To get a feel for the size of the Australian sex industry and Kerry Packer’s involvement in it, we are reproducing three fascinating articles. However the third one, which is the best, is only being emailed to Crikey subscribers.
Kerry Packer is a big player in the sex industry and he knows it well, although the hatchet job done on our richest man by homophobic columnist Piers Akerman in Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph back in 1997, went way over the top. To explain Kerry Packer’s relationship with the sex industry, we are reproducing the Akerman column which prompted Big Kerry to ring young Lachlan Murdoch and give him a gobfull about a supposed deal the two families had not to attack each other. Lachlan told Kerry to ring back later when he had calmed down and he did, full of the same invective. As you can see, the Akerman column is pretty spiteful and we disagree with his assertion that Kerry Packer is Australia’s princinpal pornographer. Given Kerry’s propensity to sue, it is surprising he did not go after Akerman after this hatchet job. However, ACP’s recent launch of that grubby magazine Dingo suggests KP has not lost his appetite for turning a dollar our of the sex industry.

After the Akerman piece we are running an article penned by Robert Swan from the Euros Foundation which appeared in the advertising industry trade mag AdNews last week. The statistics about our burgeoning sex industry are truly amazing. The third article we are reproducing is from the Detroit Post in 1995 surrounding the sensational trial of celebrity prostitute Heidi Fleiss. However, as a cautious bunch we are only emailing this article to Crikey subscribers but it makes for fascinating reading when read in conjunction with the other articles.

Porn to rule but unfit for media prize.

Published in The Daily Telegraph May 6, 1997

By Piers Akerman.

Federal Cabinet will today ease the way to give Australia’s principal pornographer, Kerry Packer, the Fairfax media empire. If the Howard government – which courageously tackled gun control despite a firestorm from angry rural constituents – stands for societal values as it stated repeatedly at last years elections, it will reject Mr Packer’s candidacy for this media prize.

At the weekend, Mr Packer passed on the opportunity to buy into the Sydney Harbour Casino despite the very obvious green light being waved on increased profitably through tax reforms by the former Packer employee, Premier Bob Carr.

Financial analysts say the Packer camp, which assiduously pursues and secured the options to the casino prize – a tribute to James Packer’s energies – backed off following the required probity investigations.

Not only were the Packer family to be investigated to within an inch of their lives, but also the family’s friends and associates were required to open their accounts and their closets to the Casino Control Board’s investigators. That apparently was too much for any of the skeletons noisily rattling in their cupboards.

Former Labor senator Graham Richardson, Mr Packer’s representative on the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, is a self confessed liar who, according to evidence given in Queensland (which he disputed), let others pick up the bill when he frolicked with prostitutes.

The entries under Richardson, Graham, held in the files of the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission would make interesting reading to any probity inquiry. But if the Packer organisation’s probity is a problem, as reaction to the threat of the casino authority’s investigation might indicate, shouldn’t the Cabinet’s alarm bells be ringing when the question of increasing the Packer group’s ownership of the Australian media industry is being considered?

Members of the Federal Cabinet and the Fairfax journalists, who have effectively devalued the standing of The Sydney Morning Herald and undermined the credibility of The Age, should look at People and Picture, two of Mr Packer’s publications selected from the Taylor Square newsstand yesterday morning.

Readers familiar with the US people magazine, produced by Time Warner, would be numbed if they picked up a copy of Mr Packer’s version of this masthead by mistake. The magazine carried an Unrestricted label courtesy of the Office of Film and Literature Classification but the tag is rendered meaningless by the puerile and demeaning content.

Corny articles which were presented as readers’ letters detailing their sex lives, the bare-breasted cover girl gets gynaecological in the centrefold and there are pages and pages of expensive advertisements for sex videos, phone sex prostitutes – heterosexual and homosexual. The back cover carries and advertisement for a hydroponic gardening system called the Megahead – which seems about as suggestive a wink that could be given to marijuana growers without spelling out c-a-n-n-a-b-i-s as can be given.

At least picture carries the mature readers’ recommendation but that may indicate the age not the intellectual level of some of its readers. The May 7 issue carries pictures from a Byron Bay nudist protest also features on the current issue of People, and serious pages of sex advertisements. One page is devoted to the promotion of another Packer magazine Picture Sextra and depicts two male figures viewing a field of female breast with the notation “All this can be yours son, in this months Sextra.”can this be Kerry Packers advise to son James?

The Packers make more than $20 million profit annually from their sleaze magazines which sell for a $2.80 cover price and bulge the high priced ads for low-rent sex gadgets and services. Industry sources say the two titles share third place in terms of profitability behind the Packers’ Woman’s Day and Women’s Weekly mastheads, though it’s unlikely that would be found under the same roof.

Prime Minister John Howard is under a lot of pressure from the Melbourne wing of the Liberal Party to cave in to Mr Packer. Treasurer Peter Costello, whose craven performance before Mr Packer during a previous media inquiry is still one of Canberra’s most-watched videos, is a Packer pal and Liberal Party heavyweight Michael Kroger is a Packer employee and close friend.

Media minister Richard Alston, who shifts across the political spectrum within the Liberal Party, is prepared to go with the strength. That’s why Mr Howard has to show the strength of character his supporters believe he has and resist Mr Packer’s supporters and those urged on by his hired hand Graham Richardson in this debate.

The arguments for media diversity and Australian ownership advanced so far by Mr Howard in the support of Mr Packer are nonsensical. Should he back attempts by the nations greatest pornographer to expand his media interests however, all his views on the morality of our society will be seen to be empty rhetoric.


Opportunity’s knocking shop goes begging

Published in AdNews in March

By Robert Swan

Head of the Euros Foundation

Ever thought about pitching your product or service to Australia’s emerging sex industry? Probably not.

Yet new figures issued by the sex industry’s national association, The Eros Foundation, indicates that the old adage of “sex sells” might soon be about to change to “sex buys”. Over the past 12 months, the sex industry’s official publication, The Eros Journal, has published a list of figures that show the sex industry as one of Australia’s most rapidly expanding. Last year it turned over a grand total of $1.5 billion.

As state after state decriminalises prostitution, Aussie blokes are now clocking up nearly 12 million visits to sex workers each year. That’s over two visits each year for each male over 18 years.

“Knocking-shops” are almost as popular as doctor’s surgeries or physiotherapists these days and they consume a large number of products and services that you wouldn’t normally associate with the “feel-good” industry. And with a further 200,000 visits being by women to male and female sex workers, nightclubs and dating agencies should be doing a little a navel-gazing as well.

How many visits does it take to wear out a set of Bradmill sheets or a Sleepmaker mattress? How long does it take before a brothel owner thinks about laying Stainmaster instead of shag-pile?

Twelve million clients generate 36 million showers each year – one before and one after for him. That a lot of hot water. Amongst 1200 brothels you’re looking at 100 new hot water systems each year and about 10 tonnes of soap. Although rarely used to blow noses, the little box of Kleenex tissues on the bedside table gets a good workout in a brothel and is replaced every day resulting in a yearly purchase order for three million boxes

And with jurisdictions like the ACT making it a $5000 offence for both sex worker and client if they make the commercially two-backed beast without a prophylactic, the modern Aussie sex industry goes through a staggering 20 million condoms each year (Ed’s note: at least Pacific Dunlop has something going for it).

It’s not all small business either. Last year Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer made around $30 million from advertising placed by phone sex services alone. Telstra and Optus made another $75 million per year from carrying these calls. Australia’s printing industry fires off 1.3 million adult publications each month and in the ACT over 10 per cent of all printing is adult based.

Australian women now buy one million vibrators each year. Most of them will only last 12 months before they run out of juice. Hence the large turnover.

There are over a million adults ordering X-rated videos from the ACT these days where the industry is the fifth largest manufacturer and quite possibly the largest export revenue earner for the national capital. Annual turnover is $34 million. Half of Australia Post’s Express Courier division in Canberra is dedicated to running adult videos out to the rest of Australia with one third of these inevitably going to Queensland. Recently, 62,500 people paid $12 each to visit the hugely successful sex industry trade fair, Sexpo, at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. The recent back-door listing of Perth-based sex shop chain Barbarella’s on the Berlin stock exchange recently underscored the direction that the modern adult industry is headed. Through its merger with gold explorer Western Minerals NL, the new public company of took off like a rogue vibrator. Share prices trebled overnight and immediately bought a 50 per cent share in its largest competitor, Calvista Pty Ltd.

The commercial sex industry might still be the genie in the bottle but the cork’s being screwed like never before.


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We are sending a free XL tee-shirt to Kerry Packer’s Park Street office in Sydney and hope that he wears it to the next PBL AGM.