Porn, Pondered

Last week, the publicist for Adult Video News Adult Entertainment Expo declared its annual January event to have been “a total success.” Now that the fog machines have cleared and the porn stars have returned to Porn Valley, we can analyze this year’s installment of debauchery on display (which ran Jan. 18-21). So how did 2012’s ultimate porn party stack up? Here’s the rundown:

  • The Shrinkage Continues: There’s nothing sadder than listening to porn stars and producers wax nostalgic about the good old days. And yet wisps of conversations about how the industry (and its naughty parties) used to be were overheard throughout the casino’s hallways. The Internet, and its ability to offer free jack-off material, continues to ravage the porn industry. After several years of this trend, it’s starting to feel like the makings of an epic, like the Elves are leaving Middle Earth and we need a fellowship to rise up on a quest to save Fair Maiden Spankbank.
  • Angels to the Rescue: Judging from a weekend of observation, that “fellowship” is the Burning Angel girls, headed up by their HBIC/AVN 2012 spokesmodel Joanna Angel. The alt-porn starlets—some of whom would be alluring in any outfit; some of whom are flat-out unattractive—with their piercings, tats, shaved heads and vintage dresses dominated the AVN red carpet in a big, angry clique. It was as if this was a second chance at prom and their … well, we can’t quite call it beauty … their ability to garner attention was revenge against all the traditionally pretty porn stars, who no doubt made a nice stand-in for the popular girls in high school.
  • Fan Fest: You’re right, we didn’t answer the big question: How exactly are a bunch of tatted-up chicks going to save porn? Answer: through a connection to their fans, which also happened to be a big theme at this year’s expo. You see, there’s a little something called YouPorn (and PornTube and YouJi—well, you get the point). So, the legitimate porn industry has to offer something more than just sex, and that thing is the video equivalent of the girlfriend experience. Likely because of their distinctive appearance and natural facility with social networking (because they’re young, y’know), these chicks seem to be best at forging a connection with their customers. But this year, even the popular girls had to play the game. With 12 “official parties” and the inaugural AEE Fan Fest (“giving fans never-before-seen access to the industry and its participants,” to quote the press release), the convention is officially shifting is focus from industry to fans.
  • A Perfect Partnership: A move from larger venues (most recently, Venetian convention space and the Palms) may signal the downward spiral of the porn industry at large. But it’s a win for its new host, the Hard Rock. Truly, these two entities are a natural
    fit (makes us wonder why they never hooked up before). The vibe between the two just meshes (the word “hard” is in the name, for cryin’ out loud). For the first time in years, we found ourselves hanging out at the Center Bar (both of them), and, just like old times, it was the place to be. If the e-mail that AVN sent out advertising Mötley Crüe’s Hard Rock residency is any indication, we’ll be seeing you at the same place next year.   

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