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AEE

If I’m surrounded by so much porn, why am I so sad?

Image
Missy Stone played Jesse in a Saved by the Bell-inspired porn.
Photo: Rick Lax
Rick Lax

Foreword: This story is a downer. You should probably skip it. The accompanying pictures are pretty, and the subject matter is exciting, but I promise you the excitement ends there. The actual text is quite depressing.

Think about it like this: if I were your friend, and I came to you and said, “I’m really depressed, and I want to talk about it,” you’d be socially obliged to hear me out. But you and I aren’t friends, so you’ve got no obligation here. Moreover, I have no way of knowing whether you actually read this story, so by going through it, you’re not doing me any favors.

Walking from the Venetian parking garage to the Sands Expo & Convention Center, I passed dozens of distinguished-looking reporters in expensive-looking suits. Their hair was coiffed and their shoes were shined. They looked the part from head to toe. They were surrounded by men holding top-of-the-line video cameras. In other words, these guys were pros.

Of course, they weren’t going to the Adult Entertainment Expo porn convention, like I was; they were boarding shuttle buses and heading to the Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The reporters in the AEE pressroom, by comparison, wore rumpled T-shirts and tattered jeans. On the plus side, standing next to the guys who run TheHermaphroBlog.com and Taint Monthly—I assume these things exist—I felt like Brian Williams. On the downside, standing next to these guys reminded me of my standing in the field of journalism.

But the saddest thing about my AEE assignment was that it wasn’t an “assignment” at all. The story wasn’t “handed to me,” and I wasn’t “stuck with it.” I had asked for it. If my editor had said no, I would have begged.

IS it just me, or has Larry Flynt gotten lazy about thinking up pornographic parody titles? At this year’s AEE convention, Hustler was promoting both Not Married With Children, and This Ain’t Saved By The Bell. What’s next? This Film Is Not The Major Motion Picture Titled Avatar—Rather, It Is A Pornographic Parody Of That Film? I always figured the main reason porn studios made so many parodies was that they’re so much fun to title.

Still, a Saved By The Bell parody is a Saved By The Bell parody, and I respect anybody who makes one. I said as much to Missy Stone, the girl who played the porn version of Saved By The Bell character Jessie Spano. I found Missy walking around the Hustler booth in a neon-pink dress and dark-blue Uggs.

“Did you watch Saved By The Bell as a kid?” I asked.

“Religiously!” Missy replied.

I can’t tell you how happy her answer made me. I’m somewhat embarrassed about how much Saved By The Bell I watched … but standing right across from me was a girl who proudly declared that she’d watched the same amount.

“What was your favorite episode?” I asked.

“The one where Jessie takes the pill and goes crazy,” Missy said.

Red flag.

For those of you not familiar with Saved By The Bell, the “pill” to which Missy was referring was not birth control; it was a caffeine pill that Jessie took to help her study. Because the episode “Jessie’s Song” contained the melodramatic line, “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so … scared!,” it’s become the most popular and most quoted SBTB episode. So saying that you’re a fan of SBTB and that “Jessie’s Song” is your favorite episode is kind of like saying that you love Billy Joel and that your favorite song is “Piano Man.” It’s suspicious.

“What’s your second-favorite episode?” I asked.

“It’s hard to pick an episode,” Missy said, “They were all so good.”

“You already picked the one. I’m just asking for a second.”

“It’s so hard to choose from all of them. I mean, they were all so good.”

“Okay, what are your top five?”

“I like all the ones where Zack gets in trouble.”

To continue the earlier analogy, saying that your favorite SBTB episodes are the ones where Zack gets in trouble is kind of like saying that your favorite Billy Joel songs are the ones where he plays the piano and sings.

Missy Stone wasn’t the Saved By The Bell fan she claimed to be. Like a B-list actress starring in a comic-book adaptation, Stone was just another hot girl claiming to be dorky to attract fans.

And Missy did have fans. Hundreds and hundreds of them. They stood in line to get her autograph and snap her picture. Many of these guys flew across the country and paid hundreds of dollars to do precisely this. They really, really like Missy. And Kayden, and Sasha, and Bree, and Jesse …

Now, this both goes without saying and bears repeating: The attraction is a one-way street. The starlets all have stock lines about how great their fans are, but the starlets aren’t sexually attracted to their fans. Not even close.

And that’s why I felt so depressed at the AEE convention. Standing around men who were willing to go to such great lengths to have such fleeting interactions with women brought me back to high school. It made me think about all the girls I had strong feelings for—the ones who barely knew I existed—and about how much effort I was willing to exert to fashion the most insignificant interactions with them.

But you’ve changed, I told myself. You’re not in line with these guys. You’re here on an assignment. You’ve got a press badge that says so!

I kept telling myself that, that I’d changed, again and again and again, and it made me feel better … until I saw this starlet at the Digital Playground booth and instantly fell in love with her. She was young and pretty and pale, and she didn’t look like a porn star; she looked like somebody I might meet at XS. Nonetheless, she was a professional pornographic actress, and if I wanted to talk with her, I’d have to wait in line like everyone else.

So I got in line.

Maybe things haven’t changed, after all.

I came to my senses, got out of line, and got ready to leave the convention. But before I walked out, I came across a woman who looked even sadder than me. She also (if informal Internet research serves) had the world’s second-largest breasts. She was sitting by herself, behind a tiny foldout plastic table, peddling DVDs. But nobody was buying. Nobody wanted a picture or a signature. I wanted to walk up to the woman and give her a hug.

Obviously, logistics barred that.

The saddest part of the AEE isn’t what happens at the convention; it’s what’s going to happen afterwards. It’s what’s going to happen when the attendees fly back home and start comparing the porn stars they just met to the real women in their lives. Suddenly the real women won’t seem so attractive and so sexy.

Guys tell me they can “separate” strippers, call girls and porn stars from the “real women” in their lives, but I bet most evolutional psychologists would disagree. The human brain can’t help but compare, and when men compare, the “real” women come up short. Not because porn stars are always more attractive than men’s significant others, but because porn stars act exactly how men want them to act: provocative, interested, charmed and aroused. They always act this way. It’s their job.

But what’s the alternative? You can avoid AEE, but you can’t avoid desirable women altogether. And you can’t force all attractive women to walk around in Snuggies all day (though certain cultures have tried variations of this plan). So either way you’re screwed. We all are.

So to speak.

Afterword: Since writing the first draft of this piece, two encouraging developments have occurred:

1) I was able to talk my way into the Consumer Electronics Show.

2) I ran into the Digital Playground starlet at the Palms the following night, and we talked for 10 or 15 minutes. Didn’t have to wait in line or anything. Just walked up to her and started talking. She seemed like a nice girl, and she’s a local. And now we’re Facebook friends.

So there’s hope.

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