I picked up Michelle at 9:30AM on Friday. I had forgotten toothpaste, she had forgotten pants, and both of us had forgotten that November in New Jersey is typically not tank top season. But between us we had seven granola bars, and we were feeling fine.
Most of all, we were excited to be driving. Since the hub of the adult industry is indisputably west coast, our business trips usually involve early morning flights, travel size Coochy Cream, and predatory cab drivers. We were also excited because Exxxotica isn’t truly a business trip. While we were honestly there for Taboo (and I have the corporate credit card charges to prove it) Exxxotica is less about what’s hot in the industry now and more about WHO’S hot. At AVN, seminars coach us on management and advances in retail technology. Exxxotica seminars (had we attended any) would have given us tips on “breaking into the biz” and what it’s like to BE Ron Jeremy.
We pulled into town after dark, making it feel like we’d been driving for much longer than we had. Still, we wasted no time learning the ABC laws of land and gaining directions to a liquor store and a list of restaurants. Our first stop was Somebody’s Discount Liquors, which, in addition to alcoholic beverages, thoughtfully sells candy and Cheerios. Our next stop was Exxxotica.
The venue was the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, a big box seemingly more suited for housing stolen tractor trailers than porn stars, but the topless young lady casually swinging at the entrance told us we were in the right place. We collected our press passes (thank you, Inked Angels) and after a quick interview with Demon Seed Radio, began exploring the floor.
The place was banging. Fans swarmed, gawking the most at the girls wearing the least. Endless rows of booths slashed through the big box. A seminar (“50 Shades of Curious”) was tucked away to one side. On the main stage, some lucky spectator was about to win a hedonism vacation. The largest area was claimed by leading bondage gear manufacturer, Stockroom. From wheels to cages to a beat up couch, Stockroom’s space featured multiple opportunities for being bound, strapped, and photographed. Tablets with photo timers faced most stations and I heard one patron wonder where those photos ended up. On one rack, a suspended woman was being stimulated with a wand and one of the players appealed to the crowd either, “please, no photos” or “take more photos,” I’m not sure which.
It didn’t matter, because we had other places to be. Stockroom’s Kinky Kabaret featuring Joanna Angel and Skin Diamond was due to start in minutes, and I was sure that if we didn’t hurry to the stage we’d be stuck yards away, jumping up and down to catch glimpses of two of the most talented and popular ladies in porn.
I needn’t have worried. The show was shockingly ill-attended. It took the smallest amount of muscling to earn my spot against the stage. For her part, Joanna pulled a fan from the crowd and dominated him using very same Joanna Angel Power Play Pack Stockroom recently sent me to review. Her act culminated in a topless Joanna riding the lucky dude around the stage like a pony. Michelle and I burst into applause. Very few other spectators showed such enthusiasm. We shot each other concerned glances.
“They realize that was Joanna Angel, right?” my eyes asked Michelle’s.
“I mean, they must?” her expression quizzed back.
Skin Diamond headlined wearing a latex kitty teddy and mask. Glass milk bottles, a cat dish, and small pool had been set up for her, and after she strutted the stage, she wiggled and removed her tail. Next year, I suggest Exxxotica add “How to make removing a butt plug sexy as hell hosted by Skin Diamond” to their seminar roster. I would totally attend. After slipping the plug back in, she stripped, doused herself in milk, and generally put on a Class A act. Skin is a sincere beauty and super-talented chick. And when she was done, the applause was weak.
My eyes told Michelle’s, “This is crazy.”
Michelle’s eyes told mine, “Yeah, it is.”
On the way out, we saw Stoya wearing long sleeves and being largely ignored. We introduced ourselves, paid her sincere compliments, and asked somewhat timidly for a photo. “…if you’re doing that,” I believe is how my request trailed off. “Of course!” she smiled. We posed for a picture and walked away straight up dumbfounded.
At the sports bar where we landed for dinner after being horrified by the first sports bar to which we were directed, we finally figured it out. Exxxotica in Edison, New Jersey is attended by people who don’t know porn. They travel from not too far away to go to a thing that is fun, and different, and at which they might see boobs. They recognize flesh above their favorite stars. Exxxotica is a porn playground, and they’ve come to play. Unlike at AVN, porn nerds are the minority.
Our dinner was interrupted by a couple of guys who liked our tattoos and really liked that we were in town for Exxxotica, which they, five miles from the convention center, hadn’t heard was taking place. We politely dismissed them but then one wandered back, suggesting that if I ever found myself in need of a male porn star I might give him a call.
Friday’s official after party was hosted by Skin. Entertainment was provided by New Jersey’s worst cover band. We floated between it and the hotel bar, where perfectly nice men who definitely did not produce porn bought us shots and claimed to produce porn. It doesn’t sound like a good time, but it was.
On Saturday, we further explored Edison. Google produced a list of the city’s top attractions, which induced India Sajawat & Puja Hut and Cypress Brewery. One set of Mala beads, a growler, and a pint glass later, we found ourselves back at the Convention Center.
Stars were not in short supply, but again, those wearing the least signed the most autographs. We lunched next to Katie Morgan, a super-sweet star I first met a decade ago, and bumped into the unequaled Nina Hartley. Mr. Marcus’s booth, which had sat empty the evening before, was now bustling. After introducing myself and putting my arm around him for a photo, I put my other arm around him. Then I pressed most of my body against him. Then, for my own good, Michelle put the camera down.
We’d timed our day to catch Evan Stone‘s “Who Wants to do Porn?” stage show, which of course didn’t disappoint. In his early days, Evan was a long-haired heartthrob whose photo hung in my kitchen with a dedication forged by a friend. He’s since evolved into a captivating personality who devotes equal commitment to shaking his penis and serious porn acting. He’s a professional entertainer and he has my utmost respect, especially when he’s grinding on me.
Once we’d had our fill of hugging on porn stars for fun, we headed back to our hotel to hug on porn stars for business. I’m proud to be the toy reviewer and a news contributor for InkedAngels.com. Saturday evening’s Inked Awards recognized the achievements of tattooed women in the adult industry. As one of the judges, last month I cast my votes, and on Saturday I slipped on my silver sequin shorts, and happily performed meet and greet duties.
Draven Star hosted the ceremony and was joined on stage by Trophy Girls Catherine Tayler and Cali Carter and up and coming Starlet Callie Nicole. Romi Rain and Lexington Steele earned performers of the year and Joanna Angel and Janine Lindemulder were inducted into the Inked Angels Hall of Fame. Joanna and her boyfriend and oft co-star Small Hands, along with Burning Angel Nikki Hearts, attended the show. At its conclusion, I made out with Joanna a little. You know, for work.
Saturday night played out similarly to Friday. The after party was awful, but we had a blast. Stoya cooly sipped whisky in sweat pants and fur coat. I managed to press myself against Mr. Marcus one last time. And in the morning, we put on our sunglasses, bid adieu to Edison, NJ, and let Siri misdirect us to Starbucks.
“What you should write,” Michelle suggested when I mentioned I’d be documenting our trip, “is that if you love porn stars, and want to get close to porn stars, you should attend Exxxotica in New Jersey. Because no one else there understands what they’re seeing.” While it’s clear that Exxxotica rightly rocked the socks off of Edison, she’s right. And while it’s depressing to see stellar acts go unappreciated, damned if I didn’t have a great time sitting front and center, making the acquaintance of ladies like Skin Diamond, and begrudgingly being successful at my job.