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Mon, Jun. 20th, 2005, 11:43 pm

AVN Diary: Postmortem

To the extent that I had a job to do in Vegas, I was not the right man for it. I don't speak Schmooze--not that dialect, anyway. I'm a perpetual outsider even among my kin. In a truly alien environment like this, my ability to interact meaningfully was absurdly limited. My personal experience was pretty grim, compounded by a headcold and some...er...personality differences with my toxic and flaky boss.

Above all else, AEE was a tradeshow, a big shiny business convention more like the Consumer Electronics Show going on down the hall than it was different. At least the booth babes at our show were relevant...

The main take away for me (apart from 'Vegas is really f'in weird') was the Muffin Observation. I originally said it about the girls, but it's at least as true of the actual videos being made. It goes like this: Imagine you're at the enormous World Food Expo, dedicated to the delights of food and drink. And as you walk down the aisles, the signs read like this: "Joe's Blueberry Muffins--the finest food on earth!" "Try our Apple Cinnamon Muffins! There's never been a food like it!" "Lo-fat Muffins--The Greatest Innovation in the History of Food!!!"

In the back of the hall are a few scruffy little booths offering scones and zucchini bread.

That's what the Adult Entertainment Expo was like. It promised the entire realm of sexually-stimulating entertainment, and offered endless minute variations on a couple narrow niches. It simultaneously made me want to never have anything to do with the industry again, at least until it acquires some grown-ups; and yearn to start my own porn business, offering some portion of the other 98% of the range of possible smut.

Genres have a fuckton of momentum though. I learned this as a comix geek. If you wanna sell videos to people who go to porn shops, your clientelle consists entirely of people who are pretty satisfied with what's already out there. If they didn't like the current selection, they wouldn't be in the shop. If you want to try to tap the potential of people who don't go to porn shops, you need to make your own distribution and publicity network from scratch, and get the word out to people who think they don't care about what you're doing.

On Livejournal, Alternative Porn basically means "pinups with tattoos and dyed hair." Genres and packages and franchises are always easier to sell than innovation. I don't even know it consumers want interesting, novel smut in numbers to make it worthwhile. Some observers have speculated that people buy lousy porn to punish themselves; because they don't feel that they deserve good porn. I dunno if I'd go quite that far, but it is striking that the ninteenth-century porn novels I've read feel much less furtive and half-hearted to me than most of the recent porn vids i've seen. And much less apologetic than most of the recent 'erotica' I've read.

Here's a prediction for you--if smut ever blooms into the diverse world it could be, it won't be from inside the AEE crowd, it will be from left field. It'll be from amateurs sharing home-made movies on BitTorrent, or Uzbec epic poets, or video game studios, or something that manages to start pretty much from scratch and ask the question "what food tastes good" rather than "what kind of muffins will be fashionable next?"

Mon, Jun. 20th, 2005 10:10 pm (UTC)
scopo

bring on the Uzbek epic porn, I say!
is there a Slow Food equivalent?

Tue, Jun. 21st, 2005 11:03 am (UTC)
vinnie_tesla

Analogies limp. I wouldn't try to make it too literal.

Mon, Jun. 20th, 2005 10:31 pm (UTC)
mycrust

What do you think of No Fauxxx?

Tue, Jun. 21st, 2005 11:20 am (UTC)
vinnie_tesla

(wince)

Mr. Courage of His Convictions here hasn't ponied up the cash to look inside yet. The only paysites I currently have access to are Ruthie's Club and Modern Tales and I'm not paying for Ruthie's. If I were the porn reformer I'd like to be, I'd have subscriptions to NoFauxxx and Two Big Meanies, and my DVD shelf would be covered with SIR Productions' back catalog. But I keep not quite getting around to it. I think that even if my brain has gotten away from the guilty furtiveness referred to above, my wallet hasn't necessarily caught up.

Tue, Jun. 21st, 2005 06:06 am (UTC)
stateofwonder

I never, ever want to go to Vegas.

Start your own porn business!

Tue, Jun. 21st, 2005 11:26 am (UTC)
vinnie_tesla

You offering to bankroll me?

Seriously, though, I'd really rather someone who knew which end of the camera to point would make the videos. Amateurishness is not one of the qualities in short supply. Though I will admit to having played with the idea of starting up a small press. More than once. If I had storage space, I'd revisit the idea. The only small erotic publisher I know personally, Cecilia Tan, stores her entire backstock in the basement of her old Victorian house. I have no such resource available.

Tue, Jun. 21st, 2005 09:57 pm (UTC)
stateofwonder

Hell, if I had that kind of capital I'd be running my own sex toy shop, as well as financing any fine projects you might be thinking about. I guess it's something to keep in mind for the future.

A girl's gotta dream.

By the way, thanks for the link to Two Big Meanies, I'd never seen that site before and am enthralled! I'm kind of involved in No Fauxxx.. while I admire the ideology behind the site, I find most of the content (my own contributions included, unfortunately) to be a bit on the soft side. Very easy on the eyes, though.

Wed, Jun. 22nd, 2005 08:28 am (UTC)
vinnie_tesla

The TBM preview pics look delicious--I suspect that if I ever get full access, I'll be disappointed by the dearth of actual fuckin'. The pics seem to imply that they at least get their victims off. BDSM porn without orgasms has usually struck me as unsatisfying.

NoFauxxx is pinup-y, huh? Is that editorial policy, or is that what people choose to submit?

Wed, Jun. 22nd, 2005 10:00 am (UTC)
stateofwonder

I suspect that it's simply what people choose to submit. Certainly the webmistress encourages people to submit sets in a variety of styles, so I don't think it has anything to do with their policy. It may be more of a question of resources -- if you've got no co-conspirators, it's a lot more difficult to set up an elaborate scene, so there tends to be a lot of the get-yourself-off-and-grin. I know that for myself, I have no photographer and no partners who are willing to expose themselves online, so I am somewhat limited.

Wed, Jun. 22nd, 2005 08:32 am (UTC)
vinnie_tesla

Hell, if I had that kind of capital I'd be running my own sex toy shop,

I hear MTL kinda needs one, or at least needs one in the GoodVibes tradition, that women feel comfortable going to. Maybe you could get a Small Business loan...

Wed, Jun. 22nd, 2005 10:06 am (UTC)
stateofwonder

Okay, I just don't get why Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax have awesome, women and trans-friendly sex shops, and Montreal has none! Montreal of all places! I guess I can kind of understand Toronto, but I refuse to be one-upped in the sex department by Ottawa! There used to be a Venez Tels Quels, but it was only open for a year or so. (I went to a workshop of theirs once and it was great fun, don't know why they closed.)

Anyway. Unfortunately school is going to be my full-time occupation for at least another year and a half. But after that.. who knows?

Tue, Jun. 21st, 2005 06:55 am (UTC)
swankantihero

hmm, i concur w/ a lot of that. a lot of the time i'd go to the porno section w/ friends, knowing there's nothing good there, but finding the oddest/most interesting looking video and renting that (ninja girls parts 1 & 2, anyone?). in a way, almost all porn you find in the video store is to all the potential porn that's out there, as b-movies are to cinema. does that make sense?

also it seems like porn directors (actors, actresses, producers, etc) are often nervous about making anything daring or different and tend to stick with the lowest common denominator, down to the order of sex acts in the flick.

Tue, Jun. 21st, 2005 11:30 am (UTC)
vinnie_tesla

I think that's a very good analogy. Actually, my luck at rental places has been even worse than the state of the market. Local Somerville video shops seem to have smut catalogs weighted toward dreary four-hour big-tits compilations and the like, rather than, say, something slick and filthy from Evil Angel.

Is your experience that the odd stuff is hotter, or just less boring?

Tue, Jun. 21st, 2005 11:50 am (UTC)
swankantihero

it's just less boring, and good to watch with friends over some drinks. often, it can be downright funny, bad lines, contrived plotlines, outlandish costumes and all.

Wed, Jun. 22nd, 2005 12:02 pm (UTC)
tlcbird

"Here's a prediction for you--if smut ever blooms into the diverse world it could be, it won't be from inside the AEE crowd, it will be from left field."

Well, here's to that. The videos I've been able to find at shops around here are pretty limited: het-centric (or bi, of course, when it's bi that tailors to primarily het sensibilities) and unimaginative. I went into one shop in particular and was looking for any decent female-on-male strap-on videos, and when I couldn't find any, I asked at the counter. The guy blinked at me like I was speaking Pali.

I do have a Carol Queen video, and while I think she rocks, it's first and foremost an instructional video. So...yeah.

To be fair, though....it's not like I've put a tremendous amount of effort into looking or contributing ideas. Thanks for the links above.


Sorry to hear about the head cold and the flaky boss.

Wed, Jun. 22nd, 2005 12:49 pm (UTC)
vinnie_tesla

Well, Queen's second volume is subtitled "More Rockin', Less Talkin,'" I believe in response to complaints like yours. (though I have to say, the clip from it I saw at YOBIP struck me as pretty lifeless) In addition the genre seems to be slowly moving into the mainstream. I'm pretty confident that no Joey Silvera movie is gonna be dryly pedagogical.

You've reminded me that I left Fatale Media off the list of companies I want to stock up on porn from, but haven't gotten around to yet.

The Vegas trip was a year and a half ago. I'm pretty well recovered at this point, but thanks for your concern.

Sun, Jul. 3rd, 2005 07:33 am (UTC)
noir_girl

On Livejournal, Alternative Porn basically means "pinups with tattoos and dyed hair."

Slim white pinups with tats and dyed hair, and possibly some piercings.

One thing that consistently drives me batshit about alternative porn is how fucking mainstream it really is. It's the same body types and kinds of sex that you seen in mainstream porn, but the women in it look a little "weird." I watched the Suicide Girls strip tease show and thought my friends are dressed more fabulously than these women, and I've seen way sexier strip shows put on by way freakier people. At an aftershow party some people were talkign about how SG weren't for "those fat people" and they were pissed off that standards were falling because apparently some new SG wasn't super skinny. Also, the distinct lack of people who weren't white makes me cranky. Ditto for "Nerve" whose 'edgy alternative' porn seems to be skinny white hipsters, as opposed to skinny white suburbanites. Woo.