December 11, 2002
STORY AND PHOTOS BY VINCENT LAMBERT
Adult businesses, stars and fans all got a taste of the Big Apple at the first national Gay Erotic Expo. Held November 10 and 11, 2002, in New York City, the expo offered a combination of information and entertainment for an eager audience. Nearly 100 exhibitors—including publications such as Adult Video News, Specialty Publications’ Men, Unzipped Monthly and Freshmen, and New York’s HX magazine; video companies such as Lucas Entertainment, MSR Videos and JetSet 2000; and Web sites such as badpuppy.com, bedfellow.com and showguys.com, among many others—filled four separate halls covering 30,000 square feet of the Webster Hall dance club in the East Village.
But booths weren’t the only place to see and be seen at the trade show. Other exhibitors, such as Chi Chi LaRue’s LiveAndRaw.com and tlavideo.com, rented out entire lounges and converted them into “rest areas” or full-blown stores. Although LaRue was a no-show (the director was rumored to be in Australia shooting for Falcon), her lounge proved to be a popular hangout, and TLA moved much product from its makeshift home.
Besides snatching up free samples of lube, condoms, magazines and DVDs, the 7,500 attendees over both days also got into the spirit of the holiday season by shopping for bargains. “We saw this as a place where gay men could find specialty adult items,” says Steven Levenberg, chief operating officer of the expo, “things like fetishwear, dildos, penis enlargers, erotic art and adult magazines and videos.”
But this sexy expo wasn’t just business as usual. It offered more of a party atmosphere than most conventional trade shows, perhaps due to the club setting, late hours (7pm to 1am the first night), numerous bars and live entertainment. Local drag star Hedda Lettuce hosted a raunchy show, which featured performances by New York–based director Michael Lucas and his stars Chad Hunt, Rick Gonzales and Danny Hunter (pictured, top). Veteran star Will Clark also did a strip act, and the cast of the off-Broadway hit Naked Boys Singing did a number, though they did not live up to their name. Also seen: cable hostess Robin Byrd, director Joe Gage and porn star/director Ray Dragon.
Consolidated Management Associates, the company behind the expo, hopes to make it a regular event in New York and is looking to expand into other U.S. cities in the coming months. According to chief executive officer Matthew Bank, the event was a natural outgrowth of their Gay Life Expo, which is a more mainstream, business-oriented affair. “We had to keep turning away exhibitors from the porn industry,” Bank says. “We knew there was a place for the adult stuff, and the Gay Erotic Expo is it.”
Reprinted from Adult Video News magazine (2002)