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CES/AEE postmortem: Why do they overlap?

A couple of odds and ends as I helped shut down the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo press center on Sunday. Actually, it wasn’t just me. Oskar Garcia of the Associated Press was at the next table, but I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we have closed down worse joints. All that was missing was bar backs pushing vacuum cleaners and setting stools upside-down on the bar.

Anyhow, what I’ve never quite understood about the Consumer Electronic Show and the AEE is why they always overlap. There have been many theories, most of them dealing with a high population of undersexed geeks interested in gadgets of any variety, but I’d never known the official reason why these two shows coincide. Even LVCVA exec Vince Alberta was not certain when I asked him about it Sunday afternoon. The shows select their own dates for their conventions, he said, and also added that he’d never been to the AEE but might like to attend one day, “just to say I’ve been to it once.”

The reason, as explained to me by AEE officials, is that the AEE was once under the CES umbrella – CES booked the adult convention as part of that show, but hustled the Hustler and related companies off to the Sahara, where of course they did amazing business. So the adult industry, specifically Home Entertainment Events, the parent company of AEE, split off in 1999 and held their own show apart from CES. The January dates work because, of course, there are 100,000 CES attendees already in town, and AEE fans and industry reps have become used to planning for the show in January. The adult industry has shows later in the year in L.A. and Berlin, and to move the Vegas show would cause a ripple effect across the waterbed that is the porn industry, to borrow a 1970s reference.

Also, the last great moment from both conventions was at 4 p.m. Sunday, an hour before the show closed. AEE spokesman Sean Devlin had been telling me about how stragglers from CES have traditionally attempted to gain credentials for a final peep show at AEE, for no other reason than to gawk at the products and attendees. I laughed, thinking that wasn’t going to happen this year because, hell, it’s 4 o’clock and just out the door the trade show had already been just about totally disassembled. Well, six – an entire six-pack – guys wearing CES credentials attempted to gain “temporary passes” to the AEE show less than an hour before it was locked up. “See what I mean?” Devlin said, shaking his head. “It happens every year.” The guys were de-nied, of course.

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