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

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Gram Ponante is America's Beloved Porn Journalist


  1. Grams,

    Is it possible her name wasn’t on the list because the name of the winner had been locked in a vault until the award cermony and was only known to some deputy-assistant auditor at PRice Waterhouse Coopers?

    Unlikely, but I thought I’d check

  2. Mr. Squiggle, I think you could be right, but I was backstage with Alektra Blue, who was also nominated, so it is possible that, to provide maximum security, XBiz divvied up list duties among several reputable but competing firms.

    So you know, the green room was actually 300 stories underground, perched on the volatile North American Plate itself, and Kane’s exclusion might have been a matter of tectonics.

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