Back Stories – Wicked Pictures’ Aviva Howard

We all know about the organic production of media – someone writes some stream-of-consciousness prose while cracked out in Vegas or backpacking through Europe, and it changes peoples’ lives.  Or maybe someone writes a script when they’re twenty, takes some raw footage in their grandma’s basement, and wins an Oscar.  That’s how it works, right?  Right…

But that’s how it works in adult isn’t it? – some guy films a couple random folks getting it on, burns a few DVDs or uploads a couple clips to his website, and voilá – porn!  Right?  Right…

In professional adult film production, filming the sex is only one aspect of a ginormous (that would be gigantic and enormous, as it were) overall project.  There are literally hundreds of hours worth of pre- and post-production labor that go into every scene… all so consumers can seamlessly insert their imaginations into the action.

Aviva Howard is integral to the post-production processing that must occur for every film that comes out of one of the adult film industry’s most prolific production houses, Wicked Pictures.  Somewhere between the fifty different directions she is constantly heading, she was able to take a moment out to answer some questions for Porn Valley Vantage.  Read on!

So you work for Wicked Pictures… how long have you been there, and what’s your job title?

 “I’ve worked for Wicked for ten years now, and my job ‘title’ is Post Production/Administrative Assistant.  It consists of many many things, and I can honestly say that it’s the most interesting and entertaining job I have ever had. 

‘Many many things’ sounds pretty broad… What exactly do you do?

Well, I’m responsible for handling all the original master materials.  This includes receiving and distributing materials to their proper divisions, making duplicate master tapes and DVD screeners, and converting QuickTime files into Mpeg 2 files for outside customers.

I also enter cast information, DVD sleeve images, and trailers into our internal data base. At times, breaking down DVD sleeve images can be really challenging. We get these little 2×5 inch pictures of just genitals, and I have to identify the talent from them.  You might think it would take a real perv to know who was who and from what movie with just this info… Well then hi, I guess I’m your perv!  I can pretty much tell who any of the talent are from the size and shape of their vagina or penis. But it does get a little exhausting, so sometimes we like to play a trivia game in the office called ‘Name That Vagina.’

I also watch all of Wicked’s features and enter the sex scene breakdowns into the same data base. Sounds easy? Guess again! Imagine watching a bang out session between two or more hot people … while checking items off a list: does she have blonde hair, brunette hair? Big boobs, little boobs. Is she shaved? What nationality is she? Are they in a bedroom, a car? What positions do they do? Is his penis in her ass? Where was his pop shot? And sometimes the scene ends and you have to go all the way back through it because you forgot to see if the bitch was wearing shoes. LOL!  Honestly, I used to enjoy watching porn until it became part of my job.

Oh, and I also keep up our internal production schedule, keep track of any special projects my boss may need at a certain time, and cover our receptionist’s lunches three days out of the week. 

That’s all, huh?  Just kidding – that’s a lot of hectic sounding stuff… what got you into such a crazy sounding job/industry in the first place?

My boyfriend (now husband) called me before going on a job interview one day and asked how I would feel about him working for a porn company. I said ‘don’t you come home without getting that job.’ So he met with Joy King, who then was our VP of Public Relations (now she’s our VP of Special Projects), and became her personal assistant.

After three months of working at Wicked he mentioned that their receptionist had quit her job and if I was interested in it I should send my resume over. I met with Steve Karmelin (or Steve K, as we call him), the General Manager.  Although I felt that he liked me and wanted to hire me, he said he was a little hesitant about a boyfriend and girlfriend working in the same company together. So needless to say he hired another girl. Lucky for me though, the receptionist went to lunch on her first day and never came back. Steve K called me up, and ten years later here I am. I was the receptionist for two years and then I moved up to my current job.

Has working in the industry affected your personal life?

Working in the industry has affected my personal life in a positive way. I’ve always been very open-minded, but I also lived in a sheltered bubble of shyness.  Over the past ten years though, I have become more outspoken and I feel more confident in my personal life.  And I definitely do get the full attention of people when they ask me where I work. They pretty much think it’s a joke and say ‘oh right… you get paid for watching porn.’  I try to explain to them that it can be very stressful at times, but they just laugh and say ‘yeah sure…can you get me some porn?’

Oh if they had any idea… So, where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself still working for Wicked Pictures. You know the saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.’ Well, I fully believe that I am already on that greener side.  Wicked is a great place to spend your days.  Work will always be work, but it’s the people around you who make it worth going everyday.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Well… just that I don’t look at the adult industry the way I used to anymore. I feel the actors get judged too quickly by the mainstream ‘regular’ world.  I know a lot of talent, and they are just as normal as you and I.  It actually takes a lot of guts to do what they do for our adult enjoyment.

And for those of you who think the office employees just sit around watching porn all day, you are terribly wrong.  There is a lot more work going on besides some guy filming two (or more!) people having sex, and it can be very stressful. I can’t speak for the directors, actors, or even the film crew, but once they’re done creating their part of a movie, the massive work flow that comes our way is high intensity… and just for you, ‘the consumer,’ to enjoy via DVD or online streaming for a mere $29.95 in the privacy of your own home. 

So, the next time you are enjoying some of our work, I guess I would like to ask that you take a moment (but maybe not while you’re in the middle of something!) to remember the office people that helped along the way.”

Aviva’s experiences reveal a dimension of porn production not commonly discussed – stress!!  It’s not all sex and decadence and luxuriating between takes in adult.  In fact, just like any other high intensity job, there are deadlines, pressure, and high stakes.  There’s also workplace protocol and processing, bosses, and lunch hours. 

Aviva is right to highlight the guts talent must possess to work in an occupation wherein they are so quickly judged by the “regular” world, but she herself is rather brave and resilient.  Imagine if people regularly misunderstood and scoffed at the intensity of your job?  Imagine if they were engaging in your high intensity labor (read: jerking off) while doing so?

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Porn Valley Vantage’s feature Back Stories explores the lives of people who work in the adult film industry, as well as those amorphous dimensions of the business that seem to have taken on a life of their own. Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated – email me!