PVV – “Crossing Over,” or what do fans see and feel during AEE?

As some of you may know, this week is the Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) – THE adult industry trade show held annually in Las Vegas, NV. The acme point of AEE, for many, is the gala AVN Awards show.

AEE is always pretty fun; and although many people say the show is currently in the grips of a major decline, I’m especially excited for this year’s. I organized and will be moderating the panel “It’s (Not) A Man’s World- women leaders in the adult production and novelty industry” on Wednesday, January 18 at 11 AM – yay!!

AEE is also pretty interesting because it’s actually trade/fan show hybrid… Some shows, like the XBIZ shows and the Phoenix Forum, are essentially industry-only business events. Other shows, like the EXXXOTICA Expos, are fan shows filled with fun fan events and performers on hand to sign autographs and take pictures, etc etc. AEE is a little different from both industry-only and pure-fan shows because it’s an industry/business show with a significant fan presence. Fans can even attend the awards show. It’s an interesting mix, and I’ve always wondered: “How are all these fan folks, and what do they think of this event??”

Well, I recently came across an amazing write up of one man’s foray into the AVN Awards… and I learned so much!!

Jason Lyon’s piece, “Crossing Over,” appeared on pages 78 – 79 in the March, 2011 issue of the AVN magazine. Here’s a screen grab, but you can see the piece in its full glory here.

 

Jason makes so many wonderful and articulate points in this piece that you really must read it for yourself (it’s only two pages long), but in a nutshell… Jason is a mainstream guy with a mainstream life. He also has a passion for the capacity for human growth and development that is facilitated through adult content. Consequently, he has traveled all the way from the East Coast to Las Vegas for the AVN Awards. Twice.

Throughout the course of this piece, Jason works his way through some conflicted feelings about being a front-facing fan of adult entertainment; and this isn’t surprising. In spite of the fact that the vast majority of people in the US consume adult products in some way (don’t lie to yourself, and fyi: vibrators and KY totally count as adult products), there’s still so much shame and embarrassment and lack of communication associated with sex and sex practices and related issues in our culture. This includes shame surrounding adult (I’ve been talking about this lately here).

So Jason, who seems to really appreciate the creative work that goes in to adult content production, feels conflicted… but not really. He seems more conflicted about not being conflicted about being a fan, if that makes any sense. It’s great self-reflection.

One additional thing Jason artfully weaves into his discussion is piracy, and how much he doesn’t like it. In my reading, it seems like Jason feels that engaging in piracy is the pan-ultimate of cruel and disrespectful practices – it sends the message that all this porn that people are clearly enjoying isn’t worth paying two cents for. Whatsmore and somewhat counterintuitively, that message is coming directly from people who are consuming adult content… hence one dimension of Jason’s struggle with being an enthusiastic and appreciative consumer of adult content.

But Jason is different – Jason is a consumer and a fan. These others, however, are neither. They’re pirates.

I’m inclined to agree with Jason – stealing is disrespectful, but stealing and secretly consuming something you enjoy because you’re too arrogant or conflicted to pay where pay is due is downright awful. No one says you have to fly across the country and go to the AVN Awards, but compensate those who invest money and time to create entertainment you enjoy!!

Jason comes to the conclusion that being a fan is, in fact, OK. Actually, it’s more than OK. Fans, the people who are out in the world supporting a product they enjoy and the industry that creates it, are integral and necessary members of the adult community. Fans contribute.

There’s no shame in being a consumer of adult content and a fan of the adult industry, but there’s definitely shame in being a pirate. (yes, I realize the irony of shaming pirates after I just discussed how cultural shame surrounding sex is unfortunate; but there’s a marked difference between shame surrounding sex and sexuality-related issues and stealing)

As I head to Vegas this week and while I’m in the midst of all the mad fun, I’m going to keep Jason’s insights with me… especially regarding the real community that comes from people who are willing to pay, both literally and figuratively, their respects to creative individuals and entities who work so hard to produce compelling products. I agree with Jason – those folks are just as much a part of the adult industry as performers, producers, people working behind the scenes, and everyone else.

Thanks Jason – you, and those like you, are awesome.

 

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PVVOnline – Critical Commentary on Adult Production