A record 5,000 women were expected to satisfy their curiosity, or craving, for porn and tools of the trade Friday night as the South Florida edition of Exxxotica 2014 opened at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center.

Ladies love a bargain, of course, and convention organizers happily obliged what they say is a growing market by offering them free admission on opening night (a $40 value). The fairer sex, it turns out, also likes it rough.

"We have a lot more features aimed at women this year and, yeah, we added space to The Dungeon," said Exxxotica spokesman Dan Davis of the 3,600-square-foot box of bondage gear that may remind some visitors of Christian Grey's Red Room of Pain in the hit novel "Fifty Shades of Grey."

"That's the trend. You see a lot more films being made in the industry now with stories about couples. The sex may be hard, but the stories are softer," Davis said.


Hollywood Doggie Beach Pictures

The three-day convention, the "flagship" of the annual four-city Exxxotica caravan, will gather more than 100 porn stars and personalities of varying degrees of fame, film companies, fashion and lifestyle vendors, sex toy peddlers and the South Floridians who love them for seminars, shopping and meet-and-greets through Sunday.

Last year's opening night drew a then-record 4,500 women, but advance registrations and other data suggest this year will be closer to 5,500 to 6,000, Davis said.

"This is my second time, and it's not what people think, or what I used to think it was," said Susan, who asked that her last name not be used. Speaking shortly after the doors opened at 5 p.m. Friday, the 34-year-old said she was waiting for her boyfriend to get off work from a Palm Beach County law enforcement agency. "Everyone is behaving. You don't see any actual nudity."

Plenty of nearly nude actresses, however. Performers of more mainstream renown in attendance this weekend will include Ron Jeremy, Tera Patrick, Teagan Presley and Alexis Texas. Sydney Leathers, whose main claim to fame was being on the receiving end of the sexting that got former New York congressman Anthony Wiener booted from office, will sign copies of the DVD "Weiner & Me" at her booth all weekend.

More male film talent will attend Exxxotica this year, Davis said, and most of the burlesque performances will be by men, including the BadBoys troupe that flew in from Australia. The male South Florida-based troupe Hurly Burly also will perform.

Seminars include "A Girl Guide to Picking the Perfect Sex Toy" and "Tight & Right: Turn Back the Clock on Aging Skin." Another, "Add a Spark to Your Sex Life," takes things literally: Instructor Lady Shimla will lead a session on the use of electrodes and electrified probes.

If you are looking for someone with her finger on the pulse of sex-industry fans in South Florida, there's no one more knowledgeable than Rubber Doll, an internationally known stage performer — latex a specialty — who was born in Little Havana and now lives in Cooper City. The popularity of Exxxotica with women is no surprise to her.

"Everything has changed — it grows every year," she said. "They definitely make it classy, and that's part of what brings in the women. If you notice the women coming in, they're all dressed up, like they're going to a club."

About a year ago Rubber Doll diversified the product line she brings to Exxxotica, her DVDs, T-shirts, guitar picks and photographs now sharing space on a table with a case of pasties covered, she said, in Swarovski crystals. She designs each herself and charges $25-$90 for a pair.

"The girls love them," said Rubber Doll, herself topless but for two of the crystal-covered discs tipped by a blinking red LED light. "I've upgraded to a much bigger case, and those will all be gone by Sunday."

Alex Rodriguez of Miami-based Prestige Products Direct said his company did its best business on Friday at last year's Exxxotica. He spoke surrounded by stacks of high-end sheets and hypo-allergenic pillows.

"We also have a make-up booth, and I know they did really well," he said.

Menno Van Kampen, the ripped and well-tanned leader of BadBoys Australia, said in his country shows similar to Exxxotica are equal parts male and female. He's noticed a difference in this Exxxotica.

"We've done this same event in New Jersey a year-and-a-half ago, and it has already changed," he said. "I can see they've made it a little more lady-oriented. It all looks a bit more classy, if that makes sense. Obviously the way that everyone looks, really beautiful people, but tasteful. I think girls like that."

bcrandell@southflorida.com