Prague vs. California: The Battle to Be Capital of Porn

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Want to know who wins the battle to be Capital of Porn, California or Prague?

Hollywood might be the market leader in feature film production but Los Angeles, California has also become synonymous with porno film studios. Though recent legislative developments have forced many studios to uproot and move to other parts of the State, California is one of only a few places in the U.S. where porn is legally allowed to be produced. By contrast, Prague is the largest hub of porn production in Europe and is fast becoming the only viable alternative for many international studios to continue production.

In this feature, we take a look at how both California and the Czech Republic came to be such prominent players in the adult film industry and just why Prague is chomping at the bit to topple California as the world capital of porn.



Adult Industry in California

Porn is only explicitly legal to produce in both California and New Hampshire with all other states recognizing the production of adult movies as constituting prostitution. As prostitution is against the law in the U.S. (with the exception of licensed brothels in Nevada), it stands to reason that California remains the hub of the adult film industry.

san fernando valley porn capital of the world

San Fernando Valley; Porn Capital of the USA. Image via Wikimedia.

The history behind this legal position dates back to the 1980s when attempts were made by the authorities to ban porno film production. In a landmark case, People v. Freeman. Harold Freeman (producer and director of adult movies) and was initially charged with pandering (hiring ‘persons for the purpose of prostitution’) or pimping.

After a lengthy legal battle Freeman was acquitted by the California Supreme Court and an important distinction was made between someone who is merely playing a role for money and someone who takes part in sexual relations for money. The State did not appeal the decision and it remains a binding enforcement that is still in place today.

As a result of this legal position, California is the hub of the United States’ adult film industry and you can find the majority of the main porno studios located here.

But why did L.A. become the home for porn in the first place?

San Fernando Valley (also known as Porn Valley or San Pornando Valley) specifically became the centre of L.A.’s adult film industry in the 1970s with its low rents and proximity to Hollywood’s mainstream movie business. This combination allowed producers an easy way to secure the talents of both film crew and actors who wanted to earn a little extra cash by making porn.

california porn industry capital of porn

On the set of Lucas Entertainment’s Men of Israel. Image via Wikipedia.

This symbiotic relationship continued well into the 1990s when mainstream TV and film roles were becoming scarcer and the advent of the internet increasing demand in adult movies. As reported by the LA Times, feature film making plummeted by 13% in 1999, whilst porn film productions shot up by 25%.

Although Los Angeles has historically been the main center for this industry, legal changes in 2012 has forced production to move outside of La La Land.

Measure B, also known as County of Los Angeles Safer Sex In the Adult Film Industry Act was enshrined in law at the end of 2012 and requires all male performers to wear a condom for both vaginal and anal intercourse. The law also requires filmmakers to submit permit requests for productions. A similar measure intended to cover the entire State of California (known as Proposition 60) was defeated in the polls and, outside of L.A., porn stars do not have to wear protection when filming in California.

california porn industry measure b

Porn performers protect the Wear Condoms Act. Image via Flickr.

Though some studios still operate from Los Angeles (complying with these regulations) many have moved to other counties within the State including Chatsworth, Santa Monica and San Diego.

Major studios in California include:

  • Digital Playground
  • Wicked Pictures
  • Kink
  • Evil Angel
  • JM Productions
  • Smash Picturfes
  • Hustler
  • Playboy
  • Devil’s Film
  • Mantra Films
  • Pink Visual
  • Vivid Entertainment
  • Elegant Angel

Annual revenue generated by these firms is difficult to calculate but broad estimates place the figure at between $6 billion and $15 billion per year.

Adult Industry in Czech Republic

Since the legal challenges faced by the U.S. porn industry in 2012, many adult film studios have looked to Europe for a viable alternative home for their studios. The growing trend towards Conservatism in other European countries (and elsewhere) has also driven other porn production companies to search for a permanent home for their operations.

Since the fall of Communism in the Czech Republic at the end of the 1980s, the country has enjoyed a booming economy which, coupled with a liberal landscape, has made for fertile grounds for adult film production.

Of course, the Czech Republic also offers significant economic benefits for many European and U.S. studios with production costs being significantly cheaper as well as offering access to a diverse market of on-screen talent. Free movement in Europe means that producers can easily cast performers of many different nationalities. Compare to this to the situation in the U.S. where actors must hold the relevant work permits before being allowed on set.

The Czechs are known for their entrepreneurial skills and have a reputation for their business acumen and their creative energy. Some might even say that there is the added appeal that Czechs are a good looking bunch. Added to this is the apparent willingness of many Czech girls to appear in porno films plus the fact that the country produces far more than its fair share of talented porno performers.

The Czech Republic also has great internet speeds, is well located within Central Europe and is close to that other major European porn player…Hungary.

The country has rapidly grown as the European capital of porn and is fast becoming on track to taking over from California as the world’s most prominent player in the adult film industry.

As well as being home to top studios such as Legal Porn and Czech AV, the capital, Prague, is now also home to the European headquarters of other linchpins of the porn industry such as Pornhub, Beeg and XVideos.

Other porn studios based in Prague include:

  • Prague Porn Productions
  • Bohem Productions.
  • Legal Porno
  • CzechAV
  • YourPorn Productions

There are fifteen studios in the city of Prague alone that create all-male content which certainly makes the city the capital of gay porn in Europe.

The reputation of the country as being a leader in the adult industry is further cemented by the fact that the European Porn Summit is also held in Prague.

It is difficult to know just how much the porn industry is generating in Czech Republic although it is estimated (as of March 2018) that the income is worth more than 1% of the country’s GDP or around $2.2 billion.

Capital of Porn: California vs Czech Republic

It is difficult to make a definitive call on who should hold the crown of ‘Capital of Porn’.

Based purely on income, the U.S. is still making plenty more cash than its European counterpart when it comes to money generated from the industry. However, the fact that it is significantly cheaper to produce and distribute films in the Czech Republic than in the U.S. could disguise a greater output. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast statistics about the number of films being produced in either California or Czech Republic.

Growing opposition in the U.S. against the porn industry has seen many changes already in effect such as Measure B in Los Angeles and continued support for Proposition 60 to be made law. By contrast, the Czech Republic has extremely liberal legislation for porn production making it far easier to produce much more varied content.

prague czech porn capital of the world

Could Prague be the new capital of the porn industry? Image via Wikimedia.

The economics of production costs can also not be ignored and the Czech Republic certainly offers the benefits of cheaper studios, cast and crew as well as to low cost distribution networks in Europe.

So, who wins? For the time being, there is nothing to split between these two locations….perhaps they should share the title. After all, they are in different time zones…..when the sun sets over Europe, the U.S. can lift the crown and vice versa.

What we can say is that there is evidence that the Californian adult film industry’s star may have already had its brightest day but still ascending for the Czechs. Ask us again in a few years’ time and we’d put money on Prague walking away with the belt.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

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