Representing some of the hottest adult film performers such as Nikki Delano, Nina Elle and Ryan Driller, The Rub has helped both newcomers and established performers build their own personal brands while winning numerous industry awards in the process. None of this would be possible without the vision and hard work of Erika Icon, who shared her background and history within the adult entertainment industry.
C.J. Asher – First of all, thank you for this interview! Tell me a little about yourself
Erika Icon – I’m from Queens in New York. I have lived in Los Angeles most of my life, but still consider myself having a New York state of mind (like the Billy Joel song). I have an art degree with a minor in French and English from UCLA.
C.J. Asher – Early on in your career you worked for advertising agencies in the Los Angeles area. How did you decide to make the move into the adult entertainment industry?
Erika Icon – I was working as an art director and copywriter, and it was literally sucking the life out of me. I also didn’t fit too well into the corporate infrastructure with my tats, piercings, and “alt” look. So, I started looking for a new career. I answered an ad on CraigsList to work for WantedList, which at the time was the Netflix of Porn, as a video buyer. That was back in 2005, and the rest is history.
C.J. Asher – How did you choose the name Erika Icon?
Erika Icon – Erika is my real name. Icon is not. I’ve been going by the name for a very long time, and despite what Facebook says, it’s my every day name (laughs).
C.J. Asher – Throughout your career, you’ve been a sex advice columnist, toy reviewer and have worn many other hats. What’s been your favorite?
Erika Icon – I love doing PR and that’s why I’ve been doing it for ten years. I really enjoyed writing the sex advice column for WantedList – yes, I was Dear Betty – and I do miss it. The toy reviews are fun, because they’re honest and end up being kind of funny, but always entertaining for the readers, I hope.
C.J. Asher – In 2008 you founded The Rub PR. Tell me a little bit about the company, your clients and what services you provide to your clients.
Erika Icon – When I started, there were only a few PR firms. I wanted to offer a lot of services to clients at an affordable price, which we have done. Right now, we have an amazing roster that includes Ryan Driller, Nina Elle, Sarah Jessie, Olivia Austin, Summer Brielle, Sarah Vandella, Nikki Delano, Karen Fisher, Demon Seed Radio, ArchAngel, Sparks Entertainment, and Rodney Moore.
C.J. Asher – How does The Rub PR differ from other public relations firms in the adult entertainment industry?
Erika Icon – We also offer services you won’t get anywhere else including finding places for clients to sign at tradeshows, attaining toy deals, showing them how to use social media more effectively, and in general much more than the usual interviews and press releases. Additionally, I offer very personalized service. Although I have an assistant and an intern, I always deal with the clients myself and they know I’m always reachable. I also have experience, contacts and an advertising background, which the newer agencies don’t have. And, we’ve also gotten our clients a slew of mainstream coverage and projects over the last three years.
C.J. Asher – How do you find new talent, or do they find you?
Erika Icon – I would say 95% of my clients come from referrals from current and past clients. There are some that we try to go after, but we never poach other people’s clients.
C.J. Asher – What’s the advantage for an adult performer to use a public relations agency over doing their own promotions and publicity through social media?
Erika Icon – Very few performers can do their own PR. They might have social media down, but they don’t know how to write press releases, don’t have the contacts and/or know how to schedule interviews. They also generally need help with image and branding. If you can afford it, you should hire a publicist, if you’re serious about your career. Just make sure you pick the right firm to work with.
C.J. Asher – What’s it like working with adult film talent as clients as opposed to more mainstream public relations clients?
Erika Icon – I think the only difference is the money. I would be making way more money doing mainstream, probably three to four times more for each client. Mainstream people know the value of PR and don’t mind paying for it.
C.J. Asher – What are, from the public relations perspective, the biggest challenges facing adult entertainment today?
Erika Icon – I would say piracy, because it’s affecting everyone now. There are less scenes being filmed so that means less work for the performers, directors, makeup artists, etc. When the performers work less and studios do fewer projects, there’s less money for the important things like PR.
C.J. Asher – What big clients are you working with now, and what projects are you/they involved in?
Erika Icon – I would say Ryan Driller is one of my biggest clients. He’s working on some amazing features that I’m not allowed to talk about, in talks for a toy deal and he just won three awards at the XBIZ Awards including Male Performer of the Year. Summer Brielle, Sarah Vandella and Nina Elle are also established names that are doing well with nominations, work, reviews and branding/marketing.
C.J. Asher – Who would be your dream client?
Erika Icon – I think it’s more how they conduct themselves than who they are. We like clients who are focused, professional, want to do well, and appreciate what we do for them.
C.J. Asher – What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an adult film actor or actress?
Erika Icon – For the girls, I’d say do your research and make sure it’s what you really want to do. Making just a few movies will follow you for the rest of your life, and could keep you from working in the real world once your time is over in adult. And, never do anything on camera you’re uncomfortable with. If you’re a guy, realize your chances of getting into porn are like zero. There’s more to performing than being paid to get laid. Don’t send me dick pics, but do read my blog about what it takes to be a male performer.
C.J. Asher – What accomplishments have you been proudest of?
Erika Icon – Cosmo, PR Week and the Wall Street Journal have all interviewed me. Building a thriving business from the ground up is also definitely a huge accomplishment. And of course, everything we attain for our clients and their successes make me extremely happy.
C.J. Asher – What nominations and awards have you received?
Erika Icon – I’ve been nominated for multiple AVN and XBIZ Awards, along with an Inked Awards Special Achievement nomination. I’ve also received multiple nominations from the FAME Awards. No wins yet, but 2016 might just be my year!