February 12, 2019 10:13am
AEE 2019: The Code and August Ames
Source: Adult Industry News
by: Rich Moreland
This year's Adult Entertainment Expo marked two anniversaries: Evil Angel's thirtieth year in business and Nina Hartley's thirty-fifth as a performer.
It was also a reminder that the porn industry is not immune from society's ills.
Let's begin with the metal detectors. For me, getting to Las Vegas requires airports and that means TSA and security. I'm thankful for the capable federal employees who check every passenger and every bag.
Unfortunately, the trade show is not immune from attack, so metal detectors and uniformed checkers greeted everyone who entered. An inconvenience surely, but not a bad thing considering that a handful of states, most recently Arizona, have proposed legislation declaring porn a danger to public health. The possibility that an anti-porn crazy might want to harm attendees cannot be ignored.
Nevada has an open carry law, by the way, but requires permits for concealed weapons and many fans (and industry personnel, yours truly included) do carry backpacks and tote bags into the show.
So, like the airport TSA, I commend the Hard Rock Hotel and AVN for taking defensive measures.
When I arrived at the press room to pick up my media pass, I first had to sign the Code of Conduct. The Code was displayed at the entrance to the show and on the Table of Contents page of the show directory, a freebie for all fans and industry people.
In light of the #metoo movement, it makes sense to recognize issues of proper conduct. Because performers are in the business of sexual pleasure, too many fans "assume" they are meeting a "different kind of girl" than the sweetheart or wife back home.
But may be true in the minds of some, but that does not mean crossing boundaries is okay.
Here's what I mean. A few years ago, when I interviewed a prominent star, she said that "no touching" was her personal rule with fans. To make her point, she had a personal bodyguard to show she meant business.
Though not all performers are that sensitive to physical contact, bullying is another matter and I've witnessed girls become uncomfortable with "insistent" fans. Having said that, however, the vast majority of show attendees are polite and delighted to meet the stars. In turn, porn models work hard to offer the fan a pleasurable experience.
For its part, AVN explains that the Code represents "common-sense rules for public behavior and personal interaction" that applies "to EVERYONE at the convention" including those connected to the industry. Enough said.
Sadly, there was a poignant reminder this year of the consequences of cyber bullying. The December 2017 suicide of August Ames still reverberates throughout the industry. A t-shirt honoring the twenty-three-year-old was in evidence among a handful of attendees.
My friend and colleague Steve Nelson, Editor of Adult Industry News, had this to say about the circumstances that led to August's death.
"August Ames was a good friend. She was always kind to me and very happy. Or so I thought. We all found out too late that she was dealing with the demons of depression."
Among his other responsibilities, Steve drives for modeling agencies. That's how he got to know August. But like so many others, he didn't see what was coming.
"I only saw her upbeat side. She hid her demons well."
When the end came, Steve reflected what industry people felt. "I regret not reaching out to her... She was on the edge and bullies on Twitter pushed her over."
It is notable that in this year's AVN balloting, a scene in which August Ames appeared was nommed for an award.
Considering the overwhelming number of categories, a small honor perhaps, but not an insignificant one. We should all heed the lessons of August Ames' passing and treat each other with a bit more love and understanding.
Looking forward to AEE 2020, we can only hope for the day when security measures, a code of conduct, and the tragedy of suicide are memories of past shows.