The Naked Truth "Adult Entertainment" Has Gotten Too Big to Ignore

By Williams, Joe | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 20, 1997 | Go to article overview

The Naked Truth "Adult Entertainment" Has Gotten Too Big to Ignore


Williams, Joe, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Here's a quiz question. Which of these American pastimes generated the most revenue in 1996?

A. Hollywood movies

B. Broadway theater C. Rock music D. Pornography The answer is D. According to a cover story in the Feb. 10 issue of U.S. News & World Report, Americans spent about $8 billion on pornographic videos, explicit magazines, online sex services and adult novelties in 1996. Yet rarely will you find a law-abiding citizen who is willing to admit that he or she has ever dropped a token into this sprawling apparatus. Thus, it can be surmised either that A) pornography appeals to a small handful of deep-pocketed misfits, or B) the real audience for adult entertainment is far larger than generally acknowledged. For both the audience and the manufacturers of adult-themed entertainment, the pressure to go public may be reaching critical mass. As a growing female constituency contributes ideas and revenues to the stream and as the industry itself imposes standards against underage performers and violent imagery, adult entertainment is stepping from the closet and presenting a new face to the outside world. Today, respectable hotel chains earn millions from in-house X-rated movies, local porn-video stores advertise on late-night TV, and characters such as Larry Flynt are honored as heroes of the First Amendment. Is it only a matter of time before the pneumatic luminaries of the adult film industry share the stage with Dick Clark at the People's Choice Awards? Locally, Valentine's Day is one of the busiest times of the year at such adult novelty and video stores as Dr. John's in Bridgeton. Among the holiday offerings that were mentioned in its radio ads were fresh bouquets of flowers. At nearby V.I.P. (Very Intimate Playthings), the storefront windows facing Lindbergh Boulevard were festooned with paper hearts, red balloons and scarlet garters. A clerk at V.I.P. estimated that, year-round, 40 percent of the store's clientele is female. About half the retail floor space at V.I.P. is devoted to lingerie, scented oils and what used to be called "marital aids"; the other half comprises explicit magazines and videos. Newcomers might be surprised to learn that among the wares, it is virtually impossible to find the kinds of violent or fetishistic images that have long been the focus of anti-porn crusaders. …

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