Why I'm Going Back to Venus-Berlin

Venus and Berlin

by Attorney J. D. Obenberger

 September, 2008 

During the past eight years, I’ve attended - and spoken - at dozens and dozens of online adult trade shows from LA and San Diego and IA200 in New Orleans to Vancouver and  AWE Seattle, from Tampa and Hollywood to Pittsburgh and Montreal, from Denver and Phoenix and Las Vegas to Budapest and Amsterdam and Jaco Beach, Costa Rica. And I’ve never missed an Internext.  

Last year in October, I attended Venus-Berlin for the first time, and I’m going back.  

Venus-Berlin is conducted in at least five cavernous halls of the Messegelaende complex built before WWII at the west end of central Berlin. The atmosphere is simply outrageous because most of the floor space is open to the non-industry general public and just about anything remotely connected to human sexuality can and will be promoted in the booths, from works of genuine art (erotic bronze statuary, paintings, hand crafted furniture and prints) to lines of adult DVDs that focus on paraphilias that I scarcely knew existed before this show. The professional industry/trade area is smaller but comparable to the AVN-sponsored AEE Show, and the trade Internet area could be described as intimate. The diversity of the exhibitors and their products and services just can’t be comprehended without seeing it.  

For those readers who can remember the showmanship of the Internext events in the early years of this decade, the carnival-like atmosphere of outrageous promotion, they will feel a nostalgic homecoming. For those who missed the experience here, it can be lived next month in Berlin. I still have no idea what was being promoted as some German wannabe porn star frolicked topless on a raging mechanical bull that careened wildly towards propelling her into the gaping crowd, and I’m not sure why some guy was tied down to the floor and was slowly covered in hot wax from head to toe, nor why a dense crowd of European attendees crammed in to see the exhibition, and I never knew what would come into view as I entered the next exhibition hall, but I knew that it wasn’t something I’d be seeing anytime soon at the Hard Rock or the Diplomat or the Roosevelt. Even in the party suites.  

The product lines ranged from Whips Made in Russia (there must have been a surplus sale after the Russian troops departed in 1991.) and Swiss Navy Personal Lubricants to DVDs featuring a strange non-yodelling Austrian named Tom Long who likes to visit tribal women in remote regions of Africa for more than cultural exchanges. (“AEM – African Entertainment Media” of Linz, Austria and Lagos, Nigeria). Or the Fuck-Ass line of videos that feature a very convincing depiction of the branding of the performers with a red-hot iron consisting of the letters “FA” contained in a circle. (The American website Facial Abuse should probably look at the trademark issues thereby implicated. They might have problems enforcing an injunction for the removal of the logo from the performers’ hides, however).  There are lots of other video lines that I just don’t want to write about, except to say that they all featured adults who probably consented. It will never cease to amaze me as to the incredible range and scope of things that can be sexually arousing to some people. One man’s erotica is another man’s belly-laugh. Especially in Germany!  

Many of the industry leaders in the American market exhibit at Venus from Vivid and Hot Movies to Flava Works and AVN Europe, and you will see the same kind of floor to ceiling posters of Max Hardcore that are part and parcel of the AEE Show in Las Vegas. But what makes the Berlin show unique is the far broader range of offerings than is found in any American show. It is possible to meet and directly deal with the creators and distributors of content that just doesn’t exist here, using platforms and models undergoing their sea trials in Europe. The potential to learn and network here is simply unlimited. Language is not so much a barrier as one would think because both English and Spanish seem to be widely spoken in the professional area.  

Venus-Berlin is managed by the effervescent and quite helpful Peter Buebel who continually scurries about the various halls personally putting out one fire after another in a very hands-on management style. From his style and product, you could just imagine him in the front row of a Beatles concert on the Reeperbahn yelling “Mach Scau!!”. I was his guest last year as a speaker, but the truth of the matter is that no one takes the seminar program very seriously at Venus-Berlin and neither Monty at AVN nor Tom at XBIZ needs to be worried about this show upstaging their creative programs of instruction. It’s more about networking and showing content off. 

There are more powerful reasons to travel to Berlin for this show beyond the circus that Venus-Berlin certainly is. 

If any city in the world can claim to be the pivot point upon which the history of the Twentieth Century turned, that city was Berlin. Scarcely two blocks from the Messegelaende lies Theodor-Heuss Platz, named after the first President of post-war West Germany. It was designed by Albert Speer and before 1945 it was called Adolf Hitler Platz, its grand opening inaugurated with a state visit by Benito Mussolini. The Venus-Berlin Show’s hotel, the Estrelle, is the largest hotel in all of Europe and it stands only 300 meters from the site of the Berlin Wall; just down Sonnenallee, on which it is located, and over a bridge, and through the woods, in a desolate and lonely place next to a canal, Chris Gueffroy was shot to death by East German border guards in February, 1989, the last Berliner to be killed in the Cold War. I made a quiet trek to the banks of the canal in the hope that I might learn something from the sacrifice of Gueffroy and I was not disappointed. And then I traveled to Treptow Park, just one S-Bahn station into what was East Berlin, to see the massive and immaculately-maintained Red Army Cemetery and Memorial, whose polished stone entrance portal arches were erected out of rare deep-red granite taken from the Reichskanzlerei after the final Battle of Berlin in 1945. I went there also to learn something about the price of freedom and the wages of totalitarianism, and I wasn’t disappointed there, either. 

If any city in the world can claim to be the defiant hero of freedom that stood courageously against tyranny and triumphed in the name of Liberty, that city is Berlin. If any city knows the iron boot of fascist repression and totalitarian Communism, it is Berlin. 

If any city in the world has something to teach with enthusiasm about censorship and repression, it is Berlin. 

In an age in which the word “Liberty” has quietly disappeared from the new One Dollar Golden Presidential Series American Coin without a whisper of protest, indeed without the notice of the American people, vanishing from our coins for the first time in my life, it may be prudent to visit a place where the people stood tall and risked all for the kind of freedom that our ancestors called the unalienable right of all men. 

In an age in which Americans have become so frightened that they have consented to the total and wholesale loss of freedom and personal privacy, strong American values that were preserved during armed conflict from 1941 to 1945 preserved and held sacred during decades of a Cold War in which live nuclear weapons sat upon missiles aimed at our cities, I think it is fruitful for an American to visit a place that kept its faith in freedom during much harder times and through far more serious risks. And that is why I am returning to Berlin. 

Berlin stands on the cutting edge of change in the world and it possesses a youthful and exuberant dynamism that attracts artists and thinkers who will shape the 21st Century. From architecture and music to – Pornography – I believe that significant parts of the future can be best seen from the Brandenburg Gate. That, too, is why I am going back to Berlin. 

A working knowledge of German is largely unnecessary to having a rewarding and entertaining experience in Berlin. The Venus-Berlin Expo runs from October 16-19 at the Messelaender under the Funkturm, an antique radio tower that looks like a scaled-down Eiffel tower. The Estrelle Hotel on Sonnenallee is the event’s hostelry. The S-Bahn runs conveniently from a stop about one block from the Estrelle to a stop (“Messe-Nord”) about one block from the show venue in about 25 minutes. Registration and further information is available at http://www.venus-berlin.com/en/. I have no personal connection with this show, and in fact I will not be speaking at Venus-Berlin.

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Copyright 2008-2011 J. D. Obenberger. All rights reserved.

This article is written to generally inform the public and does not provide legal advice nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have a legal issue or question, contact a lawyer. If you are arrested, make no statement and contact a lawyer immediately.

Joe Obenberger is a Chicago Loop lawyer concentrating in the law of free expression and liberty under the United States Constitution, and his firm has represented many owners, employees, and customers of adult-oriented businesses, both online and in the real world. He can be reached in the office at 312 558-6420. His e-mail address is obiwan@xxxlaw.net. 

J. D. Obenberger and Associates are available for consultation, representation, and defense of adult-oriented businesses.