by Curtis L. Isom – Founder / Editor-In-Chief
The 2018 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) was interesting to say the least.
Even with all the new remodeling done by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, there were things clearly missing and new things at this year’s AEE. So let’s start with something new……….
One of the things I liked was that everyone, fans and talent included, had to sign a code of conduct that if you violated it you could be expelled from the expo. There’s been a call/need for this for some time and I was more than happy to put my name on the dotted line. Now how much goes in to enforcing this code in the future is left to be seen, but it’s a definite step in the right direction. Something else new was a large increase in mainstream media present. There have always been representatives from the mainstream media but this year I met people from The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC Sports, and other major media outlets.
Now I shouldn’t have to tell you why the increase in mainstream media coverage, but it does lend itself to what was missing at this year’s AEE
This year there wasn’t a booth representing Wicked Pictures and probably due to two of it’s stars involve in their own controversies. The first is of course Stormy Daniels and her ongoing lawsuit against President Donald Trump. Ms. Daniels wasn’t present at the AEE, but evidently attended the AVN Awards Show on Saturday night. I thought was a smart move because EVERYONE wanted to talk to her, myself included, but I can always wait till a later time to chat with Ms. Daniels. The other Wicked Pictures talent missing until the awards show was Jessica Drake who I was informed had been traveling around with a security detail. Why? Because she supposedly was involved in some cyberbullying of adult actress August Ames who committed suicide by hanging herself in a public park. Before Ms. Ames committed suicide, she supposedly mentioned on Twitter the bullying she received from Ms. Drake which resulted in Ms. drake receiving death threats. Now let me state for the record that I think anyone in the industry who partakes in cyberbullying should be put on some kind of suspension for a period of at least a year if not banned from the industry all together. I’ve been a victim of cyberbullying, but this is an ongoing problem in general that if the industry takes steps to curtail and enforce a “zero tolerance policy” I think we’d see some very positive changes and maybe decrease in the number of industry suicides.
Another notable “missing person” was Ron Jeremy. Now it was weird not seeing Ron at the AEE, but I was told he banned from the AEE due to some misconduct at another event. Now I have personally seen Ron Jeremy have some unusual interactions with women at other shows, but I know there was consent involved. So whatever it was that Ron did elsewhere should have been left to that event only and not tried to be applied to other events because Ron Jeremy, like him or not, is someone people come to shows like the AEE to see. I also heard that this ban is suppose top be PERMANENT for not only AVN but other shows like Exxxotica. Now if this is true, I can see attendances dropping. If you ban one of your MAIN ATTRACTIONS, you’re just screwing yourself and the public over and therefore affecting your event. Personally I was looking forward to seeing Ron because I wanted to interview him about some new business ventures he had. We’ll see what happens at Exxxotica Chicago this summer.
But this isn’t to say there wasn’t other people I could talk to so I dusted off my interview skills and interviewed Nikki Phoenix and Lisey Sweet, Both ladies were quite accommidating and those interviews will be up on the soon to be launched YouTube channel for Erotic World Media. Lisey Sweet was one of the new faces I saw at the AEE and as I went through the pictures I took of the AEE, I notice an influx of new faces. This happens almost every year, but as I go through my pictures from event to event, I see regular faces as well as new ones. And the new ones keep on changing and with the turnover of talent you almost want to make a “scorecard” guessing of how long they’ll last in the industry. Each line would look something like this:
“(Talent’s Name) Industry Lifespan Guess: Year(s)_____ Months_____ Days_____”
This is not being mean, it’s just the reality of our business. It’s not for everyone and even some of those who have been in the industry for some time tell me it’s sad how this industry can just chew up and spit out the ones who can’t hack it. Especially if you don’t have some type of support system.
This brings me briefly back to the aforementioned August Ames. Evil Angel was giving out t-shirts to honor Ms. Ames and although it’s a great gesture, there were four other adult actresses that lost their lives around the time Ms. Ames did but I didn’t see anyone or anything honoring them. Yes there is an “In Memorium” portion of the AVN Awards Show that pays a small tribute to those the industry has lost, but Ms. Ames suicide and some of the deaths of other adult performers seems to indicate a disturbing trend that calls for me to address in another article. Not every death is a suicide, but it’s interesting and sad how a many of them are and how the industry choses to deal with it.
Anyway, back the to the AEE……
The rest of the AEE included more vendors which the hotel’s expansion handle nicely. The only issue I had was that with the increase in space came an increase in a number of vendors that have large booths that are more like “living rooms” but only a few select individuals are allowed into. These larger booths take up so much space that they cut into the walkways between booths which creates congestion that doesn’t allow people to move about as freely as possible and therefore makes taking pictures very difficult. There were booths I wanted to take pictures of the talent present, but the congestion was so bad I had to forgo taking pictures. I said it before and I’ll say it again, Oh how I wish they could go back to the “media only” hour before the public was allowed in. I could get most of what I wanted done and be able to spend more time doing interviews. I almost forgot to mention that something else missing from the AEE was the stage shows that were held in The Joint. Now I don’t know if this was because of the increased size of the expo or there wasn’t enough interest or acts available to do the stage shows. Either way we’ll see if the stage shows make a return in the future.
Before I end this article I want to mention a couple events I didn’t get to cover this year:
Evil Angel Party – I’ve been covering this party the last two years and had a chance to do so this year but was suppose to do a photoshoot while the party was going on. Unfortunately, the model didn’t inform me by text or call she had to cancel which meant that shoot fell through and therefore I missed out on covering the Evil Angel party. Not going to let that happen again.
AVN Awards Show – I wasn’t chosen to take photos of the awards show as I have previously. It wasn’t for the sake of trying. I REALLY don’t like playing politics so wasn’t overall disappointed I couldn’t shoot because I took enough photos at the 2017 AVN Awards Show that AVN liked and made TWO galleries of my show photos. So even if I don’t ever get to shoot the awards show again, I’ve made my mark. That in itself is an accomplishment I’m very proud of. I know a couple of other photographers who did shoot at this year’s show, but I haven’t seen any of their work published on the AVN site. You think what you may and I’ll leave it at that. But on the upside, I had the distinct pleasure in photographing the beautiful Shanda Fay as she got ready for her walk on the red carpet for the awards show as her Batgirl character. The cool thing was the upper half of her body was covered in body paint! The end result was a masterpiece and watching it take shape was something I was honored to capture for Ms. Fay.
So with everything being said, besides being bigger, the AEE isn’t different than previous years even with what was missing this year. I always enjoy seeing the friends I’ve made, even though it now feels like playing “hide and seek” with the larger expo size. The only thing that I do find annoying is the number of deejays playing in the halls. It’s hard enough trying to talk to and interview people at their booths, but the volume levels left my ears ringing for a few days afterwards.
Oh well, that’s how the cookie crumbles. We’ll see how things go this year and the impact they have, if any, on next year’s AEE. As always, the pictures form this year’s AEE can be found in the “Photos” section of the website.
Till the next time, take care.