LOS ANGELES - Day 2 of the 11th annual Erotica LA expo started strong, with attendance in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center beginning to snowball as soon as the doors opened at 11 a.m.
"We're anticipating a great day today," said an exuberant Cindy Cheer, Erotica LA's marketing manager, just after noon.
"Things are going even better than we expected. There's going to be an explosion of people, lots of traffic. Fans will have all kinds of opportunities to meet their favorite stars."
Exhibitor Jules Jordan, passing by on the way to his booth, seconded her assessment: "Yesterday was crazy here. Today's going to be huge."
Cheer was especially happy about heavy media coverage, "starting off with a two-page spread in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. Last night we had all the news shows covering the opening: NBC, CBS, Channel 9, KCAL 5, Fox 11, G4 cable, HBO Latino."
She added that early reports from merchandisers indicated that product sales were already up from last year.
People and product: they're the twin motors that drive this annual event aimed at the consumers of adult entertainment.
People show up in droves, not just to get up-close and personal with their porn faves, but to shop for novelties, sex toys and cut-rate DVDs from several hundred vendors whose tables are piled high with the stuff.
Dominating the area near the entrance, as usual, was the Wicked Pictures booth. "Wicked has been involved with this show from the very beginning in 1997," said publicist Daniel Metcalf. "Its presence has grown from year to year, and this is the biggest presence so far. The consumers are very important to Wicked."
All of Wicked's contract stars were slated to greet their fans. Jessica Drake was the first to show up, instantly drawing long lines; she was soon joined by Carmen Hart and, a bit later, male favorite Randy Spears.
At the Club Jenna booth, lines also greeted Brea Bennett, first on the job when the show opened at 11 a.m. Her colleagues began to appear not long after: Roxy Jezel, Krystal Steal, new signee Lela Star, with Jenna Jameson herself slated to take command at 5 p.m.
Several booths were familiar from the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in January, like Jules Jordan Video's "Pornitentiary" and Naughty America's Valley ranch house, where starlets greeted fans in each room.
In the Naughty America garage, XRCO Starlet of the Year Sasha Grey straddled a sawhorse and coolly posed for photos, gripped in the embrace of fan after fan after fan.
At Jordan's booth, salesman Jeff Marton was happy with the traffic flow but not with a "minor problem" that seems to happen when lots of people get turned loose among lots of product: pilferage.
"We want them to take this," he said, pointing to a Jenna Haze Dark Side poster, "but pay for this," pointing to a JJV t-shirt. T-shirts and DVDs tend to disappear.
Pilferage, said Evil Angel's Karen Stagliano, is not a problem if the product is "where they can't get at it. Last year we had a smaller space that people could just walk into—and oh my God!" This year EA's DVDs were shelved behind their big booth's counters where "they have to ask to see them."
Stagliano said she likes Erotica LA because it's a "very relaxed show. We're not doing business deals like in Las Vegas. It's so much less stress." She joked that running the booth were "three ex-porn girls": herself (the former Tricia Devereaux), Careena Collins (aka sales exec Sandee Johnson) and Lia Baren.
At another large booth, Teravision, Tera Patrick held court with TV crews and reporters while her consort Evan Seinfeld presided over product sales.
Red Light District's Buckfest featured a mechanical bull, while starlets including petite Alexis Love and perky Paulina James signed and posed at each corner.
Some products on display were automotive: Vouyer Media's black Impala, Rockman Entertainment's tour bus, and two white stretch limos from Los Angeles Limousine, parked near the entrance.
Other novelties included a free photo booth sponsored by Bang Productions and on-site tattooing (not free) courtesy of a Huntington Beach tattoo parlor. And a local institution, Porn Star Karaoke, sponsored by Burbank restaurant Sardo's, materialized with a booth of its own.
A Free Speech Coalition table was presided over by new executive director Diane Duke and AVN Senior Editor Mark Kernes, a longtime FSC board member. They were selling books and t-shirts and handing out pamphlets urging people who like porn into "taking the next step: admitting you watch it."
Next to them Becky Bushler was busy selling DVDs at a table for FYA Independent, the company created by her recently deceased husband Mike. "I'm carrying on," she said.
Novelty products, mind-blowing in their number and variety, took up most of the convention center floor space.
There were the usual lotions and lubricants and more glass sex toys than ever. Plus silicone female torsos, stripper poles, X-rated jewelry, slings, massage chairs, All-Stars Dips in bosom-shaped containers, Phuck Gear, Titty Tops ("Real, Fake, Big or Small, We Love Them All"), not to mention perennial Erotica LA favorite, I Love Vagina.
Women gave passersby demonstrations—unsolicited but gratifying—of the Fukuoku Massage Glove.
The Cirque de Soleil's Zumanity, all set to put on a show on the main stage that evening, had a small promotional booth of its own.
No small part of Erotica LA is the seminars on various sexual subjects, sponsored by The Pleasure Chest, which this year had an adjoining exhibit table.
Saturday's first presenter was sex educator Deborah Sundahl, who packed the seminar space for her slide-illustrated presentation "Tantric Journey: Awaken Your G-Spot."
The large, couples-heavy audience listened raptly as she expounded on Tantric sex—"the orgasms are amazing"—and G-spot stimulation—"the gateway to higher love and intimacy."
Those seeking a brief respite from the crowds could take refuge in the cool gallery space of the Sensual and Erotic Art Exhibition and its display of high-end erotic paintings, sculptures and photographs. The featured artist was East Coast photographer R. C. Horsch.
But all around the gallery, the crowds just kept coming. By 2 p.m. the traffic showed no signs of letting up, with fans and industry personnel all mixed up together.
Actor Tommy Gunn had barely entered the floor—he was there "just walkin' around"—before he was set upon by females begging to be photographed with him. Outside, on the up escalator, agent Mark Spiegler was spotted with three fresh new female clients in tow.
Every day at Erotica LA, there's just no stopping the show. The final chance to join the throng is Sunday, June 24, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Pictured: Michelle and Amanda sampling Sweet Arousal's "Edible Penises." More information at www.sweetarousals.com.