Any question as to whether the 2007 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo would draw a sizeable turnout was squelched handily and thunderously Friday, as the Sands Expo Center got out-and-out stampeded by porn-happy enthusiasts of all stripes and sizes.
Despite what seemed at first like a sparse attendance, by 12 noon, the floor was packed, and the excitement in the air was at a fever pitch. This has traditionally been the nature of the convention’s third day, but the big difference this year is that it fell on a weekday (due to the shifting of the con’s entire schedule up one day), thus making it that much more victorious a day both for AEE exhibitors and the adult industry at large.
Contributing to the high energy vibe thrumming throughout the aisles of the convention floor were the presence of various camera crews following personalities of both the porn and mainstream breeds around the show, as well as the mounting tension over Saturday night’s AVN Awards Show, for the first time moving into place as the closing event of AEE.
Wicked Pictures contract star Jessica Drake, who’s co-hosting the Awards Show with comedian Jim Norton, admitted to a little nervousness over her part in the impending spectacle — which is celebrating another first this year in that it’s now been opened to the public — commenting, "I don’t think I’m gonna get severe stage fright until like five minutes before I’m supposed to walk on the stage, but yeah, I’m definitely nervous.
"Sometimes, if I let myself get all worked up, I really get nervous about it," she continued, "but the deal is, I’m very comfortable talking. I love to run my mouth. So I think my main concern is that I want to do the show justice. It’s a huge show, it’s so important — this is the best night of so many people’s lives, and it’s the biggest night of the year, and I just want to give it the best that it deserves."
Drake added that the show’s going public lends it a level of significance previously unimagined. "As soon as I got to start saying ‘TicketMaster’ in interviews, it definitely [seemed like] such an acceptable show. It makes the general public go, ‘Hey, TicketMaster’s doing that, maybe I should go online and buy tickets.’ That’s really incredible."
One person definitely on the line for a potentially very big Awards night is director Eli Cross, whose Corruption from Sex-Z Pictures carries a hefty 17 nominations, including Best Director – Video, Best Screenplay -– Video and Best Video Feature.
Cross, who jested that his main purpose in being at the convention has been "standing around with my thumb up my ass," took a very pessimistic stance on Corruption’s chances at the Awards, stating, "I know for a fact that we are not going to win, and that’s OK."
In explanation of this lowly outlook, Cross offered, "We specifically shot on HD, because we thought [John] Stagliano was making Fashionistas [Safado: The Challenge, also up for Best Video Feature] on film, as he did the first one. Then he started budgeting it out and realized, ‘Oh, I don’t need to spend half a million dollars on this one, I’ll do it on HD too!’ Well, fuck … there went that. But that’s OK, you could do a lot worse than losing out to John. So we’re throwing this big party tomorrow night, and I invited John and Karen Stagliano to come bring their trophies and rub them in our noses."
Cross said he has higher hopes for Corruption star Hillary Scott, though mostly insofar as her nom for Female Performer of the Year.
"I think she’s got a great chance at Performer of the Year," he opined, adding flatly, "I think she’s got virtually no chance at Best Actress, and I told her this."
Scott, who actually was present in the room as Cross said this, mock wept, "I want to be a winner!" Only slightly more seriously, she remarked, "I’m nervous. I’m excited to wear my dress. That’s what I’m focusing on. I have this really great pink, sparkly dress, and that’s probably what I’m more excited about."
Later in the afternoon, magician Criss Angel (who’s appearing in the Awards Show) performed a stunt for cameras inside the AVN booth with Jessica Drake, asking her to write down the name of the person she had the best sex of her life with on a piece of paper, and then guessing the name. (It was Brad Armstrong, in case you’re wondering.)
Another star being followed by cameras was Female Performer of the Year nominee Kimberly Kane, in her case for a segment on Howard Stern’s Howard TV with Stern staffer J.D., who will be presenting the Best Video Feature Award (the last of the night) with Kane and comedian Carrot Top in Saturday’s ceremony.
"It was cool," Kane told AVN.com. "We did a few minutes on the floor, and we went over to Mandalay Bay for the rehearsal, and it went successfully. The only problem in my eyes is they didn’t give J.D. any lines."
The Stern crew will be back at the convention Saturday with Kane, capturing her exploits as she greets fans at the JM Productions booth.
Making a brief appearance late in the afternoon to secure his tickets for the Awards Show was another major honors contender, JacktheZipper, whose Blacklight Beauty from Pulse Pictures is up for 13 Awards, and could potentially make him a three-peater in the Best All-Sex Release category.
Joining JTZ was Blacklight cast member Loretta Loren, who did a brief stint in porn last year, but has since been working on building a career as an artist in her hometown of Chicago.
"It’s a kick in the face," Loren said of Blacklight’s critical acclaim, "because what I thought that I was doing that was just so not acceptable in society, I [now] realize that it’s actually pretty well respected."
That it is, and just how much so will be determined at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in a mere matter of hours. Folks, the real fun has only gotten started. …
To see a gallery of images from AEE Day 3, click here.