Well, Exxxotica NJ has come and gone, and I am once again exhausted, energized, and voiceless. This weekend went by in such a whirl of interviews, parties, connections, and craziness that looking back on it I hardly know what to say.
The first thing to be said, of course, is thank you to Exxxotica for making it all happen. This year’s convention (the only adult industry convention that comes near NYC, and would be in the city if not for our weirdly prudish government, but that’s another story) was bigger than ever and impressively well attended by industry and fans alike. I rubbed elbows with so many of my favorite performers and behind-the-scenes folks that I actually missed seeing and talking to a lot of my other favorites, and that’s the suck. But I feel slightly less bad about it knowing that I was simultaneously carting around a gang of WHACK! staffers with me while trying to promote a media event/party we were throwing Saturday night.
Which really is the most… hm… the most interesting, shall we say, aspect of this weekend for me. The party craziness. I’ve heard it repeated again and again that porn is an insider’s industry, and I’ve seen and heard of many examples of pettiness in the ranks. But I wasn’t prepared for the shit that went down surrounding the event WHACK! magazine threw on Saturday night along with HedoOnline. It really brought some of the rumors I’d heard into reality for me.
I have my suspicions about what it was that actually sparked all this nastiness, but the short story is this: WHACK! began to plan a party with HedoOnline that would provide some mainstream press coverage for adult industry people who were in town for the convention this past weekend. The planning began over a month ago, when we sent out feelers to clubs for hosting, stars for attending, and Exxxotica to see if they would like to sponsor the event as one of their official after-parties. We love the guys who run Exxxotica and were eager to work with them to make everything go smoothly. They told us that they’d already worked something out with another venue for their after-parties, so they’d have to decline, but they hoped our event would go well. So we proceeded to plan for the event without using their name on it. We called it a “media event” to avoid the “after-party” moniker, and we made no mention of Exxxotica in our official press for the event, just to keep everything on the level. Especially after I got screamed at by a performer who apparently was misinformed about what was going and threatened with lawsuits if any copyright infringement occurred, we were very, very careful to make the event as positive and well-publicized as possible, but to keep the “Exxxotica” name out of it. We didn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression about who was throwing the event.
So in late October we sent out a press release to every major media outlet in the adult biz and in the mainstream. Nowhere in the release did we mention the word “Exxxotica” or “party.” We were treating the event as a red carpet media extravaganza that we wanted to invite adult industry professionals to so that they could get some media exposure while they were in town. We invited them to stop by on their ways to other appearances, or stay and have a few cocktails with us. Whatever worked. Let’s all be friends, right?
Not so much, apparently. By the beginning of last week, we’d had several media outlets rewrite our headline to read “Exxxotica After-Party” or some variation thereof, which immediately pissed off about… well… everyone. We immediately contacted every place we could that had run this headline, and many of them retracted their rewritten headlines, switching instead to something less inflammatory. But it seems the damage was already done. Rumors flew around, people freaked out, managers pulled their talent, and by the time Saturday morning rolled around, we literally had no idea who would be on our red carpet, even though we’d confirmed attendance weeks in advance from many stars. We spoke via phone and in person to talent managers and stars, and we got a lot of lip service, but it was too late. The rumor mill was hard at work, turning our good intentions into a nefarious scheme to steal Exxxotica’s name and reputation for our own self-serving wishes. Exactly the opposite of what we’d tried to do.
Damage control can only get you so far. In the end, we had a fabulous night, and the convention itself was great. We had a great turnout at our event despite everything, there was a big media turnout for the red carpet, and we all had a great time. But it could have been a lot better if some people hadn’t decided to get their knickers in a twist over an entirely mistaken impression that they chose to stand by even when there was no need to. I think this has been a learning experience: the industry on the inside is a lot like high school. Lots of fun to be had, but you always have to be watching your back because people actually want to sabotage you. Egos are massive. People take themselves very, very seriously, and a smile and good intentions will not change their minds.
I hesitate to say this because it might come out all wrong, but here goes: It’s just porn, people. Relax. I don’t mean to say that porn isn’t serious business or doesn’t deserve real consideration and respect, because it does. It VERY MUCH does. But it’s also not the U.N. You know what I mean? We’re not holding the fate of nations in our hands here. We’re trying to throw a party and do some interviews for everyone’s benefit. Can we all just calm down a little bit and get along?