In a word, this year’s XBIZ 360 was excellent.
In a few words, XBIZ 360 was well-rounded, efficient, and nuanced. Although there was no way to attend all the events (due to concurrent scheduling), the seminars were by and large well-designed and well-moderated. There were drinks and snacks, someone was always on hand to help with questions or concerns, and the size and scope of the event were great. The Sofitel (event venue) is always pleasant, and the awards show was fantastic.
In more than a few words, here is my assessment of the XBIZ 360 events I was able to attend…
Wednesday, January 9
The Pleasure Products and Adult Retail/E-Tail events happened today.
The day got started for me with the sales seminar “Selling Sex Products Online” – speakers talked about different ways to push adult products in an increasingly competitive, nearly saturated, social media-infused world. Panelists discussed sales trends, consumer outreach tactics that worked (and ones that didn’t), and ships that were either bloated or had simply sailed. More than once, a panelist would laud a particular tool or tactic… and then next would talk about how the very same thing had failed them!! It was really interesting to consider each speaker’s insights in conjunction with their specific role or interest in the business – a great seminar that made me wish I had some products to sell.
My next stop was “Next-Gen Sex Shops,” the best seminar of the day in my opinion. The panelists each came from very different corners of the brick-and-mortar retail world, and each individual’s perspective on how to best sell was fascinating. I was particularly compelled by discussions of the value of training and incorporating staff feedback and being mindful of community culture – really taking an active, tailored role in one’s local community seemed key. On top of all this, the panel was moderating by Bob Christian of Adam & Eve retail giant/sexual health, wellness, and education fame. Inspiring!!
I finished the day out with “Tantalizing & Engaging,” a marketing seminar. Panelists touched on many of the same topics that had been engaged earlier during “Selling Sex Products Online,” but the different speakers had some different insights. One made me think more about an ultimate social media taboo – buying fans and followers. Interestingly, in sex retail and e-tail, one justification for buying followers had to do with anonymity in numbers – more ‘likes’ translates to less (perceived) attention on the individual. If you can make one real user and potential customer feel more comfortable in a mix of 100 bots… well, that’s pretty savvy.
(pictured: a gathering of show bags, from PimpsPromo.com)
Thursday, January 10
On Thursday, the 360 show switched gears to Digital Media and Film/Content.
I got started with “Adult Entertainment Delivered,” a seminar about distribution channels and tactics… because having good content means nothing if people can’t get it. The entire discussion was fascinating, with insights such as “DVD is not dead, it’s just evolving” (interestingly, DVD has many benefits that VOD just doesn’t – those really should be capitalized on) and “cast your net wide – don’t neglect any one distribution mode as consumers are extremely varied.” Howard Levine kept the whole thing on point, engaging, and humorous.
The next panel, unfortunately, was one of the show’s low points: “Next-Gen Stars: New Success Factors for Adult Film Performers.” Now, this panel could have been amazing – there were some business-minded performers and producers in the audience who I am certain would have loved tips and tactics from cutting edge performers… but it was not to be so.
The panel consisted of some great, inspiring women and men: Kayden Kross (the only performer ever to be an exclusive with three big deal pillar studios), jessica drake (who was, as always, poised and lovely and insightful… and she was the only panelist who really spoke about “what’s next”), Joanna Angel (who created her own empire from the ground up), Brad Armstrong (sassy and savvy with a great complex perspective), the legendary Ron Jeremy, and Manuel Ferrara.
(pictured: Day Three, from PimpsPromo.com)
But here’s the thing… maybe it was the questions or maybe the seminar was just conceptually unclear, but there was nothing cutting edge about this panel. As I said, jessica was the only one who spoke about “what’s next,” but her discussion was almost more of a “what’s after porn” talk – great, but not necessarily for new people coming up. Other good points from the panel included being mindful of how you conduct yourself, branding, and engaging fans and consumers directly. These moments were interesting, but they were buried under an overall conversation that seemed to target porn fans (and this was not a fan show) or very new performers… like a Business 101.
I would have liked to see an edgier collection of performers engaging a more on-point series of discussions. Although I always love seeing Manuel and Ron, I would have preferred James Deen (he’s so hott right now!!) or Steven St. Croix (who is in the middle of a big upswing, one of many in a long splendored career) and maybe a super hott and current cam boy. And though Kayden is exquisite, her career path is far too unique. I would have liked a current rising star (Brooklyn Lee, Lily LaBeau, or the like) and a more web-based starlet… Vicky Vette!! I hope XBIZ keeps this event – because it has amazing potential – but works to refine it some for next year. I even volunteer to organize and moderate ;)
Next we had what was one of the entire show’s highlights – “Sex & Politics” moderated by Diane Duke. There were four panelists: one Libertarian, one Republican, one Democrat, and Fiona Patten of Australia’s Sex Party. There is no way to summarize this panel. It was absolutely electric, fast-passed and masterfully moderated. Each panelist worked to explain how and why their party’s specific stance was beneficial to the adult industry. Interestingly, though not surprising, Fiona didn’t have to do much explaining… and the Republican and Democrat representatives often looked like they were going to explode, while the Libertarian calmly let logic rule. Anyone who missed this panel seriously missed out.
(pictured: the incredible Fiona Patten, image from Nalem.com)
Finally, we had two keynotes: one from XBIZ founder Alec Helmy and a second from filmmaker and activist (among many other things) John Stagliano. Alec’s keynote was great, cut-and-dried, organized and informative. He went over a wealth of key points and insights, emphasizing the significance of traffic over content. Very different from Alec, John’s speech covered the importance of high-quality content. Their perspectives were not oppositional though – more like two poles of a very synergistic coin that maintained traffic and content. John also emphasized the importance of industry activism and awareness. Two inspiring discussions gave me much food for thought at the end of Day Two.
Friday, January 11
Friday was a continuation of Digital Media and Film/Content.
The day started out with the funnest panel of the show – Gram Ponante’s “On The Set” seminar with Dan Leal (that’s ‘Porno Dan’ to you), James Bartholet, Ivan, and Lee Roy Myers. This cadre of four very different filmmakers couldn’t have been handled better as Gram actively engaged in-depth knowledge of each panelist’s respective career (and sassy humor that kept me entertained at every moment). I am certain that this panel was invaluable to everyone in the room interested in the specific topic. My only suggestion would’ve been to have a woman filmmaker.
(interestingly, Nica Noelle was listed as a panelist. clearly the organizers already thought to bring in a woman’s perspective, but something happened… hmmm)
(pictured: Dan, James, Ivan, and Lee Roy)
Next up was “Mainstream Erotica,” a public relations-centered seminar packed with powerhouses: Jacky St. James, Daniel Metcalf, Kevin Blatt, Arthur Sando, and Mike Moz. Unfortunately, what could have been one of the most incredibly informative events ever turned out to be a history lesson moderated by someone who clearly thought the panel should have six (not five) speakers. Panelists responded fantastically to questions that touched on various dimensions of adult PR… from the past. Though discussions of Jenna Jameson and contract girls from the ’80s are interesting, they are decently off-mark during a 50 minute discussion that was supposed to highlight today’s 24/7 media world. Again – an event fraught with potential that I’d be happy to moderate for you next year, XBIZ.
I closed out the day with “Beyond DMCA,” a discussion centered on fighting piracy on multiple fronts. This panel was well-balanced and informative. Moderator Allison Vivas (of Pink Visual) did an excellent job of keeping lawyers on point and concise (nearly impossible!!) and interacting with the audience to make sure the discussion remained relevant. Truly inspiring!!
I then got to have a wonderful chat with some good friends before heading off to get ready for the awards show…
And the XBIZ Awards show was great!! Though ever victim to Porn Standard Time, the show was fast-paced and classy, entertaining with a good balance of content, toy, and tech-based awards presented. My favorite moment of the evening was Tanya Tate’s MILF of the Year win… and the ladies from Revenge of the Petites were adorable. Good fun all around!!
(pictured: Tanya wins!! with Steven St. Croix looking on)
Thank you, XBIZ for a great and informative time. You guys do it up right, and I am certain the attendees appreciate what must be a truly monumental effort.
Everything XBIZ 360 at the event website here.
(pictured: Revenge of the Petites!!)
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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”