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Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Nov 13th, 2014

EXXXOTICA @ The New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center, 11/8/2014

Exxxotica 2014When reviewing I tend to take the ‘if-you-don’t-have-anything-nice-to-say-don’t-say-anything-at-all’ party line. I see myself as less a critic of the things I am happy to have sent to me for this column or the people I meet, and more a reporter. When something doesn’t particularly speak to my sensibilities I still try and find what it is about the movie/person/toy/event that could and very well might appeal to those with sensibilities not mine. And God knows, if I happen to have been a fan of something, have enjoyed it in the past, it is doubly hard to spew negatives about that thing. All this said, I do want to give a good review of this year’s Exxxotica 2014 at The New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center Edison, N.J., but…

First of all, once again, my press credentials were not listed. This has now happened to me at Exxxotica four times in a row (once in A.C. in April, after I called their office a number of times and was even emailed a confirmation.) Luckily I had an email confirmation once again (yes, I do learn from past mishaps) and the gentleman who couldn’t find me on his computer still gave me my passes. One of the positives of this year’s Exxxotica, as with every other, is that their staff has always been and continues to be polite, good humored and aching to help you, even when there is a snafu.

I waited until Saturday this year to go down to the show. In years past (way back when they used to open up the first day, Friday, at 12 to the press) I found lot’s of the exhibitors had not set-up or had even made it to Jersey yet. So Saturday at 1pm, the time the doors opened for the weekend crowd, I figured would be best.

Hitting Exxxotica in Atlantic City in April, I noticed a much smaller gathering and a decidedly different cast to the proceedings, fed I believe with how the business is generally heading. With a few notable exceptions, adult content is less about movie releases these days (the progression from seeing a dirty movie in a theater, then on VHS tape, then DVD now to download has been documented by historians much more astute then I) and more about porn stars shooting their own content for their sites. Whether someone like the Clips4sale provider I interviewed a few weeks back, Lil’ Ivy (see here), shoots for her own ‘store’ or you are a well-known porn star simply selling subscriptions to your site while still working infrequently for a bigger company, digital streaming has facilitated great changes in the adult business. Very much like the record business, adult stars now have more autonomy (although whether they are making money with DIY is up for debate) and porn DVD’s, at least big-budget porn DVD’s, are pretty much a thing of the past. I am not saying they are all gone, and in fact a few companies still do well with DVD sales, I am just saying the adult business has taken a hit from the digital age.

The Raritan Center is a huge space, so things were bigger than they were at A.C. months ago, but still things have changed with this convention over the years. Yes, there were plenty of porn stars on hand selling their DVD’s or photos, taking pictures with fans and signing autographs (though by the time I left, near 3 o’clock, a ton of them had yet to even show…so much for me coming on a Saturday to catch everybody!) But the big companies are not putting up banners like in yesteryear (and really how many big porn movie companies are left?) and in a sure sign-of-the-times, there were quite a few areas where ‘stars’ were meeting-and-greeting for either their own production company or hawking their wares and selves connected to digital camming companies.

The requisite toy companies were on hand (surely not giving away free samples so much as they used to) sitting right along vendors selling vapor cigarettes and vapor booze! There were some clothes’ sellers and a big section of carpeted floor space set aside for Exxxotica’s ‘dungeon’; on or about spanking benches and wooden crosses a lady or a gent could get whipped or tied by an expert. “Jesus Loves Porn” was there once again, and I managed a laugh with one of their amiable crew (they are nice enough people really, though one tends to wonder why Jesus’ disciples have such a need to preach, can’t they just be happy they found the Son of You-Know-Who and keep it to themselves?). Ron Jeremy and Evan Stone were the male stars on hand (Jeremy wasn’t there yet, but Evan Stone was taking pictures with anybody who asked, smiling and shaking hands), there was music pumping and lots of strippers from local clubs set up grinding on beds and round poles.

But…

I think the digital age has brought a death knell to these kinds of gatherings, and in two specific ways. First of all, the actual ‘business’ of the adult business has changed so much that the wide open gonzo vibe, the big money being made by so many, the ‘special-ness’ is gone. I don’t know how to describe it better than this, but I feel with so many people doing their own thing, the business is less unique. I liken it to how it feels these days seeing and hearing so many bands coming across YouTube and Facebook. Back in the day it took something special to get the golden-ticket record contract, now anybody can say or do whatever they want and get it to the masses. I am all for artistic autonomy and a great wide field of such variety of stuff to choose from, but it’s certainly not so special to make music, to make porn, to make anything anymore.

And secondly, and I’m sorry to note this, but with a good number of booths I passed (I’d say roughly 40%) the occupants weren’t reaching out to make eye contact, to say hello, to be friendly. At Exxxotica, as with too many places I go these days, people were engaging their Smart Phones more than they were each other or customers. Man, at a sex convention you can’t even lift your head up? I mean, I was at least craning my neck at all the bare booty and bouncing breasts…and there were so many it wasn’t so unique to see them! And, really, if you are trying to sell something, isn’t it in your best interest to try and engage those walking past your table?

Another blight from our digital age. So there is my review of a lackluster Exxxotica, a convention I shan’t be attending anymore, sorry to say. Will they miss lil’ old me, not likely. Do I miss the way things used to be…damn skippy I do!

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EXXXOTICA @ The New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center, 11/8/2014