The Ugly Truth: I hate porn conventions

Let me be frank, dear readers. I just had the coolest week ever. I hung out with some incredible people, talked about things that were very important to me with lots of them, drove across the Mojave desert, and spent a truly inordinate amount of time watching TV in hotel rooms (hey, I don’t have TV at home—I’ve gotta make the most of it when I have one in my grasp!).
And I remembered, for the umpteenth time, just how much I dislike porn conventions. I attended part of Friday afternoon’s and most of Saturday’s Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas—gave out my card, interviewed some people, did some networking… the usual. With every passing year I find myself more and more annoyed with AEE, and this year’s cramped quarters in small spaces inside the Hard Rock, complete with insufficient signage and too-loud music, really drove my loathing of conventions home for me. Even though I got more “Oh, I know who you are!” recognition than ever before, and even though this made my job much easier than it was the first time I attended, I still less-than-enjoyed almost every minute of it.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with conventions. In their way, they’re fantastic. They give fans an all-important chance to grab some face time with their favorite performers, cementing relationships that might otherwise not have led to much in the way of sales for the porn industry. And they’re fantastic networking opportunities for professionals in the industry.
But that’s why I hate conventions. I despise networking. I think it’s one of those things that I’m actually quite good at, as I tend to walk away with a billion business cards in my pockets and lots of follow-up work to do when I get home. And I know that networking in a small industry facing many obstacles it’s mega-important. But I just can’t stand doing it.
I think it’s the same thing that keeps my writing obscure and spread out under various pseudonyms online: I just don’t enjoy promoting myself. Networking is all about pitching people your wares—convincing them that what you can do for them is something they really need done. And I realize that porn people really do need news sites like WHACK! to advertise on, exposure in the way of interviews and press release posting, so what I’m hawking actually is important. But I am a terrible salesperson.
I also hate interviewing people, especially on video. This is a rather large problem for me, since one of the things that has earned me a reputation in my industry is doing just that. And it’s ridiculous, because in the entertainment world, interviews are mega-important for getting the word out about people, projects, companies, etc. But I always feel as if I’m prying, or bothering people, or taking up too much of their time. And I can’t stand watching myself on video. Given that porn conventions are prime interview-getting time and that most of those interviews feature me with a stupid look on my face asking what seem at the time to be inane questions of various performers, conventions are to me somewhat akin to pulling out my fingernails one by one with tweezers.
The reason I feel so willing to dish about how much conventions make me want to hurl myself off a high ledge is that I can juxtapose my loathing of them with my delight in spending actual quality time with people in the porn industry. Whereas conventions are constant lights, flashes, interviews, poses, and fake-fakity-fake-fakeness for the thronging crowds of fans (which is all well and good if you’re into that kind of thing), the conversations, panel discussions, and quiet time I gleaned on this trip to LA and then Vegas was, for me, incredibly rewarding. I spent time deep in conversation with people from all the corners of porn: all genders, sexualities, races, preferences, styles, and levels of fame. From megastar Nyomi Banxxx to transman Charlie Spatz to legendary crusader Nina Hartley and everywhere on the spectrum in between, the people I spent quiet time talking to over the past week were fascinating, articulate, knowledgeable, and honest. With the flashbulbs quieted, the music turned down or off, the crowds shut out, and just a few of us sitting there talking about what porn means, what it is, what it can be, and what we want from it, I felt at home. Exhilarated. Challenged. Appreciated.
I guess this is what makes me something of a homebody when I get the chance to be one. It’s a longing for real interactions with people that just don’t happen very often on the show floor, if ever. It’s a quiet living room, a movie, and some popcorn. It’s mutual understanding, questioning, and willingness to listen. It’s… well… Friendship. And it’s what I love about porn: porn people are smart, funny, and deep. You can’t work in an industry so universally maligned and so physically demanding without coming to understand and accept yourself—and if you don’t, you’ve got some bigger issues to work on. The people I meet in porn who I can sit and have a real conversation with are among the most intelligent and interesting I’ve ever known, and it’s those conversations that make me want to write this blog… And keep going back to conventions, whether I like it or not.

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