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Sex Trade on the Rise?
Porn is everywhere in U.S.
Thomas Johansmeyer (tomj)     Print Article 
Published 2007-10-27 07:54 (KST)   
When times are tough, people want satisfaction. The flesh trade stays up when the market goes down, so you might want to take a look. There aren't many porn stocks on the market, but the few that are get plenty of action. DVDs and the web come to mind immediately, but strip clubs are as lucrative as lap dances.

Peter Siris, money manager at Guerilla Capital Management, calls gentlemen's clubs a "no brainer" while sitting at the bar in Rick's Cabaret in Manhattan, New York. "The last time was the first time I was here," he jokes.

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Allan Priaulx, PR/IR director of Rick's agrees, "Where else does the staff pay to come to work every day?"

Institutional money agrees. California Public Employees Retirement System (CALPERS) has 35,100 shares of Rick's Cabaret. Public money doesn't have a problem with skin, and the big banks and mutual funds are fine with it, too. Fidelity, Barclays and Vanguard are among porn film purveyor Private Media's largest shareholders.

It's not just strip clubs and movie producers. Look a little harder, and you'll see that porn is everywhere. Analysts estimate that up to 80 percent of hotel in-room entertainment revenue comes from "dirty movies." At this rate, Marriott may have done up to $114 million in smut money last year, though it's still less than 1 percent of annual revenue. LodgeNet, which supplies these films to hotels like Marriott, may have done close to $200 million in porn money (using the 80 percent rate).

How does this stack up against the real pornographers? Marriott would be #6 in the world, edging out Vivid and Adam & Eve. LodgeNet would be #4, almost twice as big as Vivid and right behind sexual liaison Web site Adult Friend Finder.

Most porn companies are private, offering little insight into their success. Adam & Eve disclosed that it pulled in $109 million last year. Vivid's $100 million is an estimate that many believe is low. Priaulx advises, "Never underestimate Steven Hirsch," Vivid's CEO.

Public or private, hidden or in your face, we all know there's money in this stuff. An investment banker at Merriman Curhan Ford -- who doesn't want to be named for all the obvious reasons -- looked across the crowded Rick's Cabaret floor and said, "Look at this. People are spending lots of money. This is a real business." He paused and smiled as a dancer walked by, "Who wouldn't want a piece of this?"
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Thomas Johansmeyer

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