Flynt, Print and the Virtual Future of Porn

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Larry Flynt may be known for Hustler magazine, but the print portion of his multi-million dollar empire only covers about 5% of his income. In his interview with PJTV’s Bill Whittle, the infamous porn king observes that his “largest income stream” is pay television. He has subscribers in 67 countries around the world. This is probably why Flynt recently declared print to be a dead medium in the pornography industry. The real question is, will Hustler pick up on porn’s newest up-and-coming trend: virtual reality?

Flynt’s already got television and film covered. He certainly has the funds to invest in Oculus technology. So, why not? Virtual-reality geeks are looking for solid investors and the porn industry seems to be the logical choice:

...VR porn—both for the still-in-development Oculus Rift and Samsung's Gear VR platform—is already for sale on dozens of websites. As the moment of virtual reality's mainstreaming begins, entrepreneurs and industry veterans are experimenting with new ways of producing porn—with 180- or 360-degree views, lifelike 3-D models, and interactive sex toys. The form and the technology is still nascent; the content can be transporting, uncanny, or creepy. And typically it is, as usual, shot from the perspective of a man—or, in the case of the custom 3-D-camera rigs currently in use, from a few inches atop a man's head.

But the porn producers of the future are here, buoyed by the hope that the technology won't simply provide an escape from the current ad-driven business model—and the persistent threat of Internet piracy and amateur webcam porn sites—but that it could prove to be VR's killer app, too. The initial interest in the medium coupled with the capacity for new business models, they say, could kickstart development for the VR industry generally, driving the technology forward, and birthing a new generation of entrepreneurs in the process.

Virtual reality would allow the porn industry to regain its grip on the market for sexual vice. With the proliferation of home-video technologies ranging from camcorders to selfie-sticks, and free sites like PornHub where users can upload their personally created content (go ahead, let that sink in), it would seem that if print is dead, professionally produced videos are following suit. The only way to one-up consumer technology is with cutting edge (read: expensive) professional equipment. Oculus, the virtual-reality headset, provides the porn industry with the chance to re-conquer turf long ago ceded to amateurs.

But, the social implications hold far more weight than the technological ones.