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Sex Entertainment Across America: Saluting Tod Hunter

Tod Hunter

Photo courtesy of Tod-Hunter.net

A guy.  There’s always a guy.  The point guy.  The go-to guy.  The guy with the skinny.  The guy behind the scenes who knows where all the skeletons are stashed.  The guy–well, you get the idea.

For the past 20-plus years in the adult entertainment industry, that guy has been Tod Hunter.  Perhaps the name doesn’t strike you along the likes of a Flynt or Hefner, but that shouldn’t diminish his place as a prime mover and shaker in the business.  As one of the industry’s preeminent film critics, his influence–both on producers as well as audiences–is legendary, well earned and merits his place as a key thought leader.

The fact that he’s also an eclectically great guy probably doesn’t hurt either.  Politically, he’s solidly duct-taped to the left wing, but you really have to love a guy who quotes Reagan and Jefferson in support of liberals–and makes sense doing it.  Personally, his lifelong love of show business manifests itself today with his membership in Hollywood’s renowned Magic Castle, where he’s also a docent.  Professionally, his gritty work ethic is balanced by the soul of a poet.

Hunter got his start writing for a popular TV game show and for the L.A. International Film Expo.  In 1997, he came across an Adult Video News (AVN) advertisement seeking film reviewers.  Hunter recalled, “The ad asked, ‘Can you write?’  Check.  ‘Can you meet deadlines?’  Check.  ‘Can you be a smartass?’  Oh yeah.  That’s me.  Actually, I just thought it would be a great gig because it offered an inside look at what goes on in adult entertainment, but it turned into much more.”

What it turned into was becoming a competent, activist voice in an industry poised on the verge of significant change at that time.  With the internet still in its relative infancy and its potential only beginning to emerge, Hunter became a proactive advocate for quality adult entertainment in America, acting as a positive force throughout its integration into the mainstream zeitgeist.  “It’s been an interesting time because the internet has really helped take away a lot of the stigma that used to be there,” he stated.  “It’s much more accepted now.  People know who Ron Jeremy is when he walks down the street.  But it’s also created an entitlement attitude because of the proliferation of free material out there.  It’s just like any other form of art or entertainment.  You get what you pay for and usually the cheaper it is, the crappier it is.”

His eye for quality genuinely set him above the crowd right out of the gate as he went about the business of finding the gems in the pile.  For example, in 1999, he was sorting through a stack of screeners one late night in his office when he came upon a production that had captured little interest entitled, “Double Feature.”  “A bunch of people had passed on this one,” Hunter recounted, “but about 20 minutes into it, I knew it was great.  I was completely blown away by it.”  Double Feature went on to capture 10 awards at the 2000 AVN Awards (the industry’s version of the Oscars) and another at the X-Rated Critics’ Organization Awards that year.  Today the film is widely regarded as a classic.  “I love those kinds of moments where you just know you’re onto something special–where you just want to tell everyone to get their own, this one’s mine!” Hunter related.

We first got to know Tod as he tooled around with us in a massive, golden SUV nicknamed “Vanzilla” during the San Francisco episode of Sex Across America in 2000.  Rather than just review completed screeners like most critics, his approach was to invest the time necessary to see the whole process from start to finish.  He did this to get a better perspective of production challenges, but also to gain a firsthand appreciation of the performers and crew involved.  The result was developing a unique, signature style featuring the ability to remain professionally positioned on the periphery yet able to build a sincere, personal rapport across the board.  In a field where it’s easy (and perhaps even beneficial) to be cynical and jaded, Hunter is one of a kind in the sense that he fully immerses himself until becoming a subject matter expert while maintaining the integrity necessary to critique that subject objectively.

Taking that a step further, he doesn’t limit his engagement to the set or the screening room.  He actively follows his subject wherever it goes and in whatever form it takes.  For example, besides being one of the foremost non-resident connoisseurs of all things adult in Las Vegas, he’s also a ground floor supporter of the long-standing phenomenon known as Porn Star Karaoke (PSK).  Billed as the “Longest running ongoing weekly adult industry event,” PSK has been going for over 10 years and has become a weekly staple every Tuesday night at Sardo’s in Burbank, CA.  “It’s the only ongoing gathering of the adult industry,” Hunter noted, “and it’s a great, fun way to keep up with who and what is going on.”  Keeping up with all of that, especially these days, is a monster task.  He makes it look easy–a trait common among those few who are world-class at what they do.

So, if you’re ever in the Southland and have nothing to do on a Tuesday evening, now you have something to consider–and you might just run into The Guy–the guy with his finger solidly on the pulse of all that’s going on in sex entertainment in America–our good friend, Tod Hunter.

(You can follow Tod through his website at Tod-Hunter.net or on Twitter @TTodHunter)

Happy Birthday to Us!

SAAgraphic06302014(6/30/14)  It’s been said that time flies when you’re having fun.  Well, we must be scooting along at warp speed and having a blast because it’s hard to believe that the Sex Across America blog is already celebrating its first anniversary.  It’s been a wild year to say the least.

Foremost, we would like to thank all of you who have so graciously supported us in promoting rational discussions of sexuality and our coverage of the wide range of critical issues associated to it.  We intend this to be a free and safe resource that provokes thought and conversations, so those of you who have spread the word about our features during the past year have been instrumental in helping us achieve our goal.  You’ve no doubt noticed that we do not place any paid advertising on the site, there are no goofy pop-ups,  nor do we charge any memberships for the content we offer.  That’s by design in order to ensure that we’re able to reach viewers as people, not as consumers.  Since we don’t charge anything, we don’t spend anything on conventional promotional campaigns, so we deeply appreciate the organic support of passing along links to content that you enjoy or tossing us a “like” on our companion Facebook page when you come across something you find interesting.  We also want to thank those of you who follow us and our announcements on Twitter and retweet them along throughout your social circles.  You’ve not only been very helpful in expanding our audience during the past year, but we also hope that you’ve found our content interesting enough that you feel sharing it is also helping others who might benefit.  In that regard particularly, we feel we’re in this together–with each of you–and for that, we are very grateful.

Without a doubt, this is a labor of love for us, but we feel it’s an important one, especially in these days of mass information overload, relentless political posturing and continuous social upheaval.  As such a basic, wonderful and natural need in all human beings, it’s often astounding just how polarizing the broad subject of sexuality can be, but we firmly believe that much of that is rooted in a simple factor: People just don’t discuss it openly and frankly enough.  Whether it’s due to stigmas, shame, fear-based attitudes, value conflicts or even just plain old upbringing, the lack of straight talk is unproductive at best and possibly dangerous at worst.  We’re trying to do something useful about that by tackling as wide a range of related topics as we can in ways that are at a minimum thought provoking, but preferably to the extent that they inspire others to confidently join in and expand further the conversations.  If we can accomplish that, then this labor of love has been supremely worthwhile.

In looking back through our archives this past year, we’re proud to note that we’ve amassed an exceptionally diverse array of topics spanning pieces about thought leaders in sexuality, developments in related science and technology, individual and relationship improvement, social and political news, literary and entertainment features and, every now and then, just plain everyday fun.  To improve the scope of our content, we added a current events feature in the form of our weekly “S.A.A. Extras” where we discuss a top sexuality-related headline from that week and recently began our casual and friendly “Wednesday Webcasts” where you get to see us riff a little about various topics.  All in, we believe we’ve gotten this off to a solid start this past year and hope that all of you have found our features to be both informative and entertaining.

As always, we’d love to hear from you, whether through comments/questions/suggestions using the “reply” button below each feature on this site, by direct email or through our social media channels.  (And just to clear up a question we get occasionally:  You do not need to register or subscribe to the site in order to reply to our features.  You can feel free to use a pseudonym if you’re more comfortable with that and although the software requires an email address, it will never be made public nor used for other marketing/spam purposes in any way.)

So, please join us in celebrating this milestone and accept our sincerest appreciation for your continued support.  We look forward to another fast, furious and fun year ahead together!

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