Seven Takeaways from AVN

Photo by Gabe Ginsberg.

Photo by Gabe Ginsberg.

1. For years, AVN was like any other convention, primarily for industry and press. Then they began opening up the show floor to the public for one day — drawing an impressive line of couples in their most vivid velour pimp/ho regalia and lone men in baggy T-shirts. Today, fan festival isn’t a sideline, it’s the whole point. Come down, buy a vibrator, buy a flogger, sit in on the “How to Negotiate a Three-Way” seminar, pose for pictures with your head between the giant knockers of your second-favorite porn star …

2.  In a bathroom stall, I found a small stack of tags from Victoria’s Secret. I had visions of some poor starlet flying in from Indiana and losing her luggage. She’s gotta be at the LA Models booth signing autographs for the Hollywood loaf crowd in 45 minutes, so she and her hair-gelled “manager” hop in a cab and tear down to the Boulevard Mall, grab a few fistfuls of lace and polyester and whew! Crisis averted.

3. It must be thrilling to drive up to the Hard Rock and see that thirty-foot banner hanging on the side of the casino, endorsing your stardom and advertising the major awards show you’re hosting. That thrill must be lessened when you see that your name is misspelled. The awards may be over and the glitter and lube has been washed away, but Tommy Pistol is probably still wondering who the fuck thought it was spelled “Tomy.”

4.  If anyone thinks that folks only take pictures with Smartphones these days, AVN will disprove that notion. There are hundreds, thousands of men with boxy, black cameras, most of which are augmented by lenses that could capture a comet drifting past Venus or a hummingbird in flight from three blocks away. Big lenses. Huge lenses. Lenses that are probably compensating for … poor eyesight. Lenses they use to take pictures of women who are standing no more than a few feet away. Bless these ladies: After two hours posing in four pounds of makeup and six-inch heels, the next person who asked me to “smile” would probably get beaten to death with a double dildo. But they are unfailingly pleasant and accommodating. Want me to blow up a balloon? Jump up and down? Get a spanking? Hug you? Hug her? Hug her and you? Nothing’s too much for a fan!

5.  Best swag goes to the hot pink Jesus Loves Porn Stars stickers with a mustachioed guy who might be John Holmes or Tony Clifton on them. Also a sheet of origami porn star paper dolls: “Assemble breasts and insert into slits on chest.”

6. Some sex toys are aesthetically pleasing. Some are cute. Some are amusing. But few actually provoke fear. This year’s horror was the Shenzhen XISE Toys Company’s series of mutant sex toys that seem to take their design cues from the works of David Cronenberg. Want just the hip-to-knee portion of a human with the front and back entrances on the same side? No problem! A pair of silicone boobs with a vag between them? Right here! Just an ass with hole and something that’s could be a tattoo or herpes sore? We got that! But that was not the item that caused me the most psychological distress. No, that was Teddy Love. Imagine Teddy Ruxpin with a motorized tongue. Yeah. Ew.

7. Perhaps it’s a function of fan-oriented agenda/venue layout, but the expo felt very divided up. There was the AVN Novelty Expo shuffled around some meeting rooms and a hallway, two ballrooms and a hallway for the rest of the exhibitors, the Joint with rows of booths for porn star photo ops and, upstairs at the concert venue, “the Lair” offered merchandise (and more) for the B&D/S&M crowd. Sure, people could focus on what they were there for, but it also felt smaller and didn’t encourage people to explore, mingle or try something new … and isn’t trying something new what AVN is all about?