LAS VEGAS—The 2018 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo may have wrapped up more than two weeks ago, but the attention to the show from mainstream media outlets continues to roll in—with Rolling Stone magazine publishing a 3,600-word recap that focused largely on the new technological innovations on display at the Expo, tech that appears to signal a future for porn that, like the internet itself, lies in distributed networks rather than with a single centralized industry.
In the article, journalist Tina Horn—who specializes in covering “sex work, Queer identity, kink communities, and cultural criticism”—argues that the embrace of new technology, specifically by women in the industry, which she witnesses at the 2018 AAE, as the path out of the financial downturn caused by pirating and free porn “tube” sites.
“Plenty of big names were in attendance—stars who had led more traditional adult-film careers—but they were outnumbered by scores of up-and-coming models who primarily built their own businesses using cam shows, original clip stores and monetized social-media platforms,” Horn observed, in what she said was her first visit to the AVN Expo since 2012.
“The mass availability of easily pirated streaming video may have decimated the porn economy, but it seems that women are the ones adapting, finding fresh ways to connect directly with consumers,” she wrote.
In 2012, Horn recalled, her site QueerPorn.tv was nominated for an AVN Award in the oddly oxymoronic category, “Best Professional Amateur Site.” But her site lost to the site Clips4Sale, which was a platform where individuals could upload and sell their own short, homemade porn videos.
“Here we were, indie smut with a vision, and we lost to a tech host?” she writes.
But independent artists “marketing to a small but loyal fan base” have created sustainable business models, Horn’s Rolling Stone piece reports, while “much of the male-dominated porn studio system is fighting against stolen content.”
Among the women interviewed in the Horn’s article:
• Bratty Nikki, “a leggy, half-Mexican, half-Irish woman with a frosty reality-TV aesthetic” who is executive vice president of the clips site IWantEmpire.com, as well as the star of numerous fetish videos for the site.
• Haven, “a Haitian-American dominatrix from Orlando” who “films around 15 short clips every Sunday, improvising on topics like small-penis humiliation or jack-off instruction,” while spending the rest of her week on marketing and brand promotion.
• Riley Nixon, a Best New Starlet nominee at this year’s AVN Awards, who navigates both worlds within the porn universe, shooting videos for established companies, such as Elegant Angel, while also creating and distributing her own content—allowing her “leeway to maintain her preferred androgynous style and buzzed head—some mainstream studios still won't cast models with short hair or tattoos.”
• A group of cam girls who wouldn’t give their names because, as one told Horn, “the more famous you get," she pointed out, "the more people will pirate your content.” As another anonymous can girl added, "We make more money when only our fans know who we are."
To read the entire Rolling Stone retrospective on the 2018 AVN Expo, visit this link.
Above, cam girls at the 2018 AVN Expo; photo by Kat Revenga