LOS ANGELES — "We're in a fucking garage!" exclaimed James Bartholet at his Galaxy Publicity booth near the center of the Adultcon 16 show floor Saturday afternoon.
The three-day event was staged in what appeared to be a segment of the parking garage on the lower level of the LA Convention Center, but the digs seemed to suit the atmosphere just fine.
"It's working, though," Bartholet continued. "We're having a good time."
A throng of people gathered around Bartholet's booth for autographs from his star attraction, Daisy Marie. Unlike other adult conventions, here the girls are the exhibitors, promoting themselves rather than signing for a production company.
A few feet away at the LA Direct Models booth, newcomer Kagney Linn Karter was drawing plenty of attention alongside Ashli Orion, Sienna West and Alanah Rae.
In the back left corner, director/performer Brandon Iron was shilling his movies with the help of Nicole Ray, who appears on the cover of his She Is Half My Age 7.
"Like John F. Kennedy said, 'I am the gentleman who accompanied Jackie Onassis to Paris,'" Iron said. "Well, I am the gentlemen who accompanied Nicole Ray to Adultcon."
Iron explained that Ray had devised a cunning sales ploy for the event: offering attendees her "gently worn" panties.
"It's a brilliant marketing idea," Iron said. "You take 10-cent panties bought over at a French boutique called Tar-zhay and you convert that into 2500 percent profit by selling them for 25 dollars. And you can have them scented or unscented, depending on how much you want to get up in her, there. She will actually put on the panties and take them off. It's a bigger Ponzi scheme than what Bernard Madoff had going."
Back at the LA Direct booth, Ashli Orion was also attempting to sell her panties, only they were the ones she'd actually worn to the show. She said she had to come up with something to sell because somehow her DVDs hadn't made it there.
Meanwhile, another male performer/director, Eric John, was there just to sign as talent, rather than exhibiting his company, Erotique Entertainment.
"It's interesting, because I'm at the level now where there's this section of the market that recognizes me even though most times you're pictured on box covers, it's just your dick," John said. "It's like the difference between fans that are kind of dialed in — the dialed-in ones sort of recognize you and know who you are, and the other ones are just like, 'Hey, how come there's not a girl here?' It's interesting to see who you sign stuff for. A surprising number of guys want you to sign stuff for them."
Of course, performers weren't the only exhibitors at Adultcon. Perhaps the largest square footage was taken up by the Free Speech Coalition's display of myriad movie, music and sports collectibles up for silent auction.
At the front of the hall, Glacier Media Systems had a large plasma TV set up displaying impressive 3D porn that uses a system similar to the Nintendo Wii, with a sensor at the screen that communicates with the glasses worn by the viewer to trigger a striking depth-of-field effect. The company was also demonstrating a 3D video game using the same system.
Glacier's booth was among several screening hardcore porn — another difference between this and other adult conventions. Many other exhibitors sold apparel, smoking paraphernalia and other marginally adult-related goods.
Other adult stars who appeared included: Sunny Leone (for Private CamZ), Sophie Dee, Luscious Lopez, Cleopatra of the Nile, Marcus London, Devon Lee, Yurizan Beltran and Lori Lust.
"The turnout here is incredible," Bartholet said. "I think it's an indicator maybe the economy's getting better. Or people just want to buy porn. I've sold a lot of autographed DVDs and pictures and posters, and the fans have been really nice and very receptive. The girls are happy, I'm happy, and everybody's in a really good mood."
Adultcon 17 is scheduled for October 2 - 4, 2009. For more information, visit www.adultcon.com.
Check out AVN's photo coverage from Adultcon 16.