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When porn stops being exciting and starts getting boring

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Opening day of the 2011 Adult Entertainment Expo at Sands Convention Center on Jan. 6, 2011.
Photo: HewmanBeing/AVN.com

Apparently, the third time isn't as charming.

This year marks my third trip to the Sands Expo Center to cover the Adult Entertainment Expo for Las Vegas Weekly and, to be honest, it's been kind of boring.

Maybe it was being there for Thursday's trade and media expo, the day before the fans (who outnumber the media and business people by a large margin) are allowed in to gawk and get autographs. Maybe it was being there early Friday, wandering around looking for story ideas still well before the rush of fans through the doors at noon. Or, maybe, to paraphrase coworker Scott Dickensheets, the annual convention has come to mean just that it's January in Vegas, rather than the beginning of some weekend of debauchery.

It doesn't help that the expo feels smaller this year. Convention officials say there are more companies displaying their wares, but a comparison of the exhibitor lists and floor plans from this year and last shows 30 or 40 fewer businesses on site, and walking around the actual expo floor makes that number seem even greater. The convention doesn't seem to fill Expo Hall A like it used to, and a lack of large, high-production booths from major production companies such as Vivid Entertainment and Adam & Eve doesn't help stop the feeling that something's missing from this year's show.

There's no Fresh Faces Pavilion, which last year featured a collection of smaller-name performers and production companies, many of whom were web-based and relative newcomers to the industry. There's no seven-foot mechanical penis for attendees to attempt to ride this year, either. Both of those exhibitors took up a lot of floor space that made the convention seem bigger than it was, but they also added a level of novelty (in two senses of the word) that seems to be missing this year.

At least the trade area seemed to be hopping even more than usual, with people milling about checking out the latest toys, condoms and lubricants, which seems to be a good sign for the in-home adult industry if not necessarily the onscreen one. Maybe it's a sign that people are more likely to spend their money coming out of the recession on items that directly provide pleasure rather than ones that show others being pleased.

And maybe, finally, that's the reason the expo seems so boring this year. After all, it's far more enjoyable to experience sexual pleasure yourself than to watch others get it on, and plunging necklines and calves made taut by four-inch stilettos on young women signing autographs (especially when you've seen them wearing far, far less and doing far, far more) are a whole other step down the enjoyment ladder that just isn't as titillating the third time around.

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Levi Chronister

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