November 15, 2001 01:33pm
Porn industry upbeat despite computer show blues
by: Peter Henderson
(LAS VEGAS, NV) -- If you want to make Porn Star Asia Carrera really happy, check out the photos on her X-rated Web site, where she shows off -- her new computer.
As high-tech executives, financial analysts and tech journalists converged this week on Las Vegas for COMDEX, the largest computer trade show in the United States, just down the strip there was a gathering of a different kind: AdultDex, the adult entertainment industry's annual Internet showcase.
The two conventions have been complementary attractions in Las Vegas for some seven years -- since AdultDex organizers say they were kicked out of COMDEX. This year, however, the dwindling crowds at COMDEX left AdultDex's exhibitionists and exhibitors missing some of their most fervent admirers.
Asia Carrera, with big black hair, stiletto heels and a blouse that doesn't button up very well, is a big fan of the COMDEX crowd, with whom she shares a certain passion.
She says she's also a member of the high-I.Q. group Mensa and a former New Jersey spelling champ.
``I'm a hard core computer geek,'' she adds with a grin. ``I like the fans at this show because they are geekier.'' She taught herself to set up a Web site and run her Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE:AMD - news) Athlon-powered ``butt-kicker'' computer, she says.
Carrera jokes that she gets discounts on computer hardware from the COMDEX crowd and talks the talk both find most interesting: hard drive size and Internet throughput.
Carrera says her (http://www.asiacarrera.com) site -- free but open only to adult viewers -- has swollen her popularity and let her keep in touch with fans without exotic dancing between movies. ``I'm too shy,'' she says.
The adult entertainment industry has always been cutting edge technologically. It is anecdotally credited with helping to stimulate the video industry, and many Internet users weaned on freebies appear willing to pay for porn.
In fact, the number of adult Web sites is jumping, says Phil Blancett, whose company, Reliable Hosting, is ``adult-industry friendly.''
For $50 per month, he will set up a site and throw in a bit of free content -- the hottest action from 32 porn DVDs. ``We pretty much take all the fluff out,'' he says.
Demand has increased in the slow economy, he says. ``I hear it again and again. They are looking to supplement their income,'' he says.
COMFORT FOOD? TRY COMFORT PORN
Viewing also appears to be up he said, pointing to porn as a counter-cyclical industry which benefits in bad times.
``There's comfort food, and then there's comfort porn,'' he observed.
Meanwhile, the computer industry is in sore need of new jobs, he added. He advertised in the San Francisco Bay Area for a new technician to help handle his growing hosting facility. He received 190 applicants. ``It was kind of sad, actually.''
Blancett himself has a few adult Web sites which bring in about $7,000 per month profit, he said. He has noticed that niche and fetish sites, featuring legs in stockings, for instance, are especially hot. ``It's all this weird stuff that seems to do real well.''
AdultDex, which ran from Nov. 11 to 14, only covers one large room at the Tropicana casino, as compared to COMDEX, which took over the entire Las Vegas Convention Center, also starting from last Sunday.
COMDEX -- convened this year amid deepening gloom over the computer industry -- disappointed many, such as cab drivers who estimated attendance was down by half from the previous year, but Blancett shrugged off the decline, tying it to Webmasters facing tight budgets and wary of flying.
AdultDex's sparse crowd seemed satisfied.
Mike, a gambling vacationer about $300 in the black, took the opportunity to have his picture taken with Carrera and had only praise for the star, whose film career he has followed.
Asked to comment in publishable terms, he said with a grin, ``She's gorgeous.''