It’s Saturday morning… considering that I only had around 5 hours sleep at most I was feeling surprisingly awake. I got ready and headed out
I arrived at the Hilton Metropole at approximately 11am. The discussions were starting a little later than they had yesterday. I noticed a significant drop in numbers when I arrived at the Palace suites on basement level 3. I assumed some people were too hungover to leave their rooms yet and others had made their way home.
The speed-networking event took place first, I was actually grateful that today’s group was half the size of that on the previous day. This gave us more time to talk comfortably and spot business opportunities. Unfortunately I found myself once again in the row that had to do all the moving (fortunately it wasn’t a mad rush to move along this time). Towards the end I got speaking with Carl Ramsey of TFONIA. We were discussing a current project and potentially working together. We ended up having a good 15 – 20 minute long chat about Canadian, American and British culture. I always did know how to sell us as a nation to our visitors *cough cough * In all honesty, I think our actions speak far louder than my words could anyhow! After our delightful little chat I realised half the room had emptied and thought it would be a good time to grab some light lunch.
I attended the Live Cams & E-Dating discussion, the first of the day. It was chaired by Alex Lecomte of StarEdition, on the panel was Sebastian from X Love Cams, Bryce Wagshul from Friend Finder Networks and Will Bush from Hubpeople. Each of the companies had slightly different models for the cam sites they offer. It primarily seemed to operate on some form of revenue share, therefore making sign up free. Each representative gave facts and figures that clearly reflected each brands popularity and success. It is evident that cam sites stand to make a serious amount of money depending on the live content, membership incentives and quality / compatibility of the site. If you have considered running your own cam site, I’d recommend contacting one of the above companies, as they will help you with both set up and maintenance. They also can help you implement the latest technology and features so your customers get the best service.
The next presentation was of particular interest to me as I needed clarification in relation to Sex and Censorship, at least where the Internet was concerned. Don Parret of XBIZ chaired the discussion. It was lead by Jerry Barnett: who founded Sex and Censorship and also was the XBIZ EU event organiser. Also on the panel was Chris Ratcliff of Portland TV, Ben Yates from Pervlens Media and Itziar Urrutia of Urban Chick Supremacy Cell. Jerry displayed a PowerPoint on the previous, current and future (though soon to be present) state of content sharing. His argument uses current and soon to be introduced legislation that directly affects what information can be shared via the Internet. Also we were informed of some shocking examples whereby the law had penalised individuals for even just receiving certain content without their authorisation.
Itziar herself had been persecuted by ATVOD for not registering the company with the body and for not providing a CAC system that would age verify her customers. She explained what had happened and the responses given via email from ATVOD. It appeared to mimic form of Internet bullying through means of extortion. It is said that when business owners request a policy guideline from ATVOD, they either receive strange, vague emails that do not direct them to such policies or they receive no response at all. It is abundantly clear that all that were in attendance were concerned not only with the stigma that adult business owners receive from the public but also that the Government themselves are not showing any sympathy with the issues that ATVOD bring to the market. In order to regain the trust of those within the adult industry, it is imperative the government provide a clearly outlined document containing all policies in relation to content sharing and age verification. As it currently stands within the UK, freedom of speech is no longer a right; it is becoming a thing of the past. Jerry illustrates this point fantastically within his presentation. The question has to be, where do we draw the line? When does it become less about child protection and more about social dominance and invasion of privacy? I guess only time will tell.
Prior to heading over to the Grand Union round at the back of the Hilton for Juicy Ad’s happy hour, I had a quick chat with Ben Yates about some work. We were also joined by journalist Alex James: he told me that he came to get an outsiders perspective on the industry and event. We had a lengthy discussion about the conference, industry, public perception of adult entertainment businesses and sexuality itself. I found it really engaging being able to share my views on these subjects and I often found that both myself and Alex we’re in agreement on many subject matters.
During this conversation I had noticed that Ben and a couple of others had slipped away to get ready. I had completely lost track of time and felt I had better do the same. I wore my favourite black Missguided dress and some black flats… the prospect of wearing high heels after such a long event was daunting, no I thought ahead and chose not to add any further discomfort.
Finally I arrived at the Grand Union where I could see an assortment of familiar faces from the weekend. I conversed light heartedly with Graham Swain, a freelance broadcaster / journalist, Jerry Barnett, Terry Stephens of UKAP and Ben Yates. There was a free bar at the Grand Union courtesy of Juicy Ads, one of the XBIZ sponsors. In all honesty, free bars are wasted on me as I’m not a big fan of alcohol, I think my intake during the whole two hours I was there for equated to ¾ of a strawberry daiquiri. After a little while we decided it was a good time to head over to Spearmint Rhino.
Jerry, Ben, Bee Marsh and I pilled into a taxi and headed off. Bee is a photographer and managed to take some hilarious snaps of both Ben and Jerry in the car. We were all in very good spirits… until we arrived at the venue. It would appear we had a welcome committee of Object ‘feminist’ protestors. We simultaneously groaned at the sight of the women in their handwritten slogan t-shirts, all holding signs that stated something along the lines of ‘women aren’t sex objects’. I knew this would be fun. We jumped out of the taxi and walked down the street towards the venue in pairs. Remaining in a group would have been impossible as there was very little space to get past the small crowd. Their attention soon moved from the passers-by and they proceeded to swarm around us like we had just kicked the hornets’ nest. I have to admit having several ladies, many of whom were significantly older than I may I add; singing ‘you are such sorry bunch of losers’ in my face isn’t my idea of a good time. I glared up at them and continued walking, refusing to let them derail me from my path. That was until a couple of members actually got in my way. ‘Can you move out of the way please?’ I didn’t feel like being overly polite at this stage.
Once they had eventually moved I continued inside the venue. Upon arrival I saw Jeremy Nargi of Spearmint Rhino stood by the entrance doors. I could tell this was not common for the venue and that they had only proceeded to cause such a disturbance due to us being here. I felt bad for Jeremy and I tried to speak light heartedly a little with him. He responded well but I could tell the situation made him felt uncomfortable, as it would with anyone trying to operate a business under such conditions. He told us to make our way downstairs and that he would join us in a little while. We did.
I had never visited the Spearmint Rhino before and I was in awe of the décor. It had a strong luxurious colour scheme with flamboyant textures and metallic finishes. I went inside and Jerry brought a round of drinks. I being I settled for a pint of Coca-Cola. A couple of the waitresses that walked past me looked phenomenal. They all donned a cute black and white sexy butler style bodysuit. There were booths and tables close to the stage area. The low lighting made it hard for me to see who was on stage properly. I don’t have the best vision either so it was hardly surprising. I spoke with various people at the venue and noticed the girls had been paying particular attention to certain punters i.e. casual conversation, a trip to the bar, maybe order a few to the table before the suggestion of ordering a dance was hinted. I imagine this works very well and in all fairness, I could see why it may have been hard for them to refuse.
Unfortunately my time at the Spearmint Rhino came to an early end, living in Kent I had to ensure I made the train home. Jerry was also leaving so he showed me the way back to Euston tube station. As we left we saw Kiki Minaj, Jessica Jenson and another girl whose face I didn’t see enter the venue. Once Jerry dropped me I thanked him for all of his help and continued on my journey home. I had lots to think about from the past two days. I felt like I didn’t get the most of Spearmint Rhino either, so I’d be sure to go again and do another write up. With a new world opening up to me I couldn’t help but feel slightly overwhelmed at times, though I know most of work happens online I knew this would be the first of many events I would attend. However everyone’s warmth and openness made a lasting impression on me. I hope to see many of those faces again at upcoming events.
Thank you to all who helped to make this experience a positive one for me.