The promoter of the Texxxas adult entertainment expo says a Houston hotel reneged on a deal to hold the event there — after a sexual exploitation advocacy group raised concerns about what it says is an increase in sex crimes linked to such events.
John Gray, the organizer of Texxxas, said the Hilton Houston Galleria Area backed out of a contract with the convention last week, leaving him scrambling to find another venue for Texxxas — a four-day event with adult-themed vendors, parties at Houston strip clubs and appearances by more than two dozen pornographic actors, according to the event's website. Texxxas is scheduled to run August 17-20.
Gray assured the Houston Press he has secured another location nearby for the convention, but he declined to say where.
"The show is going to go on," Gray said. "I'm happy to admit, like Bob Marley said, everything is going to be all right."
Gray said he was disappointed with Hilton's decision, and said the hotel chain would have to "deal with the consequences" of losing his business. He said the hotel in May agreed to host the convention. Gray said that in his more than two decades promoting adult entertainment conventions, a venue has never backed out of a contract.
The event and host drew criticism from the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Sexual Exploitation. In an ironic twist, the group learned about Texxxas when it tried to book a conference on sexual exploitation at the same Hilton.
Dawn Hawkins, vice president of the nonprofit, said pornography dehumanizes the people it depicts, especially women. She said the National Center for Sexual Exploitation believes adult entertainment conventions increase demand for prostitution and sex trafficking because some attendees seek sex.
“I've spoken with performers who have been prostituted at and after these events,” Hawkins said.
The center, founded in 1962 as Morality in Media, has historically fought to define obscenity in the United States. The nonprofit in 2013 convinced the Department of Defense to prohibit the sale of pornography on military bases.
Hawkins said the center previously convinced the Hilton to stop selling pay-per-view pornography in its rooms. The nonprofit asked the national chain to sever ties with Texxxas, Hawkins said, and Hilton agreed.
Neither Hilton's corporate office nor Maggie Rosa, general manager of the Galleria location, responded to requests for comment.
Gray, the Texxxas promoter, rejects Hawkins's characterization of the event. He described Texxxas as "classy" and "PG." He denied a link between adult entertainment conventions and prostitution and said Texxxas and Houston-area strip clubs work to prevent sex crimes.
And if some people object to pornography, Gray said, they can simply choose not to attend Texxxas.
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“Humanity and sexual relations are part of our society,” he said. “It's important.”
Texxxas isn't the only sex convention in the state to struggle to find a venue. The Dallas City Council this spring barred a similar show, Exxxotica, from returning to that city's Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. A federal judge in April upheld the city's decision.
UPDATE July 26, 8:20 a.m.: John Gray announced the new venue for Texxxas in a statement Tuesday morning:
"Pleased to announce our new Venue at a brand new Holiday Inn only five minutes away from original one. In fact I am happy to announce a reduced fan rate for our fans at my expense... I would like to ask my former venue and the coalition one question. Are they going to try to urge all hotels to cancel the Super Bowl next year? That event has historical record of bringing more sex trafficking and prostitution to their host city than any other event."