Sex Toy Trade Shows; Slingin’ Dils All Day…
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to attend a sex toy trade show? Well, let me give you a little inside glimpse. Covid obviously put the kibosh on all trade shows for the last 3 years, so when it was announced that our industry would have its first in-person trade show, it was the talk of the town. What is usually a fairly quiet trade show turned into an epic event for all of us to unite as one. And of course, it was appropriately in the city of sin… Las Vegas.
When you think about it, Vegas is the perfect place to hold pleasure product trade shows because, as most know, anything goes in Vegas. It truly is an adult playground, so adding a bunch of people slinging dildos and sex toys just makes a lot of sense. And, it’s generally a love fest. Not in the orgy kind of way you are probably thinking (although I’m sure that does happen from time to time) but it’s a whole lot of people that have the common denominator of making and slinging sex toys for a living. So, the camaraderie is real.
Like most trade shows, there are generally lots of booths set up to showcase hundreds of products. These are no different. It’s aisles upon aisles and booths upon booths of sex toys, lingerie, and the latest technology in the adult world. Don’t forget the umptious amounts of gorgeous women modeling off the lingerie and, depending on the trade show, you could very well see all of your favorite adult performers. The AVN show, which is also usually in Vegas in January, is one that any adult fan should not miss. Seriously, add it to your bucket list. You will not be disappointed. The AVN show is both a venue to showcase pleasure products as well as a chance for fans to meet their favorite performers. The people watching is unprecedented! Your eyes will constantly be on overload trying to take in all of the sights to be seen, well beyond the normal sights in Vegas.
I remember my first AVN show where I was asked if I wanted to join 2 young ladies in a hotel room after telling me they just hooked up with Ron Jeremy in a bathroom. As flattering as the offer was, I politely declined and then proceeded to be starstruck by Air Force Amy from the Moonlite Bunny Ranch. After my pic with Air Force Amy, I then saw Nick Hawk from the Showtime show, Gigolos, and yes, I was starstruck again. Don’t lie to yourselves; you all have some adult performer you follow! That first trade show was nothing short of insanity, and while I have calmed down in my fangirling, these shows are nothing short of chaos in the best way possible.
I was also extremely fortunate to be nominated for an AVN award and walk my first red carpet. What an experience! Dildo slinger by day, red carpet by night. And I was not mad about it at all. It truly felt like I was a celebrity despite simply being a dildo maker. There were hundreds of people gathered around the red carpet waiting to get a glimpse of all the stars to walk it, and for a quick second, I felt the glitz and glamor that most celebrities experience on the regular. It was actually that year that I ended up winning an AVN award, which was one of the pinnacles of my career in the industry thus far. I didn’t get to walk up on stage and give my formal acceptance speech (I wasn’t that cool), but I do have my glorious AVN trophy displayed loud and proud on my mantle. And don’t forget about the XBIZ Awards every year as well. You basically have 2 opportunities each year to attend one of these incredible shows, sort of like the Emmys and Oscars of adult.
I digress back to what the nitty gritty of trade shows really are. To be honest, I’ve made them sound way more glamorous than they are. They are A LOT of work. It’s a daily grind of talking about your sex toys and how to make them stand out amongst a sea of thousands of others like you. I am fortunate enough that in the squirting dildo space, there are not many alike, which makes my “pitch” a little easier, but it is a long day of dildo slinging. Luckily, after being off of the market for nearly 3 years, people were so excited to see the return of POP. It’s that kind of energy and enthusiasm that gets you through the long day. Being able to show 3 new iterations of your brainchild and get the positive reaction from retailers truly makes it all worth it.
The chance to share my passion and how personal the POP story is to me, I don’t even feel the physical pains of the show. Spending 10 hours on your feet with very uncomfortable shoes (because you’ve got to look fly when you are selling sex toys), on thin carpet (because trade show venues charge extra for the more padded carpet), eating buffet-style lunches (that usually end up getting a host of people sick) and drinking endless caffeine gets exhausting. Not as glamorous anymore, is it?
Often after the show day ends, the business continues into all forms of networking and mingling. This is the point when you can really feel all the love around you. People in our industry have to be fairly open minded to sell sex toys to people all day, so the vibe is often one of flirtation, free-flowing compliments, and conversations about all things sex, amongst other things. It’s this time of the night where drinking is in full effect and nothing is off limits… for some.
At the end of the day, trade shows are insane amounts of work and usually leave folks feeling exhausted with no voice, needing 3 straight days of sleep to recover. However, they are some of the most interesting and fun events to experience. Dildo slinger or not, I highly recommend everyone attend one sex toy trade show once in their life.
I’m off to sling some more squirting dils, so until next time…
Steph “Spermin’” Berman
"Air Force Amy and I at my first AVN show!"
"One of the many intriguing XBIZ Red Carpet outfits"
"My first red carpet interview with legendary Asa Akira and Jessica Drake"
"My very own “Oscar” in the form of an AVN Award!"
"AVN Red Carpet!"