Porn, it would seem, has traded in one set of bedfellows for another.
For 12 years, the Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) and CES went hand in hand. Starting in 2012, however, many attendees of the annual electronics trade show were surprised to find the Sands Convention Center—the former home of the event—bereft of cleavage and porn videos.
Instead, the show had been moved back a week, and had begun running at the same time as the SHOT Show—the annual convention for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories industries. They've run concurrently ever since.
Officials at the AEE won't say they intentionally decided to run simultaneously with the SHOT Show, the fifth-largest show in Las Vegas, which attracted 67,000 people last year. Still, they will admit that the split from CES was very deliberate, and reflective of the realities of who attended both conferences.
"After analyzing our attendees' demographics and the crossover between AVN and CES, we decided to move our event a week or so after CES," says Theo Sapoutzis, chairman and CEO of AVN Media Network.
"This was done for two reasons: The crossover wasn't as high as people perceived. The vast majority of our attendees travel in Vegas for our event," he said. Additionally, "it became a far more affordable event for both our consumer and trade attendees, since the room rates are far more affordable."
The SHOT Show is hardly the only other convention in Las Vegas this week. The International Builder's Show is in town, which attracted 75,000 attendees in 2014. And the Las Vegas Winter Market Show, a furniture and home treatment convention, is ongoing, bringing an estimated 50,000 more people.
Add those numbers up, and that's a fair bit more than the 170,000 people who were in Vegas for CES two weeks ago. The difference gets even starker when you count the 25,000 who will attend specifically for AEE.
Considering the politically charged environment of the past few years, some of the adult stars say running AEE concurrent with the SHOT Show makes more sense than ever.
"We're both under scrutiny, so that makes both industries very interesting," said Bonnie Rotten, last year's winner of AVN's performer of the year award. Last year, the porn industry confronted a host of legal and regulatory challenges, she said.
Meanwhile, "in the past couple of years, there have been a lot of gun [legal and regulatory challenges], as well. However, "no matter what, people are going to find a way to buy either of these products."
To accommodate the other convention goers, this year's AEE show hours will run late into the night, as late as 10 p.m. on some nights. Sapoutzis says he also hopes that will lure locals, who typically haven't attended.
"We extended our hours to give more people the opportunity to attend," he said. "There are a significant percentage of local attendees that work during the hours of our event, and also there's a great amount of people visiting Las Vegas during the same period."
If nothing else, the date shift has certainly shaken up the demographics of the porn show, say AEE veterans.
"When it was [running at the same time as] the CES Show, it would be a bunch of computer nerds—no offense, I think they're cute—and you would know they came in on their lunch break to [look around] the porn convention," said Jesse, the porn star better known as Jesse Jane before leaving her former studio last year.
"Now, honestly, you see a [wider] variety of people," she added. "It definitely makes it more fun."