Tech and Porn Conventions Collide in Las Vegas

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The Consumer Electronics Show wraps up in Las Vegas. This showcase of the latest tech gadgets overlaps with the Adult Entertainment Expo's annual meeting in Vegas. Is that an accident?

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Okay, from global warming to something kind of steamy.

In Las Vegas, the annual Consumer Electronics Show is wrapping up. That's were tech businesses roll out their latest gadgets. But right next door is another expo that happens at about the same time each year. The Adult Entertainment Expo. And you might be surprised to learn just how connected the two events actually are. Our tech contributor Xeni Jardin reports.

XENI JARDIN: The 200,000 attendees at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, wandered through aisles jammed with an endless array of new gadgets. There was giant high-def TVs and cool new games.

Unidentified Man #1: Tennis Pro. Players take your places.

JARDIN: Walking through the halls is sensory overload and the convention stretches out over multiple sites.

Unidentified Man #2: (Unintelligible)

Unidentified Woman #1: Very kitchen-friendly unit. If you spilled yogurt -

JARDIN: But right next door to one of them is another expo. And this one is for the porn industry.

Unidentified Man #3: Clone-A-Willy is a kit that allows you to make a rubber replica of your penis.

JARDIN: Believe it or nor, CES and the Adult Entertainment Expo once took place under the same roof, then split apart around 2001. There's still a lot of crossover. AVN stands for Adult Video News, which holds an awards show for porn stars during this expo. This CES attendee who didn't want to give his name says he and his co-workers have a tradition of hacking their way in to the porn parties.

Unidentified Man #4: There are secret back alleys that you can use to get around all the security and pop up right in the middle of the AVN awards. Pretty much AVN has always been the flipside to CES for us.

JARDIN: And there are good business reasons for the crossover, too. New York-based publicist Peter Shankman has represented both technology companies and porn companies, and he comes here to do business in both worlds.

Mr. PETER SHANKMAN: Any technological advance we've had in the past 50 years has come from porn.

JARDIN: Those advancements include things we now take for granted like pay-per-view movies, even videotapes and DVD. But there are also a lot of porn-specific gadgets over the Adult Expo. Like erotica for your iPod.

Unidentified Woman #2: Am I going to have to kick you again to shut you up?

JARDIN: And a life-sized scary robot with interesting attachments. Tomcat is the webmaster for Tink.com, a fetish Web site where the robot performs.

Unidentified Woman #3: He's an intense looking thing, but he's a lover, certainly, not a fighter. And his hands are, you know, the pleasure part of him for sure.

JARDIN: So it's easy to see why techies come here to the Porn Expo but do Porn Expo attendees head in the other direction? Kinzie is a porn star with DVDSuperStar.com. She says absolutely.

KINZIE: Everything is Internet. If you don't have the Internet, if you don't have a MySpace, if you don't have a Web site, you're basically still under a rock. So I definitely think it plays a big, big role. So many performers make extra cash and promote themselves by having a Web site. So it's really important.

JARDIN: The porn show's host, AVN, estimates that the adult industry is worth $13 billion worldwide. Some debate that figure, but judging by the activity here, it's a big business either way. And people have to find something to watch on those wall-sized plasma screen and videophones from the CES.

For NPR News, I'm Xeni Jardin.

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