkeys will need something to do when thier tv’s don’t work no more. why is free tv content ok, but free internet content is not? i guess it’s because rupert murboch owns fox, but not the internet, or something along those lines. fuck the simpsons, i say.

  9. one thing i can guarantee, no matter what happens to electronic media people will still be out there playing music, painting and fucking and such, i guess.

  10. being a monkey myself, i can say with some certainty that monkeys own nothing already; never have, never will.

  11. [Dave,] You’re pretty much right that absent actual possession or custody all a person is really left with are legal fictions which when backed by force or threat thereof acquire strange powers of their own until no one pays attention to them any more, that is.

    I never thought that dave’s and my comments on electronic media would be so unassailable, brilliant, and succinctly comprehensive that it would force a prolonged pall of reverential silence upon the blog. Don’t worry, I’ll put up a less perplexing and happier feeling post before long.

  12. JR, I see you just posted. (Thanks, BTW. It means a lot to me that, deprived of booze, in said haze of pain, you can still take the time to throw me a carrot of praise. Believe me, your generosity will someday bring you even greater blessings.) Fuck! I wish I could insert my post ahead of yours. Did I really spend 13 minutes writing two short paragraphs? That is why it happens the way it does around here.

    The post rotation duty idea is great.

    You just need to get the others to sign in blood.

  13. JR wrote: “I’m got all kinds of women ganging up on me. They are like vampires. Worse. They are like zombies. You tell chicks you write and you don’t drink, it is all over.”

    Translated from guy-talk, this means your sister wants back whatever albums you borrowed from her, right?

    Poor JR. No really. I thought you were off this daily writing thing. You gave me a ton of reasons for ceasing & desisting from this whole writing venture anyway.

  14. JR wrote: “I have no idea what to do. I’m a horrible person. I wish there were no people and only asses dressed in black leather. You have my phone number. You can call and assault me any time.”

    Guy-talk translation to English: (several possible meanings)

    1. Go away, not interested.
    2. Katya is hawt!!1
    3. I’m too bored to make the first move.

    As to the other thing .. how do you have asses without people? Are you talking dismembered corpses or the other meaning, the barnyard animal?

  15. “I never thought that dave’s and my comments on electronic media would be so unassailable, brilliant, and succinctly comprehensive that it would force a prolonged pall of reverential silence upon the blog.”–bunn

    Talk about Climate Change, that always brings them out of the woodwork.

  16. “Are you talking dismembered corpses or the other meaning, the barnyard animal?”

    Whatever. You promised to call me tonight. And yes, it ruined my evening. You promised me.

  17. @Nudge-

    I’m not JR. Or Johnny Rico. My name is ——-. Hello?

    Johnny is my screen name. What the fuck. I can’t believe this shit.

  18. Hey! Not to turn this thread into ZK Personals Gone Wrong, but I /did/ send the guy an email explaining that I wasn’t calling last night and why.

    With JR’s excellent writing skills, maybe email is the better way to communicate just now?

  19. 911, slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch….

    I have a sample of WTC primer paint on my desk…

    dave, your real name must be….dave.

  20. An even better clear-the-room topic than Global Warming! Good choice, Doom.

    Should I add that part about how, at normal temperatures and pressures (as opposed to the intense compression inside a jet engine) the fire supposedly fueled only by spilled kerosene somehow burned much hotter than kerosene can, hot enough to melt steel inside a building? (hint: they don’t fuel blast furnaces & foundries with kerosene)

    Or perhaps we should touch on the way the collapse rate of the building (once it was underway) was far too close to the natural fall rate of an object dropped from the top at or near the same time?

    Nah .. let’s just pretend GWB was a knee-jerk-reactive moron instead of being a peripheral player in the hijacking of our nation’s future via hitherto-unthinkable military occupation of parts of the ME.

  21. indeed, one wonders how much moron abuse can be heaped before some go all “Taxi Driver” (or is that “postal”?) on us, or at least gives GWB a dirt shoeshine.

  22. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125027101258732607.html

    [from the article]
    … Mr. Hands pushed EMI to improve its Internet strategy, according to a former employee. The music industry “has stuck its head in the sand” instead of using the Internet to sell music, Mr. Hands said in an internal EMI memo dated Oct. 15, 2007. One of his pet projects: a Web site to sell music online, like Apple Inc.’s iTunes store.

    But executive turnover — three men have headed the company’s digital efforts over the last two years — slowed progress. Last December, the company unveiled a new site with photos, videos and biographies of many EMI acts — but no songs for sale. A spokesman says music may be sold through the site bundled with other products at some point.

    The latest figures show EMI is losing ground to rivals and isn’t generating enough profits to cover its debt costs. EMI Music’s share of the global recorded-music market fell to 9.6% in 2008 from 12.8% in 2006, the year before it was bought by Terra Firma, according to Music & Copyright magazine. In the six months ended September, the most detailed results available, EMI Group’s parent company reported a net loss of £155 million, of which £150 million was finance charges.

    People familiar with the situation say EMI Music will need cash injections over the next eight months to avoid defaulting on the loan — and it is unclear how much more cash Mr. Hands is willing to invest. If Mr. Hands doesn’t come up with the money, Citigroup could seek to take control of the business and sell it.

  23. Sing with me… “The grabbing hands, grab all they can.” No, that’s not the Sex Pistols, but this is.

    “Hello EMI.”

  24. George W. Bush and America the Stupid

    Has America become a stupid country? Are eight years of “leadership” under George W. Bush an indication that we’ve become a nation of dunces?

    Comedian and social critic Bill Maher makes a compelling case that the answer is yes. And a number of recent news reports indicate that Maher probably is right.

    We might have an intelligent president now, with Barack Obama. But that doesn’t mean we are an intelligent country. And if we are a stupid country, what does that say about our future?

    Listen to Maher:

    Before I go about demonstrating how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness dragging down our country, let me just say that ignorance has life and death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we’re presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and “listen to their constituents.” An urge they should resist because their constituents don’t know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.

    How stupid are we? Maher doesn’t pull any punches:

    I’m the bad guy for saying it’s a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don’t know what’s in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don’t know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket. . . .

    And I haven’t even brought up America’s religious beliefs. But here’s one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That’s right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.

    Signs that the American public is “out to lunch” are everywhere. Consider the latest news about George W. Bush and his mindset heading into the Iraq War:

    Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.

    Honest. This isn’t a joke. The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.

    Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East. . . . The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled. . . . This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

    We “elected” this guy president twice? This episode should send chills down every American’s spine. But writer James A. Haught says the Charleston Gazette in West Virginia is the only mainstream newspaper to cover the story. And Haught says this is not the only example of Bush’s nuttiness while in office:

    The French revelation jibes with other known aspects of Bush’s renowned evangelical certitude. For example, a few months after his phone call to Chirac, Bush attended a 2003 summit in Egypt. The Palestinian foreign minister later said the American president told him he was “on a mission from God” to defeat Iraq. At that time, the White House called this claim “absurd.”

    Bush left an enormous mess for his successor, and Haught puts that in perspective:

    It’s awkward to say openly, but now-departed President Bush is a religious crackpot, an ex-drunk of small intellect who “got saved.” He never should have been entrusted with the power to start wars.

    On health care, the debate is becoming increasingly heated–and stupid. Steven Pearlstein, of the Washington Post, says Republicans are poisoning the debate with lies–and large numbers of Americans are buying them:

    The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they’ve given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.

    Will reform result in government takeover of the health-care system? No, says Pearlstein.

    Will health reform cost at least $1 trillion? Nope.

    Will reform bring an end to medical innovation and be a first step toward rationing? No and no.

    Writes Pearlstein:

    Health reform is a test of whether this country can function once again as a civil society–whether we can trust ourselves to embrace the big, important changes that require everyone to give up something in order to make everyone better off. Republican leaders are eager to see us fail that test. We need to show them that no matter how many lies they tell or how many scare tactics they concoct, Americans will come together and get this done.

    Actually, there is reason to wonder if Americans now are capable of coming together to get anything significant done. In a cover story on health-care reform, Time magazine notes that “it has been 44 years since an American president has succeeded at any new social policy nearly as ambitious as what Obama is trying to do.”

    Time is referring, of course, to Lyndon Johnson’s push for Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Curiously, that also was the year the National Voting Rights Act passed, doing away with the widespread disenfranchisement of blacks and coming on the heels of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Noting the differences between now and then, Time reports, “Nor was the Republican Party of 1965 as uniformly conservative as it is today.”

    The timeline seems clear. The swing toward conservatism in America started with the onset of basic human rights for blacks. And almost 45 years later, the country is on the verge of becoming ungovernable–of being unable to deal with serious problems.

    If we cannot deal with health-care reform, is there any hope to address a problem as complex as climate change?

    Are we really stupid? Or have we just become paralyzed, and fragmented, by our race-based fears?

  25. Top ten books of the past five weeks:

    10. Blink – half a comment, read the first third and enjoy. Unless you want to understand how supposedly highly trained cops can still go goofy, stay with the first third.
    09. Gray’s Anatomy – a classic, but still a study in progress – let’s play doctor!
    08. How to Build a Dinosaur. HOX genes and converting a chicken into a toothed and tailed chimera bird/dino. Jack Horner. A most excellent high school science project. Requires no gene splicing, just the right growth factors. Cool. I love dinosaurs, and I’d really like to drive to the Dakotas someday.
    07. Moon 3-D – Shakin in the 60s (and early 70s) – I love 3D popup books and NASA (when they had the jizz to fire the imagination).
    06. Link – the story of Ida. Pass on this one unless you like paleontology as much as I do. About some Miocene lemur/primate ancestral form female preserved exquisitely with fingernails no less. Grooming claws are sorely missed.
    05. Big Brain. Reread recently. Boskop ‘race’ in S. Africa. Huge heads with Expansive Poet Wiring. HOX genes rock – or at least they’re predictable.
    04. Lonesome Dove. McMurtry. Reread. The only novel in the list. “to be alive and free on a part of this earth before the lawyers get hold of it.”
    03. The World Without Us – a mind bender, though my friends must wonder if I’ve become a tree hugger. What the hell, a ne’er do well, I’ll be. Bronze is nearly forever!
    02. Life Ascending – The Ten Greatest Inventions of Evolution. If you read nothing else, read chapters 7/8/9 (Sight/Hot Blood/Consciousness)…especially Consciousness. It all started in alkaline seeps at the bottom of the oceans. The author writes exceedingly well.
    01. The Black Swan – Damn, JR. All you had to say was that it’s philosophy (and it references Bertrand Russell! as the uber-philosopher). I’d have gotten around to it much sooner.

    Any other suggestions?

  26. thal, it’s pure joy to see you posting here! My prayers have been answered.

    It would be unseemly to pray to myself so I remain admittedly conflicted and minimally polytheistic.

    That prior silliness about Americans being stupid cosmically summoned thal out of seemingly nowhere. Is this the symmetry against which Taleb rails? But it is only one of his minor quibbles with lovers of math who would be so bold as to seek to apply the same to reality. I’m more interested in applying math to dream time.

  27. Symmetry. Interesting. I think the interesting parts of life spins on the axes of dissymetries….that had to spelled wrongly

  28. .00 Webster’s Dictionary. When consulted, one can rule at Scrabble, impress friends, satisfy onesself

  29. it’s the toast always, and the chicken tween the knees that clarifies any misunderstandings…there’s no mystery there.

  30. If I could ask Taleb one question it would be: Can stylish erudition flourish whilst simultaneously championing invariable personal global ignorance of the future?

  31. Far be it from me to speak for Taleb, especially when the great JR has illuminated the current failure of the scalability of Internet Fucking, but I usually have something to add. “Can stylish erudition flourish whilst simultaneously championing invariable personal global ignorance of the future?” Yes, it can. That, my friend, is the essence of hope. I hope that helps.

  32. I have born witness to secret gatherings and can testify (if offered appropriate witness protection options) that, yes, lawyers DO intend to colonize all corners of the earth… that is after the bankers have been rousted out of their strategic cribs by the local sheriff.

  33. I wrote this post. Not that it matters. You can post here too, if you want to. JR will set you up.

  34. Lawyers, at least the good ones, pay close attention to headgears. They engage with those gears. Lagomorphs, however, are paying attention to feet/lower extremity legs/toenails, it’s a simple reduction relative to point of view (henceforth POV). Podiatrists know this unnaturally. They follow the money (the toes are the money). Rabbits avoid getting kicked, transcendence be damned. Live another day for another salad. It’s existential purity.
    That there are few toes in that video, well then, nobody was thinking about the rabbit when they composed the scene. It’s a shame we limit the frames of reference to deinclude the bunnies.

  35. Actually, JR, other than that phantasmagorical exchange with thal, I can assure you that only YOU can see me. None of the others can!

    “Anything you say, Lloyd. Anything you say.”

  36. Existential purity.

    That reminds me… MOU once said “hope sucks”.

    It’s a game face, to be sure.

    Whatever possesses a monkey to go into podiatry I’ll never know. Maybe the podiatrists have a spring dance each year with the proctologists at which event someone is bound to end up with a foot up their ass.

  37. thal, so good to hear/read you again!

    I think I’ll celebrate with some a’bunah on the rocks, melted slightly (global warming, don’t cha know). First, the scotch gets cloudy, then so do I.


    P.S. thal, mosey over to Future Townies (link is here, on the left) and you can catch up with XER!

  38. 04. Lonesome Dove. McMurtry. Reread. The only novel in the list. “to be alive and free on a part of this earth before the lawyers get hold of it.”

    Do you enjoy reading my cousin’s work, thal? He’s a much moron successful writer than moi.

  39. Omfg .. Thal? Hi! :)

    JR, dude, you should /inhabit/ the soda drink aisle. Choice is what it’s all about. Too many choices right in front of you = good. It’s that simple.

    Interesting choice of words .. soda drink aisle. Was that a clue about where someone grew up?

  40. Bunn

    Guess you could say that the industry is shrivelling – been lurking but busy trying to ready house for sale -goes on market this week.


    If my recollection is correct it was your fortieth on August 22 – think that’s the right date – if so hope it was a good one.

  41. Hi Mary, great to see you! I’m curious to know if you are moving to a different city or town, that is, if you are comfortable disclosing such things in a public forum.

    Keep checking in because epochal posts are soon to drop. And you wouldn’t want to miss out on any of that.

    Maybe Disney (after buyng Marvel, now having apparently acquired a taste for expansion) will at some opportune time in the future discretely add the SoCal porn industry to its portfolio?

  42. Hi Mary,

    If memory serves me, this move is about the neighborhood not being so safe. Hope you and your kids like the new one better. Also hope you have some ground to work with.

  43. bb-

    The only thing of Disney’s that seems to be providing a ROI is ESPN, our modern-day version of gladiators and circuses for the masses. It’s making a ton of money and holding up the rest of the crumbling edifice.

  44. American kid TV watching progression in the 21st Century:

    0-8 yrs: Cartoon Network
    8-12 yrs: Disney Channel
    13-18+? yrs: ESPN

    Based upon a limited but well studied group. They used to watch Steve Erwin the Croc Hunter, but he died, unfortunately for all—-

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