philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


The First Real Boom in Virtual Reality? It’s Pornography.

im-17203Naughty America, one of the world’s most prolific producers of VR content, is at the forefront of a lucrative niche driving adoption of the technology

Jill the babysitter is walking across the kitchen when she notices someone sitting at the counter. “Oh my god!” she says, clutching the towel wrapped around her body. “Mr. Johnson! I hope you don’t mind I used the shower.”

In the 18 months after producing its first VR video, the San Diego-based studio released 108 more, making it one of the most prolific producers of VR content in the world. In 2017, the company operated a booth at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and became the first adult business allowed to exhibit in 19 years.

In December 2016 alone, Naughty America’s customers downloaded more than 20 million VR videos, the company said.

Subscriptions to Naughty America’s website grew 55% in 2016, its first full year of offering VR; customers paid $25 a month to access unlimited videos (including more than 7,500 traditional two‑dimensional movies), or $74 for a year. And in the 18 months since releasing its first VR video, Naughty America’s revenue increased more than 40%; for all of 2016, VR-driven revenue was up 433%, the company said.

Naughty America isn’t the only producer in the industry. Adult-entertainment giant Pornhub contracted with Rochester, N.Y.-based virtual-reality porn production company BaDoinkVR to produce videos for its websites. Smaller players include dedicated VR startups like, as well as an increasing number of solo performers who offer one-on-one live VR videoconferencing to clients.

One of the most enterprising small businesses in the space is run by Ela Darling, an entrepreneur who produced and starred in original virtual-reality porn for her company

“I think there’s concern about minors accessing the content, but we’ve had pay-for-view on cable systems for years, so it’s not like that problem can’t be solved technologically. There’s a way you can do verification to avoid that. So I think a lot of it is political.”

This article is adapted from David M. Ewalt’s book “Defying Reality: The Inside Story of the Virtual Reality Revolution,” to be published July 17 by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

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