The 2000 CES Parties
When you go out to Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show,
the actual convention is pretty damn secondary to the networking
opportunities. And the prime networking opportunities are definitely
the parties. Often the best way to judge the calibre of a bash is by
the shrimp. Last year Ted Leibowitz, of Erotica On-Line won the shrimp
competition with a two yard long, two foot wide pile of the biggest,
crispest jumbo shrimp ever. This year, the best shrimp were available
at the New Machine Media party. Their early evening bash was held at
The Bellagio, which says top drawer right off the bat. The suite
overlooked the Dancing Waters, with a great view of the 15 minute
interval display. Across The Strip, the brand new Paris Hotel's 50
percent scale model of the Eiffel Tower looked close enough to touch.
Aside from the shrimp, there were exotic Asian delicacies with assorted
dipping sauces. Yum! We arrived a bit on the early side, so it wasn't
necessary to fight our way to the hors d'oeuvres. Right behind us, a
bell boy's cart piled high with cases of liquor arrived, further proof
that our hosts were sparing no expense. Vegas party impresario Flash
Cadillac (yes, that Flash Cadillac--he's like the fuckin' mayor of the
Strip or something) was one of our fellow guests, so we felt like we
were really in the know. However, we had bigger shrimp to fry.
From The Bellagio it was on to the Hard Rock for the Gallery gig. Given
the somewhat remote location of the hotel, their suite afforded what is
probably the best view of the Strip and all it's glittering landmarks.
The invitation had specified a dress code: all black. Hah, just like
Manhattan, eh? But rather than the cosmopolitan interpretation of
black, party guests skewed a bit suburban, with almost every male in
the same pleated black Dockers and the same button down black shirt--no
tie, just one button unbottoned--like some sort of hipper update of the
corporate IBM khakis and blue chambray uniform. In other words, the
male guests were a complete wash and would have presented no
competition to anyone who'd had any style or personality.
The women were another matter entirely, to be expected at a porno
convention. Jill Kelly was stunning in a relatively reserved ensemble.
Anna Malle was her usual unpredictable self, rarely remaining in one
spot for longer than three seconds and constantly flashing her tits.
Internet maven Danni Ashe looked both adorable and professional in a
sleek black sweater and businesslike slacks. No boas or stripper drag
for her, man, she's a millionaire! Gallery's Girl Next Door for 2000,
Shannon, was the funniest, the friendliest and exactly everything a
centerfold should be: talking to us!
A brief digression: the shrimp here was still in the baggies and frozen
solid, proof that they didn't spring for a caterer and that they don't
have a slavish PR gal on staff. We ate pretzels, drank the Coronas and
chatted at length with Shannon until, in fact, we were almost the last
people there. Fuck the frozen shrimp, let's move on!
We motored to Ra, the nightclub at The Luxor, for the big fetish party.
Now, being a fetish aficionado myself, I was truly looking forward to
this event. It was billed as a collaboration between Fetish, Skin Two
and Taboo magazines, Southern California fetish boutique Fit To Be Tied
and their occasional party, Stiletto. One look at the monstrously long
line and it was immediately evident that this was not the exclusive
soiree I'd anticipated. Elbowing our way to the security strongmen, we
managed to smooth talk our way in and it took about five seconds to
size up the situation: this party sucked. We stuck around to chat up
Ellen Thompson, the purported hostess of the bash, and her entourage.
We found a few other acquaintances and slugged down a beverage or two
before we retired to the Cleopatra Bar to play video poker and watch
the poor saps still waiting in line. We heard a bunch of frat guys beat
up a "fetish boy," and then saw the whole lot of them, including the
bloodied PVC-attired gentleman, be escorted into the manager's office.
We also heard that a semi-famous fetish model was drugged by a drooling
fan and had to be carried out. Guess it's not a good idea to mix fetish
folks with the general public.
Thursday evening, we had stopped in at Wicked's cocktail hour at the
Venetian's Italian restaurant just steps from the convention floor. All
their spectacular contract girls were on display, and delectable they
were, but I was most thrilled to meet Temptress. At a full six feet
tall, with her casual Claifornia glamour, silky flowing long hair and
Gen-X pierced tongue, she's definitely one of my personal favorites.
There were so many pretty girls, the numerous hors d'oeuvres weren't
nearly as appealing as the eye candy.
From there, we dragged our jetlagged selves to the Adam & Eve party
early on and mingled with what could be affectionately referred to as
the old guard. The infamous and unstoppable Nina Hartley and her
infamous and unstoppable derriere were there, along with Adam Film
World editor Jeremy Stone, former Spectator and current free speech
activist Kat Sunlove, and numerous nameless porn talent. Couples
filmmaker Candida Royalle had just jetted in from Hawaii with her tall
and distinguished Dutch date. One of porn's bubbliest beauties,
Alexandra Silk, smiled appreciatively as I applauded her efforts in
Tramps in New Orleans (see previous column) and there were a few other
familiar X-rated faces. Their food consisted of the standard crudite,
chicken wings, mozzarella sticks and chicken sate. But the conversation
more than made up for whatever was lacking in the culinary department,
since one strong point with the old guard is that they've been around
long enough to skillfully sustain a conversation!
Saturday night meant the big AVN Awards. They promised to be "Shorter,
Funner, Better" Well, they were undeniably shorter. We arrived at what
would ordinarily have been cocktail hour just in time to see the lavish
cheese and crackers being whisked away. We found our seats seconds
before the show began. And the show? The way they managed to make it
shorter was to completely do away with all the entertainment. No Chi
Chi LaRue being carried in on a litter by a dozen hunky gay porn stars.
No Mark Stone and his rockin' rock band. And instead of hilarious
comedien Robert Schimmel as the emcee, we were stuck with the
efficiently swift tongued Julie Ashton--pretty, but not exactly
entertaining. We did get about five minutes of Bobby Slayton, another
potty mouthed jokester in the Schimmel vein. But it wasn't the same.
High points of the awards were left to one or two presenters, the
foremost being Al Goldstein, who pissed everyone off by trashing, well,
everyone he could in his alotted time slot. AVN Editor Paul Fishbein
gave Howard Stern a special achievement award, but Howard didn't find
the show worthy of his presence. In his stead, he sent Beetlejuice, a
retarded black midget. Okay, a developmentally challenged, horizontally
challenged African American. He hoisted Howard's award over his head
and burbled into the microphone until he was hustled off the stage.
When all the statues for Best Blowjob Scene and Best Gang Bang were
handed out (all determined, of course, by the AVN staff or, in other
words, by the amount of cash they doled out in advertising in the pages
of AVN) in just slightly over two hours, it was time for the after
But by the time we made it through the pressing crowd of fans--er,
curious onlookers snapping photos of people they'd never laid eyes on
before--we were faced with that recurring Vegas incovenience: yet
another interminable line. Again, what had been billed as an exclusive
event was open to the general public. Someone really has to teach those
AVN people how to throw a party! Especially for $185! Since the
possibilities of getting a drink at the closest hotel bar looked slim,
we wound up in our friend Howard's hotel room with Jeanna Fine, her
adorable husband Jim, Rich Pursel, Hustler's entertainment editor,
writer/director David Aaron Clark and his friend Nan, raiding the
courtesy bar and um, well, partying till 5 am. Now THAT was the best
party I've ever been to after an awards show! Thanks Howard!
Next year, I'm gonna rent a suite and throw my own party.
[Written Jan. 2000]