LAS VEGAS — Is the adult industry doomed? No death knell has yet rung, but some of the biggest names in the business expressed concerns about the current slump while surveying what is traditionally the biggest day of the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo.
"This is really a crisis," X-rated icon Rocco Siffredi told AVN at the Evil Angel booth. "Three years ago, I couldn't move from the people here on Saturday. The first feeling I had upon arriving was, 'What day is today, Saturday or Thursday?' In Europe, when we talk about America experiencing a real huge crisis, we always think they talk too much, but the reality simply is not true. Now, by seeing not too many people, I saw it's true."
Vivid Entertainment superstar Savanna Samson echoed Siffredi's statement in more subdued terms. "It seems very ... quiet," she said. "Even checking into the hotel, like, there's no lines and everything. I'm not going to worry about it, because I think people need to be positive, and OK, so what, the economy's bad — but what better way to get through it than through sex and love and all that stuff? It'll get better."
There were those, too, who registered no alarm at all. "I don't see a recession in porno," said Vivid-Alt director/performer Kimberly Kane, who's touting the release of her latest effort, Live in My Secrets. "I see it's very busy. It's very busy."
Popporn.com personality Josie Jacobs is attending AEE for the very first time, and she described the experience as "exciting and crazy and overwhelming."
There certainly seemed to be no lull occurring at the Digital Playground booth, where a line stretched all the way down the side and around the back for autographs from Jesse Jane, Stoya, Teagan Presley and Sasha Grey. Likewise for the Hustler Video outpost, where onlookers gathered to get a glimpse of Lisa Ann in her Who's Naylin' Paylin? get-up.
At the Metro Content booth, the boisterous Penny Flame addressed a cluster of cameramen through a megaphone: "Penny Flame is awesome! Dot com! That's going to be my new website. I should buy that, shouldn't I? Fuck! Don't you fucks buy that website! That is my website! My awesome website!"
Performer Christian XXX offered some frank thoughts of his own on the show while wandering the convention floor. "I think it's a little disappointing, to be honest, " he said. "Obviously, the sour economy and the slump in DVD sales are forcing companies out of the business or in another direction. Personally, there's only maybe 30 male performers that are worth a shit in this business, so as long as you're one of them, they're always going to need you in some way, shape or form. So personally, I'm going to be fine. For the business, God, I hope it rebounds, I hope we figure out some way to expand. How that is going to happen, who knows?"
On a more upbeat note, Christian expressed plenty of excitement for tonight's AVN Adult Movie Awards. "I love the awards," he said. "I've always sat up front. I like it when the good people in this business — the James Deens, the Evan Stones, the Tommy Gunns, the Manuel [Ferarra]s — when those guys win and do well, I'm always happy for them. So I'll always go, I'm always going to sit as close as I can, and I'm always going to root for my friends."
Even with the gloom and doom weighing on many people's minds, the atmosphere was light, fun and generally happy.
"I think the spirit is nice, the people are not that worried," said Siffredi. "Hope is the thing that I see on everybody's face."