Monday, October 4, 2010

The Porning of Sweet with Fall and Fish Part 2: The AVN Show

Last post I quoted The Porning of America and said we don’t need to search for porn because porn will find us. Z, the other buyer at Books & Books, and I met with a rep. As we pored over catalogs, we came across Goliath Books, a catalog which features everything from  Naked Girls Smoking Weed to erotic short stories and comics to how-to manuals.

Being the professional she is, our rep suggested that BD/SM, naked people, and some of the how-to fetish manuals would sell well at our Miami Beach store, while the coffee table erotica might do well at the Gables.

Almost every publisher carries some erotica. Many publishers known for art and photography feature pages of naked bodies. Looking at a marketing department’s best attempt to sell sex in full-color gloss while sitting with a charming, attractive rep is one of the more awkward moments of my job. I prefer to keep my sexual tension at home, thanks.

Anyway, the rep said they had a bunch of extra passes for the AVN Show at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood that weekend, and we were welcome to come.

AVN stands for Adult Video News, and the Hollywood convention was supposed to be the largest show ever. The Westin Diplomat keeps the yearly event very discreet, and the raciest thing on the AVN website is the advertising. Becky and I showed up with very little idea of what to expect (Z chickened out, and Cleopatra stepped in).

The hotel was closed for four days to anyone not attending the AVN Show. If you ain’t in porn, you ain’t invited. Becky’s lanyard identified her as a sales rep for Revel Books: Erotica and Sexuality. My lanyard proclaimed me Revel Books’ President.

Our lanyard’s also advertised an innocuous-sounding instant messaging service called, sponsored by the not-so-innocuous-sounding PussyCash.

Going upstairs to the various meeting rooms wasn’t so uncomfortable. You’ve seen far more graphic ads surfing the net, I’m sure. The classes didn’t draw us in; business strategies too sexy for comfort, yet not sexy enough to compel us to forget our outsider status and waltz in.

The next floor up featured a balcony with a stunning view of the sun shining on the Atlantic and the pool area.  It also had a curving row of glass display cases for art. The cases displayed 2009’s AVN Award Winners, things like best lube, best dildo, and best vibrating toy.

The convention floor was very much like Book Expo America, booths with various vendors hawking their wares. Except at BEA, you don’t come around a corner and have someone thrust a flyer for a penis-enlargement pump into your hand. The vitamin supplements, the website design services, the sexual lubricants; it was like the spam from my email blocker had come to life. Coochie-cutter short sporting, fishnet stocking wearing, clear six-inch-heel strutting life.

What’s the implication of a girl dressed to arouse giving me a coupon for sexual enhancement? If you want somebody sexy like me (ie, boney and bare), you’ll need a pill. Mahalo for the ego boost.

Becky and I saw porn videos in 3-D. We met some extremely friendly people in the toy business. We got to wirelessly connect a vibrator to an Ipod and feel it vibrate in time to Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back. A girl felt us up with a vibrating hand massager which is “perfect to combine with a still toy if we wanted to try hand-fucking.” An androgynous wo/man invited me to pull on he/r strap on to feel how solidly it would stay in place, telling me the harness was good for “high fucking or low fucking.”

Clearly, I need to get out more.

We met the number-one selling sex toy for men in the form of a Fleshlight wall, five Fleshlights wide by ten Fleshlights high. A vagina, a mouth, an anus, and another vagina with a different interior were all rendered realistically, if hairless silicon can be described as realistic. The last column of Fleshlights on the end were fashioned to look like tiny butts, as if a group of forest gnomes playing naked piggyback had been trapped in a wall. Becky fingered a mouth while I went for a forest gnome, both of us giggling like elementary kids.

As fake president of Revel Books, I heard my share of pitches for erotica. The person I spoke with the longest was a slim, handsome, gay man - a friendly, stylish purveyor of sex toys whose boyfriend was attending a creative writing program.  I borrowed liberally from advice I’d gleaned from Elizabeth Gilbert's website and told him to submit the writing to magazines and publishers everywhere. There are people paid to read their stuff. A writer’s job is to write, and put the work out there, not to pre-reject themselves. Good advice, that.

The entire time we spoke, the man held a dark grey silicone cock the size of my forearm, absentmindedly slapping it into the palm of his empty hand. Because we’re professionals, Becky and I managed to keep our expressions serious.

Oh, the places booksellers go.


  1. I wonder if you've stopped smiling yet???

  2. I do look rather pleased, don't I?

  3. Pleased?

    You look like you just won gold in the world smug championships. That's certainly a presidential smile anyway......