Minnesota porn ban to spank some hotels, except when too expensive

If a porn ban in Minnesota‘s Winona County passes, hotels will have to operate under a “clean hotel” policy. County employees wouldn’t be able to stay at properties that have adult fare on the menu, though there are some specific exceptions to this rule. Ostensibly, this measure is intended to lower incidents of sexual and domestic violence, which the county says has a link to porn according to some studies (though there are indicators the other way, too).

According to a Winona Daily News:

“In and of itself, this policy is not a cure-all,” the document reads, “but it is an important effort to help prevent a social disease and its related costs to the public.”

Winona County officials believe that keeping porn out of hotels will alleviate the $221 million spent on issues related to sexual violence (in 2006). They feel that this form of prevention will lead to lower law enforcement costs. Winona Daily News continues:

“It is logical to assume that prevention of certain criminal activities would reduce the costs of providing these services,” the issue paper states. “Prevention would also prevent the much greater social cost to the community.”

In an effort to keep county workers from viewing adult entertainment – and banning local hotels from selling it in order to get county business, the state could be doing far more harm than good. The question staring me in the face is a simple and important one: does the county bring hotels more business than porn?


For county workers, hotel stays entail local travel, so the business opportunity can’t be terribly high. The Winona Daily News notes that “law enforcement officials and other employees often require they spend the night in a hotel.”

Meanwhile, in-room adult entertainment is good for some big cash. The Family Research Council and a dozen other anti-porn organizations estimate that this form of entertainment is good for 60 percent to 80 percent of in-room entertainment revenue (though this is a dated estimate). Of course, the opponents of the freedom to view adult entertainment have had a tendency to pump up market size and other business-related numbers (as I found during four years of covering the business side of the adult entertainment industry) in order to emphasize its reach and influence. So, it makes sense to take a look at another source.

J.W. Marriott, whose background makes him no fan of adult content, is pretty clear on the importance of steamy televisions to his business. He wrote to the American Decency Association:

“If we were to eliminate R and non-rated offerings, the systems would not be economic [sic]. We believe it is more practical to have a system available through a wider variety and to allow our guests to make their own selections.”

Of course, the choice between county cash and porn cash may not be necessary. Given the nature of the hotel market in the state and the existing porn options, the measure may be close to irrelevant. Already, more than 480 “clean hotels” exist in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. And, the rule only applies if a property is the “host site” for an event that the county employee is attending. Also, money does talk: if staying in porn-free digs would cost at least 15 percent more than staying at a porn-friendly establishment, the cost of “morality” isn’t worth it.

[Via USA Today, photo by Steve Zak Photography]

The truth about in-room adult entertainment

It’s tough to report on the adult entertainment business. Data’s hard to find, and ranges are substituted for exact numbers. Because of this, the smallest anecdote can be stretched and prodded for years, ultimately taking on a life of its own. Adult-oriented in-room entertainment – porn, dirty movies, the stuff that’s pretty hard to order by mistake – falls into this category. Only when you appreciate how large this piece of the hospitality business is can you see why many properties may not rush to void those “accidental” charges.

There is no doubt that in-room adult entertainment is good business … some would say crucial. A coalition of 13 conservative groups (including the Family Research Council) that opposes the production and sale of porn (as if you couldn’t tell guess), estimates that adult fare accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of all in-room entertainment revenue. Of course, it pays to be careful with this estimate, as these groups have a lot at stake in reporting high. More money from porn, from their perspective, translates to a proof of a larger societal problem, which helps advance their agenda. Given my research in this space, I’m inclined to accept the lower end of the spectrum, largely because of the management problems that have plagued the entire porn industry over the past few years.

Even the low end of the range is far from trivial. That’s a lot of cash every year in a very tough business. In fact, it’s enough that the hotel industry relies on it to remain profitable. According to JW Marriott, Jr. – yeah, that Marriott — “If we were to eliminate R and non-rated offerings, the systems would not be economic [sic].”

So, how much money is this?


Adult industry trade publication Adult Video News (NSFW) put the revenue from hotel porn at $550 million in 2006, the last year for which data is available. At around $15 a movie, that’s almost 37 million purchases, to which nobody will admit. But, you can see Marriott’s point. Hotels need every last dime from porn to keep their shareholders happy.

So, let’s take this a step further. Assume that you claim to have been charged wrongly. How can the hotel know? A source, who used to be the night auditor at a major Manhattan luxury hotel, told me that the majority of purchases were viewed for less than a minute.

Several other sources have chimed in – including a former Ritz-Carlton general manager – that the average run time ranges from seven to 10 minutes. Steven Silbar, who served as Director of Sales and Business Development of NXTV (which sells in-room entertainment), recalls that the average time an adult film was viewed through his employer’s system was 7.5 minutes (in 2001 and 2002). Even if a handful go from start to finish, this suggests many viewings of less than a minute.

Buying behavior could imply a case of buyer’s remorse, an unfortunate slip of the thumb or the remote, the absence of continued need (you know what I mean) or a technical glitch. Only two of these situations would call for a refund (the technical glitch and maybe the accident).

The choice to refund is made harder by the hotel’s obligations to the porn provider. Every time a movie is purchased, the cash you pay is split between the property and the supplier. The supplier then has to pay some of its share to the production company. And, none of these businesses is doing well in this economy. Porn has been in something of a recession since 2005.

Put simply, you’re more likely to get a comp’ed drink than a free movie, even if the drink is more expensive.

Hotels need porn. There’s no way around it. So, when you browse the adult listings – just to see what’s out there, of course – know where your finger is. If you slip, you could wind up paying the price.

Vegas on the cheap in 21 easy steps

Whether you’re hitting the Consumer Electronics Show or Adult Entertainment Expo, get ready to learn the hard way that the Strip is an expensive place to be. Cheap hotel rooms lure you into the city, and you make up the difference everywhere else. So, when you blow your cash at the tables and your reserves at the strip joint gentlemen’s club of your choice, you’ll need a few ways to pass the time while waiting for your flight. Here are a few of my favorites for staying distracted when the slots and strippers have drained your wallet on the first day.

Fill your bags with freebies at the Las Vegas malls. The Shop Vegas Passport is free, and nobody will judge you for not actually spending your own cash while holding your hat out. Then, take advantage of free wireless internet access at the Palazzo or Venetian.

Listen to some tunes and root for your favorite at a dueling piano competition. There are three from which you can choose. Harrah’s and Treasure Island don’t charge a dime, but everything’s more expensive in New York (the New York New York hotel, that is), where you’ll be hit up for a $10 cover. Or, if you want to see people who know famous people, watch six of her band members at the Palms.

Need more? Damn, you’re greedy! Check out the whole list of 21 ideas under $21.

[Thanks, LA Times]

Tips for Adult Expo: Take a shower

Every year, there is a quiet war waged at Adult Entertainment Expo (safe for work, just links to a previous article). On the one side are the throngs that come from across the country, eager to have that one-time meeting with Ava Rose or desperate to inhale Vivian West’s cigarette smoke. Opposing are the insiders, the people who work in the porn business. They use the convention as a way to reconnect with suppliers and clients … and to strike the deals that will feed them for the rest of the year. The insiders know that you will be there, and they know that you’ll be in the way. They’ve learned to live with this fact. I’ve been told, though, that they would like to pass along one request this year: take a shower.

I know how it is. You hit Las Vegas, and the excitement takes hold. You don’t need to eat or sleep. The booze and casinos are enough of a stimulant. Add a bit of porn, and the adrenaline spikes. You have no choice but to move nonstop. When I’ve covered Adult Entertainment Expo in the past, sleep was optional (usually about three hours a night), and I was lucky to eat once a day. I subsisted on caffeine and nicotine, and I loved it. But, I took a shower every day. At least one.

Want to know why? Given Gadling’s editorial policies, I have to hide the answer behind the jump …

A friend of mine, who is a fixture in the skin biz, asked that I share her advice plea with you:

You forgot to mention the #1 complaint about the fan boys at AEE [Adult Entertainment Expo] though… Please take a fucking shower at least twice during the four days you are at AEE! Seriously – that is the number one complaint from everyone working the convention, from porn chicks all the way through to the security.

Okay, there it is. If you think you have a shot with any of the young ladies whose work you have enjoyed in the past, you at least need to be clean. So, do us all a favor and use the plumbing in your hotel room. They don’t charge extra for it, and you’ll probably wind up having a better time. Assault a starlet’s nasal passages with your stench, and she’ll rush you out of her presence. If you don’t smell offensive, you may actually get a smile.

Get off to Vegas for the AVN Awards

Don’t lie. You’ve heard of the AVN Awards … but only from your friends. Er, one friend, really.

Nobody watches porn adult movies, but everyone knows someone who does, right?. Well, now that you have an excuse for knowing about the AVN Awards (porn’s answer to the Oscars) why not check it out for yourself? Part of the broader Adult Entertainment Expo (January 9 – 11, 2009) experience in Las Vegas, it’s only two and a half weeks away, and there’s still plenty of space on the Strip.

Before we get into this, here’s a word of caution. The links in this article are safe for work until you get to the very end. If you want to learn more about the AVN Awards or Adult Entertainment Expo, I’ve supplied the links at the bottom.

January’s a busy time in Las Vegas. The enormous, famous Consumer Electronics Show draws more than 100,000 people every year and overlaps with the first few days of Adult Entertainment Expo, which adds another 30,000 or so conventioneers to the Sands. Fortunately, Las Vegas is rich in hotel rooms. Bargain-hunters can get rates of under $100 a night at the Stratosphere Hotel.

Prefer luxury (or convenience)? The Venetian is the top spot, but it will set you back a minimum of $259 a night. You can right walk from your room to the den of iniquity that is Adult Entertainment Expo convention floor without even stepping outside. Of course, there’s another advantage. If by some chance AVN Award co-hosts Belladonna and Jenna Haze want to join you for the evening (they are porn stars performers, in case you don’t know), the shorter distance allows less time for a change of heart … and you need every advantage.


Don’t get ahead of yourself. Let’s go over the logistics first. After all, you can’t just stroll up to the Sands and expect the staff to welcome you like they’ve been awaiting your arrival. Remember: 30,000 people for Adult Entertainment Expo, with another 100,000 nerdy onlookers from the Consumer Electronics Show. When you hit the ground in Vegas, you must have your shit together.

Tickets to Adult Entertainment Expo and the AVN Awards are sold separately, and they are pricey (more on the awards show in a bit). One-day access to the expo will set you back $80. If you plan to go all three “fan” days (there are a few days up front when the show is open only to business and media), that’s a substantial amount of cash. To take the sting out a bit, order your tickets online. You’ll save $20 (per day), and you won’t have to wait in what is usually a horrendous line. I’ve seen people who buy tickets at the event spend more than four hours waiting in line.

You’ve run the ticket-and-bouncer gauntlet, now, and you’re on the floor at Adult Entertainment Expo! Music is pounding, and porn stars are grinding stripper poles and groping each other on mechanical bulls (well, they were at the last expo). All the girls and studios whose names you’d never admit you know are in attendance. Monique Alexander, Bree Olson and Sasha Grey are already on the list (these three links are SFW). Make sure your camera battery is as charged as you are, and bring a spare if necessary.

Excited? Okay, let me ruin the dream for you. If you’re going to Adult Entertainment Expo to meet a few starlets, have a blast with your friends and generally act like a jackass, book your flight. You are going for the right reasons. If you have a particular girl in mind and plan to win her over with your good looks and wit, go to the nearest roulette table and bet your life’s savings on Black 17 (much better odds).

Even without the torrid porn star sex that you crave, the convention can be a blast. You’ll get to see all the big names in the business, hobnob with rocker-turned-porn-director Dave Navarro and fondle the new sex toys adult novelty items that are coming to market. The pictures you’ll show your co-workers will trigger long, penetrating conversations.

For me, last year’s best-in-show was Natch Snatch (read about them, SFW), which manufactures environmentally-friendly sex toys. They have a cool idea and a snappy slogan: “Keep the tox out of your box!” The interview below gives a bit more color.

“Grip and grin” is a major part of Adult Entertainment Expo. The performers pose for cameras, and most will sit for a shot with you. But, there is always something interesting going on beyond the long lines to have Sunny Lane sit on your lap for a fraction of a second. Some booths have adult-themed games (dildo ring-toss), performances by strippers and product demonstrations. Last year (thanks to press access). The amateur porn stars of Abby Winters, for example, offered blitz chess at their booth last year. Look around; there’s more to porn than the girls.

Do keep in mind that business is transacted in the background at Adult Entertainment Expo. Sure, the bulk of the event is for the fans, but if you look to the backs of the displays, you’ll catch glimpses of deals being struck that will shape what you-sorry, “your friend”-will watch for the coming year.

If the convention isn’t enough to scratch the sexiest of your itches, buy a ticket to the AVN Awards at Mandalay Bay (separate event). This will set you back another $107 to $240, depending on whether you spring for closer seats. Or, if you’re traveling in a pack, just spend $2,625 for your own table.

In addition to Best Actress, Best Big Butt Series and Best Cinematography, you’ll learn first-hand which company wins Best Packaging!. Thrilling, right? Do it once … to say you’ve done it once. I’ve covered Adult Entertainment Expo twice and still haven’t been to the awards-not interested in listening to porn stars thank mom, dad and their agents for all the support it took to rise to the top.

Looking back, I regret not having gone. Last year’s guests were able to witness living legend Jenna Jameson‘s on-stage meltdown!

Okay, still want to trek out to Las Vegas for the expo and awards? For all you first-timers, here’s some important advice:

1. Bring an extra suitcase. They give out a lot of free stuff. My pen from porn industry hedge fund AdultVest (probably SFW) still works 11 months later. T-shirts, DVDs and posters are abundant.

2. Make a plan. There are a lot of displays and countless girls. Review the schedule to see when your favorites will be available, and use that to structure your day.

3. Don’t dress to impress, because it’s a lost cause anyway. Nobody cares. Instead, opt for comfortable clothing (especially shoes), as you’ll be on your feet all day.

4. Go with friends. Flying solo at a porn convention may make you feel awkward. Anyway, if you do get (incredibly) lucky, you’ll want someone who can back up your story. Would anybody believe that you ducked into a bathroom stall for a quickie with Stoya?

5. Take only the security guards seriously. Everything else is fantasy land, but these guys are paid not to put up with your BS.

When you get ready to leave Sin City and return to reality, be smart when packing your bags. Remember that your carry-on could be searched in a public setting, and the only thing that can make people happy in line at security is to see someone else having a mounting of porn extracted from his (or her) backpack. Yes, it does happen.

If Las Vegas is “adult” Disneyland, then Adult Entertainment Expo is the Magic Kingdom. Go at least once in your life, and make that once 2009.

Links related to this article are below. Content may be SFW, but the domain names could cause problems. Be smart; do this part at home.

Adult Entertainment Expo Fan Site >>

AVN Awards >>

The list of award nominees >>