It has been nearly three months since I last updated this site, but apart from the whole end-of-the-year shenanigans I have very, very good excuses.
This pornscholar left her computer – and her country – and immersed herself into pornography (this time in 3D and real time and within a hand’s reach). The result of this adventure will be slowly and gradually unveiled in these pages.
To start, here is a first-timer eye-witness account of the Adult Video Network Award and Expo, which took place in Las Vegas in January. It was originally published at AIP Daily but with different photographs.
Breakfast can be caramel vodka and Bloody Mary shots, and you run into stars who want to eat your pussy for business and photographers who want to see your breasts and they say that out loud, and perverts are everywhere and we love it, and the fan line is huge but when we sit for coffee we talk about diets and make up and power struggle, and we never eat but we sit at Mr. Lucky’s and watch people and ourselves, and that is what you do in Vegas, you sit down and you watch yourself while all those lights kind of blind you a bit. I sit back and observe the people I study, already thinking about this article, and in my mind I can classify them into categories, but suddenly they are talking about five hundred dollars dresses and alcohol and paleo and psychology, and I loose myself into my ridiculous classification and decide just to watch.
During the day the exp floor becomes packed with people, and press is all around covering every single move, but not many people pay attention to the seconds between flashes, when faces are tired of smiling and drop for a second, while the frenzy of fans waiting 25 minutes in line for an eight seconds interaction pays for the trip. I watch, and wonder how many stories fit inside those eight seconds, and how ego boosting all that can be if you are a performer. For the studios, the never-ending line of consumers make it all worth their while: this is how they measure how much they are making, regardless of numbers. The hoard of porn fans – old, young, men, women, singles, couples – flocking around a booth makes you stop and wonder who is signing. If you are lucky, Skin Diamond is on display that hour, and for 25 minutes of your time you can talk to her for eight seconds and walk away with an autographed photo. Trust me, it is worth the wait.
You walk between the two rooms which host the expo, and in the hallway you meet Stoya and Dani Daniels, and they are happy to see you even though they don’t know your name. But you are a fan, and the reason why they are there, and they are nice and kind. You step away from them feeling special because you just spoke to the most popular girls in school and they like you, they really do like you! You are one of them right there, at this second, and all the intimacy you have shared while watching their videos translate into this milimetric encounters. You go for a bite and the table next to you has Arabelle Raphael and Kimberly Kane sharing a sandwich, while in a bedroom somewhere, with dimmer lights and less fantasy, two performers are debating Foucault.
Vegas smells of cigarettes and people. Lights are never off. You sit across the table from strangers you know, and suddenly you are stranger than they are. Everyone seems to be high on lights and expectations, like the air is made of these tiny particles of energy. It is easy to want to be illegal here. It is easy to be anyone. And in this intersection between on and off cameras, when asked what you do, you answer “I eat pussy for money”. I write about porn. I do porn. I am porn. Because in Vegas, under all those lights, you are nothing. Until you meet a girl with no make-up and heavy eyes, you are nothing. And after that, every time she catches you looking at her, you become utterly aware that you are nobody under those lights, although your tattoos and your scars prove different. But in Vegas, under all that spectacle and all that make up, your body does not mean much – unless you are a performer. For them, vanity is a requirement to grasp the dynamics of this business and be able to play. Vanity and emotional bond with each other, which is manifested outside the screen in semi-romantic relationships based on mutual understanding and support. You might love them. You might even be loved back. But that kind of friendship you can only experience if, one day, you might perform together.
Male performers get less attention because there are less female fans – and I did miss a gayer crowd around, to tell you the truth. But while you shake hands with Xander Corvus your knees melt, and you understand why he is so good on camera. But you just spoke to Manuel Ferrara and lent three dollars to Dane Cross, so by the time you run into Mick Blue you are not sure who you are anymore, and you just stand there and watch him in silence for the entire night. Do not worry: later you will gather the courage to walk to Woolf Hudson and get a delicious hug and a compliment that will keep you high on self-esteem for the rest of the week.
Nights host people around both Circle bars, and if you sit quietly you can eavesdrop into discourse, identity, boy/girl or girl/girl, and the perfect dick size, and an eventual shout announces someone just made some serious money in the casino. Porn stars talk to each other and make a spectacle of it, forging sexual attractiveness and intensity before the eyes of fans. Mostly men. This is their own private time with their favorite performer, and the level of hope and expectation is unbearable. Eventually, one will come up to a girl and say something to get her attention, but she is already focused on someone else who just entered the circle. This time, it is all about them: not the fans. Fans are allowed to participate only by watching, and the roles are once again back to the familiar place we are used to. Life is back to normalcy. You stand and you watch while the girls make out, sipping on your drink and wondering what it tastes like to be part of the gang. All around you are fans who are sharing that exact same moment in the exact same way, and unless someone pulls you aside to tell you this is real life you can swear you are watching a film.
Until some guy decides to take up the leading role and insists on finding out what your limits are. In his mind, you cannot get mad, though. “It is a porn convention, what did you expect?” The threat of the question echoes in your mind for hours after that, and you debate the social and sexual implications of the porn industry to the level of exhaustion when deep down all you want to say is “I am scared”. But you hold your head up because you are among your peers and they are there for you, and the casino has cameras and security guards all over the place, and that creep cannot get his hands on you – but you do think of other women and how maybe they are not as ironically protected by this same stigma which haunts you, and you fear for them. And that makes you mad, and you wipe your tears and say “The benefit of the doubt is not something someone should have over my body”. Later, you will find your shoes hidden under the blankets and look gorgeous again.
Then the day after it is the awards and the hotel takes longer to wake up and the booths are slowly attracting people as the performers take their places behind the tables with their minds on the prize later at night. Afternoon comes and suddenly Vegas is a desert while hair and makeup is being done. The frantic clicks of flashes is what wakes you up while the red carpet is happening, and for a second you are sure that the aim is you, because nothing escape lenses in that space. Performers and directors and studios all say hello to each other, and it is like an office’s Christmas party, only that it happens in a very, very public manner, and you are socializing with coworkers that you only see once a year, although you do business over the phone the entire time. When the awards actually begin, businesses tend to take a faster pace because the weekend is coming to an end and everybody is talking in hushed, loud voices, sometimes even muffling the winner’s acceptance speech. Later, however, you will see them around the hotel and congratulate them on their award while they are getting a milk shake. You exchange phone numbers and talk about hanging in Los Angeles. The weekend is over.
Of course there are secret parties and millionaire dinners and sex happening everywhere, but unless you step back you cannot see them. In Vegas, you cannot see much because you are inside of it. It was a struggle. It was learning. And I will be back next year, for sure.