AEE Returns to Vegas

LAS VEGAS — A few thousand fans made their way around the Adult Entertainment Expo on Friday, the second day of the scaled-down, 2011 version of the four-day event at the Sands Expo Center inside the Venetian Hotel & Casino.

Even though there may be fewer people paying for their porn nowadays due to rampant piracy and the glut of free content, one thing remains clear when it comes to expos like AEE: bring the girls and the fans will come.

“It wasn’t like there were any less fans this year than last year,” observed Rich Freeman, a casual industry observer who made the trip from LA to attend AEE for the second straight year. “It was the same lines with the same companies.”

Companies such as Digital Playground, whose booth was positioned in the front and center of the hall, flanked by the Hustler Video and Wicked Pictures booths, all of which had queues of autograph seekers waiting for a few minutes with a porn star.

Still, the video companies who did choose to exhibit wanted to set the tone for the year in Vegas. Digital Playground unveiled the trailer for “Top Guns,” the company’s first major feature of 2011 that was inspired by the Hollywood classic “Top Gun.” Directed by Robby D., who also helmed last year’s highly touted “Body Heat,” the new feature stars DP exclusives Jesse Jane, Kayden Kross, Riley Steele, Stoya and Selena Rose. Meanwhile, the company’s latest addition, blonde newcomer BiBi Jones, was introduced at the show, drawing her share of fanfare.

Hustler Video drew some attention with the presence of Lisa Ann, Andy San Dimas and Breanne Benson stationed at the front of their booth, while director Paul Thomas held court in the meeting space behind them. Across the way Wicked Pictures fielded its entire contract lineup including Jessica Drake, Kirsten Price, Kaylani Lei, Alektra Blue and Lupe Fuentes, who was getting ready to host a party at Lavo at the Palazzo later tonight.

Evil Angel Productions, Jules Jordan Video, Elegant Angel Productions, Adam & Eve, Mile High Media, Girlfriends Films and Bluebird Films each had a sizeable booth presence. Production heavyweight Vivid Entertainment did not exhibit on the show floor this year, choosing to do its business in a suite. This year’s setup included an adjacent hall with more than 40 booths for the Adult Novelty Expo (ANE).

Janeen Gensen, director of marketing for video stalwart New Sensations/Digital Sin, told XBIZ her company was looking forward to producing more new titles in its hot Romance line as well as adding new entries in its growing Sappho series this year.

Unlike years past, the European presence seemed limited to a small number of attendees. Fred 2KN, founder and director for Parliament Adult Entertainment, traveled from Prague, Czech Republic, with Carla Cox, Billy Raise and Zlatka to promote his company that launched in 2008. Fred claimed, “We are the smallest company in the world and the only true European adult company here. We just signed a distribution deal with Orchid, which will be selling our movies in America later this year.”

Paul Chaplin, the free-spirited owner of Bluebird Films, traveled to Sin City from his home in England and wore a bright blue suit that appeared to be right out of his wardrobe from his 2010 epic “Bat FXXX: Dark Night.” Chaplin revealed plans to produce big 2011 movies such as “Catwoman,” a parody of Charlie Chaplin and a musical called “Hard Rock” in which he’ll not only perform, but also play guitar, while other well-known porn stars such as Dale DaBone and Evan Stone showcase their musical talents.

Chaplin said he already wrote 11 songs for “Hard Rock” which will be shot in the spirit of “Spinal Tap.” He told XBIZ he put “huge effort” into playing the diabolical Jo-kerr in “Bat FXXX,” which has earned multiple award nominations.

“I’ve been acting all my life, on the stage and theatrically,” Chaplin said. “And I’m a lawyer by trade so I stand up in the courtroom and act.”

Dan O’Connell, president of Girlfriends Films, told XBIZ his 2011 plans called for more traveling abroad to shoot their top-selling lesbian productions. He is eyeing a return to Budapest in the springtime, along with potential trips to Prague, France and possibly Italy later this year.

“We’ll see what we can conjure up,” O’Connell said humbly.

Meanwhile, the Mile High Media booth had stars such as Nina Hartley and Julia Ann promoting its various divisions such as Sweetheart Video, Sweet Sinner and Reality Junkies, while vice president Jon Blitt was spotted meeting with LA Direct Models owner Derek Hay.

Also seen on the show floor during the first two days was comeback performer Inari Vachs, who recently did five scenes for skinworXXX’s upcoming movie “Harder” which will be distributed by Adam & Eve. She told XBIZ she returned to the business for the right reasons. “I’m back because I want to be back,” Vachs said.

Performer Tommy Gunn, one of the stars of Digital Playground’s “Top Guns,” told XBIZ he recently moved to a 2½ acre ranch in the Canyon Country area that he now shares with fellow performers Marcus London, Devon Lee, Tony DeSergio and Zoey Holloway. The perennial Performer of the Year contender said he hopes to continue crossing over to mainstream entertainment this year, capitalizing on the momentum he gained from appearing on HBO’s “Entourage” in 2010.

Director Lee Roy Myers told XBIZ he enjoyed walking the floor “to say hello to old friends,” while Dale DaBone, who plays Elvis in Vivid’s soon-to-be-released parody, surveyed the AEE floor and remarked, “It’s not how I remember it but it’s not too bad.”

AEE will continue through Sunday.