At first I thought I was going to do a traditional write-up of the latest Exxxotica Expo from Chicago last weekend with my comments on the layout, attendance, my notes and observations, and, of course, corresponding photos along with the links to the galleries on Flickr or Tumblr.
That gets boring, and my favourite parts about writing about these shows are the random observations that come to mind when I think about the time that I had. So I will just start rambling:
Chicago is one of my two favourite Exxxotica locations (other is Denver) because of its proximity to the airport and the hotel is usually right next to the convention center. This doesn’t mean much to the average local attendee, but it means a whole lot to someone who is carrying a bunch of equipment who has to pace several miles across a convention floor. The show is always busy with attendees over the years which leads to happy girls rather than ones sulking over their sales.
Even though the Chicago show is busy, you can spend a lot of time talking with the girls as opposed to an AVN because the laid back pace of the show allows you to do it. Which leads to some awkward interactions with many of the girls. I don’t do well with small talk and often cannot engage in a conversation about their work; if it’s a stranger, I have most likely not seen their work and if it’s a friend, it’s really weird to think about them in a sexual context much less talk about their work in a clinical manner. But, hey, I’m at a porn convention and people tend to talk about porn at such conventions so I should call this the porn convention paradox.
I’m always surprised at the friendships that arise over despite the brief awkward interactions over the years. I guess if they repeat enough times, the girls realise you’re just sincerely awkward and greet you with hugs and kisses, and unfortunately with Lexi Belle, unwanted ass grabbing and spankings; still better than being groped by Ron Jeremy though.
I do try to catch up with my friends in general but then get anxious about if I am keeping them from the next person in line as that is a potential customer. I also patiently wait in line at Exxxoticas not wanting to interrupt an ongoing conversation even despite my friend giving me all sorts of cues to interrupt and rescue them from a long talker. Heh. Sorry, Vicki Chase.
Which leads me to comment about the proliferation and dominance of webcam companies (MyFreeCams & Chaturbate) at the shows these days. Camgirls are often inexperienced in interacting with the attendees as opposed to the people in their camrooms. The crowds can be intimidating, and you may be disrupting some virtual conversation when you approach them. By patiently waiting on their conversations with their computers, my socially awkward ass may have creeped out a girl or two. I’ll call this the camgirl at a convention dilemma.
I had met a nice girl from MFC in Denver and was pleasantly surprised when she unexpectedly showed up in Chicago but she was only there to take pictures. She was the most beautiful girl at the show, but I didn’t tell her that because I gotz no GaMe, and it would sound like an insincere pickup line in a room full of beautiful women. In Denver, I had patiently waited for her at the risk of missing my flight home before I came to my senses and ran off. So I found her every day in Chicago, took a photo or two, and relieved the oncoming social anxiety by running away.
My favourite part about cons is relaxing with my friends after the show hours; whether it’s having dinner and drinks, a puff or two, staring at a spinning ceiling while listening to the lechers hit on my friends, or dancing the macarena with someone who is younger than the song.
Thank you, Stefanie, Catjira, and Monica, for being accommodating with me. You were my better half this weekend, Vicki. We made some beautiful photos, Haighlee. I’ll miss you too, Joseline.
Exxxotica came to the Denver area for the first time, and my memory of it is already hazy. Porn stars galore descended near the capital of Colorado with the perk of THC being legal at least statewise.
The best thing about Exxxoticas is how accessible the porn stars with their fans at least in terms of getting to meet them. Unlike AVN Expos where you have long lines and suffocating crowds, you can meet your favourite stars within a wait of about 1-10 minutes. The crowds were not overwhelming, and there was a fair representation of men and women.
The show was dominated by the two major webcam companies, MyFreeCams and Chaturbate. Their cam girls were not accessible to the fans as much given their focus on the webcams on their computers and relative inexperience in greeting their fans in person. However, I make it a point to meet them as several may be the porn stars of tomorrow.
The nightlife was more mellow with the best parties being in the middle of the host hotel or the rooms upstairs. Security was tight checking to making sure everyone that did belong at the hotel or had a ticket were let in.
Yes, there was a lot of weed. I didn’t have to find a dispensary to obtain any since people were freely offering and sharing.
Meeting pets of the girls are always fun although you wonder if it’s appropriate that they should be in high stimulus environments with blasting music and crowds.
Seeing Jenna Haze again was a nice blast from the past. She is planning to do a final dance tour as goodwill for her fans as she transitions into a new career. Given that she was the first porn star I met at my first porn convention, I recognised my own convention mortality.
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.
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.