By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Terrence McCoy
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By Terrence McCoy
"Oh my God, look at that thing. It's not even hard." The Pink TV Live hostess had run into the male star on set for a sex scene to be uploaded to the Website. The well-endowed thespian-of-sorts couldn't chat long, though. He had to plan the scene's logistics with the cameraman and the director. Where should he stand for the blowjob, he asked.
"We're going to start off ... " the director said, pointing to the skinny-as-a-rail blond costar, "you're going to be masturbating first, then blowjob. Then, from there, he's going to eat you out."
"Oral for me first? Okay, I'll be right here," the male star said reassuringly. But the woman wanted to know when to take off her top.
"During the first position?" she asked flatly as she straddled her costar, holding his "talent" in her right hand.
Single scenes like this one, destined for the pinktv.com "content" section, footage unrelated to original shows or movies, will soon be superfluous, Verleur said. The Website is "just an appetizer," a way of generating interest in what will become a constellation of TV channels that will feature original programming on par with any major network. "HBO, they keep pushing the envelope toward erotic," Verleur said. "We want to push adult toward mainstream."
Born in Holland, Verleur grew up in Pennsylvania, graduating from high school at age fifteen and dropping out of college as a seventeen-year-old sophomore to focus full-time on making money. Sitting on the plush leather couch in his office's lounge, Verleur recalled being bored with school, moving from prelaw to marketing and then computer science, while spending most of his time as a door-to-door knife salesman. His aptitude for sales he convinced all of his mother's affluent, noncooking friends to buy knife sets was such that he quickly moved up the ranks. As an area manager with several salesmen under him, the teenage Verleur was grossing $15,000 per week.
There had been a string of jobs since Chrysler salesman, Web IT consultant, India outsourcing consultant but, Verleur said, he left each position out of boredom. He wanted to create something. "For me it's not about the money; it's about building an empire."
In 2003, two years after moving to Florida, Verleur put up two million dollars in savings almost every cent he had as seed money for Pink TV. He didn't know much about porn and knew less about broadcasting, but he knew about programming and he knew how to sell an idea. "Most of my day is not spent checking whether this girl or that is hot or not; it's error-checking code," Verleur said. Porn was a massive, money-filled industry the only segment of the online economy to consistently make money and no one was doing what Pink TV would do.
Often worried and often at his desk until late at night, Verleur is an unlikely fit for the role of porn mogul. Among the signed photos of nude adult stars such as Nina Hartley that adorn his office is a framed card from President George W. Bush, congratulating the Pink TV honcho on his wedding day. (Verleur would rather not talk about it.) His wife, a stay-at-home mom who never visits the studio, is "not too happy" with her husband's career choice and less enthusiastic about having Verleur spend much of his time at Pink TV's office in the Czech Republic, half a world away from their two young children.
The pace at Pink TV is relatively mellow these days as things ramp up for the anticipated channel launches. Only 900 members have signed on to the Website at a monthly subscription rate of $30 a significantly higher fee than average. That, too, is part of the plan, Verleur insisted, a five-year roadmap to "take over the world with an army of naked women." In fact he considers it gravy to have any members at this point. Most of the company's resources have been devoted to cranking out content including, most recently, preproduction on a comedic reality show where women compete to get a Pink TV contract, doing "all kinds of wacky missions" in the process; "a swinger drama series" to be shot in Prague; and a "sexual thriller" to be shot on yachts and in mansions around Miami.
Although plans for a Dish Network channel are on hold until 2007 or 2008 Verleur is consulting with a television distribution firm about the U.S. regulatory process Pink TV, or Heat TV as it is called in Europe, is already available on pay-per-view channels in seven million homes throughout France and Germany. "In the meantime," Verleur wrote in a recent e-mail, "we will be perfecting our broadcast offerings in the more forgiving European market. Many of the European platforms that we are working with are either owned by major U.S. providers or have close ties with them, so the transition back to the states shouldn't be a problem." A Dish Network spokeswoman declined to confirm whether the company is negotiating with Pink TV, citing company policy not to discuss contract talks.
Verleur holds a broadcasting license with the Bureau Voor De Televisie in the Netherlands, allowing him to broadcast hard-core porn to every European nation that allows it (all but a few). Working with 27 different cable and satellite providers, including Premier in Germany, Sky Italia, Belgacom, TeleGeneve, and Net Bonn, Verleur plans to begin launching subscription-based channels, rather than just pay-per-view services, later this year in a scheme that will eventually beam Heat TV to sixteen nations with combined viewership of more than 20 million. In the U.S., Pink TV will be available in hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms by the end of the year. Providers in discussions with Pink TV have contracts with hotel chains from Holiday Inn to Ritz-Carlton, Radisson to Hilton.