Monday, August 9, 2010

Chris Mallick: Middle Men



You may not recognize his name, but as the man who figured out how to make online adult entertainment pay, Chris Mallick has had a profound effect on our world. "Third-party billing" is not exactly a sexy phrase, but the concept Mallick masterminded revolutionized the way the invisible masses achieved satisfaction, and gave e-commerce its kick-start.


A rarity in the world of pornography, Mallick didn't focus his attention on making or marketing sexual images, it was a few lines of computer code that excited him more. This revolutionary source code allowed users to pay for stuff – any kind of stuff – remotely via the World Wide Web. Naturally, like many technological breakthroughs, its potential was first exploited by the triple-x rated business community. Mallick’s company made its millions by taking a tiny cut of each credit card transaction he facilitated in an industry that would eventually generate fifty-seven billion dollars per year globally. Essentially Mallick and his fellow third-party billers were the ultimate middle men.


Having made “more money than anyone ever imagined,” Mallick got out of the business he’d helped invent while he was ahead and now works in Hollywood as a producer. Initially he’d hoped to turn his stranger than fiction experiences working in the backend of the adult entertainment industry into an HBO television series. After teaming up with screenwriter Andy Weiss (of Punk’d), the project morphed into what is now a major motion picture released by Paramount Pictures.


Luke Wilson plays Jack Harris, a character closely based on Mallick in Middle Men, an action packed, smartly written comic caper Mallick claims is eighty-percent based in truth. Given that on screen his story involves the Russian mafia, accidental murder, an affair with a 23-year old porn star, FBI agents, terrorists, and the bribery of an elected official, it’s intriguing to speculate exactly which twenty percent is purely fictional.


I called up Mallick and got some surprising answers from the internet pioneer. Read my exclusive interview with Chris Mallick on SuicideGirls.com.

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