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April 24, 2017

L.A. Times Profiles Penthouse CEO Kelly Holland

LOS ANGELES—Pretty much everyone in the adult industry knows what a powerhouse Penthouse Global Media CEO Kelly Holland is—and now the rest of Los Angeles and environs will know as well, thanks to a business piece by Los Angeles Times reporter David Ng, which was published on Sunday. The article traces Holland's history, from her days as a Catholic schoolgirl in Dallas raised by a single mom—"I had no role models growing up, so I had to make up my position in life"—through her early career as an audio engineer for a local TV station owned by televangelist Pat Robertson, through her work in theater before her move to L.A. in 1976 to become a documentary filmmaker, where she spent quite a bit of time covering the civil unrest in countries like El Salvador and Guatamala in the 1980s. However, the article differs slightly from previous accounts of Holland's early contacts with Vivid Video, where she directed dozens of movies between 1994 and 2001 as "Toni English." Ng reports that Holland had a "chance encounter with a pornographic film crew at a shared production facility," whereas others have reported that while still working as a documentarian, Holland took video editing jobs from Vivid in order to make ends meet, and it was her expertise in creating the final products, plus her attention to detail—she would frequently point out continuity errors to the company—that secured her a directing job there. But the main focus of the piece is how Holland got involved with the Penthouse brand, directing a number of features for the company beginning in 2006, and quickly having been appointed to oversee the company's broadcast, publishing and licensing groups until finally, with the brand losing millions under owner Adult FriendFinder, Holland arranged for a Chicago investment firm to help finance her purchase of the company. Since taking control early last year, Ng reports that Holland has revitalized Penthouse magazine, refusing to "feature any content she considers to be misogynistic," and gone full-bore into publishing progressive political analyses—accompanied, of course, by the "beautiful nude women" that have always been Penthouse's forté. But while the magazine retains most of its loyal readership even in an era when magazines in general are said to be a dying breed, Penthouse Global Media's main income generators so far have been its cable and satellite channels, even if its digital media offerings have not been as profitable, despite its European division having the only hardcore 3D channels available anywhere in the world. But a good portion of the article is devoted to Holland's branching out to monetize the Penthouse brand in other venues. "The company currently licenses its name to gentlemen’s clubs around the world and its photographic images to apparel companies," Ng wrote. "It is also exploring entering the 'breastaurant' business—pubs and sports bars like Hooters that cater to men." AVN also reported earlier this month that Holland had formed a partnership with Kirkendoll Management of New Orleans to revitalize the Penthouse Club brand. As AVN also noted in its profile last February, and as Ng states in his article, unlike some publishers, Holland hasn't given up on interesting the younger set in sexy fare. "We believe against all odds that we need to interest millennials," she said, telling AVN that she had offered free ad space to some clothing lines and others that target today's youth just so she could prove that their ads in Penthouse would attract shoppers. As for the future, Ng reports that Holland's "passion projects" include a delivery service for "sex toys and other erotica," an "intimacy hotline that dispenses sexual advice," and a mainstream TV series about the life of Penthouse founder Bob Guccione. Bottom line? "I have a strong opinion of where this company needs to go," Holland said. "We should own that soapbox that says 'Sex.'"

 
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