PVV – dr. chauntelle, queen of the desert!! (or The Phoenix Forum, 2011)

I love the desert.

I love the sun, I love the heat, and I love the dry. So when this year’s Phoenix Forum came around… well, of course I was going!!

But first, a little bit of background. You see, I spent a lot of time in the desert growing up, so when I heard that… – oh wait, you wanna know about what it was that I was going to!! Haha whoops!!

The Phoenix Forum (TFP) is kind of like Porn Business Tech-cum-Girls/Boys Gone Wild. It’s an annual three-day-long adult industry business conference featuring educational panels and talks, interesting product demos, and extensive networking opportunities; and this year it was held in… Tempe!! (or the Phoenix, AZ metro area)

But no one can be all business all the time, so TFP also packs in a fair amount of fun – a golf tournament; late night poker; beer, booze, and boys at The Surf Shack; mini-massages and body painting; a poolside BBQ; topless dodgeball… you get the idea.

This year’s Forum happened last week/end, and you know you want to know what it was all about – read on!!

Thursday

Air Dr. Chauntelle arrived to Phoenix mid-day and descended on the event hotel later that afternoon. Although I had missed the day’s cycle of panels, I was just in time for the Welcome Reception – score!!

I caught up with my pal JM and relaxed as event organizers presented sponsors with an engraved bottle of something fancy lookin’…  but I couldn’t get too comfortable as I was “racing” in the YNOT F1 that night (yup, I operated a high-speed go-kart – talk about business networking plus fun!!).

(pictured: serious talks before go-kart domination!!)

Friday

Friday morning began with two promising panels – “Attrition or Evolution: Financial Stabilities and the Effect on Monetization,” which was about billing and related issues, and a legal symposium.

The law and the implicit power therein fascinate me endlessly, so I always opt to attend the legal panels at these things. But, in the spirit of trying something new, I decided to change things up at TFP and check out “Attrition or Evolution.”

…aaand I learned one major thing in about 15 minutes – I don’t sufficiently understand billing and/or the issues specific to billing in adult. The conversation was pretty much over my head (not an easy thing for me to admit!!), so I ditched out to the legal panel and felt safe and smart and informed for the next little while.

This was a better strategy for a couple of reasons. Namely, rather than struggling to follow the billing conversation, I got to hear much about an age-old industry issue.

According to the panelists, obscenity and obscenity prosecution have all but been put to bed; however, anti-adult industry individuals and groups have not. Thus, even though obscenity is essentially too difficult to identify this day and age, “Anti-XXX Group A” is still searching for ways to put a damper on adult production… but how, how, how?

Well, this would be where the age-old issue of 2257 compliance comes in.

According to US Code Title 18, 2257, anyone who produces sexually explicit visual media depictions after November 1, 1990 must “create and maintain individually identifiable records pertaining to every performer portrayed.” Records keeping standards are very specific and involved; and, legally speaking, poorly kept records could be very “dampering” (regardless of obscenity) indeed. (more on 2257 here)

Panelists urged anyone who would listen to make sure their 2257 records were up to date and completed correctly. Costly fines levied on a per 2257 records violation basis would certainly be a way to get at content producers.

Ick, ack!!

(pictured: I took a break between panels to visit my friend JM… yeah, it’s a body painting booth – whatevs!!)

The next pairing of panels was a toss up between  “Real Vs Hype, 2011” and “Listening to the Consumer.” I opted for the former, and it was cuuute!! (yes, a “State of the Industry”-type panel was cute)

Panelists were presented with a series of ideas/issues/developments. After each new idea, panelists held up “Real” or “Hype” cards as they saw fit and some discussion ensued. I learned A LOT!!

Ideas/issues/developments at hand included…

Mobile – completely real: mobile devices are generally private and the internet access therein cannot be filtered or blocked in the same way traditional internet access can. One issue, as per usual, centered on carrier service; however panelists were optimistic – as consumer confidence increases (via quality adult products and services), demand for mobile will also increase. Carriers will then be more inclined to provide what their customers demand.

Tablets – completely real: panelists agreed that as tablet technology refines further and price points drop accordingly, many consumers will rely on them more heavily. Although panelists maintained that tablets will not likely replace traditional desk/laptops, this technology is certainly “real” in terms of warranting industry attention.

Consumer loyalty… is it gone? – yes and no: according to the panelists, consumers are generally quite fickle; however, some more niche/specific areas have great consumer retention. Consequently, it sounded to me like developing specific products to meet consumer wants and needs was a good way to develop loyalty. In other words, a space offering A, B, and C would not be as likely to retain consumers as would a well-developed space that focuses on A only. Loyalty to this further defined space would compensate for the (presumably) smaller customer base.

Micropayments – it’s complicated: I best understand this like itunes, or accessing adult in small bits via one-click purchasing. There’re a host of related issues, such as payment processing and finding a balance between micropayment consumers and monthly subscribers, that complicate this issue; however, panelists seemed to agree that micropayments are worth exploring in 2011.

Clouds – hype for now, but they’re coming: to my understanding, cloud technology is first and foremost about remote storage. This is very real. Additional benefits, namely privacy, are emerging. Panelists seemed to agree that consumers are not yet aware of clouds and their potential benefits; however, since Amazon just launched some cloud-based something or other, that’s all gonna change…

Tubes – oh so real: according to panelists, consumers like the click-and-play-ness of tubes; and they’re here to stay. The predominant issue at hand then centers on combating illegal tube sites and finding useful ways to incorporate legal tube-based content.

Panelists agreed that adult in games/gaming, apps for smart phones and the like, and virtual worlds/second life spaces were hype for 2011… but there’s always 2012.

Dang!! Then, after aaall that, I had some fantastic meetings, some cabana by the pool time, dinner, whatnot, and sleeeeep.

Saturday

Saturday was all about one thing – the “.XXX – Now What?” panel.

Now, as we all know, .XXX passed recently (plenty of info here and here as well) and tensions are pretty high. And even though I was having some fun giggling and whatnot from the safety of my spinny chair, I was pretty apprehensive about this panel. It promised to be in-tense!!

(pictured: giggling and a spinny chair with the far more photogenic JA; picture from Nalem.com and Buster Brown)

Wasteland’s Colin Rowntree moderated eight panelists with unprecedented snark and sass and professionalism. Just getting to listen to him drop bombs was worth the price of admission, however…

There were eight total panelists at “.XXX – Now What?” They included: CC Bill’s Ron Cadwell, Pink Visual’s Allison Vivas, GEC Media’s Greg Dumas, Mikandi’s Chris Lewicki, Wildline’s Chris Miller, ICM Registry’s Vaughn Liley, AVN journalist Tom Hymes, and attorney Jeffrey Douglas.

And the room? It was packed with a crowd that vacillated between incredulous and moderately disgusted to downright pissed. It would have been amazing if hadn’t been so absolutely frustrating.

Here were some of the issues addressed (as I understood them – please add any comments/clarifications/questions below, bebes!!):

IFFOR: The nine-member rule-making body for .XXX is moving forward. As of now, IFFOR has no policies in place regarding .XXX domain name access other than 1. one must self-identify as an adult website and 2. one must not promote minor sexual abuse (nomenclature issue discussed here). Audience members expressed many concerns about IFFOR.

Cost: why the heck do these domain names cost $60 – $70 annually at minimum? No clear answer was given.

(pictured: the “.XXX – Now What?” panel)

The Sunrise System: two early stages of .XXX allocation wherein entities may protect themselves and their brands are outlined as follows

  • Sunrise A: if you have a trademarked presence, you are first in line to purchase the corresponding .xxx
  • Sunrise B: if you have a trademarked presence, you have the option to block your .xxx forever… even from yourself… for a fee

Filtering: some nation-states have already made their intent to block all URLs ending in .XXX known. Some businesses, like Southwest airlines I would guess given that I couldn’t even look at the TPF website during my flight to Arizona, will certainly do the same.

Self-identification: it’s impossible to define pornography (just like it’s fairly impossible to define what’s obscene) – what constitutes porn to Person A may not to Person B. But with .xxx URL, you are automatically self-identifying your content/business/etc as adult-oriented and “pornographic.”

This interesting point, that raised and discussed at length by Jeffrey Douglas, gets at a question I had brewing: what will .XXX do to the wider world’s perception of the industry? In other words, is this sTDL going to augment and intensify the general public’s already skewed perception of the business? I know there’re plenty of more significant questions having to do with the simple logistics of doing business and negotiating .XXX; but as a sociologist, this sTDL’s potential impact on the industry’s place in wider society is very interesting to me. But only time will tell.

Now, this panel was supposed to last for ninety minutes… but it had only sort of ended after two hours. There is no way I could possibly address every single thing that was covered during that time, but you can watch and hear everything for yourself (below).

And just like that, it was Saturday afternoon – time to return home with one more badge for the box!!

In sum, I loved TPF!! I learned a lot, saw lots of friends, and had tons of fun. The venue was perfect, there was a great balance of business and relaxation, gay companies were incorporated seamlessly into the whole event (meaning there was no separate “Gay Phoenix Forum” or comparable such nonsense, which was unique), AND there were water and snacks available at all times.

It was classy awesome in the desert – just perfect for me!!

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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”

 

(pictured: note-taking girl on Friday; picture from Nalem.com and Buster Brown)