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AEE 2019: AINews Reports from the Show, Part Two

by Rich Moreland, February 2019

This post is a brief visit to the Novelty Expo that was a part of the larger adult trade show in Las Vegas. Before we begin, a disclaimer is in order.

Neither I nor my cohorts—photographer Kevin Sayers and videographer Davyana San Miguel—were offered any compensation by any manufacturer for the photos in this article. We just wandered around and observed, enjoying everything we encountered.

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Passing through the crowded and noisy rooms connected with the on-screen part of the Adult Entertainment Expo and into the AVN Novelty Expo is akin to moving from a frat party to an executive suite.

‘Tis a pity, too, considering most fans never make it this far. Without porn stars ready for conversation and a signed photo or cammers with their computers, the atmosphere immediately loses some of its appeal.

Nevertheless, you never know who you might find hanging around. Maybe a superstar like Manuel Farrara.

There is certainly a lot of room to walk around and greet vendors, look at products, and ask for demonstrations.

What is trending this year are sex dolls, a rising product in adult at-home entertainment. Of course, some are caricatures (avatars?) that look like they came out of a Pure Taboo film.

But realism is making headway in manufacturing these days giving the dolls a natural appearance that at first is deceiving when seen from a brief distance. Up close a truer picture comes into focus but for the purchaser, the “feel” is as good as ever, or so I’m told.

Don’t get too carried away, though.  Never forget that the dolls are inanimate which means some customers may only want the more intimate parts!

Requires a little imagination, I think.

Apparel also plays a big part in the novelties show, especially for women.

Thigh highs are always in demand . . .

. . . Then there is Thighbrush!

Umm? Wonder what that could be? Oh, it’s designed to appeal to the man with a beard and the lady he loves! Sorta gets her in the mood.

The fetish crowd always loves to see their paraphernalia on display. The kinky sort might pick up a little something to take home. Maybe replace those worn out wrist restraints.

Gotta make those sexy BDSM connections that will light up her night!

Toy vendors improve their products every year and it’s evident that manufacturing has come a long (no pun intended) way.

Attracting the female customer is a major thrust (oops! another pun apology!) in the industry these days.

Of course, women are approached with exquisite promises that just the right outfit brings the joy of sex! If that doesn’t work for the lady . . . .

. . . She can create her own solo excitement in a very private moment.

I was going to leave the next one out, but mechanization is a part of the adult industry and the pleasure it provides. So, those of you who are prudish please look the other way!

To be honest, motorbunny was not in the novelty room, but I threw this in anyway to let you know “personal items” could be found in other parts of the show.

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Before we leave the novelties, Kevin snapped the perfect picture to describe the dilemma the adult industry faces everyday.

Sometimes selling a sexy good time has its quiet moments . . .

Thanks Hard Rock for hosting the show!

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Elements: Misha Cross and Art

by Rich Moreland, February 2019

This post on Evil Angel’s Elements is more analysis than review. My congratulations to Misha Cross for directing an outstanding adult film that has a definitive European flavor. It is a delight for the eyes.

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Evil Angel is gonzo at its best. Its directors have a reputation for the hard edge, creating graphic scenes spiced with female hotness that defines a porn genre.

Misha Cross’s Elements lifts this shooting philosophy to new heights. Capturing four scenes through a lens that focuses on earth, wind, fire, and water, Misha’s artistic vision puts the grace of movement and the intensity of raw sex to the test. The result is porn that never forgets its erotic legacy.

The sex scenes feature female pulchritude at its finest. The talents of Cherry Kiss, Tina Kay, Anna De Ville, and Misha herself for the down and dirty are remarkable. We will talk about that in a moment.

But first, we should admire the tease that begins each shoot. It’s porn competing with art.

Beautiful Cinematography

The film’s initial scene with Misha is open fields, horses, and blue skies. Doesn’t every little girl dream of a pony? By the time the kid reaches adulthood, her desires become Freudian and a horse’s “size” is often joked about.

Want proof? Notice how lovingly Misha caresses the horse that plays the scene with her. When the ponies run in the background and Misha waves her sparklers (think Freudian climax here), the sex scene to come could not have a better introduction.

Like Misha’s tease, Cherry Kiss also involves motion captured with beautiful cinematography in hers. She’s on desert terrain in a white gown and diamond jewelry embedded in a body harness with necklace and forehead decoration. Watch for the line of blazing fire on the sand that concludes the scene. Hot in the loins? No doubt.

When it comes to Tina Kay’s turn, a sweeping shot of the ocean leads the viewer to a lagoon where she wades in the water. Misha Cross has a penchant for white in these teaser scenes. Pale fabric that highlights each girl’s nude image leads the viewer to the white room for the sex that becomes an extension of the director’s art. Freud’s love of water and the womb reborn.

Anna De Ville’s final scene changes the game a bit. She’s an acrobat, swinging and weaving on a suspended hoop that is more characteristic of a Vegas floor show than a porn film. But it works beautifully. No open and flowing gown here, Anna is in a body suit and stripper heels.

Camera angles play with her movement. With legs wrapped around the ring, Anna floats and rotates. It’s a dreamlike vision that undulates with the industrial music that frames it.

Freud would be proud.

Oral and Anal Experts

Each of the sex scenes responds to its tease setup.

Most of the penetrations are anal, but vaginal is not ignored. The third scene featuring Tina Kay is the most extreme. For the viewer who enjoys a little fun with slaps, spanks, gagging, nose pinching, and the like, it’s a must see. There is even a brief head dunking in a bathtub (remember water is the theme of this scene) to flavor the action. Tina smiles through it all.

All of the scenes run through the formulaic porn positions—mish, doggie, cowgirl, reverse cowgirl, and spoon. The girls wear heels which ratchets up the slut value of each shoot. For bush aficionados, there isn’t much here to admire, however. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the clean-shaven, then you’ve got a lot to look at. Yes, Misha has a just a touch of hair and Cherry has a modified landing strip, but Tina and Anna have gone totally bald.

Overall, pretty sexy stuff I’d have to say. The girls are oral and anal experts (this is Evil Angel, after all) with bodies to die for. Of course, some variety of the facial rules the end of each shoot; that should be no surprise. Having said that, watch for an interesting deviation when Emilo Ardana pops for Anna!

AVN Honored

Elements is a foreign production shot in Germany and Spain by a director who is a native of Poland. From my personal experience with European adult film, folks across the pond know how to turn the porn shoot into elegance personified with cinematography that sometimes surpasses its American cousin.

As an actress, Misha Cross received major noms in several categories at this year’s AVN Awards including foreign female performer of the year (which she has won twice, by the way). Her nom for best solo-tease performance in Misha in Exile stands out as the finest in its category, at least in my opinion. It is spectacular and she’s carried that talent over to Elements.

Dan Miller of AVN reports that “with nature as the backdrop, Cross set out to accentuate the beauty and strength of her female subjects in Elements without skimping on the hardcore.”

AVN’s managing editor also adds that Misha sees her art as a combination of hardcore and erotica. I could not agree more. But that’s not the whole story. Misha’s compadre Samantha Bentley worked with her on the soundtrack to give the entire film a music video feel.

By the way, don’t skip the BTS in this film. My kudos to Misha Cross for her social statement with her August Ames t-shirt. Further praise is due the Polish filmmaker for demonstrating what is more evident in porn everyday: industry directors and videographers can produce a mainstream quality product. The porn world is leaving its underground roots and moving closer to Hollywood.

A note to viewers. In order of appearance, the male performers in Elements are: Ramon Nomar, Erik Everhard, Chris Diamond, and Emilo Ardano.

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AEE 2019: AINews Reports from the Show, Part 1

by Rich Moreland, February 2019

This is the first of two installments highlighting the 2019 Adult Entertainment Expo (aka the AVN Show) in Las Vegas. Our team circulated on the floors of the hosting venue, the Hard Rock Hotel, networked where we could, and conducted interviews to get an in-depth look at the porn industry today.

So far, we’ve reported on Evil Angel’s thirtieth anniversary and Nina Hartley’s thirty-fifth. We’ve also taken a look at how the show reflected the changes in our culture.

A pair of talented visual artists, still photographer Kevin Sayers and videographer/filmmaker Davyana San Miguel, provided the visual energy that graces these articles.

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Is there love between AVN and the cam world?

 If the last few years at the Adult Entertainment Expo is any indication, the porn world is experiencing an internal evolution.

That’s right, things are changing because the new kid on the block—the cam girl (and boy)—is altering the landscape of what defines porn, at least the commercialized version.

First, a little in-house geography. For those of you who have never visited the Hard Rock Hotel, the “floor” is divided among four major venues, three devoted to the on-screen industry and one to novelties.

A walk around the environs reveals that cammers are more evident than ever before. Not only do they have their own booths and tables inside the show rooms, they dominate the hallways that connect them.

That raises interesting questions. Are cam girls the newest version of porn girls?

Do cammers believe they are creating pornographic content when they perform for their fans and sell their shoots online? If that seems obvious to you, it isn’t to everyone and “therein lies the rub.” (my apologies for the well-worn misquote of Shakespeare)

Are cammers open to shooting for studios in a scripted environment?  It’s certainly outside their comfort zone where they interact with fans unencumbered by directors, cinematographers, and their crews.

And, how do the established porn stars—the studio moneymakers—regard cammers? Do the stars also cam as a way to build their brand?

In the interviews we did for Adult Industry News, I posed these questions. Answers varied, as you might expect, and we will look at some of them in later posts.

For now, here’s what we encountered during our meanderings about the premises.

Something for Everyone

The cammers greet fans in the hallways . . .

. . . And in the rooms! They seem to be everywhere armed with their connection to the fan world: their computer.

Cammers are not restricted by agents, you see. As a result, they are on their own to mix and mingle.

As a contrast, let’s take a few snapshots of porn’s traditional studios and the well-known stables that supply the talent.

The Agency Booths

We stop at the booths of a couple of modeling agencies I’ve dealt with in the past. At Foxxx Modeling, a brief chat with some girls we’ve already interviewed kicks off the afternoon.

The sexy Scarlett Mae.

The sultry Emma Hix.

And the perky BDSMer Emori Pleezer.

Nearby over at John Stevens’ Matrix Models, we find one of my favs in the biz, Vanna Bardot. Kevin and I met her recently on a Girlfriends Films shoot.

Porn’s Commercial Tradition

Then it’s on to the studios, the heavy hitters of porn. First is Adult Time, Bree Mills’ venue where . . .

. . . I renew old acquaintances with three of porn superstars, all of whom are up for AVN awards. We set up interviews to explore new topics we’ve not talked about before.

Tommy Pistol, one of adult’s finest male actors.

The popular Derrick Pierce whose on-screen personality is in high demand.

Then we have the talented Casey Calvert, a longtime friend. (It’s generational with our schedule making, as you can see. She’s electronic, I’m old school with my pen as we discuss arrangements!)

And a new contact, the luscious and award-winning Kenna James who later gives our team a terrific interview!

And, of course, Bree is there. We had interviewed her earlier in the day.

Other stops include Evil Angel where Katrina Jade is signing for fans.

And Jules Jordan where we pause a few moments with model Emily Willis.

Moving on to Greg Lansky Media, a rip-roaring booth pulsing with club music that engulfed the hall, we pick up a couple of conversations there.

We didn’t forget to take a quick look at the AVN booth (it’s their show, after all!) where a variety of girls were signing each day.

After some searching, we finally locate Sofie Marie, a girl (or MILF, depending on your point of view) who shoots for studios AND maintains her cam site. Later she gives us a terrific interview.

Before wrapping up our mini-tour of the rooms, we visit The Lair.

It’s sponsored by Kink.com, the leading BDSM porn producer in the business. Since the fan has to go upstairs to see the The Lair, there is the undeniable connection to Kink’s popular website, The Upper Floor.

And, as is the habit at AEE, an after-hours party for fans who want to pay for the privilege is offered.

Mostly, The Lair is a quiet respite from the clamor of the show floors. It’s vendors mostly with a demonstration here and there. For BDSM enthusiasts, it’s somewhat of a letdown unless the fan wants to shop .

Veterans

For anyone who writes in the porn biz, there is the “go-to” interviewer (and this is not to diminish any writer presently working). By “go-to” I mean the guy who sets the table for the basics about a performer. In other words, bio facts, personal preferences, shooting history, and the like. Everything that helps a girl build her fan base and gets the rest of us thinking about what we want to ask her.

He is “Captain Jack” and I have the privilege of meeting him after all these years.

Speaking of those in the industry who’ve been around the block a few times, our team briefly greets Evan Stone and has a short talk with Katie Morgan. No interviews this time around due to time and the hectic pace of the show. Maybe next year.

Then there is a new face and an old friend. For the first time, I make the acquaintance of Prinzzess Felicity Jade, a Girlfriends Films superstar, and update personal news with now retired performer, Daisy Layne.

Blended or Separated?

So, where does our brief tour leave us? For sure, the line between camming and shooting scenes is blurred. Take shooting, for example.

Today, the trend is make your own. Everyone, porn vets and cammers, can produce and manage their own content. After all, that’s what the fan wants . . . easy access just a click away.

There’s an old standby, Clips4Sale . . .

. . . And a newbie in the mix, Iwantclips.

At a convention that for decades touted video tapes and performer meet-and-greets, today cammers and studios play side-by-side. With Greg Lansky’s Vixen, Tushy, and Blacked responding to fans on the left of the picture below while the cammers’ ManyVids draws a crowd on the right, what does that tell us about 2019?

Well, maybe a solid “spank” in between to get our attention about a changing industry!

Peaceful Co-Existence?

In our next post, we’ll move to the novelties part of AEE 2019.

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Sexual Harassment: Old Hollywood and Modern Porn

by Rich Moreland, February 2019

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Sexual Harassment is a Hard Art production starring a bevy of porn performers with Niki Snow, Robby Echo, and James Bartholet playing pivotal roles.

Directed by Sally Forth and co-directed by Jake Jacobs, the film features a musical score by Archie Brunswick. Misty Stone’s voice graces the theme song.

The premise of the story is a long-standing Hollywood trope. Lucille Le Seur, played by Niki Snow, leaves her Iowa hometown to venture westward for a career in film. Once she arrives in Tinseltown, roles are hard to come by, as we  might expect. To pay the rent Lucille turns to the easy money (if there is such a thing) offered by filmed sex. From there the story moves into a commentary on the #MeToo Movement.

Overall, the narrative is well-paced with a comedic touch to keep the viewer engaged. In other words, there is never a dull moment.

The Old Days

Much of Sexual Harassment is as throwback to the old days of porn when good shooting was at a minimum. For example, during sex scenes the verbal soundtrack of grunts, moans, and sighs was often out of sync with the lip movements of the performers. And don’t forget the cheesy background music that seemed an afterthought to the action on-screen.

Both were frequently looped (repeated) as the sex progressed. Needless to say, it was all very amateurish and not at all a problem. Porn in those days was hardly Hollywood.

And, there is more. The cinematographer’s lens concentrated on closeups of the penetration shots as if every shoot was a gynecological or oral exam. The camera was remiss in framing bodies equally on-screen, a direct contrast to modern directors who prefer to show the sex as human interaction. The result? Gonzo techniques, often attributed to Evil Angel’s John Stagliano, took over the industry.

Director Sally Forth is well aware of these shortcomings and cultivates the old days with humor. By the way, she throws in the “no-no” of modern porn during the film’s second sex scene. Claudia Fox reminds us of the past when she glances at the camera while doing her oral duty.

It’s worth a comment that Sexual Harassment’s fifth sex scene highlights the journey porn shooters have taken into modern times. It’s a three-way between Allessa Von Camp, Brad Sterling, and Niki Snow who walks into the boy/girl action as the French Maid, another old porn trope. The bodies are shown in their entirety with an emphasis on pleasure. This is the best carnal scene of the film.

There’s More

Sexual Harassment mixes its porn time periods with tongue (yes, just tongue) firmly planted in cheek. When Lucille is looking for work, she picks up a newspaper similar to the still-in-print LA Xpress. Also, a cordless phone circa last century graces a couple of scenes to remind the viewers that we’re visiting the past.

But modernity is always close at hand. By the time Forth’s narrative reaches its final act, LCD computer monitors appear in Herb Weinsteins’ Hollywood offices. Technology, like the porn act, has been updated.

Oh yes, a couple of things to spice up the viewer’s interest need mentioning. After she makes her mark in porn, Lucille drops in an adult book store and sorts through DVDs of her movies. The DVD came out in the late 1990s and it’s a good bet that had old video tape box covers been available for the scene, they would have found a place in the director’s heart.

Also, when a cross over opportunity knocks for Lucille, she takes a shot at B picture fame in another Hollywood stereotype, the horror-gore flick. We get a quick glance at the feature performer, the “Chainsaw Man,” who cuts his way through his cameo moment wearing a mask.

There’s some history there that dates to the second year of the Porno Chic era when the Bryanston Production Company distributed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The company ran into trouble when its producer, mobster Anthony Peraino, faced obscenity charges resulting from his involvement with Deep Throat, the film that began the modern adult industry in 1972.

Of course, the mask concept recalls another old stereotype that shows up the stags of yore when men donned only in black socks concealed their identities.

Give Some Head

As the film winds down, Lucille makes an impression on Hollywood mogul, Herb Weinstein (played by James Bartholet who, by the way, is Sexual Harassment’s executive producer).

Lucille’s encounter is set up by Herb’s “interview” with a new intern (Destiny Love). Yielding to Herb’s insistence, she hears, “If you want to get ahead, you have to give some head . . . suck like your career depends on it.” Not exactly original dialogue, but it fills the bill nicely. Herb pops on a photo of Lucille who is next on his harassment list while an ignored Destiny quickly vacates the room.

As you might expect, Sexual Harassment has a Harvey Weinstein ending. From that perspective, Sally Forth’s production is imbued with strong female empowerment. In fact, Lucille is in control of her career from the very start and that in itself is a welcome update on Porn Valley’s checkered past. To underscore her point, director Forth can’t resist throwing in Lucille’s snarky indictment of “Mr. Limp Dick” who can’t get it up for their scene. Oh, those pre-Viagara days!

All Over Your Body

There is an abundance of sex scenes in Sexual Harassment that feature the following performers: Jesse Bunyan, Claudia Fox, Black Ken, Robby Echo, Payton St Clair, Jay Crew, Jayde Symz, Chad White, Vanessa Cage, an uncredited female performer, and the already mentioned Niki Snow, Allessa Von Camp, Brad Sterling, and Destiny Love.

Pay close attention to the abrupt ending of Chad and Jayde’s scene. It’s a nod to rising adult writer and director, Bree Mills of Pure Taboo fame.

There is much to love about Sexual Harassment. It is cleverly written and sharply filmed. For example, when Lucille shows up for her test stills early in the story. The photographer Bernie Hyman (maybe hymen with an “e” is more accurate because Lucille, who is no virgin, is being primed for the porn camera and has to be initiated into sex for pay) is played by AINews managing editor Steve Nelson.

Steve is skilled with the camera and it shows in the scene. He offers up an amusing line when he pulls down her top to free her boobs and lifts her skirt for the treasures “down there.” Lucille is caught off guard. To ease her mood, Steve says with a chuckle, “skin’s good, skin’s good . . . it’s all over your body.”

And at film’s end, Herb’s mug shots will stand in vivid contrast to Lucille’s test photos in this scene.

Like in the old Hollywood production  A Star is Born, Lucille’s name will be dropped in favor of something a bit catchier. “Helen Bedd” becomes her stage moniker and another kind of “star” is popularized.

Ray

There is also a love element in Sexual Harassment. Robby Echo plays Ray, a writer and Lucille’s newly found off-camera romance. Their sex scene is sweet and make no mistake, Niki Snow is easy on the eyes. At one point Ray says, “We’re both trying to become something.” That something is unclear, but their satisfaction is heightened when they later see the #Metoo images on TV that reinforce Herb’s arrest.

There are other characters in this film that are worth a look. There is Lucille’s caustic female agent, the cleanup crew who takes a moment out of their task to have a jolly encounter, Herb’s obese secretary, and Donnie Rock’s cameo as a film editor.

In fact, for an adult film there are perhaps too many personalities on-screen because the viewer never gets to know any of them well.

Who is Lucille?

For the porn fan who might miss the film’s ingenious nod to cinema history, allow me to fill you in.

Writer/director Sally Forth pulls off a coup with Lucille Le Seur. You see, in the 1920s in old Hollywood a young woman by that name became a star in silent film and moved into talkies with aplomb. Eventually, she became a Hollywood legend, winning an Oscar in 1947.

But the rumor persisted (and still does today) that this real-life Lucille shot stags, the earliest of porn films. Nothing was ever verified, no films ever emerged, but the story always hung over her. By the way, Lucille’s sleeping around with both men and women honed her reputation for a prolific sexual appetite among the Hollywood crowd. Thus, she was “hell in bed,” just as Sally Forth tells us with her version of Lucille.

So, what was the stage name for this real-life Hollywood icon? Joan Crawford.

A Final Word

Bright, sassy, and whimsical, Sally Forth is a quality filmmaker whose sense of movie history permeates Sexual Harassment. I’m certain her future work will be equally as engaging.

There is one thing, however.

The good folks at Hard Art have got to clean up their print editing. The cast is overly large and this may have led to occasional sloppiness regarding proper documentation. Some names are misspelled on the box cover while other names are left out entirely, particularly an uncredited female performer who gives her all in her sex scene. Remember that directors, cinematographers, and performers consider adult film to be their art. Let’s not short change them.

That said, I highly recommend Sexual Harassment, a film that shows us how we got from there to here in a business that is often vilified and dismissed as culturally irrelevant.

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AEE 2019: The Realities of an Adult Trade Show

by Rich Moreland, February 2019

Photos provided by AINews and Kevin Sayres.

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This year’s Adult Entertainment Expo marked two anniversaries which I’ve celebrated in previous posts: Evil Angel’s thirtieth year of operation and a salute to the great porn legend, Nina Hartley.

While there were upbeat moments of the positive in today’s industry, there were also reminders that we are in a time when porn reflects the greater issues facing our society. The first day on the floor of the show illustrates what I mean.

Security

Let’s begin with the metal detectors. For me, getting to Las Vegas requires flying and airports mean security checks. I’m thankful for the capable TSA employees who check every passenger and bag that boards a plane.

Likewise, the trade show is not immune from checking and rechecking and clearing everyone who wants to get in. Considering that a handful of states, most recently Arizona, have proposed legislation to declare porn a public health hazard, it would be no surprise that an anti-porn crazy might attempt sneak a device into the trade show and harm attendees.

Nevada does have an open carry law, by the way, but requires permits for concealed weapons and many fans (and industry personnel, yours truly included) do carry backpacks and tote bags into the show.

So, like the airport TSA, I commend the Hard Rock Hotel and AVN for taking defensive measures.

The Code

When I arrived at the press room to pick up my media pass, I was presented with the Code of Conduct. The Code was displayed at the entrance to the show and on the Table of Contents page of the show directory, a freebie for all fans and industry people.

In light of the #Metoo movement, it makes sense to recognize issues of proper conduct. Because performers are in the business of sexual entertainment, too many fans “assume” they are meeting a “different kind of girl” than the sweetheart or wife back home.

In fact, I remember a few years ago when I interviewed a prominent star, she reminded me that “no touching” was her personal rule with fans. She even came with her personal bodyguard.

Though not all performers are that sensitive to physical contact, bullying is another matter. I’ve witnessed girls politely deal with “insistent” fans who believe it’s okay to cross boundaries.

(A caveat is due here. Those types of fans are few. The vast majority are respectful and delighted to meet the stars. In turn, porn models are happy to provide the fan with a pleasurable experience.)

For its part, AVN explains that the Code represents “common-sense rules for public behavior and personal interaction” that applies “to EVERYONE at the convention” including those connected with the industry.

I agree and am happy to commend AVN on this.

August Ames

Sadly, there was a poignant reminder this year of the consequences of cyber bullying. The December 2017 suicide of August Ames still reverberates throughout the industry. A t-shirt honoring the twenty-three-year-old was in evidence among a handful of attendees.

My friend and colleague Steve Nelson, editor of Adult Industry News, had this to say about the circumstances that led to August’s death.

“August Ames was a good friend. She was always kind to me and very happy. Or so I thought. We all found out too late that she was dealing with the demons of depression.”

Among his other duties, Steve drives for modeling agencies. That’s how he got to know August. But like so many others, he didn’t see what was coming.

“I only saw her upbeat side. She hid her demons well.”

When the end shocked everyone, Steve reflected what others in porn expressed. “I regret not reaching out to her . . . She was on the edge and bullies on Twitter pushed her over.”

It is notable that in this year’s AVN balloting, a scene in which August Ames appeared was nommed for an award. Considering the overwhelming number of categories and scenes, a small honor perhaps, but not insignificant.

We should heed the lessons of August Ames’ passing and take a moment to treat each other with a bit more love and understanding.

In looking forward to AEE 2020,  we hope for the day when security measures, a code of conduct, and the tragedy of suicide are memories of past shows and not permanent realities.

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AEE 2019: Nina at Thirty-five

by Rich Moreland, February 2019

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Talking with Nina Hartley in 2012

Whenever someone learns that I write in the adult film industry, he (or she) will ask if I know Nina Hartley. Nina is the universally renowned super star associated with adult entertainment. Anyone who knows anything about porn in our culture has heard of Nina.

So, my answer to the question is, “Of course.” I met Nina several years ago and without her input, my book on the history of feminism in porn would never have happened.

At this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, I found out that she is entering her thirty-fifth year in the industry. Wow, what an opportunity to celebrate porn’s greatest living icon.

So, we got together and talked about her career.

She began with politics.

Moving Forward

What stands out for her, Nina says, “is the ongoing efforts of sex workers around the world to organize on their own behalf.” We live in “a post-feminist revolution world” with a current generation that is “proud, angry, outraged, and finding each other,” she tells me.

The best news is that the “pro-sex side” of the cultural battle over sexuality and sex work is evolving.  “The sex-positive movement works hard to be inclusive of everyone regardless of race, class, gender expression/identity,” Nina says, which makes it stronger.

The upshot of inclusion is this: our conception of “sex, sexuality, sexual expression, and consensual sexual commerce” is moving forward while “the people aligned against us are the same as they ever were with the same tired arguments they’ve always used,” she explains.

Among her proudest accomplishments, Nina points out, is her service “on the board of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance, a non-profit organization working at the intersection of human rights and sexual rights.”

Without doubt Nina has been, and is, more politically active than anyone in the industry. As always, freedom of speech and sex worker rights are at the top of her passions. Her feminist statements may not always vex her sex-negative adversaries, but they pass the test of historical importance. Nina Hartley speaks out against oppression with as fine a voice as will ever grace the adult industry.

On the trade show floor in 2019.  Photo by Kevin Sayres

The Nina Frequency

Nina next moves to her on-camera career.

“What sticks out is how happy I’ve been with my decision to enter porn in the first place,” she says. While dancing in San Francisco, Nina earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing. That was in 1984 and she was readying herself for the jump into hardcore.

She decided that culturally we needed a sex makeover to broaden our understanding of human relations.

“Sex is my area of study and interest. Porn proved a fantastic way to have a lot of it with a wide range of people in a controlled, semi-public environment, without the encumbrances of romantic entanglement,” Nina explains. It allowed her to present her ideas to “the broadest possible audience.”

Not surprisingly, sex education has always been on her radar. She’s broadcasted on the ‘Nina frequency,’ as she humorously puts it, since the beginning of her career, trusting that “the people who need to hear my message will find it.”

Reaction to her work has been beyond rewarding and reinforces that her professional choices were the best they could be. She elaborates,

“This personal connection with my fans is one of the best aspects of my job. The original ones have grown older with me and I continue to gain new, younger fans who also like my message about sex. My 2006 book, “Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex,” is something of which I’m still quite proud.”

Talking with Nina in 2019.  Photo by Kevin Sayres

Sex Worker Rights

Nina takes immeasurable satisfaction from the social changes she seen over the years and the part she has played in them.

“What stands out,” she begins,” is the ever-expanding social acceptance, at least in the bigger cities/college towns, of so-called “alternative lifestyles.”

In her younger days, swinging, “a very heteronormative sexual subculture,” was the only vehicle out there, she remembers. But things have changed today.

“Now, social support for trans inclusion, anti-racism, anti-White supremacy, sex worker rights, polyamory rights and non-traditional families, is nationwide and gaining traction,” Nina says. “Feminist scholars who are supportive of full bodily autonomy for women now populate more universities, helping to balance the hegemony of the older, all-sex-work-and-male-desire-are-bad camp of professors.”

Nevertheless, Nina offers an observation couched in her years of fighting for sex worker recognition and rights.

“The progressive movement [today] seems to be splitting along similar lines as the feminist movement did back during the “Porn Wars” of the mid-1980s, between pro and anti-censorship/sex worker rights wings.”

Power to the Performer

So, I ask Nina, “What about the state of porn today?”

“Porn-wise what stands out is the ongoing transfer of power within the producing community from company owners/producers to the performers themselves, fueled by technology.”

“Now, any performer can make direct contact with the end-user, charge what they want and keep the money.”

But that is just the beginning of the changes we’re going through.

Nina declares that “any consumer can find multiple performers who enjoy pleasing a wide range of fetishes.” This includes male performers who now have “equal access” to porn’s fan base.

“This is important because male performers never had the additional income stream opportunity afforded by feature dancing,” Nina adds. Throw in “content trade” (the collaboration of models and photographers that gives models input beyond their hired studio scenes) and “fans get to see their favorite performers doing exactly what they please.”

There is also another important change Nina has discovered. “Performers are also staying in the business longer, and coming together as a proud community. I find this satisfying to witness,” she adds.

Parting hugs are always welcome!  Photo by Kevin Sayres

From Pain to Empowerment

Finally, what’s on Nina’s agenda for 2019?

“Going forward life looks good. I have love in my life with a new partner, which is the icing on the cake.” She is also pleased with “the outcome of the work I’ve done over my career, both on camera and off.”

Nina continues to speak at academic institutions about sexuality, personal responsibility, “and how to get all the fun out of sex while minimizing the potential for negative outcomes.” Porn is a vital part of any talk she gives.

Of course, Nina remains a staunch advocate “for sex and sexual freedom.” She touts her “SFW (safe for work) site, nina.live. There she offers “counseling, consulting and coaching on sex and relationship issues.”

In closing, she says, “Sexual suffering is real and helping adults process and transform that energy from pain to empowerment, never loses its appeal and power. When we can learn how to make friends with our bodies and desires, true happiness and contentment is possible. For everyone.”

Indeed! We wish Nina Hartley another thirty-five of years of presence on the sexual stage!

*          *          *

To contact Nina Hartley, go to the following:

Twittter: @ninaland

IG: @miss_nina_hartley

nina.live (SFW)

nina.com (NSFW)

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AEE 2019: The Evil Angel Legacy

by Rich Moreland, February 2019

This post is the first in a series installments on the 2019 Adult Video News (AVN) trade show. The Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE), as it is also known, was first held in Las Vegas in 1998 and has continued annually since.

Photos in this post are courtesy of Evil Angel and 3hattergrindhouse.

*         *          *

During my first day at the AVN trade show, I had a passing conversation with writer Tod Hunter, whose work I regard highly. He mentioned that I should check out the Evil Angel booth where a large billboard-like poster was on display in celebration of the company’s thirtieth anniversary. Tod added that I’d find it worth a look, especially the upper left side of the picture.

How right he was. But more on that corner in a moment.

Hal Freeman and John Stagliano

When I got over to EA, I spent a few minutes with John Stagliano. Saying “hello” to Evil Angel’s founder is always a pleasure. John is a force in the industry, a trend-setter who shoots what he likes and creates a market for it.

But that’s only the half of it. John is also a “freedom fighter” in the manner of Hal Freeman decades ago. Both men battled in court to preserve their right to express their art as they saw it.

Freeman’s case (1988-89) effectively legalized filmed pornography in California. Years later, John’s dust-up added to that history because it involved not actors having sex for money, but the content of the film. Ostensibly fought over obscenity charges, his case evolved into a higher cause centering on free speech and how it applies to the internet. Eventually, all charges were dropped and the modern porn industry took another step into the light of mainstream culture.

Everyone involved in the adult biz today owes a debt to Hal Freeman and John Stagliano. What we see around us in this industry was not always as it seems now. To put it another way, all of us must remain vigilant because ongoing and enduring rights of expression are precious.

Widely Regarded

Having covered that little bit of history, now back to the poster of the EA dignitaries. Though they are directors mostly, a particular individual stands out.

Christian Mann.

In writing for XBIZ in 2014, AVN Managing Editor Dan Miller pointed out that Christian Mann was “a 34-year veteran of the adult business” and “widely regarded among the most prolific and passionate executives in industry history.”

AVN notes that Christian was “the recipient of AVN’s First Amendment Defense Award in 1991,” a proud industry honor.

What’s more, Christian was no stranger to porn’s courtroom battles. “He was indicted in 1989,” AVN continues, and “withstood a federal obscenity trial in Texas and was eventually acquitted of all charges.”

Sounds a little political, right? And it should because it was.

Talking with Christian, AEE 2013

For six years, Christian Mann was Evil Angel’s managing editor and I’m fortunate to have known him. On one of my visits to the West Coast, I remember sitting in his office talking about the state of the business as he saw it. That day Christian reminded me that John Stagliano establishes market directions in porn. He shoots what is personally pleasing to his tastes, as I’ve mentioned above, and unabashedly puts it out there for all to see.

It’s worth noting that in 2012 Christian passed along to me a copy of EA’s Voracious which is one of the finest adult movies ever produced and shot on two continents. (My ten-part review of the film begins with a nod to Christian and John. The post can be found here.)

Serving honorably on the Board of the Free Speech Coalition, Christian’s sense of fairness and honesty distinguished him. His brilliance was widely recognized in the industry.

A Fight of Another Sort

The last time I saw Christian Mann was at the AVN show in 2013. He walked with a cane and was in obvious discomfort, a red flag, I thought, considering my memory of his robust energy.

When I visited the EA suite at the Hard Rock Hotel, Christian was upbeat as usual, but related that he was seeing the doctor when he returned to LA.

Christian passed away the following year after a heroic battle with cancer. He was fifty-three.

So, returning to my opening remarks, I offer thanks to Tod Hunter because he indicated that I’d have an emotional moment when I spent a few minutes with the poster. I did.

You see, Christian is with us in the upper left, a little dim because he is watching from afar. By the way, he is not the only EA personage celebrated in the display who is gone. Jake Malone, David Aaron Clark, John Leslie, and Bruce Seven have also departed.

But it is Christian Mann I remember so well and Tod, I suspect, knew that.

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