VIRTUAL REALITY—Evil Angel's Christian Mann was interviewed by Wasteland's Colin Rowntree today as the keynote address at Red Light Center's Adult Entertainment Virtual Convention. Mann and Rowntree are a couple of old school survivors who've been working the porn streets since before the dawn of internet time. In fact, the two took the first several minutes of their allotted hour to trade war stories about just how OG they are, and in Mann's case, to talk about how technically non-savvy he is, a fact he said that made it doubly ironic that he was delivering his first-ever keynote address as an avater, and a buff one at that.
But it was precisely the virtual aspect of today's address that not only brought out the best in Mann by creating a focused atmosphere for the conversation that followed, but also provided a few unexpected (and tangible) benefits over the traditional "live" presentation.
First, the substance of the keynote was generally splendid. The two vets covered a lot of ground, and it literally seemed as if more actual words were uttered during this keynote than at any in recent memory. Subjects discussed included porn's early years, Mann's youthful introduction to the industry, obscenity prosecutions, the DVD business model, tube sites, John Stagliano, .xxx, the looming mandatory condom initiative, and many, many others—all of them linked together by the theme of Darwinian survival in such a way that the discussion maintained its thematic integrity despite a few inevitable and in fact refreshing detours, and never threatened to disintegrate into a jumble of incoherent observations.
The virtual nature of the experience enabled that sense of continuity by creating an experience for both participant and observer that in some ways superceded the lack of a physical presence and the ability to actually see the speakers' expressions.
Mann, who is always articulate, was particularly eloquent as a result. Speaking extemporaneously, he constructed his thoughts with an admirable clarity and completion of thought, including on some pretty complicated subjects. Indeed, each man was able to express himself particularly well today exactly because he did not have to deal with an actual audience and the myriad distractions that come with it, including of course the unavoidable nerves.
Following up with Mann after the address, he agreed that the virtual nature of the experience allowed him to better focus on what he wanted to say.
"It felt like a phone conversation between Colin and me because it was done via Skype and we could not hear anyone else," he told AVN. "That coupled with the fact that we could not see anyone, other than the virtual room on the screen, which just looked like I left my computer on a video game, made it possible to relax, be myself and just speak conversationally. That was part of the reason I was happy with the decision to have Colin be an interviewer instead of a moderator for what would have been an awkward speech if done in traditional monologue format."
He added that there were some out-of-body elements that he had to get used to, but allowed that the sense of isolation may have actually been a benefit.
"I was aware of the text scroll and sometimes played to it, " he said. "The other notable thing is that I could not gauge audience reaction and I wasn't clear on who the audience was and if we were boring or engaging them. That might be a good thing because it left me no choice but to lose sight of them and instead just think about the discussion in a vacuum devoid of external influence.
"All in all," he added, "a very cool experience."
His interlocutor agreed. "It was a remarkable process and experience, and very, very different than brick and carpet trade show speaking," said Rowntree. "It was very much like simply having a conversation with Christian, with virtually no distractions."
Rowntree mentioned another benefit from a speaker's point of view. "During the dialogue, I was watching the seminar from my avatar's point of view on the stage on my computer, which included a little 'room chat box' where I could see the commentary of the audience as our conversation moved from topic to topic. This really had the nice bonus of having a real-time finger on the audience pulse to see which issues were resonating with them and stay with the hot button issues that people were buzzing about in the audience.
"I had a virtually great time as a speaker in this new technological venue," he added. "I see this format really getting some traction over the coming years in the adult B2B community, especially with webmasters and producers who are simply too busy or far away from the live convention cities to be able to physically attend more than one show a year."
For more information about AEVC, go here.
Image: Colin Rowntree virtually interviewing Christian Mann, courtesy of Pimps Promo.