One Atlantic City casino is relying on the XXX factor to draw visitors and give the town some much-needed exposure.
An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 fans of adult entertainment will pack the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort starting today for a three-day show called Exxxotica, billed as the nation's largest love and sex expo.
Featuring some of the porn industry's top stars, the sex show is making its Atlantic City debut at the same time that tourism officials are trying to rebrand the casino town as a more upscale vacation destination through the splashy, $20 million "Do AC" advertising campaign.
The Atlantic City Alliance, the casino-funded marketing coalition that created the "Do AC" theme, doesn't object to Exxxotica's presence. In fact, the sex show is giving the "Do AC" slogan a boost by using it in some promotional materials.
"Clearly, it has a defined audience. It is a visitor draw," alliance spokesman Jeff Guaracino said of Exxxotica. "Look, Atlantic City has something for everyone."
J. Handy, the 34-year-old director and owner of Exxxotica, said the event complements Atlantic City's quest for more tourism. Show attendees will fill hotel rooms, eat at local restaurants and hit the city's bars and nightclubs.
"When everyone sees the end result and the broad spectrum of people that we're bringing in to the city, I think it can work perfectly, hand in hand, with Do AC," Handy said. "Sex sells. It increases business at the restaurants, clubs, hotels, you name it."
Some local businesses hope to cash in on the crowds by hosting events that tie in with the sex expo. Handy said the Taj Mahal and neighboring Revel and Showboat Casino Hotel will benefit by having their hotel rooms booked up. Taj Mahal, Showboat and Revel all declined to comment.
Local nightclubs plan after-parties this weekend that will include appearances by some of the Exxxotica porn stars. Among them are the Dusk nightclub at Caesars Atlantic City and the Diving Horse Gentlemen's Club and Steakhouse on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
"We will benefit from it a lot," Justin Lotter, general manager of Dusk, said of the club's after-parties tonight and Saturday night. "On average, you bring a thousand people through the doors. That night, we'll do 2,000. It will be great. It brings people to the city. Overall, everyone benefits - the casinos, the hotels, the clubs and the bars."
Tom Sherwood, owner of the Diving Horse, said Exxxotica should showcase Atlantic City as a premier venue for adult entertainment. He argued the city should trumpet itself more as a sex haven instead of trying to promote family-oriented tourism.
"Sex is better in Atlantic City. That's what we should say," said Sherwood, whose business is a combination erotic dance club and restaurant.
Sherwood said he has been inundated with phone calls from people wanting to attend the Diving Horse after-parties tonight and Saturday night, including some Philadelphia sports personalities he declined to name.
"I think it's going to give Atlantic City a big boost," Sherwood said. "It is going to point out what Atlantic City is really about, just like Vegas."
Exxxotica is open to the public, although there is an admission charge. Handy said there will be no nudity on the show floor at the Taj Mahal's Mark G. Etess Arena. New Jersey gambling regulations ban nudity in the Atlantic City casinos.
"It's not just a porn show," Handy said of the array of exhibits and performances lined up for the weekend. "So often, it gets pigeonholed into being just that. ... But we've worked really hard at having something for everyone."
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