Tag Archives: Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE)

AEE 2019: Ela Darling

by Rich Moreland, March 2019

Ela Darling is the final installment of our series on the Star Factory clients we interviewed at the 2019 Adult Entertainment Expo.

Formerly educated and politically active, Ela is not typical of adult stars.

Photos are credited to Kevin Sayers.

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Ela Darling and I go back a few years. It’s a delight to interview her again.

We begin our discussion with VR. Apropos, I might add, because this statuesque model is an able promoter of VR in the adult business.

She is the chief marketing officer for PVR Fun, an adult headset company.

“It’s incredibly good, very lightweight, really good tech,” Ela says of the product. “I would say it even outperforms some of the more mainstream standalone headsets.”

This University of Texas grad has been involved with VR for five years. “As you know, I created the first ever live broadcasting platform in virtual reality and I’m the world’s first VR cam girl,” she says.

Personally, Ela is branching out in the VR world. She’s learning code and building robots for her new company, Gonzo VR (nothing to do with porn, by the way), that she named after her dog.

“VR is basically my life. I’m held hostage to my house by VR robots and I escape the world through my PVR Iris,” she says with amusement.

A Librarian First

Ela Darling received her masters in library science from the University of Illinois, the gold standard for that profession.

“I was a librarian before I made the obvious transition to pornography,” she says matter-of-factly.

If that isn’t an interesting combination of talents, try this: Ela is political and acts on her beliefs. She took her  APAC (Adult Performer Advocacy Committee) resume — she was on the board of directors and served a term as president — and reached into California politics.

The Texas native ran for the position of Democratic Assembly District Delegate in her home area.

“I was second runner up, which for someone who does porn, I think is pretty cool,” she says. “It was great running with some awesome progressives and getting to know some of the people in my community without [being] laughed right out of the house.”

Chalk one up for porn star activism.

Knowing how outspoken Ela is on political issues, I ask her to reflect on the #MeToo movement and the adult industry.

She begins,

“Adult film performers are feeling more emboldened to speak up about their experiences on set with people who are abusive and act in ways that are unacceptable.”

That is no mean feat, she implies.

“We still see people who come out and share their experiences being ignored. Some of that has to do with the fact that they are adult film performers. We’re a very marginalized group and people still have this idea that if we fuck on camera, what were you expecting?

“But there are boundaries in any sexual experience and establishing and respecting those boundaries is paramount, especially in a professional workplace.”

Ela continues. The public doesn’t understand that if a porn model claims she been abused on set, it isn’t easy to go to the police.

“The first thing they do is question your personal decisions. They start to look for any reason not to believe you and that goes twice as much if you’re a sex worker.”

Not only that, but pressure to stay silent comes from within the industry.

“We have this fear that if we speak up, we’re gonna be blacklisted. No one’s going to hire us again.”

Despite the barriers present, Ela is encouraged.

“People are sharing their experiences more, [but] I don’t know that they’re being granted the credence they deserve. It’s a very complicated discussion to have.”

From her end, Ela is there for victims who come forward. “I support anyone who is experiencing something like that and I will always be here to hear them and listen.”

Tolerance

We change the subject to camming. Does she?

Sort of, Ela says, but it is more like “live broadcasts” that are not always involved with adult entertainment. What’s more, she’s busy with it throughout the day.

“I’ve got a twenty-four-hour livestream from my living room. I’m talking to people who are driving around in my little VR car.”

Does she think the cam girl is becoming the new porn girl?

“It’s really insightful to say that cam girls are the new amateur porn because that’s basically what it is,” she says. Live broadcasting is their trademark, but only a portion of their business.

“Most of them also make clips. That is amateur porn. And, with the diminishing taboo with camming, we’re seeing a lot more people enter that space than we ever have seen before.”

To put things in perspective, Ela offers a short back story.

“Maybe fifteen years ago, most of the cam performers primarily were porn performers. Because if you’re already in porn, it’s not that big of a jump.”

On the other hand, it was challenging if sex work was not your thing back then.

Today is different. The public sees camming as “a light, exotic thing to do and more people are doing it all over the country. That’s awesome because that drives acceptance and tolerance,” she says.

Ela sees an increased fairness in the industry today because cammers and porn models are more alike than different.

“Both porn and cam performers have a lot more control and ownership over their careers and their brands and for what they do. So, they’re becoming a lot more similar than people imagine it to be,” she concludes.

Only One Part of the Picture

However, we can’t lose sight of market forces when it comes to porn models turning to camming, though one influence is not necessarily more  important than the others. It’s cumulative.

“I wouldn’t say that the growth of camming is driving porn performers to cam,” Ela contends. There are other factors, she believes, like “decreasing sales in porn, fewer work opportunities, rates either stagnating or decreasing.”

Of course, she adds, other money-making opportunities like “producing clips” and “feature dancing” are part of the total picture.

“The porn star of today is not just someone who goes to set, fucks, collects a check and goes home — the way that it was in the golden days. The porn star today does pretty much a little bit of everything. They go to set and shoot, they also shoot their own stuff. They cam because it makes sense. It does increase your brand, your reach [and] your fan base. It drives more people to buy your clips and your scenes and whatever wears you might be selling.

“I would say that camming has become one part of the very diverse job that is being an adult film performer.”

Legs Everywhere

We next talk about the modern porn girl. Some circumstances are updated, others not so much.

“These days, you have the ability to work a lot more. Your work and your financial opportunities aren’t at the whim of someone hiring you. You have more control so you can decide ‘I’m not shooting for a studio today, I’m gonna use this time to create something that I can make money off of forever.’”

On the other hand, “When you’re a sex worker, the rest of the world always sees you as a sex worker. You always have the same weight of discrimination and marginalization,” Ela says.

I bring up the three-legged stool analogy and Ela suggests the modern performer is like a centipede with legs everywhere.

Beyond shooting scenes, feature dancing, and escorting, all choices available to any porn girl, Ela asserts, they have other responsibilities.

“They do porn, they do clips, they do camming, they do production for their friends, they do production for themselves, they do editing, they do every aspect of the business, every job that there is.

“They learn to do it themselves so that they can create their own content and own it and maximize their profits off of it.”

Often performers do all of this without agents, perhaps the most telling change in the profession today.

Of course, stigmas remain, she insists, and brings up escorting as the longstanding example. But a girl in the business today builds her own choices, especially in producing their own content. They “own it and maximize their profits off of it.”

So, the cammer is the new porn girl?

“The new cam girl and porn girl are growing to be one and the same,” Ela Darling concludes.

And don’t forget, she’s an entrepreneur.

That’s the new porn industry that is growing around us everyday.

 

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AEE 2019: Kelley Cabbana

by Rich Moreland, March 2019

This is the fifth installment in a series on Star Factory clients I interviewed at the AVN trade show in Las Vegas this year.

Photos are by Kevin Sayers.

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Everyone is Welcome

Kelley Cabbana is an established cammer who is breaking into shooting scenes.

Her content is exclusive to her website Kelleycabbana.com and will include more “girl-girl stuff” this coming year.

I ask about the changes Kelley has seen in camming since her start several years ago.

“What I find really awesome about the webcamming industry is [the] many different fetishes and different girls [available to fans]. It’s a variety. It’s like going to a buffet, you can have so much.”

Kelley continues. “More and more girls are coming on board because they feel confident” because their body type, shape or size doesn’t matter. Everyone is welcome because there are so many needs that are met with that variety. It’s awesome.”

The Florida native has also witnessed changes in the fans.

“They feel more comfortable coming forward saying ‘Hey, I like this and I like that.’”

Taboos are stepping aside because fetishes are “more accepted,” Kelley says.

What has caused this change?

According to Kelley, it’s all about technology.

“Social media has allowed us to open up a whole new avenue of communication,” she states, “and we have become more comfortable with [it].”

From what Kelley says, I suggest that camming may be one of the blessings of social media.

She brightens. “It absolutely is. I agree with that!”

Camera On?

With a new way of looking at social media under our belts, I offer up a few points about camming Kelley has made in the past: be comfortable in front of the camera, be consistent with your schedule, and talk creatively.

Though she feels at home with those things, that can’t be said of every cam girl, the former glamour model asserts. The disconnect some girls feel because they can’t physically see the fans is an issue.

“Unless they [fans] turn that camera on [from their end], you’re reading a script of what they’re asking you. That can be a barrier,” Kelley says.

She loves “cam-to-cam” because she “gets to know [the fans] on a more personal level.”

In other words, “you’re my client, turn the cam on so you and I can have a one-on-one experience,” Kelley explains.

The downside is evident. If fans don’t let you into their environment, she says, “you still have to be able to perform for them. So that’s the hardest [thing to do].”

Very Personal

I mention cam girls using their online popularity as a portal to enter the studio-driven porn business. Does Kelley agree? And can it work in the reverse with established porn girls setting up their camming sites?

She’s okay with both propositions.

“The industry is changing,” Kelley says, but “there will always be this awesome video production” because there are people who “enjoy the fantasy of the film.”

“But there is something to be said for being able to sign in online and sit and talk either with a performer that you’re connected with or a porn star [who] also gets on cam for her fans.

“Gone are the days that you couldn’t reach the industry on a very personal level.”

Again, Kelley emphasizes that interacting with a model one-on-one “surpasses” anything traditional porn can offer because “it’s very personal.”

No Amateurs Here

How would Kelley define today’s porn girl?

There are “two different types of performers,” Kelley replies. The cam girl “is due her respect for getting on cam and sitting there possibly for hours, delivering her services to her fans. The porn model is still due her respect. She gets on the set, she performs. She is a professional in her field. But is it fair to say that one is more professional than the other? Absolutely not. Each one deserves fairness in their field.”

Can we conclude that the cam girl is not an amateur when it comes to performing?

“She is not an amateur. She learns quite quickly how she needs to change her clothes,” Kelley says. (That’s camspeak for altering her presentation on a moment’s notice.)

In other words, “to make her money” a cam girl learns to switch scenes quickly according to the wishes of her customers, Kelley explains.

What’s more, Kelley believes cammers establish their own market because “they’re fulfilling the needs of the clients and the clients are realizing that whatever fetishes they can put out there, you’re gonna find that girl to fulfill your fantasy on a very personal level.”

That brings me to the quality of cam shoots versus studio productions. Is that important in today’s market?

Not really, Kelley says, and reassures us that there will always be a market for Greg Lansky’s stuff and Jules Jordan’s videos. “It’s great to watch porn videos for fantasy and they’re beautiful productions.”

Though cam girls will never reach that level of filmmaking, she adds, the porn fan still gets “the best of both worlds” because cammers “deliver to their fans what they want to see.”

Kelley emphasizes what is important about camming as opposed to traditional porn. It’s personal.

“You get to interact with a real girl who’s loving sex and enjoying what she’s doing online.”

In other words, Kelley proclaims, “I think there’s a market for both.”

Self-Made

However, I point out that cammers have to do it all themselves. Be producer, editor, and performer.

Kelly agrees. “Cam girls work hard for what they do. You have to promote yourself.”

And, that is no easy task.

“I feel like I’m self-made,” she interjects. “I haven’t worked for any large company. But yet I’ve had numerous nominations. I’m so grateful because in an industry flooded with girls, to be nominated for a category is very humbling and I’m very grateful.”

When I bring up my three-legged stool question, Kelley responds with a huge positive because in her view, camming is that fourth leg.

“Even though you’re a porn star, your fans would love the idea that they could spend one hour to see you on cam. If you can invest that small amount of time, fans would highly appreciate it.”

She continues,

“In this industry you have to do so many elements to make your money now. I’ve talked to girls who were in the porn industry years ago. [They] said all you had to do was shoot and dance and you were good to go. It seems like now you have many channels that you have to work.

“I’m sure the [porn] girls feel the pressure and I’ll see where they spend an hour or two on cam. I think that’s awesome because it allows their fans to connect with them.”

Is that the future of porn? Perhaps, but for now . . .

“It’s really cool to see how this industry is changing,” Kelley Cabbana says with a smile.

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AEE 2019: Ember Snow

by Rich Moreland, March 2019

This is the fourth installment of our series on Star Factory clients.

Born in Saudi Arabia, Ember Snow is a Filipina who came to the United States as a child. She is a trained actress with mainstream credentials.

Photos are credited to Kevin Sayers.

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Perky and sexy are the best words to describe Ember Snow. And, oh, that smile. It’s a charmer.

To get us started, I bring up Ember’s childhood.  She was brought up in a strict household, apparently. With sparkles of sneaky merriment in her eyes, she replies, “Oh, you know how Asian culture can be.”

I do and that makes her switch to porn in February 2017 even more interesting.

We chat about the AVN awards (Ember has one for a group scene in Wicked Pictures’ Carnal) and she asks porn fans to look for her at next year’s awards.

“Remember this smile. This is my trademark basically,” she says.

Intimate Experience

Did she begin her career as a cammer?

“I started in porn, actually. But even before I got into porn, I was already researching about the adult industry and that includes camming,” she begins.

Ember notes that she originally considered a cam girl career because she was “kind of wishy-washy about the whole adult industry.”

“I did more research about the porn industry [and] it turned out that bookings aren’t actually as consistent as I would like [them] to be,” she says. That meant shopping around to find other outlets to make money.

“I thought of camming and that’s how I got into cam modeling. My goal is to give a more intimate experience with the guys because it’s usually one-on-one. It’s kind of different from porn because you’re trying to connect with one person as opposed to porn scenes [where] you’re actually acting.”

Actresses and Shows

Does Ember believe there is a difference between cam girls and porn girls?

“I believe so,” she replies. “Porn girls are more like actresses except they’re doing hardcore sex. But cam girls do shows. There are certain cam girls who do really unique shows that involve something basic, like cooking in the kitchen, that doesn’t involve having to act.

“I think that there’s a little bit of a difference between the two.”

Ember brings up an important cam girl ally: VR. The adult industry is invested in VR, she indicates, and that’s a boon for cammers.

“If you’re a cam girl, you’re going to be better in VR because you’re talking strictly to the camera. Not all guys are going to turn on their cameras and show themselves and half the time, when I see the guys, I just see them from like down here.”

She motions to the lower half of her body. “Yes, like down here.”

In other words, no faces, just the tools?

“That’s how some guys think of it,” Ember says. “I don’t mind, I like it. I love watching.”

Ember turns into cam girl mode and adds, “So, I encourage you guys, it’s okay. So as long as you show it to me live, I’m fine with that.”

But if it’s just a picture, “who cares,” she shrugs. That could belong to anybody!

Different Desires

As for other distinctions between porn and cam girls, Ember doesn’t see much.

“I have a lot of respect for all the women out there because whether you’re a cam girl or a porn star, we don’t just perform in front of the camera. We also have to produce and direct because cam girls do videos, too. They have to sell those videos even if it’s just a solo, or if it’s with another girl. They have an idea on how to work the camera.”

She talks for a moment about improvisation and reinforces that both types of performers need to know how to do that. Cam girls, especially, because “different guys require different desires and fetishes.”

The dark-haired beauty wraps up her thoughts with, “Maybe because I’m also a cam girl and I do porn I kind of see both sides. But then again, I started acting before getting into the industry.”

Reflecting on my comment that camming is a portal into porn, she laughs, “Yeah, it’s kind of like a prerequisite.”

Here are My Prices

My final question is about advice Ember would give to a new girl who wants to enter porn. Should she start as a cammer?

“It depends on the girl because some girls may just be ready for porn,” she replies. “But it is a good idea to try out camming first, if they’re kind of awkward or a little too shy.”

Either way, she says, the model is going to have plenty of viewers. So, be prepared.

Ember references her personal experience and mentions the difference in filming venues.

“For camming, you just have a screen in front of you. Granted there may be more than one guy watching you. You don’t always see them,” she says.

“But it is so much different than being on a porn set. You have people there watching you, too, and sometimes you need to listen to how they’re directing you. In cam you don’t have to worry about any of that ‘cause you’re basically directing.”

She adds a final piece to the conversation. Some cam shows are group events, though most are one-on-one experiences. For those occasions, some girls are fine with being directed by the fan who is paying for the show.

However, for Ember, there is a difference.

“There are cam girls like me who are like ‘Okay this is what I can do, do you want this and this and this, here are my prices, what do you want?’ . . . because it is a business as well.”

*          *          *

For Ember’s fans, here she is on the red carpet Awards Night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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AEE 2019: Christiana Cinn, Part One

by Rich Moreland, February 2019

Christiana Cinn is the second installment in a series on Star Factory clients I interviewed at this year’s AVN trade show in Las Vegas.

The Northern California native is bright and straight forward with her opinions . . . an absolute delight!

Photos are credited to Kevin Sayers.

 

*          *          *

A Playboy Start

A small-town girl, Christiana Cinn grew up in a rural American culture. After high school, she became a hair stylist. But she was not entirely satisfied and opted to use her sexuality to earn some extra money.

“I started go-go dancing, kind of stripping, [but] I hated coming home smelling like cigarettes,” she says with a chuckle.

There was a further downside to being on stage. “I was afraid to be who I was because I did see people from high school walk in [the club].”

To conceal her real self, Christiana says, she performed in wigs. Using the stage name, Jade Jackson, she played safe.

“Nobody recognized me. I had like a different identity,” she explains.

When Playboy called unexpectedly, Christiana thanked her lucky “stylist” stars. But for the publication, her makeup skills were not the order of the day. They wanted her as a model. Never short of an adventurous spirit, she posed and “started web-camming to make more money” to supplement her dancing.

That was the beginning of a new career.

“Playboy Live had a studio in Culver City. I work[ed] out of that studio and it opened a lot of opportunities for me to do music videos and model with well-known photographers.”

A visit to the Playboy Mansion followed by a shoot for Hustler, and Christiana was on her way.

“Posing for Playboy and camming really opened the doors for all of that,” she says. But there are expectations for a career in adult. “Being comfortable naked and photographed and video-taped kind of sets the bar, sets the tone of how it’s going to be.”

Filling up the Space

In her view, what makes a successful cam girl?

Christiana believes there are two important characteristics–personality and consistency–every cammer possesses. To illustrate her point, she asks how interesting can you be talking to yourself because that’s essentially what a cam girl does in front of her computer.

This California girl discovered she had the right set of skills for that.

“I’m an only child, so my best friend sometimes growing up was the mirror and my reflection. I would make funny faces and pose from a really young age. That made me comfortable with my body.”

The success formula is pretty straight forward.

“Being comfortable looking at yourself–and being yourself–is what makes a successful cam girl [while] filling up the space with something a little entertaining, or sexy, or silly, or fun,” Christiana believes.

On the other hand, profiting from camming is not as simple as it seems and this leads us to Christiana’s second characteristic.

“Consistency is really key to being a successful cam girl,” she insists, and reinforces the mantra, “same time, same place.” Unfortunately for her, feature dancing and personal appearances means she is frequently on the road. That is costly for camming.

“Adhering to a specific [online] schedule, especially when I’m in different time zones,” is problematic, Christiana adds.

The Table

I decide to drop my “three-legged stool” question into our conversation because Christiana can provide insights from a dancing perspective.

Is camming a fourth leg to add to shoots, escorting, and dancing?

It is, she proclaims, and reminds us we live in an online age.

“Camming or social media, such as selling your videos online, doing custom videos, doing Snapchat, Only Fans, Money Bits, I Want Clips” are part of the mix.

“Those platforms are designed to put the performer back in power so she’s not relying on a company who has shot her a hundred times.”

Referencing her own professional history, Christiana underlines her point.

“I’ve been on the cover of Penthouse four times, I’ve been all over the world for them. But I can’t count on them to employ me every time I want.”

She is grateful for her career and believes it’s a mistake to minimize porn.

“I care about the industry, I care about the people in it and I care about where it’s going,” Christiana says. That’s important because she believes “the sex industry sets the trend for the rest of the world and the media.”

Wow, that’s a bold proclamation! Christiana explains.

“First of all, when there’s different trends in women and in body image, what’s desirable, what’s new, what’s next. It all starts with pornography, because in porn . . . or the sex industry . . .  [we’re] showing all of our selves, exposing our bodies. The trend of no pubic hair started here with sex workers, people in a sexual image, and the rest of America took suit.”

Christiana believes that when people develop self-images that are attractive and sexual, the porn industry is influential in their decisions.

“They’re looking to us, because every single part of our bodies is there on display. That’s where people gain their inspiration from.”

Christiana demonstrates a kind of basic sexual intuitiveness that very well may have come from her dancing background.

“Our basic human instinct is driven to sex. That’s what it all comes down to. When they say, sex sells, the media and advertising agencies gather that from what we are selling . . . and that’s sex.”

When we return to the three-legged stool and camming, Christiana is blunt.

Camming “is cool, it’s interesting.” But it is also “a physically taxing and demanding job. Just like a lot of jobs in the sex industry.”

But after a moment, she concludes, “You’re right. The stool has four legs now, it’s a table.”

Can we say a porn career has gone from three legs to four?

*          *          *

In Part Two of our talk with Christiana Cinn, we’ll discuss some of her concerns about the adult industry.

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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.

*          *          *

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.

*          *          *

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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AEE 2019: The Realities of an Adult Trade Show

by Rich Moreland, February 2019

Photos provided by AINews and Kevin Sayres.

     *          *         *

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!

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To contact Nina Hartley, go to the following:

Twittter: @ninaland

IG: @miss_nina_hartley

nina.live (SFW)

nina.com (NSFW)

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