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Fact: Adult or not, AEE has to make money and be legal

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Gawkers and photogs flock to the flesh and fun, but AEE is really about making the dough.
Photo: Scott Den Herder

With all that’s been written about the ridiculous products, party atmosphere and larger-than-life characters at its forefront, it’s too easy to forget that the annual Adult Entertainment Expo is still at its most basic a trade show. Behind the boobs, bondage and butt plugs is a business filled with professionals looking to sign deals, craft five-year strategies and make money. That type of action happens less on a showroom floor full of gawking fans and more in the nearby meeting rooms at the Expo’s oft-overlooked but usually well-attended seminars.

Calendar

Adult Entertainment Expo
Jan. 6-9, $80-$145
Sands Expo Center
Beyond the Weekly
AEE 2011

Here is where you truly feel the pulse of the industry, says Dr. Lynn Comella, sex scholar, Weekly columnist and moderator of this year’s “In the Company of Women” seminar. The UNLV professor has been attending AEE for four years (this is her second year moderating) and tries to listen to as many speakers and attend as many panels as she can. “Trade shows end up being a microcosm of their industries,” she explains. “In the span of three or four days, you can figure out exactly what’s hot, what’s not, what the latest trends are, what innovations the industry has gotten on board with.”

The continued existence of a panel focused on women as consumers, for example, shows that the industry is embracing a formerly underrepresented demographic. A recurring legal seminar is always heavily attended. Depending on audience interest and questions, topics might include the highly publicized John Stagliano obscenity charges fought (and eventually thrown out) over the summer or the more typical issues facing adult businesses, such as zoning and the “2257 laws,” which require producers to provide documentation proving all performers are of age. One new panel this year is “The China Syndrome,” which will look at the pros and cons of foreign competition in the sex-toy market.

All of this is designed to keep businesses in the black and businesspeople far from the worry of being behind bars. Who says smart isn’t sexy?

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