LAS VEGAS—The adult industry and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) have a long history together, with adult companies exhibiting at the CES from the late '70s through 1999, when AVN formed the industry's own convention, the Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE), after CES made it clear that it considered adult industry members to be second-class citizens. (For example, a sign was posted at restrooms in 1998 in the CES's adult section reading, "Warning: Porn Stars Use These Facilities.")
But CES and AEE have had a mutually beneficial relationship since the split, with CES attendees forming a significant part of the fan base attending the AEE. That relationship became even closer when CES, in an effort to accommodate the more than 150,000 attendees in 2006, again rented convention hall space in the Sands Expo Center, where AEE has historically made its home. CES had not used Sands exhibition space since the early 1990s.
But according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the worldwide recession has taken its toll on CES attendance, and for 2010, CES has announced that it will forgo using Sands convention space, due to an expected "double-digit percentage" drop in attendance.
Instead, CES will confine its 2010 convention to the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Las Vegas Hilton right next door.
Two reasons have been given for the decision to abandon the Sands: Due to the recession's affect on revenue-raising bond sales, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has postponed an $890 million renovation plan for the convention center, thus freeing up more exhibit space for the winter show, and Consumer Electronics Association convention planners found that they could realize significant savings by eliminating the need for shuttle buses between the convention center and the Sands.
But while the Review-Journal opined that the change could "take some steam out of the Adult Entertainment Expo," AEE spokesperson Sean Devlin explained why that won't be the case.
"It is important to keep in mind that CES has been at the Sands only for the past four years," Devlin noted. "For the first six years of AEE, we were at the Sands by ourselves, and attendance did not suffer. In fact, the last year we were at the Sands without CES, which was 2005, 42 percent of our fan attendees also attended CES. That tells us that CES attendees who are also fans of adult entertainment will find their way over to the Sands from the Convention Center. And you can be sure that we will make a special effort to remind them to visit AEE.
"We expect that our core customers, individuals who are consumers of adult entertainment, will continue to attend the Expo," Devlin continued. "They are there because they enjoy adult entertainment. More than half are repeat customers. They want to meet the stars and have a live experience with the adult entertainment industry. Of course we welcome CES attendees to the Expo, but they are less than half of our attendance."
Moreover, Devlin sees an up-side to the adult industry and fans not having to contend with CES exhibitors and attendees.
"It was always an uneasy relationship being right next to one another," he opined. "It led to a lot of confusion, congestion in the hallways, and crowd-control issues. Frankly, I look forward to the adult industry again having the Sands as our exclusive venue for the run of the show."
But while the AEE staff is still developing its advertising campaign for the show, Devlin promises that the coming Expo will be anything but "business as usual."
"The key thing we want to emphasize is that the AEE experience is like no other," he assured. "It is an opportunity to meet the stars, see the newest products, and experience the adult entertainment industry first-hand."