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November 26, 2014

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AEE/AVN brings the naughty — but not too naughty — to Las Vegas

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Steve Marcus

Fans take photos of adult film actress Ange Venus at the Max World Entertainment booth during the AVN (Adult Video News) Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas on Jan. 12, 2007.

It’s a feel thing.

The Palms is a multi-demographic kind of resort. Meaning, it appeals to most any age division, cultural background, regional residency and political affiliation.

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Sasha Grey accepts an award during the 2010 AVN Awards at The Pearl in the Palms on Jan. 9, 2010.

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George Maloof, happy with the whole experience.

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Jesse Jane, left, and the girls of Digital Playground.

And this weekend, the nearly 10-year-old resort is trumpeting a very obvious business relationship with the pornographic film industry. As you walk into the main entrance, facing the hotel’s valet, and make a quick left, you are met with a wide sign announcing Saturday’s AVN Awards Show at Pearl Concert Theater hosted by adventurous thespians Tori Black and Riley Steele.

Make a right, and you’re headed to a sea of slot machines favored by loyal locals who might not know Riley Steele from Remington Steele.

“Our signage is very tasteful. We’ve taken and put advertisements all over the property. We’re happy to have them here,” Palms owner George Maloof says. “It’s very sexy, yes, but nobody -- nobody -- has complained.”

This is the second year the AVNs have been held at the Palms after a 3-year stint at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Say this for the awards show: It gets around. Since it was first held at the old Aladdin (now Planet Hollywood) in 1986, it has bunked with Tropicana (from 1987-’92), Bally's (1992-’96), Riviera (1997), Caesars Palace (1998), Bally’s (1999), The Venetian (2000-’07) before Mandalay Bay and, finally, the Palms.

Maloof attended two previous AVN Awards presentations, at the Trop and The Venetian, and was impressed by the overall production quality of the shows.

Maloof says, as an art form, “I’m not a big fan of porn, no,” (allowing that there’s nothing wrong with you if you are) but has been impressed by his dealings with AVN President Paul Fishbein.

“He got ahold of me and was interested in the special kind of presentation we could offer in The Pearl,” Maloof says. “(Last year) I thought it was a great show. It was spectacular, all the girls looked great, and it was a pleasure to host it.”

Maloof says the deal between the Palms and AVN to host the show at The Pearl is for this year and next, so expect it back in 2012. He expects a repeat of last year’s sellout, though as of Wednesday afternoon, tickets were still available at Ticketmaster.com.

From a civic perspective, the AVN Awards and Adult Entertainment Expo, which begins today and leads into Saturday night’s show, fit snugly into the city’s effort to market itself as a destination where grown-ups can enjoy adult fun.

However, it is merely one of 20,000 conventions that descend on Las Vegas annually.

“We’re saying that if you’re doing business, Las Vegas is the place where you get business done,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority spokesman Vince Alberta says. “It helps support and maintain jobs. It’s a big show (28,000 attendees took part in last year’s AEE), and when you combine that with the International CES and its 125,000 delegates, it’s a big week in Las Vegas.”

To address the long-held question as to why the two conventions coincide, it’s simple: The two conferences were, originally, under the CES umbrella -- though CES moved AEE to the Sahara. But by 1999, AEE became so big, it merited its own convention.

And even as the subject matter might be too graphic for many Las Vegas tourists (or even locals), the people who represent the porn industry are reportedly quite low-maintenance. Maloof consistently talks of how agreeable the talent has been at the Palms.

“We’ve had no diva behavior,” he says. “The most surprising thing about it for me, last year, was how respectful and extremely nice the stars were. They are respectful of their fans, they sign every autograph, they stop and take pictures, everything.”

When it was suggested that some mainstream celebrities, including those who have stayed at the Palms, could learn a little about fan relations from the porn stars, Maloof laughs.

“I wish they were all this nice,” he says. “I’ve dealt with a lot who aren’t.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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