Our industry is one that enables an enormous amount of travel.
It’s somewhat part of the genetics of adult that we find ourselves over and over again with friends in foreign lands.
The truth is, the European show season is a marathon session for those traveling from North America.
I remember flying to The Island Gathering just two years ago with my girlfriend (now fiance, after a successful romantic proposal this summer).
It was my first experience in first class (but not my last) and by chance we ended up on the same flight as some industry elite where we popped champagne and self-entertained ourselves all the way to Curacao in a way that non-porn “civilians” would quite possibly be offended by.
Today, I’m writing from the skies somewhere between my home in Canada and sunny Las Vegas (in economy).
The XBIZ London show is just weeks away to kick off what I commonly refer to as “The European Tour,” encompassing London, Amsterdam, Prague, Sunderbruch and other conventions. Those from outside North America simply call it “convention season,” but I sometimes call it “awards season.”
After XBIZ’s award to JuicyAds (The Sexy Advertising network I founded) as the 2015 Traffic Service of the Year, we are nominated for six more industry awards that will be announced in Prague.
The truth is, the European show season is a marathon session for those traveling from North America. It’s truly an accomplishment to successfully attend all the European shows without either collapsing from exhaustion from the “work all day, party all night” and to also avoid illness.
I’m embarrassed to admit that last year not soon after promising XBIZ founder Alec Helmy himself that I was looking forward to the party that night, I became mind-numbingly ill and spent most of the remainder of the show in my hotel room. I was sadly absent from JT’s keynote, the party JuicyAds sponsored and the panel I was supposed to speak on.
Following my separation (and subsequent divorce) this had become my life — globetrotting the industry with the rest of the jet set. I traveled to most every major show in the industry, and it was amazing. Meeting industry people, the sights (and I don’t mean the boobies), doing wild and crazy stuff, as well as eating and drinking in different parts of the world is what it’s about.
From the outside, some see this as us screwing around, a far cry from what standard conventions generally look like, but this is the way the adult industry does networking.
I’ve eaten horse in Amsterdam (tastes like beef), indoor skydived in Prague (where it’s possible to “fall” up or down), and shot straight absinth in Budapest (and survived). It has a somewhat grounding effect on me to think that this part of my life almost never happened. If my ex-wife “The Blonde” was still around I never would have found myself by getting so ridiculously lost! It’s hard to believe sometimes that this is my job.
Last year was my first trip to London. From the air flying in, “The Eye” observation wheel was predominant as our flight descended into Heathrow. With a bunch of JuicyAds gear in tow, mass transit was not an option. The taxi ride was nearly $200 directly to the show hotel (during rush hour).
The cabbie was more than cheerful, and upon my departure he picked me up punctually and did the return trip by appointment for half-price. He explained that London taxi drivers desire an airport fare that will take them to the airport in the morning, and an airport fare at the end of the day that will take them home. Making these arrangements in advance will get you preferential pricing. My first lesson was already learned by then: You will spend money in London.
I vaguely remember (in my doped up state on cold meds) spending time at the hotel bar at the London show hotel having a few very select meetings while drinking away my pain (and regretting not washing my hands more after shaking hands with so many people.)
I had promised to go sightseeing with friends and when I woke up that morning there was very little else other than that promise that dragged me out of bed. I was miserable but it was time to fake it. It was only a dozen or so blocks from the hotel and wandering through the streets of London was a new experience.
The red double-deckers are commonplace and completely not a novelty but instead, a necessity in this city. In fact, there is a lot of innovation from necessity in London, much like the adult industry.
Every pedestrian walkway is marked with “LOOK” pointing to the right, where the “backwards” drivers will hit you from first (unlike that silly left-hand driving in North America.) But soon after meeting some other London attendees at one of many entrances to “The Underground” subway, we ventured off to the first notable destination: Abbey Road.
Unbeknownst to me on my way over, this was meant to be more than just a simple “take a photo and walk away” destination. I was to walk where the biggest band in the world once walked, as part of an “Abbey Road” cover photo imitation. It is still today, the most iconic and imitated album cover in the world.
Despite the original featuring the actual Beatles taking only 10 minutes and six photos, it took us several rehearsal walks and many attempts crossing this busy London street. We even got photo-bombed by some wanker who thought it would be funny to ruin our best photo. It seemed almost fitting doing an imitation as parodies are alive and popular right now in porn, but we chose to keep our clothes on for this one.
At the end of our impromptu photo shoot we discovered that a 24/7 live CCTV feed outside Abbey Road Studios records blokes like us doing this all day, every day. No surprise there, the number of CCTV cameras in London is shocking if you’re looking for them. Estimates range wildly on how many cameras are installed, upwards to 1.8 to 4.2 million in the entire U.K. Some estimates suggest over 400,000 in London alone. If someone charged a monthly fee to watch voyeuristically, they’d probably make a fortune.
Cue the locals to take us to a London Pub, where we were randomly greeted with (literally) a box of puppies. Pints are had all around with fish and chips (and mushy peas) before wandering off towards the tubes to discover more of London.
Our next stop featured St. Paul’s Cathedral and a walk to the Tate Museum over the modern-art looking Millennium Bridge with the raging River Thames below. Some exhibits at the Museum left a little to be desired. Yes, even you can have the chance to see art that looks (literally) like a pile of shit!
Avoiding the tubes and taking a walk down the London streets to the Tower of London, we were too late to tour the inside, but the massive amount of history in the area was remarkable. We continued down river along the bank towards the Tower Bridge (commonly mistaken by tourists as the London Bridge, myself included.)
In fact, the current London Bridge is not the original London Bridge at all. The London Bridge has been built (and rebuilt) many times over hundreds of years, the most recent build completed in 1973. The former arched London Bridge was put up for sale (when over 600 years old) and sold to American entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch for nearly $2.5 million and subsequently exported to the U.S. by barge and trucked inland where it was painstakingly reassembled brick by brick and is now a tourist attraction in Lake Havasu City in Arizona.
At the end of our afternoon in London, a city full of the very old and the very new, we grab a coffee and rest at a Starbucks overlooking the Tower Bridge. Just like those of us in the adult industry, ingenuity, ambition, and the entrepreneurial spirit travels “across the pond” in both directions.
As the sun gets heavy in the sky we wander downtown London, the streets and pubs now much busier than before. Double-decker busses fly by and as we make our way into the subways it’s clear that our earlier mid-day leisurely Underground travels had made way to a more snarled experience. We are more or less packed in like sardines with folks pushing and squeezing in to get home — claustrophobia sets in. The person who coined the “sardines” comparison must have been a Londoner.
Once again back in my room at the show hotel, I look at Big Ben in the distance while I pop more cold and flu tabs like an addict taking a hit. We had only scratched the surface and there was still much more to see beyond the convention at XBIZ London.