Perhaps on a family-oriented investing site, it's inappropriate to ask this, but I feel that I must: When did adult entertainment become cool? I mean, there's not a media venue around now that doesn't feature some adult film star as its main attraction.

Playboy (NYSE:PLA) has always been associated with the adult industry, even if its magazines are fairly timid compared with what others display. Consider that News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) Fox is creating a reality TV series called My Bare Lady featuring a number of adult film stars training for a classic stage play in London. Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy, a biopic of one the unlikeliest of stars in adult filmdom, got a nomination from the Chicago Film Critics Association as best documentary of the year in 2001. And Rick's Cabaret (NASDAQ:RICK) is a proliferating chain of so-called gentleman's clubs and continues to grow in popularity.

Now, I'm no prude, but I just don't understand how private peccadilloes suddenly became grist for public consumption on stage, screen, and TV.

Well, actually, I do have some theories. We have, of course, all heard about the general coarsening of society, and I think that is a real phenomenon. But I think we can really blame -- or thank, depending upon your perspective -- Howard Stern. As an avid admirer of his brand of radio humor and satire, I even went so far as to purchase a Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI) receiver just so I could continue to listen to his antics after he left terrestrial radio. His broadcasts were an innovation that opened doors for innumerable copycats, but they also served to redefine what was acceptable.

Female adult film stars have long been a staple of his show, and if you've tuned in to his broadcasts recently, you'd find that hasn't much changed. Yet his success using such personalities has apparently spawned a mini-industry publicizing, promoting, and endearing us to a wider selection of them seemingly everywhere.

Because of the upswing in popularity of adult entertainment, spam is expected to become a growing threat to cell phones in the years ahead. But companies like Private Media Group (NASDAQ:PRVT) are jumping ahead of the game by licensing adult films for mobile content in South Korea, where content revenues are estimated to increase by some $500 million by next year.

While I in no way think it ought to be censored, I also don't think that adult entertainment is so cool that we need to be inundated with images that prey upon our prurient interests. Sometimes, some things are best left to the imagination.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings by checking out his Fool profile. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.