The introductory session to this year’s AVN Adult Entertainment Expo was well-attended in a conference room at the Venetian. AVN publisher Tim Connelly facilitated the panel which consisted of veteran adult performer Nina Hartley, sexologist/Good Vibrations co-owner Carol Queen, online retail head of TLA Video Vanessa Keegan, Hustler founder Larry Flynt, Video Team owner Christian Mann, veteran director/producer/performer John Leslie, Horizon Media Group owner Dan Quinn and Fairvilla Superstores owner Bill Murphy.
The theme of the panel was based around power trends in adult but all the panelists addressed individual questions related to their expertise in the industry.
Flynt addressed the current conservative Supreme Court in his remarks, saying, “ I think we might have to accept the fact that many of the civil rights that we gained during the 1950s and 1960’s have been somewhat eroded by the current court. There have been more prosecutions over the last few years from the people who are aiming to keep our minds pure.”
Hartley was asked to address the possibility of adult performers unionizing. Hartley humorously compared trying to direct adult performers to “herding cats”, discussed the time when she organized the Pink Ladies Social Club with other performers to discuss dancing gigs and was accused of being a “lesbian trying to start a union” and overall, presented that adult performers are too individualistic by nature and that most are not “lifers” so that a union wouldn’t be feasible.
Murphy spoke briefly on the superstore model, saying it was important to “avoid the ‘a’[for adult] word” to fit in towns and stressed the importance of supporting the local community’s charities and political landscape.
Mann talked about creating ethnic product, highlighting the hip-hop culture as a current boon to his business and talked about being “racial versus being racist”. “Our business has gotten a lot better at showing respect for the customer and I expect that to continue,” Mann stated.
Queen spoke about the evolution of the Good Vibrations business model- a sex store that also educates. “It’s 2004 and many women still don’t know where their clitorises are and the men definitely don’t,” Queen said to the audience’s laughter.
Leslie explained that the “technology of the equipment” was what led him to change from features to being one of the current masters of gonzo that he is today. “The next feature I do will be more abstract, like Drop Sex was, because I think our minds are more abstract when it comes to sex.”
Keegan addressed the importance of treating Internet customers with the same level of customer service as brick-and-mortar customers. “We reach out to our customers through our reviews that we put on everything we sell on our site. It’s more of a value to them,” Keegan said.
Quinn, who has licensed Penthouse for his stores, stated simply and succinctly, “Getting a good brand behind you is very valuable.”
The panelists then fielded audience questions about the future of mobile phones receiving pornography, how to raise the consciousness of sex education in porn stores, the panel’s opinion on the upcoming presidential election (to which Flynt replied, “Anyone but Bush,” to the crowd’s laughing approval) and the future of VHS, DVD and streaming video.