Category Archives: AEE

My CES lowlight: the sex robot that wasn’t

I’ve seen a lot of duds at the Consumer Electronics Show over the years, but the biggest one actually came from the “other” sister show in Las Vegas, the Adult Entertainment Expo, which has typically run concurrently with CES.

Two years ago, I was one of many mainstream journalists lured to AEE - which, let’s face it, typically counted on CES attendees for much of its business - to see Roxxxy, supposedly the world’s first sex robot. Created by former Bell Labs inventor Douglas Hines, Roxxxy was supposed to have the ability to exhibit different moods and personalities. Selling at about $7,000, the robot was to take the adult industry - ailing from free porn on the internet - to the next level.

It didn’t quite turn out that way, as Roxxxy didn’t appear to be able to do much of anything. Here’s my report at the time, as well as video of the press conference:

It was clear that Roxxxy was nowhere near ready for prime time - and indeed, she still isn’t. The True Companion website on which she’s sold doesn’t appear to have changed much since it initially launched.

Meanwhile, AEE isn’t running at the same time as CES this year; it’s kicking off on Jan. 18, a few days after the electronics show wraps up. While the official reason for moving the show was to eliminate CES “complications” and lower expenses, it’s a sure sign of the industry’s decline. Exhibitors at past events told me AEE has been shrinking for years and that the Sands expo centre where it was usually held was starting to feel too cavernous for it.

Nevertheless, even with the porn industry’s shrinking and past robotic failures, rest assured that someone, somewhere is hard at work on the next generation of sex technology.

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Posted by on January 12, 2012 in AEE, CES, robots


Down to business

Man oh man, the past few months have been an absolute whirlwind. Since wrapping up at the CBC at the end of October, it’s been a non-stop blitz of activity: heading over to the UK for the launch of Sex, Bombs and Burgers, the crazy run-up to Christmas (which is prime writing-about-video-games time) and of course the Consumer Electronics Show. Last week was spent tying up a few loose ends from that whole event, which included talking about CES and some of its more obscure technologies on CBC Radio’s Spark, as well as writing my mega-feature on the future of the adult entertainment industry for AskMen.

This week, it’s down to business. Sex, Bombs and Burgers is scheduled for release by Lyons Press in the U.S. later this year, which means I’ve got a few weeks to put together some revisions that I’ve been wanting to do. It won’t be anything major - just a tweak here and there, as well as a few new pages in which I’ll answer some of my critics (I promise not to use the term “eat it” anywhere in this new section) and possibly set up the mysterious next book. Cue spooky music.

In that vein, just a heads up that Penguin Canada will be releasing Sex, Bombs and Burgers in paperback in March. I chatted briefly with an editor there about adding revisions and how they were possibly going to tinker with the book’s subtitle, but that was a few months ago. I’m not sure where that’s at but one thing’s for sure: since it’s in paperback, the book will be cheaper so now there’s no excuse not to buy it!

Similarly, new versions are on the way in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Last I heard, the new version - which will likely have a new cover - is going to arrive in July. It’s looking like the text will be exactly the same as the first version though, as Allen & Unwin (the publisher) doesn’t like to mess with the content. More details when I have them.

Otherwise, it’s just about time to get cracking on book #2. One of the things I was worried about when I left the CBC was that I would end up spending too much time on freelancing and not enough on the next book, which so far is exactly what has happened. I had that post-job panic of, “Oh lord, I have no income!” and ended up over-assigning myself. Clearly, I’m going to have to learn some self-control if I’m going to achieve my goal of having broken the back of book #2 by the end of this year.

In any event, here are the 10 things I’ve learned or discovered in the 2.5 months since going independent:

  • Obsolete technologies such as scanners and faxes are still necessary for all those damn writing contracts you have to sign.
  • Playing video games all afternoon is fine if you don’t mind writing at 2 a.m.
  • Doing the dishes is now a welcome distraction from the things you really have to do.
  • Showering and wearing clean clothes: both are optional activities.
  • Weekdays and weekends - there’s no real difference anymore.
  • Friends aren’t as amenable to going for late-night drinks on a Monday or Tuesday as you may be.
  • Going to the movies is much cheaper during the day.
  • I could go for a drive to Pittsburgh, just for the hell of it, whenever I want.
  • You do have to carefully weigh difficult financial decisions, such as whether or not to buy new socks.
  • I am indeed capable of sleeping till noon.
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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in AEE, allen unwin, books, CES, penguin, pequot


Scenes from the AVN red carpet

I thought about writing up my experience at this past weekend’s Adult Video News awards, but I figured there’s a long enough story dealing with some of that up on today. The first lesson in journalism school is “show, don’t tell,” so with that in mind, here’s a short video of the evening:

And with that, I think my adult entertainment obligations are done for the time being. Honestly, I really don’t want to see another porn star for a really long time…

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Posted by on January 14, 2011 in AEE, AVN, sex


Chanel Preston on the future of her biz

Over the past few weeks, I interviewed a whole host of people involved in the adult entertainment business, from producers to directors to actresses, for a big feature I was writing for The story is on the future of porn and I’ve attempted to touch on every aspect - I’ll link to it here as soon as it’s up, which I think is supposed to be either today or tomorrow.

The story kept me busy for the past few days so I haven’t yet had a chance to blog on my experience at the Adult Video News awards, which was pretty surreal. I actually had to walk the red carpet along in front of a horde of fans, which means that many probably thought I was a porn star. Clearly, I look the part. (Sheeeyeah, right.)

Speaking of porn stars, I did interview a few over the weekend, with plans to posting the videos on my blog. Alas, the audio on my excellent chat with Kayden Kross turned out to be so bad that it’s unusable, which is too bad because she’s a very smart gal (not to mention really stunning in person).

Fortunately, my equally good conversation with newcomer Chanel Preston turned out well. She’s a rookie in the business and was nominated (but didn’t win) the best new starlet award, and I found she had some good insights on celebrity in general and the future of adult entertainment. Check it out:

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Posted by on January 12, 2011 in AEE, AVN, sex


Photos from the AVN red carpet

I’m in the process of wading through all my stuff from the Consumer Electronics Show and Adult Entertainment Expo, not to mention tying up a few last assignments from both, so I thought I’d post some photos from the AVN red carpet in the meantime.

I took a ton of photos and posted a bunch to my Flickr account (viewable to everyone here), but I only included those people who I actually recognized. Let’s face it: even the most hard-core porn expert would be hard-pressed to identify everyone in the two-hour cavalcade of adult entertainers that went by us on Saturday night.

For a sample, here’s the lovely Jenna Haze:

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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in AEE, AVN, photos, sex


Talking tech at TEDx

I’m in the process of decompressing from the past week in Las Vegas, so it’s going to be a very short update today. Full reports on the Consumer Electronics Show, Adult Entertainment Expo and the AVN awards (the Oscars of porn!) coming very shortly.

In the meantime, the organizers of TEDx Ryerson have put up video of the talk - entitled “Technology Good, Media Bad” - I did back in November. Here it is if you want to check it out:

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Posted by on January 10, 2011 in AEE, AVN, CES, TED


Beauty and the beast

I’m in the thick of the whirlwind that is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, hence the short posts of late. Just a quick update today on my dinner the other night with the girls and crew of Digital Playground, purveyors of fine adult entertainment. I actually got to the dinner early this year, so I had my choice of where to sit. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to sit with Stoya (pictured):

Why did I jump? Because she’s a smart cookie, and if you’re going to sit with strangers for a couple of hours, you might as well hang out with those who can have a decent conversation.

I interviewed Stoya a while back while working on Sex, Bombs and Burgers, and that interview turned out to be my second most viewed blog post in 2009. She actually floored me by remembering more of that conversation - especially the parts about whether the porn business exploits women - than I did. My best recollection was that she mocked me for calling her on a landline (who the hell still has those?).

Over the course of the evening, we discussed a couple of topics such as self-publishing books, the dangers of working in “the biz” and the difficulties of renegotiating contracts. She also impressed our table with her paper airplane-making abilities.

I’m interviewing a number of adult industry folks in the next few days and will share some of that in the next week or two.

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Posted by on January 7, 2011 in AEE, CES, digital playground, Stoya


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