THE SEX FILES: How A N.J. Porn Convention Restored My Faith In Humanity Post Covid’s ‘New Normal’

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Photo credit: J.S.
First, I have to come clean…I’m not, nor am I ever going to be, vaxxed. I’m one of the great unwashed; call me a spreader, inconsiderate, or whatever you like. But I will not get the jab. If you have gone for it and are double or triple-boosted, that’s great. As we say in the adult business all the time…’ you do you, I’ll do me.’ Now, by coming here to read my missives on all things naughty, and mixing in the admission above, you can see why when I attended the Exxxotica N.J. convention, 2022, that recently passed, I was so thrilled to be walking among the crowd down at the New Jersey Expo Center. Porn conventions, boat shows, sporting events, to smaller groupings like three friends meeting at the local Starbucks or receiving the little groupings of kids descending on our front porches for Halloween, being together in all kinds of groups and all kinds of weather, inside or out, is what being human is about. And Exxxotica reminded me of this, after living the past 2-and-half-so years’ of hell that terrified us to touch our mail, kept us from family members, working via Zoom conferences, socializing across iPhone’s “Houseparty” app, binging streaming shows, cleaning out closets, wearing masks…the list just goes on and on how stupid, (albeit necessary sometimes) it all was and made lots of us feel. We wonder why there is an increase in the all-out craziness across the nation with people taking to enacting heinous crimes? If you and I, a seemingly sane member of society, were going a little bug house during the lockdown, is it any wonder those already short of a full loaf of Wonder bread went completely bughouse nuts? Still… During the shutdown, I refused to run scared, and yes, I am better than you because I did not/do not fear. Last year my girl and I visited Nashville and took in the Grand Ole Opry. As with Exxxotica, I have been in and around large groups of people and among parties of friends as much as anyone else. I am not a denier or a conspiracist, not a “Trumper,” or a “Bidener,” have no clear idea or even care about where the disease came from or what it can or can’t do (like even our best scientists, I do not have even a smidgen of the real facts). I just don’t live my life where I give COVID all that much mind. And I did get it; actually, we had it with our Thanksgiving dinner and suffered a four-day flu…then we said bye-bye COVID and returned to the leftovers. I recently came across the term “Still COVIDing,” and I know plenty of folks who are still adhering to strict protocols. But, again, ‘you do you, I’ll do me.’ And I did indeed see some folks masked at the convention. I’ll surely admit this, and I am sure plenty didn’t show this year, whether presenter or fan, because of their assumptions over COVID. But I’d say with no fear of argument that those who did not come were not missed because those who did show were having such a great time and that great time was infectious…if I might use that word. So, who and what did I find? I reconnected with some old friends, Jay and Connor, from the adult business portal YNOT. Pretty much I got into the game/biz back in ’09 at a YNOT convention in San Francisco, which I have mentioned before in this blog space and it was just a tickle and a half (ok, more than a half) to see these great guys again! I also got to meet a whole bunch of clients of the wonderful Erika Icon. These ladies included Lauren Phillips, Lilly Bell, and Kiki Klout. I also met for the first time, my wonderful CEO and editor-in-chief at Kink Queens, an equally wonderful magazine I write for. And my friends Lily Craven and Coralyn Jewel (also featured here previously) gave me hugs and welcomed me into their current doings and a great big hang, pretty much as they always do. I shouldn’t have been surprised by how the folks who work in and are fans of adult content are presently taking the world in stride. We always have. I have worked at kink conventions, B2B adult toy symposiums, interviewed adult stars and movie directors, attended awards ceremonies, and been a guest on industry panels. And I have yet to find a business as filled to the brim with such easygoing people. Sure, there are wacky and bad apples in every bunch, but the warmth I felt at Exxxotica, the damn-well-thrilled to be out and about with each other attitude, the normal-is-the-new-normal, full-frontal way of taking to the day was as emboldening as it was what I expected from my brethren and sister-en. I wish you had been there, or maybe you were. Maybe you have gone to or are planning to attend one of the other Exxxotica conventions that occur in a handful of U.S. cities during the year (although there are no more now until 2023). Or maybe you just want to live vicariously through attendees by looking across the event’s website or reading Twitter feeds. Maybe you are not into adult fare at all and think the whole idea of people gathering in one space where so much flesh is on display, and people are hugging hello, waiting in lines for autographs, and generally enjoy each other’s presence in the light of a pandemic is abhorrent. Again, ‘you do you, I’ll do me.” I just know, and I’ll say it once again as much to end this piece as to make sure you heard me loud and clear from behind your kitchen window where you wait for your weekly supermarket delivery after pausing that new Netflix series: A N.J. Porn Convention Restored My Faith In Humanity In COVID’s ‘New Normal.’  Be safe my friends, but try, best you can, to be out and about. Too many years are passing us by, and COVID sucks.
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