AVN’s Adult Entertainment Expo is back at the Hard Rock Hotel this week—starlets in stilettos will be signing autographs; sex toy companies will be hocking their goods; and BDSM enthusiasts will flock to “the Lair” to be tied up and whipped.
But while AEE is the largest adult entertainment trade show in the country, a large sector of the industry will be largely missing from the convention floor this weekend: the gay segment. Among the hundreds of exhibitors at last year’s show, there was just one gay booth—a small retail operation selling DVDs.
This wasn’t always the case. According to AVN exec Timothy Ferencz, the expo had a significant gay presence in the mid-2000s. “We had a section in the back ... It was curtained off; it was almost like a nightclub-type setting,” says Ferencz, AVN’s Director of VIBE (Very Important Buying Executives) Programs. “We had a center bar and music, and all the gay production companies exhibited.”
So what happened? Ferencz cites the decline of industry DVD sales, a change in the convention’s B2B portion and fan attendance. “A lot of the gay porn stuff has gone from hard goods” to the digital marketplace, which is why AVN relaunched its GayVN brand this year at Internext, the adult expo’s web-specific arm. Internext began Saturday, featuring gay-focused seminars, networking and parties.
Production companies can meet with buyers one-on-one as part of AEE’s private meeting program (two gay companies are signed up this year), so being on the convention floor isn’t necessary … unless you’re there for fan exposure. That’s where attendance factors in. “No one is ever excluded,” Ferencz says, “but the majority of fans [coming] to the show are heterosexual males.”
Additionally, one-off events like gay pride festivals and nightclub parties already give fans the opportunity to peruse gay products and rub elbows with gay adult actors. The Valley’s own Share nightclub even has a monthly party called Pornstars in Vegas. This trend means production companies don’t have much incentive to fly their hard-bodied hunks out to the annual expo. Still, Ferencz says AVN aims to build off of the GayVN Internext events, and even hopes to reinstate its GayVN Awards show in 2015, which has been on hiatus since 2011. The company plans to hold the event during a summer pride fest—for obvious reasons.
“All the gay companies exhibit, the porn companies are there. ... It probably would attract the kind of crowd we’re needing,” Ferencz says. “Like I said, we’re exploring those possibilities.”