Temptations of the Flesh in Sin City Are Nothing for 150,000 Nerds

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, technology does the seduction.


LAS VEGAS—A brace of freelance showgirls worked their dark plumage Friday afternoon on the sidewalk just outside the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show, but the leggy ladies failed to turn many heads of the crush of passersby.

The hand-billers who offered business cards featuring color photos of nearly nude escorts named Delight, Fara, Taylor and Devona found few takers among the predominantly male crowd. After you’ve spent the day mesmerized by electronics, the Sin City skin game loses its luster.

For the past three decades the annual CES show has attracted endless thousands of electronic-gadget junkies, who come to Las Vegas to gander and gawk at the latest tech innovations. But for the record, the group would never be mistaken for extras from The Hangover. For the most part, a carload of randy frat boys causes Metro Vice more headaches than the CES crowd.

When asked to take the pulse of CES week in Las Vegas, Metro Vice Lt. Karen Hughes sounds relieved.

“CES was good for business, and they did not create any issues for my unit,” she says.

This year’s convention, which concluded Friday, drew approximately 150,000 despite lacking world-shaking breakthroughs and industry icons Apple and Microsoft. While other conventions are known for ringing the city’s hedonistic bells, most CES attendees appear to live out their fantasies on the convention floor, fiddling with joy sticks and trying out the latest in wearable computer software. This year’s show featured a tech startup scene at the Venetian and enough innovation to keep even veteran CES goers trekking through the airport-sized Las Vegas Convention Center for long hours.

While CES gives small companies a chance to showcase their wares in an atmosphere with a decidedly international flavor, the major corporations draw the largest crowds. Audi, for instance, didn’t have what could be called a booth: A showroom featuring a sleek red Quattro and three other models was more like it.

In his black suit and German accent, Audi engineer Volker Seeman was ready to elaborate at length about the latest at length about the latest improvement in creature-comfort technology. “Many of the innovations that we are bringing to the cars are based and enabled by electronics, so that is actually why we are here, for the fourth time now,” he says. “We are showing our electronic features and our electronic innovations that make driving easier, that bring more information and safety and security into the car.”

As for partying late into the evening, Seeman shrugs and offers, “Actually, we didn’t have too much time at night because wanted to do a good job here.”

Moving from sticker shock to electric shock, the diminutive Yellow Jacket company was at the show touting its YJ5 stun gun, which doubles as an iPhone 5 case, but is also capable of sending a 950,000-volt jolt through its intended target.

I started my abbreviated tour of CES as a skeptic sniffing at the gadgetry, but in less than an hour began to wonder whether I might really need that cell case stun gun, or the latest in eyewear with online capability. Technology has its own seductive quality.

Soren Nicula of Scottsdale, Arizona, seemed like a typical CES gawker. He’d been coming for eight years, spent six hours tramping through the convention Thursday and another four Friday. He seemed a little overwhelmed by the grand carnival of electronic innovation. In a show that covers 1.9-million square feet and features 3,200 exhibitors, seeing more than a fraction of what the world has to offer is challenging.

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Although Nicula was disappointed by the absence of Apple and Microsoft, there was more than enough to keep him intrigued. And he didn’t even mind that he hadn’t landed an invitation to one of the private parties at the Strip’s exclusive nightclubs. Tryst Nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas, for instance, was the site of the MediaLink kickoff party, and Lavo at the Palazzo played host to the Entertainment Matters gathering. The Rio, meanwhile, was home to the International Academy of Web Television Awards.

As another CES came to a close Friday, back out on the sidewalk freelance showgirls Chelsea and Noel posed with convention goers in exchange for tips.

“They seem a little surprised to see us,” Chelsea says.

After spending a day in the presence of all that dazzling technology, perhaps the CES attendees were suffering from overload.

Lest you get the impression Las Vegas convention crowds have lost their kink, the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, America’s pornography industry convention, starts its annual bump and grind Wednesday.