Launched 12/84, Vivid carved out a niche on the softest edge of the hardcore spectrum. Receiving more of its income from sales to cable TV than any other porn company, Vivid's productions usually feature a story, beautiful women and lush sets.
The world's largest producer of shot-on-film pornography, Vivid shoots four new movies a month, two of them on 16mm film. Expenses for each average $100,000.
Vivid employs about 150 persons and will probably gross about $100 million in 2001, up from $90 million in the 2000, $70 million in 1999, and $35 milllion in 1998. The Van Nuys company produces 80% of the content for the Playboy Channel and bought Spice Hot cable TV in the fall of 1998.
Vivid launched its huge internet operation in May of 1999, and quickly became one of the industry's big six players. The Vivid internet grossed about $25 million in 1999 and about $40 million in the year 2000.
Vivid girls earn around $100,000 a year for about 20 sex scenes and a dozen personal appearances. They make most of their money, from $8,000 - $15,000 a week, stripping in clubs or working as escorts.
Vivid product is known for its glossy appearance.
As a child, Vivid owner Steve Hirsch (born around 1961) worked with his older sister (born around 1959) Marci, who oversees production at Vivid, in their father's porn warehouse. Their dad Fred Hirsch, a former stockbroker, entered porn in 1972 and worked for Reuben Sturman. He and his wife warned their three children that others might react negatively if they found out what Fred did for a living.
Details magazine 6/01 writes: "Steve Hirsch remembers the day in 1972 when his parents, Fred and Roberta, sat him and kid sister Marci, down in their middle-class Cleveland den with its green couch and yellow shag carpeting. Fred, a stockbroker, said he was considering switching jobs - to peddle 8-mm. stag films, which were...far more lucrative than stocks. "Are you comfortable with that?" asked Mom. "Because there's a chance some kids' parents won't want them to be friends with you if they find out what dad does."
""I was 11," [Steve] Hirsch remembers. "I couldn't understand that. If they didn't want to be friends with me because of that, then I didn't want to be friends with them." Asked when and if he would tell his own newborn daughter, Alexa, about the goings-on in the family store, Hirsch says, "I'll tell her we run this business like a business, and she should be proud of the way we handle ourselves.""
Police came to the Hirsch home in 1973 after a man matching Fred's description exposed himself to neighborhood children. "Steven dealt with the police," Fred Hirsch told Bikini magazine. "They kept asking about me and he told them that I wasn't home. They asked where I was and he refused to cooperate with them."
In 1975, federal authorities twice raided Fred Hirsch's offices in Cleveland and later charged him with distribution of obscene material.
Fred moved his family to the San Fernando Valley, and commuted between the two cities on weekends to face trial. Steve's sister Marci remembers adding up the potential sentences her father faced in the five counts against him. "Nobody ever obsessed on it in our family," Marci, now Vivid's head of production, told the 4/99 Bikini magazine. "Life went on. Steve and I still had to go to school. Now that I have kids, I think we were pretty accepting of it. What would my kids do? I try not to think about it."
Childhood friends of Steve remember him as competitive, and always on the make. He was obsessed with fashion, status, girls and material goods. He's long favored open-necked shirts with thick gold chains.
Fred Hirsch was acquitted. He started his own Los Angeles porn company (8mm film company Sunrise International Distributors which made the Limited Editions line) with money from the porn godfather Reuben Sturman. Later in the 1970s, with the rise of adult video, Fred started AVC (Adult Video Corporation).
Upon graduating high school, Steve took three years of business classes at Northridge and UCLA before going to work for dad. "My father was in this business. I never said, 'I want to be a fireman.' Do you know any Jew who has?" (Details, 6/01)
After almost ten years without Steve and Fred speaking, in 1997, Steve hired his father to work as a salesman for Vivid.
A tanned muscular chainsmoker, Steve stands about 5'6", drives a black Mercedes 500 SL and lives with the national sales manager for Video Team, owned by his good friend and former neighbor Christian Mann. Never married, Steve lived for ten years with ex-porn star Loni Sanders. He's fathered numerous children out of wedlock.
Neither Steve or Marci have been shy about using their
power and money to secure sexual favors from porn stars.
Steve's numerous escapades with porn girls such as Ginger Lynn who he impregnated have been the grist for much industry gossip for years. Hirsch pays Lynn approximately $20,000 child support a month.
Marci Hirsch has also been linked to sexual relations with porn stars (Jon Dough, Mr. Marcus, Steven St. Croix, Bobby Vitalie, and Marc Wallice, with whom she lived). Marci, who underwent extensive plastic surgery in May of 1999, is more popular than Steve with pornographers. She has two kids.
Sources have told me that Mr Marcus earned a directing deal from Vivid Raw in part through having sex with Marci.
Veteran pornographer Lynne Lopatin says "New vendors [to Vivid] had to go through his sister, Marci, and were turned back before they ever got there, unless they were available and sexually appealing to her."
In 1981, Steve quit his father's company to take a sales
job at porn producer Cal Vista. There he met mail-order chief David James
and they decided to form their own company. David had $25,000 in savings
and they borrowed $20,000 from video box printer John Tedeschi to make
their first film in 1984 - Ginger starring Ginger Lynn. They made her
their first contract player.
(I've heard that Steve initially asked Jim Holliday to be his business partner in starting Vivid.)
Within a few years of starting their company, Steve Hirsch and partner Dick James were at each other's throats. Steve wanted Reuben Sturman to buy out James, but in the late 1980s Reuben wanted out of porn. Steve and Dick have found a way to work through their problems by dividing their workloads - Steve oversees marketing and James new technology.
Steve developed drug problems during the 1980s, particularly with cocaine. He went straight with the help of Narcotics Anonymous in 1988 and has been clean since.
Hirsch and his company
have benefitted from a close relationship with Adult
Video News publisher Paul Fishbein.
Luke asked Wood: "Did Paul's close friendship with Steve Hirsch influence editorial content and reviews?"
Ken replied: "In my belief, absolutely. If a particular Vivid release didn't get a favorable review from and AVN freelancer or editor, it would get reviewed by somebody who, in the publisher's opinion, would give it a better review."
Gene Ross writes: "It was at the summer  VSDA Show, the first one to be held in Los Angeles, that AVN publisher Paul Fishbein approached me on the convention floor. "I have a hot scoop for your gossip column, but you didn't hear it from me," Fishbein said conspiratorially and he proceeded to relay how Vivid was letting Tyler go because her ass-ets were evidently too copious for personal tastes. I reported such in my pre-Internet gossip column in AVN, carefully crafting tact in my words. Tact or no tact, however, Steve Hirsch went fuckin' ballistic and called Fishbein who proceeded to sell me out by telling Hirsch he had no idea where I got such a notion about Tyler. And, over the next couple of days, damage control ensued with Fishbein publicly dressing me down in front of AVN employees for my journalistic indiscretions. The final make-good arrangement came when both an upset Tyler and boyfriend Bobby Vitale came into my office escorted by Fishbein and I had to apologize to her both verbally and by way of an interview."
Luke says: According to
sources, Hirsch was boffing Tyler behind the back of her boyfriend Bobby
AVN journalist Rebecca Gray, the woman behind the removal of former AVN managing editor Ken Wood, wrote the award winning Vivid movie "The Seven Deadly Sins."
The film, directed by Ren Savant, won ten awards at the January 1999 AVN show, including for Best Screenplay.
Clemenza writes Gene Ross: "The fact that Bryn Pryor originally reviewed the movie [giving it a 10 out of 10 rating and Editor's Choice] isn't surprising, considering the fact, his little gal pal Rebecca Gray wrote the script under the name Eugenie Brown. About two years ago, Gray wrote an article for Fetish that wasn't used. She signed her name to that as Eugenie Brown. Fast forward to the 2000 AVN Awards. Seven Deadly Sins won for script and the cowriter's name was Eugenie Brown. Coincidence? I don't think so. Talk about your fixes."
Paul Fishbein has loudly proclaimed in past controversies of this nature that AVN staffers are not allowed to write porn scripts or direct porn movies to avoid a conflict of interest.
From the 4/99 issue of Bikini: "Hirsch is a realist. He doesn't even expect video sales to be a factor in another decade, when consumers will likely be enjoying movies on demand via cable or the Internet or some other coming technological innovation. So he's investing in DVD, and recently purchased the Spice Hot channel, the hardcore cable outlet featuring "no cum shots, no anal, no closeups.""
Steve Hirsch's partner is barrel chested David James who sports tattoos, a walrus mustache and a Wales accent. In 1984 hotshot salesmen James and Hirsch decided to start their own company. They began by concentrating their marketing on a single girl, Ginger Lynn. She became the first Vivid Girl while Vivid became the first porn company to work the star system like the Hollywood studios of the 1930s.
A coal miner at 15, James decided to enlist in the British army, spending the next 14 years as a member of an anti-terrorist unit. On his way to Australia in search of a change, he stopped in Los Angeles, and never left. He worked first as a bartender, then later sold tickets at a porno theater on Hollywood Boulevard. He eventually became friends with Steve Hirsch who was national sales manager for Cal Vista.
James runs the new technology division for Vivid. "DVD is the new adult toy," he told AVN. "And because of it, I've gone from the coal mines to the gold mines."
Details 6/01 writes: "David James has spent fourteen years with his current girlfriend, Mary Jo, 49. She heads Vivid's international-sales department. The couple live on a Topanga Canyon hillside; their house has a sweeping view of the valley... He drives a Mercedes S600, sails a $750,000 yacht, and buys $350 bottles of Chateau Margaux. Hirsch, meanwhile, lives on the edge of the Santa Susanna Mountains, about ten miles from James, in a new, $1.6 million mansion with his girlfriend of two years... A muscular five-foot-eight, he dresses in spotless jeans and collarless short-sleeve shirts that show off his toned arms. His unlined face has a perpetual tan.
"The six-bedroom, 8,000-square-foot Spanish villa in gated Indian Springs Estates sits on more than two rolling acres dotted with oak trees and sandstone boulders."
Regarding Vivid's much talked about IPO: "But analysts say they may be fantasizing. "The biggest problem they're going to have is institutional investors not wanting to be associated with that type of company," says Derek Blaine, senior analyst with Kagan World Media. Other, less credentialed critics make sharper attacks. "This is as sleazy a hard-core porno organization as any other," says L-ke Ford, the Matt Drudge of the porn industry. "It's just that they're better at putting a good face on it." He does allow that Vivid treats its stars better than any other company. "Women are not spat on in their productions," he says."
In its January 1995 issue, Adult Video News wrote:
An incensed Bud Lee tried to head off rumors claiming that Lee pistol whipped his current girlfriend Asia Carrera in a drunken frenzy. According to Lee, the story was being spread by Carrera's ex-boyfriend Tony Tedeschi (you'll remember Tedeschi's participation in the Johnathan Morgan "gay" incident).
The story supposedly had Lee being fired by Vivid, going on a drinking spree and being committed to an alcohol sanitarium, thus touching off the incident.
While Lee admits that, yes, he entered a 30-day program (paid for by Carrera, by the way) back in October, he has been sober since that time. Making the Tedeschi-reported incident appear even more ludicrous, Lee said that he has asked Carrera to marry him and that she has accepted. Lee, of course, states that the pistol-whipping incident is a fabrication and Tedeschi's desperate act of sour grapes.
"Asia and I are close and in love for as long as can be," says Lee. "We were very happy with one another.
"But I feel very vindictive about Tony Tedeschi and would be tempted to destroy his career, though he's very good at doing that himself," Lee went on to say.
"I want the truth to be known that he (Tedeschi) is talking out of his ass. As far as the rumors about Vivid, I AM their director."
Soon after the 1/95 edition of AVN hit the stands, Vivid fired Lee. Rumors swirled that Bud's alcoholism was a big factor.
I interviewed Bud and Asia Carrera at their apartment in the Spring of 1996. The director confessed to the pistol whipping of Asia that he denied in AVN. Carrera still carries scars from the thrashing.
Bud's three years working for Vivid sapped him, he claims. "When you work for a big company, they have rules and regulations that crap on people. And when you carry out those rules, you get the reputation for crapping on people. So you have to throw off that cloak and show your true colors.
"I went from being one of the better filmmakers in the business to being the second person on the totem pole asked to make one or two day films. My product was never as good as it was. Asia didn't even believe me that I was as good as Paul Thomas until I sat her down and showed her some of my best films pre-Vivid.
"All their big projects went to Paul Thomas. I got the stuff he wasn't interested in. I was the only person who shot one-day films. That's film, not video. I got two days to make pictures while PT took up to five days.
"I put up with that because they paid me regularly.
"Paul Thomas and I were initially complimentary. I thought that I was being groomed for PT's position because PT appeared to be moving on to the R-rated genre. But that failed. So PT had to make X."
"Certain people look forward to every day as an opportunity to screw over other people," says Bud. "I'm not one of those people but I became that way - manipulative, producer-like, controlling - through working for Vivid. I didn't like myself. It got to the point where I stopped wanting to go to the set, and I love going to the set.
"Vivid operates by screwing people over. They tell each contract girl that she is going to be the big star this year. "You'll be in our big movie." They say this to everyone but it only works out for one of the girls.
"Vivid makes agreements and then weasels out of them. It was my job to make deals with the talent. I'd tell someone she'd get $1500 for two scenes, but the person in control of the money, Paul Thomas, would say that she's only worth $1400 and write that check. I'd look bad. Invariably what would happen is that Bud would reach into his pocket and make it up to them."
Bud maintains his friendship with Paul Thomas but says he doesn't like working with him.
Bill Margold, along with Jim Holliday and other knowledgeable pornographers, take a harsh view of Vivid. "Vivid essentially packages shit in cellophane and sells it like chocolate," says Margold. "They sell the gloss but gloss can be dross. Vivid has no depth. Their concern is less with turning America on than on turning it to sleep. They market their product in many different ways. They take movies and edit them down for cable TV. They make comfortable, sanctified porn, porn that you can put on the coffee table.
"Vivid girls sweat Channel. If you work for Vivid, you leave your emotions at home and then you get them back when you leave. Ashlyn Gere and Barbara Dare survived their time as Vivid contract girls and moved on to better things."
"People don't jack
off to Vivid movies," says Margold. "They tolerate them. I wanted
to be jacked off to. I want to create images that will get you up and
Luke, along with numerous other folks, has been scammed by Vivid Video through their website www.vividvideo.com. Luke's been periodically charged $49:99 every month for the last few months for services he never ordered.
Somehow they stole my credit card information and started billing me fraudulently, hoping I guess, that I will never check my bill. These guys are thieves. Watch out on your credit card statement for charges from "Vivtech."
[It appears that Vivid is copying the tactics of Carl Ruderman's Crescent Publishing which got busted by the FTC in early 2000. Former Crescent employee Bob Johnson plays a key role in the Vivid internet operation.]
Vivid Video Steals Credit Card Numbers
Vivid Video is stealing people's credit card numbers and charging them $50 a month without permission under the name VivTech 1(800)-848-4336 (CA). When the charges are disputed, Vivid submits phony documentation to the credit card company, claiming falsely that the charges were solicited. This has happened to Luke and Mastrick and numerous others.
Deep Throat: Well it seems you have a relationship with Serge Birbair already. The guy is brilliant, a story unto himself. He's made millions of dollars by working the adult webmaster chatboards through charm, intellect and bully boy tactics. I think he's a thief in that he herds up cattle (innocent web surfers) and hands them over to be slaughtered by the company he provides clicks for. Maybe you don't think this is illegal or a scam but I don't have any doubts that one day the rumors will come true and Multimedia Forum the company Serge works for will be charged by the FTC.
Serge claims he doesn't give a shit because he is only an advertiser for the compay. I'm no lawyer but I think his role is more, legally anyways, and he has known all along about the fraudulent way his bosses do business. Here's how Multimedia Forum does business and remember that of all the major players in the online sex industry they are the ONLY one who does business this way. Why? Because all the others know they could lose their businesses running the same scam bullshit.
Serge refers to his boss as Yitzhai, Israeli? Jewish?.......anyways they publish the glossy girly mags High Society and Celebrity Skin amongst others [publisher Carl Ruderman, a king of phone sex and possibly credit card churning]. Here's how they work their scamming Luke. Serge provides them with 1 million, give or take, fresh victims a day. check out http://www.pcdataonline.com , they are the Nielson ratings of the online world, SergesLinks the site that Serge redirects his traffic from ranks usually about 50, right up there with the big boys of the Net, among adult sites he is 4th now in terms of traffic.
Usually when a surfer winds up on the doorstep of an adult website, they are offered a tour, along the tour there is always a join button/link, often there is some sales shpiel about a FREE TRIAL or a FREE WEEK. The big credit card companies have mostly put a stop to the free trials, those sites with their own merchant accounts and with the right processing company still do them. Ok, when a surfer thinks he'd like to take advantage of this FREE or 1.95 trial he's taken to a join page, legally at this point BEFORE a customer enters his credit card info there is a link to the Terms and Conditions of this business transaction.
The credit card processors usually demand this to protect themselves too. The terms and conditions usually tell the surfer that he is getting a free or cheap trial for 3 or 7 days BUT if he doesn't cancel the subscription before the time period expires the membership will RECUR at 30 bucks a month until he does cancel. RECURRING BILLING is the lifeblood of the industry, there are real concerns that the government is going to pressure the credit card companies to outlaw it.
Half the adult online businesses would fold up if this happened. Responsible companies like CEN run by Joe Elkind have been warning that companies like Serge's bosses are going to bring government heat via the FTC, Joe just posted a warning last week or so on Netpond, of course he xxxx'd out the site names but everyone knows the ones he's talking about.
Ok, here's what happens when Serge sends you to one of Yitzhai's sites, say http://www.cun-tv.com ....... the surfer sees it, it looks slick and he's intrigued by the FREE SEX TOUR graphic, so he clicks on it and he's whisked away to an html page with a form on it to input his info, at the top of the form is a shpiel that tells the surfer that he must enter his credit card information to prove he's of legal age to view the material BUT that his CREDIT CARD WILL NOT BE BILLED, at the bottom of the page in BIGGER letters it is repeated. THERE ARE NO TERMS AND CONDITIONS ON THIS PAGE.
So the surfer at this point sees no harm in entering his cc info he's so horny to see the naked girlies for free. Once he submits his information he is taken to a page where they ask him to choose a nickname and password to enter the site, buried on this page there may be a link to some terms and conditions BUT it's way too late, the surfer thinks he's getting a free tour. If the surfer is smart enough and he does find some terms and conditions he will see that he's about to become a member of the most expensive website on the Net, they don't quote a per month fee like 99% of other adult sites do, the sleazballs quote their fees on a per day basis, i've seen Serge's bosses sites at 1.99/day, not illegal but a definite attempt to confuse the consumer, nobody else does it.
A month later the surfer opens up his Visa statement and he finds out that FREE TOUR for which he would NEVER BE BILLED just cost him from between 50 and 80 bucks. I know ....... they got me twice about two and a half years.
By the way, the sites suck. They are bad for the industry, I can't even tell you how many people who don't know I am in this business have told me they were scammed, they are amazed when I tell can tell them the name of the site they were scammed on. Now it's a fact that 97% of people will NOT refute a porn purchase, most people don't even know what rights they have with the credit card companies and most men are embarassed to report that they were purchasing porn so they write it off as a bad experience. They also don't join another website because Yitzhai and Serge burned them :( Hurts the rest of us porn peddlers.
With recurring billing, some of these memberships get rebilled for months before the customer realizes something's wrong. Here's the scope of how much money is involved. Serge sends them I million fresh surfers per day, industry average is 1 in 500 surfers decide to join, with Serges bosses sites its probably higher because of the FREE tour and the GUARANTEE YOUR CARD WILL NOT BE BILLED scam, also notice that when you attempt to leave any of these sites in succession no less than 10 new browser windows will open with 10 other new sites owned by Yitzhai and High Society. Some people will bite on one of those sites.
So let's say that 1 out of every 350 people are sucked in by Yitzhai. That makes 2857 new members of Yitzhai's website everday of the week, 365 days a year. Multiply by that exorbitant 60 buck membership fee that 170,000 dollars a day flowing in, multiply that by 365 days it's over 62 million per year, work in recurrings and its easily over 100 million........and this has been going on for nearly three fucking years.
Serge Bribair is a straight shooter with webmasters who send him clicks, he pays for raw hits at a decent rate because it doesn't matter how 'good' the quality of the traffic is when the sites he's sending the traffic on to has such a good scam waiting for it.
Now when Vivid announced that they were entering the online biz in a big way and were going to offer webmasters 35 dollars per signup they could send I was pretty excited. I like their stuff, the only porn I watch is the stuff with Vivid type girls, gorgeous chicks who you can't believe would be fucking on video. When I got to there site to check it out I couldn't believe the web design was EXACTLY done in the same style as Serge's bosses, the same mousetrap, wording etc........... they have either used Yitzhai's operation as a blueprint or are in some kind of deal with him, I haven't been able to find that out.
There is a slight difference in how Vivid Video is running their sites, probably an attempt to walk the line of legality on advice of their lawyers. On the page where they ask you to enter your cc info and of course remind you THAT YOUR CREDIT CARD WILL BE BILLED there is a link to some terms and conditions. Totally confusing, on one hand they're telling me to go and enter my cc number and on the same page they're telling me if I go one step further I owe them 60 bucks. Thats why I sent them two emails trying to find out as a naive little surfer what the real deal is.......... no response to either letter :) It looks like Vivid is using the same scam that Yitzhai/highsociety is.
The guy who runs the cc processing company that does the processing for Vivid saw the post and replied that Vivid does their own credit card/membership routine on their own servers so he really isn't involved BUT that he was interested in the situation because they warn all the companies they deal with that they could lose their Merchant Account with the bank very easily.
Deep Throat writes:
Just read your response to Brad Shaw Luke. Frankly I don't believe you or your friends didn't at one time give your credit card information to Vivid or an affiliated company, you were probably told that YOUR CARD WILL NOT BE BILLED but that to prove you were 18 and legal to enter your visa number. I don't see how they would ever have gotten your cc information. The scam I'm talking about is what are called 'scam front ends' to websites in question, a major player in the industry has been warning that he has some inside info that the FTC has been investigating these sites and they could bring down the entire online poon business.
The biggest online fraud known to date involved a company called Netfill that did phony up credit card billings from a database of people who had at least once bought a membership to an adult website. I don't think Vivid is that stupid to play that game, there's enough money to be made with their 'scam front end' scheme. I played dumb when I first saw their site about a month ago and sent their customer service email that I really wanted to take their free tour to sample their site, and that I was worried that even though in BIG font it said I would never be billed there terms and conditions had language that i was liable for 1.93/day, 60 bucks a month. I wasn't surprised that I never got replies to either email.
Mastrick: "I've disputed the charges with USAA, the credit card issuer, and will talk to my attorney to see if I can initiate a cause of action in the Tennessee courts."
Andy: If your friend mastrick has a USAA credit card, they will go after Vivid like pit bulls. You dont fuck with USAA.
A source: I am an adult webmaster, with a conscience :)
I read your item today about VividVideo scamming credit cards. When I first found out about what Vivid was up to I was shocked that a company of their stature would choose to enter the online porn business in this way. Maybe you know the company better? They are working with or ripping off a scam run by a very large smut magazine publisher who has been on the Net for a much longer time than Vivid, I can only estimate the profits from the scam, definitely over 100 million dollars! Anyways if you are interested in the story and its scope I can give you the details on how the scam works and who's involved. I can only do this anonymously since some of the people in the scam are key figures in the online industry and I need to protect my business.
Bill Broderick writes on RAME: FYI : to anyone who has been charged by Vivid's website, When you e-mail them to cancel any membership that you have, make sure that you complain about the fact that they charged you. I don't know how strong the complaint has to be, since I lost the first ID, I had two accounts with them. I told them that I was disputing the charge on the first card (that had already gone through). I also told them that If they chartged the second card, that I would be writing a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, who currently has a bug up their ass about web sites (especially adult ones) that are charging cards fraudulently (after this adventure with Vivid, I'd have to say rightly so). However, Vivid has cancelled both accounts and refunded the charges that they have made to BOTH of my credit cards.
email@example.com wrote: Has anyone else tried to enroll in the "free" trial subscription of this site only to find that their credit card had been charged? Also, what about not being able view their various screens? For some reason all we get is some html jibberish infinite looping and when we try to escape and the only way to get out is to x out and bring up Netscape again.
IseeCrack@yahoo.com wrote on RAME: I encountered this as well. It states its a "free trial" and then you are billed without being sent an email concerning this. Vivid (firstname.lastname@example.org) has sent me an email stating that the charge will be credited to my card.
Torris: This is exactly the sort of thing that would make a great letter to the editor at AVN. See if they have the stones to print it. I doubt it, but since they always blather on about crooks taking advantage of those in the industry and such, let's see if they are more than just talking a good game.
Chunkie: The same thing happened to me. I reported an unauthorised transaction to by bank. To my surprise, it was from Vivid, however, they didn't report themselves on my credit card statement as Vivid, which cause me to report the transaction. Once my bank sent me 'proof' that the transaction occured. I noticed that my name was not on the record, nor was my proper email address, and the terms for the sale presented (terms and conditions) were different than those presented on the sign-up page. I provided fax copies of the terms and the sign-up page to my bank for their review. needless to say, they were not pleased with Vivid obvious scamming policies. I emailed Vivid requesting their attention, and it took them almost a week to respond. By then, I'm certain my request for a chargeback got their attention finally, as I received an email declaring I will receive a credit. I'll see if that happens. In the meantime, I have a copy of the email to present to my bank if the credit doesn't occur. If you have been charged for membership to this site, likely it is a fraud and who should contact your bank and take action by challenging the terms of the transaction and request a chargeback. If you are thinking of signing up for the service, do not do it. If there is a heavy volume of chargebacks, it will force Vivid to change their policies; otherwise, their bank will pull their merchant number and put their site out of business.
John Robinson wrote Vivid Video: At 09:10 PM 10/6/99 -0500, you wrote: >I am, as of today, 6 October, 1999, cancelling my subscription / access >to vivid video on line. I signed up for the one week free trial. >Therefore, I assume I will incur no charges whatsoever on my credit >card. > >Please confirm that no charges will be applied to my credit card.
Vivid replied: Nowhere on our website does it say anything about a free trial week. Please reply with your user name (the name our system created for you upon enrollment) and the last 6 (six) digits of the credit card used so that we may identify your account and process your request. Thank you.
Well, Luke begs to differ. Check out:
It says, in part: "Ever wonder what the REAL porn world is about? Well find out... The girls are all here! Every knockout, drop dead VIVID SEX STAR you've ever wanted to take to bed is here performing perverse, dirty acts. And you can see them NUDE AND RUDE right now in our FREE SEX PREVIEW. The most gorgeous girls in the world are getting it from every angle and they're completely uninhibited - just for you, for FREE! Once inside you'll see every VIVID film and video ever produced PLUS extremely wide open photos of the stars with LIVE SEX CAMS. Get all the info on FREE PORN STAR PANTIES and YOUR FREE XXX VIDEO!! Just enter your credit card information to prove that you're 18 and start your FREE SEX PREVIEW!! Credit Card # Expiration Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 Expiration Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Credit Card Billing Zip Code Birth Date (MMDDYY) E-Mail Address YOUR CARD WILL NOT BE BILLED!!"
Globiz writes on the Condom Project: "Yeah..I guess it's a scam to tell the surfer the cost of a paysite by the "per day" price IF THEY CAN"T MULTIPLY.....:) I'm sticking with Vivid..they convert and after 100 signups they give you 20 free videos and after every 500 after that, they give you 100. Only thing I don't like is that they deduct refunds during a pay period from your total.(hasn't happened yet, though. Gee, I guess not enough people think they're being SCAMMED..pfftt)"
XXX: I'm guessing it's ieg seth along with vivid. It would make perfect sense to me, seth's been collecting all these credit card numbers all these years, and he has had a close working relationship with vivid. Another factor - seth has always done his own processing, which means he controls the credit card numbers, while most of us use 3rd party processors which control the credit card numbers for us.
XXXInsider: "Serge Birbair was always public enemy number one with Websidestory.com. They almost partnered up with Ron Levi from Cybererotica and Joe Haller from XXXCounter.com. And the deal didn't go through and left a bad taste in all their mouths and they went their separate ways. It was only this week that Ron Levi released his own counter.
"At the very beginning, before his pay site, he tried a counter... And somebody screwed somebody over. Websidestory has pulled out of the adult business and are planning on going public. Sextrekker took the lead as far as a counter service but Ron Levi's trying to pay people to use his counter.
"Vivid probably has a connection with IEG... Probably
the IEG influence... Those two bonded early in the development of Vivid.
Vivid only became active on the internet a couple of months ago so people
really don't know what to expect from... They just know they're a big
player on the video side... Now there are all these flags being raised
and it would totally kill them."
Yitzhok writes: "Hi, I heard about your site and it rocks like people says it does. I can't believe someone has the balls to tell it like it is. I worked at Vivid for a too short while as an editor but was fired for no good reason by Willie Cano (which means dog) who is hands down the most hated person at Vivid. He is the head of the editing unit, but rather than treating his editors with respect he treats them like migrant farm workers (which I've been told is how he was raised.)
"I heard that about a dozen of the best editors all quit Vivid a year ago (before I was hired and fired) due to Willie's shitty treatment of them, including every editor who was ever nominated for an AVN award. On top of all this, Vivid has been sued several times due to Willie's racist attitudes. Word is, unless your a Latino who is willing to kiss the dog's ass and eat the constant shit he throws at his crew, you ain't gonna survive long at Vivid. I heard he's fired a few more folks since myself and more lawsuits are coming Vivid's way. When is the Dept. of Labor finally gonna see that this company is racist and fucked up and treats their workers like shit? Someday their karma will catch them by the balls."
Powow writes Luke: You have to stop this vicious Vivid bashing. Anyone with half a brain can see that Steve Hirsch is just following a time honored business tradition -- build up your brand name and then cut back on the product, saving production costs while riding your well-bought reputation.
He can probably ride that reputation for years before buyers realize there are better companies putting out better quality product. Meanwhile, he is going full speed ahead, offering quantity instead of quality, and is making a killing while he can.
It's no secret that Vivid's product is changing. Anyone with eyes can see that even the Vivid girls ain't what they used to be. Skanky thighs and junkie eyes. All the make-up in the world can't cover that kind of skeeviness.
Why do you think Janine retired? She realized that being a Vivid girl is no longer the glamorous. exclusive creature it once meant -- now it's just another high-priced whore with a fancy name. The two most beautiful girls, Lexus and Tia Bella, likewise made a quick exit once they got a whiff of the truth.
Hirsch is obviously testing the waters. He knows that what sells Vivid product is what's on the box, not in the box. As long as he pumps the money into promotion, buyers will keep buying, which means their competition will be denied access to the various lucrative markets Vivid owns.
Now that he's gotten salaries at Vivid down to the bottom of the barrel, the Vivid girls will be next, with their contract prices dropping and skankier girls filling the ranks of those who drop out.
You think some jaded German distributor is going to actually watch a Vivid movie when they're already sold on how good the product is by all the hype and advertising dollars?
Hirsch already has all the national and international buyers dazzled. When someone writes the definite book about the Rise (and Inevitable Fall) of the porn industry, they will note Vivid in the mid-90s as the cream of the crop (unless one of their competitors somehow eclipses them, which none have as yet)... and the late 90s as the beginning of the end.
Vivid Mail Parodies Bestiality
XXX writes Luke: Is Vivid now spamming bestiality? That's what it looks like according to the Vivid Insider, their latest e-mail newsletter dated 8-22-00. "Claudia" and "King" her "German Shepard" "play" together and "tape(s) the fun"? Is this inter-species sex? Or is it just another bullshit scam? Oh gee, look on JungleGirls.com- they advertise "Girls With Animals Like Never Seen Before"- implying bestiality content- on the main page, but down below plain to see they say "Disclaimer: Jungle Girls Contains No Beastiality!" Ha! What a rip!
A Vivid source writes: "Jungle girls is a parody site and contains no beastiality. Same goes for Farm Secrets."
Luke: Here's the Vivid Insider email. If you thought anybody would be hip to parody and satire, it would be a "journalist" who used that in his defense while debating Vivid attorney Paul Cambria last August.
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2000 22:54:57 -0700
Claudia shows how her and her best pal, King, a German Shepherd, spend most of their time together. She lets the dog play with her and even tapes the fun. See it at Junglegirls: http://www.thepics.com/vivid/jgfresh.html
Sweet, pink 18 year-old virgins straight from the Midwest, LIVE and totally fuckable. Wanna see 'em doin' it for the first time? Click: http://www.thepics.com/vivid/scfresh.html Mega-sex site. See the top porn stars in non-stop orgies. Complete archive of the largest collection of new hardcore ever assembled. Check out Digitalchicks: http://www.thepics.com/vivid/dcfresh.html
It's back to nature for the babes who just love to feel their furry friends against their bare skin. Only at a girl and her pet's site. Check out Farmsecrets: http://www.thepics.com/vivid/fsfresh.html
The man, "Bob Johnson," who organized Crescent Publishing's internet scams now serves as a project manager for Vivid Video's $40 million a year internet operatin.
Johnson handles the day to day updates on the Vivid internet sites.
I surfed over to VividVideo.com to see if the company was emulating Crescent's dishonest ways. It did not look like it. It seems to me that Vivid's billing procedures, including the introductory free three day trial, are straight forward and honest.
I found this notification on the VividVideo.com signup page: "I understand that unless I cancel, at the end of the FREE trial period, I will automatically be billed monthly at the MaxPack rate of $1.33 a day for Vivid Video and less than ten cents a day each for XXXAsianHardcore, Amazing Facials, ButtHunger, and Black Pack. XXXScreenTest is always FREE when I choose the full MaxPack. Billing will appear on your statement as Vivid Presents, Vivid Facials, Vivid Hunger, Vivid Black, Vivid Asians."
Over a year ago, I heard many complaints from surfers that they'd been fraudulently billed by Vivid. But I've not heard many complaints over the past nine months and thus I concluded that Vivid had cleaned up its act.
XXX writes Luke: "He calls himself Bob Johnson. He worked directly for Yitzhai [Habari] to set up the whole Creasent scam. Vivd's website is run along exactly the same lines. Rumours are they have HUGE chargebacks and that not all the income from the site ends up in Vivids coffers. Serge [Birbrair] knows a lot about all this stuff.... He helped set up the Crescent scam in the first place. These people are basicaly EVERYTHING thats wrong with the Adult Internet Industry and make the Brisbane connection and Joe E look like nuns. The only worse people are the ones who run the dial up access scams where surfers have to dial international numbers to access sites at exhorbitant rates."
From Wall Street Journal Europe: Vivid last year snapped up a little-known cable-TV channel called the Hot Network. Since then, it has pushed the sexually explicit channel to 16 million U.S. homes from six million; an equally explicit new sister channel called the Hot Zone is available in 10 million homes. Vivid's profit last year surged to $14.3 million from $5.6 million in 1998. Now Vivid is thinking globally. Its programs are already distributed to 40 countries through distribution pacts with Playboy Enterprises, Vivendi SA's Canal Plus and Germany's Kirch Media KGaA and others.
Vivid got its biggest boost in May, when AT&T Corp. agreed to carry the Hot Network on its digital systems.
Vivid's brand of porn -- thinly plotted films featuring close-ups of people having vigorous sex, interspersed with dialogue -- is purchased on pay-per-view at two to four times the rate of softer porn, which dances around the deed. For cable operators, hard-core porn packs a double punch: Hot Network keeps 20% of every dollar, leaving at least 80% for cable operators, compared with a 50-50 split for Hollywood films. And hard-core porn brings in revenue twice that of a Hollywood film, usually $9 to $11 for a six-hour program block.
Devon - 'Vivid Raped Me!'
Ex-Vivid girl Devon tells Gene Ross: "I feel that I was disrespected a lot by Steven Hirsch personally. I feel that the company looks at girls as numbers and not individually. I wasn't happy there any more. I don't get along with their boxcover photographer. He was very rude and disrespectful to myself and from what I've been hearing, a lot of the other girls as well. I brought this to Steven and he chose to do absolutely nothing about it. That was upsetting to me....
"I found out that they took power of attorney over my legal name, not the name Devon. Which means they can sign checks and completely rip me off behind my back. At this point I wouldn't put something like that past them. There's a few other things between myself and Steven--comments that should not have been made from him. I was in the hospital over the summer and and I had a serious medical procedure. A few weeks later my hospital bills started coming in and I had to ask Steven for an advance which isn't something uncommon for girls to ask him. When I asked and he knew that I had been in the hospital and recovering, he pressured me to do anal. I had never done anal for anyone. I don't do it in my personal life. That's just me. I don't have a problem with anyone who does it, it's that I choose not to. When I had asked Steven for the advance after this serious surgery. He said okay I'll give you your advance if you give me anal, now. I thought, morally, for someone to say something like that to one of their employees, that was very disrespectful and pretty disgusting, to be honest.
"I also found out that I was pretty much raped in my contract. I came out here when I was 21. I had done two gonzo tapes but I never had been to California. I thought Vivid was the best company and that their girls had made the most money. But when I signed my contract I was not advised to see an attorney. And now I come to find out that they really raped me in my contract. I've been told all the girls get the same contract. It just has a different number of years on it because now they're doing two and three year contracts. Which really sucks because some of the newer girls that I've become friends with, I don't want to see the same thing happen to them."
I interviewed the sober and carefully spoken Steve Hirsch (Vivid co-owner) Friday morning. He provides a vivid contrast to the rambunctious Rob Black. For one thing, Steve never used words like "motherfucker" or "cunt," not even when talking about Black.
Luke's email box overflowed with hard questions to ask Steve, such as "Does Loni Sanders still give good head?" Loni (ex-porn star) and Steve lived together for about ten years until separating recently.
Hirsch pointed out half a dozen outright mistakes in my writing on Vivid, and about ten paragraphs that need to be deleted because they are out of date.
While on hold, Vivid's phone system played me Arrow FM 93 (classic driving rock).
"I'm not about to personalize this interview," Steve began (much to Luke's disappointment). "I'll discuss why it is we do what we do... I'm not prepared to take personal shots.
"Before we became all-condom, we were condom-optional. We had condoms on the set. We encouraged people to use condoms and the majority of the Vivid girls used condoms. We don't believe that the condom affects the heat of the scene. We do believe it increases the safety of the performer. When Vivid and other companies made this decision [4/98], there was only a downside for us. That we could lose sales, that scenes would take longer to shoot and we'd have to pay overtime, and the problem that other companies would feel we were trying to dictate to them. There was no upside. We did it because we thought it was right. I am not going to be responsible for someone contracting a disease on my set if I can stop that from happening, and if that means that it costs us more money ultimately, I'm ok with that.
"We felt that it was important that as these people started testing [HIV] positive, that we took a stand as a company. We are not going to allow this to happen on our sets. Good movies are not about one little piece of rubber. It is about imagination, the director... setting up your scenes properly..."
Luke: "How much have you tried to influence your peers to also go all-condom?"
Steve: "We have never told people that there would be a price to pay if they didn't go all-condom. I feel that it is the best long-term interest of the industry to have a condom policy, just as the gay industry went condom-mandatory. We've never tried to bully anybody into using condoms. We don't have that kind of power.
"We've seen no affect on our sales [from going condom] but we haven't been doing it long enough to see if there will be an erosion in sales."
Luke: "How much difference does it make in sales if you make a good movie as opposed to a mediocre movie?"
Steve: "It depends on what market you're looking at. There are retailers out there who are not as educated as they should be about the difference between well-shot movies and cheap movies. The industry needs to educate all retailers and distributors that it is not always about price.
"Quality is very important to the cable market. They want good quality, well-scripted high budget movies."
Luke: "Do you notice much difference in sales if you spend $100,000 to make a good movie vs. spending $100,000 to make a mediocre movie?"
Steve: "You won't immediately see a difference in the domestic [hardcore] video market though longterm you'll see it. Long term good movies have legs. In the cable markets, you'll definitely see a difference [quickly] because people won't buy movies that aren't good."
Luke: "What difference does it make in sales if you get awards?"
Steve: "Yes, distributors can use awards as a marketing tool. This business is about marketing a product. It's so competitive than anything you can use as an edge, be it an award or a quote..."
Hirsch says Vivid employs over 100 persons and grosses over $20 million annually. Most income still comes from domestic hardcore sales. Vivid leads the industry in cable TV sales. Vivid sells its features for $13-14 each to distributors. "And we do not (and have not for eight years) catalogue anything for 12-18 months.
"We're similar to the mainstream business. You go from a rental price [selling videos to distributors who sell them to stores who primarily rent them out for a few months] to a sell-through price. To maximize your income per movie, you adjust price to maximize sales. You have to be careful not to do that too early or you'll denigrate the value of your movie.
"Vivid releases four features (two shot on film) a month and three from Vivid Raw. And about 46 comps (two hour and four hour versions which sell wholesale for $2:50-$3:50 each and retail for $10) a month. We want to offer a diverse product line. We understand there are different markets. Some people want to buy features and others want to buy compilations at a cheaper price. We own over 2000 movies."
Luke: "What do you think about the industry's trend towards the nasty?"
Steve: "You risk giving ammunition to those groups who don't agree with the adult industry. By spurring them on you run the risks of prosecutions and convictions. And once you get a conviction, you mobilize a group of people who want to put you out of business. I think you can accomplish the same thing [turn-on] through creative means. I don't think the end game is to see how extreme you can be."
Luke: "Those are strategic concerns. Do you have any moral concerns about nasty porn?"
Steve: "I believe in the First Amendment [to free expression] but I am also a realist and that is not the type of product that this company chooses to produce. We produce movies for the widest audience possible.
"We service a large [video] chain and we sell them 100% of their [adult] product. We do go out to other manufacturers, purchase product from them and resell it. We're in the business of making profit. We buy at one price and sell at a slightly higher price to this large chain. This large chain buys by going through AVN. They decide what titles they want. If there are some titles that I feel may be problematic in the area their store exists, say the South, then it is my obligation to make them aware of that. Then they make the decision to purchase that product or not.
"I saw what it was like to be prosecuted [in early '90s in Mississippi] and I did not enjoy it... If you look at the the history of the industry, [busts] go in cycles.
Luke: "How much do you think about VCA?"
Steve: "I'm friendly with Russ Hampshire. I respect him. For years he's supported this industry in every way, giving money to the Free Speech Coalition and many groups around the country having trouble in their areas..."
Luke: "You've also donated extensively."
Steve: "We support many groups but I don't want to blow our own horn."
Luke: "Was interracial a problem for Vivid features? Has Vivid ever had restrictions on black-white couplings in its feature films?"
Steve: "No. We do movies that make sense. What the scripts call for, we shoot. People have called us racist but that is not the case.
"We believe strongly in allowing our directors to make the creative decisions. My strength is marketing and business."
Luke: "Does Paul Thomas fund his own productions and then sell them to you?"
Steve: "I don't wish to comment on that business relationship."
Luke: "Do you guys have something against natural breasts?"
Steve: "Absolutely not. Jenteal had natural breasts when she started with us but as most of the girls in this industry do have enhanced breasts... We've never asked a girl to enhance themself for us. We're always out there looking for the most beautiful girls who will best represent this company."
Luke: "What kind of job do you think the FSC has done over the past few years?"
Steve: "I think it is hard to get a consensus when you have a lot of people on a board. I certainly believe wholeheartedly that they are trying to do the right thing. They are people giving their time [regularly] to do something good for this industry."
Luke: "What are some of the best and worst decisions you've made?"
Steve: "It was a good decision to sign girls to exclusive contracts. That's what initially separated us from every other company out there. The decision to go outside the industry for mainstream packaging separated us and that some of the relationships we've nurtured have paid dividends. In every business there are mistakes...
"We have nine Vivid girls. We recently signed Kira [asian]. The two Vivid guys are Bobby Vitale and Julian (under a joint contract with VCA)."
Luke: "I hear that the darker skinned Vivid girls earn half as much as their lighter skinned counterparts?"
Steve: "Not true. The amount of money the girls make depends on how many movies they sell, how their stuff does, how many movies they make for us and how long they've been with us. There is no pay difference for different girls."
Luke: "How could you let Loni Sanders get away?"
Steve: "I don't wish to comment on my personal life.
"...We produce between six to eight big budget films a year and each of the Vivid girls has the opportunity to star in one.
"We started Vivid Raw years ago to do gonzo movies... We were going to release bisexual and she-male movies out of the Vivid Extreme label. We have done movies with the word "Extreme" in them for a long time... When we got the [legal] letter from Rob, although we do feel that we would provide in a legal suit, we decided it wasn't that important to us to call the company Vivid Extreme. So we release that product under Vivid Raw...
"We're very pleased with Vivid Raw. It's a new company so we're constantly tinkering with it...
"About us making ten cents on a movie... I learned a long time ago not to project profits from other people's sales..."
Luke: "Are the AVN awards fixed?"
Steve: "I absolutely disagree with that. I think that Paul Fishbein has a lot of integrity and he understands that his business is worth nothing if he loses that integrity."
Luke: "AVN seems to reflect a Vivid/VCA perspective?"
Steve: "Go through the magazine and count the number of pages that talk about Vivid/VCA... I'm not sure that is the case."
Luke: "The reviewers like the nastier stuff but Paul is more mainstream."
Steve: "To Paul's credit he hires people with different views than himself.
"I think that the adult industry is more accepted today than ever before and I am constantly amazed how many people recognize the Vivid name."
Mike South was not impressed with my interview: "Come on Luke, why didn't you just give the guy a blowjob? You let us down man... You threw nothing but easy pitches and you let him blow his own horn... Now THAT is poor journalism."
RAME's Imperator reviews Cloud 9 from director Derrick Lane. "The merits one expects from Vivid are there. The casting is excellent: Racquel Darrian is the big star, and is in every sex scene of the film, frequently accompanied by Felecia, Asia Carrera and Barbara Doll. The only two blokes are Steven St. Croix and Derrick. The production is technically impeccable... We seldom get squalid sets from Vivid. Cloud 9 is shot at at an attractive house with a good pool. Derrick does an excellent job with the camera and his editor is - uncharacteristically for Vivid - patient. This is a far cry from the numerous three-second cuts the latest Paul Thomas productions suffered from.
"The film's - and Vivid's - primary flaw is a lack of sexual heat. Vivid films are shot on purpose with a detached air. There is no sweat, no hint of the primal heat that is sex. Racquel just lies there... Even the usually feisty Barbara Doll is subdued... That's the problem with Vivid. It's not the absence of anals and raunch. It's that the people look like mannequins. Vivid product needs smiles, laughter, heat and sweat. They claim they make "couples" porn. This is not how couples behave in bed, lying around looking pretty."
Hawaii, directed by Toni English, continued Imperator's pleasant Vivid experiences. "This effort is the opposite of what we've come to expect from Vivid in recent years. For once the sex scenes are long and patiently shot..." (RAME)
The opening pages of the July 1997 issue of Spy Magazine feature a two-page advertisement for FreshJive clothing starring Vivid Girls Chasey Lain, Janine, Jen Teal and Kobe Tai.
In spoof mode, "Templeton Peck" writes: "Citing increased Q ratings, post-feminist attitudes regarding sex, and a widespread acceptance of pornography among younger Americans, some analysts feel that a mainstream embrace of porn may be as little as a few years away. This public approval may spark a "gold rush" mentality, as citizens presently employed in more mundane occupations are drawn in large numbers to an industry built entirely on the promise of young, eager female flesh. Such an influx of new people would produce a ripple effect, resulting in ever-greater respect and admiration for those willing to align themselves with "X". School-age children will add "porn star" to the list of things they want to be when they grow up, and Chasey (Lain) will replace Chelsea (Clinton) as the number one role model for young girls. Boys, who all secretly want to be porn stars anyway, will stop trying to "Be Like Mike" and start trying to "Cum Like Pete"." (RAME)
Vivid signed Lexus Locklear in early 1997. "No surprises here," writes Jaydee on RAME. "Vivid signs another dead fuck. I always thought she was good looking, but what a cardboard partner."
Steve Hirsch replied 11/98: "There are people who are intrigued by beautiful women have sex on screen."
In 7/97, Jack Koff wrote on RAME: "Vivid is destroying the porn world with all its contract girls. I realize they can do what they want but why must they continually snatch up all the best looking girls and then put them in videos that won't let them do anything remotely nasty. Worse yet, other companies are starting to get these "contract girls."
"What this means is that American porn can almost be categorized into 2 categories: a) the most gorgeous "A-talent" girls do the most lame sex scenes with no anal or other nastiness; and b) the less attractive "B-talent" girls who do the anal work and other nastiness that no Vivid girl would even be allowed to do if she wanted.
"This means we'll probably never see Jenteal, Chasey Lain, Janine, Nikki Tyler, Marilyn Star, etc do an anal scene. That's a damn shame because they're gorgeous and many would do anal if Vivid would let them. The fact Jenteal is a Vivid girl really annoys me. She's so damn gorgeous and did anal in a video as an amateur and also took a huge strap on in her ass in "Fresh Meat". Vivid saw how gorgeous she was, signed her up, and now we'll probably never her do another anal again. What a pity.
"But as long as people continue to rent that cable ready shit Vivid calls porn the trend will only get worse as they and others sign every pretty face in sight. Thank god for Europe and PRIVATE, a company that really has its most gorgeous stars do the nastiest things."
R.Range replied: "The main reason why Vivid will never be Second: I could list Ginger Lynn 10 times, but I'll be specific:
"AVN March 1987: In an article concerning up and coming small video companies, the clear front-runner is listed as Vivid, and its president, A. H. Stevens, attributes the success to four things - "our packaging, the experience of my partner, Jay David, in adult management; the relationship I've built with distributors over a lot of years; AND GINGER LYNN. PEOPLE CAN IDENTIFY OUR COMPANY THROUGH GINGER.''
"We are, and have been for several decades, on the cutting edge of a phenomena that our grandfathers could never imagine. The image of Jennie Lynn captured the fancy of Judge Roy Bean, we are told. But that fascination came only from drawings and poor imitations of the real thing. One thousand years from now, in 2097, there will be fans of erotica, and they will have their favorites. And they won't rely on artists' renditions of the performers' likeness. They will have the real thing, perhaps enhanced by technology yet to be discovered. And who will stand out? Ginger Lynn Allen, just as she did in 1992, as the fans' all-time favorite. And that was a full six years after her last explicit performance.
"Ginger or Traci? Traci never had a chance. She was too big in the wrong places. At age 50, Ginger will have the same beautiful profile that she had as a senior in high school. Traci, even now, needs reinforced bras, or perhaps a couple of wheelbarrows. In 1985, the fans and the industry had their chance to vote for their favorite. Ginger and Traci were head-to-head in two categories, Vixen of the Year and Starlett of the year. Ginger won both! I admit, I am biased (g), but Vivid, the outfit that holds the rights to about 20 of Ginger's films, holds a key that is truly golden."
Jeff Dixon: "It is becoming harder and harder to find copies of Ginger's films (Vivid or otherwise) due to their age. And unless Vivid rereleases these movies, this won't help their visibility for much longer. Coupled with the fact that Ginger is no longer making adult movies, just being associated with Ginger will not help them for very long.
"Something else, the nastier end of porn is becoming more and more popular (gang-bangs, vids like the _Take it to the Limit_ series). Vivid and other high profile companies don't do these types of movies in an attempt to prevent offending anyone. (Hello. McFly, hello. You're showing people having sex in a graphical manner anyway, unless you start beating them will they are having sex or something, you aren't going to offend any more people than you would otherwise!) Take Janine for example. Her popularity is really beginning to take a beating, since she STILL refuses to do guys in front of the camera. And by now, even if she does, it won't recover all of her old fans, nor will it make her any new ones.
"Vivid and all the other mainstream companies need to realize that by trying to make porn as soft as possible is not going to help the legal battles they are facing. (Note to VCA: Nor is making this artistic bull!#@$ like Sex and Latex!!!)
"The battle over whether Ginger or Traci is bigger or vice versa is a fight that will never truly be decided. Primarily because PEOPLE CANNOT RENT OR BUY TRACI'S VIDS IN THE STATES. It is EXTREMELY hard to be popular, when you are completely ILLEGAL!! Also, in 1985-86 the scandal with Traci was in full swing, so of course the industry that she screwed wasn't going to support her.
"Ginger's appeal was her girl-next-door looks. Traci's appeal was that she looked so innocent, but underneath was a total slut. I have seen and loved many performances by both. But, this is one of those debates that cannot truly be decided, since most young porn fans have never seen a vid by Traci, and a hence cannot accurately judge between them."
Essex9999 opines: "Either Vivid pays better, or women chose to work there precisely BECAUSE of the "lame" quality of their videos.
"1. If Vivid attracts "A-talent girls" because it pays well, then other companies can try to match the pay. If these other companies produce videos that are as popular or more so than Vivid products, then they will have no trouble meeting the higher pay scales and will eventually drive Vivid out of business. Of course, whether they will be "nasty" enough to suit your taste is another question.
"2. OTOH, if Vivid is able to recruit "A-talent girls" because it does not demand that they be DP'd, fucked in the ass by 10 men in a row, called "bitch," "slut," or "whore," or risk their lives through unprotected sex, then maybe another kind of marketplace is at work. Don't you think most performers would rather appear in videos where they are treated with a modicum of respect and not forced to perform acts that they find degrading, disgusting or dangerous? (Note: I am not making a judgment about anybody's taste or porn preferences. I am only suggesting that some performers may have certain things that they do not want to do.)
"Either way -- or more likely BOTH ways -- Vivid succeeds in recruiting the actresses you want to see because it offers them something other companies do not. If the marketplace is there for "nastier" porn featuring A-list stars -- and this NG certainly seems to indicate that it is -- then, eventually, other companies will make enough money to steal Vivid's talent.
"But ... <whine mode ON> Is it really necessary that ALL porn be "nasty?" I know that many men love watching endless anal sex, abusive sex, rough fucking, etc., and there are thousands of vids out there that offer these things and more. That's great. It's a (relatively) free country; to each his own; <insert cliche of choice>. But surely there is a place for videos that show people having sex in gentler, more conventional ways -- vids that are more tender and -- dare I say it -- even loving. Not that Vivid is especially successful at that, either ... but at least they try."
JS writes on RAME:
"Vivid is THE class act in American porn. No other company commits the money and effort that Vivid does to further the widespread acceptance of erotica in America. No other company gives any thought to the future of porn. Porn tolerance in the United States is not a given. It rides a pendulum that swings to and fro slowly but consistently and the only way to slow its swing is to add the weight of ever more viewers to it. When enough Americans have seen erotica presented as an and acceptance reaches its critical mass the pendulum will be unable to move far from center. The first priority of our beloved industry should be (as it is for Vivid) to gain this high degree of acceptance and insure that erotica - as a business - will continue to grow.
"Hollywood realized long ago that Americans want "stars" and the current success of the Hollywood machine can be directly attributed to its star making prowess. Vivid understands this and was the first porn production company to "build" stars. Their names are legendary. The "Vivid Girls" appear at the industry's traditional self promotion events dressed as sex symbols not sex objects. Female fans of erotica are not intimidated by them and enjoy the fantasy "star treatment" that the Vivid Girls are given.
"As for the standard complaints that hard-core fans have with Vivid - The girls aren't nasty and the movies have plots - both are true. (Though Raquel only fucked Derrick before Vivid, Dyanna Lauren only fucked Brad, Jenteal only did goofball and gals, and Janine and Leslie Glass only did Penthouse) Sly Stallone can't act and Madonna's a bitch. Accept the facts. The average American wants to see Sly kill people, hear Madonna sing, and watch the Vivid Girls in a movie with ANY plot. For those with other tastes there is Pacino, Calas, and Max Hardcore, but it is the mainstream that keeps it all alive. The majority of new "porn renters" are pleasantly surprised by the Vivid product. As the coordinator of six large (we average 5,000 rental titles per store) adult bookstores in the Midwest I witness this daily. Vivid brings them back.
"If you don't care for the Vivid product - by all means - don't spend your hard earned money on it, but don't wish for their demise - Zane, Rosebud, and Anabolic (a great product) will be gone long before that. (Which would you rather be defending in court - BobbySox or Anal Cumsuckers 52 ?) "
Brad Williams: "They commit a lot of money to contract talent that happens to be some very good-looking women, but most of their flicks are shot-on-video with less budget than a lot of other companies' regular work. They STILL can't even spell the names of their performers the same way every time in their credits. Did I mention that their directors (PT) tend to be rather mediocre? I see Private promoting their porn movies on big billboards in LA, but also delivering some fuck-for-the-buck.
"How come Evil Angel, Elegant Angel, and Private have developed such huge followings then? It's a commitment to giving people their money's worth. That "no other" is just way too much of a blanket statement.
"All three of the above are quickly supplanting the VCA and Vivids of porn in sales.. Vivid may have the corner on the softcore cable market, but that may wind up being all they have left in the future.
"The traditional complaints against Vivid are:
"1) They have plots, and they are terrible, nonsensical ones generally. It's probably better to go with a no-plot wall-to-waller than one that is derived from a 2 page script and the feeble mind and direction of Paul Thomas.
"2) Too many Vivid women look bored as hell when they have sex.
"3) No hard "hardcore" action from the newer Vivid Girls. Lack of enthusiastic talent after Ginger Lynn, Barbara Dare, and Tori Wells left. Some subtle attempts to fuck the customer over by implying Janine does b/g inside when she doesn't.
"4) Terrible direction from PT and editing. PT has made a zillion pornos(every now and then he screws up and makes a very good one) and still can't capture the hot shots well or get good performances most of the time. The fact that a lot of his movies are also designed for the cable market makes for some real lousy editing and production. The scripts are 6th grade level, even by porn standards.
"I don't necessarily wish for their demise, but I don't share your zeal for them. I think maybe Vivid is part of the problem of porn getting anywhere in the mainstream with traditional non-porn types. Vivid's been around for quite a while, and maybe that's why the casual fan of porn quickly loses interest in porn is because of Vivid's tepidness.
"All the sales and rentals seem to be rolling towards the Angels and Privates according to AVN's figures, which seems to suggest people want "harder" material than what Vivid delivers."
Eric Dew points out there's another company that had similar comments about their products. "That company's Microsoft. Yeah, they make weenie products. They only care about the bottom line. They bully their competitors, they have no technical excellence (I write this from a NeXT workstation, so don't think I'm an MS assimilant). However, you have to give MS (and Vivid) credit for meeting their market. Perhaps, when their market gets jaded with what they see from Vivid -- and when the social norms are more carefree -- Vivid would introduce the "NT" level of porn: some ass bucking, some gangbanging, you know, whatever the Angels dwell on. Once Vivid attains brand-name recognition, they will mow down the Angels by providing a product similar to theirs.
"Whose boxes will innocent people pick? Vivid or Angel? Whose boxes did people choose, NEXTSTEP or Win '95?"
Pat Riley: "Neither of you know the level of budget put into their movies by any of these companies. In any event the examples Brad quotes are no better than Vivid--insipid, poorly done, plot-lacking, badly acted, over the hill performers, banal, nowhere near a regular movie and not even coming up to some of the crud of the past. Porn must be the only industry where the quality of the product has gone down over the years! And I'm not talking "Golden Age" here--some of the PRE-Deep Thoat stuff is better than most today.
"Back to the budget. Sure you can say Fan Fuxx #2 or #99 for that matter has a lower budget with little fear of contradiction but can you say the same about Thermonuclear Sex? Or the Pussyman series? Or some of Devil's Films? Or Stagliano's stuff? We simply don't know because no one releases that information, nor would it be credible if they did. And just what goes into that "budget". Talent (hah!) fees, location cost, film development, outside editor's fees--sure. But what about the amortized cost of Stagliano's own editing equipment, presuming he does his own editing? Even if that's cheaper why would that make a less worthy movie? Consider the absurd: Pussyman spends $500,000 on renting some mansion for his next movie (location cost). Does that make it a better movie than one shot in your backyard?
"Should Thermonuclear Sex bear the entire cost of shipping Patrick, Santino, Gates and the crew over to Hungary or should it be spread over all the movies done in the same trip? A no brainer you say. If you spread the cost how do you do it? By time taken for each movie? By some proportion to general overhead (the cost of lining up the talent) and the rest by time, footage shot...? Nitty gritty to be sure but if you're trying to compare costs you have to address these banal accountant-type questions.
"And then we get to something the porn industry generally does well: the box cover. Is the design cost part of the budget? Advertising in the trade journal? Just how do those things make for a better movie?
"Put a camera on your shoulder and wing it and you're doing what most of these guys are doing. Silvera, Collins Rubinstein and Stagliano just prove that "We don't need no stinking directors" and certainly not the prima donnas like Dark, Ninn, Armstrong and PT. DeRenzy and McCallum were good once upon a time (take a look at Virgins Dreams to see how the mighty have fallen) but they've become tired and old. As Wally Wharton once said (I'm paraphrasing) "The industry is never going to improve until we get rid of the old men.""
"In Brooklyn's rental store market Vivid, VCA, Wicked, Western Visuals etc are barely keeping their head above water. Two, three, four copies of each Elegant Angel, Evil Angel (including the associated companies), Ed Powers, Randy West etc new releases in lots of stores versus frequently not even one copy of Vivid's. These store owners aren't stupid; they buy what rents and it sure as hell ain't Vivid. The occasional renter is a one movie now and then guy."
AVN 8/96: "In the company's never-ending attempt to gain acceptance in mainstream America, Vivid Video held a "Club Pornography" bash on a Sunday night at the popular nightclub Dragonfly. Vivid was approached by Dragonfly's owners with the idea of giving non-industry types the chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Janine and Nikki Tyler, without having to go to a local strip club."
11/98: Though Vivid no longer conducts Club Pornography, the company puts on parties with record companies.
Steve Hirsch, Vivid and several of the Vivid girls support the radical animal rights group PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals] which equates the value of human life with animal life. The founder of PETA, Sandra Neukirk, sees no moral difference between America's barbecuing of 6,000,000 million chickens a year to Germany's murder of 6,000,000 Jews in the Holocaust.
Vivid auctioned off parts of its billboard on Sunset Boulevard to raise money for PETA. Vivid Girls paraded around at the auction wearing nothing but PETA T-shirts.
From the 1/10/98 Times [of London]:
From a one-storey warehouse five miles north of Beverly Hills, Vivid turned out 125 productions last year. For genre virgins they all look startlingly similar: five sex scenes per hour, most including some lesbian, anal and group action, strung together with dull words badly acted.
Still, Vivid has especially high hopes for Bad Wives and The Zone at the Las Vegas ceremony. Both had "big" budgets of about $150,000, although Seventies titles could cost twice that much.
For 23 hours a day, seven days a week, dubbing machines and digital edit suites churn out product for distribution on five continents via video stores, mail-order houses, the Internet, hotel chains, pay-per-view, satellite networks and, especially lucrative just now, the European cable market. In 1996, according to Adult Video News, 8,000 new titles hit the market, with Americans clocking up 665 million rentals (nearly a ten-fold increase in ten years) and spending $8 billion on porn altogether - twice what they spent at mainstream cinemas.
Vivid epitomises the modern porn operation of low overheads, high volume and high profits. How high? Steve Hirsch, 36, the company's founder and managing director, prefers not to say, but his annual turnover is more than $20 million. "The most important thing is having a good, strong script," Hersch says with a straight face. Still, his top-selling title last year was The World's Luckiest Man, in which one man has sex with 101 women in one weekend.
That man was Jon Dough, 34, the star of 800 titles who pumps his way through them with a fixed scowl to cover the concentration required for his task, which is to get hard, stay hard and climax on cue. Only about five of every 5,000 wannabes can do this day in, day out, under hot lights, with women they don't necessarily fancy in front of people they don't necessarily know.
Margold is dismissive of the new generation of stars, the identikit "natural born drillers", as one writer put it, with big dicks, big pecs, and precious little charisma. Their job, after all, is to focus attention on the women, and Vivid's chief asset is a stable of ten exclusively contracted Vivid Girls. Like everyone in the business these days, they cannot perform without a negative HIV certificate less than 30 days old. Unlike many, they make good money: $100,000 to $200,000 a year depending on their popularity and work rate. They can choose their partners, within reason, and they can insist on condoms (neither Dirk Diggler nor Bill Margold would have been filmed dead in one).
Meet the contract girls. There is Janine, who has no surname and a stipulation that she will not be penetrated by men on screen. She does everything you can imagine and more with herself and other women, though. There is Dyanna Lauren, star of Bad Wives, who has a tattoo'd crotch. There is Kobe Tai, known for her authentic-sounding love grunts. And there are dozens more, strenuously promoted all across the Valley by rival firms cottoning on to the contract idea and aiming for porndom's version of the big time.
In all the mainstream ink on the new porn industry, a constant theme is that Janine and Co are now stars in their own right, never mind the medium. In so far as the mainstream always needs a freak show, this is true. Porn stars have become regulars on Howard Stern's notorious morning drive-time radio show, often appearing naked in his studio for him to describe their jiggling bodies and delight in their alleged libidos. They also appear frequently, albeit clothed, on the Jerry Springer talk show, which last month overtook Rosie O'Donnell as the second-highest rated in America after Oprah.
In one respect porn has changed little since the Seventies: few porn stars make the leap to Hollywood. Nina Hartley has a cameo in Boogie Nights, but most don't attempt the transition, either from justified fear of being stigmatised or because they cannot act.
Sources: Steve Appleford, "The Money Shot," Bikini, April, 1999, pp. 84-91.
Vivid Video Threatens L-ke Ford
LIPSITZ, GREEN, FAHRINGER, ROLL, SALISBURY & CAMBRIA,
June 23, 1999
Luke Carey Ford
Re: Steve Hirsch/Vivid Video, Inc.
Dear Mr. Ford:
Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury & Cambria, LLP, represents Steve Hirsch and his company, Vivid Video, Inc. [hereinafter "Vivid Video"], and related individuals in matters relating to the enforcement of their respective interests and rights.
It has come to our attention that you have recently published, and are continuing to publish, certain false, misleading and manifestly libelous statements concerning my clients. The statements are being written and posted by you at the l-keford.com website, which we understand is under your sole control and authority.
On Tuesday, June 22, 1999, you made the following false and libelous statements:
Vivid Girls Do the Bunny Ranch
Vivid Owner Stevie Hirsch tells L-ke Ford that all his contract girls, including Janine and Julia Ann, will be available at the Bunny Ranch this summer. "I took a look at the action those Sin City execs were getting, a real piece of the pie, Luke," said Hirsch by phone Tuesday morning, "and I wanted some for myself."
On Wednesday, June 23, 1999, you made the following libelous statements:
Justice Department Cracks Down
FBI agents swarmed across the San Fernando Valley this morning, arresting leading members of the American porn industry for anti-trust violations that include price fixing. At his arraignment this morning, Vivid impresario Steve Hirsch wore a tasteful purple chiffon gown which accentuated all his curves.
...While watching videotape of a chiffon-less Hirsch taking it up the ass from a strap-on wielding Janine, Dutch pornographer Charlie Geerts said the arrests did not interest him nearly as much as the rumor that Marc Davis and Kobe Tai had split up.
On Wednesday, June 23, 1999, you further made the following additional libelous statement:
Meanwhile, KCBS TV reports that the reason Vivid, VCA and AVN mandate the use of condoms in their productions is that all of their contract girls have AIDS.
The foregoing statement is outrageous and completely false. You are damaging the reputation of the Vivid actors and inflicting emotional distress on the actors and their families. The foregoing statements were clearly published with malice and with the apparent intent of harming Steve Hirsch, Vivid Video and its employees and agents, and subject you to legal action for compensatory and punitive damages, an award of attorneys fees and costs, and injunctive relief.
Accordingly, in light of the foregoing, Mr. Hirsch, in his own capacity and on behalf of Vivid Video, hereby demands that you retract and apologize for each and every falsehood referred to hereinabove without delay. Although we do not believe that you are entitled to avail yourself of the protections set forth in California Civil Code Section 48(a), that Code Section provides some guidance regarding the nature of an effective retraction. Pursuant to Section 48(a), the retraction must be made no later than twenty-one (21) days of the date on which the demand therefor is received. In other words, any retraction published by you must appear on your website at the same time of day as the original Posting and that it appear no later than twenty-one (21) days after you have received this letter. Moreover, your retraction must be complete, unequivocal, and published in a manner that is substantially as conspicuous as the original Posting.
Demand is further made that you cease and desist in the publication of the above-referenced defamatory statements concerning our clients -- regardless of whether such publication is made by means of Internet transmission or otherwise. Be fore-warned that your failure to comply with the foregoing demands will result in my clients' immediate exercise of their legal rights and remedies against you. Moreover, in the future, you should take care to engage in more responsible reporting, and not just spew out venomous falsehoods. Please note that the foregoing is not an offer to compromise or settle this matter, and Vivid Video, and its principals, agents, and contractors, hereby reserve all of their rights and remedies relative thereto, including the right to seek recovery for damages notwithstanding your publication of a retraction.
Should you have any questions regarding the foregoing, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned. Very truly yours,
LIPSITZ, GREEN, FAHRINGER, ROLL, SALISBURY & CAMBRIA, LLP
By: Paul J. Cambria, Jr. PJC:mae
cc: Steve Hirsch
Greg Zeboray: "They have a good point Luke! Hell, people believe the shit you write. Just today XXX told me that Wicked signed Kid Vegas. I said XXX, where do you hear this shit? Her reply - I read it on L-ke Ford today. Well, I went and read it, knowing better, and after reading, I said to myself "I can't believe anyone took that as fact.""
Oy writes: "Fahringher?! He used to be a free-speech advocate--so he *knows* that you can depict his client in a frock, a codpiece, a sarong, toe-socks, antimacassars or any other damn cladding you deem appropriate to achieve your satirical objectives. Not to worry, Scoop-- Falwell v. Flynt, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, was decided in your favor, Scoop--and that of anyone else who mercilessly derides a public figure. Meanswhile, pussy-and-perversion profiteer Hirsch would do well to consider Voltaire's apercu: "Satire is a mirror in which men see all faces but their own." And shame on you Herald Price Fahringer--consigliere to the mob: Bill Kunstler is twice the lawyer you are--and he's DEAD."