Digital Playground porn videos

Digital Playground: A Company Founded on Shaky Ground Still Thriving Two Decades Later

Note: This blog was first published in 2015.

By: Gram Ponante


Digital Playground is one of Porn Valley’s storied companies, establishing itself in the 1990s and 2000s as a driver of new technology, a marketing giant, and a content powerhouse. It launched the careers of Tera Patrick, Stoya, and Jesse Jane, and its legal battles over the names of contract stars, its zeal to get its movies into more places, and its genius in marketing its story to mainstream audiences left competitors in the dust but also raised the bar for production value and inspired imitators.

The company has not only survived an earthquake but also a major personnel change.

It all started in 1993 with a Persian named Joone.

[Part of the following is taken from my 2011 Hustler interview with Digital Playground founders and executives Joone and Samantha Lewis. A year later, Digital Playground?’ assets were sold to the conglomerate that would become Mindgeek, one of Porn Valley’s biggest property holders.]

Joone, born in Iran and a student and admirer of the films of Jean Luc Godard and Federico Fellini (as well as their more populist protege Steven Spielberg), was an aspiring filmmaker and long-time early adopter of technology not much interested in porn.

“My original aim was to make a bunch of money with these adult CD-ROMs to start my mainstream company,” he says. “It started out as paying rent, but through the years I changed it to what I want to do. You know, one of my happiest days was when I stopped shooting on film. I loved the freedom of going digital.”

And one of his luckiest was when the 1994 Northridge earthquake spared his computer full of porn.

“I was working out of my house that day (January 17) and we’d just started moving in to our first office,” he says. “The entire place was destroyed, except for the Quadra, which had been on this sawhorse table in the middle of the room.”

“I was in Real Estate for 11 years,” Samantha Lewis says. “And I really had a misconception — as most people do — about what adult is. But since mainstream sales experience is what I came in with, that’s what I applied to selling porn.”

At first it wasn’t easy. Hired in 1994, Lewis called the porn world at that time, both in its businesses and fans, a “boys’ club.”

“I guess I was naive at the time,” she says. “I thought, since these movies featured women, that since the women are on the boxcovers, that there’d be more women buying it or running things. But throughout the 90s, I’d say 90 percent of the people I met on business calls and at the conventions were men.”

And while Lewis quickly established herself as an able negotiator in a business that was generationally entrenched east of the Mississippi (“I dealt with the Cleveland boys, the Philadelphia boys, the New York boys,” she says, “and they eventually figured out that I talked business, too?), her newcomer status allowed her to take shots at new markets.

“We got our movies into Tower Records and Virgin Megastore,” says Lewis, “and I begged them to publicize it. We’d be at big box trade shows and we’d be at the booth over from Mattel. Even back then (in the 90s) we tried to create a marketing strategy that took into account mainstream penetration.”

Long before 2005’s Pirates? became by all accounts the best-selling porn feature since Deep Throat? (and sparked, though Joone is loathe to admit it, today’s porn parody craze), Digital Playground was angling to make porn just a little safer for mainstream audiences.

And this has involved making porn for porn lovers as well as porn for people who’d never seen it before, which is why it was such a coup to secure a spot at Blockbuster Video for an R-rated version of ?Pirates,? a movie that owed its ultimate origin to a Disneyland ride.

Manwin, which evolved into Mindgeek and owns several tube companies as well as the digital properties of Wicked, Reality Kings, Brazzers, and Digital Playground, among others, acquired Digital Playground in 2012 with a general cleaning of house and slow liquidation of contract stars.

Digital Playground’s back catalog of movies by Joone, Robby D., and Celeste continue to rank among the industry’s bestsellers, but its post-2012 projects like the newly released Teachers 2┬áis a promising sign that a company that was founded on literally shaky ground continues to stay true to fun filmmaking aimed squarely at mainstream porn audiences.

Popular Movies From Digital Playground

Teachers 2Teachers 2

 

Babysitters #2Babysitters #2

 

#Teens#Teens

 

PiratesPirates

 


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