This January the Adult Novelty Manufacturers Expo (ANME) celebrates its 20th Anniversary. Now considered as the compulsory trade event for North American adult retail, ANME began as an intimate gathering founded by a circle of novelty creators, the so-called “Big 5” , or the “Founders” as they are commonly referred to: Pipedream Products, California Exotic Novelties (now CalExotics), Doc Johnson, Nasstoys and Topco Sales. ANME was to be an alternative to the exorbitant trade events that co-mingled B2C and B2B participation during the height of the adult film boom in the 1990s.
“The founding companies were especially loyal to their valued distributors, and the handshake was respected,” recalls Kathryn Hartman, Sales and Marketing Director for Nasstoys. “Attendees were treated to a day of viewing product, a private backlot tour of Universal Studios and lavish dinner parties with dancing overlooking Universal City.”
Held for the first time in July 1996 in a small ballroom at the Universal Sheraton Hotel, the show has grown into a buyer’s biannual pilgrimage to the Burbank Marriott Airport Hotel where it showcases the latest innovation in adult novelty. ANME’s winter show will feature over 100 selected vendors, with over three times that in convention attendees, between January 10-12th.
To reflect on the show’s two decades, STOREROTICA asked each of the Founders about what ANME has meant to each of their businesses.
Ron Braverman, CEO, Doc Johnson
“I remember our first ANME like it was yesterday. It seems unbelievable that 20 years has passed already. I remember hoping that we were on the cusp of something that would propel our industry forward. I’m glad we all stuck together as an industry and together made ANME the well-known show that it is today.
“ANME is not only a great place to showcase the best new pleasure products available, but it’s also the place we can meet with all our buyers and gather important feedback about our products. ANME has opened doors to information and opportunities we would not otherwise have, and the fact that it continues to grow each and every year verifies how immense and prominent our industry has become.”
Susan Colvin, CEO, CalExotics
“The first ANME was small; it was in the ballroom of a hotel and included the five founders. We all had designated areas to showcase our products. The CalExotics team put up grid wall and created very high-tech displays, or so we thought at the time. Since that show ANME has grown tremendously and I am proud to have been a part of this amazing show since its inception.
“ANME is an important part of our overall business strategy. It is a time where we showcase our newest products and get customers excited about the upcoming season of CalExotics and JOPEN products. We also get one on one time with a large portion of our customers; this is critical for our sales team and aids in our overall success.”
Nick Orlandino, CEO, Pipedream Products
“We needed someplace to show our goods, so I came up with the concept of having our little show in Los Angeles. I met with Susan at Cal Exotics, Jane at Topco, Marty from Doc Johnson and pitched the idea to them -- they liked it. I got in touch with an old industry veteran friend of mine, Jeff Aaron, and started the company Kamo Productions to run the show, with Jeff at the helm.
“Our first year we had five exhibitors, including Nasswalk and Topco and the companies now known as ‘The Big 5.’ It was pretty cheesy. I was the only one with a display, so we took my display unit and shared it amongst all the companies in a small ballroom at the Sheraton. We each had two slat walls, we threw a lunch, I believe the show was one day. We had a dinner that night, and about 100 customers came in, mostly domestic.
By the second year ANME was a strong and thriving show, by year three it was running twice a year in January and July. The second year we had 50 exhibitors, and by the third year we had 80 and now we have over 100. It’s considered the best show of it’s kind in the world, and it’s been copied over and over, but it’s just not the same quality.
“ANME has contributed to Pipedream’s and my personal growth as a leader in the industry, tremendously. It put me on the map when I was the young kid that everyone was trying to figure out what to do with. I proved I was here to stay with my innovative thinking and ideas which obviously built Pipedream into the largest company in the world as well as ANME, into the largest novelty trade show in the world.”
Elliot Schwartz, CEO, Nasstoys
“At the time, adult novelties were not the bulk of merchandise sold in brick and mortar adult retail businesses. Stores sold primarily videos and magazines and newspapers. Toys were small sections, and the internet was barely a concept. There were no novelty specific tradeshows, and we showcased our new releases at shows like AVN, VSDA and the East Coast Video Show, often sharing a booth with Bizarre Video and mingling socially with the party animal video crowd. It was a great time!
“The CES or Consumer Electronics Show that coincided with the AVN Shows in Vegas every January were at least for me, instrumental in my embrace of technological advancements and the Internet in general as I am sure it was for others in our industry.
“Business was beginning to explode for adult novelties. Suddenly our products were not a small area of pegboard in the back of the sleazy viewing booth bookstore, but mail order company’s business was booming, and home party companies were beginning to move volume. And then we all got email addresses. It was like an episode out of Star Trek. The cool people at the tradeshows have AOL 3.0 and Netscape, and we suddenly were able to do business with each other and communicate more efficiently. It was time for a dedicated novelty show. So ANME was born.
“The early ANME Founder Show years and the video shows that were its predecessors were great times for business and pleasure when our industry was a close knit community and many long-term business friendships were forged. Over the last 20 years, the show has grown from five novelty companies to hundreds of exhibitors and has inspired the development of multiple novelty specific shows across the world like ETO in the UK and eroFame in Germany. The ANME show has contributed tremendously to the growth of our industry in the global economy.”
|Lavi Yedid, Elliot and Moe Levy||Johnnie Barber, Kat and Bo (ECN)||Elliot, Kat and Tony of Nasstoys|
For more information, please visit anmefounders.com.