The AVN Adult Entertainment Expo is more than the largest annual convention that brings performers in the porn industry together with their fans. It’s often the go-to term for several adult-oriented conventions—including novelty, Internet and business niches—sponsored by trade magazine AVN (Adult Video News) that lead into the AVN Awards, where stars and the people who film them are recognized for their talents and attributes. It’s also a barometer for who’s hot, rising or still on top in a world where branding is everything and being the next big thing means both career leverage and more lucrative contract offers.

The performer of the moment at this year’s Expo (Jan. 18-21) is surely Riley Reid, who co-hosts the awards event with January 2015 Penthouse Pet Aspen Rae. Reid’s film Being Riley garnered a handful of honors last year including two for Reid’s performance, and she was named Female Performer of the Year, Favorite Female Performer and Social Media Star. She’s up for Female Performer of the Year again, and either she or her films are nominated in nine other categories, but the combination of career momentum and visibility at the Jan. 21 awards ceremony provides the kind of juice that Jenna Jameson and Sasha Grey parlayed into pop culture notoriety.

While other factors need to come into play for that to happen, Reid will likely have one of the largest crowds at her meet-and-greets at the Expo. She and Rae will also appear together at the “Sex Is …” fan seminars that begin every afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. inside Vinyl. “A Chat with the AVN Awards Hosts” takes place Friday, Jan. 20, at 3:30 p.m., while the nominees for Best New Starlet such as Kimmy Granger, Melissa Moore and Gina Valentina gather at the same time Thursday to discuss the profession from their point of view. Wicked Pictures sex educator Jessica Drake kicks things off daily with Q&As and workshops.

Nearly every star working, or who wants to keep working, will be representing the various exhibitors on the show floors of Artist Hall, Muse Hall and Paradise Tower. The Joint hosts special entertainment by “X” Rocks Dance Revue and “X” Burlesque each day as well as BDSM-flavored performances courtesy of the Lair, which provides “demonstrations and training on ropes, flogging, suspension and other forms of play.” Beyond the consensual confines of the Lair, attendees are expected to “abide by common sense rules for public behavior and personal interaction.” That means no unwelcome physical contact or photos.

Social interaction is what the Expo is all about though, and respectful requests for photos are rarely denied. Mindful behavior is expected at the parties as well, albeit in a looser nighttime atmosphere. Things kick off Wednesday night with an AVN Party at Vanity Night Club and an official Opening Night Party featuring Aria Alexander, Kleio Valentien and Stella Cox at Mandalay Bay’s Light NightClub. Thursday night takes a turn for debauchery at the Saints & Sinners party inside the Hard Rock’s Culinary Dropout, and on Friday Tori Black hosts the official Expo after party at Mandalay Bay’s Foundation Room while the 5th annual Latata White Party takes place at Vanity.

There is a Private Suite Party every night for attendees who pony up for the pricey passes at, and awards after parties happen Saturday night at both Vanity and Light Nightclub. Saturday’s awards show is the biggest party, though, with Rae and Reid as this year’s belles of the ball. By the end of the night, it’s very likely next year’s Riley Reid will be apparent to everyone.

Hard Rock Hotel, times vary Jan. 18-21, starting at $80 plus tax and fees, 18+. or 800.350.8850