By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
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Pink TV is riding the wave, Verleur said. "There's a lot of shifting from [Los Angeles] to Miami." Production companies tired of studio monopolies are leaving Southern California, more top porn stars are visiting South Florida for business, and the area is full of attractive, multiethnic women, Verleur explained. So far South Florida has been a "welcoming region" for porn, Verleur said. "I think adult companies are happy to go anywhere where they're left alone."
It begins before you even open the door to the 16,000-square-foot Pink TV compound. A camera hovering over the entryway broadcasts your image to pinktv.com. Once you're inside, a ridiculously attractive blond receptionist asks you to sign a waiver accepting the somewhat Orwellian conditions: You will be monitored constantly; whatever you do or say will be sent out live to Web surfers around the world via 48 cameras and 40 microphones lodged throughout the warehouse in places both obvious and not so. Even the office staff and Verleur himself have cameras trained on their workplaces. ("But you can surf porn here," one employee said by way of compensation.) It's all in keeping with one of Pink TV's main objectives: interactive voyeurdom.
Of course, it's difficult to imagine why any Web surfer would bother to click on the lobby or office camera windows when he could click on the "naked lounge" or the "declothing room," the "shower," or even the "naked gym." Twelve hours a day, seven days a week (soon to be 24/7), this microcosmic community is populated with five to fifteen naked women mostly leggy blonds at any given time.
"You get desensitized to it," Verleur said as he led a recent tour of his prized warehouse. Chattering constantly about the promise of interactive porn and the three million dollars he has sunk into the Pink TV "compound," Verleur smoked Marlboro Lights and occasionally adjusted his square-frame glasses. He began the tour in his second-floor office/lounge stocked with a full bar, leather couches, crystal cigar ashtrays, and topnotch stereo equipment. A window in the floor looks down into an expansive shower stall often occupied by at least one bathing beauty.
Although they weren't afraid to put on promotional live sex shows in German cities during the recent World Cup, Pink TV officials expressed more than a little nervousness when a New Times reporter visited on two recent occasions. There were nondisclosure agreements to sign (none of the 30-odd employees, other than Verleur and vice president Dan Recio, could be named, and the warehouse's location could not be revealed). Also there would be no photographing of the two massive bathroom bins filled with dozens of clean and dirty (labeled accordingly) purple, blue, clear, plastic, smooth, ribbed, curved, straight, with-balls, without-balls, vaginal, and anal dildos.
For all the business-minded secrecy, Verleur and his staff come across as low-key guys you might expect to find watching Monday Night Football at the corner dive. Holding his cigarette behind his back, Verleur told the operator of the control room a bank of fifteen flat-screen TV sets with views from the warehouse's dozens of cameras to call up a voyeur girl on one of the monitors. "Say hello to New Times," the control room operator said into his headset. "Hello," she mouthed, spreading her legs wide in greeting. Moments later, after attention had shifted to another screen, the girl yawned widely.
First stop on the Pink TV tour: the "private session" rooms, shoeboxlike themed spaces (Heaven, Hell, geisha, Morocco, beach) where models will someday soon act out the fantasies of members who bid for the privilege of watching. Styrofoam doubles as stone in the "dungeon," while the "playroom," decorated with outsize alphabet building blocks, is creepy in a JonBenet Ramsey kind of way.
The naked gym is just that: a few stationary bikes and Nautilus machines mounted with tiny cameras. Verleur exchanges pleasantries with the heavily tattooed, buck-naked woman stretching out on the floor, and mentions he plans to build a "naked kitchen" as well.
And then there's the lounge: a pink-to-the-hilt living room furnished with a bed, couch, and makeup table. This is where the Pink TV women generally hang out a kind of sorority-house-meets-frisky-nudist-colony. As Verleur stepped into the room, three women were lying on the bed, giggling and maneuvering a vibrator. "We're kind of doing something," said a brunet with "Pookie" tattooed on her hip.
This is the kind of loose, clothes-off party atmosphere Verleur wants to cultivate around his brand. Log in via your computer or in the future with your TV-set-connected keyboard and join the party, the thinking goes. Pink TV stands apart, Verleur said, because of its unmatched interactivity, its personal touch. To demonstrate the point, Verleur described a recent party, a.k.a. whipped-cream squeal-fest, some of the voyeur girls threw, via the Internet, for a regular chatroom customer in Ireland.
Beyond Pink TV's voyeur world is the more traditional meat-and-potatoes business of shooting porn scenes. That's where the main studio comes in. On another visit to the warehouse, your intrepid correspondent looked on while a Barbie-doll-come-to-life tottered around in high heels, a postage-stamp-size skirt, and nothing else. "You wanna touch my boobies?" she asked with a microphone in hand. (Journalistic curiosity kicked in.) She was the host of Pink TV Live, an anything-goes talk show, leading her two-man camera crew around the warehouse for a behind-the-scenes look at the operation.