Adult Convention’s attendees, entrepreneurs show business isn’t in the shadows anymore
BY BRENT HOPKINS, LA DAILY NEWS
They came with spike heels and tight clothes, business cards and a plan to make money.
Pornography was once a lurid industry, spoken of in hushed tones and relegated to grungy theaters and dirty bookstores. Not so on Saturday at The Adult Convention, the biannual consumer show that hawks movies, lingerie, products and a chance to mingle with the royalty of the adult entertainment world.
Brightly lit, widely advertised and well-attended, the 11th incarnation of the exhibition showcased an industry that’s steadily pushed its way into the mainstream. The show’s producers expect more than 15,000 attendees to make their way to the Los Angeles Convention Center for the two-day affair, which began Saturday afternoon with a massive crowd waiting patiently for admittance.
"They’re educated, they’ve got money and it’s about 40 percent women, which gives us a lot more credibility," said Renaud West, vice president of operations for Live Entertainment, the Sherman Oaks-based company that produces AdultCon. "This is bigger than all the other ones we’ve done put together."
Inside, with scantily clad women staffing the booths and warmly greeting attendees, it didn’t look vastly different from the food, car and electronic expos that regularly fill the Convention Center.
The only difference was that there was no doubt as to what these ladies were selling.
"People are more open-minded now and this is definitely getting more mainstream," said Nautica Thorn, 22, who’s both an actress and the chief executive officer of Hollywood-based Nautica Thorn Productions.
"Girls make a lot of money in this, but don’t know what to do with it. I’m not going to be around forever, so I started the company so I could plan something for my retirement."
With a tight green top that matched her eyeliner, short skirt and revealing photos that she signed for fans, Thorn is not a typical chief executive. But she certainly fit right in at the show, where attendees milled about, taking pictures and getting merchandise autographed.
Chic’s disco hit "Good Times" boomed through the 65,000-square-foot hall and men walked hand-in-hand with their wives and girlfriends.
Tera Patrick, a model, dancer, actress and entrepreneur who’s made significant inroads into traditional entertainment, chatted amiably with onlookers as her husband, singer-actor Evan Seinfeld, mused at how much the business has changed.
"Sex is the biggest industry in the world," he said.
"And I’m glad to be a part of it," she laughed.
After first appearing in Playboy, Patrick transitioned into films six years ago. She now owns Studio City-based TeraVision, which produces and directs adult entertainment, and recently signed a contract with a mainstream modeling agency.
She regularly turns up in reality television shows and will soon appear on "Dr. Phil."
"They used to call (porn) `the other Hollywood,"’ Seinfeld said. "But it’s becoming one and the same."
As much as the industry has become accepted outside of its underground roots, it’s still hard to deny that it’s a strange business.
Chelsea Zinn, a Northridge-based actress who’s been in the trade for a decade, smiled and answered questions for attendees as videos of her hardcore performances flashed on a television behind her. She paused for a moment to observe her work and sighed before stepping back into her greeter’s grin.
"I hate my hair, I think I look fat," she said, watching her onscreen alter-ego. "But my husband says I look fine and the fans seem to like it, so I guess I’m OK."