This past weekend, I was given the opportunity to cover the AVN Awards and the Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) in Las Vegas. In addition, Playboy magazine has published its last issue featuring nude models. Those are the topics I will be discussing today.
Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE)
Now, you may be wondering, what does Adult Entertainment and Playboy have to do with Nerd Culture and/or health and fitness? Well, when I was making arrangements to travel to Vegas for the Expo, I thought this article would take a “sexual health is part of health and fitness” angle. And, while I still agree that sexual health is a huge part of being healthy, at the Expo, I realized the event is more connected to Nerd Culture than I imagined, especially Comic Cons. The Expo actually is just a comic con with a very specific niche market.
Let’s start with stars. Every comic con has its stars. Well, there was no shortage of stars here, either. Around every corner were stars of different genres in the adult industry. There were performers from traditional physical media, like Wicked, Vivid, many online studios, like Brazzers and Burning Angel, and then strictly online formats, many girls from MyFreeCams.com. The biggest focus at AEE is to meet and greet the performers from things you love.
I compare this to the “Sails Pavilion” at San Diego Comic-Con. If you’ve never been, it’s a giant hall where performers sign autographs or take pictures…for a fee. It’s my least favorite part of any con. I just don’t like paying for someone to pretend to be my friend for 5 minutes. And I get it, these people have to make a living and this is one way they do it. I’d rather just go up, say thank you for creating something I enjoy and move on my way. If I could, I would probably ask them stories about how it got made. But that takes money out of their pocket. They are there to sell autographs and photos. That’s just me, though.
Next is cosplayers! So many people in costume, demonstrating what their favorite fandom is. Here, we have the same thing, except with a sexual component. We have people dressed as alt-girls, slaves, dominates and submissives, and even role playing as animals. And in one case, Pokemon. I don’t really see a difference in these cosplayers versus traditional ones you see at cons, except now I know what you do in the bedroom. And at cons, there is plausible deniability that you don’t take your Stormtrooper costume into the bedroom…which I’m sure is done more often than one would think.
My favorite thing about cons are the panels. As alluded to above, I love hearing people I admire talk about their careers, projects, and lives. Asking questions about the societal impact of their work, the advancements in technology, how the industry reacts are all things that I want to know, at comic cons and at AEE. As many know, there is no shortage of panels at cons. Here, there were only three on Friday (I wasn’t around for Wednesday’s or Thursday’s panels). And all three panels were really well done. They included “Men of Adult Film,” “Q&A with Hosts, Anikka Albrite and Joanna Angel,” and “Jessica Drake’s Beginner’s Guide to Anal Sex.” I just wish there had been more.
As I said, I love panels. The “Men of Adult Film” panel discussed the industry and how people glamorize their profession when there is a lot more to it. It’s still a job. You still have to do work. I would compare this to a stuntperson panel at SDCC. The Q&A panel was almost exactly like any other panel at a con. A moderator discussed the featured topic, in this case, the 2016 AVN Awards, the panelists spoke about it, then the audience got to ask questions. At the Jessica Drake panel, it was “tips and tricks” for a particular topic, here it was anal sex, but at cons it could be “beginning cosplay” or “build your D&D character.”
So there you have it, the AEE is extremely similar to any other con I’ve ever been to, with the minor exception that many of the stars present have sex on camera. That many of the booths are tailored to this kink or that kink. Is a that any different than a booth tailored to your love of Star Wars over Doctor Who? I don’t.
I will say that I didn’t find anything sick or weird about the specialty genres/kinks, even the extreme ones (let’s go back to the picture of the girl roleplaying a dog). Just stuff I wasn’t into. It was no different than the Babylon 5 cosplayers…it’s just not what I’m into. If there is one thing I can impart upon you, it’s that as long as there is consent between all (adult) parties involved, it’s perfectly fine, maybe just not what you’re into. We shouldn’t force people into our BDSM roleplay, and we shouldn’t force them to be in our Sailor Moon cosplay, either.
Check out our Red Carpet gallery, here!
Here are the list of winners! http://avnawards.avn.com/winners
Playboy Covers Up
Lastly, we are brought to the end of an era. Playboy Magazine has announced that they will no longer be featuring nude models. This was actually quite huge as Playboy played a huge part in the sexual revolution. They were integral in removing the stigma from sex. The fact that they are removing nudity from their magazine is quite a serious change, although probably beneficial from a business perspective.
I think many can remember getting/finding their first issue of Playboy. I bought a copy of the April 1999 issue for $5 from a kid on the schoolyard. It featured Sable, from the WWE (then WWF). It was so emblematic of the times. Seriously, look at her hair! Nick Nolte was the interview and David Schwimmer was at the peak of “Friends” fame. Yes, as a 14-year-old boy, I liked looking at the pictures.
I also read that issue cover to cover. The Advisor column, the cartoons, and the articles. People used to joke, “Nobody reads Playboy for the articles.” Well, nobody buys the magazine for the articles, but you absolutely read them. It has always featured some of the best news and writing published. Stories from Chuck Palahniuk and Hunter S. Thompson to deep political exposés. Playboy was never about nudity, it was about a lifestyle, for me, anyway.
As soon as I moved into my college dorm, I because a subscriber, and I read every issue cover to cover. I remained a subscriber for years until a former significant other asked that I cancel, so I did. Then, I subscribed again a few years later. And now Playboy is going into the closet and finding a nice dress to cover up.
It seems fitting that the last nude issue will feature Pamela Anderson. She has been featured in Playboy over 12 times over 27 years, her first cover being October 1989. She was always the definition of sex and Playboy. I could not tell you one storyline from Baywatch, but I watched it. I remember having a poster of her up in my room (the one to the left). It seems everything comes full circle.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad. I’m disappointed that, along with the wonderful articles, I wont be able to admire the nude photos. I’m sad that my kids won’t get to experience buying or trading the magazine on the schoolyard, or even stumbling across their friends’ parents’ collection. They won’t get the anxiety of having to find a really good hiding spot. (Mine was inside an air vent in my bedroom). Of course, there will always be the internet, but Playboy had an air of class and sophistication with it.
One thing is for sure, while I don’t have any of my old issues, I’ll definitely be keeping this last one. Hopefully my kids can stumble upon it someday.