VentureBeat: Do you think that maybe one of the answers is just to create one of these sub-sectors or marketplaces within the show where adult companies can gather?
Haddock: That might not be a bad idea. I guess I can’t really infer that I know how to run the CTA or CES. I can’t say that I know what the answer to that would be. But I certainly know that this is not a good way to approach this kind of situation, especially with society constantly evolving in the way that it is.
Brown: For me, creating a subsection — here’s a room in which you can have all of the pleasure products and sex toys and “adult products” — we already have industry trade shows that are specific to the adult industry. I think what’s more interesting and more revolutionary is putting products that use robotics in the robotics category, or putting products that use VR into the VR category. That’s where you see a real impact. You normalize things.
Part of this is networking, right? You meet vendors. You meet retailers. You’re introducing people to the idea of robotics inside of a pleasure product. Whoever thought that you needed to be able to tweet from your refrigerator? But now we have refrigerators that talk to Twitter. There’s so much about innovation and the way that people ideate and how the industry grows and how connections are created between different types of products and different types of technology. It’s really limiting when you’re telling people, “No, here’s this little dark room.” Before 2001, before AVN, that’s really what it was. And they said, “Screw you guys, we’re going to start our own party.”
VentureBeat: There’s an interesting parallel in the video game industry. They took off to do E3 in the 1990s because CES — they outgrew CES to some degree, but CES also probably didn’t want to have all these addictive, violent games out on display that were bad for kids. The game industry said, “OK, we’ll go do our own show.”
Brown: When you put something off into its own space — to me, the largest take-home for me, when I found out about this whole thing with the CTA rescinding the award, was CES saying, “You’re not good enough. This area of health and sexuality is just not worthy of innovation.”
That, for me, is the big point in the conversations that we’re building here. First, it’s really specifically women’s sexual health and wellness. And in general, we’re not talking about — there’s a place for explicit sexuality and a place for kink and exploration and all of that. But I don’t think anyone is talking about having, say, fetish gear at CES. We’re talking about products that are very clearly designed with anatomy and physiology and technology in mind.
The Lora DiCarlo brand is not a brand that will be using extreme nudity. We’re sex-positive and gender-inclusive and we hold that to be very important parts of all of our identities, individually and as a company. The idea that female sexuality is not worthy of innovation, that it’s not worthy as being seen as innovative — that’s an even bigger conversation.
Haddock: We really just want to continue the conversation for women in tech. That’s very important for us. We could have let the ball drop and focused on our company, but allowing women and non-binary folks to have a seat at the table — it goes right in line with our culture and our values. That was important enough for us to really be steadfast about this decision.
Brown: The way that our company is structured, we’re primarily female. We have LGBTQI members of the team who are extremely — our technical director, who will be at Showstoppers with us, is female-facing queer.
VentureBeat: You were able to get into ShowStoppers and show this?
Haddock: Oh, yeah. They said, “Yeah, come on in!” [laughs]
VentureBeat: So you do at least get that chance.
Brown: Definitely. There’s interest in this and interest in these products around tech and around CES. It’s just CES itself that hasn’t quite figured it out yet.