Last week I spoke at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. It wasn’t exactly an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
But porn lovers (and porn stars, porn producers, porn distributors, and porn photographers) are people too, and there had to be something interesting to see there, so I accepted their invitation. Besides, I have a book coming out in September called His Porn, Her Pain, and I want to get some advance support from people in the industry.
I spoke on “Has the internet really changed anything about sexuality?” My answer, of course, is “not really”—the human heart hasn’t changed, and American society’s ambivalence about sex hasn’t changed, and the collision of the two still produces anxiety, miscommunication, and shame. It’s what keeps me in business as a therapist.
But for me the big event was walking the floor of the mammoth convention. My host was my dear friend Mark who’d spent decades in the business (as a legal analyst, thank you very much), and he was gracious, patient, and informative as we walked up and down aisles, trying to ignore the deafening hip-hop music (why deafening and why hip-hop was never explained).
Aside from business-oriented stuff (think liability insurance and “your name here” key-rings) that’s fairly standard whether it’s a dental convention or fruit-grower’s convention, there were some idiosyncratic things here. Row after row after row of dildos, high-end vibrators that retailed north of a hundred bucks, and miscellaneous products to use while watching porn. Just when you think everyone in America has all the sex toys they need, American capitalists (and Chinese manufacturers) come up with new ones. They give “stocking stuffer” a new meaning.
I tried on Virtual Reality goggles, and was suddenly receiving a 3-D blowjob—well, my character was, anyway. So were several other people in my special world, oblivious to the actual humans all around me. And how long before this VR video is synched to a Bluetooth-enabled sex toy so someone can actually feel the 3-D blowjob? “Less than 12 months,” said the sales rep. Will they sell such a getup to minors? “You’ll have to ask our legal department,” he said. And when can we custom-design our VR so we’re mating with, say, Scarlett Johansson or Tom Cruise? “The rights might be a bit hard to acquire,” smiled our sales rep. What about, oh, Barbara Stanwyck? “Who?” replied the young man.
It was time to hit the really big hall, where the aisles were concentric circles, and the “booths” were miniature lounging areas for barely-dressed porn stars. Fans had a chance to stop, chat, and take photos of them. The women were working—smiling at everyone, hugging those who weren’t too pushy, posing for photos.
Mark steered us past this one and that, and occasionally said “OK, let’s talk to her,” and we’d veer left or right and stop. Whereupon some young woman way less than half our age would spot us, hug my host, and get introduced to Dr. Klein. I’d tell her about my upcoming book about porn and hand her a color copy of the cover, she’d smile enthusiastically, hug Mark goodbye, and we’d be back in the slow, Kaaba-like promenade with thousands of our intimate friends.
We’d been wanting to connect with Jessica Drake, described in Wikipedia as “an American pornographic actress, film director, screenwriter, sex educator, philanthropist, and radio personality.” She also has 540,000 twitter followers. In case you’re wondering, I have 4,163 twitter followers.
At age 30 Jessica’s made over 300 films, and spends considerable time educating her enormous fan base about sexuality. She’s known Mark since she started in the industry, and periodically refers to my work as an educator. Mark and I agreed that getting her backing of my upcoming book would be A Great Thing.
So we left the circular big hall, and went back to the first enormous room we’d walked. We saw a life-size doll of Jessica, posters of her way bigger than that, and then we saw…about a jillion fans lined up to say hello, take a selfie with her, and maybe say a few words: I dunno, maybe something like “I’ve had some of my best orgasms with you, thanks,” or “When I want to really get it up, I think of you.”
Mark guided me past this long, long line—bigger than anything I’d ever seen at SFO or JFK security—and we got to the front, a few feet from this major cultural icon. Finishing an autograph, she looked up, Mark caught her eye, and she squealed. “Mark my boy!” She strode over, hugged my slightly embarrassed friend, turned to me—and squealed “My favorite sex therapist!” and hugged me, too.
It was glorious, and rushed, and in slow motion all at once. I felt bad for the guys who were finally at the front of the line—they must have been waiting for a couple of hours, and of course had no idea why we were suddenly getting The Girl’s effusive attention—but this was no time to be shy or even considerate. For about four minutes Mark and I were alpha males—despite being the two oldest guys in a room of 15,000, the only two guys there who didn’t have raging erections.
I handed Jessica the packet for my new book, she vowed to read it and text me “soon,” she hugged us both, and Mark and I retreated, quickly swallowed up by the crowd. We headed toward the hotel lobby, totally satisfied with our rare, hard-fought prize—a brief Audience, complete with recognition. It was about time for a Diet Coke, and then I had to get a cab for the airport.