Another year; another AVN. The show expanded this year with the host Hard Rock Hotel building a new hallway for the Adult Novelties Expo. This increase in layout helped with thinning the crowds as there was more surface area to breathe. The main themes this year are webcam and VR companies which are signs of where the industry thinks consumers are going, trends that are hard to pirate.
With webcams, the user gets to interact with a person in ways that cannot be done on video. Not only was this year’s expo sponsored by MyFreeCams (MFC) and Chaturbate; you saw hundreds of camgirls running about causing mini accidents as they try to navigate the crowd with a laptop in hand. Just the MFC booth that lines the first hallway you see is intimidating where you see girls more interested in talking to their computers than with the attendees. Same with the Chaturbate booth which took up a good chunk of a ballroom.
Various virtual reality companies demonstrated their wares from Hologirls VR, Reality Lovers, and Cam4VR. Ela Darling led me through a rather innocent Cam4VR demonstration where the VR girl twerked for me in a bedroom. I was more curious exploring the environment than in engaging the virtual girl to her liking.
As for the photos:
The best booth this year was Greg Lansky‘s Blacked/Tushy/Vixen booth which featured its own bar. They had the best group of girls, and Riley Reid had the longest lines again for the 6th year in the row. Greg was very accommodating to the press and gave us a lounge area to rest our feet. Even though there was plenty of alcohol available, I just helped myself to bottled water and the couches.
Second favourite booth was Jules Jordan Video which also had awesome girls and featured the second longest lines with Abella Danger. Abella worked so hard she didn’t have much of a voice every night I saw her out and about.
As for the awards, I was put on red carpet duty instead of behind the scenes this year. Actually the first red carpet that I’ve done since 2009 and my last. Rather than taking a photo at a measured pace of people that are happy to see you with a drink or two in hand, doing red carpet means you have to try to catch everyone; calling them out to you, and blinding the fuck out of them while competing with other photographers. I had the issue of the two other photographers in my section overdirecting and monopolozing the shots. Not my finest moment.
Since I didn’t enter the Awards to watch the show, I can’t comment on it. I did notice many performers that had walked the carpet skip the show; some because they weren’t nominated to others who weren’t allowed to smoke inside the venue.
IAFD is composed of a staff of volunteers who mostly spend their time working on what interests them along with running through the gambit of all of the corrections people submit to us. As some of you have surmised, my passion is photography following in the steps of the late Peter Van Aarle who used to methodically approach and take a photo of each person he met at the conventions. Not necessarily to make them look good but document their headshots for the purposes of IAFD.
I have taken over that role in my visits to the conventions where I am not as methodical and am quite biased about who I shoot knowing that I would rather spend time catching up with friends rather than approach a bunch of strangers that I don’t know.
This is what happens to me when I go to the European conventions. I don’t watch as much porn anymore and the scenes I do watch tend to be American since I am in the United States. Further, even if limited, I prefer to understand the dialog. So for the past four years, I’ve stayed away from Venus Berlin given the cost of travel and the limited amount of coverage I can offer you guys. Remember, we’re all volunteers.
Like the SEB show, Venus Berlin features a lot of nudity by women I haven’t the foggiest idea about. Not just German, but French, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Czech, and this year tons of Russians. Maybe two or three Americans thrown in. They may not have much live sex beyond masturbation, but the audiences still love what they are seeing.
The difference though between the show is that Venus is very organized and credited to producers of the show and the booths. Of course I didn’t learn this until the last day when I was wondering why everyone seemed to know where to be when the stage show starts and what it will feature. I looked at the program that was given to me on the first day and it was all there!
The most popular booth of the convention by far was for modelcentro, a website host for models. There were a group of Russian porn stars there from julmodel agency featuring Henessy that did a show every 15-30 minutes.
The second most popular booth was Salma de Nora, a Spanish producer based in Germany, which featured an international melange of pretty girls including the Romanian Julia de Lucia, Italian Valentina Bianco, Japanese Brazilian Miyuki Son, and Spaniard Chiki Dulce. Unintentional comedy happened when I spoke almost exclusively in broken Spanish to Valentina even after she told me she was Italian.
I gabbed a lot with one of the few Americans, Kenna James, about veterinary schools.
Anny Aurora has developed an American accent when speaking English since I last talked to her, which was shocking because that was only nine months ago. What a lovely girl in person.
I caught up with Tarra White who greeted me with her boobs the first time I went to a European show. She is now one of the organisers of the Prague show.
My flash broke at the end of the first day from the amount of abuse it took from people jostling for their own photographs. The flash just fell off the camera while its foot still was still attached to the mount of my camera. I had to borrow a power drill just to remove the foot from my camera so that I could try to utilise a backup flash. When that didn’t work, I had to get creative in my exposures.
Which reminds me, it’s always good to see my boys Malte, Jacco, and Whitey.
After a ten year absence, I returned to Barcelona. The city and the women are still beautiful and the food and that DAMM beer are divine. Most important is the annual porn convention hosted there. The convention, formerly known as the Festival International de Cine Erotico de Barclona, is now run by different organizers under a different name, Salon Erotico de Barcelona (SEB), and in a different location from 10 years ago.
When people imagine what a porn convention would look like, SEB is probably the closest thing that you’re going to get. Maybe even more than they expected. You see porn stars having sex live on stage, in the audience, in the seating area, in the stairs, and in the bathroom. Hell you see frisky attendees engaging in the playtime beyond the normal perving that you expect out of these things. I think that is the biggest difference from ten years ago in that there is a lot more emphasis on stage sex than on dancing. The other big difference is that the gay booths and gay stages were integrated into the venue rather than being separated in another section.
My really rough understanding of Spanish played havoc on me when I was looking around for Amarna Miller. Little did I understand that she was the “portavoz” of SEB which meant she was the spokeswoman of the show. She was mostly away granting media appearances to promote the show but I did get to run into her. Still has friendly as ever, Amarna was mobbed by attendees when she was seen on the floor promoting a webcam company, Cam4.
Carolina Abril was easily the champion of the show. I met her in Berlin 4 years ago when she first started out and was the most accessible star on the floor. Not much has changed as she constantly engaged with the fans on behalf of actricesdelporno.com from opening to closing. She also performed a sex show every day at SEB. She also peed on me, err I mean water squirted on me and the crowd.
I didn’t see or remember any obvious American performers but I did manage to meet several English performers for the first time including Satine Spark and Stella Cox who are beautiful and friendly in person. I mean I knew they were attractive from the photos, but it is another thing to see the beauty in person. There were dozens of people coming up to Stella asking whether she would be performing on stage, interrupting our dinner and talk that I had to exasperatedly tell them that she was just visiting. Some kept following her around the entire show. Well I mean besides me.
Other performers that grabbed my attention were Spanish performers Zoe Doll (who reminded me of Amarna) and Zenda Sexy who humoured my broken Spanish.
After a four year absence, I returned to Chicago for an Exxxotica. I usually try to attend one Exxxotica a year, and my plan was originally to go to Dallas until Dallas decided to ban Exxxotica from its convention center and initiate a legal battle.
Not much has changed about the Chicago show other than new faces in the industry. Again the busiest day of the show was the first night when they allowed ladies to attend for free. With the Anime Midwest convention occurring concurrently, I thought it would be a great opportunity for cross-attendance, but that mostly happened on that first night after the anime convention hours ended. Women and men fit right in with their revealing cosplay uniforms.
The highlight of the convention was a wedding of an Exxxotica producer, Tita, officiated by Evan Stone. Tita rode in on a horse with a dildo for a unicorn horn.
I saw the return of multiple award winners and Hall of Famers, Hillary Scott and Briana Banks. There was a point in 2009 where I couldn’t recognise Hillary because of her hairstyle change back then, but there was no trouble this year with her familiar blonde wavy locks.
The absences included Skin Diamond and Kimmy Granger. Skin’s was notable since she was scheduled to perform a cabaret show on stage each day, and well Kimmy is Kimmy.
I followed respectively a day in the lives of Vicki Chase, Chloe Amour, and Christiana Cinn. I think the most fascinating thing about seeing behind the curtain are the different personalities and how they approach the mundane tasks that prepare them to meet their fans.
I didn’t bring my camera into the after-parties because they were not allowed in the VIP section. I had two choices, either to drink with the VIPs or not drink outside the VIP section, so the choice was easy.
I dread doing a write-up after every convention; sometimes procrastinating until the next year comes up and realising that I forgot to from the gaps in our archive. This was my 14th AVN and I have been to at least 30 conventions overall. Anyone who actually attends these things can vouch the amount of fatigue that sets in after coming home. It’s not just physical but mental because your brain had been bombarded with stimuli. My colleagues and other porn people have noted in the past that I am not much of a talker after semi-patiently waiting in line, and our conversations are reduced to my nodding at them and some clicks. I do this because I have to catch up with a lot of people, and I don’t want to hold up the fan lines.
So getting that out of the way, here are the photos:
(Click on the photos to be brought to the Flickr Galleries)
The first person I saw and greeted upon arriving at the convention hotel was James Deen. I shook his hand and did not see him again until near the end of the AVN Awards when he flitted through with Chanel Preston. I did not observe whether he was treated as a pariah during the festivities but did overhear conversations of talent defending him and fans excited to meet him.
After years of improvement, the expo and awards show regressed this year with security and logistics. Perhaps the show hired a new security firm because they were more heavy handed this year and clueless about controlling the crowds. What was even funnier was watching security block the awards production staff from setting up the awards.
Webcam companies dominated the show in terms of square footage and sponsorship. Myfreecams girls were everywhere and the Chaturbate booth was huge. I didn’t meet many webcam models because they seemed more interested in their laptops and webcams than the crowds.
The best booth to hang out at was Colette/X-Art, especially in meeting Leah Gotti and Alex Grey. Second best was Jules Jordan’s booth featuring Riley Reid who for the fifth year in a row was the most popular girl at the convention. Bella Danger may have been the second most popular girl at the convention.
Mick Blue and Anikka Albrite were easily the most accessible couple, greeting fans far outside of the hospices of the convention.
The most inaccessible booth again was Wicked Pictures. Their directors and contract girls have always been great when you actually get to meet them, but their security and support staff are less than genial to deal with.
Aria Alexander, winner of the second season of DP Star, apologised for squinting due to cum in her eye while we were taking a selfie. Even though I heard her then, I did not process that in my head until reviewing the photo.
A lot of people surmised that the award winners knew ahead of time of their wins. You wouldn’t believe that after seeing Penny Pax react to her winning Best Actress with tears. I also saw the juxtaposition of reactions of Riley Reid and the other nominees for Female Performer of the Year to know that their emotions are authentic.