Tag Archives: Steve Nelson

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The 2017 AEE Extravaganza: Part One

by Rich Moreland, February 2017

I just returned from my annual trip to Las Vegas for the adult industry trade show. As usual my photographer and I teamed with Steve Nelson, the editor of Adult Industry News, to cover as much as possible in our brief four days.

This post is the first of two parts and represents only a portion of what we recorded.

A note on the hyperlinks. If a company’s online home page displays hardcore photos, I did not include the hyperlink here as it may not be suitable for all readers.

Photos provided by AVN are credited where appropriate.

*          *          *

58791f73e034c-avnshow

Trade shows are for networking, marketing new products, attending seminars, and in the case of the annual Adult Entertainment Extravaganza, oops, I mean Expo, canvassing porn talent.

This year’s show was one the best I’ve attended. Here are few highlights.

On the production side of the business, I had another opportunity to interview the always busy John Stagliano of Evil Angel. He gave me some thoughts on the incoming administration in Washington DC (my part of the country, by the way). Later in the week, John participated in a seminar on the same topic.

2017-01-18-07-00-04

As the week was winding down, I renewed acquaintances with Moose of Girlfriends Films. Though they no longer have a booth in the show, Girlfriends has upped its game on the distribution side of the business and Moose is in Vegas to refresh his industry contacts.

I’m always interested in emerging companies poised to make a splash with a new idea. One relatively recent player is Royal Empire Productions. I interviewed the owner, Robert Morgan, to get his take on what he calls “realistic porn.”

Upbeat

Negotiating The Joint and the Artist and Muse Halls on opening day was easy, the crowd was a little sparser than I anticipated. By week’s end the fan traffic picked up considerably and the show was bustling with an upbeat tempo.

2017-01-18-05-57-31

The refreshing part of the AEE experience is running into people unexpectedly. Here are a few examples of my week.

A text exchange led to breakfast with seasoned pro, Natasha Nice. We discussed the possibility of her writing a post or two for this blog.

Photo courtesy of AVN

Photo courtesy of AVN

The super fabulous Chanel Preston gave me a few impromptu moments as did the BBW April Flores when I found her chatting with friends near the AVN booth in Artist Hall.

A couple of times I stopped by Bang.com to pass time with the two legends of porn, Casey Calvert and Maddy O’Reilly.

Love these powerhouse girls.

Maddy and Casey Photo courtesy of AVN

Maddy and Casey
Photo courtesy of AVN

And, by the way, I visited with Chris Cane of Foxxx Modeling where I met a new girl who is bound to become a star, Emma Hix. My interview with this sweetie follows in another post.

Oh yes, timing sometimes fails me. I attempted to persuade a hurried Riley Reid to pause for a “hello” but I might as well have tried to hail a bullet train!

New Face of Porn

A new girl is solidifying her place in porn: the webcam honey. This year’s AEE rolled out the welcome mat for these dynamos who float between real hardcore and solo performances via computer, all in direct connection with their fans. MyFreeCams and Chaturbate seduced show goers with face-to-face fun.

Emma Chase Photo courtesy of AVN

Emma Chase
Photo courtesy of AVN

I met Emma Chase, a Chaturbate girl who stopped me for a moment to demonstrate with her computer how our conversation was soaring through cyberspace. Emma lists her talents as simply “entertainer.”  She’s a delight and if Chaturbate is your thing, go to Google and search her out.

Likewise a goth looker named Eliza Bathory, who markets herself as a model, camgirl, and artist, was at her laptop among the horde of Chaturbate girls. Since I’m fascinated by facial piercing (Eliza has a bunch) I promised to return later to get an interview. Unfortunately, she disappeared into the nether regions of the show. Very Dracula-like.

2017-01-18-09-59-36For the oglers, the Chaturbate crowd had the distinction of being the least dressed. Lots of flesh with pasties all around.

img_0678

VR

From the marketing side, let’s not forget VR. The Cam4VR booth offered a rousing example of what the whole virtual reality thing is all about; it’s the wave of the future.

Photo courtesy of AVN

Photo courtesy of AVN

I interviewed Ela Darling and among her many talents is a love of VR.

ela4“I am the ‘Queen of VR Porn,'” Ela says, “and the leading voice in the VR industry for the adult industry. I speak at conferences all over the world. People in that space really make room for me. They respect the work that I do, they respect us as an industry and understand that we are an important for the future of VR.”

Direct engagement with the fan is where porn is going in this age of social media, Ela explains.

“We just launched Cam4VR this past year. I’m the world’s first VR camgirl. We’re getting ready to introduce a new camera that’s really cool and a voice-to-voice experience and a private chat network. When you put on that headset, you speak. The performer hears and gets right back [to you].”

Rearrangement

From year to year, the AEE rearranges its spaces to maximize the fan experience. The most obvious this year involved the setup for BDSM enthusiasts.

Photo courtesy of AVN

Photo courtesy of AVN

The bondage carnival known as The Lair relocated from the second level of The Joint to the floor of Artist Hall, a move I’m sure to increase its visibility and fan traffic.

BDSM equipment and a demonstration or two (All models were fully dressed, there was more flesh on a Chaturbate girl!) highlighted its activities.

Lastly, every year I come away with the same thought on the show. Artist and Muse Halls are easier to negotiate than the tight spaces of The Joint. Being a bit claustrophobic, I do appreciate the efforts of AVN to keep movement as smooth as possible!

Stay tuned for part two of this report.

Easy entrance into the show Photo courtesy of AVN

An easy and convenient entrance into the show
Photo courtesy of AVN

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The “New Girl”

by Rich Moreland, November 2012

Steve’s bringing over the “new girl,” Bill Margold said.

Photographer Bill Knight and I are sitting in Margold’s Hollywood apartment on a slightly cool fall afternoon. I’ve pieced together a bit of an interview on his memories, but it’s all very informal. Bill’s a friend and one the last living porn historians who remembers the days when the business was a small fraternity of actors and actresses.

There is another item on our agenda. We’re awaiting Steve Nelson, editor of Adult Industry News, to head out to dinner.

Meeting an industry model for the first time is a plus, especially if I can get another perspective on the business. So a “new girl” is always welcome, but a quiet objection on my part is due here. The adult film industry refers to its male and female talent as boys and girls, terminology I’ve always considered somewhat demeaning. Porn is a sometimes tough, sleazy, and shady business and it’s not cut out for boys and girls. Though I’m used to the industry language, “girl” is still off-putting. On this afternoon, the person who walks into Bill’s apartment proves to be anyone but.

The “new girl” is a delightful surprise. Her name is Leena Sky, a Floridian who flies out west to shoot (that’s a porn phrase, it has to do with cameras!), and she is every bit a woman. I let her talk career with Bill for a bit before catching an opening to introduce myself. I’d done my homework and know she has a Ph.D., perfect for me to instantly bond with her. We both teach in the college classroom.

And connect we did. Leena spends the next few hours with four middle aged men who are interested in helping her launch the “Porn Valley” version of her career. One more thing, Leena is no kid, she’s in her early thirties and has her head wrapped around the porn business. She knows where she is going, drawing her own roadmap along the way.

After dinner, our group drives over to the pier at Santa Monica for a late night visit with the Pacific, a treat for me because I’ve not been here. The night air is chilly and the ocean placid. Fortunately, Leena gives me the bulk of her time; she is willing to listen to some ideas I have.

Simi Valley and Coffee

The next morning Bill Knight and I set out for Simi Valley just west of the San Fernando Valley, aka “Porn Valley.” We’re to meet Leena at a local coffee shop. She’s due for a shoot that morning and is gracious to give me an hour of her time. When we arrive, she’s easy to spot, leopard tube top and black hot pants, very “pornie” and very cute. I suggest we take our discussion outdoors to the patio where the customers are fewer, a tactic I’ve learned over the years.

Most interviews with porn models are much the same. Tell me a little about yourself; now let’s talk about your favorite shoots and what you like to do on film. Mostly it’s graphic sex and penis size, stuff to get the fan off. I try to approach things a bit differently, particularly if I can concentrate the performer on her past. The question that is usually on everyone’s mind about adult film models is “why would you do this and how did you get your start?”

Here’s Leena’s view, and I will warn you, she is smart, articulate, and knows how to identify opportunity.

“I grew up in Philadelphia,” she begins. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do except go to college and leave home at eighteen to spread my wings.”

She recounts that she graduated from Clemson University in South Carolina with a major in psychology. “I found psychology to be something I could relate to, having gone through a lot of turmoil in my own life.” A not uncommon response I get from my own students who want to major in psychology, by the way. And, like most psych students, Leena realized a graduate degree was a must.

At this early juncture in her life, Leena was embroiled in significant changes. She went to grad school after an initial education burn out, ended up in Georgia where she worked in social services, doing everything from family counseling to working in abortion clinics. A master’s in counseling came her way, leading her to private practice where she encountered patients with suicidal thoughts and drug addictions.

“I like things that are fast and changing,” Leena tells me, speaking of her counseling years. Though sex addiction and therapeutic techniques involving sex were not topics she studied, she confesses she had nagging thoughts about the sex industry she could not shake. “I always had these fantasies of being in it and I shared these thoughts with my mother,” Leena explains, “she strongly discouraged it and I am happy I did get an education.” But, Leena adds that sex work in front of the camera “was always in the back of my mind.”

Leena got married along the way, had twins, and pursued a doctorate which she completed recently. It was not an easy run and perseverance was the key to her success. “I am really goal-oriented,” she says. But like so many directions we can take in our pursuit of happiness, the expectations exceed reality. “I really hoped that light bulbs would turn to magical things when I got those letters (the Ph.D.),” she sighs. However, fate, with its longings that intuitively shape our decisions, had other thoughts in mind.

Over dinner last evening, Leena and I talked about the idealism we had when we started teaching on the college level. Conversation turned to the students in our respective classrooms who don’t have the responsibility they need to take ownership of their education and how disheartening that can be to a professor. In her case, Leena was burning out, yet she managed to hang on for a while by teaching online.

Then another opportunity poked its sensuous head around the corner and leered its lewd thoughts in Leena’s direction.

“Around this time, she begins, “I had learned about webcamming through an accountant who did my taxes.” Her divorce left a financial hole in her checkbook and the CPA knew she could use extra work. “He planted the seed,” Leena says, but adds she had “no idea” what she was getting into. “I never watched porn. I was sort of in the very vanilla world.”

“Had you ever seen porn before all this came about in your life,” I ask, because her words I’ve heard before from other adult film models.

“You know what my earliest memory is?” Leena says. “It was a Jodie Foster movie I saw way too early on. She was raped on a pinball machine. It was almost like porn to me. I was twelve or thirteen and at a friend’s house. We didn’t have cable, it was on HBO.”

Next, into Leena’s life came a kid’s easiest outlet, print material. “I remember my girlfriends and I would steal nudie magazines, which was really pervy,” Leena explains.

Pervy may be fun, but it does not create porn a model. Leena remained as uninformed as the average girl. “I really didn’t see a lot of porn, so the webcamming thing, I didn’t even know what it was.”

Decision time was on the horizon; the fantasy is morphing into reality. Once the college gig was downsized, Leena stopped hating to go to work. She shifted her teaching to adjunct status and limited her work to online classes. Leena’s happiness level took a quantum leap forward, but bills had to be paid. Stepping up the webcam was the answer, at least in the short run. Yet, Leena knew full well webcam is a tenuous enterprise and wouldn’t last forever.

Opportunity showed up again, this time in embedded in one of her webcam accounts.

“This one guy that kept coming into my (webcam) room and said, ‘What are you doing here? Why don’t you do porn’?” Leena’s response was befuddlement. “Porn? What are you talking about? Me? How would I do that?” she thought.

“I think he had connections from formerly being associated with the business,” she continues. “He was able to take a few pictures. I sent them to Reality Kings (a Miami Beach-based adult online company). I thought it’d be kind of cool if they wanted me. It turns out they got me my first shoot.

So a porn career that was perfect for the MILF and Hot for Teacher genres was birthed. It was a good thing because if it had not, then our paths would never have crossed.

Leena is now part of the adult film universe and is expanding her options every day. Her adventures, by her own admission, have been difficult to negotiate at times, but they have also been a turn on.

By the way, F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that in life there are no second acts. Leena Sky and I have something in common: we’re proving Mr. Fitzgerald wrong.

More on Leena is coming in another post. Perhaps she will discuss orgasms on film, could not resist the pun! Not all of it is positive because as I mentioned above, the porn business has its characters and its vagaries.

Stay tuned as they still say in the media business.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized