AEE 2009 Show Report

Steve Javors
LAS VEGAS – Without a doubt, this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo disproved the theory that porn is recession proof. Fan attendance dropped precipitously from the previous year and there were fewer exhibitors as many companies collectively tightened their belts in order to withstand a slumping economy.

Attendance for the convention at the Sands Expo Center was markedly down with exhibitors we spoke to estimating anywhere from a 30 to 50 percent drop-off. One published report said that exhibitor participation was down 11 percent from 2008 (301 booths to 267).

The decline in fan attendance was immediately noticeable on Friday, the first day the expo was open to consumers after a typically low-key trade-only day on Thursday. The custom of barely being able to squeeze through aisles packed with people clamoring for a photo of their favorite star came only on Saturday, by far the Expo’s most well-attended day.

Though there were some noticeable absences from the show floor (Naughty America, Evasive Angles, Teravision, SexZ Pictures) and downscaled booths (Hustler) other companies like Zero Tolerance, Shane’s World, New Sensations and Vouyer Media opted for B2B suites downstairs to meet with buyers in a private setting.

However, it was not all doom and gloom on the show floor. The biggest names in adult entertainment, mostly placed towards the front of the Expo hall, displayed impressive booths, cool giveaways and perhaps most importantly, bold-faced adult stars to meet and greet their fans.

The first row of exhibitors upon entering show floor included Evil Angel, Wicked Pictures, Hustler, Vivid Entertainment, Digital Playground and Adam & Eve.

On the far side of the first row, the Adam & Eve booth was a flurry of activity. On one side legendary adult star Christy Canyon was broadcasting live for Playboy Radio while starlets Sunny Lane, Courtney Cummz (sporting freshly-enhanced boobs), Bree Olson and Kayden Kross signed autographs and posed for photos.

“I just love dressing up and meeting the fans at these shows,” A&E contract star Bree Olson said. “The energy is great and everyone has been super nice.”

While at the Adam & Eve booth, this reporter was treated to a special preview of the upcoming big-budget movie “The 8th Day” starring Kayden Kross. Ren Savant, the director of the post-apocalyptic thriller, called Kross’ performance one of the best he’s seen during his career.

One row back, Elegant Angel’s sleek space featured a raised all-white platform a couple feet off the floor outfitted with stripper poles. Gigantic reproductions of the box covers to “Big Wet Asses 13” and “Alexis Texas is Buttwoman” served as the backdrop. Pneumatic blond bombshell Shyla Stylez took a particular liking to the pole as she gyrated to thumping ambient dance music.

“I really think 2008 was the best year of my career, but I’m looking forward to topping it this year,” Stylez told XBIZ. “I was a nasty girl – I did everything – and loved it all.”

Also signing for Elegant were Alexis Texas, Sunny Lane and Flower Tucci.

Meanwhile at the Vivid booth Sunny Leone was gushing with enthusiasm over her production company’s first release scheduled for the end of January. SunLust Pictures’ “109 Minutes” features Leone in every scene but one. SunLust is distributed by Vivid.

“To say I’m excited would be a huge understatement,” Leone said. “I’m thrilled with the movie and my fans can look forward to four more movies from me next year.”

The Vivid booth always is a popular destination for fans. New to the expo this year were fresh faces Nikki Jayne, Meggan Mallone and Hanna Hilton who was a total knockout.

FyreTV had the Expo’s largest exhibition space. The company generated big buzz at the show by unveiling its new wireless IPTV set-top box chock full of thousands of adult films.

FyreTV boasts of being able to stream video content through the wireless box straight to a TV with no other hardware required. The company’s content library is massive, with thousands of adult movies that are arranged in an easily searchable database.

Customers can choose their viewing pleasure by a specific adult star, by studio, by title, by series, by sex act; and also by body type like hair color and bust size.

Jenny Hendrix, who signed for the company along with a bevy of stars including Asa Akira, Ashlynn Brooke and Jaelyn Fox, also unveiled some new hardware of her own.

“I got new boobs!” the perky starlet told XBIZ. “They feel totally real and I’m so happy with them. They are like a full C-cup now and I can’t wait to start titty fucking.”

Making a triumphant return to AEE was former Vivid star Briana Banks. The leggy blond recently formed her own production company, Briana Banks Entertainment, to showcase her own blend of erotica. Banks’ booth, up a flight of stairs, also featured Angelina Valentine and Angie Savage showing the fans plenty of love.

Golden Age erotica specialists Video X Pix certainly believes the phrase that “everything old is new again.” The New York-based classics studio announced the launch of its Platinum Elite collector’s DVD series. The line kicks off with a special 2-disc edition of Radley Metzger’s “Maraschino Cherry” in deluxe packaging.

Included in the foil embossed package is an extended interview with Gloria Leonard, an expanded booklet, movie stills and two bonus scenes featuring Leonard.

After the first few rows of production companies, the show included booths selling clothing, lingerie, smoking accessories, bedding, adult vacations, light bulbs, candy, massages and more.

Downstairs in the B2B suites, sex toy titans Doc Johnson, Topco Sales, CalExotics and Tantus all were noticeably absent from displaying their wares. Other companies like Njoy and Oh My Bod attended as a way to support its distributors like Eldorado.

Companies like the Screaming O were present for additional branding opportunities and like numerous other companies, came to support existing lines that debuted at the ANE show in July.

Other studios that fully represented at AEE were Exquisite who had Claire Dames, Kelly Madison, Carolyn Reese and Nikki Rhodes signing; Hustler with Shawna Lenee, Ryder Skye and Lisa Ann in her full Sarah Palin get-up; Evil Angel featured Belladonna, Loona Luxx, Lexxi Love, Bobbi Starr, and Jada Fire; Jules Jordan’s “Pornitentiary” was arresting with Jenny Hendrix, Tiffany Mynx, Jenna Haze, Andi Anderson and Dana DeArmond; Silver Sinema included Lexi Belle and Marlie Moore; Brazzers had a “Big Tits at Work” set in full effect with Nikki Benz and Puma Swede working overtime; Hot Movies sizzled with Joanna Angel.

Digital Playground, Wicked and Vivid had their full complement of contract stars signing at AEE.

Bucking convention, Tera Patrick decided to forgo a traditional booth at AEE instead opting to have a private meet-and-greet happy hour with her fans at Lavo, a lavish club in the neighboring Palazzo hotel. Patrick stood in front of a brightly lit backdrop while fans queued up to take a picture with her, snag an autographed 8x10 photo and grab a copy of “Tera Goes Gonzo.”

The ever-gracious Patrick gave each fan a few moments of personal time to chat and ask questions. She beamed a bright smile the whole way through.

Admitting that having a booth on the show floor has always been an expensive proposition, particularly now with lower fan attendance, Teravision honcho Evan Seinfeld planned this special intimate event.

“The cost of having a booth is just so over the top, but having Tera meet her fans was very important. That’s why we decided to do something original and exclusive,” Seinfeld said. “Everyone is loving this set-up and I’m glad we did it.”