David Yohe is a businessman who wants to change the world.
Yohe, a senior Cinema and Television Arts major at CSUN, said he dreams of selling everyone in the United States a little black box that would bring any movie, television show, or video ever made to his customers anywhere in the world at anytime.
And he’s starting with 70 channels of hardcore pornography.
“You have to start somewhere,” said Yohe, vice president for business development at Interactive Television Networks, a company that delivers X-rated content to televisions through a broadband Internet connection. “Though it may be tasteless, that’s what people want, and we are about giving them what they want.”
Yohe, who is taking 12 units at CSUN this semester, started working at ITVN two years ago.
“I started on the ground floor and I love this brand new business,” he said. “I hope I am one of the (Bill) Gates or (Steve) Jobs of a new industry.”
Yohe’s company is at the forefront of a potential revolution in small-screen technology – Internet protocol television. Images are streamed through a broadband Internet connection straight to a user’s television through a small black box.
Theoretically, users will be able receive nearly unlimited channels, and it can all be interactive, Yohe said.
“This technology uses the power of the Internet to change television and let the customer have complete control,” he said. “At the moment we admittedly have niche male programming, but we intend to expand on that. I can see us being completely legitimate and mainstream in a few years.”
The company recently began offering nine channels of classic black and white movies for $5 a month.
Most of the company’s content is pornography, costing $100 for the box and then $30 a month for 70 channels with every assortment of X-rated coupling imaginable – or not imaginable for that matter.
“From midgets to grannies, we have got anything (sexual) that our customers want,” said Yohe, leaning back in his chair in an unmarked company office overlooking a suburban backyard in the West San Fernando Valley.
Racks full of thousands of digital video tapes with hand-written titles like “Amber,” “Candy,” and “Aurora Snow” line the entryway of the company workplace. Most of the office is dimly lit so that rows of monitors can be easily seen by workers who ensure that the content is properly getting to customers.
The interactive nature of the broadband sourcing allows the user to design his or her own viewing experience.
Yohe readily admits that the company began purely as a way of distributing pornography, but he said the future of the company and its technology is in mainstream programming.
Yohe said the company’s goal is to move away from the present format to sports, music videos and eventually women’s programming.
“People don’t want to watch everything that is on Oxygen (a television network for women), for example, so with our box, eventually they could just dial in the shows that they want to see anytime, with or without advertising,” Yohe said.
Verizon and other companies are testing their own versions of Internet protocol television, but Yohe believes his company has an advantage because ITVN’s technology is already up and running.
Yohe believes there is a “big future” for CSUN CTVA students at ITVN. There are several CSUN students and alumni working at the company.
Senior CTVA major Tony Bisogno, 21, said he always wanted to be a film editor. He is taking 15 units at CSUN while spending all of his free time working at ITVN.
“When people at school learn what I do, they tell me it’s the best job ever,” Bisogno said. “I’m doing more of the business side of things, away from the porn. I’m still doing some editing though.”
“I’m just a punk kid in this big organization,” he said. “This is opening a lot of opportunities. I’m really excited about it.”
Yohe said he is excited about getting a new intern from the CTVA Department this week.
“She will be working on the business side with acquiring content mostly, not the porn side,” Yohe said, declining to reveal the name of the intern.
Professor Robert Gustafson, internship coordinator for the CTVA Department, expressed visible surprise when informed of the pornographic output of the company.
“No, I didn’t know that,” Gustafson said. “If he had told me that, then I wouldn’t have set up the internship. I don’t think it’s in the interest of the university to send students to do that sort of thing.”
The chair of the CTVA Department, John Schultheiss, also expressed surprise at the internship.
“Obviously, I didn’t know,” he said.
He said the department does not usually send interns to companies that are heavily involved with pornography.
“This is not really a moral judgment,” Schultheiss said. “There are just so many authentic opportunities out there, and we don’t need to be sending students into the fringes of the media. If that is what they want then that is their business, but whether it’s good or bad, this can taint a student’s record.”
Dan Reilly, senior CTVA major, said he knew a student who was in the adult film industry, and has heard since he first came to CSUN that CTVA majors can get into the business easily.
“What I’ve heard is that it’s good for consistent work,” Reilly said. “It’s really a good way to make a living while you do something else.”
If a student gets into the industry, however, that person is looked down on, he added.
“Once you have the porn stamp on you, you don’t work in Hollywood,” he said, adding there are people in both mainstream Hollywood and the adult industry, but it is done in secrecy.
Yohe admitted that he did not mention the porn side of ITVN’s business to officials in the CTVA Department.
Yohe said he is not concerned what people think of his job.
“I’ve never got a bad reaction from anyone at school,” Yohe said. “I love what I do and I am proud of it.”
He said that he intends to use the money he makes from his work to produce his own film projects.
“This whole thing is going to blow up. We are like that rock band that plays in bars for two years that makes it big. Kind of like the Beatles,” Yohe said.
Robert McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.