Post Number: 68
Votes: 3 (Vote!)
|Posted on Sunday, May 21, 2006 - 7:25 pm: || |
Random Thoughts from Two Days at the Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE), Las Vegas, January 2006
What Was Once America's Dirty Little Secret is Now Big Business
Mention porn in public, and you'll most likely get a reaction of "Eeew!" or a big lecture about exploitation and cruelty toward women. Still, somebody must be buying it, as the sex industry in George W. Bush's America is a $10 billion-a-year business and still growing. For every one dollar we spend on mainstream movies, we spend six dollars on adult films. Porn has moved out of the dingy downtown theaters and onto DVD racks and computer screens all across America.
There are other porn conventions in North America and overseas, but the AEE is the biggest of all. And, it's held where else but in Las Vegas, where, every year in January for four days, those who buy, sell, and make porn converge nearly 40,000 strong on the Sands Convention Center off the Strip to make deals, meet their adoring public, or ogle their favorite actors or actresses in person, up close and in the flesh, so to speak. There's something for almost everyone here: straight, gay, bi, transsexual, amateur, pro, mature, barely legal. The AEE is sponsored by AVN, which stands for Adult Video News and is one of the industry's largest publications. For the past 24 years, it has been the sponsor of the AVN Awards, which is the adult film industry's answer to the Academy Awards. The AVN Awards take place on the Saturday night of the AEE, in the Venetian Hotel Grand Ballroom. Those fans who aren't lucky enough to score tickets to the event line the hallway leading up to the ballroom, hoping to see the stars as they enter.
We arrived early on Thursday (January 5) shortly after the Expo opened at 10:00 AM, got our press passes, and then went immediately to tour the impressive product exhibit located in Exhibit Hall G ("the G-Spot"), where we set about grabbing all sorts of free stuff. Our complimentary shopping bags soon groaned under the weight of various publications, DVD samplers, and many other nik-naks.
One of the more interesting products we saw was RealDoll, a life-sized, anatomically correct love doll made of a steel frame covered in silicone flesh. RealDoll's fully customizable: you select everything from hair style to skin tone to breast size to nail polish shade. RealDoll's also expensive: she'll cost you nearly seven grand when you factor in shipping. Is that more economical than having a wife or a girlfriend? You be the judge. Another interesting product was Clone-A-Willy, which would enable a guy to make a life-sized mold of his private part in three different styles: glow-in-the-dark, vibrating, or chocolate -- with the latter giving new meaning to the term "Eat Me." There is also a version for the ladies. However, chocolate is not yet available.
We also made it a point to stop at the Free Speech Coalition booth to talk with some of their representatives about the current political climate, and the new threats it poses to adult entertainment. Quite frankly, your freedoms in this area are under serious attack by our government, and from many different angles. The holier-than-thou contigent is using its power to attempt to control what adults are allowed to watch (under the guise of protecting children, of course), and their overreaching proposed legislation extends even to mainstream R-rated movies. If you care about your privacy rights and feel that you are indeed mature enough to decide what you will and will not allow into your own home, then please show the this organization some support, so it can continue to provide legal assistance to the adult entertainment industry and keep its members informed of the government's activities. In many cases, they are the only line of defense between you and the government.
Then, it was time to move upstairs to Exhibit Hall A, where the production companies and publications set up booths so their stars could meet the public.
As seems to be their annual custom, the Chicken Ranch sent out a posse to man (woman?) a booth. Ranch employees and working gals eagerly passed out brothel menus and coupons for merchandise discounts to anyone who wanted them. Later that night, we checked out the Chicken Ranch and the rest of the Vegas area brothels and found them all dead, cold dead, even Sheri's Ranch. You'd never know that the Adult Expo and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) were in town.
If you read the book "Madam," by Lora Shaner, who spent six years running the floor at Sheri's Ranch, you probably remembered her description of the enormous crowds during CES. Both the bar and the parlor were standing-room only and the ladies were turning tricks so hard and so fast that some of them were on the verge of serious physical injury.
That Thursday evening, there were no more than a half-dozen customers in the bar, each moving slowly if it all. The mood was more suited to a doctor's office waiting room ("Next, please!") rather than a brothel bar. As the time ground on, it became clear that the only way we were going to see a lineup was if we called one ourselves, which we finally did. Our tours revealed four-figure price tags for basic parties. The only thing that would be getting seriously injured would be our wallets. RealDoll's starting to look good.
Later that evening, while talking to the madam at Madame Butterfly's, we wondered why the brothels were so dead while two of the biggest trade shows in Las Vegas were being held. The madam didn't even know they were going on. "They don't tell us anything around here," she said. Surprise, surprise.
We returned the next day, Friday (January 6), at about 11:00 AM. This would be the first day in which the fans could attend. The Sands Convention Center would get especially busy that day, with huge crowds collecting in the hallways. One reason: the previously-mentioned CES, which attracts over 150,000 techies every year during its 4-day run, was going on at the exact same time and place. It was nice to be able to use the separate entrances that the Expo had set up for the trade guests so we could avoid the crush that always collected near the main entrances. Many of the CES goers were disappointed to learn that their passes for that show did not grant them entrance to the AEE. Sorry, Poindexter, gotta buy another ticket to look at the ladies.
Exhibit Hall A was buzzing with activity now that the buying public was there, jockeying for positions to take photos or get autographs. On the lookout for celebrities ourselves, we caught glimpses of porn icons Jenna Jameson and Jesse Jane, who was promoting her new big-budget, 3-hour porn opus called "Pirates." We also saw their '80's counterparts, Seka and Cara Lott.
As fans of the Showtime reality series "Family Business" (in which a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, who calls himself Seymore Butts, presides over a gonzo porn empire in Los Angeles with the help of his doting bookkeeper mom and elderly, cantankerous screw-up Cousin Stevie), we were also hoping to see the regulars from the show. We did see cousin Stevie roaming the exhibits, but the man himself, Seymore Butts, kept a low profile at a table at the back of the large booth in which his company had annexed a corner. We also chatted a bit with Mari Possa, Seymore's office assistant/girlfriend on the show, who had just signed an exclusive contract with Adam and Eve.
For a convention celebrating sex and debauchery, we noticed that the AEE was decidedly low-key and well-behaved. I understand that in years past, strip tease shows and ladies flashing the crowds at the booths were common. However, recently the AEE has been governed by strict no-nudity rules. Those ladies who still wished to flash got around those rules as best they could through the use of pasties or strageically-placed hands.
By Friday afternoon, we decided we'd had our fill. We had a great time, learned quite a bit, and made some potential contacts. We even got to check out InterNext, which ran in parallel at the Venetian and dealt with opportunities for both the adult online and the adult video industries.
We're already making plans to attend next year's Expo. If you'd like to go, too, then here are the details:
What: AVN Adult Entertainment Expo
Where: Sands Expo and Convention Center, 3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109
When: January 10-13, 2007
Cost: 3-day pass, $160
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Post Number: 69
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 1:29 am: || |
Check the free local paper, City Life Magazine, which is available at liquor stores and 7-11s. The last few pages have ads. Less expensive then what you find elsewhere.