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September 18, 2014

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Gadgets and garters: CES, porn convention sharing annual space

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Justin M. Bowen

Visitors enter the showroom for the CES Unveiled event at the Venetian Tuesday.

CES Unveiled

Mitsubishi unveils its new 3D televisions at the CES Unveiled event Tuesday at the Venetian. Launch slideshow »

CES Opening Keynote Address

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks Wednesday during the keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show at the Hilton Center. Launch slideshow »

It seems like a marriage that could only happen in Vegas: the overlapping conventions of the Consumer Electronics Show and the Adult Entertainment Expo.

The two groups of conventioneers couldn’t be any more different in appearance, but for one week in January, their worlds collide. Rubbing elbows in the hallways of the Venetian this week are tech geeks with their smartphones and laptops and scantily clad women with their own toys in hand.

The relationship is often misunderstood. This year, once again, the two events are taking place on the same four days and share the Venetian’s meeting area as a gateway. It’s enough to make unwitting tourists think the two organizations are united.

Rather, the two are the convention equivalent of friends with benefits.

They used to be together. They broke up. But they still rendezvous in Las Vegas in a same-time-next-year way.

The adult expo was under the CES umbrella until about nine years ago, adult expo spokesman Sean Devlin says. The common denominator was the video camera. CES seems to have wanted to keep the connection on the down low, though, because the adult entertainment portion of CES was tucked away in Las Vegas Convention Center’s basement.

But the adult expo outgrew its role as a kept convention and wanted its own space. As adult entertainment blossomed into an industry offering more than just adult films, expo organizers grew tired of being another convention’s tucked-away appendage, so the expo withdrew.

But the expo still wanted some of what it used to get from the electronics show.

So the Adult Video Network, sponsor of the adult expo, keeps scheduling its event for the same time frame as CES — for an annual rendezvous in Las Vegas, so it can get as much money as it can off its former live-in companion.

More than 100,000 people attended the technology show, and most are men. Apparently, a lot of the geeky are a little freaky. According to a recent survey, 42 percent of adult expo attendance comes from CES, Devlin says. Last year’s adult expo lured more than 20,000 fans and conventioneers, organizers said.

“Adult entertainment fans come in all varieties,” Devlin notes.

The adult expo is getting more out of the relationship than the Consumer Electronics Show is, however. CES doesn’t benefit from any adult expo attendees walking in on the spur of the moment because it isn’t open to the public.

Still, there are other reasons this only-in-Vegas marriage of convenience makes sense, for a few days a year, anyway,

The more than $13 billion a year adult entertainment business is into technology — high definition, downloadable, 3-D — most of it available on every video device in existence.

This year the expo is even showing off every geek’s dream date — a sex robot.

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