Belladonna for Industry, on Industry, and in Industry

Belladonna, who is a crowd-pleaser no matter how big or small the crowd, wlll be dancing at the Spearmint Rhino in the City of Industry from Thursday through Saturday nights.

Non-Californians might be interested to know that the City of Industry was created in 1957 to prohibit Los Angeles from annexing industrial land for tax revenue. This was a trick locals learned from the nearby City of Commerce and which I plan to use when I incorporate the City of Pornography.

But back to Belladonna. If you have never seen her in person, she makes you feel welcome no matter how seedy the surroundings.

Watch this video of Belladonna on two separate nights of the Adult Entertainment Expo (no, I still have not gone through all my videos from that event) continuing to sign autographs after everyone else has gone home. Then she talks to me for 20 minutes as I ask her questions about Whole Foods and her opinions on pirated pornography.

To show how much of a woman of the people Belladonna is, she recently traveled to the snowy wilds of Fitchburg, MA (well, she did it in December) to meet fans who had never seen a porn star before and to commiserate with them on the closure of Whalom Park.

Belladonna Dances:

Spearmint Rhino
15411 E. Valley Blvd., Industry CA
(626) 336-6892

Thursday, March 11th: 10:30 pm
Friday, March 12th: 11pm & 1am
Saturday, March 13th: 1am

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: AVN 2010: The only numbers you can trust; Porn scenes from an Italian restaurant
See also: Belladonna, Spearmint Rhino

Theatre review: “The Vagina Monologues”

Like a self-lubricating “Our Town,” Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” has become a perennial favorite across all levels of amateur and professional theatre. Both deal with themes of life and death, and both carry a powerful message either uninhibited or enhanced by the skill of the actor.

Even as America’s Beloved Porn Journalist I rarely get the opportunity to attend live theatre not featuring a donkey, so I was eager to see Antioch University of Los Angeles’ production of the play. I’d seen two professional productions before, one each in New York and Chicago, and the Antioch version features Nina Hartley and 14 other women, ably directed by Lesley Alexander.

Ensler debuted the play in Greenwich Village in 1996 and it has since become a worldwide phenomenon. A rotating series of monologues, all penned by Ensler and covering themes from humorous to grave to poignant to poetic, “VM” is a rare theatrical experience that is never not thought-provoking.

Every piece of praise and criticism you’ve heard about “The Vagina Monologues” is likely true. In its mission statement as a wakeup call and rallying cry for activism and education about rape, self-exploration, and sexual health, it contains powerful messages that I imagine are revelations to audiences hearing them for the first time.

But to a metropolitan crowd in a re-purposed university classroom, where this production plays, The “VM” seemed almost quaint and folksy.

“Look at these frontier women embracing their vaginas,” I said, but not out loud.

My favorite monologues included “My Angry Vagina,” in which Charlisse Bennett rails against the indignities of vagina-unfriendly gynecological exams, Sandra Daugherty’s deliciously overindulgent “Reclaiming Cunt,” Hartley’s interpretation of the lawyer-turned-dominatrix essay “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy” (Hartley used the collared director to illustrate some of the moans the domme elicited from her clients), and Dr. Claudia Shields’ elegant delivery of “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could.”

It is the latter monologue that tends to be a critical lightning rod.

The story of an adolescent survivor of rape at the hands of her father’s friend, “Coochie Snorcher” then finds the girl willingly seduced by an older woman, who feeds her vodka and blows her mind.

Early versions of the monologue placed the girl at 13 and included the line, “if it was rape, it was good rape.”

Later editions, edited due to outrage, made the girl 16 and omitted the “rape” line. But in a play in which a six-year-old describes her vagina as smelling like “snowflakes,” it seems like there is also room for the original, unedited “Coochie Snorcher.” Ensler was not saying that rape is good only if women do it, but that you have to do rape right.

Who knows? If the girl had been attracted to her father’s friend and he was kind? If he knew how to make a good Gimlet … ?

Men are not portrayed favorably in “The Vagina Monologues.” When they are mentioned, they are most often rapists. Only in “Because He Liked To Look At It” does a man find validation because he likes to gaze respectfully at the narrator’s vagina, and that piece is introduced with vocabulary indicating that this good but otherwise boring and not-too-smart man is an exception.

But I don’t have a problem with how men figure in “The Vagina Monologues” because I can watch everything from “Glengarry Glen Ross” to “A Streetcar Named Desire” to just about any movie ever made to see dicks as the protagonist.

My problem with every “VM” I’ve seen is that the play preaches empowerment and tolerance at the exclusion of men. The play would be braver if it were less lopsided, and I resent the “Kill Whitey” attitude. Did I repress your vagina? But the message of the show seems to be that vagina-consciousness needs to play catch-up after millenia of neglect.

15 years in, the vaginal celebration of the “Monologues” can sometimes seem like latecomers stridently “discovering” a band you’re already into.

“ISN’T LED ZEPPELIN AWESOME?” they’ll shriek. “HAVE YOU HEARD THESE GUYS? HOLY SHIT! YOU HAVE GOT TO LISTEN TO ‘KASHMIR.'”

“You’re preaching to the choir, friend,” I will say, “I’ve loved Led Zeppelin and vaginas my entire life.”

“The Vagina Monologues” is always provocative and you will be impressed with the Antioch production, continuing through tomorrow night.

Buy tickets here.

Better watch out, though: Antioch fucking rapes you on the parking.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Lou & Amy & Joe & Evanka: Coming to terms with your celebrity sex tape
See also: V-Day

Pornsaints deep in the heart of Texas (without the clap)

Austin’s Birdhouse Gallery will experience a visitation by the Pornsaints art show from March 28 through April 17. On display will be this lovely portrait of Hollis Ireland by artist Natalia Shau. Even though Austin is nowhere near Mexico, the painting will sell for 900 Euros.

As you know, my only religion is Dokken, King Diamond, and select passages from Queensryche, so I don’t understand the Pornsaints’ artistic approach to porn, pornographic approach to art, or pornoartistic approach to religion. But you can find out more on page 138 of “Dianetics.”

Still, these haloed interpretations of Kylie Ireland, Ava and Mia Rose, and the divine Dana Vespoli just made me transfigure in my pants.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Pornsaints preying on your impure thoughts
See also: Pornsaints

Nina Hartley makes vaginas happy

Nina Hartley and a dozen other women will perform Eve Ensler’s groundbreaking play “The Vagina Monologues” this week at a local college that has requested I don’t include its name on my filthy, lowest-common-denominator porn site read daily by thousands of reprobates like you.

Read a brilliant article about the production here.

Hartley interprets the monologue “The Woman Who Makes Vaginas Happy” and says that this performance marks her first appearance in a stage play since high school.

Hartley, a formidable switch in BDSM lingo, admits the joy of actually being directed.

“I like having a director who cares enough to – gosh – give direction, instead of leaving it to me to do what I want,” she said.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Going downstage on Alicia Whitsover; George C. Scott in “Hardcore”; Porn musical to give popshots a voice
See also: The Vagina Dialogues

XBiz L.A. wrap-up: “The pond gets smaller so the fish get bigger”

Because my gaze, like that of Sauron, pierces shadow and flesh (and because, unlike last year – and to appropriate a sixties’ term – I was lidless), I have a unique perspective on the type of people who continue to come to adult business conventions.

XBiz defines itself as a smaller, more efficient alternative to traditional adult industry bloatedness, and its conference this week at the Sofitel Hotel in Los Angeles hosted a group of people who have somehow managed to stay afloat in the porn business.

So while the seminars might not have shed any new light on problems facing the adult industry, or offered any new solutions other than Prepare for the Worst but Hope for the Best, the important thing, I feel, was that a group of people with similar interests gathered in a central location and saw who was still alive.

As usual, I left with several thousand dollars’ worth of promises that, as with last month’s AEE, will dematerialize in the next few weeks. Here are the excuses I will get:

1. “Some personal things came up. Money’s tight.”
2. “We’re going to be relaunching the website. We’ll call you when we’ve got the CMS set up.”
3. “We’ve decided to do this in-house.”
4. “Could you do some stuff for free until we get the traffic up?” (No.)

(But every year, as I file my business cards and delicately fold my lanyards and ID badges into the Gram Ponante Towers, Helipad, Gonorrhearium, Sweat Lodge, and Adult Outpatient Day Program’s time capsule, I cross my fingers and say, “Prove me wrong.”)

This breathless sort of on-the-spot wishful thinking dealmaking happens in every industry. When I worked as a shepherd in Afghanistan, many of the mujahadeen (who now run affiliate programs) would ask if I’d float them some sheep. (No.)

One of the fun features of the XBiz conference was its exponentially scaled down version of a Hollywood gifting suite, at which sponsors hand out swag. The best gift was webcam operator ImLive‘s travel neck pillows. I could actually use one of those. While traveling. On my neck!

Other companies gave out lighters and condoms and I was all like, “I’d need to be smoking crack to wear a condom.”

One company I found impressive was a British firm called Safenames, which manages domain registrations for companies with multiple websites and offers hosting, cybersquatter retribution (they call this “brand protection”), and portfolio dashboard services.

So if you are a company like Canadian tubesite Pornhub, which has hundreds of domains, Safenames searches for similar domains with other extensions such as .info or .gr, registers them, hosts them offshore (Safenames manages online gaming with casino sites, too), and features a portal for portfolio management.

Safenames also provides these services for mainstream companies like Sony, Aer Lingus, and the Arsenal Football Club.

According to its literature, Safenames has a product called Mark Protect that “finds registered and expiring domain names that are currently infringing on your trademarks across the internet” and safeguards “your brand from any harmful content such as pornography, gambling, or gray market goods.”

Despite some evidence to the contrary, porn is still a big market. But mainstream companies have to do a delicate dance to attract adult business accounts without offending their upstanding corporate citizen clientele like, say, Sony.

“Does Sony have a problem with Safenames working with porn companies?” I asked Madassar Azim, Safenames’ Global Sales Manager.

“We give them separate customer service representatives,” he said.

“And that’s it?”

Don’t get me wrong – there is no Fortune 500 company that doesn’t somewhere in its vast holdings have a subsidiary that profits from the exploitation of flesh. Most just don’t like to admit it.

Speaking of flesh, very few women attended the XBiz conference, far fewer of them porn stars, but dozens of the latter showed up at last night’s 8th annual XBiz Awards at the Avalon Nightclub on Vine Street.

This year’s XBiz Awards should get the award for Keeping People’s Attention, because my trained journalist’s eye spotted a good 25 percent of the audience paying attention at any given time, which is way more than the AVN Awards or XRCO’s version (and the Adultcon and Temptation Awards were so awful and ill-attended that they lasted one year each).

In a particularly porny turn of events, however, Kimberly Kane was not allowed into the awards, despite being nominated for the Best Actress trophy. She was able to get her picture taken on the red carpet outside, but her name was not on the guest list.

Meanwhile, onstage, someone introduced as “Gram Ponant” announced the Best Actress honor.

“Kimberly Kane for ‘The Sex Files’!”

Nina Hartley, meanwhile, gave a very-present Evan Stone his Best Actor trophy, and they groped each other for a good minute while I stood by, alone, waiting for my chance to do things to Kane that would make the Kama Sutra curl up and explode.

But she wasn’t there.

See Kimberly Kane’s harrowing account here.

My camera in the shop, I took Flip video snapshots of beautiful hostesses Sunny Leone and Teagan, Cousin Stevie chatting amiably with Ryan Keely, Joanna Angel, earnest porn dude Dane Cross, and Nina Hartley with porn’s resident Bill Cosby impersonator, Thomas Ward.

XBiz will again hold its annual summer forum in Las Vegas this June. It, too, is a well-managed event and a good opportunity to check in and say “Still breathing?” while Kagney Linn Karter gyrates nearby.

As I left the Avalon Nightclub last night to walk across the street and look at Rongo Starr’s new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of Capitol Records, a prematurely curmudgeonly starlet, all of 24 years old, asked me for a light.

“I only have a neck pillow,” I said. “But what did you think of this year’s show?”

“The pond gets smaller so the fish get bigger,” she said. “More work for me.”

  • Click here to see publicist Erica Icon’s excellent, nudity and tranny-filled shots from the night (you will need a flickr acccount)

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Getting Hummers at XBiz L.A.; Porn scenes from an Italian restaurant
See also: XBiz

Call for suggestions: Presenter etiquette at the XBiz Awards

Because I am a legendary performer whose poignant portrayal of the Colossus of Loads brought tears to the eyes of moviegoers in “Gram Ponante’s Nutfeast,” I will be presenting the Best Actress trophy at this year’s XBiz Awards. But I am unsure of how I should comport myself.

Getting an XBiz Award, as you know, is like being knighted, learning to drive stick, and getting your hymen broken all at the same time. It is a very special moment for a young lady, and I need to be as gentle – but as firm – as I can when pressing the jagged lucite monolith that is an XBiz Award into the quivering, pink, puckering, moist hands of either Alektra Blue, Asa Akira, Audrey Hollander, Bree Olson, Hillary Scott, Jessica Drake, Joanna Angel, Kayden Kross, Kelly McCarty, Kimberly Kane, Kirsten Price, Kristina Rose, Lisa Ann, or Sasha Grey.

I have been to many adult awards shows and have noted certain behaviors among the presenter class. Here are some moves I’m considering:

  • Going onstage with hookers whom I’ll feel up while reading my card, as if reading the name of the winner is a distraction to feeling up the hookers
  • Making comments to Hartley that are not merely suggestive, just lewd. “The lady next to me likes the cock.”
  • Wearing sunglasses indoors
  • Deliberately mispronouncing the name of the winner if she isn’t someone I like
  • Pouring malt liquor on a framed photograph of David Aaron Clark. “Mourn ya til I join ya, my nigger.”
  • Growing a goatee
  • Letting people know that I’m fucked up
  • Insulting the audience. “What’s up, motherfuckers?”
  • Being a wigger. “Make some noise Hollywood!”
  • Pointing out the people who are not nominated
  • Mentioning my band, Fogelfoot
  • Mentioning my Lord, Jesus Christ
  • Visualizing a free Tibet

I encourage anyone in the adult industry to give me advice about the high level of decorum I will need to employ February 10.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: XBiz takes over February; Backstage at the XBiz Awards – A Night of Heroes
See also: XBiz Awards, February 10, 2010 at Avalon Hollywood

Learning to love your seven-foot penis

My feeling is this: if I had a seven-foot penis, I would probably show a little more affect than “Dick,” the guy who invented it in the snows of Minnesota.

I met Dick and the Bucking Penis at the Adult Entertainment Expo, and he explained that his creation had once been a fixture at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, where my elite squadron of nude 18-year-old Ukrainian prostitute/bikers rides at that city’s annual motorcycle rally.

“But they outlawed nudity at the Buffalo Chip,” said Dick, sadly.

“The Buffalo Chip?” I didn’t say. “You know, I was coming back from a motorcycle classic in Sturgis, South Dakota, on my motorcycle on U.S. Highway 14. Just outside Spotted Horse, I ran into a deer. I had no chance. Even though the highway people had mowed the sides, they couldn’t mow around the culverts, and the doe jumped right in front of the bike. I had a chance to say one word, “Fuck!”, and then I hit it. I know this: If a bullet has my name on it, I won’t be calling for my mother. But the only reason I’m alive and telling this story, is because of the big FL front end and that solid tire on my Fat Boy.”

The Bucking Penis drew a crowd at the AEE and women had to sign a waiver in order to get on it, much like they do when they get on me (because I might read them my poetry). It is stationed in the middle of an inflatable arena like those found at Chuck E. Cheese, and there is a spout at the end of the penis (I’m sure you can guess at which end) that can be made to shoot water at the crowd (although, by the point one is in a venue that features a bucking penis, the spout may as well just shoot hollow-point bullets and be done with it).

While the inventor himself didn’t seem too happy to be there (see video), he did say that he can bring his seven-foot penis to you, if you haven’t outlawed nudity yourself. I wonder if he’s been by John Travolta’s house?

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Cheyenne Hunter-The Loneliness of the long-distance biker/MILF
See also: The Bucking Penis

AVN 2010: The Only numbers you can trust

This year’s AVN Expo and Awards were smaller, as everyone predicted, and featured a noticeable consolidation of power for the largest studios. According to Home Entertainment Events, 14 percent more fans showed up this year, and the four percent decrease in attendance by adult industry players gave those fans more breathing room, which is great considering adult fans’ oxygen needs.

I am not euphemizing when I say that the fewer exhibitors this year, in one consolidated hall rather than previous years’ upstairs/downstairs setup, made for a better fan experience.

That said, here are the only numbers you can trust:

Percentage of total interviewees who incorporated “I’m a very sexual person” when talking with me: 22
Number of these people I believe are actually very sexual people: 1
Bankruptcy chapter filed in October by Adult Entertainment Expo grandparent Questex: 11
Rumored amount AVN asked of certain studios to help with the show : $250,000
Rumored amount of studios that coughed up the money: 1
Odds that this information was leaked by a disgruntled soon-to-be-former employee of that studio: 1:1
Hand at which I heard this information: 4th

Height, in feet, of Evan Seinfeld’s new girlfriend: 4
Number of transsexual performers who walked the red carpet: 2
Number of red carpet walkers whom I thought were transsexual: 3
Percentage decrease, since last year, of Stoya appearances: 100

Number of men who asked me who Sophie Dee was: 6
Number of nights I personally watched Belladonna stay late in an autograph line: 2
Number of free meals I got at the Grand Lux Cafe: 1
Number of minutes late was the meal that became free: 90
Hours I slept between Thursday and Sunday: 8
Encounters with James Bartholet: 1

Degree reversal in mentions of Dane Cross this year versus last year: 180
Hours after he took off his glasses that Cross won Best Male Newcomer: 3
Number of awards, barring ties, bestowed by AVN: 126
Percentage of these that agreed with my December Ropey Volley Awards in similar categories: 47

Years in a row in which I’ve heard Manuel Ferrara gently ask a photographer to be “polite”: 3
Number of attendees at this year’s AEE, according to show organizer Home Entertainment Events: 22,000
Percentage increase since last year: 10
Times my toes were run over by a wheelchair: 2
Photos I took of people in bathtubs: 2
Percentage of these people I later photographed eating the same pretzel as Madison Young: 50
Ratio of AVN Awards shows I have attended to the times I have covered the red carpet, in reduced fractions: 1:2
Ratio of cigars smoked by me to the number of times I wanted one, in real numbers: 0:2
In-person nudity I witnessed at AEE-sanctioned events: 0
Number of adult industry professionals I know who decided not to come: 14
Rank of Best New Starlet Kagney Linn Karter’s real name as the Most Appropriate Porn Name Ever: 1
Number of hours AVN’s website was down over AEE week, according to an employee: 12
Likelihood that the guy who built the seven-foot fiberglas penis introduced himself as “Dick”: 1
Number of XBiz employees I saw in the company of Vivid employees: 1
Feelings of bittersweet regret, expressed on a scale of 1 to 100, that Satine Phoenix now has a boyfriend and doesn’t avail herself as a fuck toy at parties anymore, with concessions made that I’m happy that she’s happy: 87
Number of AEEs I have behind me versus the number I think I have left in me: 6:1

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: AVN 2009 index; AVN 2008 index
See also: Adult Entertainment Expo

The Extra-Virgin Ava Rose

avnmmxavaSometimes my lack of in-person interview skills surprises me, but I do feel that I got to the heart of the nation’s fascination with Ava Rose nonetheless in this exchange with the glamorous, asstasic Alaskan.

Rose says that elusive Elegant Angel director Mason was the first to hip her to the fact that she packed much back, and that I should probably dip my bread in Ava the next time I go to Papa Gino’s.

Ava also lets us in on her plans for 2010 and gracefully deflects an awkward compliment.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: The 2009 Ropey Volley Awards; “Big Wet Asses” aren’t just about the big wet asses anymore; Hustler’s Inferno
See also: Elegant Angel

When Ryan Keely can’t crack a book, she’s reading Gram Ponante

ryankeely31Just like a one-wing dove, Penthouse Pet Ryan Keely looks hauntingly familiar.

“Now hold on a second,” I said when she walked into the Adult Entertainment Expo. “Is your hair different?”

ryankeely32
“I decided to make a commitment to bigger boobs,” she said.

I swear to G-d I was not looking at her boobs, but I did marvel at today’s pants technology that allowed just enough ass cleavage to show without the rest of Keely’s smart pantsuit bottoms to fall down. Had Hillary Clinton worn her pantsuit as well as Keely, who knows who’d be President now?

If you think Penthouse models are aloof and porn-averse due to their girls-only nature, think again: Keely is well-versed in Porn Valley history, having once trod these roads in another form. But now she lives in New York, hence the dapper ensemble and good posture.

ryankeely33
Here is a shot of Keely and Samantha Ryan from Elegant Angel’s “Girl Play.”

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Once oin this island – my “This Ain’t Gilligan’s Island XXX” journal
See also: Ryan Keely

Sun sets on AVN show

avnmmx1000This photo was taken at the Burbank airport last night as the 2010 Adult Entertainment Expo ended in Las Vegas.

“The sun doesn’t set in the east, Grams,” you might say. “In fact, you can see the sunset hitting the mountains from the front. You might think about that the next time you use Photoshop to make some top-heavy allusion to the changing face of the porn industry.”

“Shut the fuck up,” I might say.

Join me for more Adult Entertainment Expo/AVN Awards coverage as I sort through the wreckage of my suitcase.

Alexis Ford gets ready for her closeup

avnmmx5Alexis Ford took her place behind a platform at the Adam & Eve booth this morning at 10:01 and began signing the first of 300 autographs.

Ford lives in Manhattan and, starting this month, will be flying to Los Angeles every four weeks to shoot movies. This is her first time at the AEE.

I asked about Sharpie fumes, Yankees vs. Mets (“Yankees, but I don’t want to make any Mets fans angry!”), and snow (“I love it!”), but I really wanted to know if she was wearing comfortable shoes.

“I have very strong legs,” said Ford, looking me directly in the eye. “I can handle anything.”

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Adam & Eve debuts Ford hybrid
See also: Adam & Eve

AEE trumps CES with Internet access

avnmmx4Every year I attend both AEE and CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. Both take place in the Sands Expo Center, with CES also occupying the Las Vegas Convention Center. In years past, the CES was excellent for its complimentary computer bags for press types, free lunches, and broadband access. Until this year.

Suffering from the failing economy of the adult industry, CES has removed its hot lunch program from the Venetian and has not supplied adequate Internet access. The bags, however, remain useful.

In the end, attendees of both conventions aren’t too different. Some have Bluethooth headsets, some have oxygen machines. All drink coffee.

Anyway, I’m here to say that, moments before Bree Olson cuts the ribbon to lanch the 2010 Adult Entertainment Exposition, only the porn people have sufficient WiFi access.

Any Digital Playgrund’s “Fly Girls” kicks the ass of “Flight Attendants.” I can tell by just the poster.

AEE advertising focuses on things, stuff

avnmmx1I like to arrive in Las Vegas early, stock up on water and Emergen-C, and stroll down the empty concourse to Hall A at the Sands, where the Adult Entertainment Expo is held. There I always get a sense of who had the cash to greet attendees with their advertising.

What used to be the province of Wicked and the Wicked girls now belongs to lingerie designer Haci and the electronic cigarette BluCigs (I don’t get it). Haci’s banners join those of Fleshlight and RealTouch on the way to the security checkpoint. Watch for the elderly African-American security guard with a wig, and tell her Gram said Hi.

What can we learn from these banners? Maybe that the companies that make pornography are losing ground to products consumers will use while downloading free pornography? Too early to tell.

avnmmx3

Among the dozens of exhibitors at this year’s AEE will be a female sex robot called the TrueCompanion, The “artificial intelligence robots are specially engineered to completely gratify the owner and fully equipped to carry a conversation or have an intimate encounter.” I wonder if the True Companion will fall in love with Randy Sears like Alektra Blue did in Wicked’s “2040“?

Attend the TrueCompanion Press Conference on Saturday, January 9 at 11:00 AM on the AEE stage.

Not only that, but “attendees will also be called to test their riding prowess on a 7-foot bucking mechanical penis. The ride will be located in the Bucking Penis booth, #1030.”

I will be standing slightly to the left of booth 1030 exhibiting my smaller but more versatile model. I plan to be escorted out by security. Maybe even the chick with the wig.

Reports are filtering in from people who will not be attending AEE. Stoya will not be going, and that makes me sad.

avnmmx2

But an especially cynical older gentleman I know writes this:

“I think the whole idea of a convention/expo is outdated, especially in our case since most companies are barely operational and most fans are fucking the talent in privates. Do we really need to get together in Vegas — in the shadow of one of the largest, if not the largest, convention Vegas hosts, forcing everyone who goes to pay two or three times the regular rate for a room on the Strip — for a
self-congratulatory circle jerk? Is there even anything to be self-congratulatory about?”

Well, yes. Me and the security guard are getting married.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: RealTouch-Best of 2009; Precogs, anabots, and why dumb girls are hot
See also: Adult Entertainment Expo, RealTouch

AEE returns to champion Porn-for-Pay model

pastie07It is a January tradition that every year teaches Las Vegas how to love, and how to feel: The Adult Entertainment Expo, anchored by the AVN family of fine adult trade publications, returns from January 7 through 10.

This year will mark just my sixth trip to Porn’s Winter Classic, so I don’t have the perspective of those who’ve attended since the 90’s when, if people wanted porn, they had to pay for it.

Paying for porn has become as much a treasured relic of a bygone era as enjoyable air travel, phones with pulse dial options, and pubic hair, and each year those who remember the good old days lament the days when even something God-awful would sell 30,000 units at $79.95 a tape.

But free porn on the Internet hasn’t won yet, and there are still plenty of people interested in getting within a Sharpie whiff of Belladonna, Jesse Jane, Tera Patrick, Nina Hartley, and a hundred other less famous (but each one is somebody‘s special favorite) starlets.

I personally think that reports of the demise of the porn industry have been exaggerated. Still, the money isn’t there like it used to be, and some of the business seminars at AEE, such as “Online Marketing: Your Key to Success in the New Economy” sound like those afternoon yachtsmanship lessons offered on the Titanic.

Even though there are adult industry law seminars, a Kama Sutra contest, and even a “keynote” by Sasha Grey, the main appeal of the convention is the gawking.

Nudity is not allowed in the Sands Convention Center, where the AEE has been held side by side (and, at one time, as part of) the concurrent Consumer Electronics Show. Last year I met a guy at CES who told me that for years he would skip the electronics convention just to follow Teri Weigel around all day. But certain performers delight and charm the crowds by being the envelope-pushing exhibitionists fans hoped they’d be.

Several of my friends aren’t going this year. Business is bad. But I’m going, if anything to bear witness to something that is looking a little more archaic each year; a victim of its own poor business choices but still fun and raucous and unpredictable.

In addition to Grey’s keynote, Tera Patrick will be signing her excellent book “Sinner Takes All,” Belladonna, Asa Akira, and Bobbi Starr will be signing for Evil Angel, the full complement of current Digital Playground stars will be in heavy rotation, as will Bree Olson, Alexis Ford, and Teagan Presley for Adam & Eve. Olson will also cut the ceremonial ribbon to begin AEE on January 7. Wicked has not changed its lineup in two years, so all the fan favorites will doubtless be at that downstage-center booth.

Unlike many people, I actually return from Las Vegas feeling healthier, because I’ve made a concerted effort to counter my late nights and heavy drinking with a greater water and Vitamin C intake and relentless, almost OCD-level of hand sanitizing.

For a complete list of exhibitors and stars, visit The Adult Enertainment Expo’s home page.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Everyone to be the same …(2009); Reliving the dream (2008); Stormy cuts the cord
See also: AEE, AVN Awards

2009 in pictures: Because words are dumb

poty09_220Porn, as you have heard, is a visual medium. That is why so many of its professionals sport tattoos in languages they can’t read. Here are some favorites. Note: I will add captions later – I have to throw out my Christmas tree.

XBiz to take over February

xfanz_nominatemeXBiz has added a social networking element to its 8th annual awards show in February.

People’s Choice honors will go to the performers and companies that get enough fans to click on special XBiz links on their websites. The categories (“powered” by XFanz, the company’s fan portal) include Female Porn Star of the Year, Male Porn Star of the Year, Best New Starlet of the Year, Porn Studio of the Year, Porn Director of the Year, Feature Movie of the Year, Gonzo Movie of the Year, Porn Parody of the Year, Web Babe of the Year, and Porn Site of the Year, which I will win.

These categories are in addition to the adult-Internet-related awards chosen by XBiz staff.

People often ask me, “Grams, what is the difference between AVN and XBiz?”

The answer used to be clear: XBiz excelled in the realm of the adult Internet, where love of technology trumped porn fandom, and AVN dominated in print and face-to-face interaction (such as conventions). AVN long held an advantage due to its seniority and name recognition, but XBiz benefited from the older company’s complacency and bloatedness.

Aiming first at what he knew, webmaster Alec Helmy founded XBiz in 1996 to take on AVNOnline, then in a heat with a magazine called Klixxx to cater to the online adult world. XBiz.com was immediately a threat, as Helmy actually knew the comparatively underserved adult webmaster community, which didn’t have as many ties to the “video side” (as it is called) as you might think; like two hemispheres of the same nudity-oriented brain, porn’s online and tangible media worlds were culturally different, with introverts vs. extroverts, new media vs. old, and the types of guys who would venture out to feel the bracing air of adult bookstores vs. the kind who didn’t leave the warm CRT glow of their basements except for webmaster conventions.

Of course I exaggerate, but not much.

It is also reductive – but not much – to say that XBiz does AVN’s ideas better than AVN, but founders when coming up with ideas of its own.

As XBiz chipped away at AVN’s market share, it first capitalized on its essential otherness to the recognized giant; its ad prices were lower, its reporters were eager to hear the stories of elderly pornographers who had long ago worn out their welcomes at AVN, and its youth and AVN’s own example allowed it to avoid AVN’s pitfalls; it was a scaleable, streamlined, humble but hungry organization.

But, as Lao Tzu said, “How can one topple AVN without becoming AVN?”

Both the economic downturn and the basic porniness of the two organizations took their toll in 2008 and 2009, as each company shed staff and slashed salaries of existing employees.

There is no more telling a sign of AVN and XBiz displacing equal water in the same bathtub as when, after being told that money was tight, employees of both companies arrived at work this past summer to find expensive new cars in executive parking spaces.

(“I’m just saying,” one former XBizzer said.

“Are you surprised?” one former AVN staffer said.)

So AVN has scaled down and XBiz has stopped expanding. But it is impossible to say if the bottom or a stasis point has been reached in the fortunes of the two companies.

The only thing that is clear is that XBiz has incorporated a much more manageable video module into its Internet-flavored awards and it has one-upped the FAME Awards fan-favorite model by making it easier for performers to pimp themselves.

xfanz_nominatemeXBiz will hold its XBiz LA Conference at the Sofitel Hotel across from the Beverly Center from February 9-11, and its Awards will take place February 10 at Hollywood’s Avalon nightclub, five miles away. Yu can nominate this site by clicking on the image at right.

But now that XBiz at least shares the same woes as its aged competitor, what’s next for the adolescent company?

Three words: Black History Month.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: 7-year itch; Porn Valley Signage- which is real?; Making money at the 2009 XBiz Summer Forum; Cui Boner or – AVN is like a Rolling Stone
See also: Voting Begins for First-Ever People’s Choice Awards Powered by XFANZ.com

Kirsten Price: All things in moderation

kpavn1Kirsten Price, who is co-hosting the 2010 AVN Awards with Kayden Kross is, among other things, reasonable.

“I don’t get crazy over the holidays,” Price said, “but I’m not just going to sit there and watch everybody else eat my cookies.”

So Price, a Wicked contract performer since 2005 (and Wicked is the only studio which seems to be able to maintain the same roster of contract girls for more than two years) is preparing for AVN the same way she conducts her life: with deliberation and sexiness.

“I’ve got to put together eight looks, plus options,” Price said for her Adult Entertainment Exposition (AEE) ensemble, “plus a ball gown for the AVN Awards red carpet, then a cocktail dress thingie for the second half of the show.

“And I have to double-check with Kaylani (Lei), because we always end up choosing the same thing.”

Price will have one rehearsal for the AVN show with Kross and Dave Attell, who will provide the intentional comedy. She has not seen the script yet and does not know who writes it. “I’ll look it over if it comes before the show, and then I’ll read it off the TelePrompter,” she said.

kpavn3But Price is a veteran of on-camera hosting for Playboy TV. “So I’m going to feel more comfortable in a room of 2200 strangers than 20,” she said.

January’s will be Price’s fifth AVN show, and she has evolved some simple but solid rules for herself and for fans.

“Don’t be so nervous, Guys,” she said. “But don’t be all Grabby Grabby. Just because I have sex for a living doesn’t mean you can grab at me. Maybe your girlfriends can touch me.

And I am always at the booth with a lot of hand sanitizer. I always end up getting sick after the show anyway, but I am worried about H1N1 and want to be extra careful. So everyone, please, wash your hands.”

But isn’t porn about dirtiness and danger?

“I keep that on screen,” she said.

kpavn2The Providence native, who grew up in and around genteel Boston, is a major player in porn because she’s like a reversible snow jacket. She can be a slutty bombshell or an elegant hostess. With a sweatshirt and a hat, Kirsten Price the Porn Star can completely disappear.

“That’s why I’m not on all the time,” she said. “I lay low for a week before the awards. I rest up, get a B12 shot. I eat peanut butter cookies and those cookies from Trader Joe’s with the peppermint filling (Joe Joes). I drink hot chocolate with all kinds of liquor in it and coffee with Bailey’s and Frangelico and vanilla vodka and nothing low-calorie.

But then I pull it back, work out, and get ready for the crowds.”

The 2010 AVN Awards will be held at the “intimate and sexy” Pearl Theatre at the Palms Hotel on January 9.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: AVN 2009 in pictures; AVN 2009 – the only numbers you can trust; “House of Wicked” better than “House of Sand And Fog
See also: Wicked Pictures, AVN Awards

David Aaron Clark sent off in non-porny fashion

dacrip1“It was very dignified,” an attendee at director David Aaron Clark’s memorial said of the event. “Not porny at all.”

Clark was posthumously feted by dozens of friends and colleagues at the New Beverly Theatre, a funky, friendly and free-form revival cinema in Hollywood that Clark frequented for midnight movies and grindhouse marathons. It was an appropriate venue for a Clark tribute.

dacrip2Lobby cards with Clark’s image festooned the theatre as a video montage played – much of it featuring the departed with hair – and friends took the dais to reminisce.

Representatives from all aspects of Clark’s life in the Southern California end of the adult industry were there, including many past and preset employees of Evil Angel and Metro, two studios where Clark found all of his recent employment.

DSC09278Christian Mann, Clark’s boss at both Metro and Evil Angel, described his relationship to Clark as “not so much a boss, but a chauffeur.”

DACRIPS2An attendee described the event, which drew 60 people, as “not a porn shmooze-a-thon. It was nice, beyond anything. People were there to pay their respects to Dave.”

I’m sure Clark would have loved the service. It could have gone two ways, either elegant, convivial, and subdued or utterly depraved and without artistic merit. He would have enjoyed either, but it’s probably best the event wasn’t porny.

I am traveling for the holidays and couldn’t attend, but I remembered the last time I was with Clark at the New Beverly. We watched Sharon Mitchell in an ancient movie called “The Violation of Claudia.” I told him I liked the ending and he said, “That was the seventies. You expected better.”

While I’m sure Clark, whose body has been cremated, would have found a certain thrill in having his ashes scattered on a willing Asian starlet’s face, his sendoff Sunday reflected his high expectations.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Into the realm with David Aaron Clark