If so, you weren’t alone. While some had been looking forward to the show, others were earnestly declaring that TPF was in sharp decline. There was enough of that doom chatter in both private and public industry conversations that I admit I was curious how this year’s show would actually turn out.
US-based trade shows haven’t grown in recent years like those across the Atlantic, or even down south in Colombia.
The European Summit (TES), for example, is one of our industry’s great innovators, bringing something new to the table every year. Attendance at TES, both in Prague and Lisbon, has been growing. Rave reviews have piled up for LAL Expo in Colombia, with thousands now attending the conference there every year. Shows like AW Summit and Bucharest Summit in Romania are large and exciting. Outside of North America, business is booming.
Meanwhile back in Las Vegas in January, the long-running Internext Expo got combined with The AVN Show this year and the results were mixed. There were plenty of consumers in Las Vegas, but for online adult executives, Internext 2019 was largely unrecognizable and chaotic. I did not attend XBIZ Los Angeles, but the reports I did receive indicated the show was somewhat static. That meant there was going to be a good amount of scrutiny on TPF, and whether the patterns in America would continue to be less than inspiring.
When I arrived in Phoenix early on Wednesday in preparation for YNOT’s own YNOT GP kart-racing event, the Mission Palms courtyard wasn’t very active. Yet by the time the GP began that night, the crowd we were expecting to attend the races had indeed shown up. And, they came ready to have a good time. That was the first sign that TPF was poised to deliver value beyond what the naysayers were predicting.
The United States shows aren’t at their peak participation levels right now, there’s no denying it, and TPF was no exception. TPF set a high bar during the heights of the pre-tube days, with well over a thousand people attending those epic shows. Lightspeed dodgeball! But the crowd that did show up in 2019, while lighter than a few years back, was just fine — and honestly, it was also a really interesting mix of people.
I ran into some of the industry’s biggest pioneers, people who ran affiliate programs back in the 1990s before Internet giants like Google, Facebook or Twitter were a thing. I also ran into new business owners and, most encouragingly, some of the most promising stars from the webcam and clips sectors of the business.
Some of the winners and finalists from the 2018 YNOT Cam Awards were there too, including Brittany Benz, Leo West, Snowy Angel, Jesse Prather, Sammy Shayne and couple performers Blonde and Rob Rider. I had a very enjoyable discussion with cam model Fiona Sage. There were plenty of other popular stars in attendance as well, like the legend himself James Deen, Baby Benz (whose twerking on the red carpet at the YNOT Cam Awards in Hollywood literally causes a car accident), Melissa Sweet, Lexi Luv and Jake Franco, Rebecca Love, Joclyn Stone and one of my favorite industry duos of all times, Tru Hefner and London Bunny.
The event in Phoenix this year did feel like something of the old industry was in decline. At the same time, there was also a tangible feeling that something new was gaining momentum. And that, my friends, is really exciting.
Meanwhile, the team at CCBill deserves a lot of credit for once again hosting its attendees with class and style. The food at this year’s show took a turn in a decidedly positive direction. In addition to the snack rooms and lunch buffet that we’ve all grown to love, newcomer bedpage sponsored a really excellent dinner on Thursday evening, and the “pool day” spread was considerably improved in 2019.
By the time the show wrapped up following the first ever Voyeur Awards, with its theme of community, spirits were high. The late-night party suites were full of fun people, a constant reminder of why I love this industry that I have called home for more than two decades. The mainstream 9-5 grind just doesn’t work for some of us. Many of the women and men in our industry crave a degree of freedom that most people will never get to experience in their brief time on this earth. That’s worth preserving and celebrating.
If you missed the show, you missed something special. To those of you who attended, it was a pleasure to see you all, some for the first time and others our longtime friends. We leave Phoenix excited about the potential for the rest of 2019 and ready to work with you all on growing our industry each and every year.
Thank you CCBill for hosting us in Phoenix. And thank you to all the sponsors of The Phoenix Forum 2019, companies who are investing in this industry and our collective future.
Speaking of that future, please mark your calendars for August 5th -7th when YNOT proudly launches #CAMMUNITY in Hollywood, California, a first of its kind conference for live cam models and adult clips artists. And note that the second annual YNOT Cam Awards returns to the Avalon Hollywood on the evening of August 7th, where it remains to be seen if Baby Benz will again prove to be too much for the poor drivers of Southern California to handle. Join us and find out.
Thank you Buster Brown for the great photos above. See more of Buster’s coverage of The Phoenix Forum at www.ynotshootme.com.