Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category

Possibly considered one of the more controversial industries housed within the borders of the San Fernando Valley, the adult entertainment industry is also the producer of a $14 billion a year market. The industry began within the 1950’s and 60’s with privately made 8mm and 16mm home video cameras that were small, portable, and easy to operate.[1] The versatility of portable home video recorders provided the industry with a very economic means of film production. These portable cameras saved the adult entertainment industry from the blow the motion picture industry took when television appeared in the 1950’s.The very popular “motel” movie aided in the process. This low budget approach to film production consisted of a quickly made film set in a non-disclosed motel room. For many years, adult film making was primarily a privatized, word-of-mouth movement.

The most difficult hurdle facing the early adult film industry was how to advertise for an underground production of material not allowed on the big screen. The answer came in 1969 when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) developed a rating system that included X-Rated as a category. The new rating system enabled the premier of Gerard Damiano’s Deep Throat in the New York World Theater in New York in June 1972. The adult film industry’s emergence into popular culture is often credited to release of that film. However, local and federal regulations soon tightened the screening of X-rated film on the big screen, impacting the industry in California and across the country. After the fall of the X-rated film on the big screen came the advent of the video cassette in 1977.[2] The adult entertainment industry was the first to capitalize on this new technology by beating the major motion picture corporations to release the first film on video cassette.

The San Fernando Valley had very strict rules governing the production of adult films during the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and producers in that area had difficulty surviving. Prior to 1986 the production of adult films, according to the LA county district attorney, was punishable with a prostitution charge, stating that sex for money, even on a film set is prostitution.[3] In order to produce the films, crews in the SFV would often time shoot in safe locations typically in neighborhoods that had been evacuated due to forest fires.[4] In 1986 Harold Freeman, adult film producer and director, stood up to the grand jury on charges of pandering in Encino, Ca. The charges were for the production of adult films in the state of California. Only after endless appeals filed by Freeman did the court rule in his favor, dismissing the case and ordering Freeman to only pay all fines and fees. The Supreme Court determined that “the county’s actions had been spurred by anti-porn crusading, not by any legitimate violation of prostitution laws.”[5] As a result of that case, porn was now legal to produce and distribute within California and over night the business began to grow exponentially.

Today the SFV is home to the country’s major producers and distributors of adult entertainment. Among nearly thirty-five major companies, several of the largest are Wicked Pictures, Adult Video News (AVN), Vivid, Leisure Time Entertainment, and VCA Pictures (hustler). AVN, the organization that hosts the adult movie awards annually in Las Vegas, made San Fernando Valley its home in 1984. The company publishes a monthly trade journal that discusses news within the adult entertainment industry. VCA Pictures, Hustler’s film production company, is recorded as being the countries largest distributor of adult films. Through harnessing new technology, the adult entertainment industry continues its booming business. With an estimated $14 billion annually, the industry clearly has a found its home within the SFV to be profitable and significant.


Bashir, Martin. Porn in Hi-Definition: Too Much Detail? Piracy, new technologies, high-definition cameras threaten change; Feb 23 2007, Nightline. http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Story?id=2854981&page=1

Glass, Loren. Second wave: Feminism and porn’s golden age; October 2002, Radical Society. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4053/is_200210/ai_n9085969/pg_1?tag=artBody;col1

Robert C Sickels. 1970s disco daze: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights and the last golden age of irresponsibility. Journal of Popular Culture. Bowling Green: Spring 2002. Vol. 35, Iss. 4; p. 49

“Pornography Statistics 2007,” http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html accessed November 12, 2008

Arcand, Bernard. The Jaguar and the Anteater: pornography and the modern world. Toronto, McLelland and Stewart. 1993

Images courtesy of Larry Sultan The Valley scalo Publishers (August 2004) and Vivid logo, Blu-ray logo, Ryan Klinger


Read Full Post »

The San Fernando Mission

The Mission San Fernando Rey de España exists today as one of the oldest buildings in the San Fernando Valley. The Mission was established in 1797 by Father Fermín Lasuén. Like many built before it the mission was one of three primary architectural components used to establish permanent ground in order to successfully begin colonizing the surrounding area. The presidio, pueblo, and mission made up that infrastructure. Having only the mission in San Fernando Valley, it was primarily used to become self sufficient; cultivation and farming was its main goal in order for it to thrive.

Construction of these massive earthen buildings was relatively simple and efficient. Using sun baked blocks to construct its adobe façade, the interior space inside stays at a relatively cool temperate feel. The adobe blocks absorbed much of the outside heat. Adobe was the most suitable building material for areas where there is minimal rainfall and excessive hot heat weather. The Mission San Fernando Rey de España was considered to be one of the very first permanent built structures in the San Fernando Valley. Housing shelters like these and many more to come were built with materials and construction methods typically known as ‘Vernacular Architecture’, that is – virtually all materials used to make this building are literally taken locally or even derived from the very earth and soil that it sits on. The idea of vernacular architecture is especially important today as we pay particularly close attention to things such as low impact products on the environment and low carbon output when dealing with today’s architecture. Through its early and innovative use of local materials, this building became the ultimate in green and sustainable architecture before its time.


Read Full Post »

The Changing Face of the San Fernando Valley

Kotkin and Ozuna give a compelling insight on the current socio-economic condition of the San Fernando Valley using empirical data via surveys and statistics taken in this geographic area. From its beginnings during the Rancho Period, the early Spanish settlers established presidios, pueblos, and missions; infrastructure to house the Spanish migrant population. These major architectural components that made up much of the Spanish’s living inhabitance required a laboring workforce that was mostly made up of Native Americans. Many attempts to colonize and convert Native Americans failed, resentment and hostility caused many fights to break out. Civil unrest began to diminish the Native American Indian population. Most Indians were killed off due to the spreading of diseases that they were unable to fight off. As time went on, the need for cheap labor was a still a necessity; unable to keep up with the demand of this workforce, the Mexican worker became the Native American’s substitute.

Kotkin and Ozuna explain the dynamics of the San Fernando Valley in the 1920’s. Mostly white middle-class, the valley was laid out on a grid and was systematically designated as a home-owners’ landscape, huge plots of land were subdivided into a highly repetitive cookie cutter format, consisting of a front yard, garage, home, and backyard. Affordability was only deemed to mostly White Americans due to special government incentives or just relative household income that gave them the ease to finance and pay for these new pieces of land. Legal zoning regulations of the time also deterred minorities from being able to own homes in specifically designated areas – a legal practice known as ‘Red Lining’.

The 1950’s was a time when the San Fernando Valley underwent a transformative cultural shift. At a time when 90% of the San Fernando Valley’s population was typically White Americans, the Post War Era saw an incredible transformation to a more diverse cultural population. Mexican workers made up most of the manual labor being done in the San Fernando Valley, lack of oversight and the ease of attaining cheap labor allowed American homeowners the luxury of hiring extra hands to do household manual work such as mowing lawns, servicing pools, and even small scale construction. With mobility and accessibility available to the valley; many immigrant workers were able to find employment. Another factor attributing to the shift was the steep increases in living expenses in the more affluent areas of the inner city; gentrification is a socio-economic factor that causes low-income families to sprawl away from urban city centers due to trends and changes in the housing market.

Images Courtesy of LIFE Publications

Read Full Post »

The San Fernando Valley, once home to indigenous people, became an ever changing fabric since the colonization by Spain. With the establishment of the mission, Mission San Fernando Rey, the Valley was turned into a high production site for crops and livestock. Food and animal hides produced by the natives were traded with El Pueblo and the north. The Valley’s fertile land made it an agricultural acropolis, making it the main source of income for the area until the early 20th century. The agricultural industry soon grew into a production industry with the introduction of canneries and wheat processing plants. Food production companies such as olive oil canneries, fruit and other food packaging plants as well as wineries, created hundreds of jobs to locals.

Agricultural Fabric

Simultaneously, developers found an interest in the San Fernando Valley, acquiring large plots of land subdividing and developing them further. Wealthy families purchased newly subdivided land investing in the agricultural industry. With the introduction of the railroad soon after, southern California became more accessible to the north and east. The fertile lands and abundant land started to attract easterners in hopes to capitalize on the booming agricultural and production industries. This large movement westward led to the further subdivision of the valley.

By the 1900s the valley had changed completely. Sprawl was already apparent, and the agricultural industry was falling more and more by the way side. Single family homes grew more attractive to locals bringing about a great need for fast construction of homes. Soon following, WWII began calling on a large need for the production of airplanes and artillery. The Valley saw an increase of industrial production with the new aerospace industry, starting the transition of the Valley as an agricultural producer to a large scale industrial site.

Lockheed Assembly lineStandardized Construction

In the post WWII years, immigration to the Valley grew, increasing the population in Los Angeles from 4 million to 8 million. Defense contractors, no longer needing to produce airplanes, began to mass produce standardized housing for the growing population. With the move into the suburbs, automobiles became more preferred. The working-class began to buy cars as they became more affordable and convenient. Consequently, a large shift occurred from public transit to the private car. Due to high demand of the car and large amounts of affordable land, GM found it more affordable to move to the west. GM opened a large manufacturing company in Van Nuys in 1945. General Motors and the aerospace industries together, completed the turnover of the valley as an agricultural acropolis to a large-scale industrial manufacturing plant.

GM factory in Van Nuys

Read Full Post »