Tag Archives: Hard Rock Hotel

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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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: 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.

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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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A Dog in this Fight

by Rich Moreland, January 2015

Topless bowling and a scantily clad hula hoop contest welcome invited guests into a large suite on the Hard Rock Hotel’s upper floor. The occasion is Girlfriends Films’ (GFFs) after-the-show party on the Adult Entertainment Expo’s second night. Hanging out with yours truly is my photographer Bill and Morgan, our “lovely young assistant” as they say in show biz.gfs logo

This is Vegas, of course, and the forty or so guests mingle around the lounge, bar, hot tub, and pool table that complement the bowling ally. Top agent Mark Spiegler brought some of his starlets—Reily Reid, Lily LaBeau, and Penny Pax among them—while porn heartthrob James Deen circulates among revelers with his sweetie, Stoya. Jessie Andrews, the star of B Skow’s hit, The Gardener, arrives with the dewy nymph-like elegance that is her trademark while GFFs’ hottie Prinzzess shoots a little pool topless, her trademark tresses accentuating her Hollywood glamour.

The affair is an appreciation for the studio’s 2014 successes. It’s no secret that company President Moose and founder Dan O’Connell have built a highly respected and dynamic organization in a time of recession and content piracy. Results are impressive. Their efforts are moving the GFFs brand to the forefront of adult entertainment. Tonight Moose and Dan extend their gratitude to industry supporters while giving the lovely ladies who are the company’s image some downtime after the crush of media demands and signing for fans.

In a brief address to party goers, Dan praises those girls who make a successful go of it in adult film. They are “strong, resourceful, brave and smart,” he says, emphasizing that recognition and achievement blossoms from hard work and responsibility, characteristics GFFs fosters.

For my little team of media hounds, the gathering has another focus. We chat with Moose to get his reflection on the year. Distribution deals have blossomed that include ArchAngel Productions, James Deen Productions, Skow for Girlfriends Films, Tasha Reign’s Reign Productions, and Bonnie Rotten’s Mental Beauty, he tells us before corralling Deen for a quick introduction. And, GFFs continues to donate to charitable organizations its performers list among their favorites. Incidentally, no one has ever retired or resigned from Girlfriends, a rare claim for any company in any industry.

Dan, the girls, and Moose on the Red Carpet. Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Dan, the talent, and Moose on the Red Carpet.
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Be it understood that GFFs is one of adult entertainment’s good guys and its charity work is important. But now another community project has raised the company’s passion: child pornography and sex trafficking in the Long Beach/LA area. “Trafficking hurts people,” Moose says, and combating this evil is a commitment GFFs takes seriously.

“Girls are being pimped out starting at age nine,” he explains. Fortunately there are people willing to push back against the perpetrators and the pimps. Rock Against Trafficking is a worldwide organization that, associated with local groups and the music and entertainment industries, has taken the lead in this endeavor with the goal of outreach and rehabilitation. Girlfriends is proud to contribute to this mission.

Stopping trafficking, rooting out its villains, and getting underage victims through the court system is daunting. Moose insists that supporting local services is perhaps the highest priority and he backs up his voice with visits to facilities on the battle lines against a heart-breaking human tragedy.

Sure, a party sponsored by an adult film company has its “entertainment” and munchies with appropriate libations that settle well in the stomach. Eyes feast on barely dressed professional models sparking up conversation around the room. But there is more to Girlfriends Films, it’s a different breed of porn animal. No doubt the company is an industry leader in making money the right way, but it also cares about its employees, its performers, and now, its commitment to helping others.

For Moose, Dan, and the gang, every newly purchased Girlfriends’ DVD and VOD streaming carries a warning shot across the bough of the trafficker who deals in human flesh. Adult film has a dog in this fight and that’s good news for the powerless whose childhoods are endangered by prostitution, abuse, and lost futures.

Best of all, you help every time you pay for your porn . . .

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Behind the Lines

by Rich Moreland, 2013

There are three locations where the business of filmed pornography flourishes: L. A., which includes Las Vegas, San Francisco, and South Florida. (New York was retired from the adult map some time ago.) Of course, filming takes place anywhere nowadays, and quite frankly does. Just check out the amateurs, like the Jasons and Ashleys on any street in any American town, who are armed with a camcorder. They inundate the internet.

The Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas provides an annual opportunity for the professional markets to gather in one convenient spot. In truth, it’s the big names associated with Porn Valley in Southern California that draw public interest. Crowds jam into narrow aisles at the convention’s host, the Hard Rock Hotel. Fans elbow for space to take snapshots of their favorite performers and hope for a minute of chat and a signed one sheet or mini-poster.

At this year’s affair, I gave that battle an early go only to experience the usual frustrations. I want more than thirty seconds; I’m after information, a story. Here’s an example. Getting Joanna Angel was virtually impossible. I did speak with her briefly and she wanted to talk at length but had no time. Later that day, I lunched with a film editor, Sonny Malone, who works for Joanna’s company, Burning Angel. She was sympathetic to my dilemma, but emphasized that Joanna was so busy that an interview would not likely be scheduled this time around.

Joanna Angel gives me a brief moment Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Joanna Angel gives me a brief moment
Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

There were other A-listers on the floor who also said they’d be happy to sit down for a few minutes but couldn’t say when. I spoke with an emerging star (gave her my business card, talked about my column with Adult Industry News—the usual stuff) who promised me some time before she left for the day. When I returned to her signing area, she was hurrying to leave, smiled and politely excused herself. A studio owner for whom she has signed in the past mentioned to me later that her skills in dealing with the public need to be polished. I nodded, acknowledging that he was trying to soothe my annoyance.

Tracking down performers based on where they are scheduled to sign is also highly futile. Names and signing hours are rarely posted; anything listed in the event’s official program is notoriously inaccurate and subject to change. The AEE is catch as catch can, very chaotic, and stresses out performers and other industry personnel. Even models I personally know often cannot give me more than a quick “good to see you again.” Sometimes luck comes my way, but this year’s Expo was not overly productive in that regard.

Presley Hart at Smash Pictures. No time for an interview. Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Lucky to catch Presley Hart at Smash Pictures
Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

However, that’s with the top players in the biz.

In the convention backwater, modeling agencies maintain booths where lesser known talent often sit around like girls on slow nights at strip clubs. Crowds are refreshingly thin in this little traveled area. But the eagerness to be a star always pervades the atmosphere and the girls are most accommodating, as I might add, are the talent agents—at least the licensed ones, but that’s a story for another day.

Backwater Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Backwater
Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Shifting gears to this part of the Expo, my next post will be on a new girl whose bubbly personality is most endearing.

Before I get to that, a brief story is appropriate.

I was hanging around waiting to speak with an agent when a newbie was checking in for her floor time. Maybe nineteen at best guess and thin as a street waif, the girl was a bit of a laggard apparently (her seat had been empty). She appeared tired, weary is a better descriptor. Her agent approached her gingerly and inquired about where she had been. Putting a can of caffeinated high energy drink on the small around table she used for signing, the hazy eyed brunette glared at him. She was out until five a.m., she snapped, but reminded him that she was responsible enough to show up at her assigned time. I admired her gumption and sense of responsibility for someone so young in a tough business.

Girls are on tight, debilitating schedules for four days assuming they stay the whole week. The Expo is more that just putting in floor time and being pleasant with fans. There are after hours parties, time reserved for industry affiliates involved in distribution and marketing, and, of course, shooting scenes when a few available hours can be found. Hotel room time is rarely in short supply.

Everything is money in adult film, you see, and everyone needs to make another buck. In this case, what happens in Vegas gets distributed.

Wanting clarification of grapevine info I occasionally pick up, I asked a performer I know fairly well if she could verify that girls were relying on “chemical assistance” to survive the week. She was honest, as I trusted her to be.

Look for a story on a new girl coming soon. It’s from behind the lines where ever they are.

 

 

 

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South Texas Friendly

by Rich Moreland, February 2013

The Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas sometimes reminds me of an Alfred Hitchcock film. The hero (or heroine) is inundated with sanity breaking stimuli in a world that is firing at a million miles per hour. The rush and demands coming from all sides like scud missiles can punish anyone’s nerve endings.

Needless to say, with its crowds and hectic scheduling, the annual convention tries the patience of everyone in the business.

I get flustered for another reason. I’m directionally challenged. That’s a polite way of confessing that I get lost with little effort.  When I go on long cycling rides with my buddies, for instance, I remember our routes using landmarks. Everyone else depends on road signs. If someone brings along a map (or a GPS nowadays), that is of no consequence to me. Just tell me to make a right turn at the big oak tree.

Little wonder that when I arrive at the Hard Rock Hotel Complex on this cool and sunny January morning, I need directions. Never mind that I was here last year!

Its media day and my photographer and I are picking up our badges so we can roam the premises, locate booths and kiosks for future reference, and, if we’re lucky, network. He’s new to the biz and the Hard Rock. Bill has a nose for airport navigation, I just follow him. But this is supposed to be my territory and I don’t want to aimlessly wander from one corridor to another trying to figure things out. The posted map at the entrance is meaningless to me, despite the Hard Rock’s good intentions.

So, it’s time to ask for simple directions with hopefully only a turn or two.

I should add that I believe opportunity comes and goes all the time. On this occasion, it shows up in spades.

Going through the first set of double doors that I’m guessing is the right direction, I spot a blonde leaning against the wall across the hallway. She appears to be taking a break from a maddening schedule that is on her mind, but not yet reality. Understand that my radar is set for porn girls. I’ve been around enough that I can spot them easily, not to mention that this is convention central. The thing about this woman is her manner and appearance. For lack of a better description, let me rely on my Hollywood movie preferences.

Like the femme fatale in a film noir of the forties, she walks into the detective’s office and Sam Spade says, “This dame has class. She can melt an ice-cube at forty feet with a wink of her baby blues.”

Daisy Layne Photo courtesy of Rick Garcia

Daisy Layne
Photo courtesy of Rick Garcia

Any graphic cliché is trite because it can’t match the vibes the blonde throws out. But I need something, so here are old standbys: statuesque, imposing, sensuous.

But, the best is approachable—tight jeans, stilettos, blue cowl neck top, and braless, notwithstanding. She’s 5’8” without the heels, is my guess.

In my school days I would never have walked up to such a girl. But I have more moxie now, plus I possess wordsmith power. Flash the badge and hope for an interview. But this moment is sans badge, so I whip out a business card and depend on my feeble persuasion skills.

By the way, there’s a six foot five, two hundred pounder, hanging close by. They’re obviously together, but he’s giving her space. Got to respect him for that, I think I can say ‘hello’ without any hassle.

In the porn world, girls sometimes have intimidating guys around to intervene if necessary and I don’t blame them. Some fans can be fawning, not to mention stalkingly rude. Just because she does porn does not mean she’s everybody’s baby. These girls deserve more credit than that, it’s a business.

I quickly find out her name is Daisy Layne and what I’m about to get with my directions is south Texas friendly.

I meet all kinds of people doing my journalistic thing, but Daisy is not just “all kinds of people.” She’s an exception. In an instance I like her, I really do. We chat as if old friends from way back and arrange for a later interview.

I love opportunity and it is knocking loudly right now. To quote Humphrey Bogart in Casa Blanca as he walks into the fog with Claude Rains, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

    *          *          *          *          *

Two days later I’m waiting for my 10 a.m. interview with Daisy. We had exchanged emails and arranged to meet at Girlfriends Films. I talked with Dan O’Connell the previous day and feel more than welcome at Girlfriends. Coincidently, Daisy shoots for the company.

Dan and I are chatting a bit while the clock is giving away minutes. It’s after ten and no Daisy. Not at all unexpected, by the way. During this convention week girls don’t get much sleep with late night parties integral to their schedules. She’ll show up.

Dan offers to give Daisy a call and with apologies for her tardiness, she arrives within minutes. I’m relieved and will not forget Dan’s favor. I avoided sending a text and the appearance of being pushy. Thanks, Dan.

Daisy and I find a quiet spot and I pull out the recorder. Dick, that’s Daisy’s husband who is never far away, falls into conversation with Bill and the next hour flies by. Dick Chibbles and Daisy are a team, a rarity in adult film, and support each other.

In fact, the fascinating story of how Daisy ended up in adult film is related to her love for her hubby. It’s coming, no porn pun intended, with my next post.

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With Girlfriends, it’s all Sex-Positive

By Rich Moreland, February 2013

Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Not every pornographer shoots sex for sex’s sake. Dan O’Connell, founder and owner of Girlfriends Films, does more than direct a sex scene just because he’s hired a couple of girls and has a camera. “I think the context of sex is important,” he says, explaining there must be a reason for the girls to explore each other in a Girlfriends production.

His formula works. The company is widely known in the industry for creating film narratives with a purpose. Like many studio owners, Dan emphasizes production values that reflect his personal tastes. In this case, he prefers “a dramatic storyline full of tension and anticipation.” Dan O’Connell is much like Evil Angel’s John Stagliano, though their movies differ in style and subject matter. Each man puts his passion on film. He knows what he likes and he has cultivated an audience who enjoys his offerings.

Girlfriends Films advertises its product as lesbian oriented though the company recently hired Vivid veteran Michael Bisco to develop boy/girl shoots.

Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Right now, Dan hopes to complete at least one a month. His objective has always been to produce films for women, but he realizes that male viewers can also find space under the Girlfriends’ umbrella.

Seduction is a key word at Girlfriends Films. As mentioned above, Dan O’Connell wants to move past just shooting sex. He amusingly puts it this way, Girlfriends avoids the “’I like you, oh, I like you, too. Let’s go have sex,’” theme.

However, seduction translates into a different approach when it comes to filming. Dan is always on scene, but he minimizes his crew for the sake of the performers he hires. He wants everyone to be at ease, otherwise seduction isn’t going to happen, or if it does, it will lose any claim to authenticity.

“I don’t have any more people in the room than we have cameras,” Dan says. For him, three is the limit. Speaking of the crew, its Dan and two girls who happen to be gay.

Why? It’s a simple consideration when working in an industry that demands a performer’s most intimate moments. “Some of the girls we shoot are relatively inexperienced in the business and we don’t want to make them nervous with a bunch of guys looking around,” Dan explains. When girls get aroused they must keep in mind that the cameras have monitors. Important, Dan insists, because “If you are not looking in the camera monitor, you are not making a good movie.” All very professional, keeping everyone on task and producing content that elevates a business’s reputation.

Legacy and Integrity

When I asked for his mission statement, Dan beams. “To provide orgasms, to make people happy!”

“Our industry is all about providing happiness and contentment and sexual satisfaction,” Dan says, “we are not here to rape and pillage.”

Dan O'ConnellPhoto Courtesy of 3 hattergrindhouse

Dan O’Connell
Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Then he adds something I’ve rarely heard in the industry, a sense of legacy.

“When pornography is finally a legitimate business,” Dan says, “I want people to look back and say GirlFriends Films was one of those companies that was sex-positive.” When I mention that the label sex-positive makes his company feminist oriented, he responds with a smile then puts a slightly different spin on what he means by the term.

Dan urges the adult business to strive for a sex-positive goal because “as an industry we should be respected, not vilified the way we often are.” It’s about integrity, something Girlfriends Films has solidified as part of its brand.

Girlfriends has a “clean reputation,” Dan believes, and in the porn world such an accolade does not come without effort. One might suspect that as owner he collects sexual perks for himself. Not so, Dan does not hang out with the girls who film for him. That’s important, he points out, because “you will gain their respect and they’ll want to work with you” if they are treated like the professionals they are.  And there’s another benefit, the performers who shoot for Dan bring other models to his attention.

“I always am very respectful of the girls,” Dan says and explains that porn performers are top notch in his view. He describes them as “physically strong, mentally strong, very resourceful,” plus they are intelligent and educated. “At least the ones we use,” he notes.

I would agree. The Girlfriends booth at the Hard Rock Hotel is always busy with girls signing and talking with fans. Dan’s popularity among the talent is obvious. Other studios may have two or three performers available at any one time but Girlfriends has twice that number. Also, a company person is always around to schedule interviews for journalists or other interested parties. I secured my interview with Dana DeArmond through a simple hassle free request, something that is not always the case with other studios. In short, it’s about access and Dan knows how to make that work for him.

When I got to know Dan O’Connell better (we talked again the next day) I felt comfortable using Girlfriends as a place for brief timeouts from my hectic floor schedule. Anyone who plans to go to Vegas for the Adult Entertainment Expo should stop by Girlfriends. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. I can assure any visitor that he or she will always feel invited.

Over the years, the adult business has changed for Dan. He used to be more into shooting a scene than writing one, but no more. “I get more excited writing scripts,” he says. Dan likes developing new ideas and testing out innovative story possibilities. As a writer, I can fully understand his view. Dan prefers storytelling to the task of getting just the right shot on set. Filming is hard work and has its rewards, but it doesn’t compare with inventing content, especially considering that Girlfriends shoots as many as thirty scenes a month. For Dan O’Connell the business is twenty-four seven.

In our conversations Dan reveals a philosophical side. He has definitive views on society’s attitude toward sex and porn. “The sex industry should be enormous,” he says, considering that everyone is concerned about sex in some way. Seems logical to me, sex is about our humanness. However, when it comes to the adult convention—the yearly occasion that sex takes center stage—Dan points out that reality paints a different picture.

Unfortunately, today’s market downturn crams the annual gathering into the confining spaces of the Hard Rock. I suggest that the hotel’s venues get crowded on fan days and Dan nods, mentioning that Girlfriends’ booth is deliberately located in the back of the ballroom where space is more available. In fact, he has added another booth just to make room for the company’s fans. Dan doesn’t want them to get “stacked up” while waiting to meet their favorite stars.

As I hinted above, it was a real help to me as I used the Girlfriends space to meet up with people, so my thanks to Dan.

Dan O’Connell makes a final point as we wrap up our talk. “People look at us (the porn industry) based on what they perceive to be the worse content.” Elaborating further, he believes that the vilest material that “disrespects women and causes pain” is it what the public believes the industry to be. Perception without a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of what it means to be in pornography is a problem the business has never been able to shake. But Dan insists that scenario can be changed.

I could not agree more and Dan O’Connell contributes mightily to that effort. He’s one of the good guys and his company is well respected in the universe of filmed pornography. With Girlfriends, it’s all very professional and sex-positive.

 

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