Thanks to porn, it might be. Although the adult entertainment industry has always called Los Angeles, and more specifically the San Fernando Valley, home, today more and more porn producers are seeking entrepreneurial refuge in Sin City.
According to some recent reports, more than a dozen adult film companies have set up satellite offices and production studios in Las Vegas. This includes Peter Acworth’s Kink.com, the San Francisco BDSM enterprise that James Franco chose to profile in his latest documentary Kink. The film shows how similar the creation of adult content (even the stuff prudes might consider the “worst of the worst”) is to the manufacturing of mainstream movies. All it seems to take is a hardworking crew and a group of actors that trust their director—simple.
But in L.A., where the porn industry has notoriously thrived thanks to the swarms of Hollywood hopefuls who move here (and their technical skills), the movie-making equation is no longer so simple. California’s porn industry is valued statewide at $6 billion. In L.A. County alone, it’s estimated to create more than 10,000 jobs. But after L.A. County passed Measure B, which requires adult performers to wear condoms during vaginal and anal sex scenes, in 2012, Film L.A. reports a 90% drop in the number of permits issued for L.A. porn productions. (Measure B requires porn productions to apply for a permit through the L.A. County Department of Public Health before filming.)
But even before Measure B, porn producers weren’t always pleased with how regulated movie making in LA really is. Whereas LA requires permits for basically everything, Nevada only has rules for very specific locations and conditions. Most of its stipulations pertain to the strip, so for now, it’s still the Wild West. Directors can shoot on private property without a permit (or paying for a permit fee) and are granted no oversight.
Condoms? Not even a question. This is quite different from the permitting guidelines in Los Angeles, where I had to get a Film L.A. permit for a student film being shot in my garage bedroom (where condoms were always required anyway).
As more and more porn is made in Las Vegas, the city’s filmmaking infrastructure grows. It seems natural to imagine that paired with the lack of on-set regulations, this same infrastructure will lend itself nicely to video productions of all types. Hollywood is already exporting a tremendous number of productions to the Hollywood of the East, Wilmington, North Carolina, where the largest domestic movie and TV production facilities exist outside of California, and a smaller porn community is now flourishing in Florida. Although a newly signed tax credit bill aims to prevent productions from fleeing to other states, it’s doubtful many adult productions will benefit from these new incentives.
Las Vegas seems to be the perfect middle ground—where Hollywood heavyweights and Valley veterans can finally unite as one band of storytellers. Las Vegas is known for its wide-open spaces and wide range of vice.More importantly, it’s just an hour-flight away from L.A.
Las Vegas’ new crop of outlaws wants to make movies, mainstream and porno alike.