So yesterday Andrew and I headed down to Toronto. Andrew’s laptop needed a new battery, and we were booked to attend a workshop. Sounds pretty normal, no?

Indeed…

Well, the Apple Store at the Eaton’s Centre was normal, i.e. thronged with hipsters. Oy vey… I did, however, get to try out the MacBook Air keyboard, and my suspicions were confirmed: blech. It’s got the MacBook keyboard, of which I really am not fond. Plus, y’know, all its other first-gen shortcomings.

Anyway, after that, things got much more interesting. The workshop was at Come As You Are, arguably Toronto’s best sex shop (and certainly Canada’s best website for that line of business). The star of the show, as it were, was Buck Angel. (The splash page is safe for work, but not much past that is.) Buck Angel is the adult industry’s premiere transsexual (female-to-male) porn star.

Why would we pay money to go to something like that? Why not? Andrew and I are always up to broaden the horizons a little, and let’s face it, our day to day environments are fairly vanilla. There was a range of people types in attendance, though more lesbians than anything, if I had to categorize. (Interesting given that Buck noted his main customer base is gay men.)

Anyway, the workshop largely focused on the business side of the adult industry, which was really interesting. The internet has really been a boon to niche anything, and porn is no exception. (Though it’s traditionally been mainstream porn that’s pushed tech and other advances forward.) For niche adult markets, however, which don’t get much support from the mainstream industry, the net has allowed people like Buck to go do his own thing, and be successful, without initial mainstream support.

Now, if the presentation had been really… porny, it wouldn’t have interested me all that much, but business, especially online, now we’re talking. Especially since a lot of the discussion centred around marketing. I was fairly entertained at how valuable my skills would have been to that crowd, especially the handful of attendees either already working in the adult industry, or looking to start.

It was a good reminder, too, that my usual environment is still rarefied. I mean, hell, my Mom is more tech savvy than most of the people in attendance seemed. Buck did a great job at sharing what he’s learned in his four or five years in the business, but there’s so much grey behind a lot of the statements, and so much you can’t just be told.

I admit, I was sitting there thinking the adult industry needed porn-friendly business services, especially web and marketing. Everything from building websites and payment processing to promotion, distribution, bookkeeping, business cards, equipment rentals, talent contracting, etc.

Of course, while the mainstream industry has all kinds of money, it’s not very well spread around, and the indie “creatives” hardly have a pot to piss in, so more thought would have to be given to how to set up that business model. That and I’m not entrepreneur. And my mother would kill me. 🙂

One of the highlights of the workshop, aside from the creative business problems it posed, was the girl who was sitting beside me. She’d been in the mainstream industry about six years, and was looking to diversify her work and gain more control over her career. Good for her. She also had some great practical info. E.g. Buck kept using balloon porn as an example of a surprisingly popular niche, and eventually when someone asked flat out what the hell that was about, she schooled the group. Seriously interesting. Weird, but hey, sexuality is a very broad spectrum of tastes.

I admit, I was reticent about going to the workshop. I mean, I’m open-minded, but c’mon. However, I had a lot of fun and it was really educational. And it drove home that all business — any business — is just business. The keys to success are largely the same, no matter what the industry.

Plus, I had my curiosity satisfied. Gotta say, Buck’s head and shoulders above most other trans-folk I’ve met. At first you wouldn’t think he was anything other than some mildly biker-esque dude. Watch/listen to/interact with him for a while, you’d prolly start thinking he was a gay guy. But a guy all the way. There is nothing “traditionally” feminine about him. (And when he was a woman, he was a model, so dude was a pretty hot chick.) Except what’s in his pants. Fascinating. Even his hands are reasonably masculine. And Andrew said it was a good handshake, though the bone structure was a bit different.

Oh, yeah, and at the end Andrew was chatting away with him about digital video and using Macs for editing and such. It was funny and weirded me out at the same time — just two Mac geeks chatting — except that they were talking about equipment to make porn… and my family just bought my brother a digital video camera, and I just bought my brother and sister-in-law a MacBook. Mostly for managing pictures and video of my niece. Worlds colliding! Worlds colliding!

Anyway, plenty to talk about over dinner afterwards, which was at the magnificent Korean Grill House. Cuz really, after an evening like that, what else is there to eat but vast quantities of meat? 🙂

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