So a recent spate of provocative news stories and titillating TV newsmagazine segments referencing "The Sex Industry" raised an interesting question in my mind: Who are the big boys, the "cocks of the walk," if you will, of sexual commerce?
To find out, come (in the non-coital sense) with me.
A bit of probing (consensual) quickly confirmed my suspicion that Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler are, today, bit players, pathetic dinosaurs who dominate just one slender sliver (Print Pornography) of the multi-billion dollar worldwide erotic pie. Individually and collectively, they have virtually no presence in the emerging, thriving and/or high-margin areas of e-porn, strip clubs, phone sex lines, sex shops, fetish goods, bondage equipment, prostitution, human trafficking, mail-order soiled panties, flavored petroleum jelly, ad nauseum. In other words, Hef, Bob and Larry have become the pencil dicks of exploitation.
The true dominatrix of the industry, I discovered, in both assets and profits, is the company Bed, Bath, Kitchen Counter, Basement Dungeon, Scuzzy Hourly Motel Room, Three-Way in the Lavatory of Delta Flight 810 and Beyond, Inc., based in Las Vegas, Nev. And though most Americans have never heard of this "General Motors of carnality," last year the company generated over $14 billion in revenue, coming in at No.
132 on the Fortune 500.
To learn more about this "invisible" but influential enterprise, I arranged an interview with its President and CEO, Truman "Tru" DeBotch. A graduate of the Harvard Business School, DeBotch is an open, gracious (our conversation was conducted over refreshments he provided) and impeccably groomed skuzzball. When we met, he was preparing for an afternoon flight to Uzbekistan (a self-described "quality freak," he personally inspects all outgoing white slavery shipments), but he never seemed rushed or distracted. A transcript of our conversation follows.
Bob Woodiwiss: How is it that a business as large and successful as yours is practically unknown to the public?
Tru DeBotch: Well, frankly, I'm not sure that's true. We are known to thousands of consenting adult investors, that is, our stockholders. But more broadly, as regards our public profile, we don't really market "the corporation"; we sell brands and products. In other words, people might not know the BBKCBDSHMRTLDF810B name, but they do know 1-900-GOATSEX, seeyomammanekkid.com Chez Caca the only French restaurant catering to coprophiliacs to earn five-stars, by the way and our Triple-X video game/film, Lars Crotch: Tumescent Raider. That's all we care about.
BW: When you say "sell your brands," exactly how do you do that? For instance, Joystix, your line of dildoes, enjoys a 91 percent market share, yet I've never seen a single ad or promotion for them.
TD: Our marketing guys always say, "If we just put our genitalia out there, people'll sniff it out." And mostly, I think that's right. But it's also critical to get inside the head of the carnal consumer. Sometimes that means a major spam campaign, like we did for Floppies, our national chain of topless bars that exclusively features "girls" over age 65. Other times we create a word of mouth, low-level buzz, which was how we launched our cruelty-free faux leather S&M-wear. But as a rule, it's as simple, and as complicated, as providing top-notch products and services to the sexual bottom-feeder.
BW: The Fortune 500's next largest sex-driven business is MacroStiff, at No. 387. But their recent growth rate has outpaced yours. What are they doing that you're not?
TD: Obviously, they have a real hard-on for the gay sex market. And they're doing a good job. I thought their HotGrip masturbation glove with the palm infused with habeñero oil and cayenne pepper was perfect for lonely rough traders and a real stroke -- no pun intended -- of genius. But let me add, our own homosexual division is making terrific strides and I don't expect we'll be surprised from behind anytime soon.
BW: On that subject, any new products or services we might look for coming up?
TD: AC/DC R&D has some exciting stuff in the pipeline, but nothing I'm ready to discuss yet.
BW: Lastly, it seems that no matter what the economic or political climate, the demand for sex and sex-related products and services just keeps growing bigger, stronger, more pervasive. Do you see any end in sight?
TD: In The Sex Industry, there are no limitations, only opportunities. (Aside) By the way, how do you like those Spicy Vagina-Flavored Doritos? ©