Internet Culture

Inside Exxxotica 2018: the Largest U.S. Porn Convention

Photography by Josh Ethan Johnson & Adam Powell

Over the weekend, we found ourselves in an unassuming industrial park in Edison, New Jersey, about to enter Exxxotica 2018, which is billed as "the nation's largest event dedicated to love and sex." The New Jersey Expo center gave little insight as to what we'd walk into, but the beaming man dressed as an XL trojan condom led us to believe this would be a fun, happy affair. That wasn't entirely the case.

The porn industry at large is in a state of change. Big production houses have closed down to make way for online streaming sites that don't pay performers, and in their place at the three-day convention were a slew of independent adult film stars, hustling to grab the attention of the grim-faced men shielding their faces with iPhone screens.

It wasn't all gloom, however. There were seminars (presented by Pleasure Chest) running throughout the day on sex positivity, addressing everything from relationship advice to kink. Disabled attendees appeared genuinely delighted to meet notable stars who bring a bit of joy to their day. Still, the glimmers of hope in the convention were overshadowed by a blunt reminder of the pressures of the porn industry — two separate performers were rushed off in ambulances for what seemed like drug-related incidents.

"Gangsta's Paradise" rapper Coolio performed at the main stage, while other attractions included twerk contests and pole dance championships. Contestants also competed for a $500 prize, and the opportunity to be crowned Ms. Exxxotica 2018.

While we live in an era where conversation about sex is at an all-time high, Exxxotica 2018 seemed dated and tired — a reflection of an industry struggling to stay modern and a diminishing audience still craving unhealthy depictions of sex.

Photography by Josh Ethan Johnson & Adam Powell
Video by Josh Ethan Johnson
Story by Adam Powell

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