LAS VEGAS – By the final day of the 2008 Adult Entertainment Expo, exhibitors had completed the lion’s share of their business and were able to reflect on the deals they had made over the past week. Day four is the only day in which fans are allowed full access during all hours of the show. And as the halls of the expo were thick with fans scrambling for free giveaways and autographs from porn stars in barely-there outfits, company executives discussed where the business of the adult industry is heading.
“It has been a better year for licensing,” said Eli Cross, head of production at SexZ Pictures. “We’ve seen a lot of licensing people prowling around and we’ve been sitting on a lot of our licensing. Bo [Kenney, owner of SexZ] has stores, so he’s not living hand-to-mouth like some of the gonzo companies, and we don’t take pathetic licensing agreements. People will come back.”
Cross noted a German representative who originally came to SexZ with a low offer. “We turned him down and he kept coming back with higher offers.”
“This has been one of the best years for business,” said Tony Malice, publicist for JM Productions. “We’ve talked to a lot of video-on-demand as well as licensing people and have some really good stuff to follow up on when we get back to Chatsworth.”
“I think there were more opportunities for business this year,” said Oriental Dream Pictures sales manager Justin, “not necessarily in DVD, but in VOD, IPTV and other forms of media.”
Wicked Pictures has also seen an increase in the variety of business coming their way. Joy King, VP of special projects noted, “In addition to meeting with existing customers, we’ve seen a lot of emerging technology customers — particularly web and VOD customers. We’ve seen a lot of new international business as well.”
Sudden Impact’s foreign business is on the rise, too. “We closed Canada, Germany and three other international deals,” said Sudden Impact co-owner Julian Rios.
At the Anabolic booth, a bustling crowd was trying to get to the models who, as Anabolic president Chris Alexander noted, were still bright and cheery although they were operating on minimal sleep. “The show is a great opportunity for the Anabolic team to enjoy all that Las Vegas and AEE has to offer,” said Alexander, who spent his time focusing on business. “Our goal is to grow Anabolic’s IPTV and telecom presence, as well as promote Anabolic.com.”
While many of the exhibitors are focused on sales, some are focusing on acquisitions as well. “We’re looking to acquire more classics,” said Paradise Visuals co-owner Jason Green. Paradise Visuals’ catalog of movies is now distributed by Anabolic, which is where Green has been sending his customers while he focuses on acquisition and promotion.
“For us, this show is about being seen,” Green continued. This year, Green is pushing The Make-Up, the first new Paradise Visuals movie in fifteen years. The Make-Up stars Felix Vicious. “I wanted people to know the name Paradise Visuals. This is our third year at AEE and this year I felt like that really happened.”
VCX has a vast library of classic adult movies it releases on DVD and the library is simply getting bigger. “We just acquired 175 new titles that will keep us busy for the next year-and-a-half,” said David Sutton, president of VCX. “We have one of the best VOD sites for classic adult movies and we’re going to continue loading up on classics.”
In addition to acquiring the classics, VCX is also producing new releases. “We have a new big budget feature, Angel Face, which we shot two months ago,” Sutton continued. “And starting in March we’ll be shooting 10-15 scenes a month for ATMLatinas.com, our first subscription paysite. We are definitely going forward with subscription sites.”’
At the Hustler/VCA booth, the talk is hi-def. “In March, all of our Barely Legal titles will be available in hi-def format,” noted Jeff Thill, director of video operations. “We’re going to be releasing many more hi-def titles. And we have some new tricks up our sleeves as well — parodies, like Not the Partridges XXX,” which will be the follow up to the highly successful Not the Bradys XXX. “We’ll be painting the bus very soon.”
Hi-def was a topic on many people’s lips after Time/Warner announced it would be supporting Blu-ray over HD-DVD, which many see as the final nail in the HD-DVD coffin.
“Thank god,” noted SexZ’s Cross. “Maybe it happened soon enough that someone will be able to make money off the format.”
“We’re taking a wait-and-see approach to Blu-ray,” added Kick Ass owner Mark Kulkis. “It’s costly to do it and the sales don’t yet justify the costs. I’m sure we’ll be doing it, just not yet.”
At the Ninn Worx_SR booth, designed like a double-sided Roman villa — with one side boasting pole dancing strippers from the Spearmint Rhino chain and the other promoting Ninn’s newest epic The Four, based on the recent Hollywood hit 300.
“The plans for Ninn Worx_SR this year is basically to take adult entertainment into realms it hasn’t been before,” said Michael Ninn. Ninn plans on taking the Four franchise into graphic novels and comic book conventions. “With Four coming up, we hope to move record numbers.” Four will be released in June.
Of course, AEE is far from being just about business. While Naughty America did great numbers on the business end (“We can’t wait to come back next year,” said Lauren, Naughty America’s assistant producer.), a large line of people waited for a chance to meet Naughty’s flagship signer, Ava Devine. “She’s notorious for reaching into her fans’ pants and ripping out their underwear. Her room [in the Naughty America booth] is full of shredded underwear.”
Naughty America also attracted a host of new, undiscovered talent to their booth. “You’ll be seeing fresh new faces from us in the very near future,” Lauren added.
Over at the Strip Las Vegas magazine booth, co-owner Brittany Santos had a video camera set-up to broadcast the expo live over the Internet. “Every day we broadcast live from 11 – 4:30,” said Santos. “When we’re not interviewing the stars, we put the camera on the crowd for those who weren’t able to come to the show.” The Internet response was overwhelming.
“On the very first day we launched with Tera Patrick to 15,000 viewers and the server crashed,” Santos continued. “So we had to upgrade the connection and ask Tera to come back.” Since then, the broadcast has seen between 10,000 to 15,000 viewers every day.”
As the final hours of the show wore down, a scantily clad exodus of stars and starlets made their way off the convention floor to head back to their hotel rooms to meet their make-up artists and get ready for the 25th annual AVN Awards Show and a night full of raging adult industry parties.