Wow! What a weekend it was. For someone new to the adult industry it was definitely an eye opener. I guess I should start at the beginning…
Some weeks back I was asked by Red Roxy’s CEO Greg Allen to attend the XBIZ conference on behalf of the company. Naturally I was both excited and honoured to be representing the brand in such a professional capacity. Then I remembered I would be going alone. After a minute of mentally kicking myself up the rear end, I decided that I was ready!
After a couple of hours of running around frantically, I arrived at the Hilton Metropole. The Hilton is renowned for it’s word-class interiors and service. I too was impressed with the décor throughout the main reception and lounge. Though the Metropole isn’t the main Hilton hotel in London, it still lived up to my expectations. From the off-white marble flooring, ultra-modern colour schemes to the contemporary furnishings and sleek lighting installations, it is evident that the hotel is very in tune with modern design.
The other thing about the Hilton Metropole is it’s absolutely enormous! It took me a good 10 minutes just to figure out which direction I should be heading in. The conference took place in the Palace Suites on the 3rd level below ground. As I vacated the lift, which funnily enough is where I briefly met Ben Dover, staff at the event registration desk greeted me in order to obtain my badge. With a deep breath, I took a moment to compose and walked in.
The day kicked off with the Adult Provider Network Meeting. This talk was absolutely rammed with attendees so I found a nice corner to lean against. The discussion was on compliance with both existing and soon to be introduced regulations set by Ofcom and ATVOD. This is a hot topic for the UK Adult Industry in particular as many feel that the guidelines are neither clear nor standardised. There is a call for support in order to help businesses remain compliant and also to retain professional integrity. Such issues have and will continue to be put forward.
After a quick tea break we had the first Speed Networking event. Due to the amount of attendants we only had approximately a minute to discuss our businesses. I felt what made it useful is that it forced people to be clear and direct. What was a little stressful was the amount of moving around my row had to do in such a short amount of time! My throat was already starting to hurt and it got very hot very quickly. Afterwards I found myself with an obscene amount of business cards, however I did discover businesses that could potentially become future affiliates or clients.
During a lunch break I finally met Ben Yates of Pervlens Media and also became acquainted with Stephen McBride from Juicy Ads as well as Ramon and Sebastian of X-Love Cams. I also finally met Oscar Storm, who we are working with on the branding and marketing for the new production, Iconic Starlets.
We returned back to the suite for the Age Verification discussion. There’s new age verification policies that will be coming into effect from November 2014, whereby all adult video content sites must have an age verification system in place. This applies for both international and UK based consumers. Aside from these statements, there is a general feeling of ambiguity when it comes to ATVOD regulations in particular. In order to receive full compliance, it is crucial that both Ofcom and ATVOD demonstrate a sense of transparency. Without this some could accuse both the Government and ATVOD of deliberately trying to sabotage adult businesses.
Chris Ratcliff of Portland TV highlighted these issues in a passionate and an articulate manner. Chris himself is a former ATVOD committee member. Vince Charlton of ASACP spoke of the importance of age verification in order to protect minors from watching adult material. As many adults can be accused of displaying a relaxed approach to their parental responsibilities, particularly where Internet safety is concerned, Vince states that it is the industries duty to keep children safe. The current blocking and filtering controls are simply not being used so new measures have to be put in place. The general consensus appears to be that if we are able to govern ourselves then there will no longer be a need for bodies such as ATVOD. Many within the industry appreciate and advocate the importance of child protection and it was evident that Vince’s message was openly received.
I was keen to hear YouPorn’s JT talk about his background and how he became the owner of one of the biggest tube sites in the world. He now owns over 26 different websites including FakeTaxi. It was great to hear that JT himself came from humble beginnings and had ventured in a multitude of projects before venturing into adult entertainment. I felt that his talk was very honest. He used facts and figures at times to give the talk an informative structure. After attending this talk, I can see why many in the adult industry hold him in such high regards. I hope to catch him at another event.
The UKAP meeting was chaired by Terry Stephens, Ben Yates and UK Sex Doctor Gary also formed the panel. They gave us a bit of insight as to what UKAP represents: it’s a place where UK adult producers can discuss ideas, solutions to issues and also any reports of inappropriate behaviour. In essence it’s a support network. Gary is a new member of UKAP and spoke of his ordeal when he first ventured into the adult industry. Unfortunately he encountered an unsavoury individual posing as an adult producer. Gary has whistle-blowed about this particular individual and the person in question is currently under police investigation. Terry also stated that UKAP will not publically blacklist individuals but will advise people as to what to do in such situations. If it’s a criminal matter they will always advise them to contact the police so it can be investigated further. I think Adult Stars could also benefit from a similar support network. Though it is evident there are little ‘cliques’ among performers, I still think having a general committee that all adult stars could access would give them the tools to progress and remain safe. Also new performers could benefit greatly from advice in relation to bookings, management, work offers etc. It’s something to think about.
After all the talks I was starting to feel a little fatigued, so the notion of having a drink or two was starting to become an appealing one. At the Mix and Meet there were trade show style stands offering free accessories, leaflets and products. Just outside I bumped into Jeremy Nargi, the Marketing Director of Spearmint Rhino UK. We had spoken briefly online prior to the event. We discussed work and of course the Spearmint Rhino event the following day. I found Jeremy to be very genuine; he has the kind of attitude that would make working with him pleasant… hopefully we will! *wink wink*
Time to head to the Loft Studios for the UKAP awards / London Underground party: Ben was one of the event sponsors and organisers so he had to leave early to help set up. Having no idea where the venue was, I decided to join him. When we arrived I saw the amazing street art painted on one side of the rooftop walls (as pictured above). The size of the function room itself was more or less perfect for the event: though it featured brickwork walls and modern / contemporary décor it still offered a level of warmth and intimacy. It was big enough so the room wouldn’t become claustrophobic either. I helped out a little and waited for people to arrive. At the start of the night I got talking to UK Sex Doctor Gary about some work as well as conversing with Jerry Barnett and Jeremy Nargi some more. By 9pm people were starting to arrive; I came across adult stars such as Lucia Love, Daisy Rock, Kiki Minaj, Stella Cox, Jessica Jenson, Zara Du Rose and more.
The awards ceremony itself didn’t go quite as smoothly as the organisers had hoped, however the winners were beaming with pride and had a million shots were taken by a barrage of keen photographers. I managed to quickly catch Tina Kay while I was speaking with Lucia Love. Both Tina and Lucia are extremely pleasant to converse with. I look forward to following their development. I also spoke to Zara Du Rose. She looked sensational in a purple and cream coloured latex gown. I conversed with a number of people over the course of the night. I am grateful to Ben Yates and Jerry Barnett for taking me under their wings; I think I would have felt a little overwhelmed if it wasn’t for their guidance.
12am came and people were starting to depart, including myself. All in all I felt like a kid exploring a new country, I tried to take in as much information and as many faces and names as possible.
Finally reached home, removed my make up and flopped into bed. Not much sleep to be had and I wanted to be ready for round two.