Las Vegas—DCypher told me yesterday that the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo is not just about parties, drugs, and sex like people think, and that it’s really a big sales convention. But once the fans arrived Thursday at 2 p.m., everything got seriously amped up: the volume of music blaring from booths, the number of stars signing slick promotional photos and the frenetic energy of the crowd flooding the aisles. It’s truly sensory overload. Everywhere I looked there were pigtails, ruffled panties, patent leather stilettos, tiny butts in tinier hot pants. It became a blur pretty quickly, and I wondered just how much business could get done.
Lip swag: Chapstick from Debi’s company
Away from the looped soundtrack of sex sounds, in a suite at the Venetian Hotel, I caught up with Debi Yoskey, a buyer for GVA-TWN, one of the biggest companies in the adult-entertainment industry. Based in Cleveland, GVA-TWN distributes videos, magazines, and sex toys to retailers, publishes swinger magazines, and owns 54 adult stores in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Rochester, and cities throughout Ohio.
The bubbly 36-year-old mom of two has been working for the company for 18 years; this is her fifth Expo. It’s the first year they’ve set up a suite for business meetings, and Yoskey’s pleased to be off the floor and away from the chaos. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, although she admits she agrees with recent reports that sales are down. “I think in this industry, we’ve killed the DVD, because people have to whore their product out. When we are paying [a wholesale price of] 60 cents for a DVD, where do you go from there? How can a company put out a big budget feature when the price they get per piece is so low? We’re really hoping that, I don’t know if I should say this, but that a lot of the smaller companies are going to start falling off just because it’s a hard time right now. The market is just oversaturated.”
This year, Yoskey has concentrated on the retail stores, working on merchandising, in-store appearances, and promotions. As a buyer, she estimates that she purchases about a thousand new titles every month. How does she decide what to buy? She says it’s a combination of the stars, the content, the boxcover, the track record of a particular studio, what works with her demographic, as well as personal relationships she has with salespeople. She admits she never watches any of the product she purchases.
I assume people want a buyer’s attention, so I’m dying to know if there are any great perks offered up. She admits she “doesn’t spend a nickel” while in Vegas, instead getting treated to drinks, expensive dinners, and parties. “I will say that being a woman in this position is much different than being a man in this position. I don’t get a porn star delivered to my room.” I press her with, “Do some buyers get a porn star?” but she’ll only say, “I’ve heard stories. I wouldn’t accept any gift in exchange for an order. I just don’t work that way, but I am sure it happens.”