AEE 2008: Let The Sideshow Begin

LAS VEGAS - Over 300 exhibitors set up shop at the Sands Expo Center on Wednesday as the 2008 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo opened to trade attendees.

“The first day gives us a little bit of time to settle in,” said Evil Angel’s Karen Stagliano. “This is our twentieth year coming to Vegas. There are some new companies here that are bringing a different feel to it, so it feels fresh.”

Among the new companies making a big splash at the show is, an Australian content producer specializing in all-girl content with an emphasis on natural bodies and real orgasms. The company officially inked its distribution deal with Wicked Pictures on the expo floor, and brought in celebrity director John Stagliano to direct a scene for the crowd with the luscious AbbyWinters girls.

Amy Fisher made the most notable celebrity appearance of the day, promoting her big-selling Amy Fisher Caught On Tape movie for Red Light District. AVN nabbed an exclusive interview with the former Long Island Lolita, who said the adult industry has treated her more kindly than the mainstream media.

Vivid, Wicked, Digital Playground, SexZ Pictures and Teravision all established bigger-than-life presences on the floor as expected. The big new addition to the major leagues is Ninn Worx_SR, making its first expo appearance and debuting a trailer for Michael Ninn's mega-budget feature The Four. Notably absent from the floor was Club Jenna, who opted for a business suite this year.

The increasing importance of video-on-demand and the internet was evident everywhere. With big and small studios alike suffering from the continued downturn in DVD sales, many producers were looking to hook up with online affiliate programs, international sales and VOD. The high visibility of companies such as is a clear sign of the times.

“It’s always a really good show for us,” said CJ, director of business development for HotMovies. ”It’s an opportunity to hang out with the many people that have deals with us; on the content side, we’ve grown to the point where there’s not really many people left that we’re not working with. But there’s always a few that come on board, and then also we’re doing a lot of fan outreach, getting our brand out to the consumer.”

From Pink Visual’s talking urinal cakes to FyreTV's red fire engine, exhibitors pulled out all the stops to attract attention. Gonzo studios including Jules Jordan Video, Evil Angel, Shane's World (with a giant RV), Sudden Impact, Black Market, JM Productions and Anabolic were out in force. Even on this trade-only day, the booths drew a crush of onlookers.

The outrageous carnival-themed booth presented by Miami-based studios Bang Bros. Productions and Reality Kings was one of many sights that embodied the massive circus that the expo has become.

“We’ve been obnoxious show neighbors for the last several years—loud and obtrusive,” said Bang Bros. Productions co-owner Penn Davis. “It was highly successful for us and fans loved it, but too many people started doing the same thing. We wanted to change it a little bit and still have an interactive environment where fans enjoy themselves.”

Along with Luscious Lopez and Claire Dames, the booth’s attractions included roulette wheels, black jack tables, a “cock” ring toss, and the truly inspired Money Shot game in which contestants tossed beanbags into the orifices of three cardboard cuties.

“Every fan that walks in the door gets a voucher that’s redeemable for 300 Bang Bros. bucks and Reality Kings cash,” added Davis. “We have a store on the side of our booth where you can buy all kinds of product—DVDs, t-shirts, hats, dog tags—with that money. If the 300 isn’t enough, you can gamble that money on the blackjack and roulette wheels and try to make it grow or play the carnival games.”

Like Bang Bros. and Reality Kings, Silver Sinema comes from the web. Launched by the massively successful Silvercash affiliate program, the studio began DVD production last year with an emphasis on hi-def content and quickly secured a distribution deal with Pure Play Media. They received five nominations in the upcoming AVN Award show, including a nod for Best New Company.

“We got a great reception with Pure Play Media,” said Albert Lazarito, Sinema’s vice president of business development. “Our numbers are higher than we had expected. We’re experts with the online side of the business, but this is our first venture into DVD. We’re here at the show to brand position our product and to build business relations on the trade side. We also use the opportunity to do market research and see what the competition is doing. We treat this as a business instead of as an additional project. We’re making this its own profit center.”

At the close of the day, producers and talent gathered at the Venetian's Circle Bar to mingle over drinks.

"The energy is different now," said one industry veteran. "It's getting harder than ever to make a buck. Five years ago, it was easy; now, you have to work hard for every dollar."